NIPPIES on-line magazine - Issue 19
November 24, 2004 - October 31st, 2004

Welcome to NIPPIES - since 1999! We take little "nippies" out of every subject.

VIP = (Very Important Person).

NIP = (Not Important Person) - to some.

Nippies especially delights in reporting on the darker sides of Cut-and-Paste-America, to coin a phrase, which many call Big Business!


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November 24, 2004

Jamie Lee Curtis Talks About Her Addiction
In a recent article by Alastair Jamieson which appeared in the Readers' Digest, Jamie Lee Curtis blames "plastic surgery for her drug addiction" (to painkillers).

Jamie Lee, the daughter of Tony Curtis and the late Janet Leigh (of Psycho fame) is now 46-years-old. Jamie Lee is no longer addicted, and has been sober for at least six years, according to the story.

Jamie Lee admits to work on her eyes, a "bit of Botox", and liposuction. She says her cosmetic surgery was a "stimulator" for her prescription drug addiction. The actress, who is famed for having a perfect body, said cosmetic surgery was a "stimulator" for the drug abuse, and that during a cosmetic procedure she first took painkillers.

But some plastic surgeons refute that plastic surgery commonly leads to addiction to painkillers.

"People are attracted to cosmetic surgery because of psychological issues about body image. It does seem a bit simplistic for her to suggest her need for more and more surgery was down to the surgery itself. The psychology behind it is very complex," stated Dr. Patrick Flynn, a plastic surgeon from Confidence Scotland.

We at NIPPIES don't know if plastic surgery leads to drug addiction. But we do know that the number of people having cosmetic surgery has exploded in recent years. Once a practice only of the rich and famous, cosmetic surgery procedures - both invasive (surgical) and non-invasive (Thermage®, etc.) - are now performed in the millions, not thousands.

Learn more about plastic surgery and how to find the best board certified plastic surgeon.


November 17, 2004

Good as Gold
As we write, the price of spot gold is at 443.00 - 443.50 per ounce. (This was written at 9:00 AM on Nov. 17, 2004, Eastern Standard Time).

Five years ago, we advised a relative to invest in gold. The price at the time was very low: somewhere around $280.00 per troy ounce. The relative didn't listen. Now he's kicking himself.

If you would like to follow the price of this precious metal, or if you already own gold or gold coins or are just thinking of investing in gold or gold futures, etc., here's were to go to get the latest price of spot gold:

www.KITCO.com


November 15th, 2004

Attention Television Commercial Aficionados!
Occasionally, we at NIPPIES get letters from readers about commericials. Who's the girl, who's the guy, what product is it, etc.

Today, we got the following e-mail:

"Hello- I don't know if you can help me or not, but I am looking for the commercial that has the two guys trying to cut a beehive down from a tree in their front yard. I can't remember the name of the company, and I would really love to find it. I know one of the lines is that people don't always do the smartest things....but that's about it. I have searched everywhere, so if you could please assist me, I would greatly appreciate it."

Can you identify the commercial? We at NIPPIES think it sounds vaguely familiar. But, then again, that might be because we just spent so much time researching it. So if you think you know what product or service this commercial is for, please write to us. We'll give you credit, if you wish.

We don't want our reader to lose any more sleep over this one...


Veterans' Day 2004
Never Forget The Sacrifices Made for Us


November 11, 2004

ABC Will Get High Ratings For Saving Private Ryan
Just tell people that something is a bit off-limits, and they'll flock to it.

That will surely be the case tonight with ABC's showing of Saving Private Ryan, the 1998 film staring Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore and Matt Damon- among others. Why? Because there is such a brouhaha over the foul language and violent nature of the film. (This is, after all, a film about men fighting in World War II. What else could you expect?)

During WWII Chief of Staff General Marshall learns that three brothers have been killed and a fourth brother is still unaccounted for. Even though it is highly unlikely that the fourth brother is still alive (he is in a very dangerous area of combat), a unit is sent out to bring him back safely to his family. The movie is a fine war movie if you like war movies. And, of course, any movie with Tom Hanks in it is great.

On the drive home from the library tonight, we heard a PBS report about how many ABC affliiates are refusing to air the movie because, in light of recent FCC reactions to Janet Jackson's "costume malfunction" and Bono's use of the "F" word at an awards ceremony, repercussions are feared. The ABC affiliates fear sanctions, fines, even a pulling of their broadcasting license.

But ABC network says they will pay the fines. They don't think broadcasting licenses will be yanked. Show the movie anyway. That they have an agreement not to edit or censor the film.

When we got home, Mr. NIPPIES was talking about the same thing. Now, we know he does NOT listen to PBS. So, we can only assume that the news of the risque showing of Saving Private Ryan must have hit a network or cable news program

Check your newspapers tomorrow. You'll find out that ABC won the ratings squabble for tonight. No doubt.

All that aside, this film, as fine a Steven Spielberg as any and no matter how much violence shown, cannot reproduce the horrific violence which took place during the Invasion of Normandy and other parts of World War II. We at NIPPIES know. Our father was shot in Normandy, France, during the invasion- and won a Purple Heart for his bravery.

Today's article is dedicated to him and to all the other brave solders, past and present, who fought for our freedom and who are doing what they are asked to do today. Our prayers go out to all of them- including our boys in Iraq. God Bless You All.


Broadway's Wicked recoups $14 Million
If you watched public television's special on Broadway last week, you are familiar with the Broadway musical called Wicked. WIcked is a stage adaptation of a book based, in part, on Oz.

Julie Andrews narrated the PBS special, entitled ""Broadway: The American Musical" (2004), which is a six-part documentary directed by Michael Kantor and written by Kantor and Marc Fields. Broadway is a breathtakingly magical review of Broadway history from beginning to end. The documentary is a must-see for Broadway lovers, but the play Wicked, which was highlighted at the end of the documentary, is also something not to be missed. And it's turning out to be a big money maker, as well.

According to an Associated Press story of Nov. 10, 2004 by Michael Kuchwara, the AP drama writer, Wicked will recoup backers' $14 million dollar inventment by Christmas. After Christmas, according to current projections, it's pay back time and the money will begin rolling in as profits.

Producers Marc Platt and David Stone must be thrilled. Broadway plays are getting to be a riskier and riskier investment. Some close in only a week, and original reviews of the Oz prequel were mixed. The New York Times, considered by many to be THEE review, gave Wicked a "bumpy" review, according to the AP story. Wicked also did not win the best-musical Tony Award. Avenue Q." took that honor this year.

But, according to Michael Kuchwara, Wicked may have the "last laugh". Advance sales are now in the $26 million dollar range, and the sold-out musical's grosses "top the $1 million mark" every week. Amazing.

We at NIPPIES were enchanted by this Broadway musical just from the small segment of it featured in the Kantor documentary. At the time of the documentary's filming, Wicked (The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz) had just opened. Footage showed not only rehearsals of the Broadway musical, which centers on the relationship of the two witches, Glinda (the Good Witch) and Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the East) many years before Dorothy ever set those ruby red slippers in the Land of Oz.

Wicked is at the 1,800 seat Gershwin Theatre, which is one of Broadway's largest theatres. The play opened in October 2003. The original Glinda was played by Kristin Chenoweth, and is now currently portrayed by Jennifer Laura Thompson. The musical, with a score by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman, is based on Gregory Maguire's cult novel. Idina Menzel portrays the green-skinned, much misunderstood Elphaba. Ms. Menzel won one of the show's three Tonys (the others being for sets and costumes).

Wicked was originally slated to be a movie, and was being developed at Universal Studios. But the difficulty in expressing inner thoughts, an important part of the play, would have been a cinematic difficulty. The idea of adapting to book as a Broadway musical was a brilliant one, where players frequently turn to the audience and say what they are thinking.

You can learn a lot more about this magical musical at the official web site, www.WickedTheMusical.com. The web site alone is a visual delight.


November 6, 2004

Pharmaceutical Companies Celebrate Bush Second Term

Here's an excerpt from an Associated Press story about how investment firms are salivating, pharmaceutical companies are jubilant, and how big business will get bigger under a Bush second term. Yes, champagne corks are popping all over:

"Industry analysts say that with Bush in the White House and Republicans increasing their control of Congress, government price controls for prescription medicines won't be on the table. The free-market system, where demand drives price, will continue, said Barbara Ryan, a pharmaceuticals analyst and managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities..."

According to the article, the pharmaceutical industry isn't the only one jumping for joy. Wall Street is "salivating" because George W. Bush's second term is going to be a potential "bonanza" for Wall Street if his pledge to allow private investment of Social Security funds is made good.

"Banks, investment firms, mutual fund companies and insurers would offer to help individuals manage these new private retirement investments", continued the article, "which could lead to billions of dollars in new funds under their control and higher profits if legislation clears Congress."

No matter what they thought of Bush, Big Business heaved a collective sigh or relief when John Kerry conceded. Kerry, as we all know, was going to make it a little tougher price gougers, accord to the article...

" Pfizer Inc., GlaxoSmithKline PLC and other drug makers, for example, were facing the potential of much tougher oversight on pricing under a Kerry presidency."

The telecommunications industry is also having a party over President Bush not having to pack his bags. Verizon, BellSouth, SBC and Qwest see the potential for further government deregulation, which means more profit.

Yes, and the defense industry, such as UNITED DEFENSE, the company which is part of the Carlysle Group, a conglomerate which the Bush family owns interests in, according to Michael Moore's Farenheit 911, should also see a nice little profit as "the Bush administration is likely to continue its aggressive defense spending."

It's going to be a long four years for the rest of us "have nots".

You can read the rest of the story here: Daily Herald - Michael A. Martinez


November 4th, 2004

Is Yasser Arafat Dead?
If you watched the LIVE news conference with President Bush this afternoon, you heard on of the media tell George W. that Yasser Arafat had died. President Bush commented that he wanted to say "God Bless his soul."

Later, CNN reported that Yasser Arafat was, according to hospital officials at the French hospital where he is a patient, NOT DEAD.

Other reports state that Arafat continues to lapse in and out of consciousness, still others that he is "clinically dead." No matter what, it was abundantly clear to those who saw him propped up by his ministers on that video tape the other day, a video tape taken shortly before he was whisked off to a French hospital for treatment, that his mind is not very sharp. Yasser Arafat bent over at one point and tried to kiss the hand of a very beefy man to his left. The man, whoever he was, recoiled quickly at this inappropriate behavior. But it was too late, as the cameras had captured the odd act already.

By the time you read this, you will probably know the truth. Arafat has not yet named a successor, a fact that greatly concerns both Israeli and Palestinian officials.


We wish we'd seen Farenheit 911 sooner....
A lot sooner. Not that it would have changed our vote- we didn't vote for George W. Bush. Even though he got our vote in 2000 based on his "Christian values".

We at NIPPIES were very naive about the Bush family, both father AND son. We really didn't know about the business ties of the Bush family with the Bin Laden family. What really upsets us is that there are a lot of highly intellingent people out there who are also naive.

Take a relative we spoke with last evening. This particular relative is very bright, very educated, and she is a health professional with a very responsible position. She also voted for George W. Bush. When I asked her, the night of the election, if she was happy that it appeared President Bush was winning the election, she said yes. Why, we asked? She simply said she "didn't trust" John Kerry. But she didn't elaborate on why she didn't trust him. We think we know why.

Most health professionals, and especially physicians, probably voted for George W. Bush. That's a given because of his stance on keeping the physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals profitable at the expense of the less affluent Americans. (John Kerry is - excuse us, WAS, often seen as a threat to those making a good living in the health care profession. He wanted to make health insurance and health care more accessable to all. That would mean less profit for those in the health care industry.) This relative of ours make a good living as a health care professional. So, her natural inclination was to vote for George W. Bush, who has done absolutely NOTHING concrete to stop the sharply escalating price of health care.

What really upset us about this relatives attitude?? Well, we asked her if she'd seen Farenheit 911. "No," she answered emphatically. "That's just propaganda."

Propaganda? We aren't being fed propaganda on a daily basis by the press releases put out by the White House? Was Michael Moore lying, or does the Saudi Royal Family own a piece of AOL/Time Warner, who in turn owns CNN? Did he or did he not (George W. Bush) meet with Taliban government officials here in the United States in 2001 - before 911? Oh, there are many more interesting items presented in this film that are very disturbing- not to mention the footage of the war in Iraq. True, Michael Moore spins the facts this way and that to tell his own story, but if you watch this film, you can look at the documents and facts for yourself. You will most likely come away very disturbed and convinced that we are not being told the whole truth in this country about many things.

If you read through our archives, you may see our thoughts slowly evolve from those of Bush supporter to the current thoughts- that we are definitely and genuinely sad that George W. Bush will be in the White House for four more years. We are afraid for our country, for the "have nots", which are growing in number. Even though George W. Bush got more than half the popular vote, we think the have nots really do outnumber the haves. Unfortunately, many of the have nots, we suspected, voted for George W. because of his "Christian values". Perhaps they forgot, as we did not, that he authorized the execution of 152 death row inmates while he was governor of Texas.

We are afraid for our own family. Our health insurance had doubled in the past 5 years. We are now paying as much for gasoline as we are for food. The job creation Bush talks about is nowhere visible in our little area- unless you talk about the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of little jobs where you carry a tray and ask, "Baked or mashed?" to the half of the population which works in education, government, health, utilities, etc.

On the night of the election, during the wee hours of November 3rd, we could no longer take the suspense. We got out of bed and drove through the streets of our valley, thinking. Mainly, the streets were deserted. On the way home, we stopped at our local mini-market. We had a chat with Mary, a long-time worker there with whom we have occasional, brief and impersonal conversations. Tonight, we asked Mary how she was feeling, because she didn't look very happy. "Not too good", Mary said. She told us that she was a life-long Republican who hasn't voted in years. But she did this time. And she voted for Kerry. "We need a change. I'm so disgusted that he won again." Agreed. Home we went.

Later that morning, Wednesday morning,as we took our little one to school, we were let into traffic by the smiling driver of a Mercedes SUV. We recognized him as a local Dr. Yes, he was alone in the car, and smiling. Maybe it was because of a Bush victory, maybe he always smiles. Who knows. But we suspect it was a Bush smile.

So, with all that said, we encourage you to watch Farenheit 911. We wish we had, because we would have not been so wishy-washy about the presidential election. We would have worked hard to see that George W. Bush was not put into office for a second term. It's too late now. He got the Christian vote. He got the medical communities vote. He got the pharmaceutical vote, the big business vote, etc. The rich just got richer in America, and the rest of us...well, we aren't doing so well.

The stock market soared in America as soon as Kerry conceded. And, today, the headlines are announcing that European stocks, especially the pharmaceutical company stocks, soared, as well. Click HERE to read for yourself.

The class division between the haves and the have nots has reached Grand Canyon proportions in America. And it's only going to get worse, we fear, in the next four years. It will end. The bubble will burst. It's inevitable. dThe little worker ants of American can only pay so much for health insurance, so much for utilities, so much for education, so much in property, state and federal taxes. And then everything in the American house of cards is going to fall. The only question now is- when?

In the meantime, we have decided to spend the next few weeks focusing on making money.

We couldn't beat them, and we aren't exactly joining them. But idealism, and writing about it, doesn't pay the bills. I come from a large extended family. Some of my family members - and thank God not all - secretly (they think) consider me to be the family eccentric because I spend so much time trying to change attitudes in a largely unchangeable and corrupt world. They all live in beautiful homes, and drive new, or almost new, cars. Perhaps I should aim to do the same. Perhaps not. But even providing the basic necessities requires a struggle anymore.

So, if you don't see us for periods of time, you will understand why.

In the meantime, you might want to visit JohnKerry.com, and read the gracious concession speech of a man that we are sorry we didn't pay more attention to sooner. We cried yesterday as we listened to John Kerry speak. His sincerity was palpable.

Our prayers go out for John Kerry, that he may continue to fight for those Americans who President Bush has forgotten. For President Bush, that he may see that putting more money into the hands of the rich does NOT create GOOD paying jobs. For Elizabeth Edwards in her battle with breast cancer, which she is just beginning. And for all with power, that they may see the plight of the have nots.


November 3rd, 2004

God help us all. It's going to be a very tough four years...


Senator John F. Kerry will give a speech from Boston's Faneuil Hall at 1 p.m. (E.T.) today.


November 2nd, 2004

Kissin' Cousins? Well, here's a new one to consider as you wait for today's election results. On NPR.com's Morning Edition this morning, it was reported that Nickelodeon's Kids' Poll has predicted John Kerry as the next President of the United States of America. Weekly Reader, which also conducts a poll and has been right 11 out of 12 times, predicts that George W. Bush will win.

But the most interesting report of all on National Public Radio? A genealogist claims that the candidate with the most "royal" blood wins. But that might be hard to determine this time because...

George W. Bush and John F. Kerry are NINTH COUSINS!!

Got a problem with that? Don't tell us...contact NPR.org


November 1st, 2004

Report on Reuters: Merck Tried to Bury Vioxx Concerns
Did Merck execs and scientists know that Vioxx significantly increased the risk of heart attacks? It appears to be the case. The Reuters story contains this excerpt:

"On Monday, the Journal reported that an e-mail dated March 9, 2000, suggested Merck recognized that something in Vioxx was linked to increased heart risk.

Edward Scolnick, Merck research chief at the time, wrote in the e-mail that cardiovascular events "are clearly there" and called it a "shame."

This, if true, is a disgrace. We at NIPPIES wrote on September 15-16, 2003, a full year ago, that Merck spent $176 MILLION dollars PROMOTING VIOXX in 2001!! Which would be a year AFTER the damning e-mail by Edward Scolnick.

Read more: Report: Merck Tried to Bury Vioxx Concerns


Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Which Candidate Should We Vote Against?
If you happen to be a Catholic and lower middle-class, you are really between a rock and a hard place when it comes to casting your vote tomorrow for President of the United States.

First we have George W. Bush. President Bush continually lets us know that he's a Christian with Christian values. And we believe that he believes that. Yet, as governor of Texas, if the pamphlets are to be believed, he authorized the execution of over 100 death row convicts while governor of Texas. He believes in the death penalty as a crime deterrent. But no one can ever be 100 per cent sure that the person going into the electric chair or getting the lethal injection is guilty. And even if they are, who are we do decide that they must die?

George W. Bush also is most decidedly for the upper middle class and wealthier Americans. One only has to look at his tax cuts for those making over $200,000 to see that. One only has to look at his view about placing $250,000 caps on medical malpractice lawsuits. He also doesn't get it: giving up the right to sue a doctor for enough money to live on the rest of your live when that doctor has caused you to lose the ability to earn a living is not a thing most Americans can afford to do. George W. Bush will never, ever face poverty in his lifetime, even if a physician screws up. He's always been wealthy- always will be. And he has access to the very best medical care.

Then we have John Kerry. John F. Kerry refers to his Catholicism often. He claims to respect life and the views of the Catholic Church about abortion and stem cell research. Yet he "respects" the views of those who want abortions on demand. Where we come from they call that "talking out of both sides of your mouth".

You all know the issues. The Bush and Kerry pamphlets and fliers have been arriving daily. Kerry with a rifle- most likely a pamphlet aimed specifically for more rural areas such as the one where we at NIPPIES live. Kerry promising to make health insurance more affordable for all. Bush pamphlets with babies on the front. Bush saying that Kerry is a "tax and spend" candidate. (This always strikes us as a wink, wink sorta pamphlet aimed toward the wealthier Americans.)

And, like most Catholic Americans - American Catholics of limited finances, we are torn. Tomorrow, we will have to make a decision.

There was an e-mail we got today that really has tilted our decision decidedly toward John Kerry, not as the better candidate, but as the lesser of two bad choices.

The e-mail was about the campaign contributions of British-owned companies, and how one of those companies, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is heavily supporting not only George W. Bush, but all Republicans. Republicans, and George W., share their views about the pharmaceutical industry. You know the views...the ones which make the pharmaceutical companies more and more profitable with every passing year.

GSK, as you know, is a mega giant pharmaceutical company which is leading the fight against drug importation. GSK has contributed over $7 MILLION dollars recently to the Republican Party, and is licking their corporate chops in anticipation of a Bush win. Read why here:

COMPANIES CASHI IN ON WHITE HOUSE RACE from FT.COM

We don't like Kerry a whole lot. But he just might get our vote. Our reasoning is this: the floodgates of stem cell research have opened and it will go on either openly or secretly because that is the way things go in America. No matter what, it will go on, and George W. knows it. Abortion will go on, no matter what, until the mentality of America begins to see that abortion on demand is not the choice to be made. The choice was already made when you chose to take a chance on pregnancy in the first place. So, we reason, there is nothing we can do to stop these things. But the economic future of the lower middle class is SO dismal in America with George W. Bush in office. And the power and voice in this country is most decidely with those with enough money to make their voices heard, such as the members of the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association, two powerful organizations who are at each others throats in this election year.

And so, we must choose to vote where we think it will do the greater good. And that is with Kerry. Or at least that is how we see it today. Because even though we do NOT share Kerry's views on many things, especially on abortion and on stem cell research, and although we know he comes from the same similar privileged background as George W. Bush and are confused about how he can truly empathize with those who struggle daily to, literally, put bread and ketchup on the table, he has at least promised to help the drowning lower income folks and struggling middle class.

And before anyone writes to us and tells us that we would be for stem cell research if we had anyone in our family who could benefit from it, let us say we already concede that point. But in our heart of hearts, we still think it wrong.

Like most Catholics and Christians, we can only hope that when we pull the lever tomorrow, it is for the right candidate. We will be praying on it tonight.


October 31st, 2004

Turn Your Clocks Back...

If you live in a time zone which honors Daylight Savings Time, it's time to turn your clock back at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 31st. That means at 2 a.m. you make it 1 a.m., ok?

How Does the Electoral College Work?
If you are like most Americans, you cannot understand how a presidential candidate can get a majority of votes (the popular vote), and still not become the President of the United States, as was the case in the 2000 Presidential Election.

Well, we at NIPPIES were as confused as you for many years- and still are a little bit regarding the merits of electoral college vs. popular vote. However, we found a great source for information on the Electoral College system which we'd like to share with our readers. Not only is there a list of all 50 states and how many electoral votes each state receives and WHY, but there is a very clear link to a great explanation. So here is the link to get you started on your path to learning about the Electoral College System:

Electoral College Explained


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NIPPIES - August 22, 2002 - September 5, 2002: NIPPIES - Issue #1
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