Thursday, September 30, 2010

The shuffle feature has got to be the greatest invention for the listening of music.
DAVE: The Astros traded away Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and they got better.

JIM: It's amazing how that happens, huh? The Pirates did that too. The Pirates traded away Adam LaRoche and they got...oh wait. Well, they got the first part right; they traded away Adam LaRoche.

I was amazed and dumbfounded by many things in that article about the Pirates you posted on your blog the other day. But the thing that stuck out to me the most was 15 wins on the road. How can a team only win 15 road games the entire season? That has to be close to some kind of record. I can't imagine a team winning less than that.

So the question becomes: why such a big disparity in the Pirates' home and away records?

DAVE: That's a great mystery. Since PNC Park opened in 2001, I believe the Pirates have generally had better home records than on the road. That has often been used as the argument for going to see the Pirates play at PNC, because despite how bad they have been over the years, there was always close to a 50/50 chance that you would see them win at home. This season, I think, is the team's worst road record in its history (several of those milestones set this year). I also think that I heard that 15-66 is the record, so by winning last night, they will not tie the all-time mark for worst away records. They suck.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stink Bugs
Written by Rob Rogers

Stink bugs. They are everywhere these days. I couldn't resist including the little pests in a cartoon. But narrowing down the list of targets was very difficult. I managed to slam Pittsburgh's declining population, Harrisburg, the Pirates (too easy), and even the state's Department of Homeland Security and their goofy terror bulletins. Stink bugs I had to leave out include Marcellus Shale drillers, PennDot, the Boy Mayor, the LCB, etc. I'll have to wait for the next stink bug cartoon to get them all in.
DAVE: So, what do you think about an 18 game NFL season?

JIM: Asking for trouble. Aren't there enough injuries already? I mean, every year, to me at least, it seems that the teams that are lucky enough to stay healthy are the ones that make the playoffs, and then the healthiest out of those teams is the one that wins the Supe. Is that really the way it's supposed to be?

It seems to me that owners are being greedy, and they will probably get burned for it in the end, one way or another.

DAVE: Agreed. I am in favor of reducing the number of pre-season games from four to two, but I don't think those two games should be added as regular season games. But like everything else, it's about the money.

JIM: NFL owners, as a stereotypical whole, are (I think) very, very smart people. Or at least smart businesspeople. Is it possible that they see the glory years of the NFL coming to an end and this is their way of grabbing as much money as they can before the train wreck?

DAVE: That, my dear Mr. Blondie, sounds more like some cockamamie theory that I would come up with. I like the way you are thinking. And you may very well be right.

JIM: I'm just asking the question.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This story appeared in the Post-Gazette yesterday. In it, the Pirates claim that their average game attendance actually went up slightly over last year. In a word: bullshit. The Pirates management cooked those numbers, just like they cook their financial books. There is NO WAY that more people went to Pirate games this season than went last season. The Pirates are so desperate to say SOMETHING positive about this disastrous season. They are lying to the fans, again, only this time they're lying to them about how many of them there are.

Pirates Notebook: Final attendance slightly up
Monday, September 27, 2010
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pirates have regressed in just about every facet in 2010, from pitching to hitting to defense to the overall record, but one of the few upticks came at the gate.

The crowd of 23,208 for the home finale Sunday raised the total attendance at PNC Park to 1,613,399, highest at the stadium since 2007 and the 17th-highest in the franchise's 124-year history. The average crowd of 19,919 was an increase over the 19,479 of last year, and seven games were sellouts.

Although that average crowd is the fourth-smallest in Major League Baseball, it also represented what is expected to be one of the few increases. And the National League, as a whole, is expected to show a decrease.

"In what has been a very disappointing season, Pirates fans have given our players championship-caliber support," team president Frank Coonelly said. "While several clubs in baseball are asking why more fans are not coming to their games, we are fortunate to play in front of vocal, sophisticated and energetic fans who have supported our club through an incredibly trying time."

Coonelly cited two possible explanations.

"First, Pittsburgh is, quite simply, a great baseball town whose love of the Pirates is as deep and rich as the history of this proud organization. Second, our fans finally see a young core of players who care about winning as much as they do and who have the talent to make winning a reality. In return, this young group feeds off our fans' remarkable passion, as reflected in the disparity in our home and road records."

The Pirates finished 40-41 at home but are 15-59 on the road.

"Pirates fans are winners, and they deserve a winner in return," Coonelly continued. "We understand how fortunate we are to have such great support and take seriously our responsibility to deliver that winning team."

The franchise record for attendance was 2,436,139, in PNC's first season, for an average of 30,076.

Monday, September 27, 2010

These days, being what is now apparently considered a "liberal" democrat is becoming downright depressing . . .

Tom Corbett
Written by Rob Rogers

Be afraid. Be very afraid. State Attorney General Tom Corbett wants to steal your health care. Corbett is one of the state attorneys general who filed suit to block Obama's health care reform bill. Corbett is also running for Governor. On the campaign trail he is saying he's in favor of improving health care for Pennsylvanians. Interesting how he always forgets to add, "if I don't sabotage it first."
Segway owner dies after falling off river cliff
Sep 27, 9:53 AM EDT

LONDON (AP) -- A wealthy British businessman who owns the company that makes the two-wheeled Segway has been found dead in a river in northern England after apparently falling off a cliff on one of the vehicles, police said Monday.

The body of 62-year-old James Heselden and a Segway personal transporter were found in the River Wharfe and he was pronounced dead at the scene, West Yorkshire Police said.

Police said a witness had reported seeing a man fall Sunday over a 30-foot (9-meter) drop into the river near Boston Spa, 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of London.

"The incident is not believed to be suspicious," police said, indicating that they do not believe anyone else was involved.

Heselden, who bought control of the New Hampshire-based Segway company in December, made his fortune through his firm Hesco Bastion Ltd., which developed a system to replace sand bags to protect troops.

Hesco Bastion is based in Leeds, near the tough Halton Moor area where Heselden grew up. He left school at 15 and first worked as a coal miner before becoming a businessman and philanthropist. Hesco Bastion said Heselden recently gave 10 million pounds ($15.9 million) to the Leeds Community Foundation, raising his total charitable giving to 23 million pounds.

"Jimi was an amazing man who, apart from being a wonderful success story for Leeds due to his business acumen, was also remarkably selfless and generous, giving millions to local charities to help people in his home city," said Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds City Council.

The battery-powered Segway, which is stabilized by gyroscopes, was invented by Dean Kamen, who founded the company in 1999.

The story keeps getting updated by the AP:
I hate that Michael Vick is currently playing very well as the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

If members of my vast and loyal readership read this column full of both facts and opinions and then still want to vote for a republican--for Governor, for Senator, or for President in 2012--then there is nothing that I will ever be able to do or say that will convince you otherwise. And that makes me feel sorry for you, and sorry for the rest of us.

Goodbye, middle class
The rich get richer, as the rest of us drown in the tub

Sunday, September 26, 2010
By Sally Kalson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stink-bug invasion likely to get worse
Saturday, September 25, 2010
By Lena H. Sun, The Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- Shaped like shields and armed with an odor, dime-size brown bugs are crawling into area homes over windowsills, through door crevices and between attic vents in such numbers that homeowners talk about drowning them in jars of soapy water, suffocating them in plastic bags or even burning them with propane torches.

In the process, some people are unwittingly creating another problem: When squashed or irritated, the bugs release the distinctive smell of sweaty feet.

Get used to it, experts say: The invasion is only going to get worse.

"This is the vanguard," said University of Maryland entomologist and extension specialist Mike Raupp. "I think this is going to be biblical this year," he said wryly. "You're going to hear a collective wail in the Washington area, up through [Maryland's] Frederick and Alleghany counties, like you've never heard before. The [bug] populations are just through the ceiling."

The change in season, as days shorten and nighttime temperatures start to dip, is nature's call to the brown marmorated stink bug -- pest extraordinaire -- to leave its summer gorging grounds and seek refuge inside. What's happening now is a massive population shift from orchards, cornfields and gardens, to suburban homes, office buildings, hotels -- the urban U.S. equivalents of rocky outcroppings in the stink bug's native Asia.

Stink bugs are harmless to people and their possessions. They don't bite. They don't sting. They're not known to transmit disease. But their population has grown so tremendously that they are not only causing vexation to homeowners but also, for the first time, wreaking damage to fruit and vegetable crops -- from peaches and apples to soybeans and corn, and even ornamental shrubs and trees.

There is no easy way to kill lots of bugs at once. They have no natural predators in the United States; existing pesticides don't work effectively. They travel easily -- hitching rides on the backs of buses, in packing materials, on cement blocks -- and adapt to winter in homes. As a result, they have flourished, spreading to 29 states since they arrived in Allentown, Pa., in 2001, likely stowaways in a shipping container from Asia. They are native to Japan, Korea and China, where they are known as "stinky big sisters."

And now, they are causing a stink in the mid-Atlantic region.

Experts say homeowners should prevent the pests from coming indoors by sealing cracks with caulk and using weather stripping around doors and windows. If the bugs do get inside, residents can vacuum them up, remove the bag and put it in the garbage.

The danger, though, is that squashed stink bugs can smell up the vacuum cleaner. Experts warn against using pesticides not intended for residential applications because that can cause illness and make homes unsafe -- and might not solve the problem.

Because so little is known about the insect, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and several universities are studying the bug's basic behavior and biology and identifying natural ways to control it.

Scientists don't know, for example, whether this winter's heavy snows gave the bugs extra insulation from the cold, or whether the summer's heat and drought created ideal conditions for reproduction.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I received a job announcement in my email today. The job was working for a Green industry start-up, and the position announcement said, "This full-time position includes vacation and holiday pay and an insurance stipend." An insurance stipend? Is this the direction that we're headed as a knee jerk reaction to health care reform? Here's some money, now go find your own health insurance?! That will never work. Because Obama and his supposed Democratic allies in the Congress were unable to get the public option included in the law. So, where are people going to go to get private insurance with their insurance stipend? If they have pre-existing conditions, then they can't get insurance. THAT part of the law hasn't gone into effect yet for adults. Thankfully, as of yesterday, it did go into effect for children. Because insurance companies were denying coverage for children with illnesses. But health care reform made that illegal. Because we as human beings were not capable of seeing how uncivilized and inhumane is it to deny health coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. How can ANYONE be against that? Other than republicans and Jason Altmire.
Don't Ask
Written by Rob Rogers

Our brave men and women in the military deserve better than to be treated like second-class citizens. The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is discriminatory, bigoted and, frankly, unconstitutional. How can we ask these men and women to risk their lives to protect our basic freedoms ... and then deny them the same basic freedoms?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Having only one bathroom in every apartment in which I've lived has never really been a problem. Until yesterday. Now, significant tile work has to be done in my shower that will take at least two or three days. I have no place to take a shower. It's my only one. Yikes.

Over two days last week . . .

DAVE: I've decided that I'm going to root for the Tampa Bay Rays. I like their team and I like Joe Maddon.

JIM: Traitor.

We're going to kick your ass in the World Series again.

DAVE: How am I a traitor? I have never, nor will I ever, like the Phillies.

JIM: We're still going to kick your ass in the World Series.

I just learned that Mario has a last name. It is Mario. He is, in fact, Mario Mario.

DAVE: I have no idea what you're talking about.


From the Nintendo game.

DAVE: I'm 41.

With no children.

JIM: Yeah. So that means you were a kid when Mario was born. You never played Super Mario Bros. on Nintendo?

DAVE: Actually, I was never very big on video games. I had an Atari as a kid, but it never went any further than that.

JIM: I find it hard to believe that you've never played a video game with Mario in it.

DAVE: I did play Donkey Kong. I believe it was the Calecovision version for Atari.

JIM: Mario's first appearance ever was as a character in either Donkey Kong or Donkey Kong, Jr. I don't think he was called Mario at the time though.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

There are stink bugs everywhere.
DAVE: From what I have gathered from friends and the media, one of the reasons why the new healthcare reform is being met with such criticism is because the insurance companies are raising premiums now to unprecedented levels in anticipation of the reforms that are coming down the line. So, people are seeing their premiums going up and their coverage going down (which was going to happen anyway, regardless of Obama), but the insurance companies are blaming it on Obama, so their clients blame him. It just goes to show that you can't do anything positive in this country without some group exploiting it to their advantage. Maybe the pundits are right that healthcare reform will make health insurance available to more people, but will the cost be too great for them to even take advantage of it? This country is controlled by big business. It doesn't matter who the President is. The guy is trying, but the deck is stacked against him.

DAD: All of what you say is true. People also believe that when the law goes into effect their taxes will go up, because that is what the Republicans have been telling them. Hitler believed that if you tell a lie often enough and loud enough, people will believe it to be the truth. So the Republicans are practicing something they learned from Hitler. Isn't that great! Nothing ever changes.
Keystone Cops
Written by Rob Rogers

The Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security paid $125,000 to the Philadelphia-based Institute of Terrorism Research to spy on peaceful protesters, including those protesting Marcellus Shale drilling. They also flagged gay and lesbian pride events, a forestry industry conference and a screening of the documentary "Gasland" as events likely to be attended by activists. Harrisburg should be on their list too. The real threat is coming from a state government who is in the pocket of the gas drilling companies.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Speaking of Bob, this is from today's Post-Gazette:

On the Pirates' off day today, the players have been invited to Seven Springs by owner Bob Nutting for a sporting clays shoot.
On a beautiful, even perfect, late summer/early fall, Saturday night, the Pirates offered their last fireworks show of the season. These fireworks shows and the has-been concerts are what keep the Pirates franchise in business. Their full-season ticket base is down to something like 11,000 and shrinking, and on some nights, it looks like a good bunch of those folks stayed home. If Zach Duke was pitching, that would probably be a good idea. But the Yinzers love their fireworks and their REO Speedwagon. So, this past Saturday night, the second to last home Saturday night game of the season, the Pirates drew 25,981. That's more than 12,000 less than capacity. If the Yinzers stop going to the Pirate games to see the fireworks, the Pirates might actually lose money. Bob wouldn't stand for that. Fireworks nights are the centerpiece of the entire Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Club franchise. He would borrow more money from MLB, because apparently he's allowed to do that. Then with the money, he would build a facility in the Dominican Republic to try and find young fireworks talent that can produce better fireworks displays than the company that is doing it for the Pirates now, because they are obviously not doing it well enough to draw the fans.

Friday, September 17, 2010

There are way too many Katherine Heigl movies.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

DAVE: I saw an ad tonight during Jeopardy for Jason Altmire. You probably saw the ad as well. The way he distances himself from the President and Pelosi, the ad seems like an ad for a republican candidate. What a sell-out. Was Melissa Hart really any worse than he is?

DAD: Melissa Hart might as well be back in the House. Altmire is no different. He is a coward who is interested only in his own re-election. Let's hope his strategy back fires.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Inventor of The Club steering wheel lock among 3 dead in crash
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
By Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

James E. Winner Jr., a Sharon businessman whose claim to fame was The Club, a steering-wheel lock for cars, was killed in a head-on collision in Clarion County on Tuesday that claimed the lives of two other people.

State police said Mr. Winner, 81, who also has an address in Hollywood Beach, Fla., was driving his Lexus on Miola Road in Highland at about 4:40 p.m. when his car crossed the center line into the opposite lane and hit a Chevy Blazer driven by Bobby Jarrett, 82, of Forest County. Mr. Jarrett and his passenger, Raymond Fair, 76, of Tylersburg in Clarion County, were both killed.

Mr. Winner, whose business empire over the years included hotels and steel processing plants, created Winner International in 1986 to market The Club. According to the company's website, he came up with the idea after his Cadillac was stolen. As an Army veteran in Korea, he remembered how he had secured his vehicle's steering wheel with a chain to keep thieves from being able to steer. If they can't steer, he said, they can't steal.

Winner International, based in Sharon, said company officials and family members would not be available but issued a statement saying the "outpouring" of support from the community was appreciated. Mr. Winner's family requested privacy.
Boy Tweeter
Written by Rob Rogers

According to Tuesday's paper, the city is launching a new and improved website. You can see videos of Sophie and Boy Mayor talking about the parking lease plan. If that's not entertaining enough, you can also follow the mayor's office on Twitter and Facebook. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The dude's tan IS pretty weird . . .

Boehner's Tan
Written by Rob Rogers
Obama is now taking shots at House Minority Leader John Boehner in his speeches. The White House is targeting Boehner in the same way that the GOP has been targeting Speaker Pelosi. One of the fights has been over the Bush tax cuts (favored by the GOP) vs the middle class tax cuts (favored by the Dems.) Hey, I've got an idea ... let's just appropriate the money that Boehner is spending on tanning sessions. I think that would solve the debt crisis.
DAVE: Have you seen Jeff Fisher recently? He does not look good.

JIM: Can't say I've really paid that much attention to him. I have thought in the past though over the years that sometimes he looks like shit. I don't know. Maybe he just has his good days and his bad days. Or maybe the days he doesn't look good come after he spends all night in his office working or something.

DAVE: The Eagles have a different color of green for their uniforms every season. The Steelers never change their uniform.

JIM: No. I think they were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the last time they won the NFL championship. So they wore retro uniforms and helmets. Probably just for this week. And so that they would have more stuff to sell, of course.

DAVE: Have you seen Andy Reid recently? He looks very fat.

JIM: What is this sudden fascination with NFL head coaches and their health?

Not everyone can rock a pair of Raybans the way Mike Tomlin does.

Monday, September 13, 2010

After the first game of the season is when I traditionally make my prediction for the Steelers season record. This year is a little more complicated since Big Ben is out for the first four games. But I feel up to the challenge. In a move that goes against what most ESPN types are prognosticating for the Steelers, I predict that their record will be 11-5, with an outside chance of 12-4.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I was just talking about this very issue last night with my parents . . .

Quran Burning
Written by Rob Rogers

When you consider the ground zero mosque protesters, the idiots who think Obama is a Muslim and the Florida preacher who wanted to burn a pile of Qurans, the world might think this country is anti-Muslim. OK, the preacher changed his mind about burning the Qurans, but it still looks bad. I hope the world knows we are not all crazy, hate-filled fundamentalist extremists.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Muslims are not the enemy. Fox News is the enemy.
Zombie Dems
Written by Rob Rogers
The Republicans are helping stimulate the economy the only way they know how. I don't mean tax cuts for the wealthy. They only THINK that stimulates the economy. No, when the GOP is not blocking important legislation, they are pumping money into negative campaign ads to throw out the Dems and malign Obama. That's what I call leadership.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

JIM: Phirst place! Thank you, Buccos!

DAVE: It's funny. Teams like the Pirates and the Orioles can really affect the outcomes of the races and wildcards.

JIM: Isn't it exciting?

DAVE: Sure. If you're a Phillies fan. If you're a Pirates fan, you're insane or already dead inside.
I don't think it's a good idea for joggers wearing earphones to run in the street rather than on the sidewalk. Am I wrong?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The stink bugs are back. Personally, I flush them . . .

Stink bugs pose a 'devastating' threat to crops
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
By Monica Von Dobeneck, The Harrisburg Patriot-News
Photo: Mel Evans/Associated Press

HARRISBURG -- Last year, the insects called brown marmorated stink bugs were a nuisance. This year, they are a serious threat to fruit orchards, and experts are not sure how destructive they might become.

The ubiquitous brown bugs with a citrusy or piney scent are making their way into Pennsylvania homes, previewing the hordes likely to appear late this month and next as the weather cools.

Bloggers share ideas about getting rid of them: Flush them down the toilet, vacuum them up, drop them in a bucket of soapy water, squash them, stick them to duct tape.

They are annoying in homes but don't do much damage. They don't bite people or destroy wood.

To farmers, they have become a destructive pest.

Greg Krawczyk, an entomologist with the Penn State University Fruit Research Center in Biglerville, said some fruit orchards have lost 40 percent of their crops to the bugs. The hardest hit are in Adams County, northern Maryland and West Virginia.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

No more Hilton in the Golden Triangle . . .

Hits just keep on coming for Hilton
$49.6M foreclosure sought by backer
Saturday, September 04, 2010
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The other shoe has dropped for the owner of the former Hilton Pittsburgh.

BlackRock Financial Management Inc. has begun a foreclosure action against Shubh Hotels Pittsburgh LLC, one day after the prominent Downtown hotel lost the Hilton name.

The New York-based lender filed the complaint Friday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court against Shubh and CEO Atul Bisaria.

As part of the action, BlackRock is asking the court to order the sale of the hotel. It also is seeking a judgment for $49.6 million, plus interest, the amount of the mortgage to Shubh.

BlackRock moved to foreclose on Shubh a day after Hilton Hotels & Resorts terminated its franchise license agreement with the hotel owner. It tied the decision to "violations of the terms" of the franchise agreement, although a spokesman would not discuss specifics.

As a result, the hotel, Pittsburgh's largest with more than 700 rooms, was stripped of the prestigious Hilton name and no longer is part of its reservations system. Hilton also has removed the hotel from its website.

Read more:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Just exactly WHO is doing the proper parenting here . . . ?

Bill addresses kids left alone in casino lots
Recent incidents sparked legislation
Friday, September 03, 2010
By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG -- Two Republican lawmakers are upset about several incidents this summer at a suburban Philadelphia casino, where adults have gone inside to gamble while leaving young children alone in vehicles in the parking lot.

State Sen. Robert Tomlinson and Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, both from Bucks County, said Thursday that stronger penalties are needed to stop such incidents at the Parx Casino, located at Philadelphia Park racetrack, or any other casino. The lawmakers are sponsoring a bill calling for stiffer fines and jail time.

"The public needs to understand that there are serious safety risks to children who are left in unattended vehicles," Mr. Tomlinson said. "This bill will send a message that irresponsible behavior will not be tolerated and that offenders will face strong penalties."

The most recent incident occurred last week, according to police in Bensalem, where the casino is located. A 34-year-old father was accused of leaving his children, ages 7 and 12, inside a car with their puppy, after 10 p.m. while he went inside to play blackjack for up to 30 minutes.

On Aug. 1, a Philadelphia woman was charged with having her daughters, 8 and 15, wait in her car while she played slot machines for six hours, until 12:30 a.m.

Mr. DiGiralamo said, "It is unconscionable to me that parents will intentionally leave their children alone in their cars in a casino parking lot. While we cannot legislate proper parenting, we can put tough laws on the books to provide serious punishments for those who are willing to put their children in harm's way."

They will introduce the same bill in both chambers. It would make it a third-degree felony to leave a child under age 13 in a vehicle without adult supervision, with a penalty of 31/2 to seven years in jail and a fine up to $15,000. Currently, the offense is a misdemeanor with up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

The two legislators said Parx Casino has been "cooperative and aggressive" in trying to prevent anymore such incidents. It has increased its own patrols of cars in the parking lot and is working with police in Bensalem. The casino also is sanctioning offending customers, the lawmakers said, but added tougher penalties are needed.

David LaTorre, a spokesman for The Meadows racetrack/casino in Washington County, said there have been no such incidents of children left unattended at The Meadows.

"We have a 24-hour security officer presence that patrols our parking lot," he said.

Spokesman Jack Horner for the Rivers Casino on the North Shore said the facility has only had one incident in the year it has been open.

"Thanks to regular sweeps of the parking lot, Rivers' identified the car, notified authorities and within one hour, corrected the situation," he said. "We can't stop parents from making bad choices; but Rivers Casino will continue being vigilant in our efforts to prevent this from happening."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Must-read article . . .

Financial crisis has forced a record number of investors to withdraw money from 401(k)s prior to retirement
Cashing out
Thursday, September 02, 2010
By Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Withdrawing money from a 401(k) prior to retirement age goes against the advice of most financial experts, yet a record number of people are dipping into funds they've set aside for retirement to pay for immediate needs.

Fidelity Investments, one of the nation's largest suppliers of retirement plans, recently reported a sharp increase in the number of 401(k) participants who tapped their retirement accounts for hardship withdrawals between April and June this year.

About 62,000 of Fidelity's 11 million account holders requested hardship withdrawals compared with 45,000 who did so during the same period last year. The top reasons were to prevent foreclosure and eviction, pay for college and purchase a primary residence.

The average age of people who took a loan or hardship withdrawal was between 35 and 55 years. The average loan amount was $8,650. The company did not disclose the average hardship withdrawal amount.

Read more:
The End
Written by Rob Rogers

Obama said it was time to turn the page on Iraq. The war is over. Of course, we still have troops on the ground but their mission is training, not combat. This is good news for sure. Maybe I'd feel more like celebrating if, one, it hadn't been a war based on lies and hubris, and two, we're still in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rumor has it that Big Ben is going to ask Roger Goodell to reduce his suspension from six games to THREE. Most media and fan types have been expecting it to be reduced to four. But Ben's gonna ask for three, they say. We'll see how that turns out on Friday.
Layoffs increase CEO pay
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
By Len Boselovic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Chief executive officers at the 50 companies that announced the biggest layoffs since the recession intensified in late 2008 made 42 percent more last year than the average large company CEO, according to a study released today by a Washington research group.

Three Pittsburgh companies made the The Institute for Policy Studies' list, which ranked CEOs based on the number of announced layoffs. Alcoa finished ninth, with 13,985 layoffs; CEO Klaus Kleinfeld's pay was $11.2 million. U.S. Steel placed 23rd, with 6,705 layoffs and CEO John P. Surma's $1.5 million pay. PNC Financial Services Group ranked 28th, with 5,800 layoffs and CEO James E. Rohr's pay of $14.8 million.

"Our findings illustrate the great unfairness of the Great Recession," said Sarah Anderson, who co-authored the study. "CEOs are squeezing workers to boost short-term profits and fatten their own paychecks."

The Institute for Policy Studies said the average CEO on its list of the 50 layoff leaders made $12 million in 2009 compared to the average $8.5 million that CEOs at S&P 500 companies received. The average CEO on the list announced 10,627 layoffs at his or her company between Nov. 1, 2008, and April 1, 2010, the institute said.

Read more:
Pittsburgh Power
Written by Rob Rogers
Pittsburgh is taking another stab at Arena Football. The Pittsburgh Power will play in the new Consol Energy Center (gee, I wonder where they came up with the name "Power".) Granted, we are a major sports town, but will this city really turn out to support a non-Steelers football franchise? If not, the investors may have to pull the plug (sorry, I couldn't resist.)