Over the past year, I have traded a number of e-mails with a nice young gentleman from Singapore. I visited Singapore once, back in the 90s. The skyline looks a bit like Manhatten's; the subway system is *immaculate*. No drugs, no graffiti- they are downright *draconian* in punishment of traffickers and vandals.
Once during the early days of the Clinton Administration, a kid from Dayton, Ohio, got caught "tagging" in Singapore and got sentenced to a number of lashes with a cane. Clinton appealled to the Singapore govt. for clemency. I was living in Dayton, Ohio at the time; I wonder if the Singapore govt. ever learned that a poll in Dayton showed that a clear majority of Daytonians favored the kid being whipped, and one Dayton DJ did a bit on the air of a crowd chanting "Hit him again! Hit him again! Harder! Harder!"
The symbol of Singapore is the merlion; bottom half is a fish, top half is a lion. *Very* cool.
It is a *very* long way from Singapore at the southern tip of Southeast Asia, to the country of Guinea, on the Atlantic coast of Africa. about 7,500 miles in fact. A few days ago, the 'President' of Guinea, Mr. Lansana Conte died and a faction of the Guinea military seized power. France gave Guinea its independence 50 years ago, and in that time, Guinea has had *two* presidents, both of whom came to power in coups. My Singapore e-mail penpal sent me a youtube clip of crowds in Guinea's capital greeting the leader of the latest coup de tat, and asked me what I thought of that.
OK, I'll tell anybody who interested what I think of that: I think I am PROFOUNDLY grateful for the fact that I had the good fortune to have been born in a country where we resolve our political differences through *elections* and not coup de tats!
I have a woman friend from my school days, who does not like President Bush *at* *all*. For Christmas a few years ago, I got her a calendar that counted the days down to January 20, 2009, when Bush will leave office. I purchased it for her for two reasons, 1. I knew she'd be delighted, and 2. I was, indirectly, paying her a compliment. Some people on the far ("Air America") Left in America were fond of accusing the Bush administration of plotting to cancel the 2008 elections and stay in power indefinitely. By buying her that calendar, I was complimenting her on having far too much good sense to believe that rubbish.
P.S. I just learned that the current President of the country of Gabon is named Omar Bongo. Perhaps he ought to consider changing his name. I think *Charlie* Bongo sounds *much* better, don't you?