Thursday, January 27, 2005

When Is A Tsunami Really A Ripple?

Consider poor Jan Egelund, United Nations Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs. Perhaps he decided not to participate in the UN pension and benefits programme funded by Iraqi oil vouchers. Norwegians are actually pretty honest people. Maybe he ordered beer instead of Chateau Petrus ’84 at the last World Hunger Cookout and Strategic Organisational Symposium. Norwegians are certainly practical and thrifty. He might have sent a round-robin office email questioning why Libya gets to be in charge of the UN Commission on Human Rights when it is run by a total nut case who lives in a tent and wears silly hats. Norwegians do have a dry sense of humour.

Whatever poor Jan did, he wound up with the worst assignment in the UN (and since the UN represents the world, by definition, the worst assignment in the world.). He was told to explain the position of the UN on disasters to the media. This makes the job of Baghdad Bob, Saddam’s Information Minister, look easy. All he had to do was shout down the barrel of a US tank and say ‘the Western Devils will be destroyed in the desert’. Jan is sent out to tell just about every country in the world that could possibly respond to the tragedy and heartbreak caused by the Indian Ocean tsunamis that they are stingy. Based on years of diplomatic training, Jan knew better than to say, ‘all right, you tight fisted bastards, time to put up and shell out’. Rather than insult the inhabitants of the developed world, Jan attempted to make them feel noble by insisting that they wanted to pay higher taxes; so the UN could have more money to work on running symposiums. In a heartbeat, Baghdad Bob was replaced by Kofi’s Krybaby. But Jan’s punishment is apparently not over. Now he has to explain the results of the UN World Disaster Conference, held in Kobe, Japan from January 18-22, 2005.

Apparently, about 40,000 people showed up to this emergency meeting, including 2,000 delegates from 100 countries. The traffic problems alone must have been as big a disaster for the city of Kobe as the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995; not to mention the run on Chateau Petrus ’84. According to the UN, the conference was ‘valuable for fostering the development of contacts among organizations and groups active in disaster reduction’. According to the 161 non-governmental organizations who participated, they were ‘very disappointed as the declaration and framework lacked practical ideas’. 40,000 people flew into the city that is famous for having the most expensive beef in the world and after 5 days they wound up with the ‘Hyogo Framework For Action, 2005-2015’. The idea for a ‘Hyogo Agreement for Action, 2005-2015’ was apparently shelved. An agreement implies inconvenient things like targets, commitments, measurable goals, joint action, and money. A framework is better; it’s somewhere between a hope and a plan. If you hope to get very rich, you daydream about having whatever you want. If you have a plan to get very rich, you develop a spreadsheet, do a bit of financial research, set up some investments and keep track of your assets. If you have a framework to get rich, you wander around Porsche showrooms and Harrods food hall. A framework fills that magical space between having a hope and having a plan. If poor Jan were not an honest, practical, reserved Norwegian with a dry sense of humour, he wouldn’t have to explain this to anyone.

Just a few suggestions:

Jan, get with the programme. Sign up for the benefits and pension programme. Order the Chateau Petrus ’84, and vote for Zimbabwe to chair the upcoming Strategic Organisational Symposium on the Development of a Framework for Democracy in Action: 2006-2083.

Bob, ask for a rematch. Jan had two chances to be the public face of a group that think they live on the planet Zongo. You only had one. North Korea is looking for a Minister of Information. Go for it.

2 Comments:

Blogger iwasfixin2 said...

For the life of me, I can't understand why you're not syndicated. Your material is easily 5 orders of magnitude better than what's already out there polluting the infospace. But then, that might spoil you and the next thing we know, you're scarfing up Chateau Petrus '84 like it was tap water. Actually, I doubt that would happen. But it would be nice to see you achieve the audience that your talented writing deserves. Blog on!

8:09 PM  
Blogger birdwoman said...

you're funny as a crutch, dude. But this target was easy. I'm gonna have to read down farther to see if you're usually funny or this was a one-off...

(*)>

12:23 PM  

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