Monday, December 13, 2010

Who’s Sari Now?

Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar was pulled from an airport security line, taken to a VIP waiting room and patted down by a female Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent in the Jackson, Mississippi airport. Others could observe her during her humiliating pat down ordeal.

This might have been part of the TSA’s plan to reduce the federal debt as at

She had presented her diplomatic papers to officers and was escorted by a Mississippi Development Authority representative and an airport security officer. She may have been singled out because she was wearing a sari, which is a traditional Indian robe that is draped across the body. 

The Jackson airport does not yet have full-body scanners, which meant that the ambassador became subject to a complete pat down.

We're Not Going to Miss U.

She had been a guest of the University of Mississippi and there may not be many others willing to be guests of Ole Miss, not after the story received worldwide media coverage.

We’re Going to Miss You

This bad press could also cut down attendance at one of Mississippi’s largest tourist attractions — the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum in Tupelo.

For further information on how to enjoy your next stay in Mississippi, please contact:


Friday, December 3, 2010

You May Find Yourself, If You Stop Running

In 1969, poet and songwriter Rod Marvin McKuen wrote the lyrics to “Lonesome Cities,” and one profound line of his song says “Maybe when I’ve done it all, seen all there is to see, I’ll find out I still cannot, run away from me.”

Many individuals do try and run away, yet many others continually seek ways to find themselves. While some may be able to do so within the confines of their own home, others have to search in a more utopian setting away from their daily existence. 

One such utopia exists 162 miles south of San Francisco in Big Sur, California. It is called Esalen and it is nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean at the bottom of a narrow road off of Highway One. Here one is able to find tranquility, but only if she or he is willing to leave the distractions of their daily life behind them and to open their arms, heart and mind to what they can possibly become.

At Esalen you can find a weekend or five-day workshop, or a much longer one on a multiplicity of mind-massaging topics, but most people who attend, are there to learn more about themselves.

You can learn from your workshop leader by listening, digesting and then choosing whether to adopt his or her ideas; from talking to strangers at breaks in your workshop who shortly become confiding friends; but mostly you learn about yourself from yourself.

You will have ample free time to contemplate as you gaze mesmerized by a star-laden night sky. Or perhaps you seek the calm caress of the healing waters in the natural hot spring baths. You can also find peace within by walking down meandering trails that wend their way through lush gardens that lead you to rushing waterfalls. You can rest quietly and cogitate sitting on a wooden bench in the middle of a grassy expanse on the top of a cliff above the Pacific Ocean, listening as its waves crash below you, telling you their story.

You can do all of this if you can leave your daily life behind you while you are at Esalen and you are open to all of the possibilities of what life beyond today can offer. At that moment, you are capable to begin taking yourself on a wondrous new journey. 

The answers to the Four Play word quiz found in Vol. 4, No.4 of the Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator are: Here, Were, Wore, Gore, Gone.

To receive a PDF copy of that entire issue, please write to:


Monday, November 22, 2010

John F. Kennedy’s Not-So-Happy Anniversary

November 22, 2010 is the forty-seventh anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas and there was limited coverage in the media today. It’s akin to high school reunions in that such events attract much more attention when the anniversary number seems more significant — such as the twenty-fifth or fiftieth.

When the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death takes place three years from now, there may be more hullabaloo, and one aspect of remembrance will change quite dramatically. The number of those who remember where they were on the day he was killed will diminish considerably, and not so much so because those who were around have died, although most of those who were in their thirties back in 1963 will be gone.

Forgetting to Remember

However, the main contributor to this demise in remembrance can be attributed to the fact that as of this date, most Americans weren’t around back then and they weren’t all that keen to hear their parents and grandparents start off any story with “I remember when.”

The younger generations have much less of an interest in and a knowledge of history, perhaps remembering their most significant date as the day when they joined Facebook.

Of our estimated population of more than 310 million, more than 69% were less than ten years old when Kennedy died and naturally, most have no recollection of what happened on that day. The median age in the United States today is 36.8 years of age, which means that many of our reporters and news gatherers fit into that group who learned about recent history over the Internet, or perhaps a rare few read about Kennedy in the pages of a book.

The Past As We See It

We all have a potential tendency to distort the past with uncorroborated thoughts about long ago events both large and small. Those events that we lived through tend to fade into a distorted fog or are remembered not as they happened but as how we would like to have had them taken place.

When I came to California in 1960, on our first day my friend Nick and I ended up in Long Beach where a fishing boat accident had just occurred and the captain was being carried away on stretcher. We took photographs of the scene, rushed the film to the Los Angeles Times, and our photograph appeared on page two of the next day’s paper, for which we were paid $15. Years later I visited Detroit and at a party, I listened as Nick told the fishing boat story to a group of people. He proudly spoke of the $150 we had been paid for our efforts, and I did not contradict him then but when I went home I found my photocopy of the $15 check.

Inflated Ideas Are the Norm Today

Rather than accusing him of knowingly or unknowingly distorting the facts, I decided to give him credit for adjusting the sum by taking inflation into account.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Game for the Ages

Falling for Table Tennis

Every October for the past twenty-four years, the Huntsman Senior Games have taken place in St. George, Utah. This year 10,000 athletes who were fifty years of age or older came from around the world and participated in dozens of events including table tennis.

The 190 table tennis players competed in both rated events and in age groups that were divided into five-year increments starting with 50-54 years and going up to 90 years and above. There were ninety-eight youngsters under the age of 70, sixty-four between 70 and 80, twenty-six between 80 and 90, and two over 90-years-old.

Not Quite the Sound of Music

If you listened intently you may have heard the sounds of aged, aching bones creaking and if you looked closely you may have noticed elongated battle scars where a knee or two had been replaced. What is most obvious is the assortment of braces that were used to provide enough support to help keep backs, wrists, elbows and knees in place.

However, participants needed no help whatsoever in keeping their competitive spirits alive not only with a deep desire to win, but more importantly, each male and female player tried to challenge themselves to be the best that they could possibly be.

In Friendly Territory

While there is a measurable intensity once a best three-out-of-five-game match begins, there’s a convivial camaraderie both before any match and after it is over. Competitors practice, kibitz and reminisce together with the latter activity being the most prevalent and pleasant. Stories are told and retold about past performances with some individuals remembering and embellishing past triumphs and successes, and perhaps consciously or unconsciously changing the outcomes as long as there’s no one around who was there when that long ago match was played. But most senior players do remember and playing table tennis may help them to do so.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, professor of surgery at Columbia University believes that table tennis can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The game requires hand-eye coordination, quick decision making, and the rapid eye movement of the game requires the brain to do intensely fast analysis. Just predicting where the ball will fall demands mental power and constant recalculation. As a bonus or two, table tennis improves cognitive function, motor function, and is a fun sport to play.

Old Friends and Good Times

During the year, seniors may play in events open to players of all ages by ratings however the ones they truly enjoy most are the ones in their own age bracket. It gives them a chance to see how well they are doing in the sport and in life, compared to their peers. In that way, senior tournaments are like high school graduation reunions where you look around and ask, "Who are all of those old people." With all of the aches and pains, at any tournament, seniors are pleased to be able to move around and grateful when they return a ball with the verve and accuracy that they worried might have disappeared forever.

Last December at the U.S. Nationals tournament in Las Vegas, an eighty-eight-year-old player told me that this was his last tournament for he was too old for the game. He was in St. George as an eighty-nine year old player saying he isn’t ready to retire yet.

Two Words to the Wise

Adam Cintz was a friend who didn’t play table tennis and died this year one month short of his one-hundredth birthday. When a young reporter once asked him what was his secret to living so long, Adam replied, “Don’t die.” That is the best advice for all the seniors who want to continue to play table tennis.

For the story of Adam’s unique life click on this link:


Friday, September 24, 2010

Mark My Words, You Have to Face It

If it isn’t bad enough that the computer world dominates the news coverage most every day here in the Silicon Valley and its environs, during the last two days the Valley’s designated messenger, the San Jose Mercury News, has made Mark Zuckerberg’s life a never-ending story.


The founder of Facebook was featured on a front-page story on September 23 titled “Unfriended” which was all about the movie “The Social Network” which depicts his meteoric rise to fame and fortune. Or is it fortune and infamy? The story covered two-thirds of the front page and two-thirds of page 15. According to the Merc’s story, the very private Zuckerberg will not be pleased with the depiction of his life and how he had to buy out two former Harvard roommates who claimed that they were the true creators of the social network giant. Allegedly Zuckerberg settled with them for a mere $65 million.


The Merc’s first Facebook story today was on page A6 and its headline touted “Facebook outage inspires tweets — and a few hoots.” This was the second day in a row that the world’s largest social network faltered and may have disturbed more than a few of its 500,000,000 users.


Then in the business section under “Facebook CEO latest tech tycoon to try philanthropy,” the story says that the unassuming Zuckerberg lad is quietly donating $100 million to the downtrodden Newark, New Jersey school system. Oh yes, he’s doing it on “Oprah.” Could this be a means to counteract the possible negative publicity that he might receive after people see ”The Social Network?” A few inches under that story is another on “Facebook working on a phone deal.”

Not Missing the Mark

If you think that Mark is not getting his just due, then go to Google and type in “Mark Zuckerberg” and you will get 7,880,000 results and when you do the same for “Facebook,” you will find 11,190,000 results. Not bad for a young man who celebrated his twenty-sixth birthday on May 14.  

I have had numerous requests to join social networks from, among others, former students, an ex-wife, cousins, table tennis buddies, and Holocaust survivors. They have asked me to share with them, and the majority of the dozens of requests come from users of Facebook and LinkedIn, with others from Yahoo and Shtyle.

Our Privacy Policy

But Facebook to Shtyle is not my style and I send out a polite e-mail to those who send me such requests. It reads in part, “In the age of the Internet, I enjoy my privacy and refuse to join any of the "social networks" so my thoughts and ideas I share with those people I know, are shared only with those people I care to, one person at a time.”

Of course, there’s a slight contradiction to the above paragraph since I write for two blogs in which I share my thoughts with many. There’s the Huffington Post at and the Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator at

Simple Subtraction

I can honestly say that I have not amassed a fortune doing these blogs. The wealth derived from them is $6.9 billion less than Mark Zuckerberg’s combined wealth of $6.9 billion to the penny, and I have yet to hear from Oprah.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Where's Rodney King When We Need Him?

Back on May 1, 1992 after the acquittal of Los Angeles police who beat him and helped foster the riots in that city, Rodney King emotionally pleaded, “Can we all get along?" Listen to King in quote number 22:

“Getting along” is probably what most Americans want today with the exception of the extremists and fringe elements who are just after what they want for their country and themselves, without any consideration of others.

Major Disasters

Both major political parties have done a magnificent job in inspiring the extremes as they ruthlessly chide their opponents whenever possible.

In today’s San Jose Mercury News there are two stories on page A4, one on top of the other that personify the divided state of politics today. The first headlines “Obama urges voters to back Democrats,” and includes “The GOP…lambasted the president. ‘Once again, President Obama trotted out the same old worn out reassurances on the economy, but Americans are still waiting for the promised recovery that never arrived.” This is a quote from the foot-in-the-mouth GOP Chairman Michael Steele.

The story below centers on the Republicans soon-to-be-revealed 20-point agenda, and the media help to stir the acerbic pot when they write, “Democrats quickly branded the yet-to-be-finalized agenda a retread that led to the current economic turmoil.” A Democratic Party spokesperson is then quoted, “It took more than 20 months to repackage a plan that’s no different from the one the caused the Great Bush Recession.” At least he called Bush ‘great.’

The Worst Is Yet to Come

It will become more extreme and infuriating for right-minded individuals to listen and not learn anything meaningful as we approach the November 2 midterm election. Further and harsher diatribes await us in political advertising and political coverage by all media, with the latter gleefully and greedily looking forward to the advertising dollars that will come their way during the campaigns.

To keep sane, you need to maintain a positive outlook. Remember that there’s only forty-two days until this cycle of narishkeit — nonsense —will be over, and only 731 days after that, you will again have the opportunity to “throw the bums out.”

Monday, September 13, 2010

Getting High on the High Holidays

September 9, 2010 was Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, and no synagogue, shul nor temple could provide a comparable setting for our morning services. There by a small, still pond closely surrounded by sturdy red cedar trees and in the distance by protective and magnificently sculptured rock formations, we unfolded our blue camping chairs and placed them into the warming sand as we basked in glorious sunshine. As we opened our prayer book, less than thirty feet in front of us stood the rest of the congregation; a young buck with immature antlers, two does, and a delicate fawn who stood half the size of the others.

They were ever alert as they approached the pond for a sip of water. Then they saw us, observed us, and accepted us as fellow congregants who would do them no harm. Perhaps they somehow knew that only compassion and understanding would be our righteous way to start the new year. On page 103 of our prayer book we arrived at a passage that read; “Could we soar with arms like eagle’s wings, and run with the swiftest grace of gentle deer.”

As if being cued by their director, at that moment the two does ran off through the woods and into the meadow with one chasing the other, and although no eagles soared, three mallards gracefully landed on the pond and drifted to the spot where the deer once sipped. All too soon they departed and our morning service ended. I was at peace with the world and with myself in this majestic edifice of worship within Yosemite.

Win Three Print Issues of The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator

The first three people who send us the correct answer to the following question will receive the next three printed issues of The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator. Why was J. D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye entitled The Catcher in the Rye? You’ll find the answer on page 173 of the 1964 edition published by Bantam Books that cost me 75¢ at the time. 




Monday, August 30, 2010

It All Depends on Where You Stand

Moral Majority Revisited?

On Saturday, August 28th, Glenn Beck led a rally from the front of the Lincoln Memorial to “restore America,” and it was covered live on some television stations and written about on line and in newspapers. Since most local newspapers cannot afford to send reporters to every “newsworthy” event, they rely on getting news either from syndicated sources or from their own not-for-profit cooperative — the Associated Press (AP) — which is owned by its 1,500 U.S. daily newspaper members.

They’ve Got You Covered

Each member newspaper decides whether or not to pick up and use all of an AP story, some of a story, or not use the story at all. Two Northern California newspapers decided to use the AP story on the rally, but their coverage varied widely.

The more conservative Santa Cruz Sentinel’s headline read “Beck, Palin rally to ‘restore America’” and contained two black and white AP photographs; one of the crowd from the base of the Washington Monument and the larger one showed a close-up shot of Beck, arms spread wide as he spoke to the crowd. The San Jose Mercury News showed the one of the crowd but in color.

Newspapers print in columns going up and down so to measure the space devoted to any one story, you take the number of columns used and then multiply this by the inches of copy and photographs in each column resulting in the term “column inches.”

The difference in the amount of space devoted by each paper to the rally was as wide as Beck’s open arms. The Sentinel devoted 91-½ column inches to the story while the Mercury News gave it a seemingly paltry 21-¾ column inches.

The Damn Liberal Media?

If your first inclination is that the liberal Mercury News was deliberately more conservative in its coverage, you would get into an argument with their former editor Rob Elder. Whenever he spoke to any of my journalism classes he stressed how fair and balanced they attempted to be in their coverage of any story. They did so without promulgating “fair and balanced” as Fox News does with their hypocritical self-promoting slogan.

On the emes (truth), the Yiddish language connects Beck and the political scene at:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spam, Scam...Scary, Wary

While vacationing recently on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan, I received two cell phone calls; one from a good friend and a second from a cousin, wondering if I was okay in London. I have always been okay in London where I have visited ten times and when I called back they each said that they had been concerned after receiving the following e-mail under my name:

“I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I came down here to London, United Kingdom for a  short vacation unfortunately i was mugged at the park of my way to the hotel where i lodge, all cash, credit card and cell were stolen from me but luckily for me i still have my passports with me.

I've been to the embassy and the Police here are not helping issues at all and my flight  leaves shortly from now but am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel  manager won't let me leave until i settle the bills,

I'm freaked out at the moment....”

How Did They Do It?

It seemingly came from me at one of my e-mail addresses and was sent to more than five hundred of my contacts there. Someone had hacked into that account, sent out a mass mailing to all of them as Harvey Gotliffe, wiped all of those contacts’ addresses and everything else I had saved on that account.

Why Did They Do It?

If you answered this scavenger out of kindness toward me they sent this follow up e-mail:

“Am so glad you reply back  , I still need help, I  have nothing left on me right now and I am lucky to have my life and passports with me it would have been worst if they had made away with my passports. Though, I suffer little injury on my left arm. Well all I need now is just  $2,700 you can have it wired to my name via Western Union i'll have to show my passport as ID to pick it up here and i promise to pay you back as soon as I get back home. Here's my info below

Name:      Harvey Gotliffe

State:     London SW1H OQW

Country:   United Kingdom

Money Is the Root of All Evil

The scoundrel figure that if he sent out five hundred free emails and if one person followed through with any money, he is way ahead. Unfortunately one dear, naïve friend who cares deeply for me, saw me in deep trouble and immediately sent out $2,700 to Western Union in London. She was sent another e-mail saying that more money was needed and she paid another $2,300 to him. I would call him a scavenger, crook, scoundrel or goniff, but another recipient friend who did not pay best described him when she replied, “You are a scumbag degenerate asshole.(SDA)”

Where Do You Go From Here

I called up my Internet provider’s service desk and first got Lloyd in the Philippines and when that happens I immediately ask for an “on shore” representative and was transferred to Josh, a Tier One person in the USA. When he couldn’t resolve the problem, he in turn transferred me to Mike, a Tier Two person, who after consulting with two other Tier Two people said there’s nothing they can do to recover anything on that account and advised me to change the password. Then he suggested that I change the password on all of my e-mail accounts once a month, which I did immediately and will do every thirty days.

Shedding a Tear or Two

I still feel badly about my dear friend who cared $5,000 worth for me and would like to start a fund raising drive for her. Anyone who wants to contribute anything, please let me know. I, in turn, will give you some information to help you and your friends and relatives avoid this SDA and others out there preying on the innocent.

First do like I did and send an e-mail report to your Internet provider’s abuse site, then call up the provider and have them help you out. My session with them via the phone took ninety minutes.

Next look at this article from the San Francisco Chronicle on the scam

Then go to the Western Union web site and learn all about this fraud and others. Unfortunately, WU seems to be an unwitting co-conspirator:

Western Union also offers a telephone number to call to report the fraud at 1-800-448-1492.

Working a Scheme vs. Working

There will always be someone out there trying to get something for nothing or trying to manipulate the system and defraud the innocent and not so innocent. Whether it be Jack Madoff and his Ponzi scheme or the Nigerian in London, be wary because the results can be scary.

Do Them A Favor

Please forward this blog post to family, friends and colleagues you care about to warn them of this and other e-mail scams.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Write Stuff

A Profession That’s Perverse

If you are not writing to publish, please continue to do so. Writing is a perverse profession in that it is one filled with extremely deep, aggravating psychological and emotional valleys, followed by short, euphoric highs.

For the past ten days I have been engrossed in the former as I worked on three different writing projects, rotating between the first two, and now you are reading the third.

Before I leave town for ten days on August 12th, I wanted to get out an issue of the irregularly published print and PDF (Portable Document Format) version of The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator. This entails locking myself in my writing room while I pour through a multitude of file folders filled with newspaper clippings, magazine pages, Internet materials and pages of my handwritten observations. Then I have to choose which of the dozens of topics before me seem to fit together, along with a lead story and a concluding profile.

The Student Prints

Since I promised a trilogy on education starting with my own, then as a professor, it was time to write the lead story about the students I have encountered in nearly thirty years of university teaching. Within my garage and office, I have five file drawers —not file folders — with observations, letters from students, faculty meeting notes, and articles relating to students from 1969 to 2008. At one time, I may have had twenty different sets of file folders spread out as I tried to find some logical order and make some sense out of this gargantuan accumulation.

You Have to Persevere

When I finally did, only then did I begin to write. Doing so is difficult at any time, even more so on a sunny summer day when it seems far more spiritually rewarding to sit in the backyard and listen to the soothing, flowing waters of our fountain and lazily read. I began to write and write, then I edit and rewrite, and then I rewrite again and again and again. There will never be a perfectly written effort, so after a week it became time to stop writing and move on to selecting the illustrations and feeding all materials to my designer and syntactical enhancer. Stephen is a genius and not only does the design but can take my writings and diligently tweak a word here or a sentence there to make it flow even better — and to precisely fit in twelve pages.

I reviewed the first PDF copy-only layout, and we spent an hour on the phone working out some of the kinks and eliminating excess verbiage, which means eliminating whole stories.  At this moment I anxiously await the PDF in a more final form that will require another bit of tweaking before I can send it out to you.

A Huffington Post Script

When I felt overwrought and overworked concentrating on the Cogitator, I would turn to the Huffington Post where I have become a contributor and try and decide on a current topic that would first be challenging to write and also be acceptable to my blog editor. The semi-debilitating process is the same as with the newsletter. Go through files. Select topic. Write. Edit. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. Then I make sure that it is no more than 800 words before sending it in for approval. I submitted the 784-word post entitled “Don’t Blame Palin, Blame Stalin” yesterday and it is up today. You can read my Huffington writings at

Thus Far, Have You Read This Far?

The brief euphoria comes in two stages — first when I see my writing published and then when someone comments on it, which is a rare occurrence. The comments can be positive or negative but at least they indicate that someone has read what you have written. How will I ever learn if you have read this?



Monday, July 19, 2010

Are Newspapers Killing Themselves?

The many stories on the demise of newspapers are found in newspapers, magazines and online media, and the blame is put on many sources. Is it the free Internet, the lack of timeliness compared to broadcast media’s immediacy, or the citizen journalists with their blogs and their on-the-scene reportorial endeavors with their ubiquitous camera phones? Andrew Stroehlein, communications director of the International Crisis Group, believes that “Citizen journalism is like citizen dentistry.”

No Death Defying Headlines

The bold-faced headlines and sub-headlines in a newspaper are what first catch the reader’s attention, and the killer instinct writing them can be a turn off. In the 12-page front section of today’s San Jose Mercury News there were the following headlines concerning “news” from around the United States; “Park shooting kills 2,” “Off-duty cop killed,”  “Man dies in flash flood,” and “Scout dies in fall.” The international news also offered carnage-like headlines: “Dozens killed as trains collide in eastern India,” “Two miners killed (in China),” “Bomb kills former insurgents,” and “Gunmen massacre 17 at a party in Mexico.”

Death Takes a Holiday

These eight front-section headlines concerned stories describing the deaths of 113 human beings including forty-nine in the train collision and 40 former insurgents. It is therefore comforting to find one section of the newspaper that is a respite away from such large numbers — today’s Obituary Page that only lists seven people who have recently departed. There may have been more who passed on but an obit can be expensive and unaffordable for many. However, they are a source of much-needed money for newspapers in a down economy. When a family member dies, along with purchasing a cemetery plot, a casket or an urn, contracting a funeral parlor for a hearse, and hiring a eulogizer, unless the person was well known or did something special in their lifetime, someone has to pay for an obituary for them and pay by the line. At the Mercury News the cost for each line of copy is $18, and one must dig up an additional $108 to include a photograph of the deceased. A short, 100-word obituary to describe the highlights of a person’s life would take up twenty-two lines and cost $396 plus $108 for the photograph. That’s a total of $504 to run the obituary for one day and during a time of emotional and financial stress, a well-respected former obit writer described those costs as being “criminal.”



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Texting Now and Mini-Skirts Then

Could Be Dangerous to Your Health

Today’s Associated Press story indicates that texting while walking could be injurious as it diverts a person’s concentration while they are involved with the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.

A Sign of the Times Now

The article described a woman in the Silicon Valley who was not paying any attention to where she was walking whilst texting and ran into a sign. Her injury was not serious, however an Ohio State University study showed that in 2008 emergency room visits for similar actions doubled to more than one thousand for pedestrians who were texting.

A Sign of the Times Then

In 1968 I attended a conference in New York City and outside the hotel a young woman in a mini-skirt exited a taxi and bent over as she reached in to pay the driver revealing all of her lower limbs. A middle-aged, well-suited businessman, who was watching her as he walked by, ran into a bus stop sign.  Both he and the sign quivered. I laughed as I retreated into the hotel where another similarly dressed woman was sashaying through the lobby turning the heads of a bevy of businessmen standing around. One businessman who was walking in the other direction, turned his head to follow her motion as he continued on. He ran into a wall and the wall did not quiver. 

Lessons Learned

If you are in a situation that requires your undivided attention and you have your choice of which of two actions to take, stop for a moment and take the one that will make you the happiest without requiring a visit to an ER.  


Sunday, July 4, 2010

An Unpresidented Amount of Money

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan carried forty-nine states and garnered a record 525 Electoral College votes to win a second term as President. An estimated $ 103.6 million was spent on presidential campaigning that year.

Two men who were born seven-and-one-half months apart during that 1984 Chinese lunar year of the rat, may each be earning more than that which was spent on the presidency.

One is a twenty-six year old, corporate billionaire and the other who is still twenty-five, is currently eking out a living having earned a meager $14.41 million for 2009-2010. He also had endorsements worth about $25 million from an eclectic mix of corporations including Nike, Sprite, McDonald’s and State Farm Insurance.

However both want to make more money.

Rooting for Money Could Be All Evil

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s alleged founder, wants to increase the current number of ­­­400 million active members around the world in order to raise his net worth above its present $4 billion level.  His corporation’s main goal is to have as many people as possible reveal as much intimate information regarding their goings on as they can via the Internet. This is done without anyone being encumbered with the need to share a few minutes of conversation in the same room across from another human being.

Bare Bones Competition

A UK site called Skinbook promotes itself as the Internet’s sole genuine nudist social network. It only boasts 9,000 members and as of now it doesn’t offer Facebook any stiff competition.

Courting King James

LeBron James, the current star player of the Cleveland Cavaliers, wants to increase his salary by finding the National Basketball Association team that is willing to appreciably elevate his salary. Until today, he has had grown men crawling to his sacred site who are willing to sell their souls to buy his. Some have even hired consulting firms who have projected how much he will earn in endorsements if he comes to their city to play.

Religious Devotion And Active Preying

You can see where we are in our society today when both young men have been recently dominating the news. Both youngsters religiously believe that bigger is better, specially when it comes to making money — more money than each ever would need. Mark, who was born Jewish is a devout atheist, thank God, and LeBron has whole cities praying for his presence. We trust that they will both do well, keeping in mind a sign in a small retail store’s front window which read, “In God We Trust — All Others Pay Cash.”



Sunday, June 27, 2010

Undo Power for the Deservedly Powerless

It was warm and pleasant today when my wife and I drove our nephew and his daughter (my grand niece) to the San Jose Airport to drop them off for their flight back to Detroit. There was a lone car parked outside their Terminal C in the as-yet-unmarked loading area. We pulled in, removed their baggage from the trunk and began to exchange goodbye-for-a-while hugs.

Suddenly the warmth was icily dissipated with the lumbering approach of an unshapely hulk of a man with an equally misshapen goatee. He appeared to be tented within a pair of blue durable Dickie work pants and matching shirt, with the latter partially hidden under a yellow day glow vest.

As he trundled toward us he bellowed in an buffoonish, authoritative voice, “This is only for unloading. You have to move on.”  When I said, “We’re only saying goodbye.” He again bellowed, “You should have done that in the car. This is for unloading only.” Rather than trying to explain to this immovable object that it is difficult to hug in the car either on the highway coming from Santa Cruz or after we parked, we defiantly continued hugging until after we finished full well knowing that we were probably violating an “Unloading and No Hugging Ordinance,” and then said goodbye.

Ironically this weekend was designated as the San Jose International Airport Community Open House  — a planned public relations festivity welcoming one and all to view the end of a six-year, $1.3 billion renovation. Terminal C will be razed after July 4 and the incredible bulk will either have to find another position representing the airport or he could become a media spokesperson for BP.




Friday, June 11, 2010

Yiddish Lesson in Politics

Oy Vey and Gai Avek

Here Comes Verbal Drek

Less than two days after the June 8 California primary election results were confirmed for the gubernatorial and United States Senate races, the GOP and Democratic candidates for both offices were slinging more than mud at one another.

However, the campaigns show the promise of tackling the real issues citizens are concerned with as the GOP senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina, the former CEO and attempted assassin of Hewlett-Packard, lashed out at her Democratic opponent’s — hairstyle. Meg Whitman, the GOP candidate for governor who bought her nomination for more than $80 million (see June 1 post), tore apart her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown claiming he had failed at every political job he ever had. Allegedly Brown politely retorted by comparing Whitman’s campaign to that of Hitler’s minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels. In turn, Whitman’s campaign manager called Brown’s reported comments ”deeply offensive and entirely unacceptable.’

California voters will be subjected to 151 more days of this crap — drek —before the November 9 general election. Sadly, this will probably be the same story for citizens across the country wherever an election is taking place. You can hear their collective moaning of  Oy Vey” accompanied by them imploring the politicians with their sure-to-come banal rhetoric and deceptive advertising to Gai Avek – just go away.



Monday, June 7, 2010

Inspirational Adam Cintz Accentuated the Positive

Adam Cintz lived through two World Wars, was confined to the Lodz ghetto by the Nazis during World War Two, and then sent in a cattle car to Auschwitz where he lost his eight-year-old son Shlomo to the chimneys. He was also separated from his wife Genia with whom he was miraculously reunited after the war. Adam came practically empty handed to America, found work and worked hard, learned English, started his own business, and looked for the positive in life and in people and always was willing to help in whatever way that he could. At ninety-six he started speaking about his experiences to students, as many as three hundred at a time, and inspired them to also do good in the world while they were around. Adam is no longer around as he died peacefully on Memorial Day, one month shy of his 100th birthday. Unlike the stories that follow, Adam always accentuated the positive and eliminated the negative, exemplified in the words of Johnny Mercer’s song. *

For more on the extraordinary life of Adam Cintz see posts on April 17 and 26, 2010.

Others Are Positively NegativeFont size

Each Side of the I’ll Says, “Get You Next”

You can start with the obvious — the politicians —who find no good in their opposition’s programs, brazenly describe their rival’s faults to the media, and make little or no effort to compromise on anything. It is not only party against party, but in California during the primaries it’s been GOP candidates against their fellow Republicans in an acidulous manner. Good news — there will only be twenty-two weeks of nauseating negative campaigning after tomorrow’s primary before the November 9 election. 

Doomsday Groups Fear End of Oil

They are lurking out there, people who feel oil supplies peaked two years ago, that an oil shortage is eminent and the economy may collapse followed by a breakdown of civil order. Some people are stocking up on food reserves in case the oil squeeze prevents food from reaching market while others are converting their investments into gold and silver. Good news —this fear brought together a Democrat and a Republican in Congress and they formed a Congressional Peak Oil Caucus in 2005. There is no record of this two-person caucus accomplishing anything, much the same as is with all members of Congress.

We Gather Together to Find Out Who Did It

On June 5 in San Jose, 400 discerning men and women met and the general agreement was that bad things are being secretly done to them. When asked who is responsible for this outrage, individuals accused Obama, extraterrestrials, the military-industrial complex, Communists, Jews, the United Nations, the lead guitarist of AC/DC, or in some case, a combination of two or more of these entities. They were attending the 10th annual gathering of people searching for alternative truths at the Conspiracy Con 2010.  Good old “Con Con” probably best describes the promoter’s motivation and those of the vendors.

Good News May Not Equal A Good Story

Those in the news business will say that you can’t blame the messenger — the media — for delivering the unpopular messages that permeate print, broadcast and online media today. It’s not their fault and to counteract the barrage of more than twenty-five minutes of dismal news each broadcast, some television networks search for something positive and close their evening newscasts with a story on a “Person of the Day” or “Someone Who Made A Difference.”

Today’s newspaper headlines (June 7, 2010) proclaim one gory story after another, and these were found in either The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle or the Santa Cruz Sentinel: “2 Men Seized at J.F.K Accused of Plotting Jihad,” “Coast Guard Sees Oil Spill Cleanup Lasting Into Fall,”  “Markets Prepare for Week of Turmoil,”  “Midwest tornado kills 7,”  “4 Killed in Iraq Bombing,”  “Millions of patients overtreated in U.S.” and  “Two window washers in critical condition.” One headline offered the question that’s been on everyone’s mind day and night, “Are contractors bribing Taliban?”

Ready for the Good News?

Bad news has been covered in perpetuity and about fifteen years ago a newspaper was started by some naïve, well-meaning individuals to counteract the overflow and it only presented good news. It quickly went out of business due to a lack of advertisers and readers.

*Lyrics to Mercer’s “Accentuate the Positive”

You've got to accentuate the positive, Eliminate the negative,

And latch on to the affirmative, Don't mess with Mister In-Between.

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum, Bring gloom down to the minimum

Have faith or pandemonium's Li'ble to walk upon the scene.

To illustrate  my last remark Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark.

What did they do just when ev'rything looked so dark?

Man, they said "We'd better accentuate the positive "Eliminate the negative" And latch on to the affirmative -Don't mess with Mister In-Between,  no, no,  Don't mess with Mister In-Between."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The California Primary With One Weak to Go

The Beatles Didn’t Care Too Much for Money

Politicians Believe It Can Buy More Than Love

In 1964, the Beatles released a successful single that included the words, “I don‘t care too much for money, for money can’t buy me love.” The two leading Republican candidates for California governor in the June 8th primary might not care too much for money but are hoping that it can buy them enough votes to become their party’s nominee in the November.

In 1973, It Was Deep Throat

In 2010, It Is Deep Pockets

By of the end of May, Meg Whitman, the billionaire former CEO of eBay had raised $83.4 million, including $68 million of her own money, but had only $3.8 million left in cash on hand. Her chief GOP opponent, entrepreneur Steve Poizner had raised $26.3 million including $24.2 million of his own money, leaving him with $3 million on hand. Their combined spending in the GOP primary race alone comes to about $103 million.

Fatherly Advice

To put this in some perspective, in the 1984 presidential election, the total spending by all candidates came to $103.6 million, and fifty years ago in 1960 when Kennedy ran against Nixon, it became the first $20 million presidential campaign. There’s the story that JFK received a telegram from his occasionally anti-Semitic father Joseph which read, “"Dear Jack: Don't buy a single vote more than is necessary. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a landslide."

Brother Can You Spare $51.50

If Meg and Steve are trying to buy votes, they should recall that in the 2006 gubernatorial primary, Arnold Schwarzenegger received 1,724,288 votes — or 89.99% of the total of 1,916,080 cast by Republicans. Should the total GOP primary votes in 2010 rise to two million and the $103+ million is spent, that comes to about $51.50 per vote. It might have been more cost effective for each candidate to place one of their workers stand outside every voting place in the state, pass out a Ulysses Simpson Grant $50 Federal Reserve Note, and buy their votes directly.

I’ll Raise You $50 Million

The primary is just the warm-up for the general election that takes place on November 9th and the leading (and only real) Democratic candidate for governor is California’s Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. He’s better known as Jerry and has raised $21 million, spent only $400,000, and has not put a dime of his own money into the campaign. Yet.

No Republicans Running for Congress

Suits These Two Candidates to a Tea

The 19th U.S. Congressional District in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley has long been an almost guaranteed Republican seat, but not this year. Two of the three leading candidates seeking to replace the retiring Republican congressman are still out to win the GOP primary nomination and have their slogans pasted on billboards and on signs stuck in the ground throughout the rural areas. Their political leanings are quite similar and so are those slogans, yet neither candidate will admit to being a member of the Republican Party. “Pombo — Conservative for Congress,” reads Richard Pombo’s, and his opponent’s reads, “Jeff Denham — Conservative for Congress.” Looks like some advertising geniuses for both camps worked hard to create such powerful campaigns. When this bitter, heated contest is over, the two candidates should sit down, work together and plan how to beat any Democrat opponent who is foolish enough to run. They could probably best do so in a genteel manner with a tea party.

See for more on an environmental villain running in this campaign.