George W. Bush has promised to make public the amount of each contribution and the name of every person who gives to his campaign. This is a good move, but I wonder how many people would have given if they'd known their names would be made public. People want the candidate to know, but they don't want everyone else to know.
In my high school history class, we had to memorize the names of all the kings and queens of England, and our geography teacher expected us to know the names of the capitals of every one of the 48 states (in a test, I missed Lincoln, Neb.).
But East Timor? The name Timor never came up in my school. Now, as a Responsible Citizen, I'm expected to have an informed opinion about what should be done about the massacres occurring in East Timor.
Because I like being a responsible citizen and because it looks as though we're going to help other responsible citizens in other responsible countries stop the massacres there, I've tried to find out more about the area.
My atlas says "TIMOR: Easternmost of the Lesser Sundas." Never having heard of even the Mostest Sundas, let alone the Lesser Sundas, this Responsible Citizen is giving up trying to find the Timors or understand what's going on there. He plans to trust his government to do the right thing there -- wherever that is.
Because I work at CBS, people ask me what the $35 billion merger with Viacom means. Let me put it this way: I know more about East Timor than I know about this merger.
Years ago, the great Arthur Ashe, the gentlemanly and erudite tennis champion, said, "There are going to be a lot of black tennis players coming along, and they aren't all going to be like me."
It was a long time before his prediction came true, but it came true when 17-year-old Serena Williams won the U.S. Open women's tennis championship, and next day won the doubles championship with her older sister, Venus. The Williams sisters are nothing like Arthur Ashe, but they could end up eclipsing the memory of Helen Wills, Helen Jacobs, Alice Marble, Althea Gibson, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf. They're that good.
Reporters who write about technology are saying that, in the near future, people will be buying groceries using their computers and having everything delivered to their homes.
I have been wrong about almost every technological advance of the past 50 years, but I doubt people will shop that way. Going to the store is too much fun, and there's no admission fee. Going to the store isn't work at all; it's recreation.
Buying by computer wouldn't be good for stores, because everyone who goes in a store comes home with more than they have on their list and more than they would have ordered by computer or over the phone.
If people stopped going to the store to shop, it might have a bad effect on our economy. For example, the average American family could get along with just one car instead of two or three. This is the kind of foresight I imagine would cause a smart stockbroker to advise his clients to sell General Motors.
President Clinton has proposed spending $15 million to buy back guns that are in the hands of potential criminals. At the same time, some gun makers in California are going out of business rather than fight the new wave of lawsuits against them. I'm surprised the government doesn't keep the gun makers in business by buying their guns directly and then destroying them, thus eliminating the middle man, the criminal.
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