about problems without giving any solutions.
But they never tell me what to do about it."
- Daniel Gilbert
If it quacks like the truth, you read it on the Daily Duck.
Amid War, Passion for TV Chefs, Soaps and IdolsIs it that Tolo TV draws a huge audience while being provocative, or is it because they're doing so ?
By BARRY BEARAK, Foreign Desk
Television is rapidly capturing an increasing audience in Afghanistan, where the population seeks the escapist fare of soap operas and reality shows. Owning a television was a crime under the Taliban, but a recent study finds that two-thirds of all people in Afghanistan's most urban provinces watch television daily.
Women most often watch their favorite shows at home, but men watch television together in restaurants. Tolo TV, the channel that dominates the market, has drawn a huge audience while testing the bounds of certain taboos, such as putting men and women on air together.
Bargain Hunters Boost Stocks After SelloffSomeone is being stupid - either them or me. We'll know shortly.
By Madlen Read, AP
NEW YORK (Aug. 29) - Stocks rebounded Wednesday as investors, though still uneasy about shrinking credit and its effect on the economy, scooped up "bargains" [scare quotes added] after the previous session's huge tumble...
Housing Prices Fall by 3.2 PercentAlso, from Michael Shedlock:
By VINNEE TONG, AP
NEW YORK (Aug. 28) - U.S. home prices fell 3.2 percent in the second quarter, the steepest rate of decline since Standard & Poor's began its nationwide housing index in 1987, [emph. add.] the group said Tuesday. [...]
The index tracks the price trends among existing single-family homes across the nation compared with a year earlier .
A separate S&P/Case-Shiller index that covers 20 U.S. cities fell 3.5 percent from a year earlier. A 10-city index fell 4.1 percent from a year earlier.
The other argument about cheapness of stocks has to do with forward earnings. Few have bothered to look at why earnings were high, the quality of those earnings, or whether or not those earnings will be repeatable.
On Monday the Vatican inaugurated its latest venture: a low-cost charter airline to ferry thousands of Catholic pilgrims from Italy to popular religious sites around the world.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday a diplomatic push by the world's powers to rein in Tehran's nuclear program was the only alternative to "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."
Although Sarkozy's aides said that French policy had not changed, some foreign policy experts were stunned by the blunt, if brief, remarks. "This came out of the blue," said François Heisbourg, director of th Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris and author of a forthcoming book on the Iranian nuclear program. "To actually say that if diplomacy fails, the choice will be to accept a nuclear Iran or bomb Iran — this is a diplomatic blockbuster"
RIO GRANDE, Texas: Along muddy roads invisible from the highway, some families crowd into battered trailers patched with plywood.
Others jam into self-constructed dwellings that seem designed by Dr. Seuss - wood and tarpaper shacks attached to half-finished concrete-block rooms, wires and hoses snaking in.
The counties of south Texas are among the nation's poorest, and their jumbled subdivisions, known as colonias, home to 400,000 Hispanic Americans, can certainly look the part. Since the 1950s, developers have carved small lots from mesquite woodlands and flood plains, selling them to workers with the promises that utilities, sewers and paved roads would follow. They rarely did, and for decades the colonias were seen as hopeless slums.
Through frugality and hard work, in a process known as "incremental building" that is rare in the United States but common in the Third World, families are transforming hovels into homes, one wall and window at a time.
While the jerry-built shacks may look crude, they are often the works in progress of determined parents willing to spend decades to create a heart for their extended families. Many start with used trailers and upgrade as their finances improve. Their determination perhaps explains why the colonias, despite infrastructure gaps and a lack of amenities like parks and street lights, are not suffused with the bleak resignation evident in the most blighted urban centers or parts of the Deep South.
The Middle East
Holds the center of the Worlds' Attention. Why?
Roman Catholic Bishop Wants Everyone to Call God 'Allah'
proposal by a Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands that people of all faiths refer to God as "Allah" is not sitting well with the Catholic community.
Tiny Muskens, an outgoing bishop who is retiring in a few weeks from the southern diocese of Breda, said God doesn't care what he is called.
"Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him? It is our problem," Muskens told Dutch television.
"I'm sure his intentions are good but his theology needs a little fine-tuning," said Father Jonathan Morris, a Roman Catholic priest based in Rome. Morris, a news analyst for FOX News Channel, also called the idea impractical.
"Words and names mean things," Morris said. "Referring to God as Allah means something."
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, backs the idea as a way to help interfaith understanding.
"It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God," Hooper told FOXNews.com. "I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths."
This chart is based on the work of Dr. Robert Schiller, the bestselling author and Stanford economist, based on 116 years of U.S. housing market data.
One interesting feature is the huge dip in the middle of the chart. Although it's been labeled "Great Depression" by the graphic artist, it's clear that the inflation-adjusted price of existing homes was plunging fifteen years before the stock market crash, including all throughout the "Roaring Twenties". I've read an explanation that attributes this to advances in materials, construction technology, and construction techniques which greatly lowered the cost of new homes, similar to what happened with automobiles.
Note also that although inflation-adjusted prices have centered pretty consistently around $ 110K since WW II, in the past few decades we've been getting a lot more house for the money than they used to in the 60s and 70s, so the value received per dollar spent has been going up* - again, similarly to automobiles.
* At least, it was until the turn of the century.
We then had a picnic reception at Calico Basin, (above), which is on the city-side of the much more well-known Red Rock Canyon, (below).
Although there was a week of stress for my intended, and especially for my mother, the wedding and reception both went well, and the entire shebang, including lodging, cost under
$ 3,000 in today's dollars. Over the years it's been mentioned several times at family gatherings that it was the best wedding from among those of my siblings, primarily because it was the least-planned and was very low-key.
So, we're both very, very grateful to my mother.
Here are my siblings and me circa '84. I'm on the far right:
Rear, L - R: Siddhartha, Auralie, Aeowyn, Michael-Gerrard
Front, L - R: Nolayan, Zenas
Brands have run out of juice. More and more people in the world have grown to expect great performance from products, services and experiences. And most often, we get it. Cars start first time, fries are always crisp, dishes shine.
A few years ago, Saatchi & Saatchi looked closely at the question: What makes some brands inspirational, while others struggle?
And we came up with the answer: Lovemarks: the future beyond brands.
How do I know a Lovemark?
Lovemarks transcend brands. They deliver beyond your expectations of great performance. Like great brands, they sit on top of high levels of respect - but there the similarities end.
Lovemarks reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without. Ever.
Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away and people will protest its absence. Lovemarks are a relationship, not a mere transaction. You don’t just buy Lovemarks, you embrace them passionately. That’s why you never want to let go.
Put simply, Lovemarks inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason
The Hallmarks of a Lovemark
At the core of every Lovemark is Respect. No Respect? It’s not a Lovemark. It’s as simple as that. Check out the Love/Respect Axis and see just where your favourite brand is sitting.
A Lovemark’s high Love is infused with these three intangible, yet very real, ingredients: Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy.
Mystery draws together stories, metaphors, dreams and symbols. It is where past, present and future become one.
Mystery adds to the complexity of relationships and experiences because people are drawn to what they don’t know. After all, if we knew everything, there would be nothing left to learn or to wonder at.
Sensuality keeps the five senses on constant alert for new textures, intriguing scents and tastes, wonderful music. Sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste.
Our senses work together to alert us, lift us, transport us. When they are stimulated at the same time, the results are unforgettable. It is through the five senses we experience the world and create our memories.
Intimacy means empathy, commitment and passion. The close connections that win intense loyalty as well as the small perfect gesture. These are often remembered long after functions and benefits have faded away.
Without Intimacy people cannot feel they own a brand, and without that conviction a brand can never become a Lovemark.
Arundhati Roy. Her debut novel "The God of Small Things" is an exotic reading experience for any Malayali (People of Kerala) or any English reader. Keen intriguing insight into human behaviour pattern. Breathtaking images. Simple and structured beauty of prismatic – sensuous words and nuances. Besides her writing, her activism for greater common good for people transformed her status as an engaging political interferer who represents a good human cause. Arundhathi is an activist and a writer Lovemark of India and the world.
I always know what to wear
I decided a while back that I wanted to simplify my life and stick to a single brand for casual wear. Ronnie Corbett inspired me to go for Lyle and Scott. The eagle on the chest is delightfully simple (and possibly a bit flash) and the sweaters, argyle or plain, and polos are reasonably priced quality bits of kit. Now I always know what to wear, I just have to decided the colour combo (to co-ordinate with my adidas sneaks).
Related: By Monix, RandomDistractions blog:* For kids, it tastes better if it's in a McDonald's wrapper
Human babies are amazing creatures: given normal hearing and average cognitive ability, they progress from 'mewling and puking' to being masters of their mother tongue(s) in less than four years...
Related: As consumer-product firms lose their ability to connect through ads, they are turning to packaging to grab consumers' attention. The average life for a package design has dropped to about two years, from at least seven years in the 1990s. And if temperature-sensitive beer cans and "graffiti"-covered soda bottles aren't loud enough, some companies are looking at making their products talk through computer chips. (The New York Times, free registration required)* Smoking declines as taxes increase
•Connecticut has increased its tax to $1.51 from 50 cents per pack in 2002. Since then, per capita consumption of cigarettes has fallen 37%.By comparison, South Carolina has kept its lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax at 7 cents since 1977. Cigarette consumption there has fallen 5% since 2000.
•New Jersey raised its tax to $2.40 from 80 cents in 2002. Smoking has dropped 35%.
•California raised its cigarette tax to 87 cents per pack in 1999 but hasn't changed it since. Smoking is down 18% since the tax increase.
Just this last Saturday my husband and I attended a wedding for his boss, a man who owns several restaurants and is extremely well-to-do. He brags about his vacation houses and condos around the world. We do not have a lot of money, but we bought the nicest gift we could afford. The gift was sent beforehand though, not brought. The ceremony was beautiful, the food was incredible, but before the best man gave his speech, the bride and groom had an announcement. And I quote this from a copy of the wedding video that was sent to each guest as a "keepsake":The couple were basically con artists, suckering people into attending a "ceremony and celebration", which tradition would dictate ought to be paid for by the hosts, but then presenting the guests with a bill on the way out, marked up 100% !!!
Groom: Beloved guests, we would like to take this time to thank you for attending our wedding.
Bride: But we need to bring something important to attention.
G: We have spent a lot of money on this affair for all of you. So "Linda" and I feel that the least you all could have done was give us gifts worthy of such an event.
*jaws dropping, uncomfortable silence*
G: This reception alone is running us about $200 for each of you.
B: To make it even, we need gifts that are that much each. But to be a gift and not just help us break even, we should have gotten something at least $400 from each guest.
G: So "Bubba" (best man) will now read a list of who still owes us a better gift or cash, and for how much. Please raise your hands when he says your name. The ushers will bring you envelopes for you to make a monetary deposit in cash or checks. If you wish to bring us additional gifts, please inform them of this when they bring your card.
It was about this time we left. But on the video they actually did this. And we weren't the only guests to leave before the list. People were so embarrassed! Did he really expect $800 from us as a couple? Does he not realize weddings aren't for the gifts?
Model Kira Burgess wears a backpack outfitted with a microcontroller and a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit that downloads recent news of bombings in Baghdad, Iraq, with their relative locations superimposed onto a map of Boston, during a fashion exhibition at SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group for Computer GRAPHics) 2007 in San Diego, California August 6, 2007. The backpack would "detonate" and release a compressed cloud of confetti when the wearer's location correlates to a site of violence in Baghdad. The exhibition showcased innovated and interactive works in fashion inspired by new technology by international designers.No doubt this was supposed to be in some way profound, but to me it just seems clear that whomever conceived of this display doesn't know why Iraq is like it is, and the U.S. are not, despite the extreme simplicity of that knowledge.
Hillary Clinton Leaps Ahead in Latest PollUnless she really botched the race, Clinton was going to start pulling away from Obama at some point, because she can win the general election and he can't.
By Susan Page, USA Today
New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has significantly widened her lead over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination in the wake of a dispute over handling foreign policy, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.
The survey, taken Friday through Sunday, puts Clinton at 48% - up 8 percentage points from three weeks ago - and Obama at 26%, down 2 points. Among Democrats and independents who "lean" Democratic, former North Carolina senator John Edwards is at 12%, [and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is at 4%.]
The 22-point gap between [Clinton and Obama] is nearly double the margin found in the July 12-15 poll. [...]
[The Democratic race is much closer in the states where opening contests will be held and campaigning already is fierce. Clinton and Edwards are essentially tied in Iowa, according to the three most recent statewide polls aggregated by the political website RealClearPolitics.com. She holds a small lead over Obama in New Hampshire.]
[In the survey, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents by overwhelming margins say Clinton would do a better job as president than Obama in handling terrorism, the Iraq war and relations with unfriendly nations.
If the nomination comes down between the two, Clinton was preferred over Obama 59%-36%.]
Bill Burton, Obama's spokesman, dismisses the findings. "National polls may go up and down before people actually start voting, but their irrelevance will not," he says.
[Of course, of course - LOL. Those grapes were sour anyway, eh? And nobody's going to base their decisions about to whom to contribute money based on the candidate's popularity and the perception of their ability to win, right? - M.H.]
Among Republicans, the race was stable: Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani at 33%, former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson at 21%, Arizona Sen. John McCain at 16% and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at 8%. [...]
Also in the poll, President Bush's approval rating ticked up to 34%, [from] his low of 29% in July.
And Congress? The approval rating for congressional Republicans sank to 29%, for congressional Democrats to 37% - both new lows in the eight years since the question was first asked.
The survey of 1,012 adults has an error margin of +/- 3 points for the full sample, 5 points for the Republican and Democratic subsamples.
Browse Profiles! Find new blogs to read!But also a big time-eater. So browse at your own risk.
Say you live in Albuquerque, count the Smashing Pumpkins among your favorite bands, and like sushi. Starting today, we’re making it easy for you to find other bloggers who share your interests.
Now you can go to any Blogger profile page and follow any of the links on the page to get list of other bloggers with the same industry, occupation, location, interest, or favorite book, movie, or music.
The robotics for a jumbo jet to take off, fly halfway around the world and land all by itself are in production now, but the robotics to drive a car around a parking lot are still in its infancy. That says something about the relative difficulties between the tasks of flying and driving. Yet people who fear to fly probably feel safe driving their car on the freeway. How can human psychology be so bad at risk assessment?
Chavez said he and Penn discussed the question of "why the (U.S.) empire attacks Chavez so much," saying Venezuela's oil wealth is a key reason.
On an inflation-adjusted, per-capita basis, the U.S. GNP tripled between 1929 and 1995. So, at least during the 20th century, the average per-capita real growth rate, over times of war, peace, boom, bust, catastrophe and cornucopia, has been about 1.8%.
Considering the coming advances in automation, robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology, as well as the decline in birth rates and the Boomer retirement, my forecast is that during the 21st century, we’ll do 30% better, on average. Therefore, by 2100 I see an American GNP of about $ 240 trillion, in 2001 dollars.
While most people use Internet aerial map photos to spot their houses, entrepreneurs are using free services like Google Earth and Zillow-dot-com to find clients. Roofers, landscapers, insurance firms, real estate agents, and pool cleaners are among those using aerial images from map Web sites to inspect potential jobs, drum up new business, and create long-distance cost estimates. Jay Saber, the owner of a California roofing company, recently bid a job 175 miles away by looking at a photo of the building in Google Earth. "Instead of nine hours," he said, "I spent 10 minutes on the computer." (The Wall Street Journal)
An investor who placed $10,000 in the Dow average at the end of April each year since 1950 and sold at the end of October would have a net loss of $272, according to [the calculations of Jeffrey Hirsch, president of the Hirsch Organization in Nyack, New York]. Someone doing the opposite would have gained $534,323.
The Dow has risen 0.3 percent on average in the May-to- October period since 1950. For November through April, the Dow has climbed 7.9 percent -- a performance that reflects year-end bonuses, tax refunds and pension-fund contributions flowing into stocks.
Why Rich Kids Don’t Stay Rich
July 30, 2007
By Robert Frank
WSJ.com blog The Wealth Report
Rich kids, we hear, have it all. Money. Connections. Top educations. Cars and clothes. For those who are part of what Warren Buffett calls “the Lucky Sperm Club,” life is supposedly one long shopping trip with an no-limits ATM card.
But what if it’s not?
What if growing up rich actually has disadvantages? And what if rich kids’ penchant for spending — and their lack of experience at earning — catches up with them, and that unlimited ATM machine winds up empty? (Not to feel sorry for these people, just to point out a reality.)
That’s the premise behind my article in the Los Angeles Times (reg. req.). [...] My conclusion is that despite all their supposed advantages, today’s rich kids have grown up in such bubbles of privilege that they’re not prepared for today’s increasingly competitive job market. They don’t make good investors, they don’t compete well for the top jobs, and they’re not hungry for success like kids who grow up in middle-class homes can be.
Eventually, I argue, their money will run out. And much of the inherited wealth in America will flow back to people who actually earn it — as it has throughout history. This is what makes wealth in America dynamic, rather than dynastic.
Some readers disagreed. One sent me a thoughtful email arguing that “the ultrawealthy are not stupid. They know their children. [...]”
In other words, rich parents don’t give their money to irresponsible kids. I’m sure this is true for some families. But in my experience, rich parents can’t help themselves when it comes to spoiling their kids, no matter how irresponsible those kids are with money. And those kids usually wind up squandering their money through bad investments, bad relationships or lavish shopping sprees...