A post for International Woman’s Day 2013 (only a couple days late)

"Russian knyaz Igor exacts tribute from the Drevlyans in 945", by Klavdy Lebedev  (we could just imagine that the Drevlians had had about enough of this collecting tribute stuff, and eventually gave Igor the what-for, what?)

Since Friday was International Women's Day, now's as good a time as any to showcase some stand-up dames throughout past and present history that have left a notable palmprint or two on the sidewalk of life. How About A Classy, Brainy, Stand-up Dame? Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini passed away this December at the age of 103.  The 1986 Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine was an Italian Senator-for-Life, and an advocate for education of women in the sciences. Born in Turin in 1909, as a Sephardic Jew Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini was barred from practicing medicine in 1940's Fascist Italy. A mere government edict did little to dissuade the good doctor from practicing in her own home laboratory, using scalpels hand-crafted from sewing … [Read more...]

America is Number One! Except for Airlines, Health Care, and Sundry Other Things…. and That’s OK


Especially with regards to airlines, if you've got to fly anywhere out of North America... (mini-rant ahead, forewarned is four-armed) I have a short business trip coming up to South Korea, and I rejoice in the fact that the long-haul  flight from Atlanta to Seoul has been outsourced by Delta to Korean Air. Now, Korean Air may not be as spiffy as Asiana, the other major Korean airline that places in the top 10, but it's a damn sight better than the usual Delta fare of worn aircraft and even older flight attendants (add surly and overweight for American cabin crew).   U.S. airlines place nowhere near the list of 10 best airlines in the world, published annually by Skytrax. Nationalistic myopia is evidenced in this peculiar … [Read more...]

All Things Japan

Himeji Castle, Himeji, Hyogo, Japan.

We're off on vacation.  Post scheduling is awesome! This article is automatically published while I'm relaxing in the Florence hills,  quaffing vino and eating much too much cheese. Internet and email access will be spotty at best.  Although comments are hugely welcome, I will be slow in responding. Thanks you for reading.   In contrarian investing circles, Japan is frequently cited as a symbol of imminent global financial ruin, th its 200% debt-to-GDP ratio and a stagnant economy over the last twenty years. Even noted collapsologist (*) Jared Diamond, writing on Bloomberg, weighs in with three crucial reasons why Japan's economic pain is getting worse (demographics, immigration and lack of resources), and bound to get a *lot* … [Read more...]

Arrivederci! Back In A Couple Weeks…

The view from the front porch

Off for a couple weeks R&R to an undisclosed location in the hills of northeast Tuscany. If you gotta get fat, no better way to do it than with lots of vino, soft pecorino cheese and prosciutto on thick slices of rustic bread, and porchetta. We'll definitely try to work it off with daily walks up and down those hills. Might even try to post a picture or two, but can't guarantee it. There are a few posts scheduled, so please do come back. On Friday 5/25, TB from Blue Collar Workman has a great article on exterior home insulation. TB walks the walk of home construction and repair, so it's a worthwhile read. "What You Don't See Does Matter" On Sunday 5/27, three mini-reviews and recommendations of books on Japan. "All Things … [Read more...]

Shocker: Nutella Is *NOT* A Health Food!

mmm-mmm good (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

What the hell is the world coming to? I’m sure that when Zeus lounges back in his throne, just pooped out from all that hurtling of thunderbolts from the crown of Olympus, he reaches for a Nutella sandwich. They are that good. Out-of-control prison riots have been becalmed with the promise of extra Nutella rations. And today, here’s  news of a certified Mother-of-the-Year, who is suing Ferrero, maker of that most delectable nectar of the gods,  because she was misled to think that that Nutella was “healthy” .... Nutella sets aside $3 mn for US class action Athena Hohenberg, the mother of a preschooler in San Diego, California, launched the class action lawsuit early last year, alleging that Ferrero has pitched … [Read more...]

Ideas and Discoveries Magazine: Dead on Arrival?

Printing Press, Munich Museum, Germany, 1811

Why do so many magazines fail? That's not just me asking the question. That's an oft-quoted query in the magazine publishing world. And yet, examples abound of start-ups in the old media. Catchy titles and glossy graphics can be all that's needed for success in today's multimedia environment. ( "10 Commandments for Custom Magazine Failure" ) The latest example to run across my eyeballs is Ideas and Discoveries magazine. I bought this on a whim from while on recent business trip. As I said, awesome graphics and catchy subject matter. How food cooks.  The deteriorating mental condition of historical figures. Brain neuro-parasites.  Entertaining and educating enough to keep throughout the whole trip and bring home to the … [Read more...]

“Making Money”, plus Four Other Not-Your-Usual Personal Finance Books

undercover 10475497

Cursed this morning by a mild case of writer's block, here's an idea that I've been mulling on for a while: a set of mini-reviews of books that are in my bookcase.  Not "your usual" in the sense that there's no The Four Hour Work Week, no Your Money or Your Life, or The Millionaire Next Door. These titles have been covered ad nauseam by other bloggers. Before we start, be advised that the links will take you to Amazon.  Buy though that link, and you'll be contributing all of three pennies to support my whiskey and cigar habit. Right, here we go. Making Money, by Terry Pratchett. It might be that non-fiction British humor isn't your bag, but for me, the Discworld novels are a hoot. Pratchett has varied takes on our contemporary … [Read more...]

Coffee Break: Blogging in the Shower

blogging scraps

  Half cuban Cafe Bustelo, half any old Folgers/Yuban blend, and a little hand-ground cardamon seed for a vaguely Middle Eastern flavor. There you have it, the USA Financial Service daily brew. Lately, many of my post ideas have been coming at odd times:  while driving, in the shower, at work.  Don't know why, but I gotta take the way it comes. To help capture them, I keep a sheaf of small notebook papers in my pocket. I used to keep a nice detailed blogging journal, with topic ideas, quotes, and lessons learned.  Unfortunately, I'm a little fussy with what I write and what I write on.  The journal had a very nice papery, with a soft feel and very absorbent.   It could handle both felt-tips and 0.7mm mechanical … [Read more...]

Eat Drink and Be Larry. Happy Thanksgiving!!


Just a few things to be thankful for as we gather round the table for lots of fine eats and vittles. I'm thankful to have family around to tell stories to and with. Grateful that unlike millions in developing countries, we're all in good health and have a roof over our heads;  access to clean drinking water; are safe from infections disease; have a full pantry; have the means and property to grow some of our food; and enjoy peace and tranquility in our daily life. Grateful that we have ready access to (expensive) medical care. Incredibly thankful for my beautiful bride of seventeen years and two wonderful boys. Thankful that our politicians are not as blatantly corrupt as in other parts of the world (at least they're … [Read more...]

Back online, sort of….

  As I wrote in my last post, the iMac flamed out.  Completely.  I had backed up our data a couple of years ago, most the photos, the music, and some excel files.  But not recently. And now it's locked up in a frozen hard drive that the geniuses at the Apple store have no idea how to recover.  Not that they were shy about charging us 99 bucks to tell us that. Ironically, I remember reading a couple of excellent posts on backing up data, one from Invest it Wisely.  I thought what most people probably did, boy that's something I need to get to.  And the regular daily life gets in the way. If you're reading this and haven't backed up recently, or installed a remote hard drive, go do it now. Stop reading and go back … [Read more...]