a blog about cents, in every form & measure

Friday, February 25, 2011

so many ideas, so little time

Many blog posts sitting in draft mode...apologies, hoping for a slow weekend soon to post some good bites!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

politics & debt, Chicago-style (hot peppers not included)

I literally shrieked when I read the headline "Emanuel Elected Chicago Mayor" - politics aside, I cannot believe he was tapped to win by Mayor Daley. Since when did it become ok to bestow another with the consequences of your bad economic policies? 1billion dollars of debt and less than a 50% public high
school graduation rate? OMG indeed. I definitely need to read more about Emanuel's campaign - what were his selling/talking points? Was it just the sway of popular opinion through the Obama & Daley connection which won him the vote? For years now we've known Emanuel as one of the forces behind our nation's newest president, but I have a feeling we're all going to get to know him soon....


Wall Street Journal

CHICAGO—Voters in overwhelming numbers on Tuesday elected Rahm Emanuel to be the first new mayor of Chicago in 22 years.

Only four months after resigning as President Obama's chief of staff in order to enter this city's mayoral race, Mr. Emanuel received 55% of the vote with 93% of the precincts reporting, more than the simple majority he needed to avoid a run-off campaign against second-place finisher Gery Chico, a long-time Chicago administrator who received 25% of the vote.

Indeed, Mr. Emanuel's vote far outnumbered the total of his six opponents, including former Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, who with most precincts reporting had garnered less than 10% of vote, despite being the leading African American candidate in a city whose population is about one-third black

Inside an Emanuel campaign party in Chicago's West Loop, an ebullient crowd cheered as a giant screen with rolling election results showed their candidate steamrolling toward victory. By 8 p.m. local time, with 84 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Emanuel was leading with 55 percent of the votes cast.

Standing in the center of the crowd was Ralph Schwartz, 83 years old, who sipped red wine to celebrate Mr. Emanuel's rising fortunes. "He has the force of personality and the knowledge to take on the sleeze in Chicago politics," Mr. Schwartz said. "The way he talks reminds me of how FDR faced down the Republicans when he was forcing through the New Deal."

By winning in such dominant fashion, Mr. Emanuel perpetuated the legacy of retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley, who has held a firm grip on the electorate in Chicago since taking office in 1989.
Mayor Daley didn't officially endorse any candidate. But the so-called machine that helped Mayor Daley stay in power for more than two decades got behind Mr. Emanuel early in the campaign, helping him jump to a commanding lead that recent polls placed at near 50%. A former congressman from Chicago, Mr. Emanuel is a long-time ally and friend of Mayor Daley's, and also a former high-ranking member of the Clinton Administration.

On Tuesday, Mr. Emanuel's margin jumped above 50% in part because of turnout that fell far below the more than 50% of Chicago's 1.4 million registered voters that election officials had predicted.

Instead, with 90% of the vote counted, turnout remained below 40%. Those who did show up to vote, said Chicago political observers, belonged to the so-called machine, benefiting Mr. Emanuel.

Mr. Emanuel campaigned aggressively, in recent weeks making 360 hand-shaking stops, often at public-transportation stations. His war chest of several million dollars also far surpassed that of his opponents. During a two-year break from politics before running for Congress, Mr. Emanuel earned more than $15 million working for the Chicago office of a Wall Street investment firm.

Yet for Mr. Emanuel, the toughest challenge lies ahead. He faces a city reeling from the recession and years of overspending. Chicago's projected budget shortfall is approaching $1 billion and public-employee pensions are underfunded by about $20 billion. The city's unemployment rate is 8.6%.

One of Mr. Daley's favorite tools for raising quick cash was privatizing public assets. But in the wake of the sale of the city's 40,000 parking meters—a deal that resulted in rates quadrupling—the public's tolerance for more privatization is next to nil.

Chicago also faces a depleted police force and a violent crime problem, particularly in the city's largely African-American South Side.

The city's public school system is also at a crossroads. Mr. Daley took over the school system in 1995 and test scores saw an initial bump, but they have flattened out in the last decade.

Chicago's high school graduation rate remains mired just above 50%.

—The Associated Press, Stephanie Banchero, Douglas Belkin and contributed to this article.

Find the article here, at WSJ.com

introducing: the VLOG!

YAY! I'm all about introducing "firsts" into my life these days, and I'm tremendously pleased with my latest foray: the video blog (or "vlog," for short).

So yes, that's me with the frizzy post-work hair.

And yes, this can be another way for me to obsess about myself (note: wth is up with my huge lips? sigh.)

...but mostly, this is for YOUR benefit right? And my practice ;-)

Oh well - here it goes, without further ado - THE VLOG (completely unedited)!

Friday, February 11, 2011

history as it happens

As a news junkie, this is the stuff I live for - chills & goosebumps as I watch my tv screen in my own corner of the world, watching history unfold as Mubarak has just stepped down from the presidency.

We'll wait - who will take over? It's a precarious situation - let's not echo the ills of history past, but hope that move will usher democracy & peace to that country.

My heart goes out to those people...who knows what will happen now? No president, VP...just tanks, mobs and an economy quickly sinking. What is more important - stability or democracy?

Monday, February 7, 2011

new merger, new media?

The big news this morning, as summarized by this very efficient press release:

Acquisition Will Solidify AOL's Strategy of Creating a Premier Content Network With Local, National and International Reach

Arianna Huffington To Lead Newly Formed The Huffington Post Media Group Which Will Integrate All Huffington Post and AOL Content, Including News, Tech, Women, Local, Multicultural, Entertainment, Video, Community, and More

The New Combined Media Group Will Reach 117 Million Americans and 270 Million Globally

Group Uniquely Positioned To Redefine the Future of Brand Advertising and Marketing For an Engaged and Influential Audience

Ok, first things first. This press release is really more of a few headlines strung together, rather than a traditional press release (although I have only attached its synposis or blurb here)- I noticed that type of 'yada yada blahhh' stuff came from Arianna Huffington's blog post. Big news for sure, but what does this mean? AOL was surely one of the monoliths of the internet that created accessibility for Ms. Housewife, Joe Schmo and their four kids, but it had been falling off the radar as of late despite the company's deft acquisition of rather lackluster projects (in my humble opinion) that failed to grasp the truly inspired ideas which had prompted their creation - projects like patch.com.

Enter HuffPo, a new type of website for a new type of game, whose players were those very kids and adults who had probably used AOL as their first type of internet server/browser. HuffPo was a website which captured the same type of 'community' which had made AOL so popular in the first place (who doesn't remember slaving over making their profiles "unique"?). Cue in the blogger phenomena with the allure of celebrity and some features for the everyman, and you have HuffPo. I was a fan to be sure, but bigger doesn't always mean better, and somewhere along the line, HuffPo lost some of its sparkle. I've seen the interviews and perused her books - Arianna Huffington seems to have a larger than life personality - and probably wants her website to follow. So there we have it, in the words of Ms. Huffington,
"We're still traveling toward the same destination, with the same people at the wheel, and with the same goals, but we're now going to get there much, much faster."
With this acquisition, both parties hope that gaps in reporting will be filled, videos will increase in number (and supposedly, featuring  original content), photos will abound, and that sucess will come primarily from the allure of customized news. You will have your news how you want it, when you want it - on your phones, computer screens, and at your fingertips at whichever hour you'd like (glitter and flashing icons may or may not be optional). Great. Awesome. I think we've heard those lines before. I won't hold my breath for this big "breakthrough" in media partnership, which follows a period with the largest merger of them all - Comcast/NBC -  was signed, and where the biggest debate of the day is the Verizon/AT&T coverage battle. In a time where bigger, wider, etc. is truly considered better. I'm waiting for original, inspired reporting and coverage that will make me say "wow, I didn't think of it that way."

I'll wait to see what happens. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jane Velez-Mitchell's "Intervention for America"

next read, maybe? She's an interesting character and with this book seems to make the case that it's easy to get addicted, but more challenging than ever to beat addiction at its core - it's everywhere.

Jane Velez-Mitchell's "Intervention for America"

Jane Velez-Mitchell tackles the country's newest battle with the bottle -- in the form of prescription pill addiction -- and other vices rapidly eating away at the American infrastructure in her new book, Addict Nation - An Intervention for America and RadarOnline.com has all the details for you.
"In the United States, almost everything that's being presented to us as a 'free choice' is being designed, sold and packaged to us as a way to get us hooked, to ensure that we keep coming back for more -- even when it's destroying us," the New York Times best-selling author, who is a recovering alcoholic herself, told RadarOnline.com.

"Prescription pill addiction is epidemic -- you could call it a social contagion.”
Addict Nation - An Intervention for America examines a growing pill epidemic -- which Velez-Mitchell said is largely ignored -- that's been foreshadowed by a string of high-profile celebrity deaths (Anna Nicole Smith in 2007, Health Ledger in 2008, Michael Jackson in 2009), all tied to cocktails of legal prescription medications.

The drugs vary: there's Valium, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, OxyContin, Vicodin, Valium, Xanax, Lexapro, Zoloft, Cipro, Klonopin, Valium, Lorazepam and Ativan, just to name a few -- but the paths, according to Velez-Mitchell, all lead to the same dead end.
In Addict Nation-An Intervention for America, Velez-Mitchell and co-author Sandra Mohr present a blueprint for change they claim can only be cultivated at the root of the problem.

Addict Nation-An Intervention for America has garnered high praise from all spectrums, as clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Kuriansky said Velez-Mitchell "deserves an honorary psychology Ph.D. for her insights on the human psyche."
"Addict Nation is a great read," The View's Joy Behar said. "I couldn't put it down. In fact, I read it over and over, and I can't wait to read it again. I think I'm hooked -- but in a good way."

According to media superstar Nancy Grace, Velez-Mitchell "breaks it down so we can not only understand addiction, but we can beat it!"

From Radar Online.