*They only need a million more. There was a story in the papers just before Christmas about Dennis Ferguson, a recent retiree who sent the State of California a check for $10,000. The gift was his way of saying “thanks” for unemployment benefits he received back in 1964. Gee, if they could only get a few more folks to be so appreciative. It would only take … let’s see now … oh, about a million more such gifts to pay off the state’s deficit.
*How to keep your new year’s resolution. Forget willpower, the experts say. It doesn’t work. (How many of us have learned that lesson how many times?) Instead, try punishments and rewards. Give yourself an extra treat when you achieve a goal for a certain length of time. And a punishment, such as missing a favorite TV show, when you have one of those inevitable lapses. Plan all of this in advance. And most important of all, keep trying until you make that new behavior a habit.
I have heard this powerful piece of poetry many times over the years — from a simple, solemn reading in a country church to the majestic pronouncement at the conclusion of the Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas show — and I have never failed to be deeply moved by it.
*They said WHAT about their leader? Seems a whole bunch of Democrats in Congress are upset with President Barack Obama about his compromise with Republicans over extending the Bush tax cuts. Heck, even Obama seems upset with Obama! But not to the extent of some Dems in the House, who chanted “Just Say No!” when […]
*One heck of a payday. Have you seen how much money the lawyers handling the liquidation of Bernard Madoff’s firm are being paid? The Manhattan Bankruptcy Court has approved payment of $5,010 a day for trustee Irving Picard. That sounds like a lot — until you learn that his law firm, Baker & Hostetler LLP, is receiving $283,179.45 a day for the work the rest of the staff is doing. Wonder if that includes Sundays and holidays?
*Now here’s a generous boss. It seems appropriate to follow up this week’s Straight Talk with an item about Clive Palmer. The Australian mining magnate has had a very good year: a nickel refinery he bought for $10 million earned him $200 million in profits. So he decided to throw one heck of a “thank you” party for his 750 employees. The festivities included an all-expenses-paid holiday trip to Fiji. His top 50 employees also got a brand-new Mercedes sedan. “These people have made a lot of money for me this year,” he said, “and I thought I’d give some of it back.” As our friends Down Under would say, “Good O!”
*Benjamin Franklin on Thanksgiving. My friend Mark Skousen finished a labor of love recently when he helped a distant relative complete his autobiography. When Benjamin Franklin died in 1757, he was only halfway through writing about his life. Mark and his wife finished the job for Mark’s many-times-great-grandfather.
*Why they’re called lame ducks. The phrase “lame duck” was first used in the 18th century on the London Stock Exchange. It referred to a broker who defaulted on his debts. The first written mention occurred in 1761, when Horace Walpole wrote Sir Horace Mann and asked, “Do you know what a Bull and Bear and a Lame Duck are?” It was not until the 19th century that the term came to refer to a politician who had been defeated for re-election but had not yet been replaced in office.
*One actor is not afraid to speak out. Did you hear about the open letter actor Jon Voight sent President Barack Obama a few weeks ago? Most Hollywood actors would never dare buck the liberal line; it’s usually a death sentence for a career.
So a tip of the hat to Voight, who spoke “truth to power” like few of his colleagues would dare. Here’s part of that letter; you can go to Google to read the whole thing.
*Political correctness has gone too far. I just got a memo from the PC police, ordering me to make the following changes in anything I say for public consumption. I assume other writers have received the same notice, so be prepared for some interesting changes. For example: You are no longer allowed to refer to […]