Now that is one heck of a headline, but I promise to get all these things into this column and relate one to the other.
First on global warming, today, October 10, 2011 promises to be a beautiful fall day in the Northeast, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-80s – just as it was 64 years ago. How do I know that?
Because I was born 64 years ago on this day and I have heard the story from my mother at least 60 times since then that it was a beautiful fall day with temperatures in the 80s. My grandmother was outside of their farmhouse planting her fall bulbs in the mid-afternoon and my mother was relaxing in the sun talking with her when the first labor pain came.
She called my father who was working at the Army Arsenal in Watervliet, New York. He hurried home, they went to the hospital and at 5:30 p.m., voila, I arrived. So let's not spoil my day with a bunch of nonsense about how temperatures have escalated in a bunch of urban locations around the world, when they are just returning to where they were a generation ago as part of normal weather cycles.
Actually, the weather is helping the people who have spent the last three weeks milling around smartly in lower Manhattan attempting to "occupy" Wall Street. They should be happy as hell that the weather conditions this year have returned to where they were in the 1940s. First, they won't freeze overnight, and second if it isn’t raining they won't have to take showers by proxy.
I heard news reports over the weekend that New York City authorities are beginning to have a public health problem with these latter-day hippies involved in the protest to destroy capitalism (to replace it with anarchy?) since many of them don't believe in personal hygiene.
Their refusal to take showers or baths apparently is rooted in a combination of counter-culture claptrap – somehow they believe cleanliness is an unholy aspect of humanity - and a more recent claim that they are saving the Earth by not using water. The more immediate impact of this behavior is a completely unacceptable stench.
Several of my friends and I ran into this four years ago when we travelled to Washington, D.C. to show our support for Gen. David Petraeus and the troops who then were fighting in Iraq. We also were there to thwart threats to deface the Vietnam War Memorial and other monuments on the National Mall.
When the anti-military protesters marched from the White House to the Capitol where they staged a "die-in" we manned the barricades along their route of march to show that other Americans disagreed with them. The stench as thousands of unwashed bodies walked by was overwhelming – so bad that at first many people thought they had stepped in something on the sidewalk – until a DC police officer told us the real source.
But allow me to offer another view about bathing. Several hundred years ago people in Europe didn't believe in personal hygiene or public hygiene either. They rarely bathed, their sewage ran openly in the streets of their cities, and their garbage piled up high alongside their houses – which occasionally happens today when the sanitation workers go on strike.
As a result of their personal and public filth rats were a constant nuisance and rats carried vermin including fleas that themselves carried the germ that caused the Bubonic Plague, also known as the Black Death that killed tens of millions of people. Fleas not only infested the rats, they infested the people, bit them, infected them, and millions died.
Remember that line from the song, Broadway play and movie Hair? "Give a home to the fleas in my hair. A home for the fleas, a hive for the buzzing bees."
Nice rhyme scheme, but a really stupid idea if you don't want to host and spread myriad diseases.
Eventually the plague came under control – although there still are several deaths a year from plague in the US – and humanity realized that filth supports disease.
The Europeans began to clean up the sewage and garbage in their cities and took up personal hygiene. But not immediately, especially if you have read accounts from Native Americans whose first encounters with Europeans often included references to their stench and general uncleanliness.
Even though the connection between filth and disease was made, it was a long time before the direct connection between rats, fleas and the plague was proved scientifically. But now we have a sub-culture that wants to return to the good old days when millions of people died in agony as a direct result of being dirty.
To achieve this end they are blocking traffic and bridges in an unsuccessful effort to gain public sympathy for their goal of halting billions of daily financial transactions that take place electronically by people who can perform their jobs from any location with an Internet connection. And in the process they also are tearing up the traditional relationship between labor unions.
Just over a week ago the New York Police Department arrested more than 700 protesters who ignored the warnings to stop blocking the Brooklyn Bridge. They were transported to booking facilities in trucks; and now we hear that unions including the Transportation Workers and the Teamsters Union are supporting the protesters. Some reports say that unionized truck drivers have been ordered not to drive any trucks being used to transport protesters who have been arrested.
Can someone tell me why? I thought that when one union was involved in a labor action, the other unions, through their concept of brotherhood, were supposed to support them. Well, the anti-capitalist protesters aren't unionized; in fact if they had their way the Teamsters would quickly become extinct.
But the New York Police Department is unionized, so how do the union bosses justify defying their union brothers and sisters in the Police Department to support non-union layabouts, some of whom have told news reporters that they either quit their jobs to join the protest, or wouldn’t take a job if they were offered one?
It seems as if the behavior of union bosses in this charade is as contradictory as the actions and claims of the so-called protesters, most of whom can't even articulate why they are there or what they hope to accomplish.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a news conference a few days ago in which he was critical of the behavior of the protesters and decried their attempted occupation. Well, if he really wants to rid his city of this potential scourge he should listen to his public health authorities.
If you have hundreds or possibly thousands of people camping out on public property, wallowing in filth and debris, smelling up the area and creating a public health hazard, you have all the reason in the world to put an end to their nonsense. You don't want an outbreak of Bubonic or pneumonic plague in lower Manhattan do you? How about cholera or just the flu?
I'll tell you one thing: Rudy Giuliani would have put up with this for just about a heartbeat, and then he would have cleaned out lower Manhattan the same as he did when he forced the hookers out of Times Square.
I'll tell you another thing. People who think that being dirty is a social statement, and that smelling like an outhouse is attractive and a sign of intelligence very well could have a screw loose. Probably several.
Maybe the New York Health Department can work with the New York MENTAL health department on the next big round up and take a few hundred of the smelliest of the protesters on a three-day cruise to Bellevue. Is there such as thing as a stink-o-meter to determine who smells the worst?
One last thing: How about this for an anti-Occupy Wall Street theme song? Caution, offensive language.
Monday, October 10, 2011