Global Thoughts — 28 October 2009

Our Little Colonialists at Williamsburg, Virginia

I went looking for sweat pants for the kids — they don’t call them that any more. Now they’re yoga stretch pants. I should have known — I went away overnight and Elizabeth said to her mother upon hearing that they would be having takeout for dinner “You order sushi and I’ll have the endamame.” At least I’m looking for dates for a chicken taijine rather than just going-out dates.

I admit that I have been writing less this year. Maybe I’m becoming more cynical in my middle age but there just doesn’t seem to be that much exciting news going on these days and the problems that exist seem intractable. I’m going to have a hard time this New Year making predictions that are interesting because odds are that very little is going to change. The Middle East is a primary area of interest for me but the odds of any positive change on issues such as Israeli-Palestine are extremely low, so I just don’t have much of interest to say and therefore I’m not saying it.

Here’s what I have on the issues of concern —

China’s savings rate, which seems too high for the rest of the world’s comfort, masks the fact that people have to pay for tuition, housing and retirement which are things that the Chinese government doesn’t really provide for its citizens.

Iran — I was told earlier this month that tensions involving Iran had decreased and that the Israelis were happy. I knew that my source was getting his info from Dennis Ross who is a point man for the White House on the Iran issue and I just don’t buy it. Every thing I see is that they are playing the West in these negotiations. I fully expect the Israelis to act at an appropriate time and that what will ultimately happen is that the US will be drawn in to prevent the Iranians from mining the straits in the Gulf, which only the US can do.

Obam’s policy on Pakistan, Honduras, Taxation and Health Care all strike me as poor. The Pakistan policy is opposed by its military; the fact that there is more stability this year owes more to the military than to whatever the US is doing. In Honduras, I’m wondering why we are backing this communist who is totally not liked in his own country. Health care reform totally fails to deal with real problems such as costs. Taxation is ridiculous — people are just spending less money and giving more of it to Uncle Sam who is notoriously poor at distributing it. Very little of this stimulus spending has been spent.

Article I read this month is called Demographic Optimism by Yoram Ettinger — Contrary to what we normally read, he says that Israeli Arab and West Bank birthrates are down significantly while Jewish birthrate particularly among the secular (and not the religious) is up. Nothing challenging jewish demography in israel according to him. If so, people ought to stop claiming that the Arabs are becoming the majority of Israel and that this represents a demographic threat to Israel as a Jewish state. It also means that the Arabs ought to get off the idea that time is on their side. 

Travel Talk — I went to the Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach again this week for a night. The food and beverage has improved and it is definitely a hip place, but service there is still nonexistent. Pick up the phone and you don’t get connected; people at the front desk promise to call you back and they don’t; they promise to fix your computer mouse and don’t. You get the idea…

We visited Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia for a family weekend getaway; it is a great place to go. Air Trans is a great way to fly cheaply from NY on a Boeing 717 to Newport News, a nice little airport 20 minutes from the property. We were unlucky and had rain and 20 degree colder than normal temperatures. The Wiliamsburg Inn and Lodge were both sold out and we booked instead a colonial duplex standalone house but it was hard with a bathroom on the 2nd floor. We had the house known as the Masonic Lodge, across the street from the hotel. The Lodge is not a bad location or the Inn, but the food at the Inn is best since all the restaurants have the same and limited food; we ate some room service and kept bugging out of the taverns. Evening programming is pretty lame but Cry Witch was interesting (it is a simulated witch trial). Can take out golf carts; a pass lets you into all the museums and buildings. Everything is within 10-15 minutes walk. Trellis is a good restaurant in the area. Fife and drums corp a hit with a lunchtime parade on Saturdays down the main avenue but few things geared toward small kids. Organ concert at nearby William & Mary and farmer’s market on weekends. Most stores have nothing to buy but we got the kids a colonial hat and drum set as a souvenir. Food Lion supermarket had great shopping car(t)s to ride on and was huge — amazing how obese everyone is when you get outside the big cities. Friday night dinner and dancing with a small band which plays on Friday and Saturday nights at the Inn. Sunday we went 10 minutes drive to Bush Gardens which was fun; get the American Automobile Association discount tickets in advance a few weeks before you leave. They sold mittens and hats just in case of such weather; food was decent there. Jamestown (the site of the first American colony) was another fun site with an old ship, fort and indian village. Both attractions within 10-15 minutes of Williamsburg. Would tend to stay in the hotel — the Inn is a top class hotel and the rooms were nice. Definitely rent a car if you go here even though within Williamsburg you don’t need one. We had dinner at an International House of Pancakes — the pancakes had so much sugar in them that Elizabeth was upchucking them all night long. Last time she ever wants to go to an IHOP.

I took out a trial subscription to Monocle Magazine, a monthly edited by Tyler Brulee, the Fast Lane columnist at the Financial Times. It’s pretty in its design but I’m not sure that it is a compelling read. I’m wavering on whether to keep it coming.

Editors Note:
Williamsburg Inn
Hotel rooms 3269 3268
3285 3284
resort suite connecting to deluxe room

3291-3293
3286-3287 deluxe to deluxe

At 800-HISTORY- speak to Enid, Therese and Jim.

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