Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Big Ship Dump

by Pa Rock
Weary Road Warrior

The party is over. The rats have all left the ship and are headed home - all except for the rats from the northeastern United States who are apparently being held at bay by snowfall of gargantuan proportions.

Getting out of the port was hell, until I procured the services of a seasoned porter who knew just how to skate through the crowds. Unfortunately, Jesse had to stay behind at the port and was not able to help me with the horrendous lines at the airport. I checked my bags curbside, a process that took over an hour! Fortunately, my plane doesn't leave for a couple of hours yet. That gives me time for a beer or three to calm my nerves!

Good friend Mike Box commented on my blog post from yesterday where I was complaining that the Eurodam blocks the signals of phone and Internet providers so that its captives must use their pay services. Mike, a retired attorney, pointed out that the practice is blatant restraint of trade and the parent company, Holland America, could be held liable for treble damages for their thievery. And let's not have any gloating from the folks at Disney because your cruise line does the same damned thing!

Mike, hang your shingle back out and let's go after them with a big class action lawsuit!

Last night's dinner was memorable. Our table was the last to clear - the conversation was that good. I was just beginning to chat with Rose Styron when investigative journalist Christian Parenti came and sat down at our table. The Widow Styron immediately excused herself, very politely, and rushed over to sit at his side. Parenti is about the age of my oldest son (mid to late thirties), rugged, Hollywood-handsome, and world-wise well beyond his years. He had been a war correspondent embedded with American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and had also written on prison reform, the environment, and the economy. The elder babes clung to him like barnacles on the ships hull!

I tried to ask at least one off-the-wall question of each celebrity that I encountered. Since Parenti is an associate editor of The Nation, and health care was a major focus of the workshops, I asked him if The Nation paid his health insurance. I really wasn't surprised when he told us that he was not covered by the magazine - indeed, he admitted that he has no health insurance because he thought that Obama's plan was going to cover him. Now, of course, he will be looking elsewhere.

The Nation magazine was founded in 1865 and has been published continuously since that time. Parenti told us a few things about its history that I did not know. For instance, it is a privately owned for-profit magazine that does not make any profits. Ownership occasionally changes hands, but the philosophy and feel of the magazine has remained relatively constant since its founding. Katrina vanden Heuval, in addition to being The Nation's editor, is also its current owner.

Another interesting person at our table was Larry Powell who stated that he was a co-inventor of the mag-lev system that powers the high-speed, magnetic trains that are coming into fashion in Japan. I have done some reading on mag-lev technology and feel that it is where our country needs to be headed. Mag-lev does not rely on fossil fuels, and it has a proven track record. I had a chance to visit with Mr. Powell again this morning, and he is going to send me some information. Expect to hear more!

The next Nation cruise will be in September. It will originate in New York City and the destination will be Bermuda. The only two speakers announced so far are Jim Hightower and Judy Collins. Please check the magazine's website for more information.

Can't believe I am on dry land and headed home! Scroungy Bastard is going to be so happy to see me!

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