Kathryn of Omaha TV and her panel of Mother Earth’s Weekly Squirms is on-screen and millions of viewers have tuned in. Take-a-listen.
Kathryn: “Glad you are still with us, Mars Man, to tackle another fad that is overflowing today’s media, namely “inequality”. A French economist, Thomas Piketty, has written a tome of 800 pages about the increase in inequality between the haves and the have-nots on Mother Earth over the last one hundred years. The book “Capital in the 21st Century” has brought forward a tsunami of criticism and acclaim. Does Mars have a similar problem?”
Mars Man: “Definitely not. Inequality is human-made. The great Mars Magnifier gives every Mars Man what we need. It’s supra-natural, gender-neutral and omnipresent, and was created by the Big Bang of Mars. Every Mars Man taps from it from birth and lives happily ever after. We don’t need to work, don’t have to pay taxes, and have a sea of time enjoying ourselves. We never get bored because we are too busy having fun.”
Kathryn: “But that’s wonderful. Why don’t we have such a machine on Earth?”
Mars Man: “As I told you at your last Round Table, at Big Bang Time, Mother Earth disqualified itself because Eve handed Adam the testosterone apple, and everything has been going downhill for you since then.”
Kathryn: “But how do you define Mother Earth’s inequality syndrome?”
Mars Man:”Your inequality is a natural phenomenon. I don’t understand why someone has to write an 800 page tome about it, much less where you would find the time to read it, only to advance a French argument favoring higher taxes on people who work harder than those who don’t and want to keep their hard-earned money grow over time.”
Kathryn: “What’s wrong with that French argument?”
Mars Man: “First of all, it’s French. The French popular advice is if you want to get rich, marry a wealthy person who’s plain-faced and can’t find a partner, and then have a mistress or lover on the side to keep your sanity, while using the money of the plain spouse to live well. So, the French say, taxing that bad person to poverty makes sense. But destroying money is unproductive because then it stops working, and as you know taxed money goes down the drain and that’s a waste. That’s why so many wealthy people are leaving France today and want to come to Mars.”
Kathryn: “And what’s the second point?”
Mars Man: “I was getting to that. Inequality is good. You say on Mother Earth that someone else’s grass is always greener. Humans want to keep up with the Joneses. It’s an incentive to do better, have upward mobility, make new things. On Mars, we do that for fun. On Mother Earth, you do it for money. But if you tax the hard-earned money away, you kill the incentive to work more and go back to the stone age.”
Kathryn: “People here are arguing that the rich must be taxed more to spread the wealth.”
Mars Man: “Why do some people get rich and others don’t? A film star, a smart person? Why not tax someone only because he or she was born beautiful, to give it away to the ugly? Tax George Clooney ninety-nine percent of his salary? And why not tax someone because he got more brains than someone else?”
Kathryn: “Don’t give the tax people here any ideas, they might just do it. Let me get our panelists in. Bob Foolsman, how do you look at it?”
Bob: “All men are born equal and have the right to the enjoyment of life and liberty. That’s what Jefferson and his followers said.
A system that is based on rewarding talent, hard work and achievement creates inequality and hurts the person who has no talent and lacks the incentive or has no brains. But that person still has a right to the enjoyment of life, thus needs a home, a TV and a long chair to look at it.”
Fred Garfinkel: ‘But that’s utopia. Why not give him or her a swimming pool, too? Mitt Romney turned companies around so that they and their workers contributed to the Treasury instead of drawing unemployment checks. That’s an art. Art is worth money and he earned it and paid taxes on it. And yet, he gets slurred for not paying taxes by a politician who gave him the middle finger and only receives a salary from the taxpayer and doesn’t produce anything good.”
Mars Man: “To us Martians, that is Topsy-turvy. You know the story in your Bible: those two servants who invested the money of the absent landlord got rewarded for it on his return, and the one who didn’t and put it under his mattress, got punished instead. That was the right decision, but on Mother Earth you want to do the opposite.”
Charles Hammerschmidt: “And where to does it all lead? Look around. Stagnation. Nobody in his right mind wants to work to only pay more taxes. We are all born unequal. Inequality is a fact of life. Bob is just jealous because he wasn’t born a George Clooney.”
Fred: “I’m jealous of those NFL football players, or the Yankees, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, all worth multiple millions of dollars. I am simply not as good at it, however much I try. There you have it: inequality. But nobody talks about them, it’s always the CEOs and families that built wealth with their hands and minds that get clobbered.”
Mars Man: “Your politicians have a knack for getting on the bandwagon when they believe a significant portion of the populace likes to vent their frustration that they’re not equal to those who are successful.
If they do and vote for more taxes, the inequality will even grow larger: less investment by the wealthy means less jobs for the unequals and even lesser chance to get even, while the wealthy have other means of capitalization to keep their money growing.”
Kathryn: “Well said, that’s the end of the show. Wish you a good journey back to Mars City, Mars Man.Viewers, thanks for joining us.”
Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund
The Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund (www.audreyhepburn.com) is in continuous need of money to fund its efforts to save malnourished and orphaned children. I wrote the short story “Audrey” with the purpose of raising some money for the Fund to show my gratefulness of having met her in my personal family life. So I am sending a kind reminder.
Recently, I stumbled on a small picture of Audrey in the house of a Dutch friend in Nice who had kept it for me during the years. She had also met Audrey in her youth in Amsterdam, when, in 1947, Audrey had moved there with her mother, Aunt Ella as I called her, from Arnhem. A sister of Audrey’s mother, whose name was Geraldine, used to help my friend’s father, whose wife had died, to take care of her disabled little sister. Ella took Audrey to that house from time to time.
The picture below got cracked during the years. It was first restored by Kendal Brenneman from Lancaster USA <http://www.kendalbrenneman.com>, a kind friend of the Audrey Fan club, and further refined through my daughter’s office (trial/graphix.com). It was taken by a Dutch photographer in Arnhem, in 1946, probably at the Arnhem Conservatory where Audrey took dancing lessons when she was 16.
The back of the photograph shows the genuine identity of the photograph. The handwriting on the back is that of an Aunt of mine who had received the photograph from Audrey’s mother to keep it for me. The photograph seems rare as I have not seen it anywhere in the many Audrey photo books published.
Audrey, 13 years oldIn an earlier blog, I showed a family picture (above) when Audrey was 13, the age I met her during World War II. You can see the similarity between the two foregoing pictures, but also her gradual blossoming into a beautiful woman.
The cover of the Audrey story I wrote shows one of the first photographs when she started modeling in London in the early fifties. It is also a rare picture as I have not seen it anywhere else either. She must have been about 21 at that time and you can clearly see how she had grown into the beauty that made her famous.
I am sending these photographs around again to entice you to purchase the Audrey short story published on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IKY4CC0) for a mere $0.99 or thereabout, depending on where you are (net proceeds will go straight to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund), or go directly to www.audreyhepburn.com and make your contribution there. Through recent connections with the Audrey fan club http://www.audrey1.org/ I was surprised to see how many people are still Audrey fans. She did indeed leave a fabulous legacy that few stars can emulate. I just hope it will continue to shine on the needy children through the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund. Give it your best!
Thanks so much!
On vacation? Go Riviera!
It’s time to pack again, load the car, attach the camper, take the train or go by plane. Down south, where the sun shines and the blue of blues blinds your eyes. The French Riviera. The Côte d’Azur. One of the few privileged places left on Mother Earth. In other lands, not that far away, people shoot, bomb, murder, torture, rape and curse in the name of Allah, but here only peaceful nature, calm and serenity prevail in the name of sanity. Not that the rush in July-August to get here does not take its victims. It’s a bit like that baby turtle race to the sea. Some make it, others don’t and get tragically squashed on the highway. But once you are there, heaven awaits you.
Let’s start in Nice. How privileged its citizens are: all that splendid wealth of nature handed on a plate for free. Only take your swimsuit and an inflatable pad, take the bus and you’re on the beach.
This is how the beach looks like when nobody is there.
Or like this, still early in the day or a weekday when everybody is at work.
Or like this when it’s weekend!
Granted, I would feel more comfortable on Aruba’s or Bali’s sandy beaches, but don’t worry. Travel a bit farther west to the Lavandou, and you find the most delightful sandy beaches ever and a lot less crowded than in Nice. Let’s take a look at what borders on the beach of Nice: it’s the splendid Promenade des Anglais.
The Promenade was started in the early nineteenth century when Nice was still part of a fiefdom called “Sardaigne” and wealthy European aristocrats, especially British suffering from stiff bones and arthritis during their bitter winters, sought the soft climate of the Côte d’Azur to survive. Reportedly an entrepreneurial British reverend among them, named Lewis Way, launched a fundraising effort to finance the construction of a boardwalk along the coast that started in 1821 and was completed in 1824. When in 1860 France annexed Nice, the boardwalk was baptized “Promenade des Anglais”. In subsequent years, the Promenade was extended and its many brilliant villas along it turned into exclusive hotels, such as Negresco.
Now let’s take a side trip to Menton, taking the small coastal road a few miles to the East, past Monaco and near the border with Italy.
The coastal road along the beach in Menton.
On the way, a view over Monaco with a glimpse of the Royal Palace at the very end. Just imagine having that view of the Mediterranean at your disposal every day of your life. That’s why many hills along the coast are built to the knock with villas, apartments and mansions as well.
A glimpse of the Alpes Maritimes in Menton’s hinterland, streets characteristic for the Mediterranean towns.
As in Nice, the beach in Menton is graveled as well. Seagulls are waiting for a snack. I’m sure that in the USA they would have found tons of sand to cover it all. But here, nature is left to its natural course. In fact, the gravel (called “galets” in French) is naturally supplemented by the rivers flowing into the Mediterranean.
Off we go to the Eastern side of Nice: avoiding places like Cannes, Saint-Raphael and Saint Tropez that are too crowded. Two places we really liked: Théoule-sur-Mer and above all: a little village called Cavalière in the Lavandou where you can still enjoy the Mediterranean without feeling you are besieged by hordes of tourists and loud motor cycles.
In the back you can see the snow-topped Alpes Maritimes!
In Théoule, the beaches have soft nice sand and you can enjoy a hearty grilled Dorade at its restaurant if the chef is in a friendly mood. In our case he got mad at us because we took seat at a table laid for three, and we told him in plain French *#! and walked out on our way to Cavalière, where we did have our Dorade on a friendlier terrace.
Unparalleled Côte d’Azur. You may be far away from theater or the concert hall, but what you get in return is peace of mind (if you got the money.)
Yes, Cavalière, our favorite place, about two hours from Nice (if you take the highway A8), where the mountains descend graciously into the Mediterranean, offering you splendid little private beaches where you can feel like the wealthiest person in the world without having to be one. A hidden beach where you can stay almost by yourself. Of course, French women bathe always topless, what women in Africa do because they don’t have money to pay for a bra — back to nature. Our place to stay and never to leave.
Your dream house, for grabs!
Farewell, Cavalière…..our pearl of the Riviera.
The end of a “Nice” Côte d’Azur adventure.
Sci-Fi Mars Man landed at the Branson cornfield again, near Omaha Nebraska, for another interview with Omaha TV. Kathryn and her team of experts sit around the table and Mars Man, freshly dressed in his human alternate costume, sits in front. The red light switches on and millions of TV viewers tune in to Kathryn’s much watched show, “Mother Earth’s Weekly Squirms”.
Kathryn starts: “Welcome Mars Man, good to have you here again. You’ve seen and heard of all the religious strife on Mother Earth. What’s your view point?”
Mars Man: “A never ending story, Kathryn. Man on Earth has killed in the name of God or Allah since Paradise was lost to the evil snake that spurred Eve to hand Adam the testosterone apple. We on Mars don’t have apples or snakes, so we don’t have your problem. But it’s clear the end of religious killings on Mother Earth is not in sight.”
Kathryn: “But why do you think humans on Earth are so adamant about fighting each other’s religion?”
Mars Man: “It’s all about power. Leaders use religion to create followers to enhance their position, then fight other leaders with a different religion that seek the same power trying to overthrow yours. Your Bible is already full of religious strife. Jews, Christians and Muslims have fought each other from day one.”
Kathryn: “But why is someone else’s religion bad?”
Mars Man: “Because their followers may take your power away.”
Father Benedictus: “But that’s a preposterous way of looking at religion. Religion is to honor God and to live by His example of goodness and peace.”
Mars Man: “If this is so, few of your humans seem to understand let alone adhere to that. Even the Jews axed to pieces the board of ten commandments that Moses brought down to earth. And the Pharaohs found the seven plagues as an Act of God slightly overdone.”
Father Benedictus: “Christianity is the right religion. Our whole civilization is built on it. The Romans fought it but lost and our Pope is in Rome. It’s a religion of peace, not war.”
Mufti Ali: “I beg to disagree. Mohammed was the last prophet who erased all false religions that were spread around before. Allahu Akbar. Even President Obama said that the five o’clock call to prayer was the sweetest sound on earth.”
Father Benedictus: “Christ was a man of peace, turning the other cheek. Your Mohammed took the sword to force people to follow Islam and your intolerant people have never stopped fighting Christians or fighting among yourself.”
Mars Man: “Interesting exchange, but if I may, Christians have fought each other as Catholics and Protestants and waged many bloody wars from the Middle Ages through the Twentieth Century. Islamists have and are still waging wars between Sunnis and Shiites. Both of you seem to forget that while you are singing psalms in church or kneeling down in mosques hailing peace, the moment you’re outside you fight each other and everybody else.”
Mufti Ali: “The Christians started the Crusades and bombed us out of Spain, so we have the right to get even.”
Kathryn: “I wonder if there is a more positive way we could look at our religious differences. Any suggestions, Mars Man?”
Mars man: “You should abolish all religions and start one anew that everyone can believe in. Your United Nations might be a good place to start.”
Kathryn: “Reverend Jude, you’ve been silent so far, do you think that’s a good idea?”
Reverend Jude: “Thanks, Kathryn, for giving me the floor. I for one do not think so. The Catholics have the Pope and many Bishops, but we Protestants are Episcopal, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglicans, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Latter Day Saints, you name it. We could never unify on a new religion, and we don’t have any money left for new wars as the IRS is taking it all away from our followers.”
Father Benedictus: “Same for us. We’re broke after paying astronomical fines for homosexual offense.”
Mufti Ali: “The only new religion could be Islam. Allahu Akbar.”
Reverend Jude: “You guys started six hundred years after Christ and are just now in the midst of your bloody religious wars. We have had ours for the last five hundred years and have settled them. By my calculations, you still have five hundred years to go to settle yours between Sunni and Shiites and all other tribal sects in-between, to decide what sort of Islam should prevail. From the news reports and all the beheadings and rapes, you’re doing just fine. So far, you wouldn’t have a vote.”
Mars Man: “It may be necessary to create a Religious Security Council where the mainstream religions are represented to enforce some unity in this total chaos.”
Mufti Ali: “We would have two seats, one for Sunnis and another for Shiites, both representing billions of followers.”
Reverend Jude: “If you claim two seats, we would have at least five to represent our billions of followers.”
Father Benedictus: “And we Catholics would claim the majority because we pay most of the fines.”
Mars Man: “You’re forgetting Hindus and Buddhists, both entrenched in South and East Asia, and the Jews, all over the world….”
Mufti Ali: “Hindus are not allowed in. They’re apostates who beat us into Pakistan. China is taking care of the Bhuddists. Israel will be thrown into the sea, leaving other Jews powerless. Allahu Akbar.”
Mars Man: “…And the Russian and Greek Orthodox Church. Putin would want them to have seats too.”
Kathryn: “Mars Man, to witness our round table discussion, it would seem your idea would lead only to more wars.”
Mufti Ali: “The final war will be when the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gets the bomb and blows you all to smithereens so that the Mahdi can come to clean up the mess and install the one religion for those still left on earth.”
Reverend Jude: “Islam and Christianity agree on “The Day of Reckoning”. It’s in the Bible and the Koran.”
Mars Man: “Hallelujah! Finally agreement!”
Kathryn: “We better close this discussion before another disagreement pops up. Thanks Mars Man for an enlightening round table. Viewers, see you next time!”
Nice, its Spectacular Citadel
Many have visited the famous hilltop in Nice, which for centuries served (from the eleventh to the eighteenth century) as a fortified castle to battle those who wanted to make Nice a place of their own. A rock of about 300 yards (or 900 feet) high, it once featured a cathedral and settlements. All this was destroyed by Louis XIV in 1706 with enormous guns as part of the never ending local quarrels in Europe. Now, you can only admire the ruins (which look like all ruins.) But the stiff walk uphill is most rewarding for the spectacular views of the town and the Mediterranean, as shown below.
Halfway you find a Christian cemetery (above) and a Jewish cemetery (below), separate from each other.
The ruins on top are not very representative of what the Citadel’s cathedral once was but they indicate its ancestry.
Other worthwhile treasures are remnants of the Roman Empire (below)
And, of course, the mutual admiration of each others’ dogs.
A view of Nice’s environment makes you jealous of its many variations when you are back home with only flat boring streets.
Turning to the seaside of the hill, visitors are offered magnificent sights of the Mediterranean and the port of Nice.
Buddhist monks are among the tourists.
Nice’s War Memorial at the bottom of the Citadel.
Next time: Memory Lane of the Riviera.