Archive for December 2011

Still Waiting Black Male Achievement in America

The gap in achievement between black males and their white counterparts isn’t news — it’s common knowledge, generally accepted, and only sometimes bemoaned. But it seems to me that we should be more alarmed — four hundred years after arriving in America aboard slave ships, and they have yet to reach academic or socio-economic parity with their white peers. Does anyone see a problem here?
It’s hard to believe that four hundred years have passed since slavery ravaged America beginning in the 1600s, and even harder to believe that it’s been four hundred years of African Americans fighting unsuccessfully for full equality.
And now that schools and public places are no longer segregated, and legislation exists against discrimination in employment, voting and education, the fight has changed Read more

Using PR Playbook To Keep Us In The Dark About Health Insurance Coverage

If you wonder why the health insurance industry has to set up front groups and secretly funnel cash to industry-funded coalitions to influence public policy, take a look at the most recent results of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s monthly Health Tracking Poll.
In its November poll, KFF added a few new survey questions to find out exactly which parts of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare are the most popular and which are the least popular. Insurers were no doubt annoyed to see that the provision of the law they want most — the requirement that all of us will have to buy coverage from them if we’re not eligible for a public program like Medicare — continues to be the single most hated part of the law. More than 60 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of that mandate.
When it comes to what Americans like most about the law, the runaway winner is one of the provisions insurers most despise–the one that requires them to provide us with easy-to-understand benefit summaries. That element of the reform law was viewed favorably by a whopping 84 percent of the public.
Until now, insurers have been able to get away with providing skimpy and often incomprehensible information about their benefit plans, including what is covered and what is not and how much policyholders will have to pay out of their own pockets if they get sick or injured Read more

Dont Bank on Banks Except for One

I visited Zuccotti Park while in NYC a month or so ago while it was still Occupied and alive with a jumpy confidence. It was late in the evening and I’d come down from the West Village with an old friend, head of an arts organization in the city. As we talked to the protestors, we checked out the “floor plan”: food distribution, sleeping quarters, communications tent and “general assembly”, plus the impromptu library with its carefully-ordered categories of Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction (all these donated volumes were later tossed into garbage by police when they eventually “cleaned” the park).
As we walked among sleeping bags, listening to the onstage exhortations reinforced with the famous hand gestures, backed by strumming guitars, we found ourselves afloat in a nostalgic spirit of solidarity with this impassioned “village” of dissenters — we felt like Boomer time-travelers, beamed up from a long ago counter-culture revolution — a war that was never really won or lost. The People’s Park demonstration in Berkeley in 1970 came back to me: the frightened faces of the nervous National Guardsmen as we placed flowers in the barrels of their raised rifles.
My friend recalled a more shocking image from her student days in Santa Barbara Read more

Stars of a Golden Age

They say that hindsight is 20/20. The recent release of My Week With Marilyn takes audiences back to the 1960s while Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest film, J. Edgar, rekindles old questions about whether the fearsome head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was a closet case.
To my mind, a much richer decade for source material is the 1920s, when the financial disparity in American society was almost as obscene as today’s economic divide. This was, after all, the decade of flappers, Prohibition, bootlegging, Al Capone, and the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
First created in 1926’s Chicago (written by Maurine Dallas Watkins), Roxie Hart is still on Broadway in the long-running revival of Kander & Ebb’s hit musical, Chicago Read more

Black Americas 21st Century Economic Movement

A decade from now historians will discuss the economic impact of a two-day event that took place on Nov. 15 & 16, 2011 at Rutgers University, which brought together more than 120 minority business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs for the first-ever “Gathering of Angels” summit. The catalytic gathering is destined to be viewed as a turning point in Black American history from a focus on 20th century civil rights battles to 21st century economic engagement.
There were no cries for a government-led solution Read more

Grandmas Red Beans Rice

Every Monday. New Orleans families serve red beans and rice for dinner. Every family’s red beans is different, and everyone has a different method of cooking them. Some people swear by soaking them overnight about 12 hours, “to get the gas out” Read more

Charlize Therons Young Adult Prom Queen Wont Grow Up and Neither Will America

Have you seen the trailer for Young Adult yet? You know the movie I’m talking about, don’t you? It stars Charlize Theron as a divorced ex-prom queen in her 30s who returns to her sleepy hometown in hopes of picking up where she left off with her high school boyfriend — never mind the fact that he’s a happily married new dad. It’s dark, I know, but what else can you expect when Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman team up? Last time they got together, half the liberals in America ended up rooting for two high school kids to buck the abortion lobby and donate their baby to Jason Bateman.
Anyway, I was really struck by the tag line of the movie: “Everyone gets old. Not everyone grows up.” It’s meant to refer to Theron’s character, Mavis Gary — who took a wrong turn somewhere on the road to maturity and landed in “a self-created hell of reality TV, fashion magazines, blind dates, and booze,” as Cody recently put it — but I think it does a fairly accurate job of describing someone else I know — or, more precisely, everyone else I know. I’m talking, of course, about the United States of America.
America isn’t that old, by country standards, but we’re not very young either, especially if you consider the age of other governments Read more

BipperSilje Meets With Arianna Huffington Video

I short while ago I had the chance to meet with Arianna Huffington. I was asked to host her in LA for a conference broadcasting live to Norway, and in the break I had the opportunity to chat with Arianna — on video — about entrepreneurship in general and female entrepreneurship in particular.
To main lessons from 5 AM in the morning (yes, the nine hours time difference has consequences….):
(1) Girls — let`s get rid of that feeling of guilt and be gentler on ourselves!
(2) We women need to be less afraid of failure.
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Hey GOP Give the 99 Percent Some Lovin

MTV needs to stop giving that creepy vampire guy and moony human girl in the Twilight series the “best kiss” prize in its annual movie awards because it’s Republicans who truly earned the trophy for the big wet smooches they lay on the 1 percent.
Just think of the GOP lovin’ that went into the Bush tax breaks that gave millionaires more than $125,000 a year and the middle class less than $1,000. Or the arduous embrace signified by cutting the capital gains tax to a rate lower than that on middle class income.
The GOP is a faithful lover to the 1 percent, steady and true. Last week, Republicans found themselves confronted with a choice between raising taxes on the 99 percent or on the 1 percent, and the GOP spared the millionaires. The GOP’s fidelity to the 1 percent is so strong that Republicans wavered on their promises — never raise taxes — and principles – tax cuts don’t have to be offset Read more

Create Your Own Miracle The Power of Visualization

Need a miracle in your life? Perhaps you just might be able to create one using your own ability to imagine and visualize. While the first place to start may well be with your own thinking, there’s more work to do if you want that miracle to arrive. Not all miracles are perfect, nor do they come packaged like Hollywood would have us believe. However, if you’re willing to use your own imagination and back it up with the requisite work, miracles do occur Read more

Mike Bloombergs Impressive Sustainability Record

Despite occasional errors like appointing Cathy Black as Schools Chancellor, and more recently suggesting that we could finance improvements in teacher salaries by doubling class size, Mike Bloomberg has been a superb Mayor. I should mention that I think New York City, America’s largest local government has been well-led for many years. Ed Koch, David Dinkins, and yes, Rudy Giuliani helped rebuild this city from the depths of bankruptcy to its restored status as America’s world city. Bloomberg has built on the foundation painfully built by his predecessors.
New York is a tough place to govern Read more

Of Corn and Presidents

Rick Perry appears politically doomed. But so did Newt Gingrich when all of his staff left in in the middle of last summer to head back down to Austin and work for the Texas governor. Regardless, there is no really believable scenario for Perry to recover that doesn’t include an intervention of some sort by the god to whom he so fervently and publicly prays. Perry is down to 4% support in Iowa, trailing in estimable Michele Bachmann Read more

Director Steve McQueen discusses Shame and sex addiction

Director Steve McQueen initially laughed at the notion of being addicted to sex.
“I thought, what’s that about?” he says, sitting in a SoHo hotel suite recently, talking about his film, Shame, which opened in limited release Dec. 2.
Addicted to sex? What man isn’t? McQueen assumed it was just an exaggerated form of promiscuity, the state of perpetual horniness in which most men find themselves in their teens and 20s – at worst, a lapse of self-control as opposed to a life-destroying compulsion. The more he learned, the more he understood how wrong he was.
“I realized that have to relieve yourself 20 times a day and to go on 72-hour sex-capades – it’s not the same as simply being promiscuous,” he says Read more

Reimbursement for Obesity Counseling So What

Medicare recently announced new regulations that authorize reimbursement for obesity management counseling by physicians. That’s good, assuming the counseling is good. We are a long way from being able to count on that, however.
With a nod to my many colleagues who are genuinely expert in weight management counseling, and have long addressed it well — and especially to those who taught me to do so — I must acknowledge that the track record for the large majority of our clan is not pretty. Historically, there have been two ways physicians have mucked up weight management counseling: by providing it, and by not providing it.
The problem with not providing it is pretty self-evident Read more

The Power of the Black Purse Making Our Voices Heard this Holiday Season

I was recently pitching a story to a news director about spending a day with a CEO. I really want to get inside a CEO’s head and try to give us a picture of his or her decision making process. The show is focusing on jobs, and the news director seemed a bit surprised that I wasn’t pitching the latest debate about the jobs bill, or something of that nature.
I pointed out that I’ve been a financial journalist for twenty years. I think the story that doesn’t get enough attention is how limited the government’s ability really is when it comes to the labor market Read more

Exploring Miami A Designer City

It’s approaching the time of year that we look for any excuse to migrate to Miami. We’ve rounded up our picks for where to sleep, eat & drink and play in sun city.
Go retro Art Deco at Soho Beach House. Rooms are over sized and offer plenty of views from the bay windows and terraces Read more

Luxury Travel Gifts For Your Wandering Loved Ones

‘Tis the season for shopping and, for the those with a little extra to spend, ’tis the season to make a grand impression.
Here’s a little tip holiday shoppers: Frequent travelers want luxury, comfort and convenience when it comes to gifts. There’s no extra room in our luggage for big items (unless you’re buying us new luggage) and in our world, the best things really do come in small packages (or packages you can pack in a carry-on).
So, what to get the jetsetter who has everything?
You’ll always be able to reach the you love on a $6,200 Vertu phone, especially if she can easily carry it in her Prada travel wallet Read more

10 Over The Top Airport Lounges PHOTOS

The gulf between first class and coach may be bigger than ever, but it never hurts to peek behind the curtain and see what the one percent is up to before they board their flights.
Besides, whether you’re spending hard-earned dollars or miles, there’s a wide range of difference between a standard airport lounge and the best in the world. Here are the top 10 airline lounge amenities that our team indulges in when traveling the globe researching our trips.
Qantas, Sydney: Vertical Gardens
1 of 11
Refreshed by Marc Newsom in 2010, the Qantas business class lounge in Sydney has three, count ’em, three different types of lounge chairs specifically tailored for the space, along with Alessi silverware, a Payot Paris Day Spa and an entryway made of Italian marble. (Think of that the next time you walk on some old lounge carpeting). Despite the big names, it’s hardly sterile thanks to the vertical garden with 8,400 plants and a soaring, arched design in the main seating area.
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Refreshed by Marc Newsom in 2010, the Qantas business class lounge in Sydney has three, count ’em, three different types of lounge chairs specifically tailored for the space, along with Alessi silverware, a Payot Paris Day Spa and an entryway made of Italian marble Read more

Cold Climate Christmas Imagine It In Toronto PHOTOS

How typical is it to go north for Christmas vacation unless you are a skier or snowmobiler? Not very. Nevertheless, my husband and I recently went to Toronto for the holidays and were quite surprised by the quality of life in this metropolitan area of 4.4 million people.
As we walked the neighborhoods and streets, tried out ethnic restaurants and talked to local residents at an evening pot luck dinner, we discovered a whole new world free of distractions and the usual sightseeing repertoire and instead learned something about life in this popular Canadian city that is very appealing.
The most significant impression I had of Toronto is that its people are so civilized. Imagine that people in the fifth-most populated city in North America actually praise themselves for their tolerance of ethnic and racial differences, which are evident everywhere you go.
Imagine a place where over 100 languages are spoken and neighborhood utility poles don signs advertising language classes in Spanish — as well as Persian, Urdu and Turkish. Street posters also declare that “Literacy is a right.”
Tolerance for differences is exhibited in other ways Read more

The Ordinary Art

Before fixing what you’re looking at,
check what you’re looking through.
It was a beautiful sun-filled day. I had driven 300 miles to see her. She was 94 and had been in one room for close to 8 months. I was her first-born grandson, and she was so happy to see me Read more

Ring Out The Old With 9 New Spirits Rums Ryes Bourbons More

This is the time of year when most folks go to their liquor stores in search of the tried-and-true, they’re looking for the name brands that will impress whoever’s unwrapping the giftwrapped box under the tree or at the holiday party. But to that I say, BAH! Why be a sheep? There’s a bunch of exciting new brands out there. They may not get the same oohs and aahs as the old favorites when they’re unwrapped, but once the bottles have been opened and the contents sampled, they’re sure to get a lot of “Wow,” “Where’d you hear about this one?” and “Holy crap, this is good!” Here are a few of the best newly-released spirits out there, perfect for giving, receiving, and of course drinking:
RON ATLANTICO PLATINO RUM (40% ABV, not aged, $20). White rums are generally used for mixing in cocktails, while their dark, aged brethren are better for sipping Read more

Arizona Needs a Scrooge Sheriff without the Bah Humbug

On my way home from Black Friday shopping, I heard on the radio that Sheriff Joe Arpaio landed in a helicopter at the Paradise Valley Mall to announce his crack down at Phoenix area malls. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has become Paul Blart Mall Cop on steroids, except Blart was funny. Arpaio wasting millions of dollars is not funny, particularly when the price for a barrel of oil is rising. Who in their right mind during a down economy wastes aircraft fuel and tax payer dollars simply to pull a public relations stunt? Should it not be enough that Arpaio inappropriately spent $99 million?
What’s a few thousand dollars more from a person who has been living so long on the dole? Public and elected officials should act more like Scrooge with sound penny pinching ideas, but without the “Bah, humbug” disposition Read more

Why SoonToBe Exes Should Stay Out of Court

Recently I had a difficult conversation with one of my clients. He and his wife had recently separated, and he just discovered some cell phone bills showing phone calls and texts messages, hundreds of them, to another man. He was furious with her, fuming actually, and I couldn’t blame him.
Of course, he wanted to go to court and expose her for the witch she was and get divorced as soon as possible Read more

My ExHusband The Clown

I remember telling my parents when I first met the man who is now my ex-husband. I started with the positives — he was college educated, worked with the touring company of Chicago’s acclaimed Second City, studied with the Cambridge Footlights in England and had toured the world a few times over as a performer. Then I finally let the cat out of the bag:
“He is a clown.”
My parents were oddly accepting. I think they had grandchildren in mind and half-clown grandchildren were better than no grandchildren.
As far as clowns go, my ex was quite accomplished Read more