Yet more Things I Don't Understand

For what it's worth

Posted: Friday, January 14, 2000

I've been updating my list of Things I Don't Understand, or, as we call them, TIDUs. You surely have a list of your own. Compare it to mine. Please note: this updates last year's list. There are very few duplications, indicating that the older you get, the less you understand. And I don't understand that either.

I am baffled by the continued silliness over telephone rates; you know ... company A offers 12 cents per minute, so company B offers 10 cents - and maybe only 8 cents between 1:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. First of all, with modern satellite availability, sophisticated switching systems that require no human intervention and traffic volumes as heavy as they are, costs should come down.

Satellites obviate the need for rates based on distance since distance means nothing to the satellite, a fact not often mentioned by providers. Establishing a rate base which includes thousands of miles of poles and wire is a tad different from establishing a rate based on the one time launch and capital costs of a satellite.

I don't disregard the costs the companies incur to stay in business, but I suspect they are in fact lower than they used to be or would be if they depended totally on outmoded hardware. Please understand, I have no particular ax to grind with the companies involved, but I am tiring of the ad campaign and I suspect a few million others are, too.

I don't understand why anyone would believe a single word uttered by Bill or Hillary Clinton. I dislike saying that about an American president. But face it: What evidence do we have that would lead us to take either of them at their word? And as an aside, given what we know about Bill Clinton's attitude toward military service and the military, if I were him I would just disappear when Veterans Day comes around rather than waltz around in public saluting the flag and laying wreaths.

Can you imagine what professional soldiers and real veterans are thinking while they witness these performances? I don't care if he wanted to avoid the draft and I don't care if he holds the military in contempt, but the least he could do is lay low on Veterans Day.

I don't understand continued violence in Ireland, Kosovo or many other locations around the globe. I do understand some of the ``wars of independence'' we are witnessing, but not the bloodletting and carnage brought about by religious and ethnic differences. I've often wondered what would happen if you could force all the people of Ireland to watch 24 hours of non-stop TV footage of the carnage of the past 25 years. Do you suppose at some point they would begin to look at one another in horror and say, ``What are we doing!''

I don't understand the beer business. For 50 years we were urged to drink only beers that had been well-aged. In fact one beer touted its ``beechwood aging'' as a primary reason it was so much better than competitors. Now the industry would have us believe that ``fresh'' beer is much better than old stuff. One company even dates its beer so we won't risk consuming something stale. How dumb do they think we are?

On the other hand, the beer companies offer some of the most creative, refreshing viewing you'll find on your TV in their commercials. Have you seen the series for Fosters? Great commercials and great beer.

I don't understand the criticism directed at ANILCA by representatives of the Native community. A recent letter to the editor, by a guy I like, gave the impression ANILCA was written in a vacuum-sealed room somewhere in the bowels of Washington, D.C., and then presented to Natives as a take-it-or-leave-it deal. Nonsense.

Alaska Natives were involved in writing ANILCA, agreed to its terms, cheered (as did all Alaskans) when it was approved, but now seem inclined to characterize it as another flimflam on the part of white politicians. Many Alaskans of all races worked hard to obtain ANILCA. It is an insult to them to now maintain that concessions made by Alaska Natives at that time, nearly 30 years ago, were somehow a scam. All parties agreed to all provisions of the act.

I don't understand why, for somebody who thinks he is so smart, I don't know more of the correct answers to the questions on ``Jeopardy!''

Another Thing I Don't Understand is why one of the major cruise lines would allow its public relations people to do something as dumb and ill-conceived as withhold charitable donations to Juneau. Sure, they have a right to be angry about the head tax. I suspect, however, given the fact they will simply add the tax to tour packages, their real anger is directed at Juneau's attitude.

Ending charitable donations is petty and, in the long run, will prove counterproductive. I hope they will reconsider. I suspect they will resume their support when the situation cools.

I have always admired Alaska Airlines which, despite the continued and justified criticism of its fares, is always ready to help local causes. It would be interesting to see Alaska Air's total ``donations'' to Juneau during the course of a year. In my recollection they have always been there when an individual or group really needed help.

I don't understand the Microsoft thing any better than I understood the breakup of AT&T many years ago.

I don't understand why pink salmon don't get more respect.

I don't understand why anybody would spend more than $5,000 to get elected to local office.

I don't understand why they still make clothes with buttons when Velcro is so much easier to use, especially on shoes.

I don't understand why that big brown trout rejected my fly yesterday.

I don't understand okra or cilantro.

I don't understand how I've managed to live this long and still have so many friends.

Warren W. Wiley a former Juneau resident, political observer and radio personality, now lives in Montana. He can be reached by e-mail at

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