The story behind the YMCAs Butter Commercial

$5,000, 42 butter sticks, 1 win


Auditions were given to a half dozen actresses using Snickers and Three Musketeers candy bars as props for the butter.

Edwards, 42, who has a theater background and does voice-overs for radio commercials, was selected because of her acting ability to eat the prop almost as an afterthought while engrossed in something else -- in this case, watching TV.

"We weren't looking for a fashion model," Preston said. "We wanted a young mom, a regular gal, someone who was comfortable in sweatpants and a sweatshirt." Edwards' pierced nose had to be covered with makeup.

The ad was shot in the Excelsior living room of executive producer Mark Setterholm, the president and owner of Drive Thru TV.

Just before the shoot, Setterholm went to the Byerly's in Chanhassen to buy the butter. "There was so much butter in my cart I felt I had to make excuses. I told the checkout crew that, no, I wasn't addicted to making Christmas cookies."

When Edwards arrived at the set early on a November morning with a cup of coffee in hand, she was greeted by a crew of 20 and two coolers packed with sticks of butter.

"That's when it hit me that I'd really be eating butter," Edwards recalled.

Until that moment she had been imagining how many different ways a person could eat a stick of butter. Her ideas swayed between eating a candy bar, an ear of corn, a banana, or all of the above.

The shoot lasted until early afternoon and involved more than 25 takes and 42 sticks of butter.

Comment: Memorable

Exporting our "culture" to the culturally clueless Italians

Hillary: State Dept. ‘Instrumental in Sealing Deal’ For Lady Gaga’s Gay Pride Gig in Rome


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the State Department played an instrumental role in “sealing the deal” for pop-rock star Lady Gaga to perform at a gay pride rally in Rome, Italy.

Clinton specifically pointed to a letter that David Thorne, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, sent to Lady Gaga urging her to participate in the event.

“And then there is the work that our embassy team in Rome has been doing,” Clinton said. “Two weeks ago they played an instrumental role in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy for a Euro Pride concert.

“Now as many of you know Lady Gaga is Italian American and a strong supporter of LGBT rights,” said Clinton. “And the organizers of the Euro Pride event desperately wanted her to perform and a letter to her from Ambassador Thorne was instrumental in sealing the deal.”

Comment: Our State Department hard at work! On the infamous meat dress - (PETA) suggest[ed] "it would smell like the rotting flesh that it is and likely be crawling with maggots"

Perhaps we could teach them a thing or two about architecture. Like the Riverside Plaza in Minneapolis. An example of Brutalism. Lady Gaga (or as I call her, Lady Gag-Gag) is to style and music as Riverside Plaza is to architecture!


Resources on "Definite Atonement"

Resources on "Definite Atonement"


“The sin of Adam did not make the condemnation of all men merely possible; it was the ground of their actual condemnation. So the righteousness of Christ did not make the salvation of men merely possible, it secured the actual salvation of those for whom He wrought.”

Charles Hodge

The Arminians say, 'Christ died for all men.' Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, 'No, certainly not.' We ask them the next question: Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer 'No.' They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, 'No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if ?' and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, 'No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.' We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.

Charles Spurgeon

Comment: My position


Show Investors the Money

Nader Kindles Fires of Revolt


Mr. Nader isn't calling for a router recall or claiming the company's networks are unsafe at any speed. Instead, he wants the tech company to pay a bigger dividend to boost its shares.

The consumer advocate's motives are far from altruistic. He is a longtime disgruntled Cisco investor who called the company's share performance "appalling." In a private letter to Cisco Chief Executive John Chambers sent June 13, Mr. Nader blasted the CEO for not doing enough to lift shares of the technology company and said "it is time for a long overdue Cisco shareholder revolt against a management that is oblivious to building or even maintaining shareholder value," according to the letter.

In 4 p.m. Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading Thursday, Cisco's shares rose 11 cents, or 0.7%, to $15.47. They are down nearly a third in the past year and are off 75% from their all-time, tech-bubble high. In comparison, the Nasdaq Composite index is down about 48% from its all-time high in March 2000.

Among the specific actions Mr. Nader suggested in the letter are the distribution of a one-time dividend of $1 a share and an increase in Cisco's annual dividend to 50 cents from 24 cents.

"If they can't give shareholders value, then they have to give cash," Mr. Nader said in an interview this week, adding that the company's stock has plummeted even though its profits generally were on the rise until recently.

Cisco, like many big tech companies, has been accumulating cash despite its weak growth. It holds $43 billion in cash, nearly half of its market value.

Comment: Nader has a good point. Give a better dividend


A.W. Pink on 1 John 2:2

1 JOHN 2:2

Comment: An instructional read!

Minnesota # 2 Tax-Unfriendly State for Retirees

10 Tax-Unfriendly States for Retirees


State Income Tax: 5.35%-7.85%
State Sales Tax: 6.875% (cities and counties can add another 2.65%)
Estate Tax/Inheritance Tax: No/No

Minnesota offers retirees cold comfort on the tax front. Social Security income is taxed to the same extent it is taxed on your federal return. Pensions are taxable regardless of where your pension was earned. Income-tax rates are high, and sales taxes can reach 9.53% in some cities. Food, clothing, and prescription and nonprescription drugs are exempt from sales taxes. The North Star State does offer some residents 65 and older who have income of $60,000 or less the option of deferring a portion of their property tax. But this is a low-interest loan, not a tax-forgiveness program.

Comment: Tax friendly states


132 Mph ... blood alcohol concentration was 0.196%

Police: 'Jackass' star Ryan Dunn was drunk and driving over 132 mph

Comment: His name is his legacy! Sad but not surprised!


Infographic: Some People Call it Groupon, Some Call it "Grouponzi"

Comment: Avoid this IPO!

Plymouth Crime Map


Comment: Thankfully not living in a high crime area!

That pesky War Powers Act

Libya and the Potemkin alliance


Some people, who know better, insist that although the WPR is a 38-year-old law — passed over Richard Nixon's veto — it is somehow a "dead letter." Their theory is that any law a president considers annoying, or Congress considers inconvenient, or some commentators consider unwise, is for those reasons nullified.

Comment: More on Nato:

Although this war has no discernible connection with U.S. national security, it serves the national interest, in three ways. It is awakening some legislators to their responsibilities. It is refuting the pretense that the United Nations sets meaningful parameters to wars it authorizes — or endorses, which is quite different. And it is igniting a reassessment of NATO, a Potemkin alliance whose primary use these days is perverse: It provides a patina of multilateralism to U.S. military interventions on which Europe is essentially a free rider.


Obama, a novel kind of commander in chief, explained in passive syntax that "it is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions." These "others" would rather finance their welfare states than their militaries, so they cannot wage war for 10 weeks without U.S. munitions and other assets.

Last month, this column noted that NATO was created in 1949 to protect Western Europe from the Soviet army; it could long ago have unfurled the "Mission Accomplished" banner; it has now become an instrument of mischief, and when the Libyan misadventure is finished, America should debate whether NATO also should be finished. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had another purpose — NATO's revival — but he recently fueled that debate when, in Brussels, he predicted "a dim, if not dismal future" for the military alliance unless its members reinvest in their militaries.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. military spending has more than doubled, but that of NATO's 27 other members has declined 15 percent. U.S. military spending is three times larger than the combined spending of those other members. Hence Gates warned that "there will be dwindling appetite and patience in" America for expending "increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense." Already, U.S. officers in Afghanistan sometimes refer to the NATO command there — officially, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) — as "I Saw Americans Fighting."

After a recent NATO attack on a tented encampment where Gaddafi has met foreign leaders, the New York Times reported: "The desert strike appeared to show the alliance's readiness to kill Col. Gaddafi. A NATO statement described the target as a ‘command and control facility.' But apart from small groups of soldiers lurking under trees nearby with pickups carrying mounted machine guns, reporters taken to the scene saw nothing to suggest that the camp was a conventional military target."

In March, Obama said that U.S. intervention would be confined to implementing a no-fly zone: "Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake." By May, Obama's Bushian mission was to make Libyans "finally free of 40 years of tyranny." After more than 10,000 sorties, now including those by attack helicopters, NATO's increasingly desperate strategy boils down to: Kill Gaddafi.

Then what? More incompetent improvisation, for many more months.

Disgust with this debacle has been darkly described as a recrudescence of "isolationism," as though people opposing this absurdly disproportionate and patently illegal war are akin to those who, after 1938, opposed resisting Germany and Japan. Such slovenly thinking is a byproduct of shabby behavior.

Obama's Job Cremation

Why the Jobs Situation Is Worse Than It Looks - We now have more idle men and women than at any time since the Great Depression


In the face of the most stimulative fiscal and monetary policies in our history, we have experienced the loss of over 7 million jobs, wiping out every job gained since the year 2000. From the moment the Obama administration came into office, there have been no net increases in full-time jobs, only in part-time jobs. This is contrary to all previous recessions. Employers are not recalling the workers they laid off from full-time employment.

The real job losses are greater than the estimate of 7.5 million. They are closer to 10.5 million, as 3 million people have stopped looking for work. Equally troublesome is the lower labor participation rate; some 5 million jobs have vanished from manufacturing, long America's greatest strength. Just think: Total payrolls today amount to 131 million, but this figure is lower than it was at the beginning of the year 2000, even though our population has grown by nearly 30 million.

Job Cremation Council


Mr. Immelt chairs the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and Mr. Chenault is one of its 26 members. They've been at work for 90 days, developing their recommendations. Here are some of the thoughts they've come up with so far, which they enumerated in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article:
  • Send folks to community colleges and vocational schools. (If nothing else, this feels like work.)
  • Cut red tape. (We've been hearing about this pesky red tape forever and finally there's a White House-appointed committee with a magic pair of scissors.)
  • Improve visa processes so rich tourists from other countries can more easily visit. (Yes, come see the ancient ruins of the Anasazi, and the foreclosed properties surrounding them, known as America.)
  • Get loans to small businesses. (We've heard this before, too. Why can't GE and American Express just show us the money?)
  • Put construction workers back to work. (Yeah, go put up another vacant building. Or spray some foam insulation in occupied buildings, and President Obama will put out a press release touting green jobs.)
Comment: ObamaCare is a giant job killing bill!

Obama vs. ATMs: Why Technology Doesn't Destroy Jobs

The story goes that Milton Friedman was once taken to see a massive government project somewhere in Asia. Thousands of workers using shovels were building a canal. Friedman was puzzled. Why weren't there any excavators or any mechanized earth-moving equipment? A government official explained that using shovels created more jobs. Friedman's response: "Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?" That story came to mind last week when President Obama linked technology to job losses. "There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers," he said. "You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don't go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate." The president calls this a structural issue—we usually call it progress. And it isn't exactly a new phenomenon. It's been going on for centuries, and its pace has accelerated over the past 50 years. Businesses relentlessly look for ways to replace workers with machines. The machines get better and smarter. We go from spoons to shovels to excavators, not the other way around. Telephone switchboard operators lose jobs to automated switching. Toll collectors get replaced by E-ZPass. Auto workers get replaced by robots. The magnitudes are stunning. As the Washington Post reported in 2007: "The textile industry has been particularly aggressive in replacing people with machines. A half-century ago, a typical North Carolina textile worker operated five machines at once, each capable of running a thread through a loom at 100 times a minute. Now machines run six times as fast, and one worker oversees 100 of them." That's a 120-fold increase in output per worker. When a worker is 120 times more productive, you usually don't need as many workers as you did before.


It's true, there are some structural issues in the labor market. New jobs are being created but not at the usual pace and not fast enough to soak up the unemployed. But President Obama is wrong to blame innovation. A bigger problem is housing, where hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs. The source of that problem isn't technology but an over-reaching housing policy and distorted finance. The solution is to let the housing market clear—let interest rates rise, stop subsidizing mortgages, and clean up the foreclosure mess. That would let housing starts return to something like normal. The other challenge is simply confidence. Businesses aren't hiring because they're uneasy about the future. There's no easy way to instill confidence, but we know how to kill it—create uncertainty about taxes and regulations. Reducing that uncertainty would certainly help. In the meanwhile, enjoy the ATM machine and the kiosk at the airport with a clear conscience. Doing more with less is the road to prosperity. When confidence returns, even more Americans will share in the bounty from innovation.

Comment: The Obama adminstration is at war with the economy. Will be a one-termer (Carter 2)?


Pulaski Bank: Small St Louis area bank with high dividend return


Comment: I visited the Investor relations page. Looks like steady dividends. Main website. Select Shareholder relations from the bottom.


Banking - In 5th Place

Capital One: We're No. 5!


The credit card bank's planned purchase of online banker ING Direct will make it the fifth-biggest U.S. deposit gatherer.

So says SNL Financial, which notes Thursday that the $9 billion deal will vault Capital One (COF) past PNC Financial (PNC), U.S. Bancorp (USB) and the TD Bank unit of Toronto-Dominion (TD) on the list of the biggest U.S. banks by deposits (see chart, right).

So the deal makes Capital One a lot bigger,

PNC to buy RBC Bank (USA), move up to fifth-largest U.S. bank


PNC Financial Services Group, parent to the Philadelphia region’s third-largest bank by deposits, said Monday it will acquire RBC Bank (USA), the U.S. retail banking subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada, for $3.45 billion.

The deal would be for 97 percent of book value, or a $112 million discount of RBC’s tangible book value, and will give Pittsburgh-based PNC a significant footprint in the Southeast.

RBC has roughly $25 billion in assets and 424 branches in North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina. After the deal’s expected close in March 2012, the combined company will have 2,870 branches, ranking it fifth among U.S. banks, up from the No. 7 spot.

Comment: Capital One was last week ... PNC over the weekend. About Royal Bank ... on my potential buy list.

First article ranks the # 1-4 banks as:
  1. Bank of America
  2. Wells Fargo
  3. JPMorgan Chase
  4. Citigroup


President Lockhorn

Pelosi: Obama Communicating with Congress is Like ‘A Marriage’


“Should there always be more? There should always be more. I always say to my colleagues it’s like a marriage, you may think you’re communicating. If the other party doesn’t think you’re communicating, you’re not communicating enough. So, think of it that way, you can always do more and always, I believe, strengthens our hand if the, you heard me say it before, President Lincoln said public sentiment is everything. Respectful of that, I would always encourage any President to communicate with the American people especially when we are engaged in a military action but I also think that if the Congress doesn’t think that it’s being adequately communicated with, they ought to step up the communication.

Comment: The Lockhorns

16 Meaningless Market Phrases That Will Make You Sound Smart On CNBC

16 Meaningless Market Phrases That Will Make You Sound Smart On CNBC

The list:

  1. The easy money has been made
  2. I'm cautiously optimistic
  3. It's a stockpicker's market
  4. It's not a stock market. It's a market of stocks
  5. We're constructive on the market
  6. Stocks are down on 'profit taking'
  7. Stocks are up on 'bargain hunting'
  8. More buyers than sellers
  9. There's lots of cash on the sidelines
  10. We're in a bottoming process OR Forming a base OR Bumping along the bottom.
  11. Overbought
  12. Oversold
  13. Buy on weakness
  14. Sell on strength
  15. Take a wait-and-see approach
  16. It's a show-me stock

Comment: Video

For Retiring Baby Boomers, 25 Stocks You Should Own

For Retiring Baby Boomers, 25 Stocks You Should Own


The result will be an overall dividend increase of 25 percent in each of the next two years and presumably a solid pace afterwards. The analysis models dividend-paying high-quality stocks under this formula against expected bond performance over the next seven years.

Even with a 10-year Treasury yield of 4.5 percent—nearly 50 percent above current levels—the analysis finds that S&P 500 top dividend-yield stocks would return 40 percent better than bonds.

Comment: 100 shares of each would be about $ 150,000.

He's trained his entire career for this!

Porn publisher Larry Flynt offers job to embattled ex-congressman


Larry Flynt, porn publisher and erstwhile snoop into the sex lives of politicians, has offered a job to disgraced former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Flynt, founder of Hustler Magazine, made the job offer in a letter that was published in The Huffington Post on Thursday.

"This offer is not made in jest," wrote Flynt.

"Just as we do not undertake insincere political crusades, we do not make insincere job offers."

Comment: He had OTJ (On the Job) training


Spurgeon on the extent of the atonement

A defense of Calvinism


Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, "It is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself," they say, "to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty." I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very persons who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the Substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever have been imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!

There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvin

Comment: I am a Baptist after the sort of Spurgeon. Note his use of the phrase "special and particular redemption ".

Capital One close to ING Direct deal?

Capital One Near Takeover of ING’s Online Bank


Capital One Financial Corp. (COF), this year’s top performer in the KBW Bank Index, is nearing a deal to buy ING Groep NV (INGA)’s U.S. online bank for about $9 billion in cash and stock, said people with knowledge of the matter.

The companies may reach an agreement for ING Direct USA as soon as today, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are private. The talks may still fall apart, said the people, adding that General Electric Co. (GE) also made a bid. Capital One may raise $2 billion to complete the deal, one person said.

Comment: My office was in a ING building for a number of years (four different times ... two different buildings)

Update: WSJ says its a done deal

Does 1 John 2:2 teach unlimited atonement?

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world (1 John 2:2)

I'm not teaching this Sunday but this will be the text before our SS class (1 John 1:5-2:2). Of course this is one of the oft used proof texts for unlimited atonement (in contrast with limited atonement). I actually prefer the term particular redemption to limited atonement!

Here are my own problems with the unlimited atonement view (none really original with me!)

  • What does the term "whole world" mean. Does it mean every human being? Here's the Greek: ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου. This very phrase occurs later in 1 John 5:19, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one". Questions: Are believers "under the sway of the wicked one"? If one concludes that the "whole world" in 2:2 is every human being then logically one would have to conclude the same for 5:19. I can't do that! Additionally (not developed here) there are many instances in the NT where "cosmos" (the world) does not mean every human being!)
  • I view 1 John 2:2 as a parallel passage to John 11:51-52, "Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. "

  • The Atonement of Jesus Christ is not limited in its power to save, but in the extent to which it reaches and will save certain individuals.

  • As the Maxim goes: God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for either:
    1. All of the sins of all men - which means all men are saved.
    2. Some of the sins of all men - which means men are still in their sins.
    3. All of the sin of some men - which is the biblical position.
Resources I have found helpful: PROPITIATION IN I JOHN 2:2 And Understanding 1 John 2:2 And Limited Atonement

Extreme Wart-Off

'Didn't expect' to lose finger, says man who shot off wart
British man attempts surgery with shotgun after dealing with painful blemish for years


In a move that seems fitting of the Wild West, rather than modern England, the security guard fortified himself with a healthy dose of the local anaesthetic — in lager form, naturally — stretched out his left hand, aimed, and pulled the trigger.

Unfortunately for Murphy, the blast had collateral damage. According to The Telegraph, it blew off nearly the entire middle finger on his left hand


Defending the at-home surgery, Murphy's lawyer, Richard Haigh, told the Telegraph that Murphy had been "a victim of his own stupidity when domestic pressures got to him."

Despite all the trouble he caused, Murphy stood by his decision, telling the Yorkshire Post: "The best thing is that the wart has gone. It was giving me a lot of trouble."

Comment: I hope this guy never gets a head ache! A picture of the brainiac is here.

The travels of tail number N982AR (BJU corporate jet)

FlightAware Photo
Photo Courtesy of FlightAware.com


Comment: Data from the Wall Street Journal. I'm going to offer an opinion: Why can't they fly commercial like the rest of us? Why all the flights to Naples Florida?


Pandora (P) - a rational investment?

Pandora IPO at $16 a share despite lack of profit


The rise of the Pandora stock valuation is striking against the backdrop of the company's continuing inability to turn a profit and it expectation that it will continue to lose money through the 2012 fiscal year.

Much of Pandora's inability to garner profits stems from its biggest cost: royalties for the music it streams.

The company makes money through its ad-supported stream or its premium plan which offers higher audio quality and no ads for $36 a year.

Despite its current lack of profitability, the new public demand for stock in the company has skyrocketed for the site that offers members the ability to make their own radio station through selecting their favorite songs.

Pandora will begin trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "P."

Comment: Trading as P. I avoid IPO's.

Image: Pandora's box: "Pandora's box is an artifact in Greek mythology, taken from the myth of Pandora's creation around line 60 of Hesiod's Works and Days. The "box" was actually a large jar (πιθος pithos) given to Pandora (Πανδώρα) ("all-gifted"), which contained all the evils of the world. When Pandora opened the jar, the entire contents of the jar were released, but for one – hope. Today, opening Pandora's box means to create evil that cannot be undone."

No. 39 Is Afghans' Loneliest Number

No. 39 Is Afghans' Loneliest Number


The curse of 39, which swirled through Kabul over the past year, is the latest myth in a largely illiterate country steeped in rumor, superstition and urban legend.

And it isn't limited to cars.

Afghans with 39 as part of their cellphone numbers have to endure so much derision that some have blocked people from seeing their number when they call. Others have switched their phone numbers altogether.

To avoid being needlessly ridiculed, Afghans who are 39 years old will sometimes tell people they are "one less than 40."

"I have one more year to go," said Baryalai, a 38-year-old Kabul shopkeeper who is bracing for a year of mocking, insults and off-color banter.

Some Afghans see nefarious origins in the curse of 39 and believe that it started in neighboring Iran. Not that many Afghans would know it, but 39 also happens to be the international country code for Italy, whose prime minister is facing trial on charges that he paid an underage girl for sex and then tried to cover it up. He denies the accusations.

Famous Kabul numerologist Sediq Afghan, head of the International Center for Mathematical Philosophy, based in a crumbling building across the road from a U.S. base, says he used a complex series of calculations to divine the meaning of 39.

He came up with three answers: present, illiterate and pimp.

"This number is a sickness for Afghans," said Mr. Afghan, who pointed out that there are verses in the Quran with the number 39. His countrymen, he complained, "only see the negative side."

Mr. Afghan added that the legend had ancient roots. As a child, he said, he heard stories of a man who was killed for teasing his host about 39.

Comment: That's Jimmy Carter (39th President of the United States ) in the lower left! Maybe there's something to this!


Citigroup data breach .. an easy hack!

Thieves Found Citigroup Site an Easy Entry


In the Citi breach, the data thieves were able to penetrate the bank’s defenses by first logging on to the site reserved for its credit card customers.

Once inside, they leapfrogged between the accounts of different Citi customers by inserting various account numbers into a string of text located in the browser’s address bar. The hackers’ code systems automatically repeated this exercise tens of thousands of times — allowing them to capture the confidential private data.

The method is seemingly simple, but the fact that the thieves knew to focus on this particular vulnerability marks the Citigroup attack as especially ingenious, security experts said.

Comment: Surprisingly easy!


Tour Bus Sleeping Compartment

Tour Bus Operator Stashes Extra Passengers In Luggage Compartment


When a tour bus operator found he had more passengers than seats, he put six people in the luggage compartment with mattresses and pillows.

Comment: I'm thinking ... better than flying coach!

A far cry from Kathee's first VW Bug (1965)

Volkswagen rolls out new Beetle with Black Turbo Launch Edition


Called the Black Turbo Launch Edition, this limited-run Volkswagen will represent the first 600 examples of the new Beetle to hit American dealerships. Packing a 200-horsepower 2.0-liter TSI inline-four with dual-clutch transmission, the launch edition is distinguished by such touches as 18-inch alloys packing upsized brakes with red calipers, a rear spoiler, foglights, and includes an interior bundled with tri-color ambient lighting, Bluetooth and iPod connection, eight-speaker sound system, an extra glovebox, aluminum-alloy pedals and sport seats upholstered in cloth. (Although VW hadn't released specific images of the Beetle Black Turbo Launch Edition as we went to press, it should look like the one pictured above.)

The special Beetle is the first model to use Volkswagen's new Vehicle Pre-Order (VPO) program, available for pre-order online now for a $495 refundable reservation fee that will be applied to the purchase price of $24,950, plus a $770 destination charge.

Comment: 65 VW image source. I think the '65 had something like 50 HP.

Kicking the Debt Can: "Everybody's kicking the can down the road of too much public and private debt. The can is becoming heavier and heavier, and bigger on debt"

Roubini Says “Perfect Storm” May Clobber Global Economy


Roubini's perfect storm consists of four factors:
  1. The U.S.'s basket-case of an economy and budget deficit,
  2. A potential slowdown in China,
  3. European debt restructuring and
  4. Stagnation in Japan.
Roubini says there's a one-in-three chance that these factors will clobber growth in 2013. Now, that sounds terrifying, but it all means there's a two-in-three chance that everything will be okay. (Roubini's other two possible scenarios are "anemic growth" and "accelerating growth.") One problem that seems undeniable is the European debt crisis, which has defied all attempts to paper it over and kick the can down the road. Greece is broke, and no serious analyst that I know of thinks it will ever be able to pay back its debts. The logic underlying the endless bailouts and aid-packages, therefore, is to deal with the problem later and/or hope that it somehow resolves itself. In an FT editorial today Professor Roubini said that this hope was a hallucination and that the Euro-zone needs to break apart. "There are already elements of fragility," Bloomberg quotes Roubini as saying. "Everybody's kicking the can down the road of too much public and private debt. The can is becoming heavier and heavier, and bigger on debt, and all these problems may come to a head by 2013 at the latest." ..

Comment: Any candidate for POTUS who does not speak to this problem is not a viable candidate.

PIMCO's Gross: US Debt Crisis worse than Greece's

US Is in Even Worse Shape Financially Than Greece: Gross


Much of the public focus is on the nation's public debt, which is $14.3 trillion. But that doesn't include money guaranteed for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which comes to close to $50 trillion, according to government figures.

The government also is on the hook for other debts such as the programs related to the bailout of the financial system following the crisis of 2008 and 2009, government figures show.

Taken together, Gross puts the total at "nearly $100 trillion," that while perhaps a bit on the high side, places the country in a highly unenviable fiscal position that he said won't find a solution overnight.

"To think that we can reduce that within the space of a year or two is not a realistic assumption," Gross said in a live interview. "That's much more than Greece, that's much more than almost any other developed country. We've got a problem and we have to get after it quickly."

Comment: Scary

Cal Thomas on "Weiner-gate"

A Time For Sadness


[T]he expectations of our culture are now so low that we no longer honor and value people of integrity, only celebrity. It matters not how one becomes famous. It matters only that they are known outside their circle of family and friends. Have you noticed any magazines at the supermarket checkout line that honor long marriages, people of character and commitment? It's the same with television. A nation gets more of what it promotes and less of what it debunks.

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (once known as "client number 9") is making a nice living at CNN, following his dalliances with high-priced call girls. Lack of integrity and personal moral character used to get one shunned. Now it can get you your own TV program.

Comment: Symptomatic of the moral decay of our culture!


Lean Church

A Closer Look at "Lean" Church Staffs


Lean-staffed churches averaged 1 paid staff member per 86 attenders compared to a 1-to-70 ratio for those that spend more on staffing;

Lean-staffed churches generally spent 18 percent of their budgets on outreach, such as missions and community aid, compared to 15 percent by the other group;

Comment: Thoughtful article

Thriving and Dying Industries

Top 10 Thriving Industries

Top 10 Dying Industries

Comment: I wish I would have guessed prior to reading the articles. Two that are obvious dying industries are the print media and DVD stores (the Blockbuster close to us closed down. Used to be a hot place. Now it's Netflix and Redbox)

Hahn Super Dry advert.

Video: Most epic beer commercial stars DeLorean monster truck

Hey Pelosi .... clean up your swamp!

Pelosi declines to call for Weiner's resignation


Amid increasing calls for Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says the decision should be up to the congressman and his New York constituents.

The former speaker said in San Francisco that she believes the decision should be made by "the individual member" and the people in his district.

Comment: Previous Swamp Thing - Pelosi post. Isn't this illegal (and creepy!)? Police Investigate Weiner's Messages to Teenage Girl in Delaware

Octogenarian workers?

Many of us won’t be able to retire until our 80s


Those who earned between $11,700 and $31,200 will need to work till age 76 to have a 50% chance of covering basic expenses in retirement. Those who earned between $31,200 and $72,500 will need to work to age 72 to have a 50% chance and those who earned more than $72,500, those in the highest income quartile, catch a break; they get stop working at age 65 to have a 50/50 chance of funding their retirement.

So what can be done to make sure you have enough income in retirement? Well, the sad truth is that not working is no longer an option and working past age 65 is fast becoming a fact of life, at least for those in the lowest three income quartiles.

Comment: My neighbor still serves tables (waitress) in her 70's. But she just likes to work!

Noonan on Palin: "on her magical mystery tour ... a trip to Crazytown"

Someone Had a Good Week - Mitt Romney got off to a strong start. Don't underestimate him.


In other news, Mitt Romney had his first good week. It was startling. He stepped out from the blur. The other candidates now call him "the front runner." By most standards he was the front runner months ago, but nobody talked about him. He didn't live in the Republican imagination. It was "Will Mitch run?" and "You like Pawlenty?" Only seven minutes into the conversation would you get, "How will Romney do?" He was so '08, that disastrous year.

But this week he got three big boosts. He had a reasonable announcement speech followed by a lot of national interviews. Then the Washington Post poll: Mr. Romney leads President Obama. On top of that, the two most visible Republicans the past 10 days were Sarah Palin ,on her magical mystery tour, and him. They got all the coverage, and for a moment it seemed like a two-person race. Meaning a lot of Republicans got to think, "Hmm, Palin or Romney—a trip to Crazytown or the man of sober mien." That did not hurt him.

Comment: Magical Mystery Tour (Freshman year of college (1967)

Noonan on Weiner: "This is decadence. It is pornography"

But sometimes all of Washington has to put up its hand up like a traffic cop and say no. It has to say: That doesn't go here, it's not acceptable, it's not among the normal human transgressions of back stairs, love affairs and the congressman on the take. This is decadence. It is pornography. We can't let the world, and the young, know it's "politically survivable." Because that will hurt us, not him, and define us, not him. So: enough.


JVA popped today

Comment: I sold and took the gains.

Updated with article: Coffee Holding Surges, Costs Well Managed


Coffee Holding stock surged 42.8% to close at $12.14 amid heavy trading. More than 3.8 million shares changed hands, compared with their average daily volume of just over 239,000.

Coffee Holding's stock movement came as a result of its stellar quarterly report, but there was likely a fair amount of short covering going on Thursday as well, Morningstar analyst Lauren DeSanto told TheStreet.

She said the company's results were very strong, and attributed top-line growth, in part, to an acquisition made last year -- the revenue of which was folded into Coffee Holding's net sales for the quarter.


CIM: Chimera Investment Corporation

Comment: I invested in a REIT for the first time. I had $ 355 sitting in my IRA and bought 100 shares of CIM for $ 345

More on REITs ...

Picking the sweet spot in real estate


Most real estate trusts and funds offer sizable dividends since REITs dole out 90% or more of their taxable income each year. You'll have to pay Uncle Sam at your ordinary income tax rate on most of those payouts. That's why it's best to hold REITs and funds in a tax-advantaged account such as your 401(k) or an IRA, says Rick Ferri, an investment adviser in Troy, Mich.

The Motley Fool has a timely article on REITs and mentions CIM: The 10 Highest-Yielding Mortgage REITs

The Economy: "a bigger deficit without economic growth"

The Economy Is Worse Than You Think


The administration's most obvious failure was its misguided fiscal policies: the cash-for-clunkers subsidy for car buyers, the tax credit for first-time home buyers, and the $830 billion "stimulus" package. Cash-for-clunkers gave a temporary boost to motor-vehicle production but had no lasting impact on the economy. The home-buyer credit stimulated the demand for homes only temporarily.

As for the "stimulus" package, both its size and structure were inadequate to offset the enormous decline in aggregate demand. The fall in household wealth by the end of 2008 reduced the annual level of consumer spending by more than $500 billion. The drop in home building subtracted another $200 billion from GDP. The total GDP shortfall was therefore more than $700 billion. The Obama stimulus package that started at less than $300 billion in 2009 and reached a maximum of $400 billion in 2010 wouldn't have been big enough to fill the $700 billion annual GDP gap even if every dollar of the stimulus raised GDP by a dollar.

In fact, each dollar of extra deficit added much less than a dollar to GDP. Experience shows that the most cost-effective form of temporary fiscal stimulus is direct government spending. The most obvious way to achieve that in 2009 was to repair and replace the military equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan that would otherwise have to be done in the future. But the Obama stimulus had nothing for the Defense Department. Instead, President Obama allowed the Democratic leadership in Congress to design a hodgepodge package of transfers to state and local governments, increased transfers to individuals, temporary tax cuts for lower-income taxpayers, etc. So we got a bigger deficit without economic growth.

Comment: On "we got a bigger deficit without economic growth". Almost always happens. $$ sent to DC just sucks wind out of the economy. The economy doesn't "feel bad" for me personally. But I have two adult male family members out of work.

Kathee returns home today!!

Comment: US Airways Flight Number 982 | Image capture from FlightView

How stupid is he?

How dumb does one have to be to take pictures of one's privates! Then to send to someone over the internet! And then consider his last name.

I mean STUPID!


Will the U.N. trump the 2nd Amendment?

U.N. Agreement Should Have All Gun Owners Up In Arms


While the terms have yet to be made public, if passed by the U.N. and ratified by our Senate, it will almost certainly force the U.S. to:

  1. Enact tougher licensing requirements, creating additional bureaucratic red tape for legal firearms ownership.
  2. Confiscate and destroy all “unauthorized” civilian firearms (exempting those owned by our government of course).
  3. Ban the trade, sale and private ownership of all semi-automatic weapons (any that have magazines even though they still operate in the same one trigger pull – one single “bang” manner as revolvers, a simple fact the ant-gun media never seem to grasp).
  4. Create an international gun registry, clearly setting the stage for full-scale gun confiscation.
  5. In short, overriding our national sovereignty, and in the process, providing license for the federal government to assert preemptive powers over state regulatory powers guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment in addition to our Second Amendment rights.
Have no doubt that this plan is very real, with strong Obama administration support. In January 2010 the U.S. joined 152 other countries in endorsing a U.N. Arms Treaty Resolution that will establish a 2012 conference to draft a blueprint for enactment. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pledged to push for Senate ratification. Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton has cautioned gun owners to take this initiative seriously, stating that the U.N. “is trying to act as though this is really just a treaty about international arms trade between nation states, but there is no doubt that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control.”

Comment: Don't trust the U.N.!

I think I am healed

I think I am healed or at least 90-95% healed from my C-Diff infection that started January 3rd.

I am now on what is called the Vanco "taper" ... the using less and less of the drug.

In the most recent round, I have been on Vanco 4 times a day for four weeks. Starting yesterday:

  • Starting Monday 6/6: Vanco three times a day for one week followed by
  • Starting Monday 6/13: two times a day for a week
  • Starting Monday 6/20: one a day for a week
  • Starting Monday 6/27: every other day for a week
  • Starting Monday 7/4: every third day for two weeks

If after I get off Vanco ... and after one or two weeks ... I am OK ... I will be done! Praise the Lord!

Comment: Not healed in the phony Elmer Gantry kind of way!

Bids in for INGDirect

GE, Capital One Bid for ING Direct USA: Report


General Electric (GE) and Capital One Financial(COF) submitted bids for ING's (ING) U.S. online bank last week in a sale that may raise about $9 billion, Bloomberg reported, citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Comment: Earlier post: Who will buy INGDirect? | Capital One's ING Play a 'Head Scratcher'

How the "golden years" became a destination

Fears, and Opportunities, on the Road to Retirement


It is important to remember, .... that the concept of leisurely retirement years is a relatively new one, beginning around the 1950s and 1960s.

"Before that, people just worked until they dropped dead," he said. "As people lived longer, there began an awkward phase that turned into the golden years and became a destination."

Thus began retirement communities like Leisure World and travel programs like Elderhostel for older people, now renamed Road Scholar. Financial services firms, housing developers and others started marketing the idea of a "new American aristocrat -- now leisure wasn't just for the wealthy but for the middle class and even working class," said Mr. Freedman, who is also the founder of Civic Ventures, a research organization that looks at "boomers, work and social purpose."

The trouble is, those post-work years of playing golf and touring the country in a recreational vehicle weren't supposed to last for 30 years. And just as the notion of golden years "made a virtue out of necessity, we need to do that again," Mr. Freedman said, by starting a national debate on what this phase of life was going to look and be like.

Comment: Interesting read



Obama's leadership on Debt Crisis: "a cool, chill character, a fish who sits deep in the tank and stares, stilly, at the other fish"

Obama and the Debt Crisis - To lead us out of it, he will need to learn some new political skills.


Barack Obama is different, not a political practitioner, really, but something else, and not a warm-blooded animal but a cool, chill character, a fish who sits deep in the tank and stares, stilly, at the other fish.

He doesn't know how to confuse his foes with "outreach," with phone calls, jokes, affection. He doesn't leave them saying, as Reagan did, "I just can't help it, I like the guy." And because he can't confuse them or reach them they more readily coalesce around their own explanation of him: socialist, destroyer.

This isn't good, and has had an impact on the president's contacts with Republicans. And it's added an edge to an emerging campaign theme among them. Two years ago I wrote of Clare Booth Luce's observation that all presidents have a sentence: "He fought to hold the union together and end slavery." "He brought America through economic collapse and a world war." You didn't have to be told it was Lincoln, or FDR. I said that Mr. Obama didn't understand his sentence. But Republicans now think they know it.

Four words: He made it worse.

Obama inherited financial collapse, deficits and debt. He inherited a broken political culture. These things weren't his fault. But through his decisions, he made them all worse.

Comment: The always astute Peggy Noonan!


Sharebuilder: Great for starter investors

Stock too Pricey? Try Partial Shares.


At consumer investing website ShareBuilder.com, you can buy a partial stake in about 7,700 securities—including Apple, Google, McDonald's, the iShares Russell 2000 Index Fund and the Vanguard Bond Index Fund. There's no minimum investment requirement and you can set up automatic investment increases as often as weekly. But there are pertrade and selling fees.

These partial shares are "not meant to trade and flip out the next day," says Dan Greenshields, ShareBuilder's president and chief investment officer. "It's really to accumulate over a three-to-five-year period."

For instance, you can buy $100 of Google stock, which is about 1/5 of a share. (The stock is trading at around $524.) Over time, you can add money, say $25 each month, to accrue more partial shares.

Carletta Wilson, an administrative assistant in Richmond, Va., set up a ShareBuilder account for her then 7-year-old son in 2000. He invested $225 in partial shares of four companies, including McDonald's and Walt Disney. About a year later, Ms. Wilson set up automatic increases of $25 a month. He now owns about six shares of McDonald's and 10 shares of Disney.

Comment: We started our investments some time ago with buying Norwest stock via payroll deduction and with Sharebuilder

For everyone with a less than perfect lawn

Why We Must Learn to Love Weeds


The best-known and simplest definition of a weed is "a plant in the wrong place," that is, a plant growing where you would prefer other plants to grow, or sometimes no plants at all.

But it's a coarse definition and raises the question of what is the "right place" for a plant. It would be hard to imagine a more proper location for ash trees than natural, temperate woodland, but foresters call them "weed trees" when they grow among more commercially desirable timber—and, perhaps, because the ash's effortless regenerative power puts in the shade the forester's harder-won achievements.

And the criteria for weediness can change dramatically with time. An early settler in Victoria, Australia, remembered how a fellow Scottish immigrant changed from being a nostalgic botanical reminder of the old country to an outlawed invader: "One day we came upon a Scottish thistle, growing beside a log, not far from the stable sheds—a chance seed from the horse fodder, of course…. This was carefully rolled in a piece of newspaper and put under a stone. In a few days it was in a beautifully pressed condition and was shown round with great pride. No one thought that, some 20 years later, the thistle from Scotland would have spread in the new land, and become a nuisance, requiring a special act in some shires and districts to enforce eradication from private properties."

Comment: And the Dandelion:


If you put aside all the Danelion's negative qualities, it really is an amazing plant. Its leaves can be used for salad or brewed for tea, they can be used to make wine, and their roots can be dried and ground up as a coffee substitute. They're high in vitamins and pottasium, and have a lot of medicinal properties. The problem is that Dandelions, a non-native weed imported from Europe, have developed such a knack for survival.

More on: Dandelion: A Pesky Weed or a Beneficial Flower?

Unemployment: Graphically over 62 years

Democrats Ponder Next Step - Jobs Data Complicate 2012 Strategy

Comment: Interesting. Interactive.

Edward's case no "slam dunk"

Complex Case Ahead for Prosecutors


The criminal case against John Edwards on misuse of campaign funds will be a challenge for federal prosecutors, experts in campaign finance and corruption said.

Most cases related to campaign finance are hard for prosecutors to win, said Joseph Sandler, a lawyer in Washington with much experience in campaign finance and election law. “In the best of circumstances, to successfully prosecute a campaign finance case is not easy,” he said. “It’s a complex area of law, and it’s difficult to explain and understand.”

Yet public disapproval of Mr. Edwards’s extramarital affair while he posed on the campaign trail as a “devoted family man,” as the indictment put it, seems to have predisposed many observers to hope that he can be found guilty, whatever the law states.

A blogger at Above the Law, a Web site devoted to legal topics, noted the indictment and added, “Life can seem pretty unfair sometimes. This isn’t one of those times.”

Comment: He wasn't really a Breck "girl" but I like these images!


Job's report: Half Burger Flipping

Half of Last Month's New Jobs Came from a Single Employer — McDonald's


McDonald’s ran a big hiring day on April 19 — after the Labor Department’s April survey for the payrolls report was conducted — in which 62,000 jobs were added. That’s not a net number, of course, and seasonal adjustment will reduce the Hamburglar impact on payrolls. (In simpler terms — restaurants always staff up for the summer; the Labor Department makes allowance for this effect.) Morgan Stanley estimates McDonald’s hiring will boost the overall number by 25,000 to 30,000. The Labor Department won’t detail an exact McDonald’s figure — they won’t identify any company they survey — but there will be data in the report to give a rough estimate.

Comment: 9.1% unemployment.

Was Osama "greased" with Pig Fat?

Did a pork-coated bullet kill Bin Laden? Yes, says firm who claim its pig fat gun oil is bought by U.S. military personnel


Was Osama bin Laden shot with a bullet soaked in pork fat, denying him a place in paradise?

Yes, if one rather shady website, that peddles gun oil containing liquefied pig fat, is to be believed.

The makers of Silver Bullet Gun Oil claim it contains 13 per cent USDA liquefied pig fat thus making the product 'a highly effective counter-Islamic terrorist force multiplier.'

The apparent owner of the gun oil site, who goes by the name 'The Midnight Rider,' explains how the pig fat will transfer onto anything the bullet strikes.

This 'effectively denies entry to Allah's paradise to an Islamo-fascist terrorist,' Rider adds.

The oil, which costs $8.95 for 4oz, apparently puts the 'fear of death into them (terrorists)'.

In Islam consumption of pork is forbidden, but the Quran also states that if one is forced to consume the meat then they are guiltless and therefore not disqualified from paradise.

Comment: Official site: www.silverbulletgunoil.net

SILVER BULLET GUN OIL, is a HIGHLY EFFECTIVE Counter-Islamic terrorist force multiplier. SILVER BULLET GUN OIL was designed specifically to put Demoralizing FEAR and TERROR into SUPPOSEDLY "Fearless" Islamo-Fascist terrorists. It was created with the "TRUE BELIEVER'' in mind.

According to the Koran, Allah states, "Any of my followers contaminated by swine at the time of his death will be denied entry to my paradise forever, I HATE THE STENCH OF SWINE."

Social Security - the One-Legged Stool

Lack of retirement savings makes entitlements sacrosanct


Social Security and Medicare are emerging once again as seemingly untouchable third rails of politics despite their looming insolvency, and economists say the reason is obvious.

Surveys show that a majority of Americans will rely solely or mostly on the programs for support in their retirement because they have not saved adequately.

That was not the way it was supposed to be. Social Security originally was intended as a supplement to retirement income such as corporate pensions and personal savings — one leg of a so-called “three-legged stool” of retirement support.

For most Americans, however, it’s the only leg of the stool left standing because of paltry personal savings and depleted corporate pension plans, prompting people to reflexively oppose any changes in the social programs.

More than half of all workers in the United States have less than $25,000 in total savings and investments, according to Federal Reserve surveys, and the average balance for someone approaching retirement was just $78,000. That amount leaves the average retiree with about $3,100 a year or a little more than $250 per month — not enough for even basic expenses.

The average Social Security check, by contrast, is about $1,200 a month.

“Most households have no retirement plan other than Social Security, and the average American family has not saved enough to maintain its standard of living in retirement,” said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s Corp.

Comment: There actually is a one-legged stool (image above). Few workers have the pension leg any more. My company no longer offers pensions for new workers. I am grandfathered in so I should have something there. Better to have 4 legs: Savings, 401K, Social Security, and Investments