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By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Nov 10, 2009

The news can, at rare intervals, be rather fun. Catching up on a few back issues of Time, for example, I learned that 77% of Americans don’t think the Federal government’s economic recovery efforts have helped them, but 60% believe that those efforts were necessary to avoid deeper problems. Oh, and 100% of the people are really just guessing.

I also learned that the French branch of the Church of Scientology was found guilty of organized fraud and fined nearly a million dollars for insisting that members undergo high-priced “purification courses”, costing thousands of dollars per person. It has been proposed as a fund-raising plan that we make the course available online at for a fraction of the price, say about $249.99 a head.

Then there’s NASA’s latest rocket, the Ares, which during a two-minute flight reached speeds of 3,605 miles per hour. It is designed to go about 18,000 miles per hour on future trips. One of the objectives is Mars, so naturally I wanted to do the math. If Ares succeeds at its proposed top speed, it could get a payload to Mars in less than three months when the planet is very close to Earth (or 19 months when it is farthest away). It is to be hoped that the renewed space program will do more for the economy than Scientology.

And did you know that Iceland is losing McDonald’s? Iceland’s banks have fallen into debt to the tune of 10 times the gross national product, causing the value of the currency to plummet and the cost of imports to soar. There isn’t a big beef industry in Iceland. All three McDonald’s franchises will soon be closed.

Now here’s some financial history: In 1929, Eugene G. Grace of Bethlehem Steel became the first public-company executive to earn more than one million dollars. In 1933, shareholders of American Tobacco filed suit as a result of President George Hill’s $1.3 million salary. In 2001, Enron paid executives $320 million in bonuses for hitting their stock targets, just before declaring bankruptcy. And just last year, a court ruled that New York Stock Exchange Chief Richard Grasso could keep $139.5 million in deferred compensation.

The quote of the week award goes to Chuck Rose, a New York Mets fan roughly in the mold of Trinity Consulting’s technical director’s feisty wife, Bridget, who hails from those parts herself. After enduring a World Series between the Mets’ two biggest rivals, the Yankees and the Phillies, Rose commented: “I hope it rains for 40 days and 40 nights.” But that’s nothing compared with the taunting emails we get from Bridget Kerlek every time the hapless Redskins play the Giants.

Time’s lexicon term of the week is Obamu, a slang term gaining popularity among Japanese youth. It means “to ignore inexpedient and inconvenient facts or realities, think ‘Yes we can, yes we can’ and proceed with optimism.” It is related by contrast to “kobamu”, which means to refuse, reject or oppose. Theories of word origin?

Oh, and Soupy Sales died on October 22nd, proving, I suppose, that all good things come to an end. May he rest in peace.

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