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NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American International Group Inc, the insurer rescued by the U.S. government in 2008, said on Tuesday it is considering joining a lawsuit that claims the bailout terms were unfair, drawing angry condemnation from lawmakers.
A leading congressional Democrat called criticism of the deal's terms "utterly ridiculous," and former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer - who probed AIG when he was in office - called the prospect of a lawsuit "insulting to the public."
The White House declined to comment on the potential for a lawsuit but defended the $182 billion bailout.
Newly elected Senator Elizabeth Warren, feared by Wall Street as a potential thorn in its side on the Senate Banking Committee, called the lawsuit talk "outrageous" and said the company should not "bite the hand that fed them for helping them out in a crisis."
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
If this isn't the definition of arrogance, I don't know what is.
First AIG plays fast and loose with everyone else's money. When it crashes around their ears, they beg for help. So, in 2008, the U.S. government gives them a $168 billion bailout. Now, they are suing the government because they don't like the terms -- to which they agreed -- of repayment!
I resented them getting the money in the first place. I really hated when they gave themselves huge bonuses. But I ground my teeth and went on with life. No one bailed me out. You'd think they'd say "Thank You," shut about about the rest and pay back the loan that saved their sorry asses. Instead, they are suing.
These guys are too much ... poster boys for ingratitude. Wow, I mean really, do you believe this?
Thousands of Los Angeles’ citizens lined parking lots yesterday in a chance to exchange their guns for groceries in a city-organized buyback program.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
In an extraordinary display of commonsense, someone figured out that you can't eat guns, or at least, not more than once. Is this the sign of a worsening economy or a ray of hope in the darkness? Only the Shadow knows.
About those New Year’s resolutions you’ve been thinking up: forget ‘em. You’re never going to keep them anyway. And maybe you shouldn’t.
At this time of year, we remember Jim Fixx, the man who made jogging a part of the language. After his “Complete Book of Running” hit the shelves (we had shelves, not Kindles and Nooks in those days) everyone became a jogger.
On the morning of Friday, July 20, 1984, Fixx went for his morning run in Vermont and later that day died of a heart attack. He was 52 years old.
Just the other day, pioneer organic food expert and promoter Russell Libby of Maine died after 50 years of eating only the best organic fruits and vegetables available. He was 56 years old.
You resolve to exercise and eat right? Good plan. You might gain an extra day or two. But don’t count on it. Stories like this make you want to get a “Hoveround” even if you can walk perfectly well, and to eat for the rest of the year exclusively at Burger King.
Or you can use the Wessays™ Sure Fire New Year’s Resolution Keeper System, offered here free of charge.
Since you won’t keep your resolutions, make sure they are of the kind you wouldn’t dream of keeping in the first place.
“I am going to gain 25 pounds in 2013.” “I am going to resume smoking in 2013.” “I am going to skip my (mammogram) (prostate screening) (drivers license renewal) (hunting/fishing license renewal) in 2013.” “I am going to get a direct phone connection to Cinnabon and use it at least once a day.” “I am going to be kind to my next door neighbor no matter what his dog does on and to my lawn.” Or, you can make resolutions about things you already do:
“I am going to have a midnight snack even if I have to awaken to do it.” “I am going to fill the gas tank when it gets down to the ¼ mark.” “I am going to threaten not to vote in the next election but change my mind at the last minute purely out of habit.” “When I set the table, I will put my own silverware in place last.”
Those are easy to keep and will give you a feeling of accomplishment.
But forward-looking New Year’s resolutions are bad for your health. They produce stress. They produce guilt when you don’t keep them. And that’s good. Why? Because it shows we haven’t fully discarded our consciences.
--Under the tree this year: an old fashioned stovetop percolator. Takes forever to make a pot of coffee. But it’s worth every minute (hour?) of the wait.
--Sign of the times: Midnight mass at the Vatican was held at 10 pm, Rome time, Christmas eve. This proves that things over there don’t always move at glacial speed.
To be honest, I don't believe I've ever made a New Year's resolution. Not merely I resolution I failed to keep, but no resolution at all, ever, not even during the years of my misspent youth. But I'm going to this years: I WILL install that software sitting on my desk, assuming it's not too old to run on Windows 7. I will, at some point, wash my bathroom floor. Probably. There. I've said it. Let me take back the whole floor thing. But I'll install the software. It's sitting next to me on the desk here. Why not? I mean, hell, I paid for it, right? Right.
Friday’s horrific national tragedy—the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Connecticut—has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Mental health services in this country were gutted since the Reagan administration. For all the advances we've made in this country, we still pretend that mental illness isn't "real." Until a mentally ill person does something horrendous and suddently, everyone is appalled. For a few days, until they forget again.
WASHINGTON—Following the fatal shooting this morning at a Connecticut elementary school that left at least 27 dead, including 20 small children, sources across the nation shook their heads, stifled a sob in their voices, and reported fuck everything. Just fuck it all to hell.
All of it, sources added.
“I’m sorry, but fuck it, I can’t handle this—I just can’t handle it anymore,” said Deborah McEllis, who added that “no, no, no, no, no, this isn’t happening, this can’t be real.” “Seriously, what the hell is this? What’s even going on anymore? Why do things like this keep happening?”
Continued McEllis, before covering her face with her hands, “Why?”
Despairing sources confirmed that the gunman, armed with a semiautomatic assault rifle—a fucking combat rifle, Jesus—walked into a classroom full of goddamned children where his mother was a teacher and, good God, if this is what the world is becoming, then how about we just pack it in and fucking give up, because this is no way to live.
I mean, honestly, all 315 million Americans confirmed.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
You may not like the cursing, but I can't help but entirely echo and agree with the sentiment. Kind of says it all, doesn't it?
If we fail to summon the courage necessary to identify racial animus where it exists, and to in turn adjust our approach to policy-making accordingly, all Americans will pay a price, not just those who are the typical targets of racial animus.
That guy Willie Shakespeare knew a thing or two. Not only could he make a mean pair of gloves, but he could write plays till the cows came home. What a guy.
Take for example his play, As You Like It. The All the World’s a Stage monologue was just genius. He imparts the wisdom of life and all it’s stages. He also sums up in one line, life itself. “And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances;…”
We do indeed. Shakespeare then goes on to talk about the seven stages of man, or to be more modern and succinct the seven ages of man. I suppose that I am at the stage of justice all frowns and severely cut beard bordering on the slippers and pantaloon stage.
Thankfully due to modern diet and medicine, I’m not in the running for “shrunk shank” and reedy voice just yet.
I’ve always had a cock-eyed view of this monologue. When Shakespeare said seven stages (ages) I always felt that this could be changed to read parts or roles. Most of us find a role that we are comfortable in and we pretty much try to stay within the boundaries of that role. Sort of like actors who have to stay out of the stage wings and also have to avoid getting in another actors way.
But we also play many different parts in our life’s role. I will talk about man in the generic, i.e. it means both sexes, you remembe,r I’m sure, back in the old days before political correctness and having to spell out each and every time what gender the subject was.
We play husband or wife. We play parent and child. We are the job holder, the wise one, the jape and the naysayer – or in some instances – the yes man. We are the older retired individual who must scrape by on a pittance. We are the injured, the wounded, the dying.
When the world was less technologically advanced and theoretically simpler, we had one job that we strived to be the best at. If we could not do that, we did the best we could at not losing our job. Some people move from job to job, trying to fit in; trying to find that round hole that they can fit or, failing that, making themselves fit in a square hole.
Men change partners, introduce more babies into the world, or they practice an odd sort of hermitage. Evolution has demanded that we adapt to our constantly changing world. Men who cannot be flexible are doomed to fail. We must learn many different jobs and tasks as we all move to our inevitable end.
We learn, through trial and error, that not all plans work. We also learn that life is a crap shoot. The dice roll and fall where they fall. We cannot “load” the dice or cheat the numbers when they come up. Snake eyes still equals snake eyes when the dice stop moving. Men just have to learn to duck and dodge, serpentine if you will all the variants that life throws at us.
Some will decide that they cannot do it. They will opt for a deadly early retirement from life. The challenges prove to be overwhelming and unbeatable.
I have, in my short somewhat unremarkable life, been many things, done many jobs and had a great many injuries. Some of the injuries were of the physical sort and some were of the emotional sort. Both are extremely painful and once or twice I looked very hard at a deadly early retirement as a possible option.
A lot of people do and they will either discover that they do have it them to play one more role. It may take them a little longer to learn the blocking and the lines, but they will try and succeed or not.
My year, so far, has been one of wounding and injury. I have just managed to overcome both with a lot of help from modern medicine, and my daughter and my family. I have had yet another role in my life come to an end. I will now have to find out what happens next.
Another role is opening up to me. I will need to learn everything I can to make this new role work. Will I succeed? I hope so. I think that Shakespeare’s stage of justice and pantaloons allows you to view any new “life changing” events with a cool head and a resoluteness that isn’t possible when you are younger.
So even though I am in imminent danger of having another “stage” thrust upon me before I was ready and I will have to learn (or rewrite) my life story yet again, I will not be frightened or uncomfortable about it.
Life is as stage just as the world is. I have made a few exits from roles and entrances as a new character, a new role, many times before. I will, no doubt, do so a few more times before I reach the “sans” stage of the Bard’s monologue...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
I have a phoenix tattooed on my left calf. I thought it an apt symbol of my life. It's an apt symbol for many of us. Life never stops happening. Here's to my fellow phoenix. One day, you will look up, and realize you're happy. Just like that.
THE AMERICAN GUIDE is a revival of the Depression-era guidebook series by the same name. It’s a travel project to keep a state by state record of an America coming out of the Great Recession and beyond: to document people and places both pretty and hard because, all things being equal, that’s what makes America, America.
This website, set here to Olypus, is a wonderful useful tool for comparing models of camera equipment in a variety of ways. If you're thinking of buying, but aren't sure what model ... or for that matter ... what manufacturer ... to go with, this is a good tool to help you sort it out.
The site included reviews of the professional type, a full list of specs for thos of us who really like to know what exactly we are getting, and more. There are other categories: computers, fashion, gaming consoles, other things ... but you can use it however it suits your needs.
We have too much crap. We're in a dull, dismal economy. Most of us already have one of this and two of that. New introductions already seem like also-rans after just a day. And there's no buzz.
There is a palpable sense of what can only be described as "Meh" coming out of this year's Consumer Electronics Show.
You would think that, in a world that's been transformed by HDTV (62 percent of us own one), smartphones (58 percent of us own one), and tablets (1 in 4 of us own one), not to mention Facebook (more than a billion of us use it), some of us would care more about the newest and grooviest of consumer toys and gadgets.
But that's the thing. Most of us have these things. We also have digital cameras. Amazon's top-selling digital camera, the Canon PowerShot A2300 IS costs less than $80 and has a 16 megapixel resolution. No one needs a 16 megapixel resolution. Not even spy satellites.
Sure, the Wii U just came out, but other than Nintendo fanboys, no one cares. Next year, we might see a new Playstation and Xbox, but not this year. This year, we're decades (at least in dog years) into the current console generation and even the most exciting and amazing games are into their third or fourth sequel.
And then there's this whole cloud thing. As ZDNet's Larry Dignan said, "It's not easy going cloud," especially if your job is to sell things that come in physical boxes.
Software packages have given way to apps, and these are downloaded and installed with a one-finger tap. No one goes to CES to see apps. Many specialized home gadgets, like personal servers, have given way to cloud storage, like the services offered by Amazon and Google and Apple and Microsoft.
Windows 8 is truly exciting (yes, it actually is), but the problem with the Windows 8 tablets is (a) some of them run the crippled Windows 8 RT, and (b) they're impossible to distinguish from each other.
On Sunday, I picked on the announcement of the Vizio Tablet PC. It's a PC that's a tablet that runs Windows 8. It's no more exciting than the Asus Windows 8 tablet or the Gigabyte Windows 8 tablet. They all look like tablets that run Windows 8. They're nice (I'm sure), but they're not exactly something to get all sweaty over.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Yup. Saturated markets. Welcome to reality. When people are short of money and already have one or more of pretty much everything, there is a high probability that we won't by more. This is the single thing that the tech pundits keep ignoring: we aren't buying because (a) we don't need it, (b) we already have one or more, and (c) we can't afford it.
Obviously this is too complicated for most reviewers to absord and thus they are still wondering why we aren't buying while I'm wondering if they could really be as stupid as they seem. Apparently yes, or at least, that out of touch with reality.
I have the Kindle Fire HD 7 and consider it the best deal. Will it substitute for any of my computers, even the netbook? Hell no. It is what it is: a media player grafted at the hip to Amazon. But I buy 90% of my stuff from Amazon anyway ... and pretty much %100 of my books, music and movies ... the rest is hardware, housewares, and miscellany. And with Amazon Prime, you get a LOT for free movies, books, free to borrow/cheap to buy stuff ... making it very much worth the annual fee. Some people love the iPad. Others do not like it. Most people like whatever tablet they have "well enough," but the initial adoration has dropped away as people have discovered the limitations of the product. As long as you know what you want to do with it, whatever you buy will no doubt find a slot in your world. Just don't expect it to do everything. It won't. Just get something that will do what YOU want to do. Which is exactly why I love my Kindle!!
The mirrorless interchangeable lens camera world has gotten crowded. All the major manufactures have jumped in and many have multiple models. I createdmy guide to mirrorless cameras to help people navigate the waters and make the proper decisions.
If you disagree with my recommendations, that’s fine. Add your suggestions in the comments area underneath this post. If you look at my portfolio ormostlyfotos, you’ll know what I like urban landscapes, architecture and street photography. I also take a lot of candid family photographs which I don’t post on the blog. These mirrorless camera recommendations are based on my experience taking these kind of photographs.
If you are confused by this new and fast growing market, don’t be. Just click on my guide for a straight forward look at what you should consider.
If you have friends that want to step up from a point and shoot or a DSLR user who is tired of lugging their beast around, please send them a link to this page or click the Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus buttons. You can also find a link to the Mirrorless guide on the right side under “Recommended Gear”
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Personally, I favoe the Olympus and always have, but there are other good choices too. It's the fastest growing market for cameras in Japan and we are moving in that direction here as well. With good reason. Small, good quality, fast, modestly priced (for a good camera). A lot of people buy these as second cameras and discover that they rarely use theit "first camera" anymore.
It’s become a mini-photo tradition for me to photograph the Driskill Hotel Christmas Tree — this is the fourth year. I’ve posted images of the tree from 2009 and 2010 and part of a three tree set last year. I went downtown a couple of nights ago with my friend Mike to capture this year’s tree.
You learn early on that reporting the news can be a tough job. My own first lesson in others’ personal tragedies happened one day in Hicksville on New York’s Long Island. I don’t remember whether it was 1965 or 1966, but one of those.
Long Island Railroad trains ran mostly at ground level in those days. And I was told to cover the scene of an accident in which a train struck a convertible with the top down and carrying five or six teenagers.
No survivors. No complete bodies. Have you ever seen a kid’s head lying ten feet from the rest of him? And with that story, I made up my mind that hereafter, I would be an “inside guy.”
But it didn’t matter. The Vietnam war was raging. The Pentagon regularly supplied lists of the dead and wounded Americans from the region. And our job was to call the families for reaction. Stupid. What did the suits EXPECT the reaction to be? Sometimes --infrequently-- we made the call before the Defense Department got around to visiting the homes and informing the family.
The Oklahoma bombing, the Atlanta bombing, the Long Island Railroad train shootings. Bernhard Goetz, Columbine, the World Trade Center. Then Virginia Tech, the Arizona mall, the Oregon mall, Aurora and now the Sandy Hook school in Connecticut.
I stopped active reporting in 2007 but have friends and former colleagues at almost all that happened since.
The tragedies aside, these are frighteningly difficult stories to cover. There are an awful lot of moving parts -- and often formerly moving parts. Police and other investigating agencies, witnesses, hangers-on. And, of course, the victims. Children this most recent time, dead babies! You don’t know where to turn first. So you turn anywhere and start reporting about anything you can see or touch or smell or hear.
And everyone wants to be reported on. There’s never a shortage of flapping mouths. Gun control advocates, gun advocates, clergy, psychologists, former FBI profilers (where were you when you could have done some good?)
Should we interview the kids; stick a microphone and a camera lens in the face of a seven year old? (Yes.) Should we interview the clergy? (Probably if they’re active participants in the aftermath and can answer a yes or no question in under 1,000 words.) Should we interview the first responders? (Of course.) The cops, the medical examiners, the survivors, members of the community with no direct connection to what took place? (Yes.) Things to make this real to the rest of the world.
What purpose do we serve with marathon coverage? None. We do it because the infrastructure to do it is at hand. We do it because all the time people have “...just tuned in.”
It’s damned debilitating to do and it’s damned debilitating to watch. To an extent you can forge ahead as a reporter, just keep working. Don’t let it in. As a viewer or reader, after awhile, you just have to turn off the TV or the internet, or fold the newspaper and drop it in the trashcan.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
My husband, like Wes (and yes, they do know one another) worked as a reporter for many long decades. I have mentioned before that many people working in the business and retired from it are taking the recent events in Conneciticut very hard. They are by no means the only ones, but when I read this, it sounded exactly like what my husband has been saying. Most people don't realize that reporters are often the first on the scene of horrific events, nightmare images and situations that they can never can out of their heads.
Yesterday, while putting together awards, a too-long deferred project, I happened to click onto WBZ radio, Boston‘s CBS affiliate. The events in Newtown were just being broadcast. They didn’t know exactly how many children and adults had died. The massacre had just ended — to the degree that such tragedies really ever end. I’m sure that for all the families who lost loved ones, it will never end. There’s no “over” for the slaughter of innocents.
This is the kind of horror story that leaves you with questions that can’t be answered. Even if you know everything there is to know, you still couldn’t make sense of it because it doesn’t make sense and can’t make sense. There is nothing sane, sensible, reasonable or explicable about it. What could possible make someone — anyone — think murdering children is an acceptable or sane response to anything? No matter what dark secrets or strange thoughts are tangled in the head of the kid who took all those lives … nothing makes it more understandable because our minds reject any answer. There is no reason good enough. Nothing makes it comprehensible nor should it.
I can and will say that had the shooter not had guns, this would NOT have happened...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
It happened because we didn't prevent it. And it will keep happening until we DO prevent it.
We westerners love to make fun of foreigners who have difficulty with the English language. This “mickey-taking” (English slang for making fun of) does not limit itself to making fun of the Japanese’s confusion about English and its non-logical methods. Also known as Engrish, which to me sounds a little insulting; I have decided that in the world of blogging there is another kind of “Glish.”
Spamglish, like its distant cousin, Japanglish has the same illogical application of nouns, verbs, pronouns, subjects, adjectives and tenses. The notion that there is a world of blog writers who don’t have enough of a command of the English language to spam properly tickles me. So, in my mind at least, I’ve created a new sort of language. One that is spoken and written in Spamglish.
I don’t know if I’m just easily amused or if I have a “cracked” sense of humour; but, I just adore spam comments. You know the ones I mean. The ones that akismet take and put in their spam folder in order to show how good they are at protecting your blog from unwanted sales oriented spammers.
Most of them can make me laugh until I cry. They are truly hysterical. I know that a contributing factor is that the spam comes from countries where English isn’t even a second language and they have to rely on Google Translate or other similar programs.
A lot of the time these “spam” comments start with the words “Hi, I do believe your website has browser compatibility problems.” This statement or the not too dissimilar, “I see you are lacking some factors on your site’” and the many variants of the same message make me groan and quickly empty my spam bin.
Some, though, are worth a read. They invariably make me laugh and wonder if the person writing the comment has editing problems or if they were inebriated or stoned while writing their “comments.”
Here are a few examples:
Excellent publish, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not understand this. You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!|What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads. I hope to contribute & help different customers like its helped me. Good job.
*This was from a Polish site…I think.*
your posts gives me motivation to keep on my intention to create a blog one day. thank you for all
i didn’t even see something like this before because of the scarcity of this type of information *Portuguese*
分析的很透彻，很欣赏你的看法，学习了 *Now this one is Chinese (basic Han, whatever that is) and it translates to – Analysis is very thorough, appreciate your views, learning* amusingly the page view shows an advert for Babylon Translator something they did not bother to use.
I have had a lot of other amusing comments all by “sales sites” and they vary. Some start as a sort of mangled congratulatory message. For example: “I used to really like reading your blog but now not so much”. Another one is: “You used to be expert at this subject now I think don’t have enough knowledge.”
Of course the comments are amusing by themselves but the blog post that they appear on usually highlights the comedic element of the comments.
I would like to think that the problem is just translation, but after reading a few young people’s letters (where they use “text speak and spell”) and the horrendous sentence structure – I know, I’m no champ myself – I am beginning to believe that the art of communication via the written word is a dying art. It also appears to be contagious.
Some spammers though are trying to appear legitimate with the elegant and downright flattering tone of their comments. I actually got halfway through an entire paragraph of praises when I realised that the comment was from a “sex aid” company. The blog post in question was one of my Quorn articles.
But my all time favourite has to be the last Portuguese comment I got today: haha! i agree with you! This was in reference to a book review I did on The Unlucky Lottery. This one at least “looked” like it could be a legitimate comment.
I guess that the more illiterate or garbled comments make me think of the character Manuel from Fawlty Towers (played to hilarious perfection by the English actor Andrew Sachs) whose attempts at communication in English were classic comedy. In my mind I see a score of Manuel’s all sitting in front of a laptop adding what they know are pertinent comments on blogs that they are attempting to spam.
Of course were it not for askimet and their wide spam catching net, most of these would be read anyway, but, because askimet have rounded all the “offending” spam into one easy to access folder it makes reading them less annoying and more entertaining.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
I've also written about this and I never get tired of these hilarious messages. My question remains unanswered: does anyone actually respond to these messages?
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