"A dame who knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up." Mae West
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Phillip Pullman and other children's authors are now refusing to give lectures and readings to youngsters in the UK because of the new Independent Safeguarding Authority regulations, the Vetting and Barring Scheme, currently coming into effect. Every person who comes in contact with children is now required to go through a vetting process to make sure they are not pedophiles.
This includes people who teach, transport, advise, and supervise children, volunteers, trustees of children's charities and more. All of these people will be registered and issued cards. The information database gleaned from these investigations are then required to be shared with other government agencies.
Under the guise of protecting the children, Big Brother government is looming large. Of course, there is suspicion if you don't want to be investigated. Here's an interesting commentary about the consequences.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Years ago a friend used that title phrase referring to people who garner most of their knowledge from those Sunday news inserts that are filled with celebrity interviews, recipes, question and answer columns, and other mostly useless information, interspersed among ads for the latest Elvis doll, collectible plates, and custom bank checks.
I stole that phrase and have used it often, so it is a bit difficult for me to admit that indeed I, too, read the Sunday supplement, but only Marilyn vos Savant's column in Parade, generally filled with puzzles, logic problems, and science. This week the following question appeared:
Her response was quite civil and educational. My response was
What the heck are you doing investing in the stock market if you have to ask that question? May I suggest this book?
My investment advice: Don't invest your life savings in anything you don't understand or are unwilling to do so.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Several times weekly, I pass by this sign on a local manufacturing business, and I always chuckle.
It's not just the words. It's also the fact that most likely they are receiving long, cylindrical wooden rods in the rear (components of the product they produce).
It might have been more appropriate to say "deliveries in back," but it wouldn't be nearly so entertaining.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
All the running marathons and bicycle races in the area the past few weeks brought back memories of one of my favorite pieces of public art.
Located in Athens, Greece, The Runner sculpture is made of layers of plate glass that give the illusion of movement. The artist is Costas Varotsos.
You can see a 360 degree panoramic view here, which will give you a better feel for the "speed" the sculpture invokes. As with most art, it is even more impressive in person.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Massachusetts is challenging the constitutionality of the "Defense of Marriage Act of 1996," which the state believes discriminates against same-sex couples.
As I stated in a previous post, the issue should not be about the different treatment of same-sex couples from married couples, but the difference in treatment between single persons and married persons.
Single persons should be actively protesting along with the LGBT folks about preferential treatment given to married persons. Eliminating benefit extensions to spouses regarding health and retirement, ending the more favorable tax treatments to married couples, and other largess would end any controversies about married vs. same-sex couples' rights. Let all individuals have the same rights.
Marriage is a religious institution and/or a contractual arrangement between two (or more) people. Burial rights, health care issues, financial support, property ownership, child-rearing responsibilities, estate benefits and end of life issues should all be handled within that contractual arrangement. Family and bereavement leave should be negotiated between employees and employers. The State should have no power to regulate or over-rule those individualized agreements. If the State must have regulations (and that may very well be a future post), there certainly should not be one set of rules for married and one set for single people.
Therefore, employers should not be forced to pay for spousal health benefits, tax rates and deductions should be the same for married and single persons, retirement benefits should only be paid to direct participants or as the participant directs, and no additional exceptions or accommodations should be given to married people over single people, gay or straight.
This is a civil rights issue about equality for all people, not a LGBT marriage issue. It is the bestowing of preferential treatment by government rules and regulation that is the root of this problem.
The latest media probe into the MJ children's lives is about a black-skinned grandmother raising her white-skinned grandchildren. How much more distasteful and offensive can the media get? Leave these children alone.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Here's a few of my thoughts about the Michael Jackson media frenzy:
1. What's the big deal about MJ not leaving anything to his ex-wife? People rarely bequeath money to their ex-spouses. If they liked their ex that much, they would have stayed married. I wonder how many reporters are leaving money to their exes.
2. Why did MJ even mention her then? Well, probably because if you explicitly state in your will that you don't want anything to go to someone, they have a much weaker case if they try to overturn your will. California is a community property state so that statement in the will may be even more important there.
3. What's wrong with MJ's mother being the children's guardian? Yes, she is 79 and perhaps not in the best of health, but she is not a poor grandmother raising her orphan grandchildren all alone in a one room shack. These children have been raised with the help of a nanny all their lives, so why would that not continue to be the case? In addition, there is a large extended family to assist. I would imagine Mrs. Jackson will manage just fine.
4, Who cares about the executor of the will? The people with the real control are the trustees of MJ's trust. They will be handling the investments, accounting and distribution of MJ's assets to his beneficiaries. If you're not familiar with the difference, Candice Choi of AP wrote this good explanation.
5. Why are all MJ's finances so secret? Probably because he wanted it that way. The beauty of putting your assets in a trust is that your estate balance sheet is private. No media hounds or nosy neighbors can go to the local courthouse and find out how much your estate is worth. To some people, that is extremely important, whether they are world celebrities or just local folk who want their privacy.
I'm not a lawyer and I'm not familiar with California estate law, but I have been trustee and/or executor for many clients and relatives' estates and I do some estate planning in my occupation. Based upon my experience, the reclusive, private MJ got some good legal advice for obstructing the media from his beneficiaries' financial matters.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Here's a partial list of historical sites from this country's formative years that I've had the pleasure of visiting, some several times. Where have you been to experience early American history of independence?
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA
The Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, PA
Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia, PA
Valley Forge, PA
Monticello, Charlottesburg, VA
Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, VA
Colonial Williamsburg, VA
The Mayflower/Plimouth Plantation
Boston's Freedom Trail, Boston, MA
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Web address re-directions are in the news.
Emily Fredrix of Associated Press examines what has happened to the websites of some of the big box stores that have closed their physical stores. Some people apparently think these stores are still selling merchandise and are placing orders with them. There's nothing wrong with that as long as you are aware of the fact that you are actually doing business with a different company.
Also in the news, Jay Leno has won the right to obtain a web address that was owned by someone else. "Having a legitimate reason" to register a website now seems to be a requisite for web address ownership. The former owner was using the site to redirect Web surfers to his real estate business For those who have registered web addresses as investments, they may now be at risk of losing their money.