Friday, October 30, 2009

"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind"

Jason Silva and Max Lugavere of Current TV interviewed William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, authors of the New York Times bestselling book, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind. The book was inspired by Kamkwamba's success in building a windmill that would eventually power much of his South African village.

If you didn't catch William Kamkwamba on Jon Stewart's show, then you're in for a treat. This is a great interview.

WATCH:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Andre Agassi's Legacy Will Not be Tarnished by Meth Use Admission

As dejected as some may feel about Agassi's admission that he used Crystal Meth back in 1997, we have to remember that he's also human. I recall Oprah's admission in early 1995 that she once used cocaine in her 20s. Winfrey, talking with a woman on her show, said:

I relate to your story so much. In my twenties, I have done this drug [cocaine]. I know exactly what you're talking about. It is my life's great big secret. It is such a secret because I realize that the public person that I have become, if the story were ever revealed, the tabloids would exploit it and what a big issue it would be. But I was involved with a man in my twenties who introduced me to [cocaine].
This was shocking to some of her fans. She was even attacked gleefully by some pundits and commentators. But Oprah's admission showed me that all of us (yes, all of us) have demons we have fought off, and have experienced low points in our lives we would love to forget. This is why I didn't stop watching or supporting Oprah Winfrey. I didn't stop buying Fergie's records because she admitted to using meth in the past. And it is unlikely that I will stop supporting Andre Agassi.

I remember the wild ways of his youth. The rock star hair, and the narcissistic persona. I was always spellbound by his on-court heroics. But the older he became, the more I also respected him for the thoughtful way he approached tennis. He graduated from his self-absorbed image of the 80s by cultivating a more charitable image, and in the process, became a true statesman for the game of tennis.

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Agassi, with Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

But there's an even more compelling point about Agassi: he believes in using the full equity of his celebrity to make a difference in the lives of others. His Andre Agassi Foundation is ample proof. He has used a lot of his own fortune to position the foundation as an outspoken advocate and proponent of great educational opportunites for children. In fact, his internationally recognized Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, located in the heart of Las Vegas, graduated its first senior class this past June. This is a significant milestone for his school. It's located in one of the most economically challenging parts of the city, but 100% of the graduates are going to college. 100%!

I am not excusing drug use. I just don't believe this admission should define Agassi. I loved seeing his electrifying shots on the tennis court, as well as his epic four and five sets matches with Pete Sampras that dominated ESPN Classic in the 1990s. Most most of all, I love what he's doing right now: creating opportunities for our youth and encouraging innovation in our battered public education system.

This couldn't be an easy thing for Agassi to admit publicly. I plan on reading his autobiography which I'm sure will provide further context. To be clear, I don't get any joy in seeing someone fail or go through hard times. If anything, I try to lend a hand, and be supportive. That's where I am with this story.

Tarnished legacy? No. Agassi's legacy will be defined by the totality of his life, not by past drug.

Monday, October 26, 2009

16 Amazing Men on Twitter and the Awesome Charities They Support

I've received hundreds of emails and tweets from people who were inspired by my blogpost, 16 Amazing Women on Twitter and the Awesome Charities they Support. But many also wanted to see a post about 16 men doing extraordinary work, and who value service and volunteerism. And, they wanted to hear about more nonprofits making a difference, and positively impacting our planet.

It is my sincere hope that those readers and many more will be impressed with the list of sixteen men listed below. I asked each gentleman to tell me their favorites charities, and in the end, twenty-one nonprofits are profiled.

As singer Jon Foreman wrote recently in his moving post about community and service,

We need each other. Human beings will always be the most valuable natural resource on the planet. The human story is still unfolding. We are telling it as we speak. The human song is still weaving its way towards a chorus, through the suffering, through the fear. We need each other. We need heroes. Let your life be a beautiful song. We need hope. Tell a good story with the way you live.
These men understand the "beautiful song" Foreman writes about. Their lives are a reflection of what they advocate on a daily basis. They are as impressive as the charities and causes they assist.



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Philippe Cousteau / @Pcousteau

Why he rocks: He's a renowned explorer, TV host and sustainability advocate who founded Azure Worldwide, a strategic environmental design, development and marketing company. His favorite Twitter charity: @EarthEcho, which he founded in 2000, with his sister @Acousteau, to honor of their father Philippe Cousteau Sr., famous son of the legendary explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau. This nonprofit's mission is to educate the leaders of tomorrow about the need to restore and protect our Oceans. Their work is further strengthened through partnerships with Planet Green, Youth Service America, and @UsherRaymondIV's New Look Foundation.



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Joseph Ranseth / @JosephRanseth

Why he rocks: Ranseth actually traveled around North America meeting and connecting with people through social media. He's a popular speaker, author & entrepreneur. His life's mission is to touch lives & love using social media. His favorite Twitter charity: @BGCA_Clubs. This nonprofit engages and challenges young people to reach their full potential. It has great, highly touted programs in the areas of health, the environment, leadership development, athletics, and education.



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Ramon B. Nuez Jr. / @RamonBNuezJr

Why he rocks: I love Nuez's writing, and I love his vision of New Media. He is a Latinos in Social Media -- Best NY Blogger Award nominee. He is also Managing Editor and co-founder of New Media Brief and New Media Brief News Room. His favorite Twitter charity: @Causecast. This nonprofit has partnered with a wide array of other nonprofits dealing with issues like education, breast cancer, sustainability and human rights. Its great directory helps you connect with inspiring people and nonprofits doing exceptional work.



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Cory Booker / @CoryBooker

Why he rocks: Maybe you've seen Cory Booker on Oprah's show. Maybe you saw him on Conan O'Brien's show. No matter how a person comes to hear about him, when you read about his life, purpose and dedication, you'll immediately love him. He is the charismatic, transformational Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. His awesome work was profiled in the recent cable series Brick City. His favorite Twitter charity: @NewarkNow, the nonprofit Booker founded in 2002. As transformational and effective as its founder, Newark Now makes sure the residents of the city are equipped with the resources and services to grow and transform their neighborhoods. Newark Now's groundbreaking work has been universally praised.



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Joe Gigantino / @JoeGigantino

Why he rocks: Gigantino owns four profitable health clubs (3 in California, and 1 in Arizona), and has a very popular workout blog, which has great infomation on fitness fundamentals. He is one of the most passionate health and wellness advocates I've ever come across. For Gigantino, it's not just fitness, but also motivation, inspiration and purpose. Twitter charities he supports: @mssociety. This nonprofit exist to make the world completely free of multiple sclerosis. It has a great 50-state network of chapters. The @mssociety helps people affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, and by providing advocacy and education. He also supports the work of @llsusa, the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and education.



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Blair Semenoff / @Flipbooks

Why he rocks: Semenoff is nothing short of a marketing guru. His firm, TruAction Flix, produces flipbooks, which Semenoff believes is an "ideal way of reaching a variety of audiences with repetitive and long-term messaging that has exceptional staying power for your brand." I agree with him. His great marketing ideas have won him some top-notch clients. His favorite Twitter charity: @nothingbutnets. This nonprofit was founded by sports writer RickReilly. It teams with the UN Foundation, NBA Cares, The People of the United Methodist Church, and Sports Illustrated to buy anti-malaria bed nets for children in Africa. It is already making a significant impact. In fact, if you'll recall, Ashton Kutcher donated 10,000 anti-malaria bed nets when he beat out CNN in a contest to get million Twitter followers.



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Paul Rieckhoff / @PaulRieckhoff

Why he rocks: Mr. Rieckhoff is a military veteran, media professional, social entrepreneur, music connoisseur, bestselling author of Chasing Ghosts, popular Huffington Post blogger, and Founder and Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). His favorite Twitter charity: @IAVA. Since 2004, IAVA has become one of the best and strongest advocates for our veterans and their families. It's won legislative victories on the new G.I. Bill, mental health screenings for returning service members, Veterans Health Care Budget Reform, among other issues. In fact, it teamed with the AdCouncil to start CommunityofVeterans.org, a veterans-only, online community. Moreover, the incredible documentary Warrior Champions, which was produced by @IAVA, premiered at the Austin Film Festival on October 23.



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Bill Wixey / @BillWixey

Why he rocks: Wixey is an emmy award-winning broadcast journalist who has been in Seattle for more than a decade. He produced a great documentary "Mission of Hope", about his trip to Sri Lanka following the deadly Tsunami. Also, his blogging and reporting on his battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a type of lymphoma (cancer originating from a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes), has won him thousands of new fans. His favorite Twitter charity: @SeattleCCA. This nonprofit, the Seattle Cancare Alliance, is doing its part to lead the world in translating scientific discovery into the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of cancer. @SeattleCCA brings together doctors from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine, and Seattle Children's Hospital, to form a world-class treatment center.



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Stephen Gilmore / @SchereLLC

Why he rocks: Gilmore is on the move. His firm, Sphere LLC, has some incredibly innovative shower curtains. His Obama Shower Curtain is his big seller, and it has provided him with the opportunity to significantly grow his business. Twitter charities he supports: @FrankSkiKids. Since 2000, this nonprofit, has helped young people in Metro Atlanta, and provided resources and programs dealing with science, technology, athletics and the arts. Gilmore has donated products to that foundation. Moreover, he has donated time and products to @4hosea, which has fed the hungry and homeless for the past 40 years. And he's helped the Georgia Clayton County School District using his Obama Shower Curtain as a fundraiser.



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Josh Charles / @Joshcharles

Why he rocks: Charles is a true renaissance entertainer, as I noted in a recent blogpost. Everybody loves socially conscious musicians who put their money where their mouth is. Charles fits the description. He is raising money through downloads of his song "Healing Time." You can buy it on Amazon and itunes, with 100% of the funds going to assist in the rebuilding of New Orleans. His favorite Twitter charity: @prcno. This nonprofit, the Preservation Resource Center, receives the funds his downloads produce. It promotes the revitalization and preservation of New Orleans' historic architecture and neighborhoods. They're doing some amazing work.



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Matthew Sapaula / @MatthewSapaula

Why he rocks: One of "The Money Men" of Chicago, Sapaula is a respected financial strategist, speaker, TV commentator and talk show host of Chicago's Money Smart Radio. His favorite Twitter charity: @AmericanCancer. This nonprofit is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization with more than 3400 offices.



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Jim Thomas / @Jimtdenver

Why he rocks: Thomas is a well-known business lawyer who has his hand on the pulse of what's happening in Colorado. In fact, he blogs for the Huffington Post. His posts deal primarily with family, community, and business. His favorite Twitter charity: @wesing, where he serves as board president. This nonprofit -- through children's ensembles -- presents professional concerts and educational programs. It provides unique experiences which engage participants, entertain audiences, and positively affect communities throughout Colorado, the United States, and all around the globe.



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Paul Smith / @GreenSmith

Why he rocks: Smith is a well sought after Green Business Consultant, taking full advantage of the eco-friendly environment in international commerce. He's a star blogger for Triple Pundit, Ghost Writer, and self-styled social media demystifier and idea ninja. His favorite Twitter Charity: @SHILaCosecha. This nonprofit provides farming families in Central America countries with the tools to overcome poverty while restoring and preserving our planet's tropical forests. Since 1997, it has planted more 2.3 million trees and converted thousands of acres to sustainable uses. All of this has saving tens of thousands of acres of tropical forest.



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Mike Dardis / @MikeDardisKOMO

Why he rocks: Dardis is well-respected, emmy-winning morning anchor. His command of the issues, smooth delivery, and great rapport with his co-anchor Molly Shen have made him a huge star with Northwest viewers. His favorite Twitter charity: @FoodLifeline. Last year, this nonprofit received over 21 million pounds of food - roughly 17 million meals - to feed hungry families and individuals throughout Western Washington State. Food Lifeline provides food thousands of people through hundreds of emergency feeding programs including food banks, hot meal programs and shelters.



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Pete C. Rodriguez Jr. / @Fivestarprodj

Why he rocks: Rodriguez is a HR Recruiter, graphic designer, master of networking, entrepreneur, and social media enthusiast. He's also a music connoisseur. He provides all types of genres of music for weddings, Quinceanera's, and other events through Five Star Productions, which he owns with his wife. Twitter charities he supports: @WWF_Climate. This nonprofit is helping to preserve our planet's natural environment, and, it's also on the front lines in the creation of green jobs -- the next frontier in global commerce. He also supports the work of the @RedCross, whose expertise and resources are stretched to the limit during natural disasters. And like JosephRanseth above, he is fully behind the @BGCA_Clubs.



Edward Philipp / @EdLovesSumo

Why he rocks: Philipp is one of Southern California's most successful entrepreneurs. He conducts popular TeleSeminars, has a must-see Free Resource Blog at TeleSeminarWebFolk.com, and is CoFounder of TeleSeminarNation.com. Twitter charities he supports: @GFPCEdward. This is his church Grace First Presbyterian Church. Located in Long Beach, CA, his church supports New Orleans relief efforts that continue after Hurricane Katrina. In fact, @GFPCEdward purchased a house that houses groups who are building, cleaning, helping people in many ways. They also send groups from their church. They've spent $824,000-plus, with the eventual total expected to exceed $1,000,000. He also supports the efforts of @Habitat_org (Habitat for Humanity).

Hollywood Pairings I Would Love to See

It's always good when Hollywood studios, directors, producers, and writers are really thinking out of the box. No, I'm not talking about over the top special effects, or ridiculous props. I'm talking about the pairing of great actors to enhance the quality of a film, and in the end, ensure excited movie-goers. Yes, popular actors at the top of their game, working together to bring serious sizzle back to the box office.

Remember Michael Mann's epic crime drama Heat? Remember that tense, no holds barred stare down in the restaurant between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro? That was great acting. Michael Mann and producer deserve credit for knowing that a Pacino-De Niro pairing would electrify audiences. We need more of that type of pairing.

Here are five, long overdue pairings I would love to see on the big screen:

Julia Roberts & Sandra Bullock - This has been one of the biggest cinematic questions for years: why haven't these two lovable actors who attract the same audience done something together? Both have shown their dramatic range, and are great in romantic comedy fare. But I know there is a serious film that these two giants could star in. It would be pure dynamite!

Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert - These two have the best hour on TV. We know they're funny. Very funny. But these two need to be in something completely out of character. I could see these two being the emotional anchors for a movie similar to The Big Chill. Throw in actors like Jay Mohr, Ryan Reynolds, and Hank Azaria and now you have a hit. Stewart and Colbert have an extraordinary connection with each other that should not be confined to Comedy Central.

Halle Berry & Gabrielle Union - Berry has starred in some good pictures, but I believe she hasn't been getting the right role of late. Union, a star of the ABC hit show Flash Forward, is one picture away from breaking it open. On paper it might not look like much, but these two could really bring the heat. Halle would make a great return, and Union would be on her way.

Eva Mendez & Eva Longoria - Having the same name would give the film a huge boost in the PR department. This would be a marketer's dream. Mendez's international box office appeal would benefit Longoria whose success has been relegated to television. If the script is hot, then the PR for the movie starring Eva and Eva would be box office gold.

Denzel Washington & Tom Cruise - So that there is no misunderstanding, let me just say that Denzel Washington is my favorite male actor, and has been for two decades. There were great pictures he starred in that were never nominated for an Oscar (Remember the Titans and Courage Under Fire) and pictures that were Oscar-nominated but should have won (Hurricane and Antwone Fisher). As for Tom Cruise, he is still one of my favorites, regardless of what press he gets. Cruise was never nominated for Jerry McGuire, but should have been. He should have been nominated for Magnolia too. In fact, his performances have been consistently over looked for Oscars. But if these two get together, Cruise could excel. Both have incredible range, and I know bringing them together would be awesome.

MUSIC MONDAY (Halloween Edition)

THRILLER (1984)

This is Michael Jackson's signature song. It remains one of the most enduring tunes of all-time, and according to MTV, the greatest video of all time.


SOMEBODY'S WATCHING ME (1984)

Rockwell tune is making big money because the insurance company Geico is using it for a few of their current commercials. In fact, listen closely and you'll hear Michael Jackson lending some background vocals.


GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)

This remains Ray Parker Jr.'s biggest hit ever. He has reinvented himself as a successful jazz guitarist. But he will always be known for this tune.


EVERYBODY (BACKSTREET'S BACK) (1997)

I normally don't post videos from boy bands and bubble gum pop groups on my blog for Music Monday. But this video seems very appropriate for Halloween.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Annie Leibovitz Releases Photo of the Obama Family


Great to see Annie Leibovitz at work again. This is a great photo. One of the best family photos the First Family has ever taken. Liebovitz is a master. I love the way she makes the white that President Obama and Sasha have on mesh wonderfully with the darker colors First Lady Michelle Obama and Malia have on. The area rug. The wall color. Somehow she makes it work.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 24th: International Climate Day (Pictures)

Today, October 24th, all around the world, the citizens of the world raised their voices in unison: the world needs bold, visionary leadership on the issue of climate change. 181 countries. 5200 events. Hundreds of millions of people came together for a tremendous day of activism and advocacy.

In the 5 pictures below, you will see the number 350. It's for 350.org, an international campaign whose mission is to engage and inspire the world to find solutions to the climate crisis. But why 350? According to their website:
Our focus is on the number 350--as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. But 350 is more than a number--it's a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.
So make no mistake about it: 350.org rocks the house! Get involved and make your voice heard on the climate issue!


Cairo, Egypt

Yosemite, California

United Kingdom

Georgetown, Guyana

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An Awesome, Eco-Friendly Pizza Box

Domino's, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's need to contact William Walsh, the inventor of the 100% recyclable GreenBox. Walsh believes it will change the way we eat pizza.

Four plates can be made from the top part of the GreenBox, while a smaller box is created from the bottom part - a box good for leftover pizza. I love it. Because it reduces the need for paper plates, it's definitely great for the environment.

Watch:

'Green Box' Product Promo (Pizza Box) from Green Box on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Weather Channel Will Start Showing Movies? Really?

A part of me can't really believe it. The Weather Channel has such a winning formula. They've tinkered with it from time to time, but it's pretty consistent. In fact, it is the highest rated station on cable. The only reason for this is to generate more revenue - as if they need to do that.

Wahlberg & Clooney in Warner Brothers' The Perfect Storm

According to the Associated Press, the first movie will be The Perfect Storm. Then, we'll see movies like March of the Penguins, Deep Blue Sea and...Misery. Why Misery? Because James Caan's character got stuck in a snow storm at the beginning of the movie. Okay, I guess. So I'm sure we'll be seeing Volcano, Dante's Peak and The Day After Tomorrow.

But while this sounds intriguing, if the Weather Channel executives are going to go down this path, why not go the distance?! You know what I mean: go wa-a-y back to the 70s and air those cheesy disaster movies like Earthquake and Meteor. As they say on MTV, "hook it up baby!"

The Weather Channel is in a class by itself. It brought sexy back to saying weather-related phrases: "Barometric pressure!" "Scattered thunderstorms!" "Yes, those are south easterly winds blowing your hair right now you fine thing!" That sounds good coming from a Weather Channel anchor. But now it won't be the same anymore because the station wants to be like FX, TBS and TNT. Well, at least I can look forward to seeing the movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs which is sure to come on right after the next accu-weather forecast. LOL!

Monday, October 19, 2009

MUSIC MONDAY

ROCK WITH YOU (1979)

This was the second single released from my favorite album of all time, Off the Wall. It was full of hits, from beginning to end. Rock With You is a classic.


WHO IS JOHNNY (1986)

This is El Debarge's biggest hit. And yes, that is former brat pack star Ally Sheedy, as well as a cardboard cut out of actor Steve Guttenberg. This song was from the soundtrack to the movie Short Circuit.


SENORITA (2003)

Timberlake says this song was inspired by Stevie Wonder. It has a cool pop and latin combination. It's almost like Tito Puente hooking up with Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine.


WHEN I GROW UP (2008)

This song here is pure hotness! Whoa! Easily the best The Pussy Cat Dolls have come out with. The video isn't bad either! LOL! You know it's a great day when you see 5 beautiful women dancing in traffic.

Awesome Solar-Powered Fans..Made in Indiana?!

When President Obama signs the Climate Bill into law next year, one of the major beneficiaries looks to be Bill Keith, an eco-minded visionary and head of SunriseSolar. In the coming years, you'll be hearing more about Mr. Keith and his amazing company, which develops solar-powered fans that mount to the roof, take the hot air out of an attic, and cool a house or office using the sun.

Here's a picture:

SunriseSolar has really taken off. A decade of booming worldwide has turned this eco-friendly success story into a $4 million-a-year business. This is proof that creating jobs and protecting the environment doesn't have to be contradictory. ABC News profiled Bill Keith and SunriseSolar this year:

Watch:


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rat-eating plant discovered in Phillipines

This story came out two months ago, but I never featured it on my blog. Yes, carnivorous pitcher plants that eats rats and insects. Sounds like something out of the play Little Shop of Horrors accept it's real. Very real. With stems that grow more than 4ft long, these are believed to be the world's largest meat-eating shrub. British botanists named the plant after Sir David Attenborough.



The giant pitcher plant lures rodents and insects into its slipper-shaped mouth and dissolves them with acid-like enzymes.

They were discovered on Mount Victoria in the Philippines. It truly is remarkable that this pitcher plants stayed undiscovered until the 21st century. There have been a lot of great environmental stories this year, and this one ranks up there near the top.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why Stephen Colbert is One of the Best

My friends and associates know how much I openly revere the man, the myth, the legend Stephen Colbert. He's absolutely funny. This clip below, about the Dow surpassing 10,000 point this week, is just classic. If you don't laugh, something is wrong.

WATCH
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Money Shot
http://www.colbertnation.com/
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Huffington Post readers give Generously to Family in Need

The Huffington Post community responded overwhelmingly to the heartbreaking story of a mother who went blind to save her children's sight. She's also struggling with medical debt. Touched by this story, Huffington Post readers have stepped up: 300 contributors gave $10,000 in just under seven hours. This is an amazing accomplishment for the Huffington Post Impact Section, which debuted on the same day.

Read the post right here, and get involved!

Monday, October 12, 2009

MUSIC MONDAY

HOLD ME KNOW (1983)

This generally regarded as their best tune, and one of the most memorable songs of the early '80s. It's one of my favorites for sure.


MOTOWNPHILLY (1991)

Not their best work (which would come on their sophomore album), but a great introduction to the music scene, and emblematic of the early '90s R&B which was infused by the new jack swing sound.


FAMILY AFFAIR (2001)

It's hard not to like anything Mary J. Blige touches. Super-producer Dr. Dre produced this great track. No female singer in modern history (not even Mariah Carey) has had such continuous success over so long a period.


HARDER TO BREATHE (2002)

Maroon 5 rocked this tune. I like them because they weren't apprehensive about using influences from other musical genres to compliment their decidedly mainstream rock sound.

Obama's Nobel Peace Prize is Well-Deserved

Yes, I am very happy for President Obama. He was given the unenviable task of repairing America's broken image with European allies, and with the heads of emerging nations. Yes, it's still early, but here's the truth: in 10 months under Obama, America's image in the world is decidedly better than it was under the previous president.

This is not supposition, but fact. International and regional polls confirm this.

And how has Obama done it mostly? With "soft power" - this was sorely lacking in the "hard power"-heavy approach of President George W. Bush. The world was certainly impressed with Obama's great inaugural speech, and his powerful declaration: "...we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." These are not the words of a pacifist, but in fact, a peace advocate.



No president ever went on a lengthy European Tour to meet with the heads of state and engage the citizens in town hall meetings. This has never happened. Don't tell me you weren't impressed with his hour long discussion with Turkish students. And please don't tell me you weren't impressed with his riveting speech to Egyptian students at Cairo University.

But even more compelling is this assertion: America should be honored by Obama's Nobel Peace Prize because we elected him, and his diplomatic and measured approach is what clearly impressed the Nobel Committee.

Some of his critics claim that he only won because of his soaring speeches, and not his accomplishments. This is a ridiculous claim. I see people have forgotten Huffpost Blogger Ilan Goldenberg's awesome post on Obama's 100 foreign policy achievements in just his first 100 days. So this madness about "what has he done" must stop.

As for Obama's words...every fight for human dignity is imbued with impassioned words. Susan B. Anthony's words provided momentum to the women's suffrage movement. Martin Luther King's words provided momentum to the civil rights movement. Anthony and King were beaten, spit on, ostracized, jailed, and demeaned in the mainstream press. But their words (speeches, books, letters, and protest chants) provided the spark and lasting sustenance for the movements of which they were apart.

Yes, words are powerful. Obama's words are powerful. And in just 10 months, the world believes Obama's words and achievements merit some recognition. But the award is not just for him. It's also for this country. You would think the "country first" crowd of the last election would at least see that.

After all, many of these "country first" activists cheered wildly when Chicago lost the Olympics, and they have been absolutely disgusting in attacking Obama for just about anything.

Consider this: our president and his family receive over 30 death threats a day (a day!) yet that hasn't shaken the Obamas' belief that we live a great country. Those town hall meetings and Tea Party gatherings had nasty conspiracy theories and ugliness from many right wingers, but Obama still believes in bi-partisanship and reaching out. Yes, still, after all of that. Clearly, this is a man of peace - both nationally and internationally. Again, not a pacifist, but a peace advocate. He wants the people of the world to work together, for the people of the United States to work together, and I can't say I disagree with him on that.

I see his award as a recognition of what he has worked very hard to do globally (and succeeded to a degree), and, a push for him to go even farther, and achieve even more. So it doesn't say "Obama has arrived" as much as it says "Obama is on the right track". Our president earns his keep every minute of the day, and we must make sure it continues. Arianna Huffington wrote in January that Obama wasn't the only one being inaugurated - that we all are. Likewise, Obama didn't just win the Nobel Peace Prize - we all did. I am happy that we all - in this multi-ethnic, multi-racial nation - share this incredible honor.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

'Flying Suits" on CBS' 60 Minutes

60 Minutes was absolutely great tonight. All three stories in fact. The best of them all was a story about international thrill-seekers who glide off of Norwegian Mountain in "flying suits". Yes. It sounds strange, but it was exhilarating to watch.

I've gone bungee jumping many times. I've jumped off high points on a bicycle. And, I've tried a few dare devil acts on a surf board. But I've never had the rush of excitement that a "flying suit" would surely provide. See for yourself.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Friday, October 9, 2009

2 New Behind-the-Scenes Pictures from White House Photographer Pete Souza

Official White House Photographer Pete Souza has taken some very cool pictures in the very young presidency of Barack Obama. The Huffington Post Style Section always has the best photos, and the ones from the White House are always great. These two below jumped out at me because their private moments. The first is with President Obama and close friends and associates viewing filmmaker Ken Burns' recent National Parks documentary - which is awesome by the way. And the second shows him and his youngest daughter Sasha viewing the Jefferson Memorial.


President Barack Obama hosts a screening for the PBS documentary on the National Parks at the Family Theater at the White House, Sept. 17, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)


President Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha at the Jefferson Memorial, Sept. 27, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Smart, Savvy, Beautiful and Fabulous" - An Interview With Jill Zarin

Long before being a recognizable celebrity, Jill Zarin had a long record of accomplishment that reveals her to be nothing less than a Renaissance woman. Through hectic and demanding schedules, she maintains a tight-knit family. She's head of marketing at Zarin Fabrics, a successful firm she runs with her husband, Bobby Zarin. She's a strong advocate of eco-friendly living, and is a respected philanthropist who supports a number of awesome nonprofits and causes assisting women, children, and families around the globe.

And then, there's that thing called style. Zarin's got it. No matter the outfit, no matter the accessory, she makes it her own. Is it any wonder why top designers want her to wear their best threads? Her style is not formed merely from clothes alone, however. All of that merges seamlessly with her presence, personality and mega watt smile. The result is a style that no camera can resist.

Writers have celebrated the genius, glory, and glamour of The Big Apple for centuries. Just as they've written about legendary New York City philanthropists like Betsy Head and Kate Wollman, they will also pen great impressions about Jill Zarin's charitable endeavors. Undoubtedly, she's helped to write this millennium's first ten year chapter of the famous city in which she resides.

The Real Housewives of New York City is one of TV's biggest hits, and has a tremendous fan base. How has the show impacted your life?

Who would have thought I would have been on any TV show, let alone this crazy one. I would say "access" has been the biggest impact. I was a connector before the show...can you imagine me now?


You work as Director of Marketing for Zarin Fabrics, a business you co-own with your husband, Bobby Zarin. Give us an idea of what your days are like.

Since the show started, I haven't been able to spend as much physical time in the store as you can imagine the demands of my schedule. Not only am I filming, I still have my daughter Allyson and my husband Bobby to take care of first and foremost. Marketing is abstract. The flexible schedule allows me more freedom to "market" on the road.


I've talked to so many fans of your television show. "Smart", "Savvy", "Beautiful", and "Fabulous" are four words they use to describe you. They also admire how important your family is to you. How do you maintain that strong family bond with a demanding career, industry events, and interviews?

First, I am so flattered that people would say that. My biggest fear was being misrepresented on a "reality" show. Clearly, the producers, Shed Media, and editors have been very fair and accurately portrayed each of us good and bad. My family is the most important thing I think of the minute I wake up in the morning. I worry. I think what is Allyson doing today and how can I help her be a better person. Bobby? I just pray he wakes up! He likes to sleep late. Events come in waves and I try to go with the flow. I am not perfect and Allyson is the first one to point that out I might add.

(Jill Zarin, here with her daughter Allyson and husband Bobby)

There's been lots of online buzz about a book you're writing with your mom and sister. What issues or topics will it deal with?

I had been approached by a few publishers to write a book. A memoir. But felt I couldn't do it. I knew it wasn't right. Not yet anyways. Maybe when the series is over but not now. I would talk to Lisa, my sister, who has a radio show, The Lisa Wexler Show in CT. I wanted to help her too. She is much more interesting than I am but she didn't get a lot of airtime last year. I wanted the audience to hear her voice too. The more we talked, the more the idea evolved. My sister thought up the idea for the book, and the title, Secrets of a Jewish Mother. Dutton is the publisher. It'll be out in time for Mother's Day gifting in 2010. We just finished the last chapter on parenting. It is 20 pages! We have written 350 pages to date. I feel for the book editors. They have to weed it down to 250. Maybe we'll have a sequel because my mother Gloria is amazing. Her voice has been very strong in our heads, and our homes, and we know other people would want to hear her advice on marriage, dating, money, parenting, and so many other issues we address. I hope we've get it right! We just shot the book cover and can't wait to see the mock up!


You consistently promote nonprofits and charities on your website. That's awesome. As a respected member of both the business and entertainment communities, do you feel a special responsibility to give back?

To those much is given, much is expected. It's a mantra I repeat everyday to Allyson. It's something I want her to live by. That really says it all. It we don't help, then who will?


Tell me some things about yourself that people may not know, and that you wouldn't mind sharing.

Well, I will admit I get moody. I think my hormones are changing - again. I love that excuse. So the words "I am sorry" comes out of my mouth a lot. Aside from that, I eat healthy chocolate every day. I have for the past year and lost 10 pounds. It's great. I sell it on Jillzarinchocolate.com. I didn't do it for the money, but it's nice that the money I make covers everything. This venture has really taken off. So I'm always looking for folks who like to make money eating chocolate and losing weight. They can contact me through Jillzarin.com. Overall, life is good. I can't complain.

To read more about Jill Zarin, and the 2010 release of Secrets of a Jewish Mother, the eagerly-anticipated book she wrote with her mom and sister, follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jillzarin, and friend her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/jillzarin

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"The Awesome Book"

In the recently launched Huffington Post Books section, there is this video below about a children's book, which is aptly titled The Awesome Book. It's written and illustrated by blogger Dallas Clayton. This video shows Clayton talking about how the book's message is resonating with kids internationally. After seeing this video, you'll agree: Dallas rocks!!!

Awesome Book Tour from Dallas Clayton on Vimeo.

President Obama Exploring New Ways to Increase Job Growth

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images Europe

President Obama and his economic recovery advisory board (pictured above) have done a very good job thus far. Not excellent, but very good. And according to the New York Times, they're considering additional strategies to generate more jobs. Clearly, as both the USA Today and the ultra-conservative Wall Street Journal have admitted, the $787 stimulus has worked. But more needs to be done on the jobs front.

In an awesome analysis published in the Huffingtonpost business section, economist Reich offered this assessment to generating more jobs. Here are his four recommendations:

1. Use existing authority under both the stimulus package enacted earlier this year and the nefarious TARP bailout fund -- extending and combining them into a fund to make up for state and local cuts in public school budgets, childrens' health, public health (we need workers to administer swine flu vaccine) and public transportation. Instead of bailing out banks and giant automakers, we should switch to bailing out public services that average people need.

2. Propose a one-year payroll tax holiday on the first $20,000 of income. Republicans as well as Blue Dog Dems could go along with this, and it would be a highly progressive tax cut since 80 percent of Americans pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes.

3. Give small businesses a "new jobs tax credit" for every net new job created over the next year. Granted, under normal circumstances this sort of jobs credit doesn't have much effect, and it's difficult to separate hires that would have happened anyway from net new ones. But we're not in normal circumstances; small businesses, which are responsible for most new jobs, still aren't hiring. They need a boost.

4. Dramatically expand the Small Business Administration's lending programs and have the Fed buy up the SBA's debt. Big banks are not lending to small businesses. TARP has been an utter failure in this regard. The SBA and the Fed should circumvent them and help small businesses get the capital they need, so they can start hiring again.

Robert Reich is on to something here. He knows that more jobs are coming. This is a fact. The remaining 60% of the stimulus will create jobs over the next 14 months. The impending climate bill will create millions of new energy sector jobs. But something more dramatic needs to be done in the short term.

Yes, our economy is recovering. We are losing less and less jobs with each passing month. But a "jobless recovery" is a non-starter. So I look for Obama and his economic advisors to roll out something else before November. And even more will be rolled out directly after the holiday season.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 5, 2009

MUSIC MONDAY

I'M YOUR MAN (1985)

This single is by the group Wham!, and it's the fourth single from their massively popular farewell album. However you presently view George Michael (singing lead in this video), you'll have to agree that he and his music partner Andrew Ridgeley helped to define 80s pop music.


PAPA DON'T PREACH (1986)

This is vintage Madonna. It ranks up there as one of her best. I like the message of the song. It was a big risk to do a song like this at the height of her popularity. But she pulled it off beautifully.


STILL A PLAYER (1997)

Though Big Punisher's life was cut short by a hearty attack at age 28, he gave the world this incredible hit. It's a hip hop classic.


DON'T STOP THE MUSIC (2007)

There is plenty of debate over whether this is Rihanna's "best song". But there is no debate over whether it is her biggest and most exciting song to date. It rocks!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Second Earth Discovery is Close, say NASA/Harvard Teams

According to The Daily Galaxy, more than 300 planets have been discovered outside of our solar system. Most of of these planets are "Jupiter-sized planets that would dwarf the Earth and are almost certainly lifeless", but a few weeks ago, astronomers discovered a rocky planet named CoRoT-7b. This planet has a density that's similar to earth's, and it's 500 light years away.

Finding a "second earth" would be even more exciting than the mars explorations of the last 30 plus years. As a kid, I remember the national excitement when the Viking 1 and Viking 2 landers beamed backed pictures of the desolate, rocky, red Martian surface.

A Viking 1 picture:



A Viking 2 picture:


And who can forget the journeys of the two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. They operated much longer than NASA scientists had predicted, and they've given us some great photos - photos markedly different from the two Viking crafts of the mid to late '70s.

So there's a lot riding on finding a "second earth". NASA is on a roll! The explorations of Mars have been a smashing success. But I want a second earth because the Star Wars fanatic in me wants to see if there really is a Yoda, Boba Fett, Han Solo, and R2D2. Here's hoping baby!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Congrats to Rio on Winning the 2016 Olympics!

I want to wish everyone in Rio de Janeiro, and in Brazil, a big congratulations for being selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. It's a great honor for a country to host an event that showcases and celebrates cultural diversity. I know because I lived in Los Angeles for the 1984 Summer Olympics and in Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Let me also say that Chicago would have been a great choice as well. President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Lebron James and others did their best to get the IOC to pick Chicago by playing up the city's rich history and venues. Yes, the Chicago Delegation gave it a great effort. Congrats to them too.

But now the world stands behind Rio de Janeiro, and we wish them a great 2016 Summer Olympics. I'll be in Rio for the games, to visit friends from college, and to check out the sites and sounds.

In fact, I can't wait to climb to the top of this peak to see the famous Christ the Redeemer Statue:

Rio here I come!