Wednesday, December 30, 2009
What exactly does a Muslim look like by the way? Muslims belong to a religion, not a race, gender or age group. Is the suggestion that we engage in religious profiling? Not only would this violate hallowed principles of religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment, it would require the profiling of a billion Muslims in the world. That’s an obviously ridiculous notion given the fact that part of the problem that led to Abdulmutallab getting on the plane in the first place is that the 500,000 person long consolidated watch list currently maintained by the FBI is itself.
Once his father fingered him, he should have been on a more restricted list. He looks like a million guys. Forget profiling, it's a bad idea.
Who's on thinner ice? Napolitano or Panetta?
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East, and one of the least stable, with a civil war raging in the northern part of the country. While its government has tried to control terror, the government is weak.
We don't know if Abdulmutallab was al-Qaeda, no matter what he says.
The U.S. has sent aid to Yemen, but in paltry amounts. We've also made droid attacks.
Sen. Lieberman's suggestion sounds foolish at first blush, but don't be surprised if Obama takes him up on it.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I've seen it twice. The 3D effects are fabulous and the story is gripping strictly as a movie, even if a lot of the writing is jejune. I'll probably go again.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Tis not the season to be jolly.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
TO:All Employees of Santa's Workshop and Associated Businesses
As many of you know, our business, once thought to be recession-proof, has been severely affected by the current economic crisis. The worldwide downturn and global changes in manufacturing and transport have led me to a very difficult decision: Effective Dec. 26, 2009, we will be closing the main workshop facility and scaling back or restructuring most of our other operations. While this transition will be painful, I believe it is the best way to stem our losses, reinvigorate the Santa brand and, ultimately, move the business into the 21st century.
The problems we have faced in recent years have proved insurmountable. You're all familiar with our difficulty in obtaining sleigh parts, the increasingly incomprehensible requests from spelling-challenged children and injuries sustained in faux fireplaces, to name just a few.
In the past 12 months, Mrs. Claus and I have worked tirelessly to save the business and avoid cutbacks in staff. We spent weeks working out a merger with the Tooth Fairy, only to have the deal fall through when TF Inc. insisted that I be replaced with a younger, "less cholesterol-driven, more ethnically ambiguous" spokesperson. Company officials also demanded that I retire the phrase "ho, ho, ho" (which they seemed to think was disrespectful toward young women). I of course could not agree to such drastic alterations in the brand.
In the end, we had to face the facts: In the words of the consulting firm we brought in, "It is simply not feasible in today's economy to run a business where 90 percent of the gross income arrives in the form of eggnog, cookies and re-gifted fruitcake."
I want to thank all of you in advance for your hard work heading into the 2009 season and apprise you of the changes that will be implemented immediately after our final deliveries are made on Friday, Dec. 25:
About 20 percent of the elf workforce will be taking early retirement. Half of the elves left on staff will remain on the payroll but will work out of their homes, using their own machinery. The other toymaker positions will be eliminated. Elves whose jobs have been eliminated will receive generous severance packages. They will also be eligible for a free training program designed to help them transition into new careers, including but not limited to custom shoe repair, mascot work and sales assistance at roadside Christmas Villages. Elves who wish to remain at the North Pole are welcome to apply for positions in our Santa Goes Green Foundation's "Teach a Polar Bear to Swim" initiative.
Delivery Operations: In 2010, we plan to launch a Web site that will provide an alternative to traditional sleigh-based delivery service. The online service will include Santa's Lap (a chat function) and a virtual stocking that can be filled with e-toys. Users can also follow Santa via Twitter as he makes his rounds.
Since we expect our traditional sleigh-to-chimney business to drop off, we will be reducing our reindeer staff. Dancer and Vixen are leaving to pursue careers in a burlesque show in Las Vegas. Rudolph has received a grant to launch a "green" energy company, the first ever to harness electrical power from a nose. The rest of the herd will be employed by Santa's Workshop during the high season only. They will relocate to New York during the off-season to supplement their incomes by filling in for vacationing carriage horses in Central Park.
"Dear Santa" Division:
This division will close, as we will no longer accept letters at the North Pole. All snail mail and electronic mail will be routed to our new customer service contractor in New Delhi.
In closing, I want to thank each and every one of you for your centuries of service. Please join Mrs. Claus and myself at 4 p.m. today in the employee lounge for an eggnog toast to all your hard work.
Julie Winterbottom, former editor in chief of Nickelodeon Magazine, is a freelance writer in Brooklyn. Her e-mail address is
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126152379099102083.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLEFifthNews, which I recommend.
Sales are up this year 40% at the only major manufacturer of the decorative icicles. It's because they're cheap: a thousand-count box for less than $2.
The Journal's historical note:
"Tinsel, which comes from the old French word estincele, meaning sparkle, dates by some accounts to the 1600s and by others to the 1840s, when a silversmith started hammering silver, shredding it and putting it on a tree."
Now it's plastic. Vets hate it because cats love it.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
She's always been Vogue-cover cutesy, and she was tonight, but better I thought than Suburban Brian.
Actually, I like Katie best, but she will be forever plagued by her Today show image.
I think Brian will stay ahead, but maybe not forever.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Admittedly, this is a bad year for persons of the year, but for anybody other than a smartass, limited insight, New York Times columnist, the person of the year -- like it or not -- is still the President Instead, Mr. Rich suggests he posseses a "suspicion that Obama's brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger's public image." Rich then ludicrously suggests the Tiger story could be more of a defining even than 9/11. Caramba.
Tiger Woods thus becomes Mr. Rich's choice for person of the year, based on "his sham beatific image, questioned by almost no one until it collapsed, is nothing if not the farcical reductio as adbsurdum of the decade's flimflams, from the cancerous (the subprime mortgage) to the inane (balloon boy).
Mr. Rich goes on to contrast the Woods scandal to the Enron scandal. A pretty big stretch.
"What's striking," according to the Times columnist, "is the exceptional, Enron-sized gap between this golfer's public image as a paragon of businesslike discipline and focus and the maniacally reckless life we now know he led."
He goes on. But, listen, Tiger Woods is the best golfer of all time. That plus his race, makes him one of the biggest celebrities of all time.
Then he gets caught in a remarkable series of adulteries, revealed by a car accident right outside his house.
This means that, in journalistic terms, it's a great story. It gets front page play in every paper for weeks. No need for fancy pants, ex-drama critic, exaggerations about Enron.
And not Person of the Year.
I did like Maureen Dowd today on Osama bin Laden and how Afghanistan may come down to Pakistan.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
On "60 Minutes" tomorrow, the President says what he thinks of banks:
"The people on Wall Street still don't get it. ... They're still puzzled why it is that people are mad at the banks. Well, let's see. You guys are drawing down $10, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year ... in decades and you guys caused the problem."
But others are attacking Bernanke and Geithner. This is all going to take a while.
Excuse me while I switch over to Google Chrome.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Both houses will probably strib the Fed of some of its bank supervision duties, and create an overseer. Only the Senate does that now. The Fed would lose consumer protection powers. The republicans, of course, disagree with all of this, ignoring their inability to defend the central bank on its record.
Both the eventual bank reform bills, from the house and the Senate, will be abstruse. But, at the least, we'll get a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and we'll get regulation of over-the-counter derivatives. Arrows right at the heart of the evil beast.
Have to get back to solid blogging. Need to update my Google Reader. This "Google Living Stories" seems promising, though just the NYT and WP don't amount too all that much. I need to get back to the sourcing I had going in the old place. Might take until after Christmas.
I was sad to see Tom Hoving died, especially of lung cancer.
I worked with Tom for a couple of years at ABC News 20/20. He was one of the most energetic guys I've ever met, and the most curious. In fact Hoving proved the valuable insight that curiosity is a transcendental virtue. His dad ran Tiffany's, which is a pretty good credential, but Tom's drive to find and collect was incredible. It's kind of a strange calling, that of a curator. Tom defined it. He was enormous fun.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
She's actually learned a lot. Like, "It's hard to find people who don't want something from you."
Or, "It's hard to find normal celebrities."
Not everything she says is that smart though.
I love that nobody seems to know exactly what the Senate health bill says. How much will it be different after the two houses work it out?
The Big Question is: How much will Copenhagen cost?
Obama canceled a celebratory lunch in Oslo, which was kind of rude, although maybe not as rude as sending in more trips to Afghanistan just before collecting the Nobel Peace Prize.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Meanwhile, the world goes on. Here's a summary on Copenhagen in the Times:
Despite recent fluctuations in global temperature year to year, which fueled claims of global cooling, a sustained global warming trend shows no signs of ending, according to new analysis by the World Meteorological Organization made public on Tuesday.
I knew that. lol. I hope Obama asserts real leadership in Copenhagen.
Joe Lieberman, Lindsay Graham and John Kerry are trying to put something useful together on global warming.
Which is the only nice thing I can say about Joe Lieberman.
Only once in my life have I gone to a spa. My ex-wife treated me in the winter of 2000, right after he lost his bid with Gore. It was at the ancient facilities of Gurney's Inn in Montauk and Sen. Lieberman was also taking the waters.
Let me tell you something that will not surprise you: Jow Lieberman does not look good in a bathing suit, or a towel.
Lieberman's dogged opposition to the public option in the proposed health care bill is very simple. The capital of the national insurance industry is Hartford Connecticut. And Senator Lieberman of Connecticut represents that state, which contains 74 insurance company headquarters that have contributed a million bucks to Joe.
Now the Senate seems about to dump the public option in favor of a government-regulated private option, modeled on the congressional coverage plan, as well as an expansion of medicare to cover 55 to 65 year olds. This will be more cumbersome and dent the deficit more than the public opton, thus giving the lie to Lieberman's insistence that the public option is a budget buster. But it will also protect the private companies.
It was nice to see Ben Nelson's abortion amendment defeated today. Let's just hope that's the end of it.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Meanwhile, Bank of America thrives, and GE gets $8 billion cash from the Comcast deal.
Smoke and mirrors.