Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet and Now Bankruptcy.

What a shame but perhaps this situation was 20 years in the making.

I am not sure the government should try and save them but the economy is so bad they may have no choice.

“We should have let the market forces work because there is no end in sight,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee told CBS’ The Early Show Friday.

The senator said the government could have saved taxpayer money by getting this deal done six months ago, adding this puts the country on the road toward socialism.
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Tiananmen Protests 20 Year Anniversary

I know that this video is still banned in China and that many young people there have never seen this. I also think that with China’s new prosperity the youth may not realize the struggle that their parents went through. I put the video with Chinese commentary in case someone gets to see it.

How things change.

Two decades ago, China’s youth were at the forefront of a movement to bring democracy to the world’s most populous nation in demonstrations bloodily put down around Beijing’s central Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

Today, after years of breakneck economic growth, the young are more pro-government, more suspicious of the West, and genuinely proud of China’s achievements, such as the Beijing Olympics, making a repeat of June 4 unlikely.

The China of 20 years ago, where the chaos of the Cultural Revolution was still fresh in many people’s minds, is also very different from the China of today, with its shining skyscrapers, bustling malls and expanding middle class.

“One good thing about young people today is that they are luckier than in the past,” said Bao Tong, a former senior official purged after the 1989 demonstrations.

“My son and daughter grew up in difficult circumstances, with rationed food … They didn’t have enough nutrition, now, there are no grains coupons, no meat coupons.”

The potential for unrest has not gone away though thanks to the global economic crisis.

More than six million university students will try to enter China’s workforce this year. Up to a quarter could have difficulty finding jobs, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said in December, as the economy slows.
Many are already getting desperate.

The Yangtse Evening Post reported earlier this month that in the relatively affluent eastern province of Jiangsu, 46 university graduates had applied for jobs as public toilet attendants, such was the state of the labor market.

“Better to be a ‘toilet master’ than unemployed at home,” it cited one of the applicants as saying.

Now they are experiences both sides of capitalism.

Sotomayor Comments…Racist?

Conservatives have seized on the speech Sotomayor delivered at the University of California, Berkeley’s law school. In a discussion about discrimination cases, the federal appeals court judge said: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
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“It’s on its face a troubling statement,” Sessions continued. “It goes against the idea of color-blind justice — blind justice, not just color-blind justice.”

Some conservative commentators, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, have called the statement racist.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs suggested yesterday that the statement was being taken out of context. “I think she’s talking about the unique experiences that she has,” Gibbs said.

I agree with Robert Gibbs. She was discussing hear a case regarding discrimination…imagine a judge who has been wealthy all his or her life with a privileged background hear those cases. Not that the deliberation would not be fair but someone who has lived the other side of that coin may indeed have a unique perspective on the matter.

“I’m sure she would have restated it,” President Barack Obama said in an interview with NBC News, referring to Sotomayor’s speech that was later reprinted in a law journal. “But if you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote what’s clear is she was simply saying that her life experiences will give information about the struggle, the hardships that people are going through, that will make her a good judge.

What do you think? What a shame if her comments are misunderstood because this would be a good opportunity for Latinas and all minorities.

Nokia App Store Disaster.

Nokia opened its online software and content store Tuesday, hoping to follow the success of Apple Inc’s App Store, but the opening was overshadowed by technical glitches and negative reviews.
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Apple’s store has proved extremely popular, with one billion applications downloaded in less than a year, and operators and technology firms including Vodafone, Microsoft Corp and Nokia now want a piece of the pie.

Nokia, the world’s largest handset maker, said its Ovi Store was opened globally to some 50 million phone users, putting it in front of any other rival store. Apple has sold only around 20 million iPhones.

Although I am an iPhone fan in my business I am hoping more handsets will have apps.

Nokia said on Tuesday in most markets around the world consumers have to log on to an Internet page on their cellphone browser to access Ovi Store — something analysts said was bound to limit takeup significantly.OVI001
“The more steps you ask customers to go through, the more opportunities there are for them to step aside,” said Forrester analyst Charles Golvin.

Spam Makes a Comeback!

The economy is in tatters and, for millions of people, the future is uncertain. But for Hormel employees times have never been better. They are working at a furious pace and piling up all the overtime they want.

The workers make Spam, perhaps the emblematic hard-times food in the American pantry.
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Through war and recession, Americans have turned to the glistening canned product from Hormel as a way to save money while still putting something that resembles meat on the table. Now, in a sign of the times, it is happening again, and Hormel is cranking out as much Spam as its workers can produce.

In a factory that abuts Interstate 90, two shifts of workers have been making Spam seven days a week since last July, and they have been told that the relentless work schedule will continue indefinitely.

Spam, a gelatinous 12-ounce rectangle of spiced ham and pork, may be among the world’s most maligned foods, dismissed as inedible by food elites and skewered by comedians who have offered smart-alecky theories on its name (one G-rated example: Something Posing As Meat).

But these days, consumers are rediscovering relatively cheap foods, Spam among them.

A 12-ounce can of Spam, marketed as “Crazy Tasty,” costs about $2.40. “People are realizing it’s not that bad a product,” said Dan Johnson, 55, who operates a 70-foot-high Spam oven.

Hormel workers were interviewed recently with the help of their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 9. Slumped in chairs at the union hall after making 149,950 cans of Spam on the day shift, several workers said they been through boom times before — but nothing like this.

Spam “seems to do well when hard times hit,” said Dan Bartel, business agent for the union local. “We’ll probably see Spam lines instead of soup lines.”

Even as consumers are cutting back on all sorts of goods, Spam is among a select group of thrifty grocery items that are selling steadily.

Pancake mixes and instant potatoes are booming. So are vitamins, fruit and vegetable preservatives and beer, according to data from last October compiled by Information Resources, a market research firm.

There has also been a double-digit increase in the sale of rice and beans. Heck the Brazilians have known about that great belly filler for decades.

Recently Kraft Foods reported that some of its value-oriented products like macaroni and cheese, Jell-O and Kool-Aid were experiencing robust growth. And sales are still growing, if not booming, for Velveeta, a Kraft product that bears the same passing resemblance to cheese as Spam bears to ham.

Spam holds a special place in America’s culinary history, both as a source of humor and of cheap protein during hard times.

Jay Hormel, the son of the company’s founder, invented Spam during the Great Depression. Spam is a combination of ham, pork, sugar, salt, water, potato starch and a “hint” of sodium nitrite “to help Spam keep its gorgeous pink color,” according to Hormel’s Web site for the product.
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Because it is vacuum-sealed in a can and does not require refrigeration, Spam can last for years. Hormel says “it’s like meat with a pause button.”

During World War II, Spam became a staple for Allied troops overseas. They introduced it to local residents, and it remains popular in many parts of the world where the troops were stationed.
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Guam, Okinawa and even Japan have a special affection for Spam. I had Spam Sashimi in Tokyo introduced by the Samoan Sumo Champion, Akibono.

Last night I saw Spam make an appearance on the Waffle House menu…yikes the economy will even change our dietary habits.

Keyboard Cat Phenom!


A new Internet phenomenon has drawn the interest of millions, including Stephen Colbert.

One of the most popular current online crazes is something called “Play Him Off, Keyboard Cat,” a user-generated video meme. Not sure why it has become so popular but the videos are wild. I am always intrigued by the viral power of YouTube and this is another great example.

The formula is a simple. A clip is played of a pratfall or some unfortunate, self-inflicted accident. This is immediately followed by (always the same) old clip of a cat playing an upbeat tune on a keyboard.

The keyboard cat is, in a way, the smiling face of fate, perpetually making light of silly human failures. It’s not stupid pet tricks, it’s stupid people tricks. Like the old vaudeville hook, the keyboard cat will play you off the stage.

The phenomenon was started by Brad O’Farrell, a 22-year-old syndication manager for the video website MyDamnChannel.com. In February, he uploaded the first video: a clip of someone falling down an escalator, promptly “played off” by the taunting keyboard cat.

The video has spawned hundreds of “copycats” that have collectively been watched by millions. One shows a commentator on Fox News passing out on screen; another features a failed marriage proposal.

“I did kind of try to make it a video that other people could repeat easily,” said O’Farrell. “The original clip of the cat playing the keyboard, I was already sending to people … following bad news.”

The trend even jumped to “The Daily Show” recently. While Jon Stewart did the “toss” to “The Colbert Report,” Colbert worried he would make a mistake and be mocked by the keyboard cat. Sure enough, Colbert stumbled over a line and the keyboard cat gave him the hook.

“Every time it gets to a larger media outlet, I assume that’s the biggest one that’s going to happen,” said O’Farrell.

O’Farrell made the video with the permission of Charlie Schmidt, who created the original keyboard cat video two decades ago. O’Farrell links his video to Schmidt’s site to help Schmidt benefit from all the traffic.

Schmidt, a performance artist, made the video by manipulating the shoulders of his cat, Fatso, so his paws touched the keyboard. Fatso may be long dead, but he’s having the last laugh.