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"Barack the Magic ..." WHAT???

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Sun, Dec 28, 2008 @ 07:37 AM

  
  


If this election hadn't already caused me to change my party registration, today's news would.  Across the country today, we are waking up to find out that someone seeking leadership of the Republic Party sent as Christmas gifts a CD containing a "parody" challenging whether the President-elect is sufficiently black.  While I've always been a proponent of free speech, I am also a proponent of judgment. 

 

Since the election, many have expressed concern that Senator Obama could not possibly live up to the expectations of the elecorate. I have repeatedly responded that he could live up to the promise of civility and that this alone would be enough. In his book "The Audacity of Hope," the President-Elect repeatedly talks about the loss of our ability to have vigorous political debate and remain civil at the same time. As someone who has worked in the government policy arena, this resonated deeply with me. And, his announced nominees for leadership roles shows he intends to follow through with this promise.  

 

In fairness, it is not all Republicans who think that this song is funny or appropriate.  Others have already made public rebukes.  But, at a time when the mere fact of Senator Obama's leading candidacy began the healing of old wounds and showed that equal opportunity has meaning, those like Chip Saltsman (who sent it) and Rush Limbaugh (who reportedly played it on the air last year) seem bent on keeping division alive. They should be ashamed.

 




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What is rich, now? - Not so Much Fun with Numbers

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Fri, Dec 05, 2008 @ 10:59 PM



A year ago, I wrote a blog about wealth in the United States.  In light of the current economic crisis, I thought I'd revisit the topic.  I couldn't find hard numbers out this quickly, so this is just some extrapolating done with what I could find. 

 

Last year, 10% of households earned more than $100,000.  I haven't been able to find anything that says what percentage of this year's layoffs are affecting these higher income earners.  But, the ABA Journal articles I'm reading seem to indicate that lawyers are only about 1 in 10 of the layoffs in big law firms.  If that layoff ratio is the same in other industries, it's likely that the number of households earning more than $100,000 probably still falls between 9 and 10 percent. 

 

Last year, the top 9% of households had $1 million in net worth, not counting their houses.  So, the fact that their houses are worth about 20% less this year probably doesn't keep them out of the top.   And, even though about 8,000 houses worth $1million or more were in foreclosure by September, that's still a drop in the bucket, less than 1/10 of 1% of wealthy households.

 

Where the wealthy are most likely seeing the economic slump is in their savings.  These folks, with more than $1 million, were an average age of 58 last year.  If they're following popular asset allocation strategies, that means they had between 25% and 40% in forms of saving that haven't diminished this year.  But, that also means they had between 60% and 75% of their savings in investments that have lost lots of value.  If they were conservatively invested in the Dow (down 36%  - 8635 today divided by 14445 a year ago) or an S&P 500 fund (down about 42%), they've lost anywhere between$216,000 (36% of $600,000) and $315,000 (42% of $750,000).  Neither the traditional strategies nor most people I've ever met are that conservative, so it's likely that they've lost a bit more.  So, I'm guessing that the top 9% are no longer holding assets (excluding houses) worth over $1 million, but rather have something over $725,000.

 

The losses of the wealthy may seem pretty irrelevant to everyone else, but these losses may impact others.  A year ago, it was considered reasonable to achieve 10% return on investments.  That means these households could have had $100,000 in income from their savings beyond what they might be earning or receive from social security (nearly half were retired).  With investments losing capital value and producing minimal income, many people will choose not to take any money out of investment accounts, in the hopes of regaining their former value.  That means that this 9% of the population won't be putting $8,000 a month each into the economy.  That's a lot less goods and services being purchased, and unfortunately a lot more layoffs rippling through the economy.   



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Slumdog Millionaire - don't miss it!

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Mon, Nov 10, 2008 @ 10:28 PM

  
  


Wow!  I just came out of the preview of Slumdog Millionaire, which will open on Wednesday.  This film combines the world's stereotypical vision of India's squalor and struggle with the extraordinary tidal wave of hope that possesses India today.  It offers the sleek and familiar backdrop of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" juxtaposed with the jumble of color, movement, and sound that makes India so enticing; so visually rich you can nearly smell the cardamon and jasmine!  A larger-than-life story about good versus darkest evil, so filled with details and surprises, it will impress any viewer.  Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting and a number of other award winners, has created what promises to be a blockbuster.



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HPV vaccine (Gardasil) - Seizures, Fainting, Paralyis, ....(Updated Chart)

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Sat, Jun 28, 2008 @ 01:10 AM



...dizziness, weakness, and menstrual changes are just a few of the problems people believe are adverse reactions (side effects) of the hpv vaccine.   A few hundred people have written in to this website about their experience, suffering, questions, and beliefs.  They've also written about their frustrations with medical professionals who are not responsive to considering a possible correlation between the vaccine and these problems. 

I've been building and posting a table of these comments.  Tonight, I'm posting an updated table of items received through the end of May.  I continue to hope that the information will be helpful to a researcher somehwere.  

Since the last version was very small type, I'm posting this one as a pdf file.  Please feel free to comment about whether this version is easier to read!

HPV.vacc.3.pdf



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Women's clothing sizes - Why do pants gap in the back?

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Sun, May 11, 2008 @ 08:50 PM



It's one of life's little mysteries. Why do all women's pants gap in the back? I've been thin and not thin, hourglass and not hourglass, but always, the pants gap in the back. I thought it was just me, but then I went shopping a slender size 0 woman the other day; she put on the snuggest pair of jeans -- snug leg, snug hips, snug zipper -- yet still, there was a gap in the back.

Google provides 150 items in response to a search for "gap in the back" and women's pants. A few are manufacturers who've claimed to solve the problem. Wrangler says the answer is to have a curved waistband. Lands End says the answer is "a trimmer waist."

Most of the items are consumer comments -- reviews, bulletin boards, and blogs. The consumer comments reveal that there might not be a single answer. Two of four comments about Cabela's Jeanos say they don't gap in the back, but the other two say they do. One person who had a poor fit said the problem applied to the long-waisted. But other blogs say it's caused by being an hourglass. It sounds like the problem is created when a particular pair of pants doesn't match a particular body shape.

I've written before about the fact that women's clothes aren't consistently sized, making online shopping particularly challenging. And, I've written about two services (MyShape and SizeMeUp) that try to help women address the problem. While researching the gap-in-the-back problem I fell upon another service -- zafu.

I hadn't heard of it before, but zafu looks like a great website that helps women find jeans, pants, and bras that fit. zafu takes an interesting and different approach from it's two competitors. Like its competitors, zafu  asks questions about measurements, but different from them, it also asks about your age, your style, and your shape.  It's suggestions should offer something that fits, is age appropriate and is consistent with your taste. The site is powered by the algorithms of a sister company, Archetype Solutions (which is designed to let people buy customized clothes).

Both the zafu and Archetype websites looked a little old ... blogs ending last fall; so I did a little more checking. zafu raised another round of funding last fall. And, Archetype is now powering a company called DNA Wear. There seems to be some activity going on behind the scenes (job postings, etc), so I think there will be some exciting enhancements coming soon.  Definitely keep an eye on this company.  They might yet solve the gap in the back problem!




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HPV Vaccine - fainting, seizures, and other side effects

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Mon, Apr 07, 2008 @ 07:53 AM



April 2008

Apologies. This is a post from July 2007 that I have updated. Unfortunately, today, I made a wrong choice with the software and it is treating it as a new post. I'm hoping it doesn't break the links and subscriptions for everyone.

I have posted a new chart of all the comments received through the end of March. Click here to see it. If you want to see all the posts on HPV vaccine look at the bottom half of the far right column (it has the topics for all the blogs in this Personal Blog) and click on HPV vaccine.

I'm also adding a new request for folks who write in. I've started getting comments posted by girls and women who say they haven't had a problem or only had a little soreness from the vaccine. To those people I ask, how did you find this site? I'm really curious to find out how the word is beginning to reach people who haven't had a problem. Please share where/how did you hear that there's an issue?

Last, my condolences to Crista Valdez who wrote in a few days ago; her daughter died in her sleep last August. Our hearts go out to you.

 

 

----------------

January 2008

See my new blogs about side effects reported in Australia

and

the Associated Press story that says the problem is just sore arms.

 

NEW - December 21, 2007

I've been contacted by a reporter who would like to talk to those of you who've had or observed these side effects. His name is Tom Grant and his is editor of MetroSpirit, the alternative paper in Augusta, GA. Please contact him directly at tom.grant@metrospirit.com.

Also, he's sent me some information about reporting on these problems from Australia. I'll post them soon.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

 

NEW - Sept. 16, 2007 - Let's help solve the mystery of HPV Vaccine side effects!

I've been surprised by how many of you have submitted comments and distressed by how many have suffered serious reactions. I'm not a medical scientist, but I think maybe we can use this blog to help researchers figure out what's going wrong. Based upon suggestions in the comments, I'm asking - from now on - if you're willing, when you write a comment, include the following:
your age,
your weight category (thin, medium, heavy),
anything you're allergic to (like eggs, dogs, dust, or medicines),
whether the reaction came with the 1st, 2nd or 3rd shot,
what other vaccines you had at the same time, and
the reaction you had
Most of you already include most of these things.
I promise to post another blog here with a chart that I'll keep updated and maybe we'll see a possible correlation. It should be up in about two days.

-------------------------------------------

UPDATE - Sept. 30th - I've posted a separate blog entry with a chart.

-----------------------------------------

Original post:


Today, I received a horrifying response to an earlier blog asking if we shouldn't know more about the long-term risks of the HPV vaccine before mandating that it be given to all young girls:

"my daughter had hpv vaccine on 6/25/07 - fainted and had two seizures immediately after injection
posted @ Tuesday, July 03, 2007 11:27 AM by kim kimes".

I immediately ran some Web searches and it turns out that Kim's daughter is not alone; there are over 1,600 adverse reaction reports. Considering the chronology I'm about to describe, it seems the word is not getting out fast enough or far enough about the risks of extremely serious side effects, including possibly death (see below). Please, if you know anyone with a daughter, make sure they're informed before they commit to having their daughter given the HPV vaccine.

1990's - first references to research and studies for an HPV vaccine.

6/27/06 - National Vaccine Information Center, a private advocacy group, recommended that the FDA not approve Gardasil as proposed. The NVIC's recommendation was largely focused on their belief that Merck's use of placebos with aluminum had caused more reactions to the placebos, thus making reactions to Gardasil less statistically notable. They also reported that during the clinical trials there were 102 serious events reported, including 17 deaths, but investigators made determinations that most were unrelated to Gardasil.

6/28/06 - FDA announced approval of Gardasil

7/14/06 - First report of an adverse reaction filed with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a program of the Department of Health & Human Services in which the CDC and FDA work together. On 7/11, a 14 year old girl in DC fainted and fell off the examining table after receiving the vaccine; at the emergency room, she had a headache and speech problems.

7/20/06 - Seven days after being vaccinated, a 16 year old girl developed symptoms of Guillian-Barre Syndrome, an immune disorder with weakness, tingling, and other neurological abnormalities.

Year end 2006 - After six months, there were 84 adverse reaction events related to Gardasil on VAERS The Associated Press reported that Merck had earned $235 Million on Gardasil sales in 2006.

2/21/07 - Merck was reported to have suspended its campaign to convince legislatures to mandate the vaccine.

Based upon the number of Gardasil tv commercials I've seen since then (the "One Less" advertisements), it seems that Merck continued advertising heavily to the general public.

May 2007 - Judicial Watch excerpted the VAERS database entries for Gardasil and posted them as .pdf file on the web; there were 1,637 adverse reports that seem to run through the first couple of days in May. I haven't had a chance to read it in detail but here are the incidence of some scary terms:

149 - Hospitalized
53 - Permanent Disability
239 - Syncope (loss of consciousness)
99 - Neuro (includes references to neurologist, neurological, neuro exam)
7 - Guillian-Barre

Please note that in some of the above word counts, the word is used more than once in the same report (the word death appears 5 times in total but there are 3 reported deaths). And, the issues are complex. There are unanswered questions, including those about whether it matters what other drugs the person takes regularly; whether there's a family history of drug allergies; what other vaccinations were administered at the same time; etc. I can't find the citation at the moment but did see at least one recommendation that the vaccine only be administered to people laying down because of the number of reported incidents of patients losing consciousness ("syncope"), falling, and suffering injuries.

From my perspective, the most important thing is for parents to know that these side effects have been reported and that critical questions are unanswered.




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Women's Clothing Sizes - inconsistent fit and the e-commerce sales challenge

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Sat, Mar 01, 2008 @ 11:45 PM



I've written before about the challenge to consistently and easily find women's clothing that fits.  Women's clothing has none of the standard sizing that makes shopping for a man relatively quick and painless.  My prior posts on this topic have gotten some attention, so I thought I'd point out two companies trying to address the problem. 

The good news for consumers is that manufacturers and retailers are beginning to think about transparency for sizing...letting you have some way to know what the actual dimensions of a piece of clothing are.  Now that clothing sales are moving to the internet, clothing has a 14% return rate, approximately double the return rate of other items.  This costs sellers money (postage, restocking, staleness) and they know if may affect repeat business.  Two relatively young companies are taking slightly different approaches to the problem. 

My Shape focuses on the idea that women fall into a small number of body shapes and recommends clothing based upon your shape and personal measurements that you submit to them online.  The shapes are their new names and descriptions for the old apple, pear, hourglass sorts of shapes.  The biggest drawbacks here seem to be getting people to get their measurements right and any privacy issues related to someone else holding your personal measurements.

Size Me Up asks people to submit brand, size, and measurements of favorite clothes in the closet and then plans to tell them which size will be right in something they're perusing online.  The drawback here, as well, is relying on the public to provide consistent measurements.

I have some doubts about any model that requires the customers to provide crucial data.  Both of these companies appear able to attract a loyal fan base, but I suspect that both may be overtaken by one that figures out how to address the problem without making the customers part of the labor force.



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MacBook AIR - Hot new product alert!

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Tue, Jan 15, 2008 @ 04:11 PM



MacBook AIR, an ultralight Apple laptop was announced today!

See a description and photos courtesy of Infosync.

PROS:

  • fast (1.6 or 1.8GHz)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 80GB drive (larger than the 40GB I  saw predicted a few weeks ago) or 64GB solid state.
  • built in camera, microphone, and speaker. 
  • Wifi and Bluetooth, of course.

CONS:

  • only an audio jack, so no ability to use high-quality plug-in headphones with Dolby mic for Skype calling (my favorite on the road)
  • only one USB port
  • 5 hour battery
  • no ethernet (doesn't matter to me, but others are already writing about it)

TOSS UP:

  • 3 pounds - my Dell is 2 pounds, but the transformers have always weighed a ton on Dell power cords and been super light on Apple, so this might be even carrying weight
Price: $1,799 or $3,098.  Delivery starts in a few weeks.



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Blog Renovations...

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Sat, Jan 12, 2008 @ 09:45 AM

  
  


I've been writing about a number of topics under different pages and, now that I've had a hard look at traffic statistics, I'm going to do some reorganizing.  

I'm working out the details to make sure I don't lose any past posts and that favorite links stay the same.  

Stay tuned!!!



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Product Idea - "Big Print" Games

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Mon, Jan 07, 2008 @ 08:40 AM

  
  



This year, someone close to me spent quite a long time in the hospital and in bed afterwards. One of the things I noticed was the frustration with passing long days when medication and pain make it too hard to read. Since many people in this condition are older, with some decline in vision and small motor dexterity, I decided what would really help would be a magazine-sized GameBoy type device. It should weigh about the same as a magazine (sick people are weak) and have a big screen and big buttons. There should be a number of games that don't require quick reflexes and where the sound can be turned off. Think solitaire and BubbleBreaker, not SuperMario or Grand Theft Auto.



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