Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Come home to her

Everyone likes to have a beautiful home and garden; however, paying for all the best decorations and extras is not always easy. There are many things you can do to save money on home and garden items; you just have to know where to look and what strategies to use. Consider the following five tips when you are planning your next purchase.
1. Mix It Up – When you are designing your home and garden area, use a variety of colors and patterns. Consider using a theme for the room or garden area and then all you have to do is shop for items along that theme. This is a great way to save money on clearance racks and closeout sales. While you may not find six matching linen napkins, you can probably find six green linen napkins. You can also mix up your plates. Instead of a matching set that costs hundreds, buy individual plates along the same theme.
2. Shop Exclusively – Forgo the department stores and shop at stores that exclusively have what you are looking for. While everyone knows large retail stores are known for cheaper prices, it is often easy to find even better deals at a specialty store. Consider the bedding you need for your home. When you shop at a bedding store, you will have a larger selection and there will be more markdowns and clearance items as well.
3. Compare Prices Online – Use comparison tools online to find the best prices on your must- have items. These sites will crawl through the web and find every site that is offering the item you are looking for. This can save you a lot of time and money in your search. You might even check out online auction sites to look for a specific item; many businesses list their inventory online.
4. Shop Out Of Season – For garden items, you can find great deals if you shop during the winter months. Garden furniture and decorations are often marked down up to 50% off. Buy items that need to be put together and save them for great spring projects. Many plants can be bought in the off season as well. Since these items are less popular in the off season months, you can find great deals.
5. Coupons Are Worth Their Weight in Gold – While it can be a pain to use coupons, you can save hundreds on a project if you will take the time to use them. Look for coupons that are a set amount off of purchases or coupons for free shipping if you are ordering online. There are many great sites online that offer coupons for many different stores. You can download or print coupons for many different stores all in one place.
6. Take Your Time – Impulse buying can cost you a lot more than you will pay if you take your time. If you take the time to shop around, you can often find items at much better prices. You might even be able to find a similar item to the one you saw in the store for a much better price online.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Schwarzenegger Looks to Illegal Drugs for Tax Revenue

The California budget crisis continues on without abatement and illegal drugs are now in the crosshairs of cash strapped legislators. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he would look at marijuana legislation as a potential means for tax revenue. Is this a shortsighted move?

Illegal Drugs in the News

When Michael Phelps took a bong hit, the picture led to unsuccessful press negotiations, an apology, sanctions, and a loss of endorsements. In contrast, when San Francisco Democrat Tom Ammiano drafted a California marijuana bill, he was hailed as a visionary who might be able to use illegal drugs and put up to $50 per ounce of marijuana into the state's coffers.

Even President Obama weighed in on legalization of illegal drugs - specifically the legalization of marijuana - and the Obama marijuana position is a resounding "no" to making this illegal drug legal. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is not yet on the illegal drugs legalization bandwagon, but, according to the Christian Science Monitor, he is making overtures that he is ready to listen and discuss the legalization and taxation of marijuana.

Illegal Drugs Status of Marijuana

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration classifies marijuana as a schedule one illegal drug, asserting that it possessed a heightened possibility of abuse.

Will Legalization of Illegal Drugs Show California the Money?

It may not be the solution to California's budget woes, but it would be more than a drop in the bucket. Estimates suggest that the legalization of marijuana and its taxation could add up to $1.3 billion to the state's strapped budget.

The law of unintended consequences also applies when it comes to illegal drugs and their legalization. For example, if marijuana were made legal in California, sellers and users would no longer be subject to prosecution (at taxpayer cost) and incarceration (also at taxpayer expense); moreover, the tax revenue generated by marijuana sellers and users as they pursue their regular FICA generating jobs remains preserved.

On the flipside, a new government agency or at least office dedicated to overseeing the sale and taxation of marijuana would have to be created. Children would have to be protected from (for them) illegal drugs that would then be so much easier to obtain. Could it be that the California governmental structure might just eat up whatever profits the legalization and taxation of marijuana would yield?

Moreover, the fact that smoking pot and smoking tobacco lead to health problems is undisputed. Will California simply shoot itself in the foot by legalizing marijuana and reaping tax benefits on the front end, while paying out health related costs on the back end?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fake Swine Flu Products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) have announced that the public should be cautious
about products said to prevent, treat or cure the Swine Flu virus,
saying use of unauthorized or unapproved products could put people's
health at risk.

The government agencies say that they are "aggressively" investigating
phony flu products and/or claims.

The Canadian government made an official announcement on its website
that warned the public that although there are two anti-viral drugs
that could help prevent or reduce symptoms of the flu - including
Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or Relenza (zanamivir) - there are NO products
that are approved for direct sale to the public that would
specifically treat or guard against the H1N1 flu virus. Tamiflu and
Relenza are available only by prescription via a doctor or authorized
medical professional. The Canadians also caution that the medicines be
given only when the illness is diagnosed as being "moderate" or
"severe" and if the patient is at high risk of complications of flu -
such as existing respiratory ailments. The agency states that if taken
within 48 hours after getting sick, Tamiflu or Relenza can help reduce
symptoms, shorten the length of illness and potentially reduce serious

The Canadian health agency is also warning against claims for
"generic" versions of Tamiflu or Relenza, saying no such generics have
been approved and that such products could have dangerous additives in
them. The agency states that consumers should be very wary of buying
drugs over the Internet. For example, an online provider such as
PrescriptionGiant.com offers a package of 30, 10-milligram capsules of
Tamiflu for $88.65. At fitfuel.com a "herbal alternative to Tamiflu"
called Defend-Rx is being advertised for $24.98 for a supply of 45
tablets. The site says the demand has been so heavy that they are
currently out of stock. But, the site claims that the product is "the
world's only natural weapon against bird flu (Avian Flu). But, it also
claims the ingredients in the product are "the main component in

The FTC suggests that the public report any suspected fraudulent Swine
Flu products to the FDA at http://www.fda.gov/oci/flucontact.html.
Also, anyone who wants to file a complaint against a company that they
think is trying to advertise or sell swine flu products can call the
FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe is Boston's largest newspaper. It is also one of the most
widely-read newspapers in our country's northeastern region. The first
issue of the Boston Globe was published on March 4, 1872. This makes
the newspaper over one hundred years old!

Since 1993, the Boston Globe has been owned by the New York Times. The
online edition, Boston.com was launched in 1995. Although the Boston
Globe has a rich history, that does not make it immune to the current
economic crisis. On April 2 of this year, the parent that owns the
Boston Globe threatened to close its doors if unions don't agree to
$20 million in cost savings.

The parent's ultimatum was not an empty threat. The Boston Globe may
file a notice to shut down as early as today. Under the Workers
Readjustment and Retraining Notification act the company must give a
60 day notice before closing it's doors. Filing such a notice today
would mean that in July the Boston Globe would no longer exist.

Critical agreements were not reached by the midnight deadline.
However, negotiations continue as we speak. Let's keep our fingers
crossed that critical negotiations prove successful. Our country can
not afford to lose another newspaper that has such a rich history.

The Boston Globe is not the only newspaper to hit rough times. The
Rocky Mountain News in Denver shut it's doors completely. The
Christian Science Monitor and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer are now
only available in an online format. The parent company of the Chicago
Sun Times and 58 other newspapers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in
March. The future of newspapers as we know it remains a question mark.
Could it be that in the future we only can get our news online? Let's
hope not.

What can you do? Continue to buy newspapers in print edition. Every
little bit helps. As more and more traffic shifts online, we will see
more and more trouble with our nations newspapers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tactical Products

I found an interesting site today while browsing around. It's called CJ Component Products, LLC at cjcomponents.com. They have all sorts of things there that are used in the Army and such such as military communication products, tactical communication products and even tactical audio accesories. Quality is the biggest concern when buying a military handset. This company called CJ Components is registered with ISO9001 : 2000 for “Manufacture, assembly and supply of audio, radio frequency communication system and wiring components with the permitted exclusion of design and development activity” Their products meet military standards with testing and inspection performed at incoming receiving, at process of in-house manufactured components, during production assembly and to the final product.

Their tactical handsets interface with two-way radio and telephone systems. Military handsets can be incorporated with commercial radio and industrial intercom systems. They interface with most tactical radios and feature noise cancelation, special cord assemblies, push-to-talk switches and wireless options.

Lightweight handsets are ergonomically designed for easy operation with gloves and a comfortable fit under a tactical helmet. Tactical wireless handsets provide high reliability and security within a specialized magnetic field. You can customize electrical characteristics, and radio interfaces depending on your needs.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Barack the Barbarian

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Apparently inspired by Barack Obama's appearance in an issue of
Spiderman, as well as the Conan stories, a company called Devils Due
Publishing is about the launch a new line of comic books featuring
Barack the Barbarian.

The first story line will be titled Barack the Barbarian and the Quest
for the Treasure of the Stimuli. Apparently the loin cloth wearing, ax
wielding, barbarian hero will be aided in his quest by Hilaria the
Sorceress, and her demigod trickster husband Bill. The Overlord Boosh
and Chainknee of the Elephant Kingdom will be featured.

Barack the Barbarian's main enemy, though, will be a sword carrying,
chain mail, wolf cloak and glasses wearing femme fatale from the
northern lands. One can only imagine who that might be.

Josh Blaylock of Devils Due is an Obama fan, so it can it is natural
that he would imagine Barack Obama as a Conan type ubermensch style
hero with Wagnerian overtones. All that it needed is a movie, likely
animated, with Carmina Burana as the sound track. Maybe John Milius
could put it together. Failing that, maybe some purveyor of violent,
Japanese anime could be found.

Depicting Barack Obama as a warrior dude is somewhat wide of the mark.
Barack Obama and sword fights just don't seem to go together. Now,
someone somewhat less enamored of Barack Obama could put something
together more suitable to the real President's persona.

Obama the Evil Overlord has usurped the throne and has made away with
the legitimate King George. There is a prophecy, though, that one that
is true of heart will free the land of Obama the Evil Overlord and
restore true freedom.

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To this end, a motley crew of adventurers go on
a quest for a sacred object that will inspire the people to revolt.
The group includes Palin, an elf huntress, Friar Huck, a cleric, two
warriors of noble birth, Lord Rush and Sir Sean, Jindal, a mysterious
traveler from the East, McCain, the aged Earl Marshal to the old King,
the wizards Mitt and Newt, and finally Arnold the Barbarian, who had
once fallen under the dark influence of Obama the Evil Overlord, but
has now (perhaps) freed himself.

Will keep Hilaria and William the Depraved as evil minions. Add to
them the Dark Witch Pelosi, the evil cleric Father Jeremiah, Lord
Harry of Reid the wicked counselor, and an army of dark, evil zombies
under the spell of Obama the Evil Overlord who dog the steps of our
heroes at every turn.

The sacred object of the quest? The Golden Megaphone that causes the
wielder to speak truth and be believed by all who hear it.

The one flaw in all of this is that the real Barack Obama has already
violated several maxims in Peters Evil Overlord List. Like number 12;
"One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws
in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before
implementation." And Number 19, "I will not have a daughter. She would
be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero's rugged
countenance and she'd betray her own father." And Number 61, "If my
advisors ask 'Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?', I
will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them." (Though
in Obama's defense, he might not have an advisor who has the courage
to tell him that the stimulus package is a mad scheme.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Guiding Light Canceled by CBS

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Guiding Light is coming to the end of a very successful run, as CBS announced that the soap opera was being canceled. That Guiding Light lasted so long without being canceled was a testament to the fans of the show, and a never ending stream of producers and actors that helped the show first make the transition from radio to television, and then to succeed for many more years as a daytime drama. Guiding Light episodes will continue to run on CBS until Friday, September 18th, when the final episode of Guiding Light is set to air.

The series finale of Guiding Light should be an interesting fare for the show, as they have gone through many different plot twists over the years, and not much is left reserved for an ending. Rather than take the typical soap opera route of leaving their fans with a cliff hanger, maybe Guiding Light will take the opportunity to finish out all of their possible storylines, and actually give their characters a proper send-off. Millions still tune in to watch the show on a daily basis, but it is rumored that the low ratings could be the main culprit behind pulling Guiding Light from the CBS daily rotation.

Originally known by the moniker The Guiding Light, the daily soap opera has been on the air since it debuted back in 1952. Taking place in the fictional Midwestern town of Springfield, the show had centered on a middle class family and all of their trials and tribulations.

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The family had of course seen plenty of ups and downs, but evolved into a wider spectrum of character involving many different families, connections, and evolutions to keep it both interesting and intriguing to new generations of viewers. It takes a lot to keep a show going for that length of time, and along with it has come many different actors and actresses that have been in more than 200 plus episodes apiece.

It is quite a remarkable achievement that Guiding Light lasted so long on television, and even if the ratings are down a little bit (about 2.17 million per episode according to Entertainment Weekly) that is still a lot of estimated viewers. It will surely go down in history as the longest running show to ever grace television, and outside of news programs, it has a record that will basically be cast in cement for all of eternity.

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It created history for CBS, and hopefully the network will send the show out with a lot of class and respect. As was noted, the final episode of Guiding Light will air on Friday, September 18th, 2009.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sarah Palin: Obama's New Enemy

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The attempt by the Obama administration to make Rush Limbaugh an enemy of the people, in the style of 1984's Emmanuel Goldstein has failed. So, casting around for a new devil to excite their base with, the Obama people have hit on Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin, the current governor of Alaska and former candidate for Vice President, created considerable excitement for the McCain campaign. She was electric on the stump, bringing huge audiences to her feet with stem winder speeches. She was solidly conservative, butSarah Palin: Obama's New Enemy of the People with a reformist slant. And, very important, she was a telegenic, attractive woman.

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Nevertheless, according to the Washington Post's Plum Line, Democratic strategists think she's a good fit to rile up the Democratic base.

"James Carville, a key architect of the Limbaugh strategy, says Dems will be seeking to elevate Palin more and more, because she's "an identifiable person who has a hook," unlike GOP leaders like Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell.

"'Her name conjures up all kinds of reactions in people's minds,' Carville told me, adding that her association with the campaign will be used to portray the GOP as hidebound and to alienate moderates. 'She's an uncomfortable figure for a lot of Republicans,' Carville says. 'They want to move beyond her. We like her.'

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"'Luckily, she seems to present us with an opportunity every few days,' added a senior Dem strategist. 'You could say it's a turkey shoot.'"

The Democrats may have decided that the campaign against Rush Limbaugh backfired because Rush has a rather large megaphone in the form of his radio show and was able to respond to attacks. The publicity engendered by the attacks only served to swell Rush Limbaugh audience, finally making the Democratic attacks seem ridiculous.

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Sarah Palin, on the other hand, has been spending the aftermath of the election quietly attending to state business in Alaska and weighing options for either 2010 (a Senate run) and/or 2012 (a run for the Presidency.) She won't be able to respond to a coordinated smear campaign, goes the reasoning, as effectively as Rush Limbaugh.

The problem with attacking Sarah Palin is the same as attacks launched thirty years ago against Ronald Reagan in advance of the 1980 election. The portrayal of Sarah Palin as some kind of mad right winger (and stupid to boot) is likely toSarah Palin: Obama's New Enemy of the People be at variance with reality. Liberals, when they attack conservatives, tend to stick to their personal stereotypes. Sexist, racist, homophobe, heartless, and stupid. Sarah Palin is smart and personable, which is the real reason she has become a target.

Only in this case, it is the attackers who run the risk of seeming sexist. Chris Matthews, the MSNBC screamer, who apparently has a school girl crush on Barack Obama (remember the "thrill up my leg" remark), has already crossed that line. Chris Matthews has already called Sarah Palin "McCain's mail order bride."

All that serves is to rally women, even liberal women, to Sarah Palin's defense. A lot of women, especially professional women, have stories of put downs by insecure men who are jealous of their accomplishments. If Carville et al go after Sarah Palin with too much enthusiasm, women will see themselves in Sarah Palin and will react accordingly.

The really big problem is that the strategy of picking a devil to get people to hate is only a distraction from President Obama's accumulating problems. Calling Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin names is hardly going to make those problems go away. Only addressing the problems will make those problems go away.

Unfortunately, for a purveyor of attack dog politics like James Carville, every problem seems to require an attack dog approach. It worked to a certain extent for Bill Clinton after the Gingrich revolution. But while Clinton's minions were making Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole the devil, Clinton had moved hard to starboard toward the center. Barack Obama persists in tacking to port. That's why the strategy will not work this time. In fact, it might make Sarah Palin so popular that it will make her President.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Can Obama Regulate Trust in Banks

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According to the Seattle Times, on March 22, 2009, the parent company for Washington Mutual Bank sued the FDIC for its actions in selling their assets to JP Morgan Chase. Then JP Morgan Stanley Chase immediately countersued both the parent company for Washington Mutual and the of America FDIC in an effort to protect their $1.9 billion purchase.

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Meanwhile, according to CNBC, President Obama met with the heads of the banking industry to discuss the overhaul of the United States Financial institutes Friday. Does this stuff make your stomach queasy and head spin? Do you really think these guys care about us?

My familiarity with WA Mutual is based on two different incidents: one that happened to a friend and one that happened to my husband and me. Both incidents taught good lessons about dealing with your money.

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My friend had a sum of money left over from the sale of her home she received as part of her divorce decree. She neared retirement and wanted a nest egg to protect her in her elderly years to augment her social security payments. She didn't really know much about investment or money; she just knew she wanted it saved. She went to her local banker, WA Mutual, and put her trust in them to keep her money safe. They convinced her that they could invest her money for her and give her a small return on her money. She believed them. Every month they sent her a statement. Every month she had less money than before. She went in to talk with them. They told her the loss was temporary and that in the long term her money would grow. She believed them. Her statements continued to show losses. She went back and asked, "I thought you were keeping my money safe. What's going on? Shouldn't I take my money out?" Again the people at Washington Mutual convinced her that her money was safe with them. Eventually she lost it all.

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After hearing my friend's tale of woe, I had tons of questions that she couldn't answer and I suppose to her it didn't matter anymore. To me it mattered because I wondered about someone that was providing bad guidance to someone and why that could continue.

The second incident occurred when I expressed concern about having my money in the same investment bank that my husband had his in. I, too, didn't feel very confident about making my own purchases in the stock market and wanted to have some advice. My husband and I went to WA Mutual to find out about their investment service.

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The first thing we found out was that the services WA Mutual offered cost 300% more than Charles Schwab or other online investment brokers. The second thing we found out was that they only offered a few suggested mutual funds that they managed. The third thing we found out was that they couldn't provide any data or research about other investments.

The lessons I learned from these two incidents amounts to the following:

1) If you care about your money, don't trust someone else to make the decisions.

2) If someone offers a service that doesn't seem like a service, trust your instincts, it probably isn't.

3) If someone offers a service that doesn't consider your own needs, but they sound good because they look slick and wealthy and talk lots about money, chances are that the do know about money and want to make it for themselves, not for you.

4) If you aren't sure that a service is in your interest, look around for alternatives. It is in your best interest to consider a different plan and to pay attention to your gains and losses. At a minimum, a US Savings Bond will keep the amount you started with (your principle) intact and the inflation adjusted US Savings Bonds will protect you against losses due to inflation. Make sure that any alternative delivers better results.

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When President Obama's plan discusses "businesses that are too big to lose" they are thinking about what banks are supposed to be doing—working to provide their customers with services. It seems to me that companies who are more interested in making money for their business by buying and selling more and more banks rather than making a customer's money return interest isn't a company that I want to do business with. I expect I am not alone in thinking this way. I'm not sure that President Obama can convince bankers to just be a bank. And I'm really sure that getting lawyers involved in a big brangling lawsuit will not help former Washington Mutual customers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Three Stooges

The Three Stooges movie shorts are one of the most iconic, and perhaps violent, comedy routines of their time. Moe, Larry and Curley beat each other up and took down everything else in their path, turning the Three Stooges into comedy legends. But the Three Stooges were always missing something - a modern movie update. But it would appear that the Three Stooges are finally joining the parade of remakes and getting set for the modern world. However, reports are out that the new Three Stooges may not be what people expect.

The Farrelly Brothers are trying to get a new Three Stooges movie made. The film would reportedly not be a biopic of the real life Three Stooges and their behind-the-scenes antics, but rather be like an old Three Stooges short - stretched out by two hours.

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The Farrelly Brothers already seem to have their Three Stooges in mind, with at least one of them stepping way out on a limb. But combined, these prospective Three Stooges have three Oscars among them.

Sean Penn was reported yesterday to be in negotiations to play Three Stooges member Larry. Penn already shocked people enough by actually smiling in Milk, for which he won his second Oscar. Now Penn may shock more people by actually doing comedy, a genre he seemed to forget about after Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

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The second new Stooge is more used to comedy. Jim Carrey will play, of all Stooges, Curley, if things go well. Carrey, who already worked with the Farrelly Brothers on Dumb and Dumber and Me, Myself and Irene, would have to gain a lot of weight to play Curley.

The final Stooge in line would be Benicio Del Toro, who would play the abusive Stooge leader, Moe. Del Toro has made people laugh before, most notably in his unintelligible rambling in The Usual Suspects, but like Penn, has made his bones mainly on drama.

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The Three Stooges would have an unusual amount of pedigree with this new version - though whether Penn and del Toro have that kind of wackiness in them, and whether Carrey still has it without being grating, is the key question. The Farrelly Brothers have not been at their Dumb and Dumber/Something About Mary heights in a while, either.

Previously, the Three Stooges got updated in a made-for-TV movie about their lives for ABC, starring a pre-Shield Michael Chiklis. This movie version would be on track for a fall 2010 release if negotiations succeed.

Friday, March 20, 2009

AIG Bailout Disaster


The latest saga of this ongoing financial debacle centers around $165 million of American International Group (AIG) bonuses paid out to the very same executives that led the flailing insurer down the road towards ultimate collapse.

The shenanigans have further incited populist outrage directed at a crumbling, free-wheeling culture that has been unceremoniously dismissed as a laissez-faire sham. Recent developments have spiraled out of control, promulgating a circus like dog and pony show of finger pointing, death threats, and open calls for the resignation of the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

AIG is a Disaster

The leading insurer at one point featured a market capitalization of over $100 billion and served as a prominent fixture of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. In summary, American International Group is a dominant player within all lines of insurance - particularly products designed to protect trading partners from the risk of counter party failure. Proper collateral and reserves must be posted in order for any insurer to make good on these promises. Still, AIG upped the ante throughout the credit and real estate boom - aggressively embracing egregious levels of risk to maintain pace with competitors.

Then, the bottom fell out in 2008 - with the AIG Financial Products Division serving as a critical flash point of the ensuing storm.


The viscous cycle of forced deleveraging arrived part in parcel with collapsing property values, minimal access to free capital, and credit rating agency downgrades that mandated AIG to put up even more collateral. Of course, AIG was then forced to liquidate assets at fire sale prices.

The September 15, 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers exacerbated the malaise as inquisitive onlookers questioned the valuations of distressed securities festering within AIG's books. The brutal developments threatened to crush AIG and set off yet another wave of chaos as this mega, multi-billion dollar insurer would have destroyed thousands of global banking institutions.

The U.S. Government proceeded to institute fiscal Marshall Law - effectively designating AIG as a "Too big to Fail" intermediary. $170 billion worth of Treasury Asset Relief Program (TARP) loans, guarantees, and veiled capital grant money was funneled from the tax payer to American International Group coffers via Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank. The legendary bailout is rivaled only by the nationalization of our Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac government sponsored enterprises.

The brewing outrage has only grown with every headline depicting a ramshackle banking culture that apparently masterminded the demise of Main Street America. Politicians and economic policy wonks must delicately balance the act of saving AIG, preserving the sanctity of high finance, and commiserating with populist contempt.

Of course, the well-intentioned U.S. Capitol brain trust has only been further embarrassed by sordid details of $1,000,000 resort vacations, lavish gifts, and the recent $165 million worth of bonus payments to AIG brass financed by the taxpayer.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Natasha Richardson's Death is a Sad Lesson

The media continues to speculate about the sad and unfortunate death of actress Natasha Richardson, but one thing remains true. The life of an admired film and stage actress was cut way too short, and her family is now mourning her passing.

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The details of Richardson's accident remain sketchy, but Richardson took what looked like a minor fall at the end of a ski lesson, and even joked about it afterwards. However one hour after returning to her hotel in Montreal, she complained of a severe headache, and was taken to a hospital, then later transferred to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, where she was ultimately pronounced brain dead.

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As a parent, this tragic story causes great concern and trepidation. All children are at risk when they don't wear a helmet. In most states, anyone riding a bicycle, skateboard or scooter is required by law to wear a helmet for protection. Yet too many children participate in these activities without a helmet due to peer pressure, and because it isn't "cool." I get so frustrated with parents who don't enforce the helmet rule. If we all banded together and insisted on helmets, then no child would be signaled out for being "uncool." So fellow parents, please join me in insisting that helmets be worn at all times.

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This tragedy also brings to light the seriousness of head injuries, and how they can be deceptive. More often than not, when a player receives a head injury during practice or a game, they are asked to "sit it out" for a few minutes. According to Jasper Shealy, a professor emeritus at the Rochester Institute of Technology, this practice is a mistake. "It takes more than a few minutes to know how serious the injury is. An initial concussion, neurologists are now learning, can make a second concussion more likely."

What can we learn from this information? From now on, if one of my children takes a hit in the head, he will be forced to remain inside until I am 100% sure that the injury doesn't warrant a trip to the doctor or emergency room. I also urge all coaches to be more vigilant about head injuries, and realize that they can be more serious than initially assessed.

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The fact that Richardson was not wearing a helmet may or may not have made a difference in the gravity of her injury. I'm sure that the details will come out later. In the meantime, now is the perfect time for parents to climb aboard the safety train, and follow the law. The consequences of not doing so can be catastrophic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Britney Spears latest wardrobe malfunction

The Daily Mail reported earlier this week on Britney Spears' near wardrobe malfunction at a concert in Atlanta, Georgia, complete with Brit in a skin tight, golden Viking outfit with her breasts nearly making an appearance at the concert. Then, at her Circus concert, Florida, Britney Spears suffered a wardrobe malfunction, evidenced by a hot mic moment when she was caught mentioning a crude word for her female anatomy hanging out as she went below stage to change her ensemble for the next act. What makes the hot mic moment ironically memorable is that Britney has been photographed before sans underwear and didn't seem too embarrassed by that wardrobe malfunction gaffe. Perhaps Britney Spears has grown up after all.
Britney Spears' Circus Concert Tour Dates: Is a wardrobe malfunction coming to a city near you?
After Britney Spears' wardrobe malfunction in Tampa, she is likely glad to head north to her date on her Circus tour in Uniondale, New York at the Nassau Coliseum on March 11. From there, Britney Spears will stay north and play two dates in Newark, New Jersey at Prudential Center on March 13 and 14, then head on up to Boston, Massachusetts to TD Banknorth Garden for a March 16 concert. There is no concert planned for March 17, so let's hope she is able to avoid the Irish pubs of Boston on St. Patty's Day.
Then it is off to Canada, specifically Toronto, Ontario for a double header on March 18 and 19 and then to Montreal, Quebec for her March 20 concert before heading back to the Nassau Coliseum for another concert on March 23 concert, the last concert stop before she appears at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on March 24.
Since her Circus Tour opened on March 3, a good many concert reviewers have come out to describe Britney Spears' Circus as lackluster at best. Perhaps she hasn't hit her groove yet, and having wardrobe issues early in her tour can't help boost her confidence level as she tries to make a comeback. A reviewer in People Magazine said of her kickoff concert in her home state of Louisiana, "Don't call it a comeback quite yet." Her second Circus concert was in Atlanta, Georgia, site of the Viking diva near disaster. Some described her Circus performance as just that: a circus. What they saw was a lot of acrobatics from Britney, no close up shots on the big screen and some even wondered if she was actually singing or syncing instead. It looks like Britney Spears has gotten off to a shaky start, but perhaps by the time she appears at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., she will have hit her stride and perhaps solved her wardrobe malfunction problems.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Watchmen and Malin Akerman


Watchmen debuted to a number of midnight showing around the country,
and is showing that many people are indeed interested in seeing the
film. The Watchmen movie already made $4.6 million in its first
showing, marking it as a quick success. Not only that, but Watchmen
reviews are also a hot commodity now, as potential viewers try to
learn it is worth the full price of admission to witness what the
Watchmen characters can really do on the big screen.

By bringing in $4.6 million before it even opens to wide release on
Friday night, the number shows that there are going to be enough
interested parties to propel the film to #1 over the weekend.

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question remaining for everyone, is just how much money the movie can
make, and if enough people are interested in seeing the graphic novel
come to life. It's not always a predictable number by just gauging
what is made at midnight showings, but it can really shed some light
on whether people are willing to stand in line, or get exhausted at a
film that is almost three hours in its full presentation.

Already Watchmen reviews are criss-crossing the internet, and sites
like Rotten Tomatoes are benefiting greatly from the extra exposure a
film like this can generate. The Watchmen trailers have been out for
quite a while now, and as the movie got closer to being released, it
seems like they amplified just how many times it was shown during the


With around six different trailers presented in the end, the
producers sought to really spread out the demographics that could get
interested in the Watchmen characters, and it seems like so far they
are doing exactly what was needed.

The question now becomes whether the film will continue to garner box
office success, or if the first audiences decide they don't like it,
and thus pan it in their reviews of Watchmen. It's definitely a film
that is going to cover the wide spectrum of analysis. These reviews
take full advantage of Watchmen quotes, and as the film goes to
wide-release, word out mouth could become an important commodity to
the film. If the first audiences love it, that could spell great
success, but if they hate it, that is another ball of wax altogether.

$1000 in your account tomorrow!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tatiana del Toro

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As I do every Tuesday and Wednesday (and sometimes Thursday) night, my butt was planted on the sofa, and my eyes were glued on the television, as American Idol came on. I was particularly interested in the night's show, because the final group sang, that would fill out the nine that were Tatiana del Toro, that Hot Mess of a Drama Queen, is Back
For the most part, I was pleased. Although my boy, Nathaniel, didn't make it, two out of three people I'd voted for the night before got in -- Lil Rounds and Scott MacIntyre. That doesn't go to say that I was upset that Jorge made it in. He did an incredible job.

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I just grew to love Nathaniel.Then came the most thrilling part of the evening-- the announcement of the eight that would be in the wild card show. I agreed with a few of the choices, such as Ricky Braddy, Megan, and Anoop. However, the one thing I never wanted to see, happened. They chose Tatiana to be in the wild card. Oh dear god, have mercy on the souls of Randy, Kara, Paula, and Simon. I sat there, yelling "NO! NO! OH MY GOD! NO!" at the television over and over again.
Really, judges... really? Was this necessary? If you've been following Idol, I think some of you--scratch--most of you probably share the same opinion of Tatiana. If she doesn't screw up badly tonight and the judges don't kick her off, this could mean another week (I only say one, because no one can stand her) of Tatiana's tears, fake sincerity, and self-centeredness.

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Out of all the judges that voted her in, I am willing to venture Simon wasn't one of them. He's smarter than he looks. But really... Tatiana? Wow. Horrible choice. We all know who's going to win the whole competition-- Danny Gokey. However tonight, I think I want Ricky, Megan (maybe Matt,) and Annop to be the ones to fill out the top 12. Let the games begin!

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