Thursday, December 30, 2010

Making Money Secrets



“Rock 'n’ roll is art, but it also means sex, so it’s just the perfect combination -- especially for the young teenage girl. I remember when Mick Jagger lit me up when I was 15, and I thought, 'OK, I want some of that.' [But] our relationship was purely sexual.”

Des Barres was motivated to log her experiences, and those of her pals, because she felt the word "groupie" had become something tawdry, especially as reality shows featuring rock stars looking for love in a house full of women looking for fame became the norm.

“For a real groupie/music lover, you’re not in it for money. You’re in it for the thrill of being with someone famous,” she said. “Sure, we loved the little bonuses. Being taken on the road, staying in really cool places, but the main joy was to be with this person. We all fell in love. There were relationships.”

Her cross-country journey took her to Utah to see Tura Satana, the woman who taught Elvis a few tricks in the boudoir; Seattle, where Robert Plant's muse Michele Overman resides; Chicago, the home of iconic groupie Cynthia Plaster Caster; California to meet Cassandra Peterson, who was a well-known groupie before becoming Elvira; and Arkansas, to visit the famous Connie Hamzy, known solely as “Sweet Connie.”



“Sweet, sweet Connie, doin’ her act / She had the whole show and that’s a natural fact,” Grand Funk Railroad sang in its song "We're an American Band."

Hamzy, unlike the other groupies, was never looking to build relationships. She was after sex, and she unabashedly shared intimate moments with virtually every rock star -- even their roadies -- who came through Arkansas.


“Look, we’re not hookers, we loved the glamour,” she clarifies in the film when pressed about her conquests. “We’re getting to hang with celebrities. I’m 55 years old, so I don’t do the things I used to. I don’t look the way I used to. There aren’t women who could do what me or Pamela does. How many songs on the radio have a gal's name in it?”

Sweet Connie never minces her words -- ever. She boasts that she’s bedded -- or serviced -- anywhere from 700 to 1,000 musicians and their crew guys. She says she still gets requests from bands, which she is happy to oblige. Though a lot of her anecdotes can't be printed in this publication, one of her favorite memories is of helping Don Henley join the "Mile High Club" -- with a little bit of help, albeit unexpected.

“I had my eyes closed, because that's what you do when you're making love, before feeling another set of hands on me and it was the pilot. Then I realized, who could be flying this thing? Don tells me not to worry, it’s on autopilot,” she said. “My only complaint is they didn’t ask me how I felt. I mean, it can’t be safe to put the plane on autopilot, can it?”

Hamzy admits she sometimes got attached to some of the stars, including Eddie Van Halen (she also had his brother, “but not at the same time,” she quickly points out).

“I think I let him slip through my hands. I did get attached to some of them. I feel in love with some of them. You build attachments,” she says before catching herself. “But it's pointless. They are here today, gone tomorrow.”

When pressed about relationships with married musicians, she lets out a hearty chuckle. “I was with some and their wives, at one point,  which I didn’t mind. Most of the times the wives detest me. But I will say if they think I’m the only one who’s ever done this with their husbands, then they are very na├»ve.”

Overman, who also dated a pre-Aerosmith Steven Tyler, puts it differently when she thinks of her teen years with Plant (ironically, they dated at the same time Des Barres was seeing another Zeppelin member, Jimmy Page).

“It was an instant attraction. And he was married, so you know, it didn’t last. But it lasted for three years. I just really liked him,” Overman said. “I really wanted a boyfriend. And when you’re that young, you kinda don’t think about the consequences of that sort of thing. You just think it’s all going to work out the way you want, and you will ride off into the sunset. But it didn’t.”

“Let’s Spend the Night Together: Confessions of Rock’s Greatest Groupies” airs Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. on VH1.


-- Gerrick D. Kennedy


twitter.com/gerrickkennedy


Photos: (Top left) Pamela Des Barres and Keith Moon.


(Top middle) Vintage Des Barres.


(Top right) The GTOs, a groupie group created by Des Barres that featured her, Linda Sue Parker, Lucy  McLaren, Christine Frka, Sandra Leano, Judith Edra Peters and Cynthia Cale-Binion.


(Middle left) Vintage Michele Overman.


(Middle right) Jimmy Page with Des Barres.


All photos courtesy of VH1.





The film’s official plot synopsis follows:


Hanna (to be played by Ms. Ronan) is a teenage girl. Uniquely, she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a solider; these come from being raised by her father (Mr. Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Sweden. Living a life unlike any other teenager, her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own (Ms. Blanchett). As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence and unexpected questions about her humanity.


Seth Lochhead wrote the initial screenplay and has written subsequent drafts, as have David Farr, Joe Penhall, and Mr. Wright. Hanna will hit theaters on April 8th 2011.







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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

personal finance money management

Do you find that when you try to use a budgeting system, the more complicated it is, the more overwhelmed you become; and eventually you stop using it? If that’s the case, Sprouty brings a simplified budgeting system that makes it easy to create a monthly budget, and more importantly, stick to it.

Sometimes keeping it simple is a lot more useful and that’s exactly what Sprouty aims to do. Unlike Mint and other popular money management systems, your personal bank account information does not even come into play; making it a secure option that can be used no matter where in the world you live.

id="more-59875">/> After signing up for a free account, Sprouty will prompt you to enter your monthly income, and will attempt to create a budget for you, based on minimum recommended amounts for each budget item.

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Of course, the budget will most probably not reflect your own personal spending habits, and you can modify it to suit your lifestyle.

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You can add additional budget items by clicking on the ‘Create a Budget’ button, determine the amount allocated to that category, and add tags. Using the same method, you can add additional sources of income, which is particularly useful for a family in which there are several breadwinners.

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Existing budget items can also be edited or deleted by clicking on any given item, adding or removing tags of your choice, and adjusting the amount. This will be one of the very first steps you take when using Sprouty, in order to adjust the budget to suit your personal needs.

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Once you have your budget in place, you can begin to add the actual transactions as they occur. New transactions are accompanied by the date, tags or description, and the amount.

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As you add tags, Sprouty will also suggest tags that are commonly used.

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If you add a transaction by mistake, it can easily be edited or deleted by clicking on any part of the transaction’s information.

Sprouty’s best feature is undoubtedly the overview it provides of your spending. Once you have your budget in place and have added your transactions, you can see a monthly overview of your budget, and see exactly where your money is being spent, and what remains.

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This is especially useful because you are able to visualise the areas in which you spend the most, and this could make for an easier way to understand where you need to cutback on your spending.

Sprouty is as no-frills a budget system as they come, but sometimes that is all that you need. It is extremely user-friendly, with barely any learning curve at all.

The website can be accessed from mobile browsers, making it possible to add transactions on the go. That said, it is not optimised for a mobile browser, and that would be one of the first welcome changes to the site. Adding transactions while you’re out and about is an integral part of the success of any budget system, so that payments don’t fall between the cracks. Whether it is a mobile website, adding transactions by email, or any other method, it will definitely improve Sprouty’s user friendly service.

How do you keep track of your spending habits? Let us know in the comments.

Paypal is the top dog when it comes to online payment services. It is generally easy to use and a relatively secure way to send money while buying products & services online (whether eBay or other online merchants), but it does have its downsides. The web is filled with folks who have had their Paypal account frozen with no explanation and it can severely impact a business (or person) if it affects you for a length of time.

Addressing the some of the downsides of Paypal, other businesses have ‘stepped up’ to provide their own payment services. They range from smaller startups to well established players throwing their hat in the online payment arena. Mostly the service that would work best for you depends most upon what you actually use online money transfers for. With Paypal, many people only use a certain aspect of it while never touching others. Let’s go over a few of these online payment services and check out the differences and why you might use one over another.

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1. Venmo

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Venmo is a Philadelphia-based startup in the mobile payment arena. Starting as a cell-phone based payment system, you can also send payment or a bill to a friend whom you have already connected with or to any cell phone, email address or twitter handle.

Much like Paypal, you carry a balance and your payments or charges credit and debit that balance. You add more funds by linking a credit card or bank account and Venmo uses bank-grade security throughout the transaction process.

Venmo started as a “Friend” payment service but you can also sign up as a business as long as you have a cell phone to coordinate payments. For Friend-to-Friend transfers there is no fee. Staff writer Steve is already a great fan of Venmo and I have seen its use expanding to more and more people.

Venmo is still invite-only but they were kind enough to set up a special invite code for MakeUseOf readers. Use ‘makeuseof‘ while signing up to gain access instantly.

2. Amazon WebPay

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Amazon released their payments service back in 2008. Originally meant for merchants, they have also added a “personal” aspect to it named WebPay where you can send or receive money online or via cell phone. The Amazon Payments/Personal website has more details on the requirements for signing up.

3. Google Checkout

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Google Checkout is definitely aimed at merchants more than anyone else. It takes the payment portion out of the transaction so that you simply send a buyer of your products to a checkout page which is powered by Google Checkout. When on that page, a buyer will enter their payment information – and then be sent back to your site with a confirmation of purchase.

4. Skrill / Moneybookers

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Moneybookers is widely known as a replacement to PayPal which is also more international-friendly than some of the other providers. Moneybooks is beginning a transformation to Skrill – a rebranding and refocusing of their payment platforms. Their rates are usually cheaper than PayPal, but then again less people use it so that is the tradeoff you have. I’ve heard of a lot of folks turning to Moneybookers when PayPal has crossed them and they are mostly happy with their move.

5. 2Checkout

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2Checkout is a payment processor which acts as a “middleman” between you (as a seller of items or services) and the payer. 2Checkout can accept credit cards, checks, and even PayPal itself as a form of payment but ads a management layer as well handling the whole checkout process. I’ve seen many merchants using 2Checkout as a payment provider on eBay stores as an alternative to PayPal. There is a $49 signup fee; so this is mainly meant for those with some higher volume sales and not casual transactions.

6. Traditional Merchant Accounts

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Finally on the ‘merchant’ end again, you can do what other businesses have been doing for decades and apply for a real merchant account. Having a merchant account gives you, with the use of a payment processor such as Authorize.Net, the ability to accept credit cards directly. There are some downsides to this. There is often a monthly fee that the other providers above to not charge, and you must be PCI compliant which is a whole other issue. However if you perform a lot of transactions and need to integrate a payment solution into your own shopping cart or system, then this is the only way to go.

Ask your local bank about merchant accounts, alternatively there are a ton of options available online (check Google) but frankly there are so many options it is hard to tell from the web which will work for you. Ask your friends for recommendations and do your homework to make sure you are going with a reputably provider (I’ve used BluePay, and they have been good but fee-expensive).

Which One Is For Me?

The answer to this question depends a lot on how you use the online payment service. If you simply transfer money between friends – as a sort of IOU – then Venmo would definitely be my recommendation. If you are selling items to ‘strangers’ they might be put-off by Venmo simply because they are not well known, and in this case going with a bigger name such as Google or Amazon may work best. Finally if you are a high volume merchant or just do a lot of business, it would be wise to evaluate the other options to see what works best with you.

Do you have any other recommendations for PayPal alternatives or experiences with the ones above? Let us know in the comments below!

Image credit: Shutterstock


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bench craft company scam

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bench craft company scam

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bench craft company scam

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bench craft company scam

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Making Money Online Forum


Politico said he wasn’t, now Fox News (and Frum Forum) say he is. To help you process this news, read Ed’s post from this morning about Obama potentially spending a cool billion on the 2012 campaign and then have a look at Jay Cost’s graph of Republican fundraising over the last four cycles. Said Cost, believing that Steele was set to bow out, “In the end, this is what did Michael Steele in. He could not raise the money, and that just will not do moving forward.”


Or will it?


Ending weeks of rumors that he would not seek a second term, Steele plans to throw his hat into the ring during a conference call with RNC members at 7:30 p.m. ET, the sources said. Steele is said to be amused by false reports of his retirement and intentionally kept his plans secret for the last month in order to flush out competitors for the post, Fox has learned.


During Steele’s tenure, Republicans picked up 63 House seats in last month’s elections, the biggest gain in more than seven decades. But Steele has been dogged by criticism from some Republicans who see him as prone to missteps.


Criticism of Steele has helped lead to a crowded field of challengers seeking to head the RNC. Among those who have officially announced they are in the race are Saul Anuzis, a committee member from Michigan who ran and lost to Steele in 2009, and Reince Priebus of Wisconsin, a former member of Steele’s inner circle, along with former Luxembourg Ambassador Anne Wagner.


So that explains why he didn’t show up at the RNC chair debate: He was lying low, cagily making it look like he wouldn’t run again so that, er … more contenders would jump into the race. Frum Forum’s whip count puts him at around 45-60 votes in the first round of balloting, with 85 needed to win; several of his former aides and allies (Reince Priebus, Gentry Collins, etc) are in the race as challengers, so a key question will be what happens to their supporters if/when they’re eliminated in the first few rounds. Are those supporters so disgruntled with Steele that they’ll gravitate to a consensus alternative, like Saul Anuzis? Or are they actually clubby RNC insiders who prefer Priebus and Collins to Steele but will resort to the chairman as a next best option if their preference is eliminated? Or will some outsider with fundraising appeal, like Norm Coleman, sweep in to provide yet another alternative?


There are only two reasons to conceivably back Steele, as I see it. One: The GOP did, after all, win 63 seats on his watch, and he’s been lying low enough over the last few months that at least it looks like the gaffe-o-rama phase of his chairmanship is finally over. All of which is well and good, but in that case I urge you to follow the link up top and eyeball Cost’s graph again. The question isn’t whether the GOP did well this year, it’s whether it could have done better if the RNC had been flush with cash. Gentry Collins argued that poor fundraising might have cost Republicans an extra two dozen House seats, but given that he’s now challenging Steele for the chairman’s position, take that estimate for what it’s worth. Two: If you believe that, in an age of online donations and targeted giving to campaigns, the RNC will never again be relevant the way it once was, then maybe it’s better to keep Steele in place. It’ll avoid a nasty public squabble between pro-Steele factions, led by Palin, and anti-Steele factions like the “Bush establishment,” and it’ll spare us the spectacle of Steele doing interviews to dump on the GOP after he loses. Plus, if Steele’s reelected, Republican outside groups are bound to start planning way ahead to pick up the slack in case the RNC can’t get its act together to fulfill its traditional fundraising and GOTV roles. No one cares about the RNC as an organization, only that its functions are being done and done well by some conservative outfit. If Steele’s reelected, it means that some other outfit or outfits will be pressured to step up. Inconvenient, but not fatal. I think.






Politico said he wasn’t, now Fox News (and Frum Forum) say he is. To help you process this news, read Ed’s post from this morning about Obama potentially spending a cool billion on the 2012 campaign and then have a look at Jay Cost’s graph of Republican fundraising over the last four cycles. Said Cost, believing that Steele was set to bow out, “In the end, this is what did Michael Steele in. He could not raise the money, and that just will not do moving forward.”


Or will it?


Ending weeks of rumors that he would not seek a second term, Steele plans to throw his hat into the ring during a conference call with RNC members at 7:30 p.m. ET, the sources said. Steele is said to be amused by false reports of his retirement and intentionally kept his plans secret for the last month in order to flush out competitors for the post, Fox has learned.


During Steele’s tenure, Republicans picked up 63 House seats in last month’s elections, the biggest gain in more than seven decades. But Steele has been dogged by criticism from some Republicans who see him as prone to missteps.


Criticism of Steele has helped lead to a crowded field of challengers seeking to head the RNC. Among those who have officially announced they are in the race are Saul Anuzis, a committee member from Michigan who ran and lost to Steele in 2009, and Reince Priebus of Wisconsin, a former member of Steele’s inner circle, along with former Luxembourg Ambassador Anne Wagner.


So that explains why he didn’t show up at the RNC chair debate: He was lying low, cagily making it look like he wouldn’t run again so that, er … more contenders would jump into the race. Frum Forum’s whip count puts him at around 45-60 votes in the first round of balloting, with 85 needed to win; several of his former aides and allies (Reince Priebus, Gentry Collins, etc) are in the race as challengers, so a key question will be what happens to their supporters if/when they’re eliminated in the first few rounds. Are those supporters so disgruntled with Steele that they’ll gravitate to a consensus alternative, like Saul Anuzis? Or are they actually clubby RNC insiders who prefer Priebus and Collins to Steele but will resort to the chairman as a next best option if their preference is eliminated? Or will some outsider with fundraising appeal, like Norm Coleman, sweep in to provide yet another alternative?


There are only two reasons to conceivably back Steele, as I see it. One: The GOP did, after all, win 63 seats on his watch, and he’s been lying low enough over the last few months that at least it looks like the gaffe-o-rama phase of his chairmanship is finally over. All of which is well and good, but in that case I urge you to follow the link up top and eyeball Cost’s graph again. The question isn’t whether the GOP did well this year, it’s whether it could have done better if the RNC had been flush with cash. Gentry Collins argued that poor fundraising might have cost Republicans an extra two dozen House seats, but given that he’s now challenging Steele for the chairman’s position, take that estimate for what it’s worth. Two: If you believe that, in an age of online donations and targeted giving to campaigns, the RNC will never again be relevant the way it once was, then maybe it’s better to keep Steele in place. It’ll avoid a nasty public squabble between pro-Steele factions, led by Palin, and anti-Steele factions like the “Bush establishment,” and it’ll spare us the spectacle of Steele doing interviews to dump on the GOP after he loses. Plus, if Steele’s reelected, Republican outside groups are bound to start planning way ahead to pick up the slack in case the RNC can’t get its act together to fulfill its traditional fundraising and GOTV roles. No one cares about the RNC as an organization, only that its functions are being done and done well by some conservative outfit. If Steele’s reelected, it means that some other outfit or outfits will be pressured to step up. Inconvenient, but not fatal. I think.






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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

If a video posted to Vimeo is to be believed, there are some insiders at ABC News who don't really care very much for newly-named boss Ben Sherwood, described in the video as the Draco Malfoy of Broadcast News. The video--essentially a ...

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It looks like News Corp. has unloaded its Fox Mobile Group division. According to a release, investment company Jesta Group has acquired Fox Mobile Group (FMG) from News Corporation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the release.

Bad <b>news</b> from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at <b>...</b>

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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

If a video posted to Vimeo is to be believed, there are some insiders at ABC News who don't really care very much for newly-named boss Ben Sherwood, described in the video as the Draco Malfoy of Broadcast News. The video--essentially a ...

<b>News</b> Corp. Sells Fox Mobile Group To Investment Firm Jesta

It looks like News Corp. has unloaded its Fox Mobile Group division. According to a release, investment company Jesta Group has acquired Fox Mobile Group (FMG) from News Corporation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the release.

Bad <b>news</b> from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at <b>...</b>

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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

If a video posted to Vimeo is to be believed, there are some insiders at ABC News who don't really care very much for newly-named boss Ben Sherwood, described in the video as the Draco Malfoy of Broadcast News. The video--essentially a ...

<b>News</b> Corp. Sells Fox Mobile Group To Investment Firm Jesta

It looks like News Corp. has unloaded its Fox Mobile Group division. According to a release, investment company Jesta Group has acquired Fox Mobile Group (FMG) from News Corporation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the release.

Bad <b>news</b> from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at <b>...</b>

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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

If a video posted to Vimeo is to be believed, there are some insiders at ABC News who don't really care very much for newly-named boss Ben Sherwood, described in the video as the Draco Malfoy of Broadcast News. The video--essentially a ...

<b>News</b> Corp. Sells Fox Mobile Group To Investment Firm Jesta

It looks like News Corp. has unloaded its Fox Mobile Group division. According to a release, investment company Jesta Group has acquired Fox Mobile Group (FMG) from News Corporation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the release.

Bad <b>news</b> from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at <b>...</b>

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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

If a video posted to Vimeo is to be believed, there are some insiders at ABC News who don't really care very much for newly-named boss Ben Sherwood, described in the video as the Draco Malfoy of Broadcast News. The video--essentially a ...

<b>News</b> Corp. Sells Fox Mobile Group To Investment Firm Jesta

It looks like News Corp. has unloaded its Fox Mobile Group division. According to a release, investment company Jesta Group has acquired Fox Mobile Group (FMG) from News Corporation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the release.

Bad <b>news</b> from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at <b>...</b>

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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

If a video posted to Vimeo is to be believed, there are some insiders at ABC News who don't really care very much for newly-named boss Ben Sherwood, described in the video as the Draco Malfoy of Broadcast News. The video--essentially a ...

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Bad <b>news</b> from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at <b>...</b>

Bad news from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at Gitmo.


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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

If a video posted to Vimeo is to be believed, there are some insiders at ABC News who don't really care very much for newly-named boss Ben Sherwood, described in the video as the Draco Malfoy of Broadcast News. The video--essentially a ...

<b>News</b> Corp. Sells Fox Mobile Group To Investment Firm Jesta

It looks like News Corp. has unloaded its Fox Mobile Group division. According to a release, investment company Jesta Group has acquired Fox Mobile Group (FMG) from News Corporation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the release.

Bad <b>news</b> from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at <b>...</b>

Bad news from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at Gitmo.


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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

If a video posted to Vimeo is to be believed, there are some insiders at ABC News who don't really care very much for newly-named boss Ben Sherwood, described in the video as the Draco Malfoy of Broadcast News. The video--essentially a ...

<b>News</b> Corp. Sells Fox Mobile Group To Investment Firm Jesta

It looks like News Corp. has unloaded its Fox Mobile Group division. According to a release, investment company Jesta Group has acquired Fox Mobile Group (FMG) from News Corporation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the release.

Bad <b>news</b> from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at <b>...</b>

Bad news from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at Gitmo.


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Ben Sherwood - ABC <b>News</b> | Attack Video | Mediaite

If a video posted to Vimeo is to be believed, there are some insiders at ABC News who don't really care very much for newly-named boss Ben Sherwood, described in the video as the Draco Malfoy of Broadcast News. The video--essentially a ...

<b>News</b> Corp. Sells Fox Mobile Group To Investment Firm Jesta

It looks like News Corp. has unloaded its Fox Mobile Group division. According to a release, investment company Jesta Group has acquired Fox Mobile Group (FMG) from News Corporation. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the release.

Bad <b>news</b> from freed detainee: The Jews used witchcraft on me at <b>...</b>

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Making Money Job




March 25, 2009


Dear Sir/Ma’am:


I recently completed filing my federal and state tax returns; more accurately, I assembled a bunch of paper, sent it to my accountant, he sent back a form which I am unable to comprehend, and I wrote out a check, signed it, and crossed my fingers and mailed it in – something similar to what Treasury Secretary Geitner did with one exception; I paid my taxes. I have read in the national media that President Obama is trying to find new profits to tax by eliminating deductions, like the home mortgage deduction, and reducing previously justifiable expenses; in short, raise taxes. From the highest earning taxpayer to the lowest, we are attacked by an ever expanding tax code whose only purpose ought to be to secure money to pay for those Constitutionally acceptable functions we cannot accomplish on our own as States, but alas this is not so.


Taxes are critical to the funding of necessary functions of our government that the vast majority of individuals cannot accomplish on their own. I could home school my children, sit outside my home with a rifle and a garden hose, and maybe band together with a few neighbors, and set up a small school and a neighborhood watch program called “You loot, We shoot.” But, It is far more effective and efficient to have a neighborhood based school system, police stations, and fire departments to accomplish the same objectives that is accountable to local taxpayers. Thus, I pay property taxes to accomplish the goal of providing an education, policing our streets, and putting out fires. On the State level the same cannot be said. The budget is so in the septic tank that the federal government has bailed us out via President Obama’s “stimulus bill,” because the state of New York promised too much, to too many, in the good years, and did not plan on a time when economic growth would contract. On the federal level we have an enormous problem, in the past 20 years, Republicans and Democrats, have taken the citizens visa out for a spending spree and we’re busted; $2 Trillion running deficit, $13 Trillion in debt – assuming the books balance, which according to the last comptroller general, they do not. By this time next year, if we have a flat gross domestic product, only 1/3 of the federal budget will be obtained via tax receipts, 2/3 will be borrowed or just printed – if you think we are going to have a flat gross domestic product next year I’ve got bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. You name the politician, by next year, an election year, they will all be promising more than can be delivered on the economy, and by extension the broken back of the taxpayer. Remember what Reagan said, “ . . . the more the plans fail the more the planners plan.” The schizophrenic nature that the government approaches the economy can best be described using President Reagan famous quote, “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And If it stops moving, subsidize it.” The conclusion is crystal clear. When taxes are levied and dispersed on the local level we get more for our money, and we have the capacity to alter course if the government loses it’s way. At the state level the risk of fraud and abuse multiplies; and finally at the federal level this abuse multiplies exponentially. Last I checked my home state of New York does not have a printing press.


The current tax system on the Federal level is one giant loophole – 60,000 pages of it it is progressively regressive in nature – the more you make the higher tax rate you pay. For enough money the highest earners obtain lawyers, and accountants to find ways to keep more of what they earn. I applaud them, and their efforts and I would do the same thing if I walked in their economic shoes. The more money citizens and business owners keep the more they can save, invest, and spend, to pursue happiness to the betterment of all. Politicians use the tax code as leverage at the State and Federal level to, shall we say, encourage contributions from individuals and corporations to remain in office and feather their nests. This is not how this deal is supposed to work in the United States of America. Bad ideas must fail so good ideas can prosper – and in prospering we all benefit from an ever increasing standard of living.


We need to scrap the tax code and tax earnings and purchases at a combined rate of 10% – everybody pays, no exceptions. You make more money you pay more tax, you spend less money you pay less tax; since there are no more deductions, tax credits, exemptions there is no more tax day or tax season – you pay your taxes as you live your economic life. This will allow a refocused IRS to enforce a simple law, de-facto on the highest earners, and it will create a consistent stream of tax receipts that will be guaranteed to evolve from areas that are failing to those that are financially succeeding – hopefully removing the incentive for politicians to tax well run firms and to subsidize the pursuits of failing firms or ideas that have no bases in reality.


Have you had your cup of ethanol today?


Respectfully,


Joe Doakes



This guest post from Jacq Jolie is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. You can read more about Jacq’s story at Single Mom Rich Mom.


On 31 December 2009, I finished what I hope will be my last full-time, permanent job. I’ve worked a bit here and there over the past year, but it’s on my own terms, and not because I have to. I’m now semi-retired at the age of 45. But what does that mean?


About nine years ago, after reading Your Money or Your Life, I changed from an under-earning, confused woman to a woman with a mission: to never have to work again (unless I wanted to). In November of last year, I reached the Crossover Point, where the income from investments exceeded my expenses. (I think it actually happened sooner than that, but I hadn’t been paying attention.) At last, nine years after first figuring out what I wanted to work hard and save money for, I’d reached Financial Independence.


I’m fortunate that in the last few years, I’ve managed to raise my income so that I can work a few months a year and earn the same amount as I have working full-time (and overtime!) in previous jobs. I’m also fortunate that my wants remain relatively small and I never succumbed to lifestyle inflation. I’ve never wanted a big house, a fast car, or exotic travel.


In a “normal” year, I can easily live on about $36,000, including mortgage payments of about $15,000 per year (that I’m prepaying). So I knew that my Crossover Point was somewhere around $20,000/year with a paid-off house. In the next year, I intend to downsize and move to a (mortgage-free!) townhouse that will be close to public transit for those times I choose to work, and, more importantly, be low maintenance to allow for periods of long travel during the summers.


I’m trying not to plan too far in advance. I want to be flexible. My hope is that I can continue to work part-time or a few months a year for the next 5-10 years until a part of my pension is eligible for withdrawal. My net worth is somewhere around the $500-600k mark, not including pensions. Since I don’t have any intention of touching my savings for the next ten years, I’m hopeful that it will last as long as I need it. If not, I’ll go back to work full-time for a couple of years.


I think what Financial Independence has given me has been a confidence in life itself — that I can handle anything that comes up. If life is difficult, sometimes throwing a bit of cash at a problem resolves it. It’s also given me the freedom that I first dreamed of when reading Your Money or Your Life — that I could work because I enjoyed working, and that I could have my life be about more than work. I have the flexibility to leave any work situation that doesn’t contribute to my overall happiness.


Having lived very frugally for long periods in the past, I experienced frugality burnout earlier this year. I’ve consciously been spending more lately on the things that I’ve “deprived” myself of over the last almost 30 years I’ve been working. For example, my bed was over 50 years old and desperately in need of replacement. A new bed is being delivered this week, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve also stopped thinking that I should DIY everything; I’ve had house cleaners come in this last month — something I would never have considered doing just six months ago.


Part of me still worries about the future:



  • What is it like to be looking for a job and networking once I get over 50?

  • Will it be hard — or impossible — to find work if I stay out of the job market too long?

  • What if the stock market falls again?

  • Are my investments too aggressive or not aggressive enough given that I hope not to draw down on them for quite some time?

  • Am I jumping too fast? Should I keep working full-time for a few years and get to that magical million and give myself even more of a buffer?


I only have a year of semi-retirement under my belt, so I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a “success”; I’m still just learning what works. I do know I’ll never go back to a regular job again though and definitely not go back to driving myself as hard as I have in the past again. My hope is that my approach is flexible enough and that I’m resourceful enough to survive and thrive through whatever lies ahead.



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Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

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Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

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iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

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bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


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Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

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iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

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iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


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Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


bench craft company scam

Arrowheadlines: Chiefs <b>News</b> 12/8 - Arrowhead Pride

It's Wednesday and we still have a 2 game lead in the West with 4 games to play. I just like saying that. Lots of Kansas City Chiefs news today. Enjoy!

Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone | iLounge <b>News</b>

iLounge news discussing the Peel announces Universal Control for iPhone. Find more iPhone news from leading independent iPod, iPhone, and iPad site.

In Further Late Night Smooching <b>News</b>: Brian Austin Green Kisses <b>...</b>

Late night talk show guests seem to be getting a little overly lusty these days. Already tonight, we've seen Dame Helen Mirren kissing Jay Leno.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Making Money Program


Deficit Commission Co-Chair Erskine Bowles Falsely Claims Social Security ‘Runs Out Of Money In 2037′


Last week, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairs of President Obama’s deficit reduction commission, released a report outlining their recommendations for reducing the federal budget deficit. One of their most contentious proposals is to gradually raise the retirement age to 69, a move the co-chairs claim is meant to maintain the system’s solvency.


This morning, Simpson and Bowles appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss their proposals. At one point, Simpson explained his view that balancing the budget would require going “to where the meat is. And the meat is health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.” Host Joe Scarborough then complained that while AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka attacked the proposals for cutting Social Security, Scarborough said he doesn’t think the co-chairs went far enough (co-host Mika Brzezinski agreed). Bowles then defended their proposal, saying, “What we’ve done is make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years. As you all know, Social Security runs out of money in 2037. We’re not making it up. That’s the law”:


SIMPSON: You’ve gotta go where the meat is. And the meat is health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. Not balancing the books on the backs of poor old staggering seniors to make the damn thing solvent for 75 years.


SCARBOROUGH: We were stunned, Erskine, by some of the things that were said after the commission report came out, saying, “Seniors are going to be thrown out on the street!” I looked at the numbers to be really honest with you, and I didn’t think you moved fast enough on Social Security and Medicare. We calculated that I guess, it was Trumka, who I like very much, Trumka said that this throws old people out. My two year old son Jack will get Social Security at 69. People in their 20′s and 30′s will be just fine.


BRZEZINSKI: In fact, I think you could’ve gone further.


SIMPSON: I know Rich very well. He’s a good egg. He has to say for what he has to say for his membership. But he knows I’m right.


BOWLES: What we’ve done is make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years. As you all know, Social Security runs out of money in 2037. We’re not making it up. That’s the law.


Watch it:



Social Security is currently projected to be fully solvent until the year 2037. After that, it is expected to be able to pay out 75 percent of benefits until 2084, which basically equals full benefits, once inflation is accounted for. There is no threat of the program running out of money any time soon — certainly not in 2037. That does not mean that there aren’t positive and progressive changes that could possibly be made to the system.


However, the hike in retirement age that the MSNBC co-hosts and deficit commission co-chairmen are praising would be a very punitive way to ensure further solvency. As a Government Accountability Office report recently obtained by the AP found, “Raising the retirement age for Social Security would disproportionately hurt low-income workers and minorities, and increase disability claims by older people unable to work.”


Scaborough may not be entirely wrong to shrug off the possibility of his son Jack retiring at 69, if his son ends up being in the same socioeconomic class as him. Almost all of the gains in life expectancy over the past few decades have been among upper income earners. If current trends continue, middle and lower class Americans will see very little gain in life expectancy by the time the co-chairs plan to hike the retirement age. And “nearly half of workers over the age of 58 work at jobs that are either physically demanding or involve difficult work conditions,” meaning that if those trends continue, blue-collar workers will be hurt particularly hard by raising the retirement age.


Unfortunately, most Americans are not highly-paid TV hosts like Brzezinski and Scarborough.




This post is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark as a new part of the Spark of Genius series that focuses on a new and innovative startup each day. Once a week, the program focuses on startups within the BizSpark program and what they’re doing to grow.

Consumer electronics search engine and review site Retrevo had the best traffic day in its four-year history on Monday. But unlike Cyber Mondays of the past, site visitors who were browsing the site’s comprehensive reviews also had the option to buy electronics without leaving the Retrevo site.

In the past two months, the company has been dipping its toes into e-commerce — an industry that it plans to dive into fully next year. The site’s long-time sources of revenue have been advertising and cost-per-click fees it collects by referring its users to electronic retailer sites. Since launching e-commerce components, such as its daily deals, it has more than doubled its monthly revenue.

To complement the new strategy, the company is launching a new search engine today that allows consumers to search accessories, the major portion of its product offerings, by entering a specific electronic device they wish to accessorize.

Taking this leap into e-commerce was something of a risk for CEO Vipin Jain. E-commerce is a decidedly different industry than review indexing, and there was a question of whether readers who trusted the site for information would also trust the site with their money (the answer thus far appears to be that they will).

Mashable recently chatted with Jain about making the transition that he says is likely to triple annual revenue.

Building a Strong Frame

Retrevo built a 6-million-unique-users-per-month user base for its search and review engine before it decided to start selling products itself. And although selling electronics is turning out to be much more profitable than recommending them, the four years that it spent refining this system were an important component in building the site’s e-commerce success.

For one thing, customers already trust the site. “We probably would not have had this much success with e-commerce if we had not gone through building the trust with the information and reviews and recommendations first,” Jain says. “I think that where we are and where we think the company is going to be, I think that is a result of having that belief in the recommendation and the advice we are giving them. It is easier for them to open their wallets and give us money to buy products.”

It’s also unlikely that consumers would choose to buy from the site if it were just another Amazon-like retailer. The comprehensive reviews, which make it easy for people without a lot of technical knowledge to pick out a product, is the reason that people will continue to visit the site. And, as Jain sees it, the commerce component is a way of completing this easy-to-navigate experience. Instead of sending customers to a third-party site that might be confusing, users can easily complete their checkout where they started their search.

Changing Course

Earlier this year, when Retrevo started planning for the switch, the staff didn’t have any delusions about what a drastic change the company would be making. Retrevo sought new talent from online retailers like Newegg.com and eBay to help its team think in e-commerce terms.

“We were the king of the hill in our old world (CE reviews and recommendations),” Jain says. “E-commerce is full of potholes, and we are going against big guys such as Amazon. Amazon can be very aggressive when it comes to pricing for items that they want to move.”

Instead of competing with Amazon down to pennies, Retrevo’s advantage needs to come from helping customers buy the best products for their needs and get the most out of them. The accessory search engine that launches today, for instance, helps customers find the right accessories based on what devices they have. If the accessory doesn’t work with the device, the company will accept the return with no questions asked.

It would seem that selling and recommending devices on the same site might be a conflict of interest, but Vain insists that it is no more so than when the review site has hosted advertisers like Sony in the past.

“I think we have established over the years that Retrevo is a trusted place and the reviews and recommendations that we give you have not been influenced by any business model or revenue model,” he says.

Because being a reliable source of decision-making information about products is the key to its e-commerce strategy, it seems like much of Retrevo’s success or failure will depend on whether this statement holds true.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Chuck “Caveman” Coker, Dean Terry

Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark

BizSpark is a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

For more Startups coverage:

    class="f-el">class="cov-twit">Follow Mashable Startupsclass="s-el">class="cov-rss">Subscribe to the Startups channelclass="f-el">class="cov-fb">Become a Fan on Facebookclass="s-el">class="cov-apple">Download our free apps for Android, iPhone and iPad


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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

Lawyers for former Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan are arguing that the Fox News network is singling the Missouri Democrat out in its lawsuit alleging her campaign violated the network's copyrights.

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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

Lawyers for former Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan are arguing that the Fox News network is singling the Missouri Democrat out in its lawsuit alleging her campaign violated the network's copyrights.

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Researchers create a lightfoil that can push small objects sideways.

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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

Lawyers for former Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan are arguing that the Fox News network is singling the Missouri Democrat out in its lawsuit alleging her campaign violated the network's copyrights.

Light Can Generate Lift - Science <b>News</b>

Researchers create a lightfoil that can push small objects sideways.

AMERICAblog <b>News</b>: They&#39;re only symbolic battles when you never <b>...</b>

News and opinion about US politics from a liberal perspective.



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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

Lawyers for former Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan are arguing that the Fox News network is singling the Missouri Democrat out in its lawsuit alleging her campaign violated the network's copyrights.

Light Can Generate Lift - Science <b>News</b>

Researchers create a lightfoil that can push small objects sideways.

AMERICAblog <b>News</b>: They&#39;re only symbolic battles when you never <b>...</b>

News and opinion about US politics from a liberal perspective.



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Deficit Commission Co-Chair Erskine Bowles Falsely Claims Social Security ‘Runs Out Of Money In 2037′


Last week, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairs of President Obama’s deficit reduction commission, released a report outlining their recommendations for reducing the federal budget deficit. One of their most contentious proposals is to gradually raise the retirement age to 69, a move the co-chairs claim is meant to maintain the system’s solvency.


This morning, Simpson and Bowles appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss their proposals. At one point, Simpson explained his view that balancing the budget would require going “to where the meat is. And the meat is health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.” Host Joe Scarborough then complained that while AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka attacked the proposals for cutting Social Security, Scarborough said he doesn’t think the co-chairs went far enough (co-host Mika Brzezinski agreed). Bowles then defended their proposal, saying, “What we’ve done is make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years. As you all know, Social Security runs out of money in 2037. We’re not making it up. That’s the law”:


SIMPSON: You’ve gotta go where the meat is. And the meat is health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. Not balancing the books on the backs of poor old staggering seniors to make the damn thing solvent for 75 years.


SCARBOROUGH: We were stunned, Erskine, by some of the things that were said after the commission report came out, saying, “Seniors are going to be thrown out on the street!” I looked at the numbers to be really honest with you, and I didn’t think you moved fast enough on Social Security and Medicare. We calculated that I guess, it was Trumka, who I like very much, Trumka said that this throws old people out. My two year old son Jack will get Social Security at 69. People in their 20′s and 30′s will be just fine.


BRZEZINSKI: In fact, I think you could’ve gone further.


SIMPSON: I know Rich very well. He’s a good egg. He has to say for what he has to say for his membership. But he knows I’m right.


BOWLES: What we’ve done is make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years. As you all know, Social Security runs out of money in 2037. We’re not making it up. That’s the law.


Watch it:



Social Security is currently projected to be fully solvent until the year 2037. After that, it is expected to be able to pay out 75 percent of benefits until 2084, which basically equals full benefits, once inflation is accounted for. There is no threat of the program running out of money any time soon — certainly not in 2037. That does not mean that there aren’t positive and progressive changes that could possibly be made to the system.


However, the hike in retirement age that the MSNBC co-hosts and deficit commission co-chairmen are praising would be a very punitive way to ensure further solvency. As a Government Accountability Office report recently obtained by the AP found, “Raising the retirement age for Social Security would disproportionately hurt low-income workers and minorities, and increase disability claims by older people unable to work.”


Scaborough may not be entirely wrong to shrug off the possibility of his son Jack retiring at 69, if his son ends up being in the same socioeconomic class as him. Almost all of the gains in life expectancy over the past few decades have been among upper income earners. If current trends continue, middle and lower class Americans will see very little gain in life expectancy by the time the co-chairs plan to hike the retirement age. And “nearly half of workers over the age of 58 work at jobs that are either physically demanding or involve difficult work conditions,” meaning that if those trends continue, blue-collar workers will be hurt particularly hard by raising the retirement age.


Unfortunately, most Americans are not highly-paid TV hosts like Brzezinski and Scarborough.




This post is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark as a new part of the Spark of Genius series that focuses on a new and innovative startup each day. Once a week, the program focuses on startups within the BizSpark program and what they’re doing to grow.

Consumer electronics search engine and review site Retrevo had the best traffic day in its four-year history on Monday. But unlike Cyber Mondays of the past, site visitors who were browsing the site’s comprehensive reviews also had the option to buy electronics without leaving the Retrevo site.

In the past two months, the company has been dipping its toes into e-commerce — an industry that it plans to dive into fully next year. The site’s long-time sources of revenue have been advertising and cost-per-click fees it collects by referring its users to electronic retailer sites. Since launching e-commerce components, such as its daily deals, it has more than doubled its monthly revenue.

To complement the new strategy, the company is launching a new search engine today that allows consumers to search accessories, the major portion of its product offerings, by entering a specific electronic device they wish to accessorize.

Taking this leap into e-commerce was something of a risk for CEO Vipin Jain. E-commerce is a decidedly different industry than review indexing, and there was a question of whether readers who trusted the site for information would also trust the site with their money (the answer thus far appears to be that they will).

Mashable recently chatted with Jain about making the transition that he says is likely to triple annual revenue.

Building a Strong Frame

Retrevo built a 6-million-unique-users-per-month user base for its search and review engine before it decided to start selling products itself. And although selling electronics is turning out to be much more profitable than recommending them, the four years that it spent refining this system were an important component in building the site’s e-commerce success.

For one thing, customers already trust the site. “We probably would not have had this much success with e-commerce if we had not gone through building the trust with the information and reviews and recommendations first,” Jain says. “I think that where we are and where we think the company is going to be, I think that is a result of having that belief in the recommendation and the advice we are giving them. It is easier for them to open their wallets and give us money to buy products.”

It’s also unlikely that consumers would choose to buy from the site if it were just another Amazon-like retailer. The comprehensive reviews, which make it easy for people without a lot of technical knowledge to pick out a product, is the reason that people will continue to visit the site. And, as Jain sees it, the commerce component is a way of completing this easy-to-navigate experience. Instead of sending customers to a third-party site that might be confusing, users can easily complete their checkout where they started their search.

Changing Course

Earlier this year, when Retrevo started planning for the switch, the staff didn’t have any delusions about what a drastic change the company would be making. Retrevo sought new talent from online retailers like Newegg.com and eBay to help its team think in e-commerce terms.

“We were the king of the hill in our old world (CE reviews and recommendations),” Jain says. “E-commerce is full of potholes, and we are going against big guys such as Amazon. Amazon can be very aggressive when it comes to pricing for items that they want to move.”

Instead of competing with Amazon down to pennies, Retrevo’s advantage needs to come from helping customers buy the best products for their needs and get the most out of them. The accessory search engine that launches today, for instance, helps customers find the right accessories based on what devices they have. If the accessory doesn’t work with the device, the company will accept the return with no questions asked.

It would seem that selling and recommending devices on the same site might be a conflict of interest, but Vain insists that it is no more so than when the review site has hosted advertisers like Sony in the past.

“I think we have established over the years that Retrevo is a trusted place and the reviews and recommendations that we give you have not been influenced by any business model or revenue model,” he says.

Because being a reliable source of decision-making information about products is the key to its e-commerce strategy, it seems like much of Retrevo’s success or failure will depend on whether this statement holds true.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Chuck “Caveman” Coker, Dean Terry

Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark

BizSpark is a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

For more Startups coverage:

    class="f-el">class="cov-twit">Follow Mashable Startupsclass="s-el">class="cov-rss">Subscribe to the Startups channelclass="f-el">class="cov-fb">Become a Fan on Facebookclass="s-el">class="cov-apple">Download our free apps for Android, iPhone and iPad


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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

Lawyers for former Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan are arguing that the Fox News network is singling the Missouri Democrat out in its lawsuit alleging her campaign violated the network's copyrights.

Light Can Generate Lift - Science <b>News</b>

Researchers create a lightfoil that can push small objects sideways.

AMERICAblog <b>News</b>: They&#39;re only symbolic battles when you never <b>...</b>

News and opinion about US politics from a liberal perspective.



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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

Lawyers for former Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan are arguing that the Fox News network is singling the Missouri Democrat out in its lawsuit alleging her campaign violated the network's copyrights.

Light Can Generate Lift - Science <b>News</b>

Researchers create a lightfoil that can push small objects sideways.

AMERICAblog <b>News</b>: They&#39;re only symbolic battles when you never <b>...</b>

News and opinion about US politics from a liberal perspective.



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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

Lawyers for former Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan are arguing that the Fox News network is singling the Missouri Democrat out in its lawsuit alleging her campaign violated the network's copyrights.

Light Can Generate Lift - Science <b>News</b>

Researchers create a lightfoil that can push small objects sideways.

AMERICAblog <b>News</b>: They&#39;re only symbolic battles when you never <b>...</b>

News and opinion about US politics from a liberal perspective.



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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

Lawyers for former Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan are arguing that the Fox News network is singling the Missouri Democrat out in its lawsuit alleging her campaign violated the network's copyrights.

Light Can Generate Lift - Science <b>News</b>

Researchers create a lightfoil that can push small objects sideways.

AMERICAblog <b>News</b>: They&#39;re only symbolic battles when you never <b>...</b>

News and opinion about US politics from a liberal perspective.



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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

Lawyers for former Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan are arguing that the Fox News network is singling the Missouri Democrat out in its lawsuit alleging her campaign violated the network's copyrights.

Light Can Generate Lift - Science <b>News</b>

Researchers create a lightfoil that can push small objects sideways.

AMERICAblog <b>News</b>: They&#39;re only symbolic battles when you never <b>...</b>

News and opinion about US politics from a liberal perspective.



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Carnahan Camp To Fox <b>News</b>: Why Single Us Out? | TPMMuckraker

Lawyers for former Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan are arguing that the Fox News network is singling the Missouri Democrat out in its lawsuit alleging her campaign violated the network's copyrights.

Light Can Generate Lift - Science <b>News</b>

Researchers create a lightfoil that can push small objects sideways.

AMERICAblog <b>News</b>: They&#39;re only symbolic battles when you never <b>...</b>

News and opinion about US politics from a liberal perspective.



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Deficit Commission Co-Chair Erskine Bowles Falsely Claims Social Security ‘Runs Out Of Money In 2037′


Last week, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairs of President Obama’s deficit reduction commission, released a report outlining their recommendations for reducing the federal budget deficit. One of their most contentious proposals is to gradually raise the retirement age to 69, a move the co-chairs claim is meant to maintain the system’s solvency.


This morning, Simpson and Bowles appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss their proposals. At one point, Simpson explained his view that balancing the budget would require going “to where the meat is. And the meat is health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.” Host Joe Scarborough then complained that while AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka attacked the proposals for cutting Social Security, Scarborough said he doesn’t think the co-chairs went far enough (co-host Mika Brzezinski agreed). Bowles then defended their proposal, saying, “What we’ve done is make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years. As you all know, Social Security runs out of money in 2037. We’re not making it up. That’s the law”:


SIMPSON: You’ve gotta go where the meat is. And the meat is health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. Not balancing the books on the backs of poor old staggering seniors to make the damn thing solvent for 75 years.


SCARBOROUGH: We were stunned, Erskine, by some of the things that were said after the commission report came out, saying, “Seniors are going to be thrown out on the street!” I looked at the numbers to be really honest with you, and I didn’t think you moved fast enough on Social Security and Medicare. We calculated that I guess, it was Trumka, who I like very much, Trumka said that this throws old people out. My two year old son Jack will get Social Security at 69. People in their 20′s and 30′s will be just fine.


BRZEZINSKI: In fact, I think you could’ve gone further.


SIMPSON: I know Rich very well. He’s a good egg. He has to say for what he has to say for his membership. But he knows I’m right.


BOWLES: What we’ve done is make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years. As you all know, Social Security runs out of money in 2037. We’re not making it up. That’s the law.


Watch it:



Social Security is currently projected to be fully solvent until the year 2037. After that, it is expected to be able to pay out 75 percent of benefits until 2084, which basically equals full benefits, once inflation is accounted for. There is no threat of the program running out of money any time soon — certainly not in 2037. That does not mean that there aren’t positive and progressive changes that could possibly be made to the system.


However, the hike in retirement age that the MSNBC co-hosts and deficit commission co-chairmen are praising would be a very punitive way to ensure further solvency. As a Government Accountability Office report recently obtained by the AP found, “Raising the retirement age for Social Security would disproportionately hurt low-income workers and minorities, and increase disability claims by older people unable to work.”


Scaborough may not be entirely wrong to shrug off the possibility of his son Jack retiring at 69, if his son ends up being in the same socioeconomic class as him. Almost all of the gains in life expectancy over the past few decades have been among upper income earners. If current trends continue, middle and lower class Americans will see very little gain in life expectancy by the time the co-chairs plan to hike the retirement age. And “nearly half of workers over the age of 58 work at jobs that are either physically demanding or involve difficult work conditions,” meaning that if those trends continue, blue-collar workers will be hurt particularly hard by raising the retirement age.


Unfortunately, most Americans are not highly-paid TV hosts like Brzezinski and Scarborough.




This post is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark as a new part of the Spark of Genius series that focuses on a new and innovative startup each day. Once a week, the program focuses on startups within the BizSpark program and what they’re doing to grow.

Consumer electronics search engine and review site Retrevo had the best traffic day in its four-year history on Monday. But unlike Cyber Mondays of the past, site visitors who were browsing the site’s comprehensive reviews also had the option to buy electronics without leaving the Retrevo site.

In the past two months, the company has been dipping its toes into e-commerce — an industry that it plans to dive into fully next year. The site’s long-time sources of revenue have been advertising and cost-per-click fees it collects by referring its users to electronic retailer sites. Since launching e-commerce components, such as its daily deals, it has more than doubled its monthly revenue.

To complement the new strategy, the company is launching a new search engine today that allows consumers to search accessories, the major portion of its product offerings, by entering a specific electronic device they wish to accessorize.

Taking this leap into e-commerce was something of a risk for CEO Vipin Jain. E-commerce is a decidedly different industry than review indexing, and there was a question of whether readers who trusted the site for information would also trust the site with their money (the answer thus far appears to be that they will).

Mashable recently chatted with Jain about making the transition that he says is likely to triple annual revenue.

Building a Strong Frame

Retrevo built a 6-million-unique-users-per-month user base for its search and review engine before it decided to start selling products itself. And although selling electronics is turning out to be much more profitable than recommending them, the four years that it spent refining this system were an important component in building the site’s e-commerce success.

For one thing, customers already trust the site. “We probably would not have had this much success with e-commerce if we had not gone through building the trust with the information and reviews and recommendations first,” Jain says. “I think that where we are and where we think the company is going to be, I think that is a result of having that belief in the recommendation and the advice we are giving them. It is easier for them to open their wallets and give us money to buy products.”

It’s also unlikely that consumers would choose to buy from the site if it were just another Amazon-like retailer. The comprehensive reviews, which make it easy for people without a lot of technical knowledge to pick out a product, is the reason that people will continue to visit the site. And, as Jain sees it, the commerce component is a way of completing this easy-to-navigate experience. Instead of sending customers to a third-party site that might be confusing, users can easily complete their checkout where they started their search.

Changing Course

Earlier this year, when Retrevo started planning for the switch, the staff didn’t have any delusions about what a drastic change the company would be making. Retrevo sought new talent from online retailers like Newegg.com and eBay to help its team think in e-commerce terms.

“We were the king of the hill in our old world (CE reviews and recommendations),” Jain says. “E-commerce is full of potholes, and we are going against big guys such as Amazon. Amazon can be very aggressive when it comes to pricing for items that they want to move.”

Instead of competing with Amazon down to pennies, Retrevo’s advantage needs to come from helping customers buy the best products for their needs and get the most out of them. The accessory search engine that launches today, for instance, helps customers find the right accessories based on what devices they have. If the accessory doesn’t work with the device, the company will accept the return with no questions asked.

It would seem that selling and recommending devices on the same site might be a conflict of interest, but Vain insists that it is no more so than when the review site has hosted advertisers like Sony in the past.

“I think we have established over the years that Retrevo is a trusted place and the reviews and recommendations that we give you have not been influenced by any business model or revenue model,” he says.

Because being a reliable source of decision-making information about products is the key to its e-commerce strategy, it seems like much of Retrevo’s success or failure will depend on whether this statement holds true.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Chuck “Caveman” Coker, Dean Terry

Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark

BizSpark is a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

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