Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Biscuits and Gravy - Dec. 22, 2004

Unseasonal strife in Santa's little sweatshops
It is the week before Christmas, and Santa's helpers are restless. In fact, they have been demonstrating their discontent by striking, smashing their factories, and not turning up for work.

As most adults know, Santa has outsourced production from Lapland to China, in particular the sweatshop grottoes of Guangdong province, near Hong Kong. The plain between Shenzhen and Dongguan makes 70 per cent of the world's toys, assembles its Playstations, stitches its shoes and produces a host of other Christmas gifts.

But after years of compliance, the worker-elves have begun defying their bosses and even the Communist Party. There has been a series of strikes and protests for better pay in recent months, and the delta is also facing a new phenomenon for China: a labour shortage.
But pharmaceuticals are a natural for demagoguery!
Create a company. Raise money from investors. Spend billions of dollars. Develop life-saving products. Suffer the vagaries of the marketplace. Be vilified.

That seems to be the lot in life of pharmaceutical firms.
They aren't getting any smarter, are they?
"We are calling on Californians to observe 'Dark Mondays,' not to buy gasoline as an expression of support for [illegal] immigrants and to demand driver’s licenses for [illegal] immigrants," said Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Association.
Don't anyone spoil the fun by telling Nativo how a real boycott works!

Other bizarre news from California - exploding groins in San Francisco
A rare and potentially serious sexually transmitted disease has turned up in a few patients in San Francisco, prompting health officials to issue a public warning.

The disease is called lymphogranuloma venereum, or LGV. It's a form of chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted infection, but LGV can cause scarring of the genitals and colon and cause lymph glands near the groin to swell or burst.
Wait! It gets better! First Islamic Satellite to Go Into Orbit:
The first Islamic satellite to be used in crescent sighting will go into orbit in 15 months’ time, an Arab ad hoc committee said Tuesday, December 21.
Crescent sighting?
“The satellite will fly at a low altitude and beam crescent images to ground stations,” President of Cairo University Ali Abdul Rahman told reporters at a press conference on Sunday, December 19, which was also attended by Egyptian Mufti Ali Gomaa and committee members.
Gomaa said Muslim countries will not be obliged to follow the new satellites in moon or crescent sighting, particularly the start of the holy fasting month of Ramada.

The satellite is the brainchild of the Egyptian Darul Ifta, dating back to 1997. It was then given the go-ahead by a majority of Arab and Muslim countries save Tunisia, which argued that astronomical calculations were enough.
They want to launch this satellite to keep track of phases of the moon. Sheesh, get 'em a calendar.
“The satellite will overall cost $8 million collected through public subscription by the Egyptian Darul Ifta (religious edicts authority) on the form of shares held by willing Muslim countries,” Abdul Rahman added.

Abdul Rahman further stressed that the satellite could also be used in locating places of space pollution, clouds congregation, locust swarms as well as studying natural phenomena.
Not that pesky space pollution!
“This unique experience is a bid to keep abreast with state-of-the-art technology,” he said.
Everyone needs a hobby, I guess, but it sure makes it hard to remember that 1,000 years ago there were preeminent Arab astronomers.