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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Money on the Run…
Wednesday, October 8, 2008 • Posted October 8, 2008

A rage permeates the land at the prospect of crumbling financial institutions' unscrupulous CEOs making off with spoils enfolded in golden parachutes.

The most talked-about “winner” of the largesse derby is Alan H. Fishman, whose CEO status spanned 17 days at Washington Mutual. He’s reported to have pocketed some $20 million.

No doubt he’ll “cry all the way” to the mattress, the cookie jar or the coffee can—I mean a REALLY big coffee can—buried in his backyard….

  • * * * *

All the while, prospective parents are perusing shortened lists of favorite names for their soon to arrive “joy bundles.”

Four names lopped off are “Freddie, Fanny, Mac and Mae.”

“Freddie” may get a reprieve if a son is born to the Kruegers, over on Elm Street. The movie magnate well-known for a series of horror movies popular with the younger set may want a “Fred Krueger II.”…

  • * * * *

UCLA math profs deserve the prize for timing. Their new discovery might come in handy during our country’s current economic upheaval.

They’ve discovered a 13-million-digit prime number.

I’m no authority on meat, but I better understand prime beef than prime numbers. This new discovery may be helpful as we process daily news of bailouts, buyouts, rainouts and washouts that cause us to tune out, fall out, cry out and check out….

  • * * * *

Speaking of academe, I’m amazed at recent news from a group of college presidents pushing a lower age for legal consumption of alcohol. The news spotlight was about to burn right through when election and economic news overshadowed all else on front pages and at the top of newscasts.

The prexies, heads of 120 or so “leading universities,” voted to recommend lowering the legal age for alcohol consumption to 18.

There’s little doubt but that this item will face more scrutiny. The presidents’ recommendation is a “stunner” and could lead to a new vote on institutions on the list of “leading universities.”…

  • * * * *

I’ve long enjoyed poking fun at college presidents, mostly in the years before I was one.

Many presidents sorely need to have their pomposities punctured periodically. Happily, I’ve had opportunities to insert the needle.

Once addressing an audience of 100 or so university presidents, I mentioned that if a bomb should hit the assembly hall that day, it would set education FORWARD 100 years. . . .

  • * * * *

Uncle Mort, my 96-year-old uncle down in the thicket, continues his “business as usual” approach to life. When he called the other day, I thought he might have some views on the presidential race.

In his opening sentence, he said he ALMOST had good news. “I got some mail today from Starbucks,” he laughed. “At first, I thought I had won a free drink. Sadly, I misread the letter. It turned out that I’d won a free Starbucks’ franchise.”

Mort didn’t talk long. He said he had to go check on an adoption.

He’s signed up for the “adopt a highway” program. Mentioning that 7-Eleven stores are now selling coffee in red cups (Republicans) and blue cups (Democrats), he believes that the ones tossed out of auto windows will provide data concerning how Americans feel about presidential candidates. He said he’d call back in a couple of weeks with an update on his coffee cup clean-up. Mort says his poll would be as reliable as the ones the TV guys are trumpeting….

  • * * * *

I never expected to see a business that might rival my uncle’s self-confidence.

But a few days ago, my wife and I did. We noted a sign above the cash register at Mary Ann’s Deli in Fairhope, Alabama. It reads: “If our food, drinks and service aren’t up to your standards, we suggest that you lower your standards.”

They’ve been serving up food that folks line up for since the early 80’s, and so far, few diners have had to lower their standards….

  • * * * *

In these and all other days, our cockles are warmed by accounts of lives well-lived. Paul Newman’s recent death at age 83 was well-chronicled, as well it should have been.

His was a magical life. Newman was married to Joanne Woodward for 50 years, and was fully engaged in philanthropy outside his entertainment career. Newman, an actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian and car racing enthusiast, was unaffected by his many successes.

He gave $250 million to charities, most for terminally ill children. All profits from Newman’s Own, his brand of grocery items that began with salad dressings, have been directed to such causes. They will continue to benefit these charities. He was a “cool hand” indeed….

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.

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