Nippies On-Line Magazine
Issue #20 - November 26 - December 30, 2004

NIPPIES® - You won't believe this...

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December 30th, 2004
The Animals Knew the Tsunami Was Coming

The world is watching in horror as the death toll continues to climb. As we type this article, CNN is reporting that the number of dead has now reached over 115,000. No doubt this will continue to climb. The tsunami, which struck Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries with shores along the Indian Ocean, everyone off-guard. There was no warning. But was there?

According to a story in the Dec. 30, 2004 New York Post (by Rich Calder with additional reporting by Frankie Edozien and Andy Geller), rescue workers in Sri Lanka (which was possibly the hardest hit) are asking "Where are all the dead animals?"

"The strange thing is we haven't recorded any dead animals," H.D. Ratnayake, the deputy director of Sri Lanka's WIldlife Department told Reuters news service. "No elephants are dead, not even a dead hare or rabbit."

Ratnayake went on to state that he believes the animals escaped death because they can sense danger. "They have a sixth sense. They know when things are happening."

This is so amazing. That animals were warned, through their inner sense, and knew enough to seek higher ground.

The article in the NYPost, entitled 'Sixth Sense" saves wildlife in tragic region', went on to explain that an Associated Press photographer flew over the Yala National Park in Sri Lanka and didn't see "a single animal corpse". Yala National Park is Sri Lanka's largest wildlife reserve. Hundreds of wild elephants, as well as leopards and other animals, inhabit the park. There are now live animals back roaming the park: elephants, buffalo and deer.

This is so amazing to us. We cannot fathom that an animal, a "dumb" animal, as we often call them, had a sensory system sensitive enough to warn them that danger was coming and what they should do about it- seek higher ground.

Perhaps man can figure out a way to monitor the movement of animals in these dangerous coastal regions so that an early warning system can be developed.

In the meantime, the world is pitching in to help the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says nations have pledged $500 million in aid to the victims of the quake-tsunami disaster.

December 25th, 2004

Merry Christmas
We at NIPPIES want to wish all our visitors a very Merry Christmas- without apology. Today is the day that many celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

So many today will be with family and friends. So many others will not. We hope that everyone, everywhere will have some joy in their day.

Across the Atlantic, a German newspaper has made the decision to ONLY print good news. Perhaps someday American newspapers will follow suit. Here is the link to the story about that wonderful newspaper:

Paper Prints Only Good News in Christmas Issue

Again, Merry Christmas to all our readers. Drive carefully, make wonderful memories, and have hope for the future.

December 23rd, 2004

The Jacket Story
We at NIPPIES want to share a true story. This happened to us last week on one of our shopping expeditions.

We'd just finished grocery shopping and, after having loaded the bags into the trunk, were being a good citizen and taking the cart back to the "Cart Corral". On the way, a car stopped in front of us. The man behind the wheel, a mustachioed man of about fifty-something, was, apparently, waiting for a departing car so he could take their parking space. We happened to glance down at his passenger door and noticed there was about eight or nine inches of a navy blue nylon jacket sleeve hanging out.

Naturally, we approached the car and tapped on the window. The man looked at us with a puzzled expression on his face. We pointed to towards the bottom of the car door and said "Jacket! There's a jacket hanging out of your door!". Again the driver looked perplexed, and kept the window up. We repeated our warning. Again, no response.

By now we were completely confused by his lack of response, so we motioned for him to roll down the passenger-door window. No response from him again. Now he was starting to look nervous- and we were getting a bit exasperated. Perhaps it showed.

We decided to give this guy one last chance. If he didn't respond to our warning this time, he could drive to Kingdom Come with that filthy dirty sleeve nearly dragging through the mud. Maybe it would even get caught on something and topple his car. It would be his fault for not listening, wouldn't it?

We walked in front of the car. We tapped on his window. He cracked it open about two inches, and again we said, "There's a jacket hanging out of your passenger door. It's going to get caught on something, OK?" We didn't wait for his reaction because we'd had enough of Mr. Friendly. Instead, we headed to the "Cart Corral" once again, did our duty and headed back to the car. Out of the corner of our eye we saw his mustache approaching us. He looked friendly this time. This time is was our turn to be cautious.

"Ma'am, I'm sorry," he said. And he laughed before continuing. "Do you know what I thought you were saying? I thought you were calling me a "jackass" over and over again, and I was afraid of what you would do if I opened the window.".

Well, we both got a good, short laugh out of the misunderstanding, said our good-byes, and went on our way. But we at NIPPIES chuckled to ourselves all the way home. Maybe he did the same. At any rate, we are sure he shared the "jackass" story. It was too good not to be shared.

December 7th, 2004

National Leave Me Alone Month
We at NIPPIES heard about the Hardees "Monster Burger" a few weeks ago. You've probably heard about it, too. It's that 1,420 burger which contains a whopping 107 grams of fat, achieved by combining two 1/3-pound chunks of "all-Angus beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese and mayonnaise on a buttered sesame seed bun," according to an AP story by Jim Suhr. The cost is $5.49 just for the burger, or you can add another $1.60 and get fries and a drink to go with it.

Wow. Clara Bell, the gruff-voiced 84-year-old made famous by the mid-eighties Wendy's commercials, would never have to ask "Where's the beef?" if presented with a Monster Burger!

Well, the country is in an uproar over the newest "heart attack on a plate," or, in this case, in a box, which Jay Leno suggested should be shaped like a coffin. There is also a paper wrapping around the Monster Burger- probably to keep all those nice juices and fat drippings in check.

It's also interesting that some are referring to the burger as a "lawsuit in a wrapper." How ridiculous. Everyone who bites into one of these burgers knows the risks.

The media from around the world are reporting about the Hardee Monster Burger. Which is just as Hardees hoped it would.

"I don't think any of us anticipated anything like the media uproar we've seen," says Andy Puzder, the real president and CEO of California-based CKE." Yeah, sure.

Hardee's executives knew what they were doing. And good for them. Because that is the name of the game in business anymore, isn't it? No publicity is bad publicity? And, anyway, American's are fatter than ever- despite the fact that, outwardly, we proclaim to be eating better. According to a news report we heard some months ago, the average American male has gone from 5'8 1/2 in the sixties, weighing about 160 pounds, to about 5'9 1/2 and a whopping 190 pounds today. Our country must have more than its share of closet eaters. Maybe we order salads in public, maybe we talk about eating salads in public, but we must be frying up the beef plenty of times in private, and scarfing down boxes of donuts in the car.

At a time when the other fast food chains are trying to create a health-conscious public image by offering a larger line of salads and lower-calorie or low-carb items on their menu, Hardees is offering a larger line of high-calorie, high fat burgers. Five of Hardee's sandwiches have 1,000 calories or more, and a total of eight have than 600 calories.

But, dear readers, don't think that Hardees is alone in offering indulgent sandwiches. The chain was just smart enough to sieze the opportunity for a publicity blitz by saying "Take that" to the health police. McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder - 730 calories), Burger King (Double Whopper - 1,060 calories)and Wendy's (Classic Triple with cheese - 940 calories) all have monster sandwiches of their own...they just don't brag about it.

Are you expecting us to say "Shame on Hardees"? Don't hold your breath. We live in a society which constantly bombards us with messages about our health and we at NIPPIES are, quite frankly, sick of it. Every month is another disease awareness month. Public service messages about disease, and getting tested for disease, have gone from nice little reminders to messages meant to intimidate - and even get others to intimidate - people into going for tests and eating differently, etc. In a society where you can't even utter a prayer at a public school because it might offend someone, we think it is quite galling that people are being encouraged to intimidate their friends into being tested for anything other than a communicable disease. Frankly, we think people are already quite aware of sickness and many of us know more about every disease than we ever wanted to know. Some of us might be downright sick of hearing about healthy eating and disease and wellness and medications and lawsuits against medications every 5 minutes of our lives. Some of us have loved ones and relatives that still got cancer, diabetes or took a heart attack despite leading prudent lives- both secretly and publicly. It happens. And we've never seen an empty obituary page, have you?

Maybe the time is right for a National Leave Me Alone Month. No health messages or "Ask Your Doctor" commercials. No social pressure to eat low-fat (early nineties), low-carb (now), low anything. Just indulgence without guilt. If that is what you wish.

Yeah, that's it. December is National Leave Me Alone Month. We hereby declare it.

December 5th, 2004

Marijuana/Cannibis Debate on C-Span
Dr. Robert DuPont, of the Institute for Behavior & Health (President) is speaking on C-Span as we type. He is against the legalization of medicinal cannibis. "Burning leaves with more than 2000 chemicals does not constitute medicine."

Obviously, he is much against the use of marijuana cigarettes as "medical marijuana".

Just a few minutes ago, several people who claim that smoking marijuana either relieved their unbearable back spasms and/or saved their lives spoke. Both sides are very convincing.

We at NIPPIES are not fans of marijuana. But, again, we wonder about the real truth here. It has long been stated that marijuana helps to mitigate the nausea associated with chemotherapy.

Turner Classic Movies: The Essentials with Sydney Pollack

Last week we took some time to watch Dr. Zhivago. The WHOLE movie, without commercial interruption, was shown on Turner Classic Movies. It was wonderful. And it was the first time that we remember every seeing the whole thing, uninterrupted. Being more mature, and understand more about history, we were fascinated by this film, which was directed by David Lean (who also directed Lawrence of Arabia and other epics.

This epic film is set before, during and in the years after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and is based on a novel by Boris Pasternak. Yury Zhivago (Omar Sharif), became an orphan at a young age. He was taken in by his wealthy uncle and aunt, and raised in luxury in Moscow. Yury's mother was an musical artist, but Yury's talent lies in poetry. However, being a practical man as well as a sensitive one, he studies medicine and becomes a surgeon.

In the pre-Bolshevik years, Yury is very close to his beautiful cousin, Tonya (Geralding Chaplin), with whom he was raised. Tonya has been abroad for many years at school. However, Yury meets Lara (Julie Christie) one night. He is taken by her beauty at their chance meeting, but their time to be together passes because of circumstances- Lara, only seventeen, is secretly involved with her mother's lover. Mr. Komarovsky, played by Rod Steiger, is a smarmy survivor, and a wealthy man. When Lara's mother attempts suicide, Dr. Zhivago accompanies another physician on the discreet house, sees Lara, and falls in love But Lara, reeling over her mother's suicide attempt, is not even aware of Zhivago's presence in her home.

Lara eventually spurns Mr. Komarovsky and marries a longtime, idealistic admirer named Pasha. She is devoted to him, but his true passion is the revolution. Yury marries his beloved cousin, Tonya. It, too, is a marriage of devotion rather than passion. Circumstances, and revolution, separate the married couples from their spouses. Lara and Yury meet again, and this time the attraction between Yury and Lara is reciprocal.

The remainder of the movie focuses on the hard times experienced in Russia and the love story of Yury and Lara.

Dr. Zhivago is a fascinating and beautiful movie. But we at NIPPIES were pleasantly surprised by not only the movie, but the man who introduced it- Sydney Pollack.

Most film buffs have heard of Sydney Pollack. If you haven't heard of him, you certainly know his face. He's a director, a producer, and an actor with a great many impressive credits to his name. (Go to and put "Sydney Pollack" in the "People" category to see for yourself.) Our favorite role? The Emergency Room doctor in "Death Becomes Her". His reaction to Meryl Streep's condition, when Bruce Willis brings her in to be checked after she remains alive after her death, is hysterically funny!

Sydney Pollack's directorial credits Out of Africa (Robert Redford and Meryl Streep)and The Way We Were (1973- Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford). These two films have given Mr. Pollack the distinction of being the only director to have two movies ranked, by the American Film Institute, among the 100 best American movies. The Way We Were is number 6, and 1985's Out of Africa is ranked at #13.

Other much loved films directed by Sydney Pollack, to name only some, are: Tootsie (1982); Absence of Malice (Paul Newman, Sally Field) (1981); Bobby Deerfield (Al Pacino, Margot Keller)(1977); Three Days of the Condor (1975)(Robert Redford) ; They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin)(1969) and This Property Is Condemned (Natalie Wood) (1966). There are many more, but these are on our unforgettable list.

But even more impressive than his credits is his 46 year marriage (their anniversary was September 22nd) to Claire Griswold, herself an actress. Claire and Syndey are a Hollywood rarity- a couple who have stuck together for many decades. They had three children together. Surely there must have been great opportunities (aka temptations!) in those 46 years. Apparently, their union was a strong one, and Claire and Sydney Pollack stuck together through thick and thin- including the loss of their son, Steven, who died in 1993 in a plane crash in Santa Monica, California.

Men like Sydney Pollack, Ron Howard and Mel Gibson, and there are many others, we are sure, who achieve a very high level of success in Hollywood but don't trade their wives in for the stereotypical Hollywood "trophy wife", are the sexiest men of all. It's easy to be attracted to a Hollywood starlet. It takes substance and character to remain with your first wife. And character can be very sexy.

Another thing we liked about Sydney? His ability to poke a bit of fun at himself. In introducing Dr. Zhivago on "The Essentials", Mr. Pollack mentioned the fact that David Lean had to set up 1700 different camera shots for this epic film. "I tried to make a big film once," Sydney Pollack said. "But I only got as far as 800 shots."

Now we'll have to figure out what film he was referring you have any idea??

Be sure to catch Sydney Pollack as he introduces "The Essentials" - a sorta Film Buffs 101. These are the movies you gotta see. Visit Turner Classic Movies web site, as well. (It can be found at It's really great. You can not only see the full schedule of past and upcoming Turner Classic Movies films, but you can learn about the films and stars, as well.

December 1, 2004

Mary Jane Crazy?
According to a report in the British Medical Journal, frequent use of marijuana, sometimes called Mary Jane by we old foggies, can lead ot phychoses later in life. There goes the old argument that smoking joints is no worse for you than cigarettes. For now, anyway. Medical discoveries frequently change.

Anyway, we parents are happy for the bad news.

On the other hand, we cannot see what the big deal is about the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. We can say this stating that we have NEVER smoked a joint in our lives. True. We did take one "forced" puff once, but, honest to God, we didn NOT hale.

People with chronic pain, people undergoing chemotherapy, and some others with certain conditions have long argued that the use of marijuana eases their symptoms. So, why shouldn't they be able to smoke the stuff if it helps them? After all, could it be any worse than the toxic chemicals used in chemotherapy?

November 28th, 2004

Need a GREAT BELLY LAUGH? Read the customer reviews on ....
Esteban's American Legacy Guitar

So here I was, just sitting here wasting time until we at NIPPIES got tired enough to go to sleep. And here comes Esteban, the guy who dresses like Zorro with the black Spanish hat and black clothes (and sunglasses) who sells his beginners' guitar on television for three easy payments of $66. (Put your calculator comes to $198.00, plus shipping and handling, we suppose).

Anyway, I remember, a few months back, my son watching the Esteban infomercial, and commenting that his friend had bought one, and thought it a piece of junk. So, we at NIPPIES decided to put the keywords "Esteban AND guitar AND rip-off" into the search engine and see what came up. I was going to be fair, and put "Esteban AND guitar AND great" in later, but after reading the negative reviews, and since I'm not in the market for a guitar, I figured, "why bother"?

The first site on the list nearly made my choke on my popcorn- I laughed that hard. There were mainly very negative opinions of the Esteban American Legacy Guitar, but they were simply HYSTERICAL.

So, if you need a really great laugh, please read s short excerpt below, then click on the link and read more...

"Features: 1
None. My air guitar has more features than this POS. I think it's made out of balsa wood----you could tear it apart and make planes out of this thing and it would be more useful."

Funny Rants and Raves about Esteban's Guitar

We at NIPPIES enjoyed the above so much we went looking for more. Here's another good one...

Now we know why Esteban wears that disguise while selling his guitars...he doesn't want anyone to know what he REALLY looks like- they might stop him at the mall and want a refund.

Clever Spam Message
There are some really "subject" lines on spam that just MIGHT get people who normally trash all bulk mail to open one. It says "Your Check Bounced".

Clever, right? But NOT as good as the one that has an email address in both the "sender" and the "subject" area. The message states that the sender's e-mail address has changed. It is very enticing, because most people don't recognise e-mail addresses, so they just open it.

Be careful.

November 26, 2004

The Growing Muslim Influence in Germany & the Netherlands
If you missed the National Public Radio report on the growing influence of the Islamic religion in Germany, you might want to visit and take a listen.

The radio report, which was first broadcast this week, sheds a light on just how powerful the growing Muslim population in Germany has become: Berlin public schools lost a court battle to keep Muslim and other German students totally integrated. Now, according to school officials, many Muslim and non-Muslim students who were friends only a year or two again no longer even speak.

The Muslim population in Germany, estimated at about 3.4 million (or about 4% of the total population), according the the NPR report, is growing. It is already one of the largest in Europe. Now, with the growing trend toward separatism, Germany fears that that what happened in the Netherlands - the murder of Dutch artist Theo Van Gogh - will spread to their own country. Here is an excerpt from the NPR report:

"According to police, Van Gogh, an outspoken critic of Islam, was repeatedly shot and stabbed by Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan who left a note warning that enemies of Islam should fear for their lives. The murder traumatized a country that has long prided itself on its liberalism, but many acknowledge that there is growing alienation among Muslims from the broader Dutch society. In response, the government has begun to cut back on welfare programs that encourage immigrants to maintain strong links with their homelands, and Dutch language classes are now mandatory for new immigrants."

But not all German Muslims share the view of the Islamic extremists that they want to be totally isolated from other Germans. They value integration, but do not want to be assimulated. In other words, many believe that they should adapt to the German society in which they have chosen to live without totally giving up their Islamic customs and culture. It is not the moderate Muslims who are causing much of the fear in Germany.

Read the whole story at this direct link: Europe, Islam's New Front Line: Germany.

You can also read about the Netherlands growing concern about the recent murder of artist Theo Van Gogh, an outspoken critic of the Islamic religion, and how it is related to expanding Islamic influence & population at this direct link: Europe, Islam's New Front Line: Netherlands.

The Weaker Dollar - A Plus?
Everyone knows by now that the U.S. dollar has grown very weak against the Euro. But there may be a plus to the recent 8% decline in value of the dollar against the Euro: it may just encourage more American products being sold - and less European products being bought.

You don't need to be a genius to know that Americans' dollars will not go as far in purchasing European products with its current weakness. And to know that you can get more for your Euro by now purchasing American products. And God knows that we definitely need to turn around the horrific trade deficit we now face in the United States. So, lets hope that while the dollar is sliding down a slippery slope, it at least heads us toward a better balance of trade with the European Union which, like the popular book of the same name, is now being called the "United States of Europe".

Speaking of the Trade Deficit...
Immediately after we at NIPPIES wrote about the trade deficit and the weaker dollar, we heard about a related item on both NPR and saw a news item on the Associated Press in a story by Johathan Fowler.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) approved, on Friday, major sanctions against the United States in retaliation for a 2000 law, designed to help the steel industry. The law, named after Senator Robert Byrd (Democratic, West Virginia), allows American companies to receive the proceeds from "duties levied on foreign rivals for alleged "dumping" - selling goods at below-market prices, making it impossible for American producers to compete", according to Jonathan Fowler's AP story.

Two years ago, the 148 nation World Trade Organization, following recommendations by the European Union -which, as we mentioned previously, carries a clout which is growing stronger by the minute- ruled the anti-dumping law "illegal" two years ago. Now, they have levied sanctions against the U.S.

The new WTO approved sanctions will cover a wide range of American exports, including, but not limited to, textiles, glassware, mobile homes, apples and cod. Not all countries involved have submitted lists, and there are expected to be many more U.S. products, including some heavy machinery, which will be probabaly be on the list of sanctioned products.

"It's been approved," said Amina C. Mohamed, Kenyan ambassador to the WTO and chairwoman of the organization's dispute settlement body. The sanctions were scheduled to become official on Wednesday (Nov. 24th), but United States trade diplomats held "last-minute talks with counterparts from the European Union and contries including Canada and India", according to the AP story by Jonathan Fowler. The WTO states that the amendment breaches trade laws by punishing exporters to the U.S. twice: by fining the exporters first, and then by returning the fines to the competing country- the U.S.

U.S. officials have declined comment. However, the amount of sanctions comes to a dollar amount in the neighborhood of $150,000,000, according to the National Public Radio story.

Other countries joining the EU (European Union) in its complaint against the U.S. benefiting from the 2000 Byrd anti-dumping law are: Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, India, Chile and Japan.

The sanctions will take place beginning sometime next year.

Read the whole AP story, by Jonathan Fowler, here:

WTO Approves Sanctions Against U.S. Exports

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Read articles from past Nippies issues!

NIPPIES - August 22, 2002 - September 5, 2002: NIPPIES - Issue #1
NIPPIES - October 1, 2002 to September 6th, 2002: NIPPIES - Issue #2
NIPPIES - November 1 to October 3rd, 2002: NIPPIES - Issue #3
NIPPIES - December 11 to October 31st, 2002: NIPPIES - Issue #4
NIPPIES - January 2, 2003 to Dec. 12, 2002 : NIPPIES - Issue #5
NIPPIES - January 25th to January 3rd, 2003: NIPPIES - Issue #6
NIPPIES - February 2nd to January 23rd, 2003: MIPPIES - Issue #7
NIPPIES - March 10th to February 3rd, 2003: NIPPIES - Issue #8
NIPPIES - June 7th to March 11th, 2003: NIPPIES - Issue #9
NIPPIES - June 16th - July 15th, 2003: NIPPIES - Issue #10
NIPPIES - October 16th - August 13th, 2003: NIPPIES - Issue #11
NIPPIES - November 15th - October 18th, 2003: NIPPIES - Issue #12
NIPPIES - December 31st - November 21st, 2003: NIPPIES - Issue #13
NIPPIES - February 6th, - January 1st, 2004: NIPPIES - Issue #14
NIPPIES - March 3rd, - February 9th, 2004: NIPPIES - Issue #15
NIPPIES - May 13th, - March 5th, 2004: NIPPIES - Issue #16
NIPPIES - August 31st - May 13, 2004: NIPPIES - Issue #17
NIPPIES - October 29th - September 8th, 2004: NIPPIES - Issue #18
NIPPIES - November 24 - October 31, 2004: NIPPIES - Issue #19

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