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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 15,239

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I am Jewish. I wear glasses. I am bisexual -- and I'm the Rose Queen

I had to be fitted for a crown. Not the Halloween costume kind — this one is covered in cultured pearls and pave diamonds and comes with its own security detail. Apparently every queen needs one, and I am Queen Louise.

This whole experience began as a lark. My friend and I lined up with the other thousand applicants interviewing for the Tournament of Roses Royal Court in Pasadena because we wanted the two complimentary tickets to the Royal Ball that came with applying.

I don’t consider myself the royal type. I tend to trip down stairs rather than glide, and I might choose a good game of Scrabble over a palace ball. I didn’t even have much of a princess phase as a child — more backyard mud pies than dress-up tea parties. Yet, improbably, on New Year’s morning, I will take my place in the Rose Parade among a group of young women in gowns and crowns, waving from a flower-adorned float, as the 101st Rose Queen.

The first interview round was brief — I stood before a panel of 11 judges in white suits and explained why I wanted to be on the Royal Court. I told them that I was a future scientist, and that “it would be a great honor and privilege to represent the Tournament of Roses, my hometown of Pasadena and Southern California to the world.”


The only wall America needs

Across a diverse landscape, L.A's hidden homeless live hard lives in fanciful 'homes'

More than 20 years ago, Charles Ray Walker spotted green bamboo shoots growing along a drab warehouse by the Los Angeles River in Boyle Heights. A Texan, Walker turned a wedge of urban wasteland into a wildly colorful wonderland of vegetables and thousands of toys arrayed along carved, earthen terraces.

He built a shack under the shade of a tree and even a home entertainment room with a television set and sofa.

Largely hidden from the world, “Bamboo Charlie” nevertheless welcomed visitors, taking pride in the awe that his creation inspired. And yet, Walker was a homeless man whose life was weighed down under the hardship that came from living how he did. He suffered from terribly painful ulcers, had to defend his turf from other homeless people and in the end, at 61, died alone, gaunt and curled up in his fanciful home.

When people think of the homeless, their mind often takes them to standard images of who they are and where they supposedly live. Splayed out on the concrete of skid row; inside of tents lining major boulevards or underpasses; scrunched in a fetal position with a thin blanket in the doorway of a business late at night or early in the dewy morning. But such is the diversity of Southern California’s landscapes that there is a scarcely a corner of the region that homeless men and women have not adapted to. They take pride in their creations, however dystopian or unfortunate.


When professionals sell out, we get a president like Trump

When he was 16, Friedrich Trump, President Trump’s grandfather, fled mandatory military service in the German Imperial Army. Having decided he was too weak to serve, Trump slunk off to North America around 1885. Now it appears that Trump’s father, Fred, took pains to pass Friedrich’s moral cowardice on to Donald.

In 1968, according to the New York Times, Fred may have struck a draft-dodging deal for Donald with one of his tenants, Larry Braunstein, a podiatrist. Braunstein’s daughters remember their father saying he diagnosed Trump with bone spurs as a “favor” to his landlord. The diagnosis won Trump a medical exemption from the draft during the Vietnam War.

Corrupting doctors is something of a leitmotif ofTrump’s history. Remember Dr. Harold “Sweetheart, this is Watergate” Bornstein? Dr. Ronny “Candy Man” Jackson? They’re not unlike the president’s iffy lawyers: Marc “Watch Your Back” Kasowitz, Michael “I’m Going To Come At You” Cohen, and Rudolph “Truth Isn’t Truth” Giuliani.

Doctors and lawyers, along with clergy, architects and engineers, are members of what used to be quaintly called “the professions.” Unlike a real estate promoter who runs casinos into the ground, heads up a fake university and promiscuously sells his ignoble name, professionals are expected to stand for something higher than profit. Many swear oaths in their fields. And they can lose their standing if they violate their profession’s ethical tenets.


This first year of early retirement has been one of the hardest of my life

I was an avid reader of financial independence, retire early (FIRE) blogs on the path to my own early retirement. They served as inspiration and education.

However, I found them to be an echo chamber. Each tries to outdo the next in an effort to show you how to optimize your life. Then you can retire sooner to a lifetime of carefree bliss.

That’s all great. Except it’s not true.

Sure, there are elements of truth in every FIRE blog. Just as reality TV reflects some elements of reality.


Cyberattack from outside the U.S. hits newspapers across the country, preventing distribution

Source: LA Times

A cyberattack that appears to have originated from outside the United States caused major printing and delivery disruptions at several newspapers across the country on Saturday including the Los Angeles Times, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

The attack led to distribution delays in the Saturday edition of The Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and several other major newspapers that operate on a shared production platform. It also stymied distribution of the West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, which are all printed at the Los Angeles Times’ Olympic printing plant in downtown Los Angeles.

“We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly.

No other details about the origin of the attack were immediately available, including the motive. The source identified the attacker only as a “foreign entity.”

Read more: https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-times-delivery-breakdown-20181229-story.html

It's suspicious to me that this attack began around the same time of the nationwide 911 outage, and with a partial government shutdown in effect.


California Becomes 1st State to Ban Retail Sale of Dogs, Cats, Rabbits

Retail pet stores in California will only be able to sell kittens, rabbits, and puppies if they come from a rescue organization after a new state law goes into effect Tuesday.

With AB 485, California became the first state to implement such strict new rules on pet stores. Retailers are banned from selling live dogs, cats or rabbits unless the animal was obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter, humane society group, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter or a rescue group that’s in a cooperative agreement with at least one private or public shelter.

Suna and Mitch Kentdotson were visiting the SD Humane Society to adopt a new kitten on Friday. They said they'd like to see the state restrict neglectful breeders from profiting off the sale of puppies and kittens.

“I think it’s better to rescue these animals instead of having like a puppy mill or something like that where these animals are raised super inhumanely," Suna Kentdotson said.


TV antennas are making a comeback in the age of digital streaming

Karl Rudnick, a retired 69-year-old mathematician who lives in Solana Beach, Calif., recently bought a second home outside Minneapolis to be close to family members. He did not have to draw on his knowledge of advanced calculus to reject the idea of paying for two cable TV subscriptions.

“I talked to the cable companies and asked if there was a way to have one account,” Rudnick said. “There wasn’t, and all of a sudden I was looking at spending $300 a month just to have internet and TV.”

After doing some research, Rudnick decided on a throwback solution to bring down his monthly outlay without giving up the TV programming he liked. He purchased two TV antennas for about $80 each. He installed one in the attic of each house, giving him access to ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and dozens of other broadcast channels for free. At his West Coast home, he was able to connect the antenna to the cable company’s coaxial wires.

The TV antenna is a piece of 20th century technology that evokes memories of rabbit ears placed atop the mahogany cabinet of the old Zenith in your grandparents’ living room. But Rudnick is among a growing number of consumers who are turning to over-the-air digital antennas — a one-time investment of as little as $20 — as a way to slash their monthly video subscription costs.


After years of assailing Obamacare, some Republicans now fear the political fallout

Republicans in Congress, fresh off an election that punished their party for opposing healthcare protections, now worry that a recent federal court ruling undermining Obamacare could give Democrats new ammunition for 2020, and they’re scrambling to thwart any attacks.

Particularly in the Senate, some Republicans want to prove to voters that they will protect popular benefits mandated by President Obama’s signature 2010 law, especially insurance coverage for people with preexisting medical conditions. They are eager to neutralize an issue that Democrats effectively used in the midterm election to gain a net 40 House seats and take control of the chamber.

“I think it would be in our best interest as Republicans to assure the public that [on] the issues like preexisting conditions, staying on your parents’ insurance until age 26 and things like that, we’re committed,” said Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, who is up for reelection in West Virginia in 2020.

Republican senators, including Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, are discussing what healthcare legislation they could introduce next year that would allow Republicans to show support for preexisting conditions protections. One possibility is legislation to address the court decision, in which federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas ruled two weeks ago that the entire healthcare law should be struck down.


They're dead meat in 2020 and they know it.

Sears wins reprieve from liquidation as Chairman Lampert makes last-minute bid on bankrupt company

Source: CNBC

Department store chain Sears won a reprieve from liquidating Friday after its chairman, Eddie Lampert, submitted a bid in an effort to buy the retailer and keep it alive, people familiar with the situation tell CNBC.

Lampert's hedge fund ESL Investments put forward his tentative proposal for Sears earlier this month with his formal submission due today.

A bid could help divert liquidation, but may not necessarily. Sears' advisors have until Jan. 4 to decide whether ESL is a "qualified bidder." Only then, could ESL take part in an auction against liquidation bids on Jan. 14. They will weigh the value of Lampert's bid against offers to liquidate the company.

The terms or structure of Lampert's bid could not immediately be determined. If it is similar to the $4.6 billion proposal Lampert outlined earlier this month, it is likely to face push-back from the company's unsecured creditors. As part of the initial bid, which regulators required Lampert to make public, financing would in part stem from $1.8 billion in debt that Lampert would forgive through a so-called "credit bid."

Read more: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/28/sears-chairman-eddie-lampert-submits-bit-for-company.html

Sears is hanging on by its fingernails, and their 68,000 employees may soon be out of work.
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