Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why Do Half Of Americans Want To Move?

The economy probably has not been in the desperate straits it now is in, but we have more resources to deal with it than in The Great Depression. There is the internet, which can provide hours of nearly free enjoyment, the television and radio weren't available then, either. The discount stores, the dollar stores and WalMart weren't popular with internationally shipped goods. There weren't the huge number of grocery stores that there are now. Life is better in so many ways now that there isn't much basis for comparison.

There are some things that clearly could be improved, such as train and overland transportation. But if easier transportation has you thinking that city-dwellers are happier then here is an article on liveable cities that says that

"Most people who live in cities said they'd rather live someplace else."

Wow! And I thought city-dwellers feel content and happy with their choice! Did you have a choice, if you live in a city?

The Pew Reseach Center conducted the survey and

"Researchers polled 2,260 adults during telephone interviews.

The study also found that Republicans would like to live in Phoenix and Democrats prefer San Francisco.

The survey also found that more men than women would like to live in Las Vegas. Men living in rural areas said they are much happier living there than women."

The list of most desirable cities includes #1 Denver, San Diego, Seattle, Orlando, San Francisco and Tampa and least desirable include #1 Cleveland, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh. Actually, I would have expected more southern cities and fewer northern cities on the desirable list. Denver is cold in the winter, Seattle is rainy, and there weren't any sunny southwest inland cities in the top six. And why doesn't New Jersey (my state by choice) make it onto the list? There are many, many affluent people in the northeast. Is it purely affluence or family relationships keeping them here?

So if half of Americans want to move, as this study suggests, perhaps the new administration should be looking at why so many aren't happy with where they are currently living. Is it a case of the grass looking greener, or would most generally want to try something different, including living somewhere else, and wouldn't ever be content? Please share what you think.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blogs: The Most Important New Medium

Blogs and interactivity in the form of games, shopping, email and more, on the internet are the most important new social media not only of the New Millenium, but since the advent of television.

And I have to say that The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast are getting ever more interesting and varied posts by the day, with more notable authors able to write their views and versions of the truth. Those big blogs are becoming very important and enjoyable, HuffPost for its breaking news and important bloggers and sheer variety of coverage and Daily Beast, also for its breaking news, thoughtful stories and Cheat Sheet. Readers are hearing opinions they know are original, not vetted or sometimes twisted by journalists. Posts have the excitement of television with more permanence and thought and usually time for cursory fact-checking. Blogs are getting more journalistic and newspapers are searching for ideas from blogs.

This is a great new medium and it's getting more polite all the time. Nobody knows where it's going, but then again, what's not to like now? Why not make use of it? It is a new dimension of life enrichment and a new, exciting alternative medium for social, political, educational expressions and information. And it's developing very rapidly.

"There aren't enough blogs in America", as I heard on NPR. Yes, it is fun, despite Sarah Palin's derision. Even one-person blogs such as this, where I care about having readers, can be a place to add to an international conversation and hopefully impart useful information.

If you have questions on how and why to start a blog, try checking these useful books to see if you have it all in you:
The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging and ProBlogger.

Health Coverage For All Is My Dream For America

Every day of every year in America someone is sick and in need of affordable, if not free, health care. It has long been my dream that the need for health care should not hold someone back from a desired lifestyle or taking wanted employment. The strong should help the weak, and the old should help the young. We need to help our youngest and our oldest, and we all need to help each other because it is the right thing to do. Sometimes we are sick, and sometimes we are well, and we must help those unable to help themselves.

It was with great pleasure that I read this article today by Marian Wright Edelman and Richard Kirsch. Edelman is a friend of Hillary Clinton, and was involved in universal health coverage plans in the Clinton Administration. While it may not have fully succeeded, the initiative was quietly begun and has germinated as these italicized excerpts show.

"In the next week, we expect Congress to put legislation expanding the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on President Obama's desk.

...CHIP was important legislation passed in 1997 that expanded health coverage to millions of children over the past 11 years. But now is the time to enact real health care reform that will provide coverage to every child in America.

...One thing we've learned over the years is that children must have comprehensive, guaranteed coverage that does not differ from state to state.

...We must now move forward with real health care reform for all children - and for everyone in America - in 2009. With his signature, President Obama will be taking a first step towards fulfilling his campaign promise of affordable, accessible health care for all in 2009."

See the article in HuffPost here

Very fortunate we are in our family that our university health plan is wide-ranging, allowing us to have catastrophic and disability health insurance.

Do you agree with universal health care? Would free or inexpensive coverage ever have helped you or your family financially? Do you really think that America is the only country performing and paying for health and drug research despite evidence to the contrary? Do you believe that medical research by American drug companies is paid for by expensive health care expenses borne by Americans sick enough to need it, and that foreigners owe all their drugs to America?

Jim Cramer said on his investment show 'Mad Money' the he pre-supposes that investors have "health and disability insurance" and "no credit card debt" and a "rainy day fund" in the bank before they invest in the stock market. In my view, these and "living in your means" and "being able to pay taxes" are some important imperatives for a healthy financial life. What are your views?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How guilty is the Madoff family?

Here is an article in The Daily Beast today saying that Mrs. Bernie Madoff must have been involved in the Ponzi scheme perpetrated by her husband.

This couple must have just kept the money they were entrusted by others to invest, while Mr. Madoff entered fallacious information into the electronic trading system he helped to create, the Nasdaq as former Chairman. As I said in my earlier blog entry here, the idea that she could not have had some idea is absolutely too much for me to believe. How stupid and duped could anyone in her position be? And what about the other members of the family? How much could they have known? Here are excerpts from a compelling piece of writing by Lucinda Franks.


It was Ruth Madoff who oversaw the books on all three of these accounts, and it was the comingling of money from them—contrary to regulations that require such accounts to be kept separate—that enabled the elaborate shell game. It also meant that some investors' money was not invested for their own benefit but went into Madoff's personal assets.

...Others involved in the case point to the fact that Mrs. Madoff has not hired her own lawyer as an indication that she knows more than she has previously revealed. A close business associate of Madoff’s shares that skepticism: “If she knew nothing, wouldn’t her husband, who was so protective of his family, insist she have a different lawyer?”

...In another key development, a person close to the case says Madoff has admitted to law-enforcement officials that the Ponzi scheme began more than 40 years ago—much earlier than previously believed.

...Another indication that bolsters federal investigators’ certainty that Mr. Madoff did not conduct this massive fraud alone is the recent discovery of as many as 20 million documents from the firm that are stored in a warehouse in Queens, many of which shed light on the scheme. No one could create that amount of paper without considerable help.

Great article. So Mrs. Madoff kept the books? Sheesh!!! Let's hope the investigation doesn't go on for decades, or slip away from news coverage as they would no doubt prefer. Please share your comments. Was Mrs. Madoff kept forcibly away from the details of her husband's business transactions for forty years? Was she part of an affluent segment of American women who accepted not knowing all about their husband's business? What do you prefer to think?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Is "Matt Damon" our Future Politician?

Looks like I am not the only one talking about William Kristol, as this interview in The Huffington Post says here, about Matt Damon.

I have always admired Matt Damon's acting, in 'Good Will Hunting', 'The Good Shepherd' and other movies. He seems like a good guy, so handsome and is he ever good with words and turns of phrase! Maybe he could be a politician in the future. Please? Much, much rather have him than the likes of Sarah Palin. He makes much more sense, and I remember hearing him during the heated few weeks before Election Day.

Home Expo is closing? Sad reminder of the times

Home Depot held a conference call televised on CNBC this morning, and announced that Home Expo stores and some Home Depot Stores will be closing. Yikes!

I don't really enjoy going to our local Home Depot (but I often do) and will drive an hour occasionally to the Home Expo in Bridgewater, New Jersey, to see the test kitchens and all that's new for the home, in kitchens, bathrooms, lighting, indoor designs and outdoor furniture. It is a pleasure. I like Home Expo. Now it is closing because in their words, it "never performed well financially". I have been waiting two weeks for a new Fisher & Paykel double drawer dishwasher from them, even though the warehouse for both Home Expo and Fisher & Paykel are only an hour away in the other direction. Hope it comes, as liquidations of Home Expos are supposed to start tomorrow. Sad, truly it is.

Update 1: One very helpful 'Paul' selling Appliances at the Bridgewater Home Expo says that the company should close the Home Depot stores that are not profitable and keep the ones open that are profitable, like his store. Can't argue with the common sense of that. It filled an admittedly high-end niche, but it's good and democratic for anyone to be able to see and occasionally buy the best. 'Paul' also thought Bob Nardelli took away too big a severance package when he left. He also says my dishwasher is coming this week.

Update 2: (Jan 28) The dishwasher came and it works great. My installer 'John' was competent and strong, but I made numerous calls, about eight, to get it done. Also I was told to wait two weeks after I paid for it. I hadn't bothered to inquire before paying for the dishwasher as everywhere else has immediate shipping these days, so that surprised and alarmed me. Has me thinking that Home Expo could please customers by differentiating between buyers who need immediate shipping and those who are shopping months ahead of delivery and installation.

Do you like Home Expo and have you had good service?

Kristol leaves The New York Times

The New York Times has announced here that William Kristol will not be a columnist anymore.

Yes, I remember before the election wondering why he was writing what he was writing. It made such little sense, in comparison to the insightful and accurate and correct comments of the other well-known and respected Journalists, that I found myself just clicking away or putting the paper down, but just not reading what he had to say. I am not surprised, sorry, Mr. Kristol.

Anyway, it makes me feel that I can read the NYTimes again without those weird opinions coming off left field. They may call him 'conservative', but I didn't like his views.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

High Canadian Diplomat's Abduction Being Ignored By The Press

This war crime should be getting more attention everywhere, from the United Nations, the new American Administration, radio, television and the internet. It is the story of the abduction six weeks ago of top Canadian peace negotiators in Africa, and they haven't been found.

"Mr. Fowler, 64, was one of Ottawa's most powerful bureaucrats before his retirement. He had served as an ambassador to the United Nations, a deputy minister of defence, a top adviser to a string of prime ministers and a veteran of war zones from Rwanda to Darfur." from The Globe and Mail.

Diplomat Robert Fowler, right, meets then-prime-minister Paul Martin in 2005. (Dave Chan/PMO)

A very high Canadian government official has been abducted and held for six weeks in war-torn Africa, conducting quiet negotiations to end strife, and today's story is the first time it has come to my attention, in the respected, trusted Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail.

Robert Fowler is a former U.N. Ambassador and his case has been dismissed or forgotten by CNN and other outlets. Just in case it's a case of 'the squeakiest wheel getting the grease', I must add this to the news stories out there because today is the first I heard about it, which I don't like and cannot understand. That is the value of this medium.

Robert Fowler

Hope CNN and the networks take notice. Please, networks and reporters, please make more of an issue of this, if there is any sense of fairness in reporting. It could have been an American of similar qualifications, such as Madeleine Albright. It's not like anyone is trying to cover it up, if it ever even has been reported, but it clearly hasn't been well-assigned. Today, CNN and other networks are fixated on the death of a bacteria-infected Brazilian model, sad as her case is. Does this just prove the press generally doesn't find this story "sexy" enough to cover? Huh? Excuse me, please, but this is important and worthy of official acknowledgement and coverage for anyone interested in lessening African strife and for these abducted peace-loving, senior Canadian officials.

With the bus strike in Ottawa, and the Canadian government just returning from a month-long hiatus, there is a lot of work to do and a lot to report on in Canada, besides shoveling the snow.

What do you think? Do you think there should be more in the international press about this abduction?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oh! For The Life Of The Corporate Executive

This one's been caught. HuffPost, Daily Beast and CNBC are all reporting the excesses, through veteran journalist Charlie Gasparino, of John Thain,

departing CEO of Merrill Lynch in The Daily Beast. Tut, tut, tut!!!

Below, The Daily Beast presents Thain’s top 16 outrages.

1) $2,700 for six wall sconces.

2) $5,000 for a mirror in his private dining room.

3) $11,000 for fabric for a "Roman Shade.”

4) $13,000 for a chandelier in the private dining room.

5) $15,000 for a sofa.

6) $16,000 for a "custom coffee table.”

7) $18,000 for a “George IV Desk.”

8) $25,000 for a "mahogany pedestal table.”

9) $28,000 for four pairs of curtains.

10) $35,000 for something called a "commode on legs.”

11) $37,000 for six chairs in his private dining room.

12) $68,000 for a "19th Century Credenza" in his office.

13) $87,000 for a pair of guest chairs.

14) $87,000 for an area rug in Thain's conference room and another area rug for $44,000.

15) $230,000 to his driver for one year’s work.

16) $800,000 to hire celebrity designer Michael Smith, who is currently redesigning the White House for the Obama family for just $100,000.

Do you think John Thain should have bought all this as troubles hit the company and they are firing employees? Or do you think all this is minor in comparison to the compensation, including airplanes, that other executives get?

How do other Merrill Lynch staffers feel? Would it be acceptable if he brings this furniture away with him, now that he has been forced out by Bank of America?

Bankers do live well these days. Do you think he should live closer to us here in Princeton, New Jersey, a major outpost of Merrill Lynch outside of Manhattan, rather than in Rye, New York, two hours by car away, where he evidently spends a great deal for house and garden maintenance?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fox News questions validity of Presidential Oath of Office

This is remarkable, that President Obama took the oath a second time to set the record straight. Here are excerpts from the CNN article:

On Tuesday, Roberts, apparently working without a copy of the oath handy on the Capitol steps, started out by reciting a six-word phrase, but Obama broke in halfway through and repeated the first three.

That seemed to throw the chief justice off stride, and he proceeded to mix up the order of the words in the next phrase.

The Constitution sets out the language that should be used in the oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Roberts moved the word "faithfully" back nine spots, and used "to" instead of "of." That threw the president off base, and he smiled and paused to collect his thoughts, then decided to follow Roberts' lead.

But the chief justice at the same time attempted to correct himself.

Here's how Tuesday's oath went:

Roberts: ... that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully ...

Obama: ... that I will execute ...

Roberts: ... the off -- faithfully the pres -- the office of president of the United States ...

Obama (at the same time): ... the office of president of the United States faithfully ...

The two got the rest correct, including the nonobligatory "So help you God?" "So help me God."

And then at the do-over:

Before Wednesday's do-over at the White House, Obama, waiting on a couch, joked that "we decided it was so much fun ... "

Though a Bible was used in Tuesday's oath, one was not used for Wednesday's.

After a flawless recitation, Roberts smiled and said, "Congratulations again."

"Thank you, sir," the president replied. After a smattering of applause, Obama quipped that "the bad news for the [press] pool is there's 12 more balls."

The Fox News anchor Chris Matthews mentioned in the article would appear to be adding spam to television. It's starting to sound old here: And Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said: "We're wondering here whether or not Barack Obama in fact is the president of the United States. They had a kind of garbled oath. It's just conceivable that this will end up going to the courts." Who wants to hear him? Are you tired of Fox News' irritating objections, or do they merely amuse you? I would love to hear your insights.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A quick look at The Presidency, the racial issue and fashion

I hope we as a nation can get away from the obsession that he is black. I'd rather live in a color-blind society. It means far more to me that he's freakin' smart than his pigmentation is different than mine. It's disappointing to see so much focus on his color. Truly, I hope in future years it doesn't even get mentioned. from "Slope of Hope", Tim Knight's finance blog.

With this statement I am in total agreement. His race and color should not be an issue at all. What do you think? How much more educated and experienced in politics and legislative issues could a first couple be than they are? Well, I guess the Clintons are Democrats similar in education. But there are very few, and look where it got them!

Today is Inauguration Day. There is an amazing zoom view here at CNN and an innovative satellite view here.

The Obamas appear to have energy in abundance. Supposedly they are giving ten speeches at ten different balls this evening, even after a day like today. His speech this morning was excellent and I would like to analyze his latest ones sometime.

Here is a wonderful description of her clothes:
Michelle Obama wore a pale yellow shift dress and matching coat by Isabel Toledo, a Cuban born designer based in New York. She paired the distinguished wool lace dress with bright green Jimmy Choo 'Glacier' kitten heel pumps, pale green J. Crew gloves and a striking necklace to celebrate the swearing in of her husband as the 44th President of the United States. A vision of optimism.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Today is International Day of Optimism

At least, it is according to the BBC, and everyone can relate to that. I would say it's a Day of Hope that the Obama Presidency will view the country in a different way and bring great change for the better. Here in the United States we are having the Martin Luther King Day holiday. As we eagerly await the one-liners in the the new President's speech tomorrow, we are being flooded in the media with inaugural activities news.

It feels good and appropriate to have an individual with power who seems more in tune with America as it now is, rather than one with far more feelings of entitlement than an American President should. President Obama would appear to be more interested and in tune with serving our needs just as we will have to go along with his decisions as President. CNN is saying HuffPost is having one of the biggest pre-inaugural parties in the Newseum building that opened in April, 2008. is a wonderful website to find local newspapers here.

It is snowing in New Jersey, not a lot, but it reminds me of winter. Last year we didn't have a measurable amount or any shoveling, and this is almost nothing. Makes me start dreaming about hot, sandy beaches, breakfast in the Caribbean, then swimming and later, pina coladas. Here is a beautiful video of the world's best beaches. Watch it if you dare to dream of feeling the heat and enjoying the sun.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

'Revolutionary Road': A Review of the Movie

This is a powerfully emotional movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, definitely a must-see of former 'Titanic' actors. An instantly classic movie, it reminds me of the Julianne Moore movie, 'Far from Heaven' (2002). Both are set in 1950s Connecticut and concern marital tensions, albeit with a different focus. It also is reminiscent of "Fatal Attraction" and high school staples "Ethan Frome", "Death of a Salesman" and "The Glass Menagerie".

Set in 1955, before the women's movement and color television get into full swing, 'Revolutionary Road' can be viewed as a classic cautionary tale. But if so, what does it caution against, married life in suburbia? Nowadays, don't the greatest percentage of young couples in America with or without children, interested in education and producing for society, live after all in the suburbs? Why see the movie and where is the storyline going? Not to worry. Every movie is a risk to invest time in, but this is a classic movie. It's very interesting and worthwhile and thoughtful.

The movie could have been set outside any large American city and the main setting is typical of upper-middle-class suburbia. Sam Mendes, director, and husband of Kate Winslet, stays close to the book by Robert Yates, summarized here. The story races through a couple's range of experiences in early married life. The houses would nowadays get endlessly renovated and expanded. The suited male commuters and stereotypical typing pool portray the post-war era. Already, computers are seen as the great corporate hope for the future.

While 'Revolutionary Road' is a movie that is beautiful and heart-rending, it does make one get caught up in the moment, and feel as they are feeling. Certainly, suburban family life is worthy of a closer look and exploration. But the movie will make you crave the flip-side, a movie about a normal, young family with happily married parents. Even so, surprisingly welcome it is that perfect stars portray such realistic emotional content in such pretty houses and the movie could have such a dramatic conclusion.

While such content is timeless, the male actors appear to be stereotypical of the era, but unusually reactionary and defensive, with the exception of the mentally-ill former mathematician played by Michael Shannon given to offensive outbursts. This is clearly set before the advent of modern psychiatric drugs that are designed to mellow and control such wild outpourings and to balance delicate interpersonal relationships. Other reviewers are saying that Shannon's character focuses on the truth, but I think he goes too far. Kathy Bates, also of 'Titanic' fame and mother of the former mathematician, plays the role of experienced real-estate agent whose husband ever-so-slowly tunes her out. Now that is a dysfunctional family. In fact, all of the three families, including the neighbor's family, are portrayed as dysfunctional by the end of the movie, and divorce is not mentioned.

"Revolutionary Road" would appear to be a low-budget movie, except for the pay of the main actors, showing again that story composition can make a successful film, even without expensive special effects. It definitely appears to be like an elaborate play, with two houses, an office, an apartment, a road, and two restaurants as settings. It's escapist, and revelatory at the same time. I do highly recommend this movie because of its timeless yet exciting content. It has an important future as a classic. Just saying.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

All Rescued from Airliner in Hudson River

Americans should feel very proud of the impressive performance of the crew, passengers and rescue personnel who saved so many lives today on the U.S. Airways flight from La Guardia airport to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Well, I suppose if you need to park your plane fast and and are carrying nearly 160 passengers and crew, please be sure to do so 1)in the river at Manhattan 2)on a calm day without waves or many boats 3) before rush hours on a weekday when the ferries are close by and lots of people are awake enough to help and 4) be sure to have enough years of practice to do so successfully without ripping up the bottom of the plane. Also, 5) open the doors and get everyone out fast and 6) please make sure the plane floats so that everyone can get off safely and someone can get their luggage later.

Otherwise, it doesn't sound like a good idea.(The plane could crash and everyone could die.)

I have never heard of a major airline plane landing on water and everyone getting out safely. Have you? Some passengers are walking on water in the photograph shown, the wing, really.
My, were they lucky! Who said, "Luck is what happens if you work really hard"? Everything aligned perfectly in their favor today. Did the cold temperature hurt or (dare I say it) could it have helped speed rescue efforts?


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Better Late Than Never

Excerpts from an amusing and amazing article in today's Toronto Globe and Mail:

BEIJING — A 107-year-old Chinese woman who was afraid to marry when she was young has decided to look for her first husband and hopes to find a fellow centenarian so they will have something to talk about, a Chinese paper reported.

Wang Guiying is worried she is becoming a burden to her aging nieces and nephews since breaking her leg when she was 102. She has since had to stop doing chores such as washing her clothes.

"I'm already 107 and I still haven't got married," the Chongqing Commercial Times quoted her saying. "What will happen if I don't hurry up and find a husband?"

The article concludes saying "local officials...suggested her family get in touch with old people's homes to find candidates."

She is so fortunate just to be alive at the age of 107! Are you amused or sad when you read this? What do you think she should do?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fashions at the Golden Globes: a critique

One of my secret pleasures is watching pre-shows on the red carpet in Hollywood before Awards Shows. It is such a huge achievement just making it there. But I do differ from some of the fashion critiques I have read about last night's gowns at the Golden Globes.

The acid test is in a clever slideshow, here, compiled by The New York Times and divided into colors of dresses. These stars probably spend ages choosing gown styles, many hours a day exercising to look so toned, and prepared with stylists for days just for this short moment in time basking on the red carpet.

Most of the stars' dresses are not patterned, just a single color. The makeup appeared to be flawless on all, and hair styles were beautiful, in general. Some actresses look like they had done "nothing special" with their hair, just an everyday cut and style. Others looked like they had at least spent time with a hairstylist, while others went all out, looking totally "in the moment" movie stars.

My absolute favorite winning look is Drew Barrymore. She looked so special and movie-star-ish. Her hair is being ridiculed so much! I myself loved it and thought she looked absolutely stunning with the hair and the very beautiful dress in a very becoming style and color. She looks to be in excellent shape. With her figure and those bones together with that gown and hair and makeup, she looks luscious and beautiful.

I did differ in my preferences from the general view on several looks. There isn't much jewelry, even costume jewelry, in these photos which would have been an improvement. Beyonce's necklace certainly redeemed her look, the slit dress in a becoming color (although I didn't much go for the style) and pulled-back hair, but is the necklace real? I thought Maggie Gyllenhaal looked elegant as usual and statuesque, not "overwhelmed" at all, in that patterned side-shouldered, belted number. Glenn Close wore a party suit, proving that it's possible, but the trousers could have used a little more length. I prefer her in a very feminine look. I always love her looks and she always looks great. Some of the gown colors I thought were too severe, such as black on Amy Adams and Laura Dern. Who died? Also, I thought some of the hairstyles and gowns were not well-matched together, like blond Rene Zellweger in a black dress with a see-through top. Cameron Diaz wears a beautiful dress, but was she too busy for highlights and a cut? Of course, these may be personal choices of the stars. In general, they are all beautiful and chose well to emphasize their own positives.

They all had been fussed over and looked excellent, perhaps their "personal best". After all, they are all human beings, and different from each other, albeit almost perfect specimens. I would rate all their hair and gown styles between an eight and ten out of ten. They look perfect.

The men had achieved so much and looked so well-dressed that they all are off the hook with a perfect "ten".

On the other hand, I am not worthy of judging these fashions harshly. What a fright it must be for the stars. This is just my chance and a forum to air my personal views! Thanks for reading.

Now what do you think? Which ones do you like the best and the worst?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Personal fitness programs in schools are long overdue

Here's an uplifting article. News comes in today's New York Times of physical education classes and how they are improving on Long Island. This would appear to be an innovative trend worth embracing by the physical education community of instructors as a whole, across the country and around the world.

Traditional physical education classes have stressed team sports and have abandoned students with preferences for less ball-playing, team-oriented environments. Teaching a mindset that encourages individual physical health is a higher goal than the sports programs achieve at most schools. Sports programs in high schools favor the team excellence that leads to college scholarships and stratospheric salaries in professional teams. That's fine for a tiny percentage of students, and good exercise for the remainder of team participants.

But those students without experience or interest in team sports are often left without any sports alternatives. They should be offered more desirable physical activity choices and provided with opportunities to pursue individual choices to achieve "personal best" results. Personal recreational activities that are good preparation for a lifetime of good physical health include jogging and walking distances, weight lifting, dancing, and swimming laps and distances. After all, energy is usually not the problem with students.

While throwing balls around for exercise has been around for a long time, organized sports like basketball and football are themselves modern inventions. The inventor of basketball, James Naismith, came from Ottawa, Canada (my hometown). This entry claims Naismith was "ordered" in a job to create a game as a diversion. Little could he have known what has happened to basketball and sports salaries in general.

Do you agree? Do you think schools should overhaul their educational programs to initiate and encourage lifelong participation in sports? Please comment.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bush acting like a King not a President

I anticipate with great interest watching an historic moment, the swearing in of the 44th president, who happens to be an African-American male. And that’s a big deal for America. And I will have a front-row seat.”

He really thinks we care where he sits!!!!!!!!So says President Bush as another constant reminder of his unfailing self-importance. Yet again he is looking out foremost, first and always, for "Number One". Pathetic. Not to worry, this pseudo-king's self-esteem is intact.

Would Dr. Sanjay Gupta make a good Surgeon-General?

CNN and the AARP are reporting that Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been approached to be Surgeon-General of the United States. Is he the right person for the job?

He would definitely have more "household name" recognition quite literally than any other doctor in American history, being a real doctor, a neurosurgeon hired by CNN to give expert health opinions on live television.

It appears that he has done incredibly well. He has been upfront and visible at times of war and disaster covering stories from a medical point of view. He has quickly become one of the most trusted sources on all of television for medical news.

I do not know what the job requirements of the job are, but he has already brought CNN medical coverage up to a far higher level than it used to be. He also appears to be a nice, approachable, helpful person. What's not to like?

Well, of course, if he did change facts about healthcare in his argument with Michael Moore, that might change my opinion of him. HuffPost is definitely accusing CNN of that. Perhaps that exchange of information should be revisited and corrected.
Please send me your comments. What do you think? Did he ever change the truth?

For further reading, here is the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) article.

Clark Howard's CNN show is great!

Just a dusting of snow here near Princeton, New Jersey, today. Still haven't had any snow to shovel this winter, the grass is green and the birds are happy. Paradise.

CNN has introduced a few new shows lately. Clark Howard and his new personal finance show are really wonderful. The hour at 12 noon EST Saturdays (on CNN) listening to him answer finance questions is quite fast-paced.

I really like his show! Please comment if you have liked his show, too. He has interesting topics and showed easy ways to save money and had numerous practical financial tips, with great experience and compassion. Really a pro! He has really sound answers to questions phoned in, and it also appears to be a concurrent radio show.

Clark Howard claims to have retired at 30 (or 32)and has enjoyed giving people financial advice since then. He really seems to know a lot, so I would really recommend listening to him. It's very entertaining.

He's likely influential having such a wide audience on CNN. He recommended in an interview a couple of hours earlier that in these times of crisis, we should pay off credit card debt every month, something he claims only 10% of Americans actually do and that we are hearing a lot of these days. More importantly, he says that if we need to eat and can't pay our credit card off, we should let it lapse and let health insurance lapse as well and share housing, because we must eat. He would appear to be closer to a pulse of need in America than much of his "competition".

Jim Cramer on CNBC, whom I have watch many days a week, has stock tips and macro news and views and is rather highbrowed in comparison. Jim is a genius, old-money and Harvard, notwithstanding his occasional assertions of sleeping in a car in his early twenties. Clark Howard is better than alternatives Carmen Wong Ulrich (yuck) and Suze Orman (over-exposed and aggressive and snarky). I hope Clark gets more press. He is good. He also seems like a nice guy. What do you think?

Here is a link to his website.

Here's his bio.

Peter Madoff: More details than you want to know about Bernie Madoff's brother

Glad to see that Madoff's family is being investigated as being his "partners in crime".

Hope to read more of this story.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bernie Madoff's wife: innocent?

My question is, how can Mrs. Bernie Madoff be innocent?

If the girlfriend of a mortgage thief portrayed on "American Greed" CNBC TV last night can be jailed for two years for attempting to cash his bad check for $100,000.00, then how can Mrs. Bernie Madoff be allowed to get off without any sort of punishment? I know nothing about her except that her photo has appeared, but it just isn't fair. After all, she has just supposedly sent holiday gifts to family and friends to the tune of $1 million in the last month since he has been under house arrest.

I just don't understand it.

Bernie Madoff is clearly someone who had trouble dealing with the reality that while some of the money was his, most of the money was not. He appears to have taken much of the money he ever received from others to invest, perhaps passed some to earlier investors, but kept most for himself to spend. Reporters are still trying to find out the truth, of course, but apart from being one, was he involved with foreign or domestic criminals and accomplices at all?

Here is the story of Sonja Kohn, a lady banker who gave him money to invest. How much of the money does she now have?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mathematicians place first in a list

The Best and Worst Jobs

Of 200 Jobs studied, these came out on top -- and at the bottom:

The BestThe Worst
1. Mathematician 200. Lumberjack
2. Actuary 199. Dairy Farmer
3. Statistician 198. Taxi Driver
4. Biologist 197. Seaman
5. Software Engineer 196. EMT
6. Computer Systems Analyst 195. Garbage Collector
7. Historian 194. Welder
8. Sociologist 193. Roustabout
9. Industrial Designer 192. Ironworker
10. Accountant 191. Construction Worker
11. Economist 190. Mail Carrier
12. Philosopher 189. Sheet Metal Worker
13. Physicist 188. Auto Mechanic
14. Parole Officer 187. Butcher
15. Meteorologist 186. Nuclear Decontamination Tech
16. Medical Laboratory Technician 185. Nurse (LN)
17. Paralegal Assistant 184.Painter
18. Computer Programmer 183. Child Care Worker
19. Motion Picture Editor 182. Firefighter
20. Astronomer 181. Brick Layer

Mathematicians placed first - nice job if you can get one. "Research mathematician" is the best of the best jobs. Most of the first ten jobs have to do with numbers and computers.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Is Google freezing us in time?

Two ways Google, Inc. could improve involve addresses:

1. Delete rarely used blog addresses.
Most have one entry or so back six years ago.

2. Change towns in Google maps. We live in "Lawrence Township, New Jersey", but Google Maps and all GPSs add "Trenton" with our street address. But the US Postal Service (USPS) officially decreed that Lawrence Township has its own zipcode. It has always had its own school system, municipal buildings, police and so on, near Trenton and Princeton, our neighboring towns. In fact, the USPS had to change it officially about a year ago, as everyone successfully complained the same way as the towns used to be historically officially together in the same sub-post office. Yet Google still hasn't changed Google Maps. Lawrence Township is not Trenton. It is true that the Post Office is gradually changing over the addresses showing up on Google, but Google Maps should itself change, too.

How does one inspire Google, Inc. to listen and change? I have tried emailing Google directly (please and thank you) about Google Maps, but haven't heard back. If they are a good company and they certainly have the market cap (money) to be one, they had better be responsive, or else someday, another company will correct them (I would hope). Perhaps Googlers should play more Sudoku to practice self-correction.

Thanks to Google for providing this web address.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Why not think about New Jersey?

Here is a nice article from Asylum magazine that just popped up online, about New Jersey for a change, notwithstanding all the myths. I saw a wonderful play about New Jersey by the Princeton University Triangle Club, too. There is a lot to say for our wonderful Garden State. We haven't had any snow on the ground to shovel yet this winter, just possibly up north. Since there is only a postscript about "the produce", I will have to find another article about the "slow food" capital of New Jersey we have here in Lawrenceville. It's true. We have fresh cheese, organic eggs and grass-fed beef to buy around nearly every corner here.

How well do you know New Jersey?

Dec 18th 2008
By Brian Childs

New Jersey is the Best State in the Country (excerpt)

The views expressed here do not represent those of the Asylum staff. They are the opinion of associate editor Brian Childs -- a man of many enthusiasms, one of which is the state of New Jersey.

Dec. 18 is New Jersey Day, the day New Jersey officially approved the United States Constitution, and I, for one, am ready to proclaim I love the Garden State and all its citizenry.

After two years of living in the filthy, overpriced, nose-in-the-air concrete mold growth that is New York City, I went to the Jersey Shore for the Fourth of July and had one of the best weekends of my life. I fell asleep listening to Bon Jovi and woke up listening to Bruce Springsteen (not an exaggeration, that actually happened). Everyone was so friendly and intent on showing me a good time I could have gone the entire weekend without paying for anything. Plenty of young women (and even a 60-year-old guy) insisted on buying me drinks.

When the lease on my Brooklyn apartment ran out a few months later, I chucked the Big Apple and moved to Hoboken, NJ, America's number one city for singles.

To honor New Jersey Day, I'd like to take a few minutes to clear up the most outrageous and offensive stereotypes about my adopted home state.....

"New Jersey has nothing"
New Jersey has everything. You want gambling? You got Atlantic City. You like sports? How about not one, but two professional football teams who left New York for real football country. You got the Jersey Shore, Newark Airport and a ridiculous amount of history. Where was Washington going when he crossed the Delaware? Jersey. Much like me, Bell Labs started in New York then moved to New Jersey. Plus, you're a few hours away from Philadelphia, New York City and D.C. if you should happen to make the mistake of leaving the Garden State......

"New Jersey is an urban wasteland"
This is a wretched lie perpetuated by people who have flown into Newark and then gone straight to New York City. Don't believe me? New Jersey is such a rugged state that they have a bear problem. Take that, Alaska.

"People from Jersey are ignorant and uneducated"
New Jersey often has the highest high-school graduation rate in the country, sometimes reaching 87 percent. Meanwhile, Jersey's lauded next-door neighbor, New York, competes with states like Mississippi for the spot of lowest high-school graduation rate. New York smarter than Jersey? Fuggheddaboudit.

"Everyone prefers to live in New York"
Oh yeah? Then why does pretty much every so-called "New York" celebrity live in New Jersey? Because people who are rich and famous realize that it's better, so you should, too. The next time you hear someone make a crack on New Jersey, stop them and point out that Jersey is the state for real Americans with 73 percent voter turnout; a sweet, world-famous turnpike; and Bruce Springsteen.

P.S. The produce is delicious.

For more on New Jersey, here is his article in full:

large size models

Have you noticed the latest fashion is for large size models? Pretty, overall Ruben-esque figures. American department stores are giving away booklets of clothes on models that are eliciting surprise and wonder!

Me, I am on a low-fat, low-carb diet and it's working, trying to get back to my high school and university weight. Long and lean is the goal and I think it is healthier in general. I have heard that weight bias kicks in for a 5 foot 5 inch woman at 162 lbs.

Here are a few reasons to be thin:
1. Get in touch with your inner knockout
2. Find your six-pack abs
3. Feel hunger pangs again
4. Have the time you are not eating to pursue hobbies or work
5. Fit into public transportation and movie theater seats
6. Reach your toes to give yourself a pedicure
7. Get compliments rather than "weight bias" comments
8. Be happier and proud of your body, your appearance and your walk
9. Be at peace because you aren't constantly having to stoke the food habit
10. Save money by buying less food and distracting yourself from food

Better keep store receipts, even for ink tag removal

Just in case you are wondering if you need a receipt to get an ink tag removed, you do. You should bring proof of purchase. On January 3, 2009, I brought a Christmas gift I had given to my daughter back to a store because a cashier had forgotten to remove the security tag two weeks before. Purchased at the flagship Macy's store in Manhattan 60 miles away, I decided to have the tag removed at the Macy's department store an easy three miles away. Unfortunately, I forgot the receipt. This busy Saturday afternoon there were long lines at the cash registers here in Lawrence Township, near Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey.

Alas! The tag can be removed only at the Manhattan store, one cashier told me. Take it back to New York, she said coldly. Her colleague nodded and looked at me with horror and disbelief! Their manager agreed when they phoned her. There was no offer to send it there for me, or reimburse me for a train ticket or courier service. Nothing.

Feeling sadness and anger while attempting to leave the store, warning bells at the door went off. Everyone seemed to stare at me as I backtracked and walked to another busy cash register, a different one. Standing in the long, slow checkout line feeling like the most awful person in the store and most uncomfortable, I was wondering what to do, how to get the jacket back to Manhattan, and if another payment for the junior jacket would be required just to leave the store. My daughter really wanted it and would have been super disappointed without it. This time the tag was removed and the jacket hurriedly returned to the car, but Mom was shaking, quaking, with fear at the Quakerbridge Mall.

What if I had been wrongly accused of shoplifting instead of wanting tag removal? What if my daughter had taken the item in and been accused? Could we have been arrested? Isn't there something wrong here? Isn't Macy's possibly at legal fault, too? Isn't there an American retail law that proof of purchase is not required for a return, let alone a customer tag removal? Don't shoppers have rights, too?

Of course, from the store's point of view there is the issue of the lost receipt. What could I have been thinking, bringing in a clothing article with all tags still on? My impression is that salespersons at Macy's and most stores in general are constantly reminded of the issue of shoplifting.

My view is that having misplaced the receipt, I was hoping for some Christmas gift-related forgiveness, and that the item might only be available in Manhattan as proof that I couldn't have bought it here (although I was wrong about that). I guess I should at least have photocopied the credit card bill proof I did have in retrospect, albeit for a larger amount than just that one item. There isn't security at the entrance doors of these big, huge stores to tell me just after buying it that the ink tag is still attached or to see me later walk in with it and tell me what to do.

I am not saying that Macy's needs to have security at every door, just that something went wrong here and could have gone very wrong. Another person might sue Macy's for the psychological discomfort if arrested, and I would not blame them at all. I think Macy's was in the wrong here because I know a small store can't afford to be as callous. These ink tags can be a nuisance, and many customers probably just throw away articles if ink tags have been left on by mistake. I don't think it helps to complain to the Better Business Bureau for my mistake but shoppers aren't helped if they feel like shoplifters. What made me lucky here was that the cashier just did it without question. She checked out all the tags and recognized that other cashiers can forget to remove ink tags, just as customers can forget to bring in receipts.

Have you ever had a similar experience? Do you know the law? Please let me know --, and if you prefer your comment posted or not. Thanks.