Sunday Reads: There is no place like home…

Good Sunday Morning!

Ahhhh, you feel that? A quiet moment before the P.I.T.A holiday season kicks into gear. This year stores are opening even before the usual early morning hours that most of us are used to on Black Friday.  At Walmart, the word went out that no one could have Thanksgiving and Black Friday off work…no calling in sick cause you will be automatically terminated. (I asked my husband what about if there really is an emergency…he said they would have to be in the hospital to get out of being fired.)  The stores are looking to capitalize on getting those poor economy dollars first, before the people run out of cash.

Thanksgiving Day is for eating turkey, watching football and, apparently, shopping at lower-end retailers.

While much has been made in the media about retailers opening their doors at midnight to grab their share from shoppers’ wallets, several retailers that cater to people with the tightest budgets will be open all day.

Sears Holdings is keeping its discount K-Mart stores open on Thanksgiving for the 20th year, waiting until Black Friday, the following day that officially kicks off holiday shopping, to welcome people into its namesake chain.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc is also open on Thanksgiving, as are most of Gap Inc’s Old Navy locations.

Executives and analysts alike have said the fight for shopper dollars is more intense this year in a tough job market and uncertain economy. The National Retail Federation expects retail sales to up 2.8 percent this season, below last year’s 5.2 percent clip.

Chains that cater to shoppers on the tightest budget stand to lose the most, analysts said.

“They want to make sure they are getting consumer dollars before anyone else,” said Kurt Salmon retail strategist Megan Donadio. “Retailers want to do whatever they can to make sure what consumers do spend is spent with them.”

I worked in retail management for 11 years before I went back to school to become a paralegal, and those holiday shopping days of hell still give me nightmares. At least this year things are going to be easy when it comes to shopping for Christmas gifts for the kids…when you got no money, choosing what to get them is easy…reminds me of the line in the movie Caddyshack…Ted Knight as Judge Smails tells his grandson Spalding… “You’ll get nothing and like it!” (Nah, it isn’t as bad as that.)

The Census Data has shown that the “Near Poor” are growing in record numbers, my response to this “surprising” find is…no shit! Check out the title of the New York Times article: Older, Suburban and Struggling, ‘Near Poor’ Startle the Census

Down but not quite out, these Americans form a diverse group sometimes called “near poor” and sometimes simply overlooked — and a new count suggests they are far more numerous than previously understood.

When the Census Bureau this month released a new measure of poverty, meant to better count disposable income, it began altering the portrait of national need. Perhaps the most startling differences between the old measure and the new involves data the government has not yet published, showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September. All told, that places 100 million people — one in three Americans — either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it.

After a lost decade of flat wages and the worst downturn since the Great Depression, the findings can be thought of as putting numbers to the bleak national mood — quantifying the expressions of unease erupting in protests and political swings. They convey levels of economic stress sharply felt but until now hard to measure.

The Census Bureau, which published the poverty data two weeks ago, produced the analysis of those with somewhat higher income at the request of The New York Times. The size of the near-poor population took even the bureau’s number crunchers by surprise.

Surprise? Come on! This should not be a shock! Things are bad and getting worse.

“These numbers are higher than we anticipated,” said Trudi J. Renwick, the bureau’s chief poverty statistician. “There are more people struggling than the official numbers show.”

Outside the bureau, skeptics of the new measure warned that the phrase “near poor” — a common term, but not one the government officially uses — may suggest more hardship than most families in this income level experience. A family of four can fall into this range, adjusted for regional living costs, with an income of up to $25,500 in rural North Dakota or $51,000 in Silicon Valley.

Dr. Dakinikat, maybe you can put your expertise to work for us…what do you think of the results:

…most economists called the new measure better than the old, and many said the findings, while disturbing, comported with what was previously known about stagnant wages.

“It’s very consistent with everything we’ve been hearing in the last few years about families’ struggle, earnings not keeping up for the bottom half,” said Sheila Zedlewski, a researcher at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan economic and social research group.

Meanwhile, you got 1%er Mitt Romney declaring he does not support the Stupor Committee’s raising of ANY taxes. Romney: I will not support tax hikes by super committee

Mitt Romney said Saturday he would not support any deal by a congressional debt committee that raised taxes, even as time ran short on a deficit-reduction agreement in Congress.

“I don’t believe that raising revenues is the right answer to balancing our budget,” he said. “I will not support any proposal based upon increasing taxes or revenues. I will, however, support proposals that are focused on reducing spending.”

Romney was asked about a proposal by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey that included $400 billion in additional tax revenue – anathema to many congressional Republicans – as part of deficit reduction.

Romney said he had not seen the plan, but said the “right answer” was to concentrate on spending cuts and entitlement reform.

Asshole…Rich Basturd!

“In my view, what the super committee should do is rein in excessive spending in the current budget and reform Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security to make them permanently sustainable,” he said.

Oh, we are so f’d!

Moving on quickly to another ass…of the PLUB kind. Aborted Fetuses to Star in 2012 Election Ads

David Lewis will not be the next congressman from Ohio’s 8th District. But for Lewis, an unemployed former IT technician who is challenging House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in next year’s Republican primary, winning isn’t the objective.

By running for federal office, Lewis can compel local television stations to run grisly anti-abortion ads that would otherwise never stand a chance of making it on the air. Emphasis on grisly: Lewis’ ads feature what purport to be dismembered fetuses, tied together in neat little bundles, or simply mangled beyond recognition. “The FCC says that 45 days out from a primary and 60 days out from a general election, we can run ads on a television station with FCC licenses—unedited, uncensored, they can’t deny it as long as we buy the spot,” he explains.

Lewis isn’t alone. He is one of a handful of anti-abortion activists who have been recruited by Randall Terry, founder of the anti-abortion group Society for Truth and Justice, to run for office in metropolitan areas across the country. Together, they aim to exploit a Federal Communications Commission loophole and saturate major media markets with graphic anti-abortion images. What the ads lack in production values, they more than make up for in shock value. As he explained in an interview with Catholic Online last November, Terry, who is himself running for president as a Democrat, explained: “By running campaign ads in the top 25 media markets, we can reach one-third of the nation with a message about the truth and horror of abortion.”

These ads are horrible indeed, one television station that refused to run a similar ad in Georgia for someone running for a State house seat called the ad:

“menstrual gore”

These sick people…I just can’t understand their thought process.

At least the Pentagon has been busy making sure the Country is safe…check it out, a Bomb that goes FIVE times the speed of sound. Depending where these bombs are located, it makes any target only an hour away: Pentagon Tests Hypersonic Flying Bomb : Discovery News

Ballistic missiles have been the ultimate in long-range weapons for the last half-century, able to reach almost anyplace on Earth within an hour (sometimes less). On Thursday the U.S. Army tested a bomb that can reach ballistic missile speeds and more importantly, has directional controls.

The Pentagon didn’t give specifics about the weapon’s range or speed. Called the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, or AHW, it was launched from Hawaii and hit a target in Kwajalein Atoll, some 2,500 miles away in about a half hour.

Hypersonic speeds are defined as faster than five times the speed of sound, which is about 768 miles per hour at sea level. If this was truly a hypersonic flight that means the AHW was moving at least 3,800 miles per hour. At that speed it could hit any target on earth in three hours or less. The AHW is part of a program called Prompt Global Strike, and the goal is to build a weapon that can reach its target in an hour or less. The Congressional Research Service reports that some $240 million has been spent on the program so far.

I can’t decide which is more mind-boggling…the faster than five times the speed of sound…or the $240 million spent on the project, “so far.”

Hillary Clinton weighed in on the Penn State child rape scandal: Hillary Clinton: ‘Sick’ about Penn State scandal – MJ Lee – POLITICO.com

“I am just sick at heart about it,” Clinton said in an interview with ABC’s Jake Tapper. “I am also the daughter and the sister of two men who went to Penn State and were on the football team. So we have a long tradition of supporting Penn State academically and athletically.”

The secretary of state also said that some people’s initial reactions when the allegations first surfaced were not “calm or considered,” referring to student supporters of the football team who rioted.

“I can understand, in the passion and emotion of the moments, and before people really had a chance to actually think about what these allegations mean, people perhaps were not as calm or considered in their response,” she said.

She added, “But now it seems across the board everyone is focused on what we should be focused on, which are the children who allegedly have been victimized.”

This next link is just interesting on a “how about that” level: The Volokh Conspiracy » Why Yankee Doodle called it “macaroni” It is a quick post about the British Monarchy in the late 1700’s. I guess the word “Macaroni” was the “Bling” of the 18th century.

From Minx’s Missing Link File: Many of you know my fascination with little people (a.k.a midgets) so when I read this obit for one of the last living Munchkins, I had to write about it. Karl Slover dies at 93; among the last of the Munchkins

A dwarf whose father sold him to circus performers, Karl Slover was performing in a vaudeville troupe called the Singer Midgets when he was cast as a Munchkin in the 1939 classic film ” The Wizard of Oz.”

The 4-foot, 4-inch Slover, one of the last of the actors who portrayed Munchkins, died Tuesday in a central Georgia hospital of cardiopulmonary arrest. He was 93.

Slover was part of the Singer’s Midgets, which is an image I use sometimes on my evening read post:

Of the 124 “Munchkins” only three survive. Slover had a terrible childhood, which consisted of painful treatments for his dwarfism.

As a child, Slover was partially buried in sand, immersed in heated oil until his skin blistered and then attached to a stretching machine at a hospital, all in the attempt to make him become taller. Eventually his 6-foot-6 inch father sold him to a troupe of traveling midgets in Berlin. He was 9.

By the time he was a teenager, he had moved to the United States and appeared with the Singer Midgets, whose 30 performers became the nucleus of the Munchkins.

In “The Wizard of Oz,” Slover is the first of three trumpeters to herald the Munchkin mayor’s entrance. Paid about $50 a week for acting in the movie, Slover told friends that Garland’s dog in the film, Toto, earned more.

But he seems to have had quite the personality and a good outlook on life…John Fricke, author of “100 years of Oz” had this to say about Slover and his role in Munchkinland:

“He has a genuine immortality,” Fricke said.

[…]

“In those uninformed days, his father tried witch doctor treatments to make him grow,” Fricke said. “Knowing Karl and his triumph over his early life, you can’t help but celebrate the man at a time like this.”

Easy like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: Pictures are worth a thousand words…

Rescue me: This stunning blue lobster has been rehomed at London's Natural History Museum after a fisherman spotted it at Billingsgate Market

Rescue me: This stunning blue lobster has been rehomed at London’s Natural History Museum after a fisherman spotted it at Billingsgate Market

Scientists at the museum believe the European lobster, traditionally a much darker shade of blue, hatched out with the unusual colour due to a rare genetic variant.

It has now been given to the London Aquarium and will be on display once it has been through quarantine.

Rex, 45, was buying supplies for his shop, The Chelsea Fishmonger, when he saw the lobster at Billingsgate Market.

He said: ‘It’s the most striking blue lobster I have seen in my 30 years in the business and was too nice to put in a pot and boil.

‘I had a word with the seller and we both agreed on how nice it looked. He sold it to me for 10 pounds, which is the normal price for a lobster that size.

Standing out: The rare blue lobster is vividly different in appearance to his muddy-coloured contemporaries

Standing out: The rare blue lobster is vividly different in appearance to his muddy-coloured contemporaries

Is that amazing or what? Such a beautiful color of vivid blue…

That is it for me this big Sunday. Big for me because I am moving into our new old house today. Tomorrow the high-speed internet gets hooked up and by Tuesday I should be back to normal, well at least almost normal. So as of Wednesday…the Evening News Reads will be back in full force! Every evening Monday through Friday, between 5–7pm EST. It will be so good to be back, I miss hanging out in the comments too!

So, have a marvelous day…and post some links to what you are reading and thinking about today!