Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
Here in the U.S., you can name your kid almost anything, but that's not the case everywhere in the world. Let's take a look at some countries with pretty strict or otherwise fascinating baby-naming laws.
Enacted in 1982, the Naming law in Sweden was originally created to prevent non-noble families from giving their children noble names, but a few changes to the law have been made since then.
The part of the law referencing first names reads: "First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name."
If you later change your name, you must keep at least one of the names that you were originally given, and you can only change your name once.
Rejected names: "Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb111163 (pronounced Albin, naturally) was submitted by a child's parents in protest of the Naming law. It was rejected. The parents later submitted "A" (also pronounced Albin) as the child's name. It, too, was rejected.
Also rejected: Metallica, Superman, Veranda, Ikea and Elvis.
Accepted names: Google as a middle name, Lego.
Mental Floss: How favorite sneakers got their names
In Germany, you must be able to tell the gender of the child by the first name, and the name chosen must not be negatively affect the well being of the child. Also, you can not use last names or the names of objects or products as first names.
Whether or not your chosen name will be accepted is up to the office of vital statistics, the Standesamt, in the area in which the child was born. If the office rejects your proposed baby name, you may appeal the decision. But if you lose, you'll have to think of a different name. Each time you submit a name you pay a fee, so it can get costly.
Mental Floss: Stories behind 16 athlete nicknames
When evaluating names, the Standesamt refers to a book which translates to "the international manual of the first names," and they also consult foreign embassies for assistance with non-German names. Because of the hassle parents have to go through to name their children, many opt for traditional names such as Maximilian, Alexander, Marie and Sophie.
Rejected names: Matti was rejected for a boy because it didn't indicate gender.
Approved names: Legolas and Nemo were approved for baby boys.
Mental Floss: Fictional characters whose names you don't know
3. New Zealand
New Zealand's Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act of 1995 doesn't allow people to name their children anything that "might cause offence to a reasonable person; or [...] is unreasonably long; or without adequate justification, [...] is, includes, or resembles, an official title or rank." Officials at the registrar of births have successfully talked parents out of some more embarrassing names.
Rejected names: Stallion, Yeah Detroit, Fish and Chips, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy, Sex Fruit, Satan and Adolf Hitler
Approved names: Benson and Hedges (for a set of twins), Midnight Chardonnay, Number 16 Bus Shelter and Violence
Mental Floss: Why do your dog's feet smell like popcorn?
In Japan, one given name and one surname are chosen for babies, except for the imperial family, who only receive given names. Except for a few examples, it is obvious which are the given names and which are the surnames, regardless of in what order the names have been given. There are a couple thousand "name kanji" and "commonly used characters" for use in naming babies, and only these official kanji may be used in babies' given names. The purpose of this is to make sure that all names can be easily read and written by the Japanese. The Japanese also restrict names that might be deemed inappropriate.
Rejected names: Akuma, meaning "devil."
Mental Floss: 16 abbreviated company names explained
Denmark's very strict Law on Personal Names is in place to protect children from having odd names that suit their parents' fancy. To do this, parents can choose from a list of 7,000 pre-approved names, some for girls, some for boys.
If you want to name your child something that isn't on the list, you have to get special permission from your local church, and the name is then reviewed by governmental officials. Creative spellings of more common names are often rejected.
The law states that girls and boys must have names that indicate their gender, you can't use a last name as a first name and unusual names may be rejected. Of the approximately 1,100 names that are reviewed each year, 15-20 percent of the names are rejected. There are also laws in place to protect rare Danish last names.
Rejected names: Anus, Pluto and Monkey.
Approved names: Benji, Jiminico, Molli and Fee.
Most new babies in China are now basically required to be named based on the ability of computer scanners to read those names on national identification cards. The government recommends giving children names that are easily readable, and encourages Simplified characters over Traditional Chinese ones.
Parents can technically choose the given name, but numbers and non-Chinese symbols and characters are not allowed.
Also, now, Chinese characters that can not be represented on the computer are not allowed. There are over 70,000 Chinese characters, but only about 13,000 can be represented on the computer. Because this requirement is a new one, some citizens are having their name misrepresented, and some have to change their names to be accurately shown on the identification cards.
Rejected names: "@": Wang "At" was rejected as a baby name. The parents felt that the @ symbol had the right meaning for them. @ in Chinese is pronounced "ai-ta" which is very similar to a phrase that means "love him."
As former President Ronald Reagan might have said, "Obama, there you go again."
The current occupant of the White House claims to know how to create jobs. He claims jobs have been created. But so far the score is Great Obama Depression 2.2 million lost jobs, Obama 0 -- a blowout.
Obama is as hopeless, helpless, clueless and bankrupt of good ideas as the manager of the Chicago Cubs in late September. This "community organizer" knows as much about private-sector jobs as Pamela Anderson knows about nuclear physics.
It's time to call Obama what he is: The Great Jobs Killer. With his massive spending and tax hikes -- rewarding big government and big unions, while punishing taxpayers and business owners -- Obama has killed jobs, he has killed motivation to create new jobs, he has killed the motivation to invest in new businesses, or expand old ones. With all this killing, Obama should be given the top spot on the FBI's Most Wanted List.
Meanwhile, he has kept the union workers of GM and Chrysler employed (with taxpayer money). He has made sure that most government employee union members got their annual raises for sleeping on the job (with taxpayer money). He made sure that his voters got handouts mislabeled as "tax cuts" even though they never paid taxes (with taxpayer money). And he made sure that major campaign contributors collected billions off government stimulus (with taxpayer money).
As far as the taxpayers -- the people who actually take risks with our own money to create small businesses and jobs and pay most of the taxes -- we require protection under the Endangered Species Act.
You won't find proof of the damage Obama is doing on Wall Street, but rather on Main Street. My friends are all part of the economic engine of America: Small business. Small business creates 75 percent of new jobs (and a majority of all jobs). I called one friend who was a wealthy restaurant owner. He says business is off by 60 percent. He's drowning in debt. He won't last much longer. His wealth is gone.
I called another friend in the business of home improvement. He says business is off 90 percent from two years ago. My contractor just filed personal bankruptcy. She won't be building any more homes. The hair salon where I've had my hair cut for years closed earlier this year. Bankrupt. But here's the clincher -- ESPN Zone just closed all their restaurants across the country. If they can't make it selling cheap food and overpriced beer with 100 big screens blaring every sporting event on the planet to a sports-crazed society, we are all in deep, deep trouble.
I've polled all my friends who own small businesses -- many of them in the Internet and high-tech fields. They all agree that in this new Obama world of high business taxes, income taxes, payroll taxes, capital gains taxes, and workers compensation taxes, the key to success is to avoid employees. The only way to survive as a business owner today is by keeping the payroll very low and by hiring only independent contractors or part-time employees provided by temp agencies.
The days of jobs in the private sector with big salaries, full benefits, and pensions are over. We've all seen where those kinds of jobs get you as a business owner -- in Bankruptcy Court or surviving on government welfare like GM and Chrysler. Or in the case of government itself -- completely insolvent, but surviving by ripping off taxpayers and fraudulently running printing presses at the Fed all day and night to print money by the trillions.
Unfortunately, small businesses don't have the power to impose taxes or print money. So unlike government, we'll just have to cut employees and run lean and mean.
It has now become clear that, outside of the burgeoning field of Census takers, there will be no major increase in new jobs for years to come. Outside government, Obama has created a wasteland of economic ruin and depression that looks much like the landscape of Mel Gibson's first movie "Mad Max." Without a printing press in Obama's world, you're just plain out of luck.
The days of believing the Obama propaganda about a jobs recovery are over. The trillion-dollar corporate handouts (neatly named "stimulus") may have kept big business in the money for the past 18 months, and artificially propped up the stock market, but small business is the real canary in the coal mine.
My small business-owning friends aren't creating one job. Not one. They are shedding jobs. They are learning to do more with fewer employees. They are creating high-tech businesses that don't need employees. And many business owners are making plans to leave the country. In a high-tech world where businesses can be run from anywhere, Obama has a problem. His one-trick pony -- raise taxes, raise taxes, raising taxes -- is chasing away the business owners he desperately needs to pay his bills.
So who is going to pay Obama's taxes? Not his voters. They want government to pay them. Who is going to create Obama's jobs? Not his voters -- they've never created a job in their lives.
So what is Obama going to do? Maybe he can get Pamela Anderson on the line.
Wayne Allyn Root, a former vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party, writes from Henderson. His column appears every other week.
Friday, July 2, 2010
If you want to win a FREE OCEANFRONT VACATION ON HATTERAS ISLAND, NC plus a COUPLE'S MASSAGE FOR 2, become a fan of Outer Beaches Realty (http://www.facebook.com/OuterBeachesRealty?v=wall#!) and submit your name under the "FANTASY" tab at the top of the page... the winner will be randomly selected on July 16th, good luck!
The United States has a reputation for guzzling gasoline, especially in summer, when increased demand and processing costs drive up the price by an average of 10 to 20 cents per gallon. And while the recession has helped reduce U.S. gas demand in recent years, summer heat — combined with unforeseen variables like hurricanes and oil spills — can still wreak havoc with prices at the pump.
But whether you're planning a cross-country road trip or just trying to avoid spending your paycheck on commuting, there's plenty you can do to save money on gasoline. The best strategy is to simply drive less often, maybe carpooling or biking instead, but don't feel discouraged if that's not an option.
Check out these 10 ideas for ways to cut back the amount of time and money you spend at gas stations this summer:
1) Slow and steady wins the race
Gasoline mileage drops off in most cars once you're going faster than about 60 mph. For every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph, you're essentially paying an extra 24 cents per gallon of gas.
Try using cruise control on interstates and other highways to maintain a constant speed. It can also help to use your car's overdrive gears, which save fuel and engine wear by reducing your speed.
2) Be cool in traffic
Aggressive driving — speeding, swerving, sudden acceleration and braking — is not only dangerous, it can lower your gas mileage 33 percent on highways and 5 percent on city streets. Revving your engine while stopped is even more wasteful.
3) But not too cool
Air conditioning can be a big drain on gasoline, so make sure you don't just leave it on absentmindedly, and certainly don't leave it on while windows are open, even if they're just cracked. You can improve your fuel efficiency in stop-and-go traffic by turning off the A/C and rolling down the windows instead, but that's not necessarily always the best idea.
When driving above 55 mph, especially for long periods on highways, the opposite is true — open windows make a vehicle less aerodynamic by letting in air, which increases air resistance and decreases fuel efficiency. On long road trips, using air conditioning could actually improve your mileage by up to 20 percent.
4) Don't just sit there
On top of pointlessly pumping out greenhouse gases without actually getting you anywhere, idling automobiles also contribute to ground-level ozone, airborne particulate matter, and other near-surface air pollution. These emissions can aggravate asthma and even hinder breathing in otherwise healthy people, especially children and the elderly.
If you're just idling to warm up your car in winter, it still only needs to run about a minute. Anything beyond that is just wasting gas.
5) Stay in tune
Fixing a car that needs a tune-up or has failed an emissions test can improve its fuel efficiency by an average of 4 percent. More serious problems, like a faulty oxygen sensor, can reduce mileage by up to 40 percent.
And don't forget to get an oil change roughly every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first (or you could look into installing an Electro-Lube Oil Refiner, which reportedly eliminates the need for oil changes while boosting efficiency 3 to 4 percent).
6) Get pumped
Keeping a car's tires properly inflated can improve fuel efficiency by about 3.3 percent. It's also safer and lengthens the lifespan of your tires, since under-inflated tires lose their tread quickly in addition to wasting fuel. Regular checkups for your tires' alignment and balance aren't a bad idea, either.
7) Take a load off
While it mainly affects smaller cars, carrying extra weight means burning extra gasoline, no matter how big your vehicle is. On average, you may be cutting your fuel efficiency by up to 2 percent for every 100 extra pounds you haul.
8) Develop motor skills
Using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil can boost mileage by 1 to 2 percent. Try to also use the lowest grade of gasoline that's appropriate for your car, since high-octane grades cost several cents more per gallon.
Check your owner's manual to be sure, but as long as your engine doesn't start knocking, you're probably OK. Switching from premium to regular gasoline would save hundreds of dollars every year.
9) There's a cap for that
Gasoline can evaporate from a vehicle's fuel tank if it's able to find an opening, which is bad for your wallet and your lungs. Make sure your gas tank's cap is tightened securely after you fill up, and if the cap's threading is stripped or it fits too loosely, you might want to buy a new one.
10) Join the masses
Carpool or, even better, don't take a car at all — walk, ride a bike, or take mass transit. It saves you money, improves your personal health, and helps the planet by keeping greenhouse gases out of its atmosphere.
In just six months, the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1, 2011:
First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief
In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families. These will all expire on January 1, 2011:
Personal income tax rates will rise. The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed). The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent. All the rates in between will also rise. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates. The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:
- The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%
- The 25% bracket rises to 28%
- The 28% bracket rises to 31%
- The 33% bracket rises to 36%
- The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%
Higher taxes on marriage and family. The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income. The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level. The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.
The return of the Death Tax. This year, there is no death tax. For those dying on or after January 1 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million. A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.
Higher tax rates on savers and investors. The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011. The dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011. These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013.
Second Wave: Obamacare
There are over twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare. Several will first go into effect on January 1, 2011. They include:
The “Medicine Cabinet Tax” Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).
The “Special Needs Kids Tax” This provision of Obamacare imposes a cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500 (Currently, there is no federal government limit). There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education.
The HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike. This provision of Obamacare increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.
Third Wave: The Alternative Minimum Tax and Employer Tax Hikes
When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2011, they’ll be in for a nasty surprise—the AMT won’t be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired. The major items include:
The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families—rising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million. These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level. The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.
Small business expensing will be slashed and 50% expensing will disappear. Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly-deduct, or “depreciate”) equipment purchases up to $250,000. This will be cut all the way down to $25,000. Larger businesses can expense half of their purchases of equipment. In January of 2011, all of it will have to be “depreciated.”
Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses. There are literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place. The biggest is the loss of the “research and experimentation tax credit,” but there are many, many others. Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs.
Tax Benefits for Education and Teaching Reduced. The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available. Tax credits for education will be limited. Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses. Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut. Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed. The student loan interest deduction will be disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.
Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed. Under current law, a retired person with an IRA can contribute up to $100,000 per year directly to a charity from their IRA. This contribution also counts toward an annual “required minimum distribution.” This ability will no longer be there.
If you want to see the final tab regarding Obamacare and Taxes in pdf, follow this link: http://www.atr.org/userfiles/040510pr-totalhealthtaxes.pdf
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Paraguay's success at the World Cup continued on Tuesday, with the country's soccer team beating Japan on penalty kicks to advance to the tournament's quarterfinals. Now, with only eight teams remaining, the Paraguayans may have a few more fans to help win it all.
Larissa Riquelme, a curvy lingerie model who loves her national team, has been cheering the Paraguay squad on from Asuncion, clad in revealing outfits. The 24-year-old beauty has pledged to run naked through the streets "with my body painted with the colors of Paraguay" if Paraguay wins the World Cup.
The gorgeous football fanatic is not the first person to promise to streak in the event of a World Cup win. Argentina's coach Diego Maradona was the first prominent person to issue such a guarantee, and his team has also made the quarterfinals. Scroll down for pictures of Riquelme cheering her team on. Are you rooting for Paraguay now?
Elin Nordegren has dramatically escalated her demands during negotiations over a possible divorce agreement with Tiger Woods, Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. According to the columnist, Woods' wife is seeking full custody of the couple's children and "an estimated $750 million package."
Zwecker writes that Tiger has demanded a strict -- and lifelong -- confidentiality clause that would bar her from disclosing information about their marriage in interviews or books.
It was previously reported that Woods and Nordegren are working toward a joint-custody arrangement, a rumor that was circulated before a new report alleged that the two are no longer speaking to each other.