Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, January 6, 2024

MVNews this week:  Page 12



 Mountain Views News Saturday, January 6, 2024 







Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Peter Lamendola


Stuart Tolchin 

Harvey Hyde

Audrey Swanson

Meghan Malooley

Mary Lou Caldwell

Kevin McGuire

Chris Leclerc

Dinah Chong Watkins

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Lori Ann Harris

Rev. James Snyder

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Jeff Brown

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden

Rebecca Wright

Hail Hamilton

Joan Schmidt

LaQuetta ShambleE




 Surprise! This is intended to be an optimistic 
article. This morning I wrote an already too long 
article which attempted to answer two questions. 
1). What is the next year going to be like? 2). What 
are the causes of antisemitism and what can be done 
about it?

 You must agree that these are pretty difficult 
questions and, though I tried, I was unable to come up with answers 
that came close to satisfying myself. After writing the article my 
wife and I at about noon departed to the Santa Anita mall in order to 
see the 2023 version of Color Purple. I knew little about the film and 
did not even realize that it was a musical. All I knew was that a film 
by the same name was a very effective picture that starred Whoopie 
Goldberg about 40 years ago. 

 The movie began with a bunch of jumping around consistent 
with most musicals and then, at almost the very beginning, there 
appeared Whoopie as an aged midwife assisting in the birth of a 
main character. This appearance was a complete surprise to me 
as I was unaware that she was in the film and at the end she was 
completely uncredited. After I got home I looked up the movie on 
the web and learned that Whoopie’s appearance had been kept a big 
secret and I felt gratified that I was now in on the secret that she was 
engaged in giving birth to the new movie.

 Actually, I enjoyed the movie and learned some things. Throughout 
the movie the Black men completely mistreated and brutalized 
the women over whom they had power. I thought more about the 
importance of ending the suppression of women which I had always 
taken for granted. 

 When I went to UCLA Law School there were absolutely no 
women or any people of color in the School. Frankly I never thought 
much about it as I was much more concerned about avoiding the 
draft. Perhaps I am exaggerating a bit, but like everyone else I think, 
personal concerns generally trump everything else.

 During the film there is great emphasis on the Christian religion. 
I am a person of Jewish heritage who is a life-long atheist with no 
religious training and very little familiarity with the importance of 
religious ritual or religious belief. As the film progressed and the 
lives of the characters were filled with horrible conditions I began 
to understand the importance of religious belief to its adherents. 
Their understanding of the world depended on their belief in God 
and a specific God at that. Without that belief they are at the mercy 
of circumstances, often very difficult circumstances. People who 
don’t believe in their religion or their God threaten everything and 
understandably can become hated.

 This realization gave me a glimmer of understanding about the 
fierceness of anti-semetic excesses. People are willing to kill and 
even to die to protect their feelings. To you this may seem surprising 
but to me who has always considered all religions as a kind of myth 
designed to keep control of a population I began to understand. I 
believe that religious fervor is connected with fear, the fear of a world 
with no clear rules. If you live by these rules and learn that there 
really are no rules you must face your own ignorance and who wants 

 At this moment I believe that as the world is faced with even 
more immediate problems like the climate crisis all of us will have 
to rethink everything about how we lead our lives. Maybe some will 
believe that global destruction is inevitable or simply part of God’s 
will and will refuse to look at their own behavior. Maybe they'll 
blame the Jews but I don't think so. Right now I am optimistic 
enough to believe that a kind of global sanity will prevail and that 
the personal concern for our own survival together with the concern 
for the survival of future generations will be a huge wake-up call.

 Perhaps my optimistic belief is also a kind of nonsense but right 
now I feel pretty good thinking about tomorrow which is a big 
change for me. How about you?

Well, here we are in the first week of the year 2024. What do we 
really know about the number 24? Let’s take a look...

For those of you with analytical minds, 24 is an even composite 
number with 2 and 3 as its distinct prime factors. Are you with me? 
I have no idea what I just wrote. 

24 is the atomic number of chromium. Oh, and the NBA shot clock is set at 24 
seconds. That ought to mean something. 24 karats represents 100% pure gold. 
Four and twenty is the number of blackbirds baked in a pie in the English nursery 
rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence”. That’s how they referred to 24 in merry old 

1924: 100 years ago in 1924, IBM and MGM both went into business. J. Edgar 
Hoover also went into business as the head of the FBI. In the high tech world spiral 
bound notebooks were invented in 1924. Speaking of high tech and spiral bound, 
astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered the spiral nebula Andromeda in 1924.

Johnson and Johnson (dang it…no relation) began mass producing Band-Aids in 

1924.. Kleenex made it to the public this year. 

1824: The toy balloon and Portland cement (the kind of cement most used) were 
pretty much all that was invented in 1824.

1724: A German physicist named Gabriel Fahrenheit is credited for inventing 
the mercury thermometer which used mercury liquid to measure temperature in 
thermometers. I think they named something after him.

1624: Cornelius van Drebbel constructed a leather covered submersible rowboat. 
It could travel for hours 15 feet beneath the surface and is considered the first 

How about famous people at 24? What were they doing? Jeff Bezos, (current net 
worth $171 Billion) founder of Amazon was working the grill at McDonalds. He 
said they never let him work the cash register. I guess he was not good with money 
lol! Mark Cuban, (current net worth $6 billion) at 24 was living with 5 other guys 
in a three-bedroom apartment. 

Ralph Lauren (current net worth $8 billion) at age 24 went from the army to 
working at Brooks Brothers suits. He said his most important decision at that 
age was changing his name. It wasn’t always Ralph Lauren. He was born Ralph 
Lifshitz. If you take a close look you will see a vulgar four letter word in the middle 
of his last name, which is why he changed his last name. (Of course, I ain’t really 
big on the name “Ralph” either).

J.K. Rowling (current net worth $1 billion) was a secretary in the London office 
of Amnesty International in 1990 when she got the inspiration for a story about 
young Harry Potter. Her focus on her book writing got her fired from her job. 
So, she got married, divorced, had a child, lost her mom, and was diagnosed with 
clinical depression living in relative poverty. By the way, Harry Potter was rejected 
by at least twelve publishers. Ms. Rowling is currently the richest author in the 

Finally, Oprah Winfrey (current net worth $2.8 billion) was fired around age 24 
from her job doing the 6:00pm news at WJZ New in Baltimore. Shortly thereafter 
Oprah switched to a talk show on the same channel and discovered her niche. The 
rest is history.

Why not make 2024 your breakthrough year. Think outside the box. Start 
tinkering in your garage and who knows. You might be the Cornelius van Drebbel 
for 2024 and invent something like sprayable cheese, or the mankini.

Who knows…you might become as famous as Gary Dahl, who in 1975 became a 
millionaire as the father of the short lived but profitable “Pet Rock” craze.

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BREAKING NEWS: Reports of luggage thefts are on 
the rise at baggage carousels in major airports across 
the nation. Airport security on the look-out for lurking 
bystanders that brazenly steal luggage right under the 
noses of their owners.

Louis Vuitton, Tumi, Rimowa, luggage brands that shout “Take me! Even if 
there’s only crackers and soiled underwear inside, I’m still worth it!”

Branding. We started at polo shirts with embroidered crocodiles, moved on to 
Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie & Fitch, Air Jordan’s and graduated to Gucci, 
Dior, and Versace. Now with social media, all that’s you is questioned by the 
hoi polloi through the lens of “authenticity, transparency, and values-driven”. 
People want to know “What is your brand?”

So embellishments creep into our everyday lives, ordinary people too, not just 
journalists, wannabes and politicians, although some in the hallowed ranks 
above have gone as far as to mix up their mother's tribulations at 9-11 to a 
nighttime run at a 7-11.

But equally lazy and judgmental, we like to have obvious sign posts to tell us 
about the strangers we meet. Is that a Kirkland Signature Active Jogger set he's 
wearing or a Loro Piana Baby Cashmere sweat suit? Does her cell phone fold 
up and when open displays a seamless screen across both sides or does it just 
flip open? What is she wearing? Where does he live? What do they do? Like 
ranchers and their cattle, we’ve been branding each other since the days of Cain 
and Abel.

When I was living in Asia, American products were hard to come by and 
three times as expensive if you could find it. Twice a year I’d fly back and my 
first stop was Kmart, a precursor to Target but without the eye-catching, data 
driven, customer forward touches. Kmart offered all that Target does but under 
buzzing, seizure-inducing fluorescent lights, linoleum floors, and basic metal 
and peg racks. Attention Kmart shoppers, this is paradise! 

Family members would tease me about my loyal affinity to Kmart, 

“Try Sears,” they said, “JC Penny has coupons”

“Egads!” I replied, “I live in the Hills of the Ten Thousand Coal Ash Pots not 
Beverly Hills.”

Besides, why wear clothing with someone else’s name on it? 

Of course, there are innumerable and unarguable situations when identifying 
your tribe through your clothing is admirable, sensible even. Wearing your 
school colors, cheering on your sports teams, bonding at work and most 
importantly, prisoners on the lam - a common sense justification for those eye-
catching zebra stripes.

I rarely buy for the namesake except when it comes to function. For twenty 
years I flew across the Pacific with my red polypropylene clamshell, Samsonite 
hard-side, its scars from feckless baggage handlers and luggage-eating conveyor 
belts proudly displayed along with a half-torn 90’s era sticker, “Aloha Waikiki”. 
Faithful, dependable, and most importantly, overlooked by would-be thieves, it 
practically screamed “Only crackers and holey underwear in here.”

Dinah Chong Watkins column appears every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the 

For more Close Encounters Of The Wrong Kind go to

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