Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A Beer Thought

It's the only business in America that can now claim to be better than where it was in 1890.

Yes, we've restored the American brewery to the status that it once enjoyed.  In the late 1970s....we were down to double-digits.

Thanks to hobby brewers and enthusiasts....every significant town in America likely has one brewery.  Folks might not brag much on it, but they sell beer.

So, it makes you pause and ponder.  What happens in twenty years?  Another thousand brewery operations?  And are the big guys like Pabst and Coors suffering because of the flood of mini-brews?  

Owning a Car in America

It's an odd chart, produced by the Energy Department.  It's hard to say what their agenda was to assemble this data.....but it's statistics over fifty years of car ownership in America.

Basically, in 1960.....roughly twenty percent of the population did not own a vehicle.  Most families owned one car, and it was hard to find any family in America in 1960 that had three cars.

Today?  Almost twenty percent of the households in America have three cars.  Barely ten percent of American households....own no car.

Some guys would readily say that they do have three vehicles....but one is a forty-year old car that they keep in the garage and only drive in the summer months for pleasure.  Some will tell you that they own a 1978 Ford F-150 that sits in a shed, and is the third vehicle....only to be used to check cows, pick up stuff at Co-Op, or to train the 15-year old daughter on proper driving procedures.

American society over the last fifty years has radically changed in terms of vehicle usage.  If you drive sixty miles to work each day......you drive a Honda, Toyota or a non-gas hog vehicle.  The days of a guy driving a 15-mpg vehicle are just about gone.

What's the intention of the statistics?  I'd make a humble guess that it leads to some idiot assuming that there are too many vehicles in each household and that a new tax needs to be implemented.....to stop that terrible practice.  Some Senator will come along and talk of the unfair nature of car ownership, and how folks need to change their habits.

What the numbers didn't say....is how many folks own four and five vehicles.....in 2013.  That might shock a few folks.

Greeks and Politics

This is one of those odd stories that take a minute or two to explain.

I spent a week in Corfu, and came to note a number of posters and signs around town.  One of them....was a 'stop fascism' poster.  Some big meeting being held one afternoon with the anti fascism folks in town.

What you tend to learn about Greek politics.....if you aren't socialist in nature....then you get labeled fascist in nature.  It's a silly game, and rarely truthful in nature....but it's the way that politics work in Greece.

Even if you are moderate socialist....you might get a fascist label attached to you by the extreme socialists.

So over the past couple of days....this event unfolded one evening in Greece where some socialist hip-hop singer (yeah, they even have hip-hop there)....got into some hot debate with a Golden Dawn political activist.

Golden Dawn is this group of Greek political folks....who lean an awful lot toward the old German Nationalist Socialist (yeah, the Nazis).  For practical purposes, they were socialists....but of an extreme variety.

This street meeting between the two extremes....ended badly, with the hip-hop singer dead from a knife wound.  It's up to debate now if the knife belonged to the Golden Dawn guy or the hip-hop guy.....and if this was simply fueled by two guys acting crazy on the street.

Naturally, this all leads to street riots, hip-hop artists going into political rage over the New Dawn folks, and a national discussion underway.  The dead hip-hop guy? Killah P.  If you'd gone throughout Greece a month ago....you would have been lucky to find one-percent of the population that might have heard of the guy.

Stories like this.....you can't make up....Nazi guy getting into argument and killing some hip-hop guy.

Greece has a history of oddball events like this.

In the late 1960s....a military coup came up in Greece, and some fairly negative events occurred.  It was for all practical purposes....a police state.  Books and movies would be made over the episode, but rarely told a complete picture.

On one side street of Corfu City....there is this statue of Kostas Georgakis....student, dead from suicide in 1970.

There's not much of an explanation on the statue....this Georgakis guy gets a can of gas and lights himself up at an Italian university.

So you dig into the story.  His folks sent him away to Italy during this period....paying out of their pocket a fair sum of money to attend an Italian school.

It came to pass that Kostas realized that the coup leaders back in Greece....had set up a spy operation in Italy.....at the university there....and were actively spying on Greek students there.  They were more or less going to ensure that no one said anything much in public.....no matter where they went or how far they escaped from Greece.

Pressure was applied to the kid, and he finally went off and killed himself in a public episode.

What happened over the next two years is a curious thing.  The story gets picked up and made into a movie.  Various articles appear in Europe and the US....making the junta-government of Greece look like idiots. By 1973....the Army decides that the political figures that they helped to install....were more of a problem than the previous government.  Arrests occurred, and Greece reverted back to a difficult but honorable democracy.

The statue of the student is rather simple, and is one of the statues in Corfu city that is known by just about everybody.  He's not a national hero....but more like a national victim.  Tourists walk by the statue....it's an odd piece....a young guy crouching.....not the usual stand that most folks prepare a statue for public viewing.

Politics revolve around an odd world in Greece.  I imagine in a dozen years.....someone will unveil a statue for this hip-hop artist.  Folks will shake their heads, but some legend will be written up, and maybe even a movie made on this Greek hip-hop guy killed by some Greek Nazi.

Dressing Up

I'm not much for fancy clothing or designer stuff....mostly because I'm from Bama.  A guy grows up in simpler surroundings, and feels like an idiot if he were to buy a $100 shirt, or a $300-pair of Italian shoes.

I went off to Corfu and one of the odd things that I allowed myself to buy...was some rip-off fake Hugo Boss belt.  At fancy stores in DC....this would have been $50.  I bought this Chinese-made Hugo Boss-man belt for five Euro ($6 roughly).

Course, I was sitting there on the plane and flying back into Frankfurt with the belt on....when this odd thought hit me.....what if the German customs guys stand there at the baggage area and note my fake belt?  I would feel pretty idiot trying to explain my fake but expensive-looking belt to the customs guy.  So for around an hour there....as I'm going through the airport, and getting finally to the luggage area....I've got these worry issues.  Nothing happened and I proceeded on.

To be honest, I've come to realize after two weeks that this is an awful cheap belt and I doubt that it last a year.  But for a couple of bucks, I guess it's worth it.

A Bama guy in a Hugo Boss belt but cheap Wal-Mart jeans?  Yeah, it just doesn't match up.