August 31, 2010

quote of the moment

"settle for a good fantasy."

-- tattoo on the inside of the left arm of a 20-something white woman;
las vegas, NV

quote of the moment

"i don't happen to care for what they call 'music' today."

-- "beverly," docent at the liberace museum; las vegas, NV

quote of the moment

"please refrain from touching the artifacts."

-- sign near an ermine covered bed; liberace museum, las vegas, NV

August 29, 2010

quote of the moment

"reflection is the key to progression."

-- stumbled across this quote online, but it appears to have been ripped
off (repeatedly) elsewhere ... i don't know what the proper attribution
is ... mark it "anonymous"

August 28, 2010


a close friend of mine, d4rw1n, is an international trade lawyer.  his specialty is saving your ass if your company has (nearly always intentionally) traded with countries that the US holds in an international trade ban (think: N korea, cuba and the ilk -- that's right, one of the ways the US defines "freedom" is by saying you can't travel and trade with certain countries).

as a result of his expertise, d4rw1n has traveled more to libya than anyone i know; and is personal friends with gadhafi's oldest son (the person most likely to take over after the brother leader dies).

when i saw this article, i wanted to get his perception of it all and got the following response ... i'm putting it here merely for future reference.  {i've changed a few details slightly to keep HD from being singled out.)


I find it fascinating. I don't have enough expertise to comment comprehensively, but my initial reactions (based mostly on a visit in 2005 and on the experiences of about a dozen clients trying to do business there) are:

1. Gadhafi is still mad, and his whims dominate every sector of the economy.  This makes it impossible to have predicitability in business.  I am sure many investors will do well,  but but I would guess there will be just as many with good ideas, good management, and good execution who fail because the government decides capriciously against that particular project, sector, or individual company. Conversely, some absolutely insane ideas succeed (the Koreans have made billions on the Great Man-Made River) because Gadhafi likes them.

2. The government is very corrupt, which harms economic growth and adds another layer to the unpredictability of the economy.

3. The entire society is unfamiliar with the idea of credit, even in the simplest sense.  I had a client who was setting up a 100 person office in Tripoli and spent three days just buying cellphones for the employees: you can't issue a purchase order. You go to the distributor in person and pay in cash in full before you can take them back to your headquarters. when every simple thing that takes 15 minutes in a credit economy takes 3 days in the cash economy, it is very tiring to be in business.

4. I understand there is still a big struggle within the government between the reformers (including Saif-al-Islam Gadhafi, I'm told) and the old hardliners. The leader himself tends to waver between these extremes, making life very difficult for the foreign investors (and local entrepreneurs), I'm sure. Nobody knows which way the governement will go from day to day, let alone next year or when Brother Leader dies.

5. On a sightseeing trip up to Leptis, I found it mind-boggling to hear my driver tell of the society's conception of property: all people own it. If you see an orchard, you can go out and pick the fruit, sit in the shade of the treees, and eat all you want.  But you can't take any home with you. Weird to think of a culture like that coping with international capitalism.

6. Tourism should be huge.  The 1000-kilometer Mediterranean coast is magnificently beautiful.  (It should also be an economic advantage: I hear the fisheries there haven't collapsed like most of the rest of the world's oceans).  The ruins are unbelieveable. There are good artists, and the food is good. The best dates I ever tasted were there, and their watermelons are uniquely good.

7. The young generation seemed very skeptical, verging on hostile, toward me as an American.  Everyone i met over 45, on the other hand, spoke excellent English and had very positive things to say about America.

8. There is virtually no crime (one dubious benefit of a totalitarian state: everyone who has even thought of committing a crime is rotting in prison).

9. Gratuitous footnote: Gadhafi still has the coolest personal bodyguard corps in the world, the "Amazonian Guard." The man saw too many Bond films in the '70s. They're ridiculously hot, but effective too. Aisha square in Tripoli is named for the woman who leapt in front of Gadhafi during an assasination attempt in 1996, took a bullet meant for him, and died of her injuries.

it's neither here nor there, but worth the footnote: d4rw1n charges more by the hour ($775) than anyone i know -- impressive when you consider that many of my friends are multi-millionaires.

August 27, 2010

quote of the moment

"A Thai woman was arrested at Beijing's airport after she hid a drugged
baby tiger in her suitcase, next to a stuffed toy tiger."

-- y! news story (probably AP origin)

August 26, 2010

quote of the moment

"i put ketchup on my ketchup"

-- t-shirt on a 20-something white guy; las vegas, NV

August 19, 2010

ghostland observatory

las vegas, NV

ghostland observatory

las vegas, NV

August 14, 2010

quote of the moment

"don't walk and chew angus at the same time."

-- mc donald's radio commercial

quote of the moment

"I like to skirt the edge of lame."

-- david szetela

August 13, 2010

quote of the moment

"everywhere i go is fuckin' sin city."

-- lady gaga; las vegas, NV

quote of the moment

"with your US passport, the world is yours!"

-- frontispiece of the propaganda flyer accompanying a new US passport

quote of the moment

"flying J reserves the right to limit fuel sales based upon market
conditions, customer history or other factors."

-- gasoline pump notice; las vegas, NV

August 09, 2010

quote of the moment


-- inscription painted on the side of a casino; las vegas, NV

quote of the moment

"in vegas, there's no place like rome."

-- billboard; las vegas, NV

haiku of the moment

rabbit runs past car
nearby plane taxis tarmac
study in movement

August 07, 2010

quote of the moment

"act as if every resource is scarce."

-- rick griffith