Thursday, August 31, 2006
My head is a box filled with nothing
Cant get this song out of my head!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
The Long Road To Pebble Beach
Cool article in WSJ:
1937 Delahaye 135 M Figoni et Falaschi Cabriolet
Some nice wheeel, huh?
The Long Road To Pebble Beach
Elite Classic-Auto Show Cuts Number of Entries This Year; 30 Years to Restore a Wanderer
WSJ, August 17, 2006; Page D1
The Nexus of Politics and Terror
This is astonishing:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann updated his top 10 list of occasions that the Bush Administration has gained political benefits around the same time that the public's fear of terrorism was at a peak. Olbermann describes it as "The Nexus of Politics and Terror."
In this video from last night's broadcast, Olbermann includes the latest foiled terrorist plot in Britain with the newest edition of the "Nexus of Politics and Terror Top 10 List". Olbermann concludes that if these occasions are more than just coincidences then, he says, "it underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country, questions about what is prudence and what is fear-mongering
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
One Year Later: Heckuva Job
Very cool look at a new experimental Benz:
Monday, August 28, 2006
Nice aggregator of several different services: POPUrls
Neil Young on the Colbert Report
"I tried to let someone else protest this war, but I could only wait until I was 60."
"I hate this stinkin' War"
Sunday, August 27, 2006
How To Get a Break in the Price of Practically Anything
Fun WSJ article on how to haggle:
Most people don't think twice about bargaining when it comes to something big, like a new car or home. But getting a price cut on smaller things -- cable bills, doctors' fees, electronics goods -- can be surprisingly easy: Just ask.
That goes against the grain for millions of Americans. Maybe our ancestors haggled at the dry-goods store. But today's big-box supermarkets, laser price scanners and uniformed checkout personnel present a barrier.
The good news is, in many situations, it's getting easier to ask for, and get, a price break. Increasingly, retailers and others are empowering rank-and-file employees to give discounts. At hotels, for example, most desk clerks can give 10% to 25% off the advertised rate, whereas a few years ago that might have required a discussion with the manager, says Rick Doble, a discount-advice writer and accomplished haggler.
From personal experience, I can tell you that is true. And I no longer book travel or hotel without asking -- there usually is some promotion going on:
Pick your store, and your moment. Try small boutiques and family-owned businesses. Look for somebody who seems knowledgeable and comfortable in their job, not the high-school student who started last week. Go in when the store isn't busy -- a harried staffer has less time or inclination to negotiate.
Ease into it. Chat with the salesperson, and ask a lot about prices, so they can see that is a concern. Ask if they take an American Automobile Association discount, or a local discount card, even if you know they don't. After a few leading questions, it's possible a shopkeeper will simply volunteer 10% off.
Offer to pay in cash. Credit-card companies take 2% to 3% of the price in fees out of the merchant's pocket. At some stores, nicely asking whether you get a break for paying in cash can quickly get you 5% or 10% off -- more than the credit-card fees.
Make it easy for them to pull it off: Ask if it's possible for you to ride on the coattails of a "friends and family" discount, or employee discount.
Call your phone company, ISP and cable providers and say you're thinking about switching. Often, you'll immediately get transferred to the company's "retention" desk, where the staff is prepped with special offers designed to retain wavering customers.
Finally, assume there is a promotion going on. Mr. Doble, author of the book "Savvy Discounts," says he never checks into a hotel before asking, "Don't you have a special at this time of year?" Much of the time, the answer is "yes," he says. And after he has finished cutting a deal, he asks for an upgrade. And free breakfast.
Good stuff . . .
How Do You Get a Break in the Price Of Practically Anything? Easy, Just Ask
By SARAH MCBRIDE
August 19, 2006; Page B1
Saturday, August 26, 2006
White House Medicare Accounting Tricks
From this week's Barron's, comes the latest bit of fiscal dishonesty from the White House:
"THIS SPACE DOESN'T USUALLY INDULGE in advice to the ailing. But we feel compelled by a revelation that came to light last week to do so, even though we lack even the most rudimentary medical training. (If it helps our credibility any here, we might note we're a faithful reader of the New England Journal of Medicine; the pictures aren't much, but some of the text -- at least that part of it we can understand; we can't speak for the rest -- is unfailingly informative.)
Enough of disclaimers. Let's get to the heart of the matter. Our advice is simple: Don't get sick in the last nine of the days of Uncle Sam's fiscal year; and if you're already sick, for gosh sakes, don't get sicker. Especially if you happen to be a geezer, or have the bad luck to be disabled.
This exhortation is not based on any new medical research or even quack notion, and it has absolutely nothing to do with any seasonal blips in the incidence of disease. Instead -- and here's the beauty of it -- it springs from cold, hard logic, derived from last week's disclosure of some smarmy accounting sleight of hand that the Bush administration plans to indulge in so as to make Medicare's deficit look better this waning fiscal year. Just the kind of manipulation, incidentally, that under Sarbanes-Oxley can land a slippery CEO or chief financial officer in the pokey.
The bureaucratic brainstorm was straightforward -- simple-minded is, perhaps, a more appropriate description -- don't pay doctors, hospitals and their army of auxiliaries tending to indisposed old folks and the afflicted disabled for their labors in the last nine days of the current fiscal year. Instead, send them a check for what you owe them, sometime after the first of October, the start of the government's fiscal '07. In essence, those doctors, hospitals et al. are making an involuntary loan of nine days' pay without interest.
That way, point out the gleeful budgeteers and Medicare pooh-bahs, all of whom presumably are glowing with health, Uncle Sam's Medicare tab this fading fiscal year will be $5.2 billion less than it otherwise would have been. Or at least would seem to be $5.2 billion less -- in Washington, as we all know, appearance and reality are not invariably the same phenomena.
Of course, this oh-so-clever stratagem would mean that next fiscal year's Medicare bill will be $5.2 billion more than it would have been. But, not to worry, those indefatigable financial watchdogs in the Office of Management and Budget and their henchmen in the uppermost reaches of Medicare are on the case. And we have every confidence that next year they'll make up for any untoward increases in costs by ceasing to send checks to doctors, hospitals et al. in August or even July, if necessary.
It's never too early for the prudent sickie to begin to prepare for the worst and do everything in his or her power not to allow his or her condition to grow worse toward the end of the fiscal year. Get used to waiting until the start of the new fiscal year before letting it all hang out.
For it ineluctably follows that the doctors and their cohorts might feel some inhibiting hesitation about putting in an often onerous day's work for the promise of payment later. In the circumstances, who can blame them if they decide en masse to shut down their offices for the summer? And wasn't it the president, himself, after all, on an earlier occasion, who pointed out that government IOUs are just pieces of paper?
We have a modest counterproposal: Why not hold up the paychecks of the people in the upper echelons of the Medicare bureaucracy and at the Office of Management and Budget until the $5.2 billion target is reached? It might take more than a year or two. But, hey, they're dedicated public servants, so we're sure they wouldn't mind lending the government money for such a good cause. And, no matter how long it took, they'd be paid in full -- but fair's fair, without interest."
Astounding . . .
The Medicare Scam
UP AND DOWN WALL STREET
Barron's MONDAY, AUGUST 28, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
CSNY at Jones Beach, August 23, 2006
The ubiquitous RAZR takes some snaps, and a short video of the concert:
Opening tune: Flags of Freedom (Neil Young)
Next 2 songs: Carry On / Wooden Ships:
Jones Beach Theater -- about 10,000 seats, outdoors on the water -- a terrific place to se a concert:
Video clip: Rocking in the Free World
(Play, but the sound is awful --- hard to bewlieve this was shot with a cell phone)
Flags of Freedom (Young, 2006)
Carry On (CSNY, 1970)
Wooden Ships (CSN, 1969)
Long Time Gone (CSN, 1969)
Military Madness (Nash, 1971)
After the Garden (Young, 2006),
Living with War (Young, 2006)
The Restless Consumer (Young, 2006)
Shock and Awe (Young, 2006)
Wounded World (Stills, 2005)
Almost Cut My Hair (CSNY 1970)
Immigration Man (C&N, 1972)
Families (Young, 2006)
Deja Vu (CSNY, 1970)
Helplessly Hoping (CSN, 1969)
Our House (CSNY, 1970)
Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Young, 1970)
Guinnevere (CSN, 1969)
Milky Way Tonight (C&N, 2004)
Treetop Flyer (Stills, 1991)
Roger and Out (Young, 2006)
Southbound Train (C&N, 1972)
Old Man Trouble (Stills, 2005)
Carry Me (C&N, 1975)
Teach Your Children (CSNY, 1970)
Southern Cross (CSN, 1982)
Find the Cost of Freedom (CSNY, 1971)
Let's Impeach the President (Young, 2006)
For What It's Worth (Buffalo Springfield featuring Stills and Young, 1967)
Chicago (Nash, 1971)
Ohio (CSNY, 1970)
What Are Their Names (Crosby, 1971)
Rocking in the Free World (Young, 1989)