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July 2006 Notes Plus Travel Notes: Milwaukee and the Sagamore Resort in Lake George, NY

Announcing the First and Last Ever Global Thoughts Hokey-Pokey Forum
You know the song, right? “You put your left hand in, you put your left hand out….you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself about, that’s what it’s all about….Yeah!” It’s been an American favorite for at least a few generations by now and I was wondering if you all sing it around the world in your language. If you do, how about sending me an English transliterated version of the first stanza of the hokey pokey that you sing (but also send me an English version so I know what it’s about) and I’ll post it so that we can all hope to eventually teach our kids (or other tots we know) a bit of the hokey pokey in as many languages as possible and it will be a good introduction into comparative studies for them! C’mon, this will be fun and I’m sure that plenty of people out there are hoping you’ll participate and put your country on the Hokey Pokey map!

As long as I’m on baby subjects, I’m posting Elizabeth’s Packing List this month. You can let me know if you have any thoughts about this. As you can see, she doesn’t wear very much, but needs lots of accessories. Still, her food bill is a lot cheaper than hotels and restaurants and all her stuff fits in a knapsack.

Last month I had to clean out my apartment in Miami Beach and send my papers and other assorted treasures to New York. I turned 40 this past April and it is a bit of a milestone to sit around for a day or two and rummage through all these things that were so important to me as a teenager. Of course, now I don’t even have the time to look at and read all these things that I spent hours upon hours working on at the time. My first thought is, where do teenagers have all this free time? To some extent, we are wasting tons of creativity on young people who get all the time to write and create, but when their skills are more fully developed, they just go to work all day and produce little of creative value.

World News

I don’t have that much to talk about this month, maybe because it’s quiet or because nothing is really exciting and new out there.
The real estate market in Manhattan hasn’t really changed much yet despite an overall slump. It might not — it is an island with only so much space and with many people in the world who want “in” and if the dollar is down, then the Euro is up and basically there is always somebody who is doing well enough to buy in……..I wouldn’t be shocked if oil hit $100 a barrel this year. It would probably create a certain amount of recession but it wouldn’t rock the world…….I’ve put more money into Australia’s Index fund (US-Ishare ticker symbol EWA). It has consistently stayed adrift of the market’s volatility.

North Korea…My main question is Should we care? If we do, shouldn’t we just obliterate the regime to make sure everyone else realizes they shouldn’t go this route? Any thoughts?

Russia….Slowly but surely, Putin is reasserting dictatorship there. The West doesn’t care; it just won’t do business with that country. If he wants to sit at the G8 and have a say, then the country has to get in line with the other countries around the table. Russia is simply incompatible with the rest of the G8 in its present state. Afghanistan: The Economist calls Karzai’s government corrupt. So I guess it is. Get in line behind Pakistan and the rest.

Gaza…What else can Olmert do besides go into Gaza and try to uproot Hamas if he ever wants to talk domestically about future withdrawal from territory? Since the Israelis pulled out, they have almost daily rockets going into their country from Gaza (civilian populated areas in Gaza, no less). In Exodus, it talks about God hardening the heart of Pharoah. And then came the 10 Plagues, etc. It’s a modern-day repeat of history — the Palestinians are fated to be subject to a psychosis that insists on uprooting Israel even before establishing a state of their own. Hamas may be factionalized and a bit ideologically nutty but by and large it represents the will and sympathy of the broad population. Instead of building schools, roads or even cleaning up any of the rubble left behind a year ago by the Israelis, all they’ve done is run around making trouble for the Israelis, forcing them to close the border crossings and lay siege to their economy and frustrate any foreign investment. It’s sad also for the population because just like the PLO in the territories was manipulated by extra-territorial hacks, the exact same thing is happening now with Hamas being stage-managed by foreign elements sitting in Iran and Syria who don’t give a damn about Palestinians in the territories and who never want to see peace happen because it’s not in their interests to have peace. Meanwhile, the Israelis are watching the World Cup and my brother is there with his kids for 4 weeks vacation and nobody is even talking about Gaza. 

If you want, we could spend hundreds of pages dissecting the various factions and levers of power and it is very complicated. But it is also very simple and I think it all boils down to one point which I have made on this site over the past few years: If the Israelis want to solve the problem of Gaza, look to Syria and Iran. No matter how many Hamasniks you kill in Gaza, the money and the personnel are coming from outside and will continue to be replaced until you either make the puppeteers hurt or make peace with them. Peace is against their interest so you have to hurt them real bad to get them to stop. 

Whatever you think of all this, there’s something romantic about sending in an army to rescue one corporal. It is the source of motivation for Israeli soldiers to think that each life counts.

There is an excellent article in this past Friday’s Haaretz Magazine (www.haaretz.com  July 7). http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/735513.html
The article “A Matter of Opinion?” has 4 commentaries as to whether pulling out of Gaza was a mistake and what should come next. The 4 sources are former chief of staff Ya’alon, Yossi Beilin, former advisor to Sharon Dov Weisglass and current security minister Avi Dichter. All 4 logics differ and they are all valid. These are people who count for something and the article does a good job of showing that there is no easy answer to this overall problem. But all agree that the main problem is for the Israelis to deal with a problem in the absence of a single Palestinian entity that can deal with its own domestic situation. They agree that you can’t have a situation where Hamas declares any type of victory for terrorism and that it has to be destroyed if it insists on continuing to act like a terrorist organization hellbent on destroying Israel instead of a government that wants to build a state.

If this is the situation, how about doing something completely different? If I were running the Palestinian Authority, this is what I’d do: I’d say to the Israelis: You know, every state around us is basically living in yesteryear and the sponsor states such as Syria and Iran are places where you have to work 3 months to get a refrigerator. We want a life here: We are throwing away all our arms, renouncing the struggle against Israel and we don’t even care about right of return to Israel, Jerusalem as a capital or anything else. We just want to negotiate with you to give us some kind of decent contiguous state that is more than Gaza and we want to integrate with your economic system and give you whatever security terms you need in order to prove that you have nothing to fear from us. We expect that after 5 years of quiet that we will get a fair shake on some kind of toe-hold in Jerusalem, the holy places and that we can work out something in terms of family reunifications in pre-1948 Israel. But right now, we just want to make things work and get out of the shithole we live in. We’re smart, educated people who love work, family and life and we just want to start making up for the last 58 years that has absolutely nothing to show for it and look forward to a GDP that is far in excess of $1,000 per year, especially considering that your country is now expecting to achieve GDP of nearly $25,000 a year in the next few years and that there is no economy anywhere in the Moslem or Arab region that comes close to that. Turkey, a possible EEC entrant, was flavor of the month for the past year and its market tanked the minute anyone had a whiff of concern about developing countries. We’ve noticed there are more Israeli companies listed on NASDAQ than any other foreign companies and we want in on this. We also want to get out of the business of trying to run a state and we are going to outsource our internal government to the Sheikh of Dubai since there are maybe 3 countries in the Middle East that have economies or governments that work (UAE, Bahrain and Qatar come to mind) and that function without endless corruption.  We just want them to pay a royalty to the PA which we will use to provide an infrastructure that presently doesn’t exist and reward the top 10 of us for getting out of the way of our People’s future. 

Of course it will never happen, but it’s really the best way of assuring Palestinians a better life and for getting the Israelis a better overall situation.

Travel Notes

Sagamore Resort Hotel…Bolton Landing, NY…July 4th Weekend 2006
A good way to get here from New York is to take Amtrak to Albany and drive the last 65 miles, or just drive 4 hours from New York. The setting is gorgeous on Lake George, as pretty as anything you’ll see from Lake Geneva. There is a main building and family-type lodges a few minutes walk away with kitchen facilities and a bit more space. The resort has a boat that takes you for lunch or dinner on the lake. Family friendly with lots of good restaurants and visiting families who are repeat customers. Prices for food and services on the property are reasonable. It is a 4 star verging on 5 star property with a spa, horseback riding and golf. We stayed 4 nights and were very happy. Also makes for a good corporate retreat.

Milwaukee
I was expecting to be really bored here, but my 3 day visit here for a business conference was surprisingly fun. Or else fun people just have fun everywhere, even in Milwaukee. It’s a mini-Chicago just 90 miles to the north, with lots of architecture and culture packed in a small place. The Art Museum is world class and spanking new. A 2 hour flight from New York, MidWest Airlines is one of America’s best with very nice planes and good food and service. They give you freshly baked chocolate chip cookies too. Taxi to hotel in center city is less than 15 minutes. I stayed in the Wyndham and it was fine. The Pfister seems to be the grande dame hotel in town and the Metropolitan next door is a boutique hotel of note. The center city is walkable and not very large. Rocky Bottom Brewery was a nice place to have lunch near the hotel and it’s on the Riverwalk that runs along the river that cuts through the city. Highlights of the city tour include Blu Bar at the top of the Pfister for city views, the Art Museum with sides of the building that open and close, War Memorial, the Public Market for fresh foodies; the Public Museum for an exhibit on Old Milwaukee and a view of the nearby Public Library and Courthouse. 3rd Street Pier and M’Oceans has good fish; Lucille’s Dueling Piano Bar is a lot of fun in the evenings with 2 pianos playing tunes at the same time. In one dark alley is a door that says “International Exports Ltd.” Walk inside and there is a guy at a 1950’s type telephone switchboard who asks you for your password. If you don’t know it, you put on a hoola hoop and dance around and they let you in to the Safe House, a bar-restaurant with spy themes and a one-of-a-kind concept that ought to be copied (www.safe-house.com).  Saw a good original show called 4 Guyz in Dinner Jackets with exactly that singing 50’s music. Sat in 2nd row center for $25 in a half-empty theater. In New York, Jersey Boys is sold out for 6 months at $250 a ticket. I’ll bet this was better. We had a gala at the Villa Terrace overlooking the lake; the building is not much to see but the nearby neighborhood of mansions is worth a look. Sales tax is low here at 5.5%. You could see it all in a day but I had a decent time here over the 3 days.

Click here for Photos of Sagamore

Click here for Photos of Milwaukee

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