Bizarre Travel Insurance Claims

The 25 Most Bizarre Travel Insurance Claims Ever

Here's some of the highlights:

  1. One thing you don’t expect when you go on holiday is to be harassed by a monkey. One British traveller in Gibraltar, however, was so besieged by the attentions of an over-friendly primate that he asked his insurer to refund the cost of his trip. The insurer refused but did pay out for his camera, which the monkey had run off with one evening.
  2. Monkeys also blighted the romantic getaway of a couple in Malaysia, who foolishly left the window to their chalet open during the day. They returned to find their underwear, clothing and belongings strewn across the resort and neighbouring rainforest. Luckily for the clothes-less couple, their insurer paid the claim.
  3. It is a good idea to keep your wallet secure at all times when you are away, as one careless Briton discovered to his cost in Israel. The holidaymaker accidentally dropped his wallet down a drain in Natanya. However, his claim wasn’t for his lost credit cards or cash. It was for hospital treatment after being stung by a poisonous scorpion while reaching down into the drain to get his possessions back. Thankfully, his travel insurance covered the cost of treatment.
  4. A chilled-out traveller in Sri Lanka needed £400 worth of hospital treatment after a large, ripe coconut fell from a tree and landed squarely on her head while she was peacefully reading below. She was knocked out cold, which is hardly surprising. Fresh coconuts weigh roughly 2 kilograms, and the trees grow up to 30 metres tall. The coconut would have been falling at 53 miles per hour when it hit the poor woman on the skull. Her insurer covered her medical expenses.

Comment: Sent to me by my daughter.

Congressional waste of time!

Reid’s inconvenient theory will get House airing


On Tuesday the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming announced a hearing:

“A Spark Neglected: Wildfires and Global Warming,” it labeled the proceedings scheduled for Thursday.

“Select committee to examine link between changing climate, frequency and intensity of wildfires,” the description continued.

A committee spokesman said the hearing “was prompted by the wildfires out West and the view of some scientists that the increasing size, frequency and intensity of these fires is affected adversely by global warming.” A panel of scientists will testify.

Comment: while not ever fire was as a result of arson ... at least some were. Read below:

Officials: Boy With Matches Started Fire


Officials blamed a wildfire that consumed more than 38,000 acres and destroyed 21 homes last week on a boy playing with matches, and said they would ask a prosecutor to consider the case.

The boy, whose name and age were not released, admitted to sparking the fire on Oct. 21, Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Diane Hecht said Tuesday. Ferocious winds helped it quickly spread.

"He admitted to playing with matches and accidentally starting the fire," Hecht said in a statement.

Comments: See earlier CFG posting: Blame it on Global Warming. The Democrats are really stretching here to do anything to support their agenda (and their agenda is simply - grab power!).



Are you sick of posting URLs in emails only to have it break when sent causing the recipient to have to cut and paste it back together? Then you've come to the right place. By entering in a URL in the text field below, we will create a tiny URL that will not break in email postings and never expires

Comment: a neat service. Example below is link to Google map of 4th Baptist!

Map to 4th Baptist

The following URL:


has a length of 211 characters and resulted in the following TinyURL which has a length of 25 characters:


Iowa's complex pumpkin policy

Eaters are savers, while carvers are payers, Iowa says


The Iowa Department of Revenue, often accused of trying to squeeze blood out of turnips, is now searching for pennies in pumpkins.

A new department policy this year has made Halloween jack-o'-lanterns subject to the state sales tax, and many Iowa pumpkin growers are feeling tricked.

Is there room in the patch for both the Great Pumpkin and the tax man on this Halloween night?

"I don't mind paying taxes, but let's get real here, people," said Bob Kautz, owner of the Buffalo Pumpkin Patch in Buffalo, Ia., about eight miles west of Davenport.

Kautz was one of the few Iowa pumpkin sellers willing to talk publicly Tuesday about the new policy, which was published in the revenue department's September newsletter.

Renee Mulvey, the department's spokeswoman, said officials decided that pumpkins are used primarily for Halloween decorations, not food, and should be taxed. Previously, they had been considered an edible squash and exempted from the tax.

As a result, the department ruled that pumpkins are taxable if they are advertised for use as jack-o'-lanterns or decorations, or if it's understood that they will be used for that purpose.

Iowans planning to eat pumpkins can still get an exemption from the sales tax, if they fill out the "Iowa Sales Tax Exemption Certificate" form. Pumpkins also are exempt if they are of the specific variety used to make pies and are advertised that way. Pumpkins purchased with food stamps also are exempt.

"We made the change because we wanted the sales tax law to match what we thought the predominant use was," Mulvey said. "We thought the predominant use was for decorations or jack-o'-lanterns."

Danny Carroll, who owns Carroll's Pumpkin Farm in Grinnell with his wife, Joy, said he didn't see the newsletter because "we were working day and night to get open," so he was unaware of the policy change.

Carroll said he will have to pay the sales tax out of profits. "Essentially, they just reduced our income by 6 percent," he said. "It's too bad, but it's not surprising."

Comments: If I understand this correctly this means: If you buy it to eat it (not many people do!) it is a food (an edible squash). If you buy it to carve it (or for decoration), it is subject to sales tax. Is the issue the way it is advertised or the intent of the purchaser? One can always fill out the "Iowa Sales Tax Exemption Certificate" form! Carvers who buy with food stamps also are exempt from the tax. (I would think that someone on food stamps would have higher priority items to buy!). This reminds me of the final utility bill my daughter received when she moved from Mankato. The statement balance was $ -.01. I encouraged her to call the utility company and demand a check!

Halloween & Reformation Day

Russia schools ban "cult of death" Halloween

Comment: Note who recommended this change!

Moscow schools have been ordered to ban students from celebrating the cult of the dead, better known as Halloween, despite the widespread popularity of the imported festival to Russia.

Halloween is being forced underground because it "includes religious elements, the cult of death, the mockery of death," a spokesman for the city's education department Alexander Gavrilov said on Wednesday.

"It's not an attempt to block the celebration of this holiday completely, just in schools and colleges," he added.

Pumpkins and images of witches are widespread across Russia, with many bars organizing special fancy dress parties, despite the efforts of the Kremlin and especially the Russian Orthodox Church to curb enthusiasm for non-native festivities.

"This is destructive for the minds and the spiritual and moral health of pupils," said Gavrilov, saying the ban had been recommended by psychiatrists.

Christianity and the Dark Side -- What About Halloween?


Nevertheless, the issue is a bit more complicated than that. While affirming that make-believe and imagination are part and parcel of God's gift of imagination, Christians should still be very concerned about the focus of that imagination and creativity. Arguing against Halloween is not equivalent to arguing against Christmas. The old church festival of "All Hallow's Eve" is by no means as universally understood among Christians as the celebration of the incarnation at Christmas.

Christian parents should make careful decisions based on a biblically-informed Christian conscience. Some Halloween practices are clearly out of bounds, others may be strategically transformed, but this takes hard work and may meet with mixed success.

The coming of Halloween is a good time for Christians to remember that evil spirits are real and that the Devil will seize every opportunity to trumpet his own celebrity. Perhaps the best response to the Devil at Halloween is that offered by Martin Luther, the great Reformer: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him for he cannot bear scorn."

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther began the Reformation with a declaration that the church must be recalled to the authority of God's Word and the purity of biblical doctrine. With this in mind, the best Christian response to Halloween, might be to scorn the Devil and then pray for the Reformation of Christ's church on earth. Let's put the dark side on the defensive.

Reformation Day

Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31 in remembrance of the Reformation, particularly by Lutheran and some Reformed church communities. It is a civic holiday in Slovenia (since the Reformation contributed to its cultural development profoundly, although Slovenians are mainly Roman Catholics) and in the German states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia.

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther posted a proposal at the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Germany to debate the doctrine and practice of indulgences. This proposal is popularly known as the 95 Theses, which he nailed to the Castle Church doors. This was not an act of defiance or provocation as is sometimes thought. Since the Castle Church faced Wittenberg's main thoroughfare, the church door functioned as a public bulletin board and was therefore the logical place for posting important notices. Also, the theses were written in Latin, the language of the church, and not in the vernacular. Nonetheless, the event created a controversy between Luther and those allied with the Pope over a variety of doctrines and practices. When Luther and his supporters were excommunicated in 1520, the Lutheran tradition was born.

Within the Lutheran church, Reformation Day is considered a minor festival, and is officially referred to as The Festival of the Reformation. Until the 20th Century, most Lutheran churches celebrated Reformation Day on October 31st, regardless of which day of the week it occurred. Today, most Lutheran churches transfer the festival, so that it falls on the Sunday (called Reformation Sunday) on or before October 31st and transfer All Saints' Day to the Sunday on or after November 1st.

The liturgical color of the day is red, which represents the Holy Spirit and the Martyrs of the Christian Church. Luther's hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God is traditionally sung on this day. Lutherans customarily stand during the hymn, in memory of its use in the religious wars of the Sixteenth Century.

It is also traditional in some Lutheran schools for schoolchildren to hold Reformation Day plays or pageants that re-enact scenes from the life of Martin Luther.

Comment: I think the Lutherans have the right idea!


2 pics from cousin

My cousin, Steve, sent me these pictures today. Nice shot of the hummingbirds!

AutoMailer - 1st try


I tried AutoMailer today for the first time for production.

I had to email about 200 workstation users.

Here are the steps:

  1. Sendto file: Prepare a .txt file (or .csv) with a list of email addresses. (I imported the list into Microsoft Access and then did a "SQL DISTINCT" command to eliminate duplicates). I added myself at the head as a confirmation step that the emails were sent
  2. Message file: Prepare a message file. This can either be .txt or .html. I chose the html option and included a cascading style sheet in the <HEAD>. I also had an embedded image using a fully qualified link (instead of a relative link) in a <img> tag.
  3. Automailer works separately from Outlook! I appreciate this!
  4. When Automailer is invoked, the user is prompted for the mail server and the "from" address. I have a second impersonal email address so that it does not appear to be sent from Jim Peet.
  5. And then the SEND. The send was processed in 22 seconds.
  6. A log file is created. Successes and failures are noted. My job was 100% successful (keep in mind these are email addresses internal to my company so no issues with invalid email addresses this time). The log file is a .txt file that can be saved (for project tracking purposes).

Internet Tax Moratorium - 7 more years!

Internet Tax Moratorium Goes to Bush


A bill to extend a moratorium on Internet access taxes for seven years was approved 402-0 by the House Tuesday, less than two days before it was set to expire.
The House initially approved a four-year ban, but last week the Senate passed a seven-year prohibition, despite considerable support for a permanent ban.

"Seven years is better than nothing, and that's what we're doing today," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich, during remarks on the House floor.

A House bill that would make the moratorium permanent has 238 House co-sponsors, more than a majority.

The tax ban, first approved in 1998 and twice renewed, is set to expire Nov. 1.

Support for a permanent ban was strong in both the House and Senate, but concerns over the potential long-term impact on state and local governments forced a compromise.

Comment: Good for Amazon ... good for consumers!

MyFico webinar

myFICO Webinars - Protecting your credit through the holidays

I was invited ... thought I would invite a friend!

More on FICO scoring:

MyFico homepage

Wiki: Credit score

Factors Affecting Your FICO Score


SCHOOL-1957 vs. 2007

Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school,pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1957 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2007 - School goes into lock down,FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again.Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.
1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario:Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal,goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 - Mark takes his aspirin, gets over his headache, and is able to concentrate on his classes.
2007 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.
1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2007 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.
1957 - Ants die.
2007 - BATF, Homeland Security,FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents,siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

Provided by:
Pastor Terry Hagedorn
Calvary Baptist Church
Reedsville, WV

1969: AIDS virus invaded U.S.

Study: AIDS virus invaded U.S. from Haiti in 1969


They found that HIV was brought to Haiti by an infected person from central Africa in about 1966, which matches earlier estimates, and then came to the United States in about 1969.

The researchers think an unknown single infected Haitian immigrant arrived in a large city like Miami or New York, and the virus circulated for years -- first in the U.S. population and then to other nations.
"That one infection would have become two, and then it doubles again and the two becomes four," Worobey said. "So you have a period -- probably a fair number of years -- where you're dealing with probably fewer than a hundred people who are infected.

"And then, as with epidemic expansion, at some point the hundred becomes 200, you start getting into thousands, tens of thousands. And then quite rapidly you can be up into the hundreds of thousands of infections that were probably already there before AIDS was recognized in the early 1980s."
Studies suggest the virus first entered the human population in about 1930 in central Africa, probably when people slaughtered infected chimpanzees for meat.

Auto Mailer

Auto Mailer

From the website:

Auto Mailer is easy to use, yet powerful bulk email software. Use Auto Mailer to send individual, personalized emails to your customers, contacts, or newsletter subscribers.

You can send plain text or HTML messages quickly with parallel threads. You can send email using the built-in SMTP server, your own ISP's SMTP server, or your MAPI email client (such as Outlook Express). It includes mail merge capabilities so you can personalize your messages. It also includes a "Verify" mode so you can validate your email addresses without actually sending a message. You can schedule a mail job to run unattended at a later time, or use the command line interface to run Auto Mailer unattended from a batch file. All emails are sent just as you compose them, there are no banners or ads appended to your messages. Auto Mailer has built-in provisions to prevent it from being used to send spam. Auto Mailer comes in 3 versions: Free, Standard, or Professional


  1. I downloaded this at work today and put it through it's paces.
  2. Input "sendto" file is either plain text or comma delimited (like an export from Excel).
  3. The message file can either be plain text or HTML. I used the HTML option.
  4. My manager authorized me to purchase the professional version which has a command line interface. This mailer is completely separate from Outlook.
  5. Runs on both XP and Vista

Very cool and I recommend it.

Time to buy bank stocks?

After drop, a potential bargain in bank stocks


Bank shares are so cheap and their dividends so high that some of the world's biggest investors now say the combination is unbeatable.


The last time Bank of America and Wells Fargo had yields that high was in the early 1990s, just before a 44 percent advance in financial stocks.


At Wells Fargo, the yield jumped to 5.5 percent on Sept. 28, 1990. The lender soared 120 percent the following year, compared with a 26 percent advance in the S&P 500. Wells Fargo's current indicated yield stands at 3.59 percent.


Dividend yields of U.S. banks now exceed those of telephone companies and utilities, which have averaged the highest cash payouts in the S&P 500 in the past five years, according to Bloomberg data.

The 30-member S&P 500 Utilities index yields a 2.88 percent dividend, 27 percent less than the KBW Bank index. The S&P 500 Telecommunication Services index yields 3.03 percent.

WFC on Google Finance

Habakkuk 2:4

Habakkuk 2:2-4:

Then the LORD answered me and said:

“ Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
4 “ Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.

Don Diehl preached on Habakkuk in the Sunday p.m. message at 4th yesterday. It was very thought provoking, and I commend him for tackling the entire book in 1 message!

Question: Do you know where and what context Habakkuk 2:4 is utilized in the New Testament?

Answer (where):

  1. Romans 1:17
  2. Galatians 3:11
  3. Hebrews 10:38

Romans 1:17 was especially impactful in the conversion of Martin Luther:

"There I began to understand [in Romans 1:17] that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith . . . Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered the gates of paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is, what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us strong, the wisdom of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God"

List: Old Testament verses recorded in the New Testament

I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul cited Habakkuk in his synagogue message at Antioch in Pisidia (Habakkuk 1:5 as cited in Acts 13:41)!


Greatest ending ever? Trinity needs 15 laterals to pull out improbable victory


In an unprecedented finish that had more twists and turns than the surreal Cal-Stanford ending of 1982, Trinity University executed 15 laterals before scoring a touchdown at the final gun to clinch an improbable 28-24 win over Millsaps College.

History will show that Riley Curry rumbled 44 yards through the exhausted Millsaps special teams to score the game-winner for Trinity. But no one will ever forget the sheer zaniness of the Lateralapalooza, from beginning to end, as the winning score lasted 46 seconds in real time -- most likely an NCAA record (if such records are kept).

Comment: Be sure to view You-Tube associated with article.


George F. Will: The divisive debate that doesn't matter

Abortion's ‘So-What’ factor


So, the overturning of Roe might not result from a Republican president's alteration of the court's balance. But suppose it did.

Again, so what? Many, perhaps most, Americans, foggy about the workings of their government, think that overturning Roe would make abortion, one of the nation's most common surgical procedures, illegal everywhere. All it actually would do is restore abortion as a practice subject to state regulation. But because Californians are content with current abortion law, their legislature probably would adopt it in state law.

It is not irrational for voters to care deeply about a candidate's stance regarding abortion because that stance is accurately considered an important signifier of the candidate's sensibilities and sympathies, and of his or her notion of sound constitutional reasoning. But regarding abortion itself, what a candidate thinks about abortion rights is not especially important.

Comments: Christians often look to politics for solutions to moral issues. Overturning Roe v Wade would not stop abortion, it would just turn it back to the states. Because of this, to make "abortion" a single issue on the selection of a Presidential candidate is unwise.

If you are a word lover, check out George Will's use of "ukase" in the 2nd paragraph. I thought it might have been a typo for "new case". See ukase in the M-W. Listen to the pronounciations (three of them). Here's your challenge: use it in a sentence at work this week. See if anyone understands you!

Blame it on global warming

Have you noticed how easy it is for politicians (many Democrats) to blame most anything on "global warming"?!

Global warming to blame for fires, says Harry Reid


"One reason why we have the fires in California is global warming," the Nevada Democrat told reporters, emphasizing the need to pass the Democrats' comprehensive energy package.

Pressed by astonished reporters on whether he really believed global warming caused the fires, he appeared to back away from his comments, saying there are many factors that contributed to the disaster.

Perhaps in the case of the California wildfires, there is a failure of policy. Read more below:

Rethinking Fire Policy in the Tinderbox Zone

Rethinking Fire Policy in the Tinderbox Zone
Published: October 28, 2007
Many California residents are ruggedly obstinate about the choice they have made to live with the constant threat of fire.


Fire-management experts like Professor Minnich, who has compared fire histories in San Diego County and Baja California in Mexico, say the message is clear: Mexico has smaller fires that burn out naturally, regularly clearing out combustible underbrush and causing relatively little destruction because the cycle is still natural. California has giant ones because its longtime policies of fire suppression — in which the government has kept fires from their normal cycle — has created huge pockets of fuel that erupt into conflagrations that must be fought.

“We’re on all year round,” said Brett Chapman, a firefighter with the United States Forest Service who worked 15-hour shifts this week in the Lake Arrowhead area east of Los Angeles.

The main problem is that many in California are ruggedly obstinate about the choice they have made to live with the constant threat of fire. Even state officials who are interested in change concede it could take a decade — and more catastrophic wildfires — before it happens.

“If you’re going to live in paradise,” said Randall Holloman, a bar and restaurant owner in Cedar Glen, which is in an area that has burned twice in four years, “you’re going to have to deal.”

In San Diego County, which has borne the brunt of the recent fires, three out of four homes built since 1990 are in the dangerous zone where open spaces and housing meet. These are the most vulnerable and exposed places in fire season because wildfires by and large start in national forests, recreation areas and other publicly owned lands. About half of the land in San Diego County is publicly owned, much of it in the Cleveland National Forest.

Had this week’s fires burned in the same locations in 1980, about 61,000 homes would have been within a mile of a fire. By 2000, the number would have grown to 106,000 homes, and this year it was 125,000, according to an analysis by the University of Wisconsin.

Comments: Hurricanes are going to happen and actually are beneficial to the environment, replenishing water supplies. The problem is that the US has a policy (in the case of New Orleans) of building below sea level. And in the coastal areas, federal flood policy supports rebuilding on beach front properties. In the case of California, its a failure of fire policy! Politicians capitalize on these events of nature to leverage their own political agenda. In the case of Harry Reid, to "pass the Democrats' comprehensive energy package".

Democrats: Trillion-Dollar Baby

Trillion-Dollar Baby: Charlie Rangel's very revealing tax increase


[Rangel] is wily enough to realize he has to wrap this homely child in the ribbon of "tax reform," and yesterday he even invoked the memory of Ronald Reagan's 1986 reform success. If only the Gipper were still here to have fun with that one. Readers of a certain age might recall that the 1986 reform traded lower tax rates (a top rate of 28%) for fewer loopholes and deductions. Mr. Rangel's idea of reform is to raise tax rates in order to offer more deductions.

With one very revealing exception. Mr. Rangel does propose to cut the corporate tax rate, of all things, to 30.5% from 35% today. He'd "pay" for this by reducing business credits and deductions. This is revealing because it is a tacit admission that tax rates really do matter to investment choices.

Comment: tax reform or just more taxes? See also below ...

Edwards plans big for presidency


John Edwards says if he's elected president, he'll institute a New Deal-like suite of programs to fight poverty and stem growing wealth disparity. To do it, he said, he'll ask many Americans to make sacrifices, like paying higher taxes.

Edwards, a former Democratic senator from North Carolina, says the federal government should underwrite universal pre-kindergarten, create matching savings accounts for low-income people, mandate a minimum wage of $9.50 and provide a million new Section 8 housing vouchers for the poor. He also pledged to start a government-funded public higher education program called "College for Everyone."

"It is central to what I want to do as president to do something about economic inequality. I do not believe it is okay for the United States of America to have 37 million people living in poverty," he said in a meeting with Monitor reporters and editors this week. "And I think we need, desperately need, a president who will say that to America and call on Americans to show their character."

At every stop, Edwards said, he tells voters he'll ask them to sacrifice. Asked to describe what he means, he described his plan for increases in capital gains taxes, saying taxes on "wealth income" should be in line with those on work income.

"I think if we want to fund the things that I think are important to share in prosperity, then people who have done well in this country, including me, have more of a responsibility to give back," he said. Later, he added: "There are no free meals."

Like other Democrats, Edwards named his top three priorities as ending the war in Iraq, enacting universal health care and overhauling the American energy system. "Those are three things instantly I would do," he said.

Comment: read his lips: college for everybody and universal health care. Socialism here we come (if Edwards is elected!).

The Return of the Thought Police

The Return of the Thought Police: "Hate crime" legislation is an assault on civil liberties


Is it necessary or fair to expand federal criminal jurisdiction to allow for dual federal and state prosecutions of alleged hate crimes? Arguably--if strong empirical evidence demonstrates that states are generally unwilling or unable to prosecute these crimes. Otherwise federal hate-crime legislation addresses an illusory threat to civil rights, while it exacerbates an actual crisis for civil liberty.

The continuing expansion of federal criminal jurisdiction has given federal law enforcement officials unprecedented power over each of us. As Gene Healy of the Cato Institute has observed, the federal criminal code is so vast and comprehensive that it enables prosecutors to "pick targets they think they should get rather than offenses that need to be prosecuted." Mr. Healy estimates that about 4,000 crimes are "scattered throughout the tens of thousands of pages of the United States code," stressing that the exact increase in federal crimes has been difficult to track. One frequently cited 1999 study by the American Bar Association noted that 40% of all federal criminal laws enacted after the Civil War dated back only to 1970.

Comment: Consider early CFG comments on "hate crime" legislation: Should 'Hate Crimes' bill be vetoed? and Don't muzzel free speech

He was a good judge of character (or lack of!)

Ford saw Clinton as a sex 'addict'


"He's sick - he's got an addiction. He needs treatment," Ford told Daily News Washington Bureau Chief Thomas M. DeFrank, author of "Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford."


That opinion was based on behavior Ford witnessed the weekend he hosted the Clintons in Colorado.

"I'll tell you one thing: He didn't miss one good-looking skirt at any of the social occasions," Ford said later.

"He's got a wandering eye, I'll tell you that. Betty had the same impression; he isn't very subtle about his interest."

Nevertheless, when the Monica Lewinsky sex-and-perjury scandal erupted and barreled toward impeachment, Ford was willing to help Clinton - to a point.

After the House voted to impeach Clinton but before the Senate's decision on whether to convict him, the sitting President phoned the ex-President.

"He said he needed my help and wanted to know if I could help," Ford recalled not long after.

Ford had written two Op-Ed pieces in which he called for Clinton to admit he had lied to federal investigators in exchange for censure over impeachment.

He told Clinton that he would help him, if he agreed to such a deal.

"Bill I think you have to admit that you lied. If you do that, I think that will help - and I'll help you. If you'll admit to perjury, I'll do more," he said.

"I won't do that," Clinton told him. "I can't do that."

Ford was stunned by Clinton's lack of contrition. "It's a character flaw," he concluded.


Stuff Out Loud: Christians In the Voting Booth

Stuff Out Loud: Christians In the Voting Booth

A good read. Coincidentally Kathee and I will be voting in the school district bonding election this weekend (by absentee ballot). Voting is important and there is more at stake than the Presidential election.

"vain in their imaginations"

Human race will 'split into two different species'


The human race will one day split into two separate species, an attractive, intelligent ruling elite and an underclass of dim-witted, ugly goblin-like creatures, according to a top scientist.

100,000 years into the future, sexual selection could mean that two distinct breeds of human will have developed.

The alarming prediction comes from evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry from the London School of Economics, who says that the human race will have reached its physical peak by the year 3000.

Wikipedia: The Time Machine

Plot excerpt:

As the sun sets, the Time Traveller muses on where he will sleep. Retracing his steps back to the building where he had eaten with the Eloi, he suddenly realizes that the time machine is missing. He panics and desperately searches for the vehicle. At first, he suspects that the Eloi have moved it to their shelter. He doubts the Eloi would be capable or inclined to do this, but nonetheless rushes back to the shelter and demands to know where his machine is. The Eloi are confused and a little frightened by this. Realising the Eloi don't understand him and he is damaging his position with them, he continues his search in desperation during the night before relenting and falling into an uneasy sleep.

The Utopian existence of the Eloi turns out to be deceptive. The Traveller soon discovers that the class structure of his own time has in fact persisted, and the human race has diverged into two branches. The wealthy, leisure classes appear to have devolved into the ineffectual, not very bright Eloi he has already seen; but the downtrodden working classes have evolved into the bestial Morlocks, cannibal hominids resembling human spiders, who toil underground maintaining the machinery that keep the Eloi — their flocks — docile and plentiful. Both species, having adapted to their routines, are of distinctly sub-human intelligence.

Comments: Science imitating fiction! I would have filed this under "stupid" but I didn't want to create a "stupid" label! My wife might say ... that evolutionary break may have occured in 1949! Quote in title is from Romans 1:21 (KJV).


Asian night @ 4th

Kathee and I went to Asian night at 4th Baptist tonight. I had invited a young man from work and he committed to attending. Unfortunately he did not come, but we had a great time nevertheless. Kathee brought a chicken salad dish. After about an hour and a half of gym activities, we had dinner in the atrium. I met some new friends and we had a good time.

What did Israel bomb?

Photos show cleansing of suspect Syrian site


New commercial satellite photos show that a Syrian site believed to have been attacked by Israel last month no longer bears any obvious traces of what some analysts said appeared to have been a partly built nuclear reactor.

Two photos, taken Wednesday from space by rival companies, show the site near the Euphrates River to have been wiped clean since August, when imagery showed a tall square building there measuring about 150 feet on a side.

The Syrians reported an attack by Israel in early September; the Israelis have not confirmed that. Senior Syrian officials continue to deny that a nuclear reactor was under construction, insisting that Israel hit a largely empty military warehouse.

But the images, federal and private analysts say, suggest that the Syrian authorities rushed to dismantle the facility after the strike, calling it a tacit admission of guilt.

"It's a magic act — here today, gone tomorrow," a senior intelligence official said. "It doesn't lower suspicions; it raises them. This was not a long-term decommissioning of a building, which can take a year. It was speedy. It's incredible that they could have gone to that effort to make something go away."

Friday happenings

Kathee and I have the day off. I slept in until 7:07, when Kathee called me for breakfast.

I mowed for the last time this season. I only had 1/8 tank in the tractor so I had K. keep and eye out for me in case I ran out (fortunately I didn't). Frost was on the grass as I mowed up leaves and the slight growth from a week ago. It was neat to see white, diced frost coming out the mower chute.

Now relaxing in our basement while the carpet cleaners are up stairs. I intend to hang out here until 10 when the John Deere guy is to come to service my tractor.

Tonight we are going to Asian night at 4th. I invited a guy from work and hope to have him meet us there.


Oracle Of Omaha speaks

Buffett says mortgage ills might linger


DAEGU, South Korea (AP) — American billionaire investor Warren Buffett said Thursday that problems in the U.S. subprime mortgage market will likely weigh on consumers for up to two years but that the U.S. economy will weather the storm.

The subprime problem "is having an impact," Buffett said on his first visit to South Korea. "It will have more of an impact."

Rising default rates among U.S. mortgage holders with poor credit histories have rattled global credit, stock and currency markets since August and raised concerns about a possible recession in the U.S. economy, a major export market for Asian companies.

"In the next 6 months, one year, two years, the problems in the mortgage market can cause a lot of problems with consumers and hurt buying power in the United States," he said at a press conference after arriving earlier in the day from China on his private jet.

However, the U.S. economy has often had to face various difficulties and the present is no exception, said the Omaha investor.

"Overall the economy will make progress," he said.

Wikipedi: Warren Buffett

John G. Stumpf in Minneapolis today

John G. Stumpf biography

Comment: As you can see from my cell phone photo, I was not actually very close. His message on community support was very good. Event was at The Depot. I sat by a private banker and an investment banker.

Indoctrinate U

Katherine Kersten: The pariahs of our college campuses


It's become a common complaint that U.S. campuses are home to a stifling liberal orthodoxy where contrary beliefs are persecuted. Doyle says it's no illusion.

A new film, "Indoctrinate U," documenting that atmosphere, opens near campus tomorrow.

Bethany Dorobiala, a senior political science major at the U of M, knows just what Doyle is talking about. Dorobiala was one of the few students who agreed to speak on the record about the problem.

In many courses, Dorobiala says, professors load up reading lists with books that reflect their ideological agenda. "If you speak up in class and present an alternative view, you may risk being ridiculed by a professor twice your age with a PhD.," she said. "Students who agree with the professor's politics are regularly praised and encouraged."

Dorobiala has encountered this disregard for intellectual diversity in classes outside of political science. "In geology class, I had a teacher who made side comments bashing President Bush," she said. A rigid orthodoxy prevails on issues as disparate as the death penalty and global warming, she says, and some professors regularly pontificate on topics outside their discipline.

"I definitely know of students whose grades have suffered because they became identified as a conservative in class," said Dorobiala. If this happens, it's "very difficult to defend yourself. The authorities -- your adviser, department chairs -- think you're complaining because you didn't do your work."

The university rarely receives official complaints about ideologically motivated grading and follows a regular investigative process when it does, says Jan Morse of the U's Student Conflict Resolution Center.

Dorobiala's only solace is her work with College Republicans, where she can trade war stories without having to look over her shoulder.

Norman Fruman, an eminent professor of English at the U, now retired, believes that political correctness has gained a stranglehold in the humanities and social sciences.

"In recent decades, we've seen a relentless assault on American and Western history and values as the primary source of wickedness in the world," he said. "Literature no longer explores universal human experience, but instead has become a branch of politics, with a focus on often-second rate works about the victimhood of favored groups."Contempt and insults are regularly leveled at one group: white, heterosexual males," he added.

Doyle and Fruman see this rigid orthodoxy as self-perpetuating. "Birds of a feather hire together," quipped Doyle. Politically correct ideology is quasi-religious in nature, he explains. "You're not going to hire someone who seems like an infidel."

Official Site: Indoctrinate U

Wikipedia: Indoctrinate U

Comment: "Indoctrinate U" is coming to the Twin Cities for a week-long run at Minnesota Film Arts' Oak Street Cinema! The screenings are sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Scholars and the Tocqueville Center at the University of Minnesota.

I'd like to see this but it won't fit my schedule this weekend. If you go ... take a coat! The Oak Street has been freezing every time I've been there!

Subprime financial toll

Reports Suggest Broader Losses From Mortgages

Reports Suggest Broader Losses From Mortgages
Published: October 25, 2007
Economists say mortgage market troubles could, all told, cost financial firms and investors up to $400 billion.


At this juncture, economists say the troubles in the mortgage market could, all told, cost financial firms and investors up to $400 billion.

That is far more than the roughly $240 billion cost, adjusted for inflation, of the savings and loan crisis of the early 1990s, according to estimates of the combined financial toll of that crisis on both the federal government and private sector. The loss in total real estate wealth is expected to range from $2 trillion to $4 trillion, depending on how far home prices fall, according to several economists.

That would be significantly less than the losses suffered by investors in the stock market collapse earlier this decade, which erased more than $7 trillion, or about 40 percent, of market value.

Experts caution that these estimates are preliminary and the total costs could get bigger still. They also note that the loss of real estate wealth could prove more damaging for the general public than falling stock values because more American families own homes than own stock.

Comment: Consider earlier CFG posting: Subprime fallout!

Preparing for Open Enrollment

Making the Most of Open Enrollment


WHEN YOU RECEIVE your open enrollment paperwork this year, give it more than a cursory glance. Employers are continuing to shift the burden of health-care costs onto employees, meaning you'll likely be paying more next year to stay healthy. The average worker can expect to spend $3,600 toward premiums and out-of-pocket health-care costs in 2008, an increase of $330 from this year, according to benefits consultant Hewitt Associates.

But the open enrollment period — which typically runs from late October through mid-December — is more than a head's up on cost increases. It's your one shot to review your choice of health-insurance plans, set aside contributions for flexible spending accounts and make any number of other health- and benefits-related decisions that could ultimately save you plenty of money. Think of it as your fiscal physical exam for 2008. Here's how to make the most of it:

Summary points:

  1. Anticipate Future Costs
  2. Increase Your 401(k) Contribution
  3. Pledge to Stay Healthy
  4. Opt In to Pretax Accounts
  5. Take Advantage of Small Perks

Comment: I've been on Kathee's healthcare insurance since 1990 ... but next year I will be on my own. With all the kids on their own financially, we can save a few bucks by each of us having our own health insurance (sounds counter-intutitive!). I went to the Open Enrollment seminar yesterday and then last night read through the health care options. COMPLEX! New option for us this year: a high deductable plan with a health care spending account.


Coming Mortgage Banking legislation?

Mortgage Legislation: Regulators, Lenders, Activists to Testify on Protections for Home Loan Borrowers

I'm skeptical of business regulation, but I think that some of the ideas presented here have merit (I've commented on them before!)


A bill introduced Monday by the committee's chairman, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and other Democrats would make sweeping changes to the industry. Mortgage industry officials are critical of the plan, arguing it would raise costs and reduce options for borrowers.

It would bar incentive payments given to mortgage bankers or brokers for signing up borrowers for overly expensive loans, make Wall Street banks that package mortgage securities into investments liable for violations of lending laws, mandate licensing for mortgage brokers and bank loan officers and limit penalty charges for borrowers who make their payments early.

I aupport the requirement that mortgage brokers and loan officers be licensed!

Rockies: A team of faith! A team of destiny?

Rockies Place Their Faith in God, and One Another


The role of religion within the Rockies’ organization first entered the public sphere in May 2006, when an article published in USA Today described the organization as adhering to a “Christian-based code of conduct” and the clubhouse as a place where Bibles were read and men’s magazines, like Maxim or Playboy, were banned.

The article included interviews with several players and front office members, but team players and officials interviewed this week said it unfairly implied that the Rockies were intent on constructing a roster consisting in large part of players with a strong Christian faith. Asked how his own Christian faith affected his decision-making, General Manager Dan O’Dowd acknowledged it came into play, but not in a religious way. He said it guided him to find players with integrity and strong moral values, regardless of their religious preference.
Even if the Rockies are not consciously doing it, reliever Matt Herges, playing for his seventh organization, said the team had the highest concentration of devout Christians he had seen during his nine major league seasons.

Every Sunday, about 10 people gather for chapel, according to reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and Tuesday afternoon Bible study sessions usually attract seven or eight players. Affeldt said players discussed life and their families as well as scripture.

“Certain guys attend chapel, certain guys don’t,” outfielder Cory Sullivan said. “I don’t think that’s any different from how it is in any other major league clubhouse. Nothing’s shoved down your throats.”

On the whole, players were relaxed in speaking about their religious convictions but said that faith was not a requirement for peer approval. The Rockies, who will face the Red Sox in the World Series beginning Wednesday, care more about whether a teammate plays hard, is unselfish and treats everyone with respect.

“I think that if they were Catholic or Baptist or didn’t believe in God but were quality players and good people and good teammates, there would be a place for them here,” Herges said. “But I do see a lot of quality people in this clubhouse. This is the tightest-knit group I’ve ever been around.”

Pitcher Mark Redman, playing for his eighth team in nine seasons, has been with the Rockies for only two months, but he, too, said he sensed a different chemistry. “I’ve been on teams with guys who you can’t wait to leave when the season’s over,” Redman said. “You don’t find a bad guy in here. I’m more than comfortable bringing my son in here. I haven’t been able to say that in the past.”

Comment: I eagerly await this World's Series! I'm rooting for the Rockies! (We lived in Denver for 10 years and have been to Coor's field).

Math devolution

Sent to me by my Son, Nathan:

Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The countergirl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried. Why do I tell you this?

Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s:

1. Teaching Math In 1950s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?

2. Teaching Math In 1960s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100 His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3. Teaching Math In 1970s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

4. Teaching Math In 1980s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Math In 1990s

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it's ok. )

6. Teaching Math In 2007

Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

Minneapolis: our water beats bottled in taste tests!

Minneapolis marketing its tap water to other cities


Minneapolis, Minn. — Before water from the Mississippi River reaches faucets in Minneapolis, it is coagulated, flocculated, carbonated, fluoridated, and chlorinated.

In other words, that don't rhyme, the water has to be treated with chemicals that make the tiny things floating in it clump together, making them big enough to get caught in filters. Water also gets dosed with disinfectants that kill other nasty things that can make people sick.

Some of that happens at the city's ultrafiltration plant in Columbia Heights in a room with more than 1000 white, plastic tubes stacked horizontally in rows. Inside each tube are filters that contain thousands of tiny straws made of a high-tech polymer. The water moves slowly through the filters and waste material gets stuck in the thin membrane of the straw.

Ultrafiltration is more effective than the older sand filtration method in removing harmful pathogens from water, according to plant manager Dale Folen. The holes in the membrane of the filters are small enough to capture things that sand can't
In 2007, the city dedicated $200,000 towards promoting Minneapolis water to residents and to other municipalities. Golden Valley, New Hope, Crystal, Columbia Heights, Hilltop and parts of Bloomington and Edina buy and use Minneapolis water. They pay a total of around $10 million a year and Rybak would like to see that list expand.

There are other reasons why public water is better than what Rybak calls "plastic water". The plastic bottles are showing up in greater numbers in landfills. Plus, he says, Minneapolis water tastes good.

"The water you drink out of the tap in Minneapolis is great drinking water. And we'll put that up against private, plastic water any day of the week. And in fact, in all these taste tests that are done. We wind up coming off just great."

Several years before the new filtration plant was built, Minneapolis tap water was selected over a couple popular brands of bottled water in a taste test on public radio's The Splendid Table.

Officials at the filtration plant say the taste of Minneapolis water comes from the addition of activated carbon which removes certain odors.

Comment: Nice slideshow! In contrast to Minneapolis, Plymouth (and Maple Grove) derive their water from wells.

Roland Martin: Saving marriages must be a national priority

Commentary: Saving marriages must be a national priority


Various studies show that at least half of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce, and if you remarry, those figures grow exponentially. For some reason, Americans are either getting married for the wrong reasons or are not making the effort to spend more time working on their marriages to save them, and instead, run to divorce court at the first sign of trouble.
I strongly believe that for too many of us, we've accepted the notion that marriage will be perfect; that we won't endure trials and tribulations. But that isn't true. In fact, where is that ever true than in someone's fantasy life? What's amazing to me is that when faced with difficulty on the job, so many of us will buckle down and work harder to prove ourselves worthy to keep that job. But at home, we'd rather leave, even if that means putting our kids through a divorce.
Maybe your idea of marriage is "I-my" and it should be "we-us-our." Maybe you see your spouse as more of a roommate, co-habitating in a space where you pay half the bills and he or she pays the other half.

America wasn't just built on the idea of strong ideals. It was also constructed on the back of strong families. But today, these families are being splintered and broken up for a variety of reasons, including our selfishness and unwillingness to confront our problems and to compromise.

Is it you I'm speaking to? Are you in the position where your marriage is crumbling before your very eyes? If so, take action today. Don't let divorce end it all. Remember, your trial today could eventually be your testimony tomorrow.

Comment: Good commentary. Kathee and I benefit from coming from families where our parents were married "until death do us part" and for 50+ years. But even for us, marriage has it's struggles. Only by dedication to the Lord, may Christian couples have strong marriage. Wife verses in Proverbs!


My home 20 years ago

20 years ago I spent 11 weeks hospitalized: From Labor Day (September 7th) unto Thanksgiving (November 25th). Nine of those weeks were at the renowned Craig Hospital. I don't actually think about those times much, but for 20 years I have participated in Craig Handicap Assessment and Reporting Technique -- “CHART” (Craig's long term disability research). Tonight is my night to be interviewed by a Craig Hospital researcher! And memories of 20 years flood back!


  1. Friends met
  2. Bible studies in the chapel
  3. "Wheelchair class"
  4. Learning to transfer from bed to wheelchair ... floor to wheelchair ... etc.
  5. Learning to dress myself & tie my shoes (I still struggle with tieing my left shoe! Something about the weakness in the left hand!)
  6. Pool therapy and "walking" for the first time standing chest deep in water.
  7. The food I loved there (every day the kitchen would make me pancakes and fried egg) and food hated (Ratatouille)
  8. Kathee driving our old beat up '68 VW bug to the hospital every day. Meeting me after lunch and staying until after dinner. On warm evenings, parking my wheelchair on the patio and watching Kathee drive past me on the way home!
  9. The woman (name forgotten) who lost her unborn baby. She had broken her back in an ATV accident.
  10. Lenny being told he would be a quadriplegic the rest of his life. He broke his neck in a train accident. His fiance was uninjured! Lenny was my roommate for more than a month. Sadly Lenny died several short years later!
  11. The subluxation of my spinal fusion and facing surgery again (wouldn't happen until January 1988).

Craig was my home for 9 of those 11 weeks. I thank God for enabling me to be there and caring for me through those Doctors, nurses, and caregivers!

10 Common Money Mistakes

Are These 10 Common Money Mistakes Keeping You Poor?

  1. Impulsive Spending [I've been weak in this regard! Wife keeps me in line!] Consider: Six ways to curb impulse spending

  2. Being Swayed by Sales Techniques [I have incredible sales resistance to salesmen! They hate me!]

  3. Never Checking for Cheaper Deals [With the Internet this is EZ!]

  4. The ‘Poor Me’ Attitude

  5. Not Having a Savings Plan [Use Ingdirect or some other bank to set up an automatic plan! Look for 'free money' ... like the company match on the 401K or being able to buy company stock at a discount (the later is not an option where I work!)]

  6. Making Wealth Accumulation the Purpose of Life [No Christian should have this as his object in life!]

  7. Letting Money Spoil Friendships [My rule ... I do not lend to relatives or friends!]

  8. Not Tracking Your Finances [EZ with tools like Moneydance, Quicken, or Mint]

  9. Gaining an Adverse Credit Rating [Check your credit rating annually. See link on below right on my blog for the free site]

  10. Borrowing at High Interest Rates [If you have to borrow (and most will!) use a service like LendingTree.com]

Comments: My comments are in [brackets]!


A Christian foundation

USA Today: A Christian foundation


We seem to be witnessing an aggressive attempt by leading atheists to portray religion in general, and Christianity in particular, as the bane of civilization. Finding the idea of God incompatible with science and reason, these atheists also fault Christianity with fostering a breed of fanaticism comparable to Islamic radicalism. The proposed solution: a completely secular society, liberated from Christian symbols and beliefs.

This critique, which comes from best-selling atheist books, academic tracts and a sophisticated network of atheist organizations and media, can be disputed on its own terms. What it misses, however, is the larger story of how Christianity has shaped the core institutions and values of the USA and the West. Christianity is responsible even for secular institutions such as democracy and science. It has fostered in our civilization values such as respect for human dignity, human rights and human equality that even secular people cherish.

Comment: Editorial by Dinesh D'Souza whose new book, What's So Great About Christianity, has just been published.


  1. We met Dave and Colleen for dinner (Kathee's Brother) at the Crossroads Deli in Hopkins
  2. Roger is currently in flight from Phoenix to Minneapolis
  3. Very busy at work (beats unemployment!)

Bayou Boy Wonder

Bayou Boy Wonder - Louisiana elects a reform governor. What's next?


Mr. Jindal jumped into this year's campaign promising to shake up a state government whose antigrowth policies have prompted Forbes magazine to rank Louisiana 49th out of 50 states as a place to do business. Even before Katrina, it was the only Southern state with more people moving out than in. The "bright flight" of the state's most promising young people became the most important symbolic issue of the race.

Mr. Jindal applied the political lessons he learned from his 2003 loss. Back then, it was generally conceded that he lost some northern Louisiana parishes in part because he failed to campaign enough there to dispel lingering concerns about his ethnicity (he is Indian-American). This time he visited northern Louisiana 77 times, and it paid off. He carried Rapides Parish (Alexandria) with 54% of the vote, up from 44% four years ago.

One reason Mr. Jindal was able to win votes across ethnic and demographic lines is that while he treats his Indian background as an overall plus, he won't trade on it. He has in the past left the space for "race" on government documents blank. "I'm against all quotas, all set-asides," he says. "America is the greatest. We got ahead by hard work. We shouldn't respond to every problem with a government program. Here, anyone can succeed."

Mr. Jindal is full of ideas for how to improve government. He plans to use his health-care expertise to help the uninsured obtain health insurance. The way to do that, he says, is to work with the three-fourths of the uninsured who have jobs. He proposes insurance pools in which small businesses can join together to get lower-cost premiums and giving the private sector a greater role in provision of health care for the poor.

He plans tax cuts and an expansion of school choice. Part of his philosophy is that the federal government can't be Louisiana's salvation. "New Orleans has suffered from the trauma of three crises," he told The Wall Street Journal last year. "First was Katrina, second was the levees breaking, and the third has been a case study in bureaucracy and red tape at its very worst."

Bureaucracy busting is Mr. Jindal's specialty, and he has already announced he will call the Legislature into special session shortly after he is sworn in and demand an up-or-down vote on his anticorruption agenda, which has 31 points. "Ethics reform is the linchpin for change," he told supporters Saturday night.

But while he prepares to take office with high hopes and good wishes, there are some sobering obstacles that could impede his agenda. Louisiana ranks third in the nation in the number of elected officials per capita convicted of crimes. That means that some power brokers will have real incentives to preserve the status quo. In 2004, the agent in charge of the FBI's New Orleans office described Louisiana's public corruption as "epidemic, endemic and entrenched. No branch of government is exempt."

Earlier CFG: Conservative wins Louisiana Gubernatorial

Comment: I think he looks like Bobby Kennedy! But he sounds like Reagan!

Updated: Denny Burk: An Historic Election in Louisiana

What will the Fed do?

Fed will act as needed to protect economy from market turmoil, official says

"The Federal Reserve will continue to monitor developments in financial markets and act as needed to support the effective functioning of these markets and to foster sustainable economic growth and price stability," Kroszner said in a speech here to the Institute of International Bankers.


Some economists believe the Fed will lower an important interest rate at the end of a two-day meeting next Wednesday, to help bolster economic activity. But others, citing the economy's resiliency and worries about an inflation flareup, think the Fed will leave rates alone. Oil prices, which had surged to record highs in recent weeks, have eased a bit but are still hovering above $86 a barrel.

It's a delicate situation facing the Fed.

To prevent the ill effects of the credit crunch and housing troubles from sinking the economy, the Fed in September sliced a key interest rate by a bold one-half percentage point to 4.75 percent. It was the first rate cut in more than four years.

Before that aggressive move, the Fed had taken other actions to deal with the credit crises, which had taken a turn for the worse in August. The Fed pumped billions of dollars into the financial system to help banks and other institutions get over the credit hump. It also reduced its lending rate to banks.

Comments: I predict a .25% rate cute. Not a good time to be selling a house! Still a good time to be buying stocks! I don't see the housing market recovering for some time (perhaps more than a year!). Meanwhile ...

IMF chief warns dollar may suffer 'abrupt fall'


The head of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo Rato, warned Monday there are risks of an "abrupt fall" in the dollar, linked to a loss of confidence in dollar assets.

"There are risks that an abrupt fall in the dollar could either be triggered by, or itself trigger, a loss of confidence in dollar assets," Rato told the IMF board of governors.

He also appeared to suggest that Europe could take steps to temper the strong appreciation of the euro.

"There is a risk that exchange rate appreciation in countries with flexible exchange rates -- including the euro area -- could hurt their growth prospects, and that in these circumstances protectionist pressures could worsen," he said on the final day of the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.

The outgoing IMF managing director spoke as the European single currency hit a new high of 1.4347 dollars and global equity markets tumbled amid growing fears a US housing-related credit crunch could pitch the world's biggest economy into recession.

"The uncertainty ... comes from downside risks that are much higher than they were six months ago. The turbulence in the credit markets is a warning that we cannot take the benign economic environment of recent years for granted," he said.

"We still do not know the full effects of the decline in the housing market and the subprime problems of the US economy. Further disruption in financial markets and further falls in housing prices could lead to a global economic downturn."

A crisis in the risky US subprime mortgage sector, where loans are given to homebuyers with poor credit histories, erupted this year as borrowers defaulted on mortgages amid rising interest rates and a sharp slump in US housing prices.

The spillover of the US credit crunch into global financial markets roiled stock markets worldwide in August and although they have recovered somewhat, the uncertainties of the extent of the credit problems continues to weigh on investors.


Mac vs Vista

As Apple Gains PC Market Share, Jobs Talks of a Decade of Upgrades

As Apple Gains PC Market Share, Jobs Talks of a Decade of Upgrades
Published: October 22, 2007
Apple’s share of the personal computer market is surging, driven in part by what analysts call a halo effect from the iPod and the iPhone.


“The Macintosh has a lot of momentum now,” said Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, in a telephone interview last week. “It is outpacing the industry.”

On Friday, Apple will start selling the new Leopard version of its OS X operating system, which has a range of features that in some cases match those in Windows Vista and in others surpass them.

Mr. Jobs said that Leopard would anchor a schedule of product upgrades that could continue for as long as a decade.

“I’m quite pleased with the pace of new operating systems every 12 to 18 months for the foreseeable future,” he said. “We’ve put out major releases on the average of one a year, and it’s given us the ability to polish and polish and improve and improve.”

That pace suggests that Apple will continue to move more quickly than Microsoft, which took almost seven years between the release of its Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems.

Vista has had mixed reviews, and corporate sales have been slow so far. Mr. Jobs declined to comment on Microsoft’s troubles with Vista, beyond noting that he thought Leopard was a better value. While there are multiple editions of Vista with different features at different prices, the top being the Ultimate edition, Apple has set a single price of $129 for Leopard.

With Leopard, Mr. Jobs joked, “everybody gets the Ultimate edition and it sells for 129 bucks, and if you go on Amazon and look at the Ultimate edition of Vista, it sells for 250 bucks.”

Microsoft has said that it will release an update, or service pack, for Vista in the first quarter of 2008. But it has also said that it intends to offer a service pack for Windows XP in the first half of the year. That, analysts said, could further delay adoption of Vista as computer users wait to see how XP will be improved.

Will subprime spread to CC / auto loans?

US loan default problems widen


Poor quarterly results from banks across the US over the past two weeks suggest credit problems once confined to high-risk mortgage borrowers are spreading across the consumer landscape, posing new risks to the economy and weighing heavily on the markets.

US banks have raised reserves for loan losses by at least $6bn over the second quarter and by even larger amounts from last year, indicating financial executives believe consumers will be increasingly unable to make payments on a variety of loans.

Banks are adding to reserves not just for defaults on mortgages, but also on home equity loans, car loans and credit cards.

“What started out merely as a subprime problem has expanded more broadly in the mortgage space and problems are getting worse at a faster pace than many had expected,” said Michael Mayo, Deutsche Bank analyst.

Comment: The liquidity crisis could tank the economy!

Online wills and legal forms

A Need for a Will? Often, There’s an Online Way

A Need for a Will? Often, There’s an Online Way
Published: October 14, 2007
The growing sophistication of software and increasing consumer comfort with online financial management have led to a boom in homegrown estate planning.


WHEN John Chuang of South Pasadena, Calif., became a father in 2005, he and his wife, Sulynn, knew that they needed a will. But Mr. Chuang, 38, didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars to a lawyer to draw up the document. So he turned to an online service that helps people fill out their own legal forms.

For about $70, the service, called LegalZoom, gave Mr. Chuang an online questionnaire about his last wishes. Completing it took about 30 minutes. A LegalZoom employee later reviewed Mr. Chuang’s answers and turned them into a will, which Mr. Chuang received about a week later.

“I don’t like lawyers. I think they’re extremely overpaid,” Mr. Chuang said. “With all the services on LegalZoom, I don’t see myself using a lawyer for anything, unless it’s a lawsuit.”

Recently, the increasing sophistication of software and services for estate planning, combined with growing consumer comfort with online financial management, has led to a boom in homegrown estate planning.

Between 2005 and 2006, downloads of Quicken WillMaker Plus increased nearly 33 percent, according to Nolo, the publisher. LegalZoom says sales of its estate planning documents are up 73 percent this year from last. And We the People, a storefront franchise that helps people fill out legal forms, has grown to 110 locations in 23 states from 25 locations in 2000, according to the company.

Comment: We used a will-maker software product for our wills. Legalzoom.com

Revised 990 ... check before you donate

Filling in the Blanks - A revised tax form should make nonprofit organizations more transparent.


The IRS has completed a draft revision of Form 990, the main document nonprofits file with the government. The redesigned tax form is expected to roll out in time for 2008 filings.

Proposed changes to the form are intended to increase transparency and accountability—both for the IRS and for donors—and to make filing simpler for nonprofits, according to the IRS website.

Ken Behr, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), said the IRS is also responding to the need for information on terrorist organizations' financing.

The new design expands the core form from eight pages to ten pages, and increases the number of supplementary charts from two pages to fifteen pages. Organizations' earning and spending information will be featured on a summary page in the new design.

The new form also requires a breakdown of executive compensation of more than $150,000. According to Charity Navigator, the average compensation for a charity CEO is $141,947.

Organizations like Charity Navigator, Guidestar, and Wall Watchers use the publicly available Form 990s to guide donors and evaluate nonprofits.

Richard Hammar, senior editor of Church Law & Tax Report, said that many religious organizations—including almost all mission groups—have no reason to be concerned about the more detailed forms, because they are often exempt from filing Form 990s.

Churches, interchurch organizations, church-affiliated primary and secondary schools, and mission agencies do not have to file. However, nonprofit colleges and universities, nonprofit hospitals, charity organizations such as World Relief, and other Christian organizations must file annually.

Rusty Leonard, CEO of the watchdog group Wall Watchers, is enthusiastic about the changes. "There's no question that it was a step in the right direction," he said. "So three cheers for the IRS on this one. It was long overdue, but anything that increases transparency allows us as donor advocates to do our work for the average donor."


Charity Navigator

Comment: While churches are not required to submit a 990 form, most churches provide detailed financial accounting to their memberships. Before you donate to other organizations, check out their 990 form. www.guidestar.org provides 990's free of charge, but one must register.