Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bloggers as health nuts

Researchers are beginning to wonder if the explosion in the blogosphere (we are 100 million strong and counting) could be health related. Blogging – it’s good for you. So says the Scientific American.

First they give us the morphine drip and now they give us blogs so we can self-medicate. Believe me, blogging in more fun. Therapeutic. Seriously, despite all the surgeries the past few years, when it comes to attitude, I can still get it up. And I give much of the credit to time spent thinking in front of this little computer. For the brain, it’s like the crossword puzzle on steroids. I start the first couple of hours every day with my source materials and my computer. Keeps me grinning while I’m bulking up my brain.

In fairness, the rest of the day, I spend with the Mystery Woman, which makes me laugh even more. Stretches my brain, too. Some would say taxes it.

I recommend you encourage your elderly friends to consider blogging. Try it yourself. Have fun. Nobody’s looking. It’s harder to build readership than you think.

But keep your hands off the Mystery Woman.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Food is political?

What you eat, pollsters claim, indicates how you will vote. Examples: Dr. Pepper is Republican; Pepsi and Sprite, Democratic. You are probably a Dem if you lean into clear liquor like vodka and gin, along with white wine and Evian. Republicans like darker stuff such as bourbon, scotch, red wine and Fiji water. Bartender, make them leave me alone.

Like your new toothbrush? You won’t like it as much when you try to fit it into the old holder. It won’t. Fat toothbrushes have replaced the Popsicle stick kind. And holders lag behind in design. Question: are teeth getting bigger? Answer: of course not, but now they can charge six bucks for a bulked-up toothbrush.

Quote: “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.” Typical understatement from comedian Steven Wright.

To stay elder ready, some Florida cities are encouraging banks to install ATMs with larger buttons. And maybe the grocery stores could create checkout lanes exclusively for the older folks.
Florida – God’s Waiting Room.

One more geezer bit. A picnic for 45 centenarians had to be postponed because half the gang was away. On vacation!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Great literature. Not.

“All great literature is one of two stories: a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town,” so said Tolstoy. Hence the line: “I gotta go see a man about a dog.”

The hospital where I get all my heart surgery has no problem with accepting Medicare patients. Everywhere except their pharmacy. Medicare and supplemental insurance are no good therein. The surgery tab once topped a hundred grand. Most the prescription ever cost was thirty-eight bucks. Odd policy, wouldn’t you say?

You’ve seen those strange dresses worn by the women in that fundamentalist religious compound in Texas. Those dresses. The American version of the burka?

If you are looking for cleaner vegetables, scoot past peaches and apples because they have high levels of pesticides. Onions and avocados, the lowest. Cabbage is clean, too. Who cares? Unless you’re one of those who bathes with your veggies. A radish floats. Who knew?

Hangover cures are still illusive. Many try and many fail.

Here are antidotes from around the world: Germans, pickled herring. Japanese, pickled plums. Vietnamese, a wax-gourd juice. Moroccans, cumin seeds. Andeans, coca leaves. Russians, pickled brine.

Several nations swear tripe works: Mexico, menudo. Puerto Rico, mondongo. Turkey, something called iskembe corbasi.

Americans prefer breakfast at Denny’s.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Elephant clothes

One reviewer said the new line of Republican National Convention clothing was almost disappointingly tasteful. But almost all of it was made in the USA. Write this down if you want an elephant tie or somesuch: Minnesota hosts the national convention this year and the Twin Cities are redefining “Minnesota Nice.” How? You ask. City leaders are considering letting bars stay open until 4 in the morning. Another proposal would have bicycles with credit card access posted throughout the cities. Combine the last two items and it conjures up quite an image at IHOP.

The tasty tomato has been replaced by genetically engineered “red tennis balls” lacking in both flavor and nutrients. The modern tomato contains less calcium and Vitamin A that its 1963 version. Read “The End of Food” by Thomas Pawlick.

Do you like jazz? Could be another sign you’re getting older. Today, jazz is only about three percent of music sales in the U.S. It gets worse. Amazon best seller are easy-listening riffs from Kenny G and Michael Buble. Put on some Charlie Parker. Hurry.

If you are lucky enough to remember manual typewriters, you may recall salesmen would let the tough old Woodstocks tumble down a flight of stairs to demonstrate reliability. Try that with your laptop. You have? Sorry.

(And that's a tip of the hat to L.M. Boyd, greatest trivia writer ever.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Assassination 101

On Fox News this morning at 10:55 am Central Time, Liz Trotta was on talking about Clinton's RFK assassination remark. She said, "And now with what some are taking as a suggestion that someone knock off Osama ... um, Obama." She chuckled at her mistake, then appallingly added "Well, both if we could."

I had to rewind it three times to make sure she said what I thought she said, but it's absolutely crystal clear. "Well, both if we could." In the midst of supposedly chiding Hillary Clinton for calling for the assassination of a major presidential candidate, she longingly wishes for that exact same thing herself.

The reporter did not challenge her.


Updated: Here's the actual video.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

On a personal note ...

I’m resting in the country with my daughter and son-in-law at their ranch.

There are complications discovered after yesterday's surgery to replace my pacemaker/defibrillator. Not life-threatening but problematical. The fish hook wire from a couple of surgeries back may not be working.

Around dawn next Tuesday, I will meet with the doctor and the technicians who work for the company that makes the device. We hope to figure out what went awry and devise a fix-it strategy. Additional surgery is a real possibility.

The fish-hook wire may never have worked and the older model computer in my chest couldn’t “see” the problem. A false reading of sorts. That means the new battery and new pacemaker are sending signals to nowhere.

Me? I'm bummed but grateful to be alive. I think I’ll go gig some frogs.
(See yesterday’s post.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Some frog missed his calling

Today’s surgery to replace my pacemaker/defibrillator battery is considered to be minor. Only 30 minutes on the operating table, a few hours in recovery and Bob’s your uncle.

(Where the hell did that expression come from?)

The only tricky part is when they stop my heart so they can determine whether the defibrillator works.

Frankly, I would prefer they test it on a frog.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Potomac Fever

“I don’t consider Senator Clinton a victim. Her arm is so limber from the mud she had lobbed during her political career that, now that the whole president thing is doubtful, she may have a future as the first woman to pitch for the Yankees.” By Peggy Orenstein in the Sunday NY Times Magazine.

This woman bears watching: Sarah Palin, GOP Governor of Alaska, is known as a reformer, riding her motorcycle and refers to her husband as “First Dude.”

“It didn’t help that their (GOP leaders) recent stab at an Obamaesque national Congressional campaign slogan, ‘The Change You Deserve,’ was humiliatingly identified as the advertising pitch for the anti-depressant Effexor. (If they are going to go the pharmaceutical route, ‘Viva Viagra might be more to the point.’” Writes Frank Rich, in the Sunday NYTimes.

Barack Obama is worth millions, mostly from the sale of his books. His first, “Dreams From My Father” was written nearly 20 years ago. And he missed his deadline but his agent got him another contract – and a $40,000 advance. Some think he writes so well that he could – or should -- quit his day job.

In politics as in real life, not just any paper shredder will do. You need a cross-cutter. We know this because Wikipedia tells us after the Iranian revolution, carpet weavers were brought in to rebuild papers from the U.S. embassy. Proof? The Iranian government published the reconstituted papers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Excused absence

The temp was in the low 40's when I left Minnesota this morning. After flying most of the day, I landed in Austin for some 92 degree reality.

In MN, trees just began to bud last week. Beautiful. When we left Texas three weeks back, everything was green with the fresh start of the new season. It's like we receive the gifts of Spring twice.

In TX, everybody needs to water. Already. They are watering in Minnesota already but largely because the growing season is so short. Perhaps because it will snow again in three months, they design gardens with frivolity in Baja Canada.

It's rather late in the day for any serious effort at posting something new. I'll do better tomorrow. Surgery to replace the pacemaker/defibrillator battery is Friday.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Smoking, sex and all that jazz

Movies. If you buy tickets online, check out the poll on which lists tickets for “Sex and the City” at 14 percent of sales – ahead of “Indiana Jones” at 11 percent. Furthermore, the sale of group tickets is strong for “Sex.” Chic lit?

Talking dirty. When in rut, the bull walrus sings. For days. He sounds like a circus, a construction site, a Road Runner cartoon. He will whistle, beep, rasp, bark and knock. Bell tones, jackhammer drills,train-track clatter and the rubber-band boing! Of Wile E.Coyote getting bonked on the head. OK, OK. I got it.

More music. A d.j. once mused about how he thought Thelonious Monk created art out of the “wrong notes.” Monk, not known for being talkative, called the station and declared, “The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.” Not while he was playing.

Segue into smoking. Trying to quit? Eighty percent of those trying to quit on their own relapse within three months. Tobacco addiction is a chronic disease. Mayo Clinic recommends help from these sites:, and Good luck.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Start spreading the news

Herewith is another sack of nuggets from the NYTimes for my wingnut friends who are proud they don’t read that rag. Pity. If the politics bother you, don't read those stories. Leave them for us elitists from Lubbock. The fabric of NY City is so rich. Witness:

What goes down does not always come up. Not in New York. Despite one billion dollars and 200 full-time (albeit poorly trained) repairmen, two-thirds of the city’s subway elevators broke down last year with people trapped inside. Taxi.

Give peas a chance: the Veggie Pride parade kicked off in the meat packing district. People caught the spirit and came dressed as bananas, broccoli or pigs and bloodied cows. A giant pink replica of the human colon, polyps and all, brought up the rear. Bad. That’s bad.

How can this be? Fully 66 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. Yet every day, we toss 27 percent of America’s food into the garbage. Waste happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. Read “One Country’s Table Scraps, Another Country’s Meal."

First entry in Metropolitan Diary: A man pulled up in a car on Eighth Avenue in Midtown, and shouted to a woman sitting in the doorway of a fortune-telling parlor, “Will I get a ticket if I park here?” She replied with a shrug, “I don’t know.”

Friday, May 16, 2008

Saddle up

First you get horses, then you get trousers. Such is the claim made in “The Horse” exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. Westerner state people already know Cortes credits the horse to his conquest of Mexico. Ditto the Mongols. Centaurs, perhaps. Cave art, definitely. Owners will tell you each horse contributes 45 pounds of manure daily and 2 gallons of urine. Horse hair was used to make the first bows for violins. And actor Ward Bond gave the best on-screen whinny, in my opinion. Enough.

Quick. Name the three work zones still considered sexist. Congratulations if you said science, engineering and technology. Sadly true. That’s according to a recent study which will be published in the Harvard Business Review in June. The hard hat culture, the lab coat culture and the geek culture all exhibit the worst of the macho culture – predatory, demeaning and discriminatory practices that drives women out of these professions. Ph.D women.

Is your dog fat? Could be because you have no way of knowing the calorie load in Fido’s dish. But a group of veterinarians has recommended the FDA so label pet food. Dunno why. Similar labels for humans rarely work.

Obit: Richard Pratt Prunty of New York City. Erudite, sesquipedalian, ebullient, chaetophorous, neo-luddite bibliophile – above all, beloved father, brother and friend. Left to look up their own words, his children …

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What happened to airlines?

Question: which do I dread most: surgery to implant a new pacemaker/defibrillator into my chest, or flying from between Austin and Minneapolis?

Without question, the airplane trip is worse -- even though the surgeons will stop my heart and reboot by firing off the new defibrillator to determine if it works. Not a comfy thought. But I dread the airline experience more.

I’ve come to hate flying and I used to love putting on a tie, paying three bucks for a Scotch and floating between destinations. I don’t fear flying.
I fear I may get so frustrated that I punch someone.

The glamor is gone. Flying used to be fun. Now it is a chore.
What happened?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A legitimate beef

Just my luck. After being delayed a month, after being sent to the wrong city, and after beiing tossed over the wall to the patio of our now-vacant condo, the device finally arrived that allows me to dial up my Austin doctor from Minneapolis and zap data over the phone about my dwindling battery. Yep. The battery red-lined. I learned this news just as I saw the headline about the cardiologist convention in San Francisco. (Cue a line about Tony Bennett. Any line.) Hopefully, one or two doctors stayed behind in Austin. More later.

Advice to medical manufacturers: study the Land's End delivery model. They can get my shorts here the next day and you guys can't deliver a life-saving monitor to the right city! Grumble, snarl, gripe, complain.

Suspicions confirmed: the number one state producing wind power is, wait for it, Texas.

Many detectives get their work clothes with a special cut – suit coats are wider in the shoulders for maneuverability in a fight and fuller at the waist to conceal their hardware like handcuffs, a pistol, mace, etc. Columbo was haute after all.

Not everybody frets the recession or the high price of oil. The sale of business jets continues to boom. Last year was a record and first quarter results indicate 2008 will be another banner year with a 40.8 % increase over 2007.

Do we need this? A Minneapolis company is distributing electronic cigarettes, cigars and pipes that mainlines nicotine to smokers – but no smoke. The e-smokes atomize liquid purified nicotine that makes a vapor that can be inhaled. A way around smoking bans?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Plagiarism every morning

Fresh coffee.

Post-it pad.

Red marks-a-lot.

Now, we’re ready to read the morning newspaper. Actually, I start first since I usually wake up around 6 most mornings. The Mystery Woman enjoys three hours more of beauty sleep. We have two coffee pots for obvious reasons.

No matter, we both thoroughly enjoy the papers. Usually, I’m still reading while she sips her first cup and the front page. This is probably more than you want to know, but we have matching recliners (my god, are we that old?).

Without apology, we interrupt the other’s reading whenever we discover a nugget. “Listen to this,” we laugh, and start reading aloud (yes, it seems we are that old).

Frankly, I don’t fully comprehend how newspapers are losing readership. Surely, we are not the only people who have to have a newspaper fix before the morning is right. But I happened to watch the newspaper delivery guy this week. In our block, he delivered only two newspapers. Both to us.

Keep moving. The best quotes come from politics and sports.

Take this jewel from the NYTimes in a story about Karl Rove’s descendance to Fox News where he actually offers advice to Barack Obama. Here’s the quote: “Wouldn’t taking his advice be a little like getting health tips from a funeral home director?” mused Obama’s press secretary.

The Mystery Woman found this in sports. Fishing season just opened and the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a story about a local bait shop that was rich in memories of the “breakfast club” which was a group of retired guys who came in mornings to grade minnows and answer the phone, if necessary. Clearly loving his work, the owner grins: “You know those guys in school who were always catching salamanders? They grew up to be bait guys.”

My favorite is NYT piece about, a YouTube knockoff for the evangelical crowd. GodTube offers sermons, theological debates, Christian rap videos and low-budget skits like “See man watching porn get caught by Jesus.” Oops.

No videos from other religions allowed. For those, try or Interestingly, the domain name is for sale.

The point: without newspapers, most bloggers would have little to say. Obviously.

Monday, May 12, 2008


If I were starting a new business today, it would have to be either McDonalds or a funeral home. Why? It’s simple. Both are growth industries and everybody you meet is a potential customer.

Three kinds of people are drawn to the job of lighthouse keepers: adventurers, existentialists and fools. So says a lighthouse tender of 18 years experience on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Which are you?

Minnesota is so serious about citizen journalists (bloggers) that folks teach classes on at least 12 websites in the Twin Cities. That’s in addition to the regularly-scheduled weekly protests on the Lake Street Bridge. Every Wednesday. Above the mighty Mississippi River. Dress warm.

Nationwide, the number of anglers is dropping fast. Not counting politicians, the total has fallen from 35 million to 30 million fisher-folk in ten years. Sharpest decline is in urban youth. ‘Sup? Competition for kids’ time? The drift to computers and electronic games? Bad worms?


Throughout the world, there are 1,100 species of geckos, not counting GEICO.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Women On Top of Their Game

Note: the author is a twenty-year Hollywood veteran actor, writer, film maker. He earned these insights.

By Lars Beckerman

Some of the most courageous performances I’ve ever seen on film have been by women. Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence; Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice; Charlize Theron in Monster; Bjork in Dancer in the Dark; Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves. Just to name a few that moved me.

It’s no secret that women have it rough in Hollywood. With a premium placed on looks and youth, the proverbial window of opportunity for actresses is much slimmer than for that of their masculine counterparts. Having said that, it is a good time for women in movies and there are more than a few that are taking on meaty roles and knocking them out of the park.

After years and years of honing my craft in a variety of acting classes focused on a variety of acting techniques, it has become abundantly clear which emotional and physical obstacles are uniform to the two sexes. Men struggle with vulnerability on stage and most cannot access that emotional well that springs forth the tears. Or simply put, most male actors can’t cry on cue. Women, on the other hand, have a hard time with allowing themselves to be unattractive, and most hit a brick wall when the material requires them to get angry -- really angry. Or simply put, female actors hold back on anger. Examples: Andy Garcia goes ballistic in every role he plays because it’s available to him. Rene Zelwegger cries every chance she gets because it’s available to her.

One actress who has demonstrated that anger is not an obstacle is Cate Blanchett. See either of her Elizabeth performances to glimpse her gravitas or watch how adeptly she slipped into the manipulative skin of Notes on a Scandal or the elitist affectations that won her an Oscar portraying Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator. But Blanchett is so good, has the pick of all the plum roles (33 films in ten years!), and is universally adored, so let’s skip her and get to a few others that might not have your respect.

Last year we were treated to a couple of performances from two of our best actresses that are worth mentioning.

Laura Linney more than held her own opposite Oscar winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Savages. Linney is always good, whether she is playing a buttoned up, no-nonsense Federal agent in Breach or an overly-compassionate, floundering thirty something in You Can Count on Me. Her work is always motivated and emotionally rich and the good news is that her best roles are probably still in front of her. Also last year, Nicole Kidman uncorked her most unsympathetic role to date in Margot at the Wedding. She plays a narcissistic writer who criticizes and belittles everyone, including her doting son who melts at the mercy of her approval. This aint Mommy Dearest – but in some ways it worse. Because it’s so real. It took years for me to take Kidman seriously, even after her convincingly diabolical work in To Die For. It wasn’t until she dazzled in Moulin Rouge! that I looked closer and saw the depth and range. The woman can flat out act, and I can think of no emotional truth that intimidates her.

Two more actresses that have floored me in recent years are Naomi Watts and Kerry Washington. Watts was a revelation in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive in what was, in essence, a dual role. First as the naïve, wide-eyed Betty eager to please all and conquer Hollywood with good old fashioned sweetness. But the third act of this brilliant film reveals the true character to be a heartbroken, bitter, suicidal wreck who has been chewed up and spit out by the dream factory. She nails both and in one film announced that she is an emotional tour de force to be reckoned with. While Jack Black may have been miscast in Peter Jackson’s monumental achievement King Kong, Watts was perfectly cast as Ann Darrow, believably falling for Kong and giving the film the emotional core necessary for its challenging, leap of faith execution.

To get a feel for the range and depth of Kerry Washington look no further than two films. Her gentle yet uncompromising work opposite Jamie Foxx in Ray was crucial to not only the success of the story, but to Foxx’s Oscar winning performance, which was superb. But then check her out as the strung out Puerto Rican bi-sexual hooker in the small (meaning nobody saw it) film The Dead Girl. Talk about range. This woman is drop dead gorgeous, and like Theron’s Oscar winning work in Monster and Halle Berry’s Oscar winning work in Monster’s Ball (not the sequel to Monster), here we have an actress fighting to claim her slot in the somewhat fly-by-night ingenue category, throwing off the gloves and getting filthy. Mucho kudos to all three of these fetching covergirl sirens for walking past the makeup trailer. Unfortunately, Theron and Berry have had a hard time following up those great roles with anything of substance. Maybe there’s more money in cosmetics commercials.

Like I said, it’s rougher for women.

I finally saw The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and to be honest, it didn’t grab me, my wife or my mother-in-law. Fascinating and tragic story to be sure, but as a film it came up short emotionally. I couldn’t help but compare it to My Left Foot. No comparison.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Prius blacklisted in Hollywood?

Do movie directors pander to their base just like politicians?
Consider the car.

The Prius could never play "Bullitt." Perhaps, with judiciously placed decals, it could be a stand-in for the yellow VW bus in "Little Miss Sunshine." The car has no sex appeal. Even with divine intervention when God drove a Prius in "Evan Almighty" lightning did not strike. The hybrid did not become a star.

Check out the current movies. Do you see a Prius in "Speed Racer?" Or "Indiana Jones?" The fleet of Mini Coopers in "The Italian Job" could never be replaced with the hybrid.

Cue the Crown Victoria. It seems to be the director’s choice, perhaps because it can go both ways as cop car or taxi. If you want to know more...

Wait. While you are filling your beloved gas hog, know this: Emile Hirsch, the driver in "Speed Racer" prefers a Prius in real life. Ditto Cameron Diaz, etc. etc. It says something that the stars drive ‘em but the directors don’t much want hybrids in their films. Again with the pandering.

Interestingly, in "The Nines," every car (except squad) was a Prius. The indy grossed just $63,000.

Meanwhile, the Toyota Prius continues its reign as the world’s number one best selling hybrid. Toyota doesn’t need the help.

The planet does.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Our first food and wine edition (wink)

Do any of these sound familiar? Cocoa a Go-Go, Daiquiri Ice, Pink Bubblegum.

Too tough? OK, let’s make it easier. Rocky Road, Huckleberry Finn. And, if you’re a certain age, Beatlenut.

This mouthful is the intro to news that Irvine Robbins, of Baskin-Robbins fame, has passed on. He was the first to get ice cream out of the grocery and into its own specialty store, giving inspiration to Ben and Jerry’s, Amy’s Ice Cream and my favorite, Blue Bell, the national ice cream of Texas.

Here’s another mouthful: Momofuku Ko. That’s the name of a 12-seat Japanese joint in the East Village that is the current rage. Reservations, naturally. Via computer at 10 a.m. six days before you want chow. The eight-course meal will set you back 85 bucks. Click fast. By 10:02, it's too late.

Still not convinced? Here’s lavish praise from a NY Times food writer: “…for $85 you get a number and caliber of dishes – including a wacky and wonderful blizzard of cold foie gras flakes and a cheeky panna cotta whose sweet, milky flavor mimics the sublime dregs of a bowl of cereal – that might cost $150 in a more formal environment.”


Turning the other cheek, let’s share a recent bit of florid prose from the Wine Spectator describing an Argentine red: “Dark and rich, with lots of fig bread, mocha, ganache, prune and loam notes. Stays fine-grained on the finish, with lingering sage and toast hints.” (Give credit to Eric Asimov for finding the quote.)

Doesn’t that just say it all? No wonder some people are still intimidated by wine snobs. Pour me another Three Buck Chuck.

If you are worried still about the walleye (good eating) in the iced-up lakes of northern Minnesota, fear not. You knew that ice on the lakes melts from the bottom.

You didn’t?

A final note in this, our first Food and Wine issue, if you visit us in Minnesota, don’t drink the tap water. Oh, it tastes very good. But the water must come from the bottom of the glacier. It’s cold. Cracks your teeth.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tofu can't talk

A Swiss ethics panel is exploring the dignity of plants. Although you've never heard an asparagus scream, watch for the plants’ rights movement to be the next in thing. Repeat after me: tofu has no dignity, thus no rights. Decaf neither.

How serious are they about fishing in Minnesota? Well, opening day is Saturday. No matter there is still ice on some northern lakes. Not a little bit of ice. Fourteen to twenty inches of ice. It was a long, cold winter. But walleye tastes so good.

The First Lady of the Locker Room: Miss Mary Garber will be inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association today. A pioneer, a legend. The 92-year-old is also the inspiration for the Women in Sports Media annual Mary Garber Pioneer award. Lots of old guys in the Winston-Salem area still carry her clippings in their wallets. “She was a smart lady who worked,” says a longtime admirer. Clink.

TSA is working with Continental Airlines to test electronic boarding passes – using a bar code in your cell phone. That does not excuse allowing the jerk seated next to me to make in-flight cell phone calls.

Looking to start a new business? Think travel agent and target the 304,000 immigrants behind bars in the U.S. awaiting deportation. That’s ten percent of the overall prison population and represents a $2 billion annual market. Problem awaiting a solution.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hey, baby, buy you a drink?

You probably guessed that there are more pairs of white shoes and matching belts in Florida than Kansas. But did you know there are also more tornadoes in Florida than Kansas? Devoted weather nuts recognize that nugget from “Restless Skies” by Paul Douglas.

Better hurry if you are going to Ireland. The Irish pubs are disappearing. Down 1,000 in three years time. Ireland’s per-capita income is now among the highest in the world, higher than the U.S., Sweden and Japan. It’s been years since anyone thinks they saw a Leprechaun.

The new flashpoint in New York City bars? Baby strollers. “Please, No Strollers” signs are popping up all over Brooklyn. The movement has spread to Minneapolis, Philly and Washington, D.C. Can you reconcile this image: cubes, crayons and candy on top of the bar next to shot glasses? Parents have responded on blogs in the past with the “Stroller Manifesto.” I have mixed feelings. In Texas, you can still raise kids in VFW Halls.

Encyclopedia Britannica has yielded to the internet. Sales of the 32 volumes peaked in 1990 but have dropped to a mere 10 percent of that giddy high. Most remaining print customers are schools and libraries. The 1,000 door-to-door sales staff is gone. Scholars say the switch to on-line is a net gain for the public. Hmmm. At Wikipedia, there is more text on LightSaber Combat than Modern Warfare. And John Locke from “Lost” beats out the other guy. Netgain?

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