Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jeff Bezos: "Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?"

Jeff Bezos    

Jeff Bezos made a wonderful Baccalaureate Address at Princeton University today. The Baccalaureate Address is one of Princeton's oldest traditions. He discussed his childhood and how he made the decision to found in 1994. Here's a copy of the speech "We are What We Choose". 

 "In her introduction of Bezos, Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman praised him as "a dreamer and doer, entrepreneur and engineer" and "refreshingly unassuming even in the face of unimaginable success." She also lauded him for "his exceptional ability to marry commerce and technology in creative ways" and "his sheer inventiveness and willingness to take the risks inherent in this process."
Bezos described his boss' reaction [when he mentioned the idea of starting his company]: "He took me on a long walk in Central Park, listened carefully to me, and finally said, 'That sounds like a really good idea, but it would be an even better idea for someone who didn't already have a good job,'" Bezos said.

He spun a yarn about his grandparents that ended with a lesson: "My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence, he gently and calmly said, "Jeff, one day you'll understand that it's harder to be kind than clever."

Speaking to packed audiences of graduates and families around the idyllic Princeton campus blessed with perfect weather, he asked many philosophical questions such as: 

"How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?
Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?
Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
Will you bluff it out when you're wrong, or will you apologize?
Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?
Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?
When it's tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?
Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?"

He encouraged them in his conclusion with the words: "We are our choices. Build yourself a great story".

Bezos graduated from Princeton in 1986 with highest honors and his wife, novelist Mackenzie Tuttle Bezos graduated in 1992.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Real Estate "Agents Without Borders"? Not Likely Anytime Soon

Most people don't think about real estate agents until they need them, and if asked, don't have much idea of what they do besides sell houses. Did you know that you are at an advantage if you familiarize yourself with real estate law, especially if your property is complicated? I used to wonder why American Presidents tend to be lawyers; the odds are stacked against a politician who isn't a lawyer. Young politicians are wise to study law.

The concept of selling property is grounded in real estate law. The reasons agents take real estate courses, at least here in America, are varied:
1)to guide buyers with professionalism to make better real estate choices
2) to deepen agents' knowledge of statewide real estate laws and regulations
3)to obtain real estate licenses to legally sell property
4) to belong to the governing body of the Board of Realtors

The rigorous education and useful knowledge of laws are invaluable to a general understanding of society. We can only thank history for changing the ugly, old ways of redlining (not giving mortgages in subprime areas), blockbusting (telling certain minorities to move out), and steering (showing buyers certain areas (usually more expensive). How can constitutional infringements be nipped in the bud? Probably the answer is they can't, at least not easily.

                                                   Our New Jersey farm, north Lawrence Township

Real estate agents in New Jersey (especially North Jersey) learn three different areas: real estate principles of residential and commercial real estate in general, NJ real estate laws and regulations of the Real Estate Commission, and thirdly, Pennsylvania, South Jersey customs and laws. North Jersey follows New York law more than Pennsylvania and South Jersey law.

New Jersey enjoys two different tax customs, in North and South Jersey, something I hadn't appreciated in the last 27 years. Legal practices south of I-95 in New Jersey follow Pennsylvania customs. For example, in South Jersey and Pennsylvania, attorneys aren't at closings, meaning that, in practice, attorneys are more likely to stop sales just before closing. Attorney reviews, the North New Jersey alternatives, happen after a residential sales contract is signed and take three days. I suppose it could be debated which has better laws, New York or Philadelphia.

Transfer taxation of realty is an issue that is not uniform around America. It would make life easier if it were. Uniformity of laws would make enforcement easier. Unnecessary divisions complicate justice. I didn't think New Jersey and Pennsylvania law could be so dissimilar. And those are just two states.

How many people pay cash (in percent per year) for houses in New Jersey or in the USA for that matter? Simple question. I can't find an answer, and I'm told it doesn't matter anyway.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Maybe It's Time For You To Achieve Your Dreams

Whether it's a diploma at 94, or sailing around the world at  the tender age of sixteen,  two women proved today they were neither too old or too young to achieve a dream.

Hazel Soares was one of 500 undergraduates to pick up diplomas at Saturday's commencement ceremony at Mills College in Oakland, California. After achieving  her lifelong dream with plenty of help, she has made plans to be a docent at a San Francisco Bay area museum.

Nola Ochs of Kansas holds a place as oldest to graduate at age 95 according to the Guinness Book of World Records, a feat she topped on Saturday when she received her master's degree in liberal studies from Fort Hays State University.

Meanwhile, not something to try at home is the feat of Australian Jessica Watson, 16, who sailed around the world during the last seven months in complete solitude. She became the youngest person to sail around the globe solo, nonstop and unassisted in a pink 34 foot yacht dubbed Pink Lady.

Jessica Watson, 16, on the Pink Lady  Reuters

 The Wall Street Journal claims "she successfully maneuvered her boat through raging storms, 40-foot waves and seven knockdowns during the 23,000 nautical mile journey that critics thought she wouldn't survive."

She said storms gave her moments of doubt, but she kept her spirits up. "You don't actually have a choice - you're in the middle of a storm, you're being knocked down -- you can't fall apart." She wrote of seeing "stunning sunrises over glassy seas...spotting a blue whale and the dazzling, eerie sight of a shooting star racing across the night sky above her boat." She also "had "Silly" a brown seabird that landed on her yacht and kept her company." Jessica is looking forward to getting her driver's license, which the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd assured her she would pass "with flying colors."  Experts say her astonishing feat had high risk of a catastrophic outcome.

These two strong women proved wrong doubters who assumed they wouldn't succeed. I have to admit I was one of them. While they are  highly resilient and independent and self-reliant, they also are blessed with good health and support. If they hadn't tried, they wouldn't have succeeded. And the reason it's news has to do with their ages, proving achievements happen that make age irrelevant and unimportant.

Having a sixteen year old girl myself, I wouldn't encourage courageous acts. When she left I felt sorrowful and didn't like it her parents let her go despite the fact they evidently had the meant to give her a yacht. People get accused of child abuse for far less, not that I am saying her parents should be.

The project to me sounded foolhardy from inception. Seven times the yacht blew over and had to be upturned alone, high winds, killer waves...She has been blessed and her parents are very fortunate and she will gain unknown rewards, no doubt. At the same time, I wouldn't give a yacht to my daughter to travel alone around the world and expect to see her again.

Was she more or less likely to return alive had she traveled with a crew, or at least one other person? What do you think?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Internet is Teaching Itself to Think - M.Mayer, Google

 "Edge: the World Question Center" asks the question

"How has the Internet changed the way you think?"

This is how Google's Marissa Mayer answers it:

Vice President, Search Products & User Experience, Google


It's not what you know, it's what you can find out. The Internet has put at the forefront resourcefulness and critical-thinking and relegated memorization of rote facts to mental exercise or enjoyment. Because of the abundance of information and this new emphasis on resourcefulness, the Internet creates a sense that anything is knowable or findable — as long as you can construct the right search, find the right tool, or connect to the right people. The Internet empowers better decision-making and a more efficient use of time.

Simultaneously, it also leads to a sense of frustration when the information doesn't exist online. What do you mean that the store hours aren't anywhere? Why can't I see a particular page of this book? And, if not verbatim, no one has quoted it even in part? What do you mean that page isn't available? Page not found?

The Internet can facilitate an incredible persistence and availability of information, but given the Internet's adolescence, all of the information simply isn't there yet. I find that in some ways my mind has evolved to this new way of the thinking, relying on the information's existence and availability, so much so that it's almost impossible to conclude that the information isn't findable because it just isn't online.

The Web has also enabled amazing dynamic visualizations, where an ideal presentation of information is constructed — a table of comparisons or a data-enhanced map, for example. These visualizations — be it news from around the world displayed on a globe or a sortable table of airfares — can greatly enhance our understanding of the world or our sense of opportunity. We can understand in an instant what would have taken months to create just a few short years ago. Yet, the Internet's lack of structure means that it is not possible to construct these types of visualizations over any or all data. To achieve true automated, general understanding and visualization, we will need much better machine learning, entity extraction, and semantics capable of operating at vast scale.

On that note — and in terms of future Internet innovation, the important question may not be how the Internet is changing how we think but instead how the Internet is teaching itself to think.

Amusing Signs in English For Armchair Travelers

One of the pleasures of traveling abroad is finding sources of amusement and variety in everyday life. We see how other people can do the same as us with different philosophies. Depicted in an article entitled

"Strange Signs from Abroad"

are signs collected from around the world by the New York Times. You will likely recognize some of them and wonder about the social values behind others. Time to fasten your seatbelt and marvel!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

American Aid Abroad: Where Does It Go?

Have you ever wanted to know more about how American foreign aid is distributed around the world? Have you ever wanted to hear a summary of what the American military is doing around the world? Not sure what the conflict in Darfur is all about? All these important questions and more were answered clearly in a fascinating conversation held at the Washington National Cathedral now online, linked here

Andrew Natsios

The Very Reverend Samuel T. Lloyd III spoke today to the  former head of  the US AID office, Andrew Natsios, now professor at Georgetown University, about the American aid effort  around the world. The focus was on "Prospects for Peace in Darfur". The almost hour long discussion ranged  from American humanitarian efforts all over the world to controversial actions made by the American military.

Andrew Natsios has a history in Massachusetts politics, public utilities, infrastructure and the military and was vice president of World Vision from 1993-8. He was head of US AID, the Agency for International Development, the federal agency mostly responsible for administering civilian foreign aid from 2001-5 and American Envoy and Aid Coordinator in Sudan 2005-7.

Mr Natsios generously outlines  at length issues associated with the giving of aid, especially by the military. Mr. Natsios has a strong grasp of the challenges of the third world from which to share in this DVD. He understands the composition of African countries and  describes how they are governed. He claims Darfur, where civil unrest could lead to destruction, is a country the size of the East Coast where future oil reserves will be found.

Many countries need food, medical and diplomatic aid. A secret to many, some countries' militias have a history of redirecting and abusing American food aid for their own purposes. Haiti has received much food and medical aid. The royal families of Jordan and Morocco are savvy of American programs in place to help their people. It's a fascinating conversation well worth watching.

The Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III

The Very Reverend Samuel T. Lloyd III has made a positive outreach effort the last few years hosting a series of Sunday Forums. Each Sunday, co-hosted with Deryl Davis, he interviews luminaries with widely divergent interests who describe their work, explain what we can all do to help, and take questions from the audience. A great way to learn about issues at the intersection of faith and public life, it's been fascinating to hear personalities discuss current issues. Judy Woodruff, the long time television anchor, for example, discusses how she got into the reporting business, which I would recommend  especially to young reporters. This and many any other Forum discussions are now available at the National Cathedral website. Please give generously to Washington's National Cathedral. The Cathedral provides the rare opportunity and capability to conveniently view Sunday services online live or on video webcasts.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ben Bernanke's Advice on Happiness

Ben Bernanke in this fascinating and wise article in today's Wall Street Journal called "Bernanke Offers a Lesson on Happiness" is a departure from his usual theme of the mechanics of modern central banking. The occasion was the commencement speech to the graduating class at the University of South Carolina.

Mr. Bernanke's speech mentioned that economics is "at its very roots, a study of how to improve human happiness and sense of satisfaction in life" citing 18th and 19thC philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stewart Mill, along with Adam Smith, the father of modern economics. 

Happiness research has had a "renaissance" in recent years, as Mr. Bernanke points out. For example, one psychological study shows "commuting is a big detractor from happiness,"  while "dining with friends adds to it greatly."

He says that richer countries "have more resources to devote to medical care, to good nutrition and sanitation, and to workplace safety" producing "higher life expectancies, lower infant morality rates, and generally better health indicators" than poor countries. Mr. Bernanke said that a cleaner environment, "more leisure time, higher education levels, greater ability to travel and more funding for arts and culture" are more often generally provided by richer countries.

Even though the rich say they are happier than the poor, "life satisfaction" is not much different in lower-income countries. For example, Costa Ricans with one-quarter America's per capita incomes reportedly has roughly the same "life satisfaction" rate.

Mr. Bernanke alluded to the idea that "people's happiness depends less on their absolute wealth than on their wealth compared with others around them." 

Also on happiness, regarding family income, "by itself, money is not enough" said Mr. Bernanke. "Indeed, taking a high paying job only for the money can detract from happiness if it involves spending less time with your family, stress, or other such drawback." 

Yes, but my question is, what if the money is gained very quickly, from the stock market or a lottery winning, rather than through, say, the course of a doctor's long career as Mr. Bernanke says - then the money is there to spend without the sacrifices of the long hours involved in working.

Mr. Bernanke counseled his listeners to "spend time with friends [preaching to the converted in the audience of students] and family and put emphasis on social and community relationships" (something he knows about, having been head of the school board near Princeton, New Jersey, when he lived here.) He also advised students to be "so engrossed in what you are doing that you totally lose track of time" - "that feeling is called flow." Mr. Bernanke said, "If you never have that feeling, you should find some new activities - whether work or hobbies". He suggests keeping a "gratitude journal" to list "experiences and circumstances for which you are grateful."

Thank goodness, his English is plainer than that of his predecessor. Now that's a blessing....He tells a story about Lincoln saving a pig, because otherwise Lincoln would have "felt terrible." This parable was meant to exhort students to "do the right thing" even though it might not "maximize their own happiness" as Lincoln believed people always do (called the utility-maximizing theory of behavior).  It must have been a fantastic speech to listen to in person. America is very fortunate to have Mr. Bernanke in his position as Chairman of the Federal Reserve in Washington.

Expressing Gratitude Frequently Produces Happiness

One way to practice being happy is to achieve it by altering one's state of mind with generosity, kindness and gratitude. This is done by consciously noting  instances of them in everyday life. Having greater frequency of them increases happiness.

"The How of Happiness" (p. 89-101) by S. Lyubomirsky has many related reports on psychological studies. This self-help guide should be deeply exciting to everyone in need of free, easy antidotes to depression. Certain participants in studies were asked to write  five things for which they were thankful, to count their blessings once a week for ten weeks in a row. They reported back having more optimism, life satisfaction and fewer physical symptoms. Other studies in the book have shown the count-your-blessings strategy produces many positive emotions such as interest, excitement, joy and pride, helping others, feeling connected with others, and sleeping better.

One mother on the "Rachael Ray" television show suggested recording a few of these expressions from children daily before the evening meal while they are waiting. It may take weeks, but in time children will begin to focus more on the positive. These feelings of gratitude become more immediate, and turn into positive feelings of anticipation for  the future. They learn through positive reinforcement these activities will produce thankful feelings. It works. All ages can benefit from this game.

Help a Friend - "7 Simple Ways to be Happier":

Seven suggestions collected from an article in Health magazine should help you and your friends be happier and healthier. First letters are arranged to spell cap:
1) Sing and Dance - literally
2) Practice Being Happy - through states of mind such as generosity, kindness and gratitude
3) Exercise - physical activity tends to lift spirits
4) Live in the Moment  and Find Joy - make yourself feel better now
5) Lighten Up - smile, laugh, relax
6) Clear your mind. Take up prayer and meditation if you haven't already
7) Add Positivity not negativity to your life. Friends should be Positive. Surround yourself with loyal supporters, not people who consistently bring you down

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Synopsis of My Manuscript---"When Love Is Enough"

Here's a synopsis of my 68,000 word manuscript, tentatively entitled --

                                                 "WHEN LOVE IS ENOUGH"

Biz Parker, a beautiful, successful famous television financial journalist meets prominent artist James Deephart at a party she gives for her friends, family and co-workers. James is on a visit to the East Coast from England, and is so attracted to her he gives her an unexpectedly mind-blowing kiss as he leaves her party. He is not the best person for Biz to become involved with, although he's successfully planted the idea. Biz hasn't ever dated an unconventional artist, although he is well-known in the art world. She has long had a lackluster relationship with a family-known friend.

James meets her again in London and again impresses her with his warm personality and an intimate kiss. Biz is very sad, misses him and wants to see him again. Their instant mutual physical attraction quickly becomes a relationship of exclusivity and love. They continue to communicate and he goes to see her in Paris after her traumatic, delayed flight from Heathrow Airport.

Their romantic lives become increasingly intertwined, and luckily, James has a more flexible schedule than her previous boyfriend. While Biz thinks this is a very impractical relationship, the two can't seem to stop themselves from wanting more of each other's company and planning to be together again.

They have another visit with each other over the Christmas holidays in America and another while Biz has business in Italy. Everywhere she goes, especially while traveling, she becomes aware of being watched and followed. Her career advances well and she enjoys her friendships with girlfriends, all of whom have interesting employment and concerns of their own which we explore.

We meet Biz's friends and families in the northeastern United States. Dr. Sandy MacMillan, an unmarried computer scientist is a serial dater, although she has a problem admitting it even to herself. Quick to lead in her chosen profession, why is she so reluctant to decide on a romantic match? Dr. Tina Earle, a married diet doctor faces personal challenges with her husband and professional challenges as she raises a child. Heather Duke is a married writer who accommodates her writing career to suit her family and pays a heavy emotional price.

In Athens, Greece, for a meeting, Biz ends her financial relationship for good with her former deceitful boyfriend. Then she is abducted in a restaurant by a previous acquaintance and almost murdered. Luckily, she has been under surveillance by her employer who rescues her. Biz feels betrayed by the surveillance she has been under for her own safety and is very conflicted about her protective employer and her life. She wants to continue her career, although perhaps at a different company, and decides her relationship with James, despite significant obstacles, is worth keeping because he is helpful to her and loves her. They love each other, and hope that love is enough.

The novel explores the importance of financial support and geographical challenges as they relate to romantic relationships. Romantic suspense intersects with financial, healthcare and technology topics of general current interest. Socially relevant issues such as control of personal finances, gender disparities, role expectations and healthcare experiences are openly discussed. We watch these four women face work overload, loneliness and geographical separations from their loves ones. Emotional and psychological growth stories transform these four vibrant, intelligent free-thinking American women. Their challenges potentially reshape our own attitudes. Through them we learn an array of psychological and philosophical risk management strategies.

Coming soon!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some Countries With The Most Tourists Have The Worst Rest Rooms

Countries with the greatest number of tourists are listed in order in a report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

1. France
2. United States
3. Spain
4. China
5. Italy
6. United Kingdom
7. Turkey
8. Germany
9. Malaysia
10. Mexico

The blog "The Titanic Awards" has a courageous, if unscientific list of nine countries with "the worst" public rooms here. Oddly enough, France, Italy and Mexico occur on both lists, producing plenty of scope for humor and possibilities to start new lists, starting at the worst:

1. China
2. India
3. France
4. Italy
5. Thailand
6. Egypt
7. Turkey
8. Mexico
9. Indonesia

Is there any agreement on this? I doubt it. While many, if not most of my precious viewers would beg to differ, the point's important to renovate public rest rooms whether or not tourists flock simply to promote good health. Bathrooms are thought of as indicators of general living standards and governments write laws and codes about them. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Support Your Local Animal Shelter

S.A.V.E., A Friend to Homeless Animals, Princeton, New Jersey

Obtaining a pet at a shelter is a terrific idea. Shelters have wonderful dogs and cats of many breeds and need to move them to proper homes. Some pounds put down dogs and some shelters don't but all of them would prefer to place them. They are now trying all forms of communication media to find good homes to adopt pets. For example, S.A.V.E. A Friend to Homeless Animals in Princeton, New Jersey posts photos of many of their pets up for adoption on Facebook now. Shelters often encourage volunteer efforts. You might be able to take pets for walks if you contact your local shelter. These pets need your donations and all the extra loving attention they can get.

Marius, at SAVE in Princeton, New Jersey

Pets continue to stream into shelters in need of good homes, particularly following the recent turmoil in real estate. Perhaps owners didn't know that pets generally have life spans of ten to fifteen years or more. I would love to have a round of applause from my readers to Executive Director Piper Huggins who says S.A.V.E. employs locally and relies completely on generous donations. A Gala called "Race for Rescue" held last weekend drew widespread attendance. S.A.V.E. will need to move to a bigger location under renovation in a few years.

Isa, a corgi terrier mix needs a home, April 2010

Mixed Breed Dogs Have Cancer Rate 10% Higher Than Purebred Rates

Veterinarians should tell medical researchers what they already know easily and see instances of repeatedly in their practices. Perhaps some veterinarians have the opportunity to do so, and I would encourage them.

It's fascinating that some breeds have been shown in this article to get cancer more frequently than others. An article in today's Wall Street Journal called "When Cancer Comes With a Pedigree" by Melinda Beck, reminds me that my dog Foxy, a Finnish Spitz has cancer. The article also says that mixed breeds get cancer at a rate ten percent higher than purebreds.

One of my previous dogs also got cancer, but he was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Both of my purebred Cavaliers from a breeder had almost weekly illnesses but Foxy has been healthy until now.

Posted by Picasa
Foxy, my Finnish Spitz

We got Foxy from a pound in Hamilton near Trenton, New Jersey over ten years ago. She had emergency surgery between last Christmas, 2009 and New Year's Eve and lived through a complicated surgery to remove the cancer. We had taken her to our vet because of weight loss and itchiness, but had no idea she would need emergency surgery. She sleeps a lot now, and doesn't have her usual stamina. The canine oncologist gave her nine months to live which is coming up in three months, and said that chemotherapy would likely not do a lot of good in her advanced state. Enjoy your pets while you have them. Learn from them, too.

Cheerful Red Carpet Fashions

For a change of pace after my last reproachful post...presenting fun fashions worn by absolutely beautiful stars at the recent Costume Institute Benefit Gala.

 It's rumored that Rosella and Genz's innovative, practical "Galaxy Dress" worn here by Singer Katy Perry with 24,000 LED bulbs is being whisked to a museum soon:

Emma Watson in Burberry:

 Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake in Ralph Lauren:

Jennifer Lopez wears Zuhair Murad:

Coco Rocha in Zac Posen:

Donatella Versace:

These are my favorites courtesy of the Mail online [more photos] and HuffPost.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Is That Any Way To Treat An Employee? Sadly, In America, It's Legal

Rumors of police abuse of illegal aliens in Arizona sound disturbing and are likely true. Here's why: as a legal resident myself, I know there is an important  legal distinction in American law between illegal and legal aliens. Americans generally have little experience with the intimidating and inefficient procedures, and little understanding how broken, uncivilized, outdated and unjust they are.

Any policymaker unaware of this truth needs more information. Make no mistake, legal entry into America is a cruel, violent emotionally life-changing event. Even the most top-rung applicant is made to feel no different than a common criminal from any other country. Americans born in the country cannot fathom how vulnerable that would feel.

Did you know the immigration department has basically shut the door to legal, screened temporary work permits in the United States for jobs filled by southern border-crossers?  Those who risk their lives to be here, and those who apply through normal channels want to be here legally and yet their efforts have been ignored as this New York Times article says.

America must take responsibility to require paperwork and background checks on all those who live in this country, to start with, to keep the blood within the body of America. Then they must make it easier for those who live here illegally, especially those who have been here with children over five years, and perhaps for less time than that. They must keep the borders tight and process paperwork with efficiency. There is far too much emphasis on the  personalized interview by one interviewer at ICE.  They look at your applicant like it's a college application, and decide whether you are worthy of entry. Looking at someone is like judging a book by its cover, and allows room for  profiling by the interviewer. Not only is it slow and unscientific, it is unprofessional and a legalized form of racism.

Stories of detention and worse in Arizona and along the southern border currently being generated are not likely rumors. Women do not cry rape without reason. That would be far too humiliating, especially in all who prize family relationships. To deny accusations of violence by illegals is to be callous to human suffering.

Imagine this: what if an illegal alien is driving a car with a second generation legal alien inside. That individual has no more reason to carry papers than anyone else in America should she take a ride with a friend. If she has dark skin, she could be questioned in Arizona and soon other states, and without any papers taken directly to jail, because the police are legally bound to ask for papers if there is any question of identity in their minds.

Now supposing she has a friend in the car with her who is white. The policeman does not question the white woman, who is well-dressed and assumed to be legal. Is there any punishment for the policeman who asked only for the papers of the dark-skinned woman? Of course not. He was just doing his job under the new law in Arizona. Policemen do a lot without supervision, and without punishment.

Supposing that dark-skinned American woman then goes to jail and is forced to stay there without legal representation of the kind to which her family has become accustomed, since they have made a fortune in a business and employ others, including long-time Americans. She has been put into a situation that is unbelievable to white-skinned, legal Americans because it probably wouldn't happen to them. Is that fair? Not at all, but it's the law.

And if he groped the two, or even did far more than grope them, on their way through questioning, did they complain? Not a chance.

If they were raped in the jail by other inmates,  neglected and left unrepresented for days on end; if they weren't fed or given the opportunity to bathe, were they ultimately recompensed for their suffering? How exactly?

Now, supposing the illegal alien was finally deported, bereft of her life's point, at a minimum verbally abused and possibly  repeatedly raped on American soil on her way back to her family in Mexico by police, did anyone punish the police or whoever did that? Of course not.

A year later, that illegal alien despises America and will never again speak well of the country. The legal alien, too,  has returned home. Her wealthy parents decide to do nothing to retaliate. No way do they want to attract unwanted attention or hurt their business. But she knows her own body and mind are not at all valued in Washington, D.C. Her will to help America, and possibly her family in the future has eroded.

Many white-skinned Americans approve of the Arizona law without realizing the federal  system needs a major overhaul. If I didn't feel strongly about this issue, I wouldn't be writing about it, even if lots of other people are saying it, too. If laws could be followed,  workers could be screened efficiently and all Americans would be safer and it wouldn't be an issue. Doesn't this make sense?

World's First Plug-In Vehicle Soon To Reach America

Models of the BYD F3DM could reach the United States in 2010, and are priced around $22,000. BYD Auto says the BYD F3DM Fe battery packs reach a 50% charge in just ten minutes, and run for 63 miles on battery power alone.  It can reach 60 miles-per-hour in 10.5 seconds, although it tops out at just 93 mph. With a 1.0-liter gas engine and electric motor, this Corolla lookalike has 168-horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. That said, this car is in desperate need of a good nickname in English.

America must get more ecologically pro-active to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and save the world.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Date Night" : How They Lived Happily Ever After

Did you notice that according to the movie columnists at Rotten Tomatoes, men are mostly giving "Date Night" average reviews, while women reviewers loved it? It's easy to guess which way this review is going to go, from a female reviewer.

The advanced level of humor about marital challenges is new and welcome, and that's a lot to achieve in a romantic comedy these days. So I would recommend it when you could use more humor about marriage in your life. It would be interesting to survey whether this movie pleased the married segment more as I would expect, especially mothers, although lots of men and kids were in my theater audience.

Dinner at a fancy New York restaurant weaves a New Jersey couple into an outlandish plot and involves far more adventure than they and the audience could have dreamed. Scenes of New York were wonderfully panoramic and realistic and their little house in New Jersey was an idyllic haven. "Date Night" is R-rated for good reason, having to do with the place where certain scenes happen.  It was great as an entertaining, escapist movie, albeit one with an unbelievable plot. Part thriller, a dangerous-looking and frightening car chase scared me out of my socks.

"Date Night" ends surprisingly, spectacularly and satisfyingly for the well-cast Steve Carell who plays a lawyer and father and his real estate wife, played by Tina Fey. Leighton Meester plays a realistic baby-sitter who can charge exorbitant prices; babysitters will enjoy this movie, too.

A few scenes could have been edited more tightly, and emotions shown by the characters could have matched the scenes more skilfully and some of Tina Fey's lines appear made-on-the-spot. Despite all that, the movie displays significant effort. I thoroughly enjoyed this undemanding, funny instant classic.

Just be sure to have a ladder  nearby to climb when your car catapults into the Hudson River. Was this meant to be a toned-down echo of the plane that landed in the Hudson River where ferry boats picked up passengers? Put "Date Night" on your movie list.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour's Final Sign Off

This video turns out to be a touching walk down memory lane.

To quote Queen Rania: " It's not enough to get children into school, it's what they get out of school."

Sounds like the proverb, "if something is worth doing, it's worth doing well" or a paraphrase of a statement widely attributed to Edmund Burke, British statesman and philospher 1729-1797, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" (also known as "evil prevails when good men and women do nothing.")

Burke also supposedly said: "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it" a phrase worth remembering and reminding others.

"Open Your Heart" Photo Project: Useful!

We all have our own favorite places. We love to live in them. Perhaps, we love to visit them. But all of us have somewhere we love to be, even if they are, sadly, only in our memories.

What makes a place wonderful for you? What lifts your heart? Is it the furnishings? Is it the memories of the good times you had there? Is it a private space or a public space, an art gallery or an office?

The internet gives you the chance to create photo albums of some of your favorite spots. It's a worthwhile personal project to do to gather pictures of places. You could make files of places you would like to live. These are probably different from places you would like to visit, for some places we would want to take only in short stretches. There are realistic places you might live, if you were looking for a place to live.

This project could be useful. If you have made pictures of your favorite places, you will be able to flip through these photos to show a realtor before you look at a property to buy or rent.

If you are going to design a house, you could make a collection of photos of rooms you would like to duplicate in your own situation. Architects and interior designers find them useful. In the meantime, it is a nice to keep in your mind. Only you know whom you love and what you love.

On the other hand, we sometimes want to visit places without owning them. We also want to be reminded of places we have been but can't go to again that we loved. The internet is full of photos of people and places we will not ever see again in real life in the remainder of our lifetimes. The point is, the internet is useful to warehouse photos and customize your collections, not that it's a new idea, but it can be expanded. Here is a list of interior design blogs to start you on a design project:

Of course, there is room (no pun intended) for evil if this project is overdone. Conceivably, burglars and murderers collect photos from the internet, too.