Welcome to Issue 6 of NIPPIES on-line magazine!
Here you can read articles which were previously posted from January 25th, 2003 to January 3rd, 2002 in Nippies

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January 25th, 2003

Are you a fan of author Phyllis A. Whitney?

We at Nippies are. Ms. Whitney is a well known author of over 78 books (including three text books). Her genre is generally romantic suspence. Even if you are familiar with the novelist, you may be surprised to learn that she will celebrate her 100th birthday next September and is currently working on her biography.

Go Phyllis!!

Another of our favorite authors is Laurali R. Wright, who passed away in February 2001 at the age of 61. Nippies' favorite book by the Canadian author is A Chill Rain in January, one of the books from her Karl Alberg series of novels.

Ms. Wright's work has been translated into many other languages and has earned her many awards. The Suspect earned L.R. Wright (a name she sometimes used) an Edgar Allan Poe Award. She became the first Canadian to ever win an Edgar award. In 1991, A Chill Rain in January won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel. Five years later, Mother Love earned the same award (Best Novel). Laurali was also been given the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for Fiction in 1996.

Laurali Wright's passing at a relatively young age has saddened many of her fans.


Martha You-Know-Who!

Attorneys for Martha Stewart are trying to convince the Feds (Justice Department) to not file criminal charges against the domestic diva in liew of an SCC civil lawsuit. If this happens, there will be cries of protest across the land about how the rich and powerful are given preferential treatment when they break the law. We'll keep a Nippies watch.


Ebay Lawsuit

Ebay, the online auction powerhouse, is being sued for alleged online slander, has learned. A man who feels his good name was sullied by the online feedback system utilized by Ebay claims that derogatory comments by another Ebay user against him were not taken off when he made the requset.

This will be an interesting case to watch. Ebay is very powerful and appears to have taken steps which will assure their top position on the internet remains in place. Have you auctioned anything on Ebay in the past few years? It used to cost $1.00 the last time we at Nippies sold an item with Ebay. The rules were relatively simple.

That was 1999. Things have changed quite a bit since then, despite the fact that Ebay's stock went through the roof even with the low price of $1 per auction they were charging back then.

Now, depending on what you are selling and how you are listing (with or without options), the seller can end up paying many times that amount PLUS a percentage of the total sale price on the successful auction. Ebay also has prohibited links to your site, in most instances, from the auction description space you purchase if you are selling other items on that particular web site. Ebay utilizes a watchdog system that picks up on certain keywords you might use on your description and stops you from listing an item for sale until you correct the description to their satisfaction.

Do you know of any other auction sites that you are very happy with? Have gripes about? Do you have any gripes with Ebay? Any great experiences with Ebay? Let us know. Nippies is interested.


Super Expensive

Everyone has heard by now, but Nippies is so fascinated we'll report it again. The cost of an ad during the Superbowl is a whopping $2.2 MILLION dollars per 30 seconds. Wow...and to think that the ads that appear during the Superbowl are specially made just for that day.


Mel Gibson On DVD

We at Nippies rented Mel Gibson's Signs the other night. We had previously seen the movie at the cinema. While we do NOT believe that aliens would contact we earthlings by mowing non-sensical designs into cornfields, we do love Mel Gibson, as we have gone on record as saying. Signs is worth watching. It is also currently the number one rented DVD.

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January 24th, 2003

Door-To-Door Cub Scout

There was a story that broke on local news yesterday about a young boy whose parents dressed him up as a Cub Scout, convinced him he was a Cub Scout, although he was not, and took him door to door on a solicitation mission.

The boy said nothing on the rounds. But his parents explained to neighbors that they were collecting funds for the Cub Scouts. Over $667.00 in donations was collected.

One doorstep which was approached by the family was owned by a Cub Scout leader. The man noticed that the young boy's neckerchief was knotted rather than secured by the regulation Cub Scout slide. That observation made the Cub Scout leader suspicious, and he called police to report his suspicions. He was right. The young boy was, as we at Nippies previously pointed out, not a Cub Scout.

It turns out that the family, according to the sobbing mother of the little boy, was having great financial difficulties and acted out of desperation. Their family landscaping business was failing. She seemed genuinely sorry for what she and her husband had done.

The little boy was not crying, but he broke our hearts anyway. He said that his family is "poor" and needed money.

This story is now making national news wires. Neighbors who donated went on camera giving their opinions of what happened. We at Nippies noticed many tsk tsks. One woman thought it was terrible that the parents engaged their child in such an act of deception. We at Nippies agree with her that it was very wrong of the parents to do what they did and most especially to use their child in this way.

What really bothers Nippies the most, however, is that this child was used by the media. The whole family, including the child, was on camera.

Knowing what we know about how cruel some children can be to other children, we have to wonder why on earth this child was put on camera at all. Certainly, while the parents were wrong to do this and to use their child in this way, their criminal act hardly poses a threat to national security or to the national economy. Conventional wisdom - and experience - tells us that little boy will now, most likely, be subjected to ridicule and taunts by his peers. In additon to poverty and faulty parenting, the media has added the burden of shame to this little boy's troubles.

We at Nippies think that we don't need to know all the news all the time. Certainly, the nation didn't need to know this news and to see the faces of that family and that little boy. Perhaps the media did a greater harm to the child than his parents did, and for a far worse reason: ratings and not desperation.


Missing and pregnant

Laci Peterson. She's been on everyone's mind of late. Who would want to harm a woman who is carrying an unborn child?. We at Nippies are mystified.

Laci's family spoke today about their feelings. Or, should we say, tried to speak. They were so beside themselves with grief that their words were punctuated with sobs. Laci's mother spoke about how she misses her daughter and their daily conversations, how she misses sharing Laci's joy over the impending birth of her first child. Laci's older brother spoke of how he regretted he wasn't there to protect her from whoever did this to her.

Where are the sobs and sad words from Scott Peterson? That is what everyone, including we at Nippies, wants to know.

In a few minutes, there will be a press conference held in Modesto by the Modesto police. If you are up and reading this, you can tune into CNN to see what new developments will be reported. Nippies will be watching.

Laci disappeared one month ago today. Her husband, Scott Peterson, claims Laci was fine with he left to go fishing, on Christmas Eve morning, at about 9:30am. Many doubt that story because Laci used to open her drapes every single morning. That morning the drapes remained closed.

Laci Peterson is somewhere. It doesn't look very promising that she will be found alive. With the news of Scott Peterson having a girlfriend, and having taken out a quarter of a million dollar life insurance policy on Laci, it is only natural to fear the worst.

We at Nippies were suspicious of Scott Peterson from the get go. The reason? He was so willing to go on television when Laci was first missing. After two days, when he was being asked some pointed questions because the spouse is always the number one suspect in this sort of case, he disappeared from the eye of the cameras. He claimed to be "too upset" to be in the public view. That was very suspicious reasoning to us. We could understand if he was just camera shy from the beginning, but he wasn't.

The press conference is on. The girlfriend is confirming her affair with Scott Peterson. She is young. About Laci's age. She is very upset. She met him a few months ago and claims she was told Scott was "not married". She is a single mother with a 23 year old month child. She asks that we respect her privacy. Her name is Amber Frye, and she is very shaken over her involvment in this case.

The mystery is, it seems, now beginning to be over. We at Nippies will surely be writing about sad story again.

January 23rd, 2003


It's still near zero degrees (F) here in the great Northeast! Brrrr. And we at Nippies have been trying to rescue the beautiful, white cat with the blue eyes (yes, she's deaf) from the cold for several days now. We've affectionately named the cat "Baby"

The first day of the cold snap Mr. Nippies sat for over an hour with a dark blanket over his body waiting near the cat food for the opportunity to grab her. This cat is very savvy: she opted not to eat until Mr. Nippies gave up and came into the house, claiming to be suffering from frostbite on his extremities. So far no body parts have turned black and fallen off.

Apparently a 6 pound cat with a white fur coat is better equipped to handle the cold than is a 179 lb man. God certainly knows what he is doing.

The next night we all got our thinking caps on. We at Nippies came up with a plan. First placed a wicker hamper with a brass-hinged lid on it's front side. You know the kind of wicker haper we are referring to - everyone had this brown wicker back in the early 80s when plants and wicker chests, hampers and baskets were the rage. Then we placed a paper plate with food - tuna was selectef for it's pungent odor - deep inside the hamper. One end of a cord was tied through the opened lid of the hamper and the other end was pulled taut and fed through our window and tied to our white porcelain, pedestal sink. When the cat entered the basket to eat, we at Nippies planned on cutting the string, thereby releasing the tension and trapping the cat inside when the hinged lid fell closed. In case she got out, our son was waiting on the outside of the hole in our fence which Baby customarily uses as an escape hatch. Our son had a large fishing net attached to a wooden hoop and handle in which he planned to catch the fleeing cat. Near the other excape hatch, which is near our the gate that leads to the front of our property, Mr. Nippies was waiting with a large blanket to throw over the cat. Yes, it was the same old Army blanket he had hidden under the previous day and which is not stuffed near the bottom of our back door in our near-futile effort to prevent cold air from entering the house.

Alas, all went well - almost. Baby went into the hamper and began to eat. When she had pulled her white tail in sufficiently and I was sure the lid wouldn't snap closed on it, I planned on cutting the string. But before I could cut the string, the cat sensed something was wrong. Perhaps he smelled a human or saw a shadow. Because he is deaf, we think his other senses are extra sharp. He backed out of the basket and flew to his escape hatch where our son was waiting and jumped right into the basket. Triumphantly, Mr. Nippies called out "We got him!". Our little one and I cheered and were in the midst of jumping up and down when we heard a few expletives wafting through the open window. We stopped mid-jump and hurried to the window to see what had gone wrong. The cat had jumped out of the fishing net and had dashed off to parts unknown.

Sadly, the cat became extremely cautious after what, we at Nippies are certain, he considered to be a "near death experience." Baby runs now if he even feels a snow flake hitting his nose. It's too bad you can't reason with a cat.

Today it was even colder in our neck of the woods than it had been on the days of our failed attempts to catch the cat. But we at Nippies dare not try to catch Baby again - at least not too soon. Even a trip to our window to check on her can result on her scampering away before she eats. So we must just hope that the deep freeze, or starvation, doesn't get her before we do.

In case you are wondering, we at Nippies refer to "Baby" as both a she and a he it is because we are not 100% certain of the sex of our little friend. But we are leaning toward the female side. At least one other big tomcat out there thinks Baby is a potential mate, from what we've seen.

We at Nippies will keep you posted on all accounts...


Tonight we will travel a short distance to see our son, a musician, perform with his bandmates. They will open for a nationally known act at a venue not far from our home.

Normally, we at Nippies do not frequent hot spots frequented by the under 30 crowd. As a matter of fact, we do not frequent hot spots at all. But we will make an exception.

It seems like yesterday he planned on becoming a member of the NBA. As the high scorer for several years in a row his grade school basketball team, where his specialty became three-pointers that made the crowd ooh and aah, basketball was his life. That dream changed sometime during his freshman year in high school when he picked up his first good guitar and made new friends who were already seasoned guitarists. He soon became obsessed and spent, unfortunately, more hours on the guitar than on his studies.

By the end of his first year at the private high school he will, we hope, graduate from this June, he had tried out and been accepted in a band of older guys. We at Nippies were amazed at this accomplishment and tried to be supportive. Three times a week we made the one hour round trip to take him to his practice. After several months, he had outgrown that band and gone on to another, then another. Each time a band folded or disbanded, as they say in the music biz, our son became convinced his musical "career" was over and he'd never be so lucky again. Ah, the young. But another band always came along.

Two years ago he decided to teach himself keyboards or, as they now call it, the synthesizer. We at Nippies call it a keyboard because, to us, it is a keyboard. But our son corrects us and tells us it is "a synthesizer". He excelled at that instrument just as he did at the guitar and, thereby, made himself even more valuable as a musician because of his ability to play not one instrument but two. Along the way he found his voice and also began to write some music.

For a long time he dreamed of being in a certain well-known, albeit local band. One day last year, on Easter Sunday, the flashing red light on our answering machine brought a surprise message from that particular band's lead vocalist. "Hey, man, you're great. Wanna join our band?"

Dreams do come true...in increments of small accomplishment. We at Nippies don't know if our very young son will ever attain the national fame he and everyone musician/entertainer like him desires. Sometimes things don't work out exactly the way we want them to and, oddly, it turns out for the best. But for tonight, at least, our son is a star.

And his parents will be in the front row to (quietly) cheer him on.


The Rich Get Richer

A new report from the Federal Reserve has shown that that gap between the top 10% of the wealthiest Americans and the 20% of American families in the lowest income brackets has grown by a whopping 70%, proving once again that the rich really do get richer and the poor get poorer.

The study, which does not take 2002 into account, shows the growth in wealth amongst the wealthiest Americans was largely due to the Bull Market in the late 1990s. Many would temper this news of a growing gap between the rich and poor by saying that 52% if all Americans own stock.

Statistics! How they twist the truth! While that may be statistically true, it is also true that about 80% all stocks are owned by about 2% (the very wealthy) of American stockholders. The remaining 20% of all stocks are divided up amongst the other stockholders who only own a few thousand dollars worth of stock in retirement and other funds.

Read more about the growing gap between the rich and poor by copying and pasting:



Amazing Nancy Grace

We at Nippies are watching Nancy Grace of Court TV being interviewed on Larry King Live. Nancy Grace was nicknamed "Amazing Grace" for a very good reason: as a prosecutor, Nancy has never lost a case.

Nancy Grace's fiance, Keith, was murdered many years ago 2 weeks before their wedding. He was murdered by a 24 year-old for a wallet with $30.00 and a photo. A naive Nancy did not want the death penalty at the time. She has since changed her mind. The murderer will be eligible for parole in the not too distant future.

Nancy made a very good point about rich, white educated murderers. She said they are often treated better and receive lesser sentences than poor and poorly educated members of minorities who commit the same crimes. Nancy said it disgusts her to see injustice because, in her view, those who have had all the worldly advantages are more "culpable" than those who have not. All murderers, of course, anger her.

Very true, Nancy. Very true.

January 22nd, 2003

Computer Off Limits

Nippies' commentary is being written on January 21st, but it's almost midnight Eastern time, so what the heck!

Today was Nippies' family day. The computer was verboten. There was pot luck for supper (leftover chili, leftover stew, Bisquick dumplings and fresh Italian bread). Then a quick bath for myself and the little one, some studying for her, and off we went on what I call a "cheap adventure".

A cheap adventure is one were we go to K-Mart and allow her to roam the toy aisles for as long as she wishes. But no buying is allowed! That is the only rule. Nippies' thinks it makes for good character to be able to browse and not buy, n'est pas?

Nippies' was fascinated by the home version of Family Feud and may just buy it. While we don't always watch the show on television, the home version seems to have potential for fun on a cold winters' night, which we are getting a lot of in the Northeast.

There was a "Date Ball" there. The Date Ball is a spin-off of the famous 8 Ball: you hold the thing in your hand, ask it a question, and wait for the triangular little thingie floating around inside in blue ink to surface and answer your query. Nippies' question was about Mr. Nippies. We asked if he is our Prince Charming. After a shake, the little one and I waited anxiously for the answer, then broke into peals of laughter when the little triangle bobbed up to the surface with the answer of....."Forget About It". haha! Mr. Nippies was a few feet away looking at something or other and wanted to know what all the gaiety was about. Of course, we didn't tell him!

Then it was off to Barnes & Noble for some more browsing. Nippies' hasn't been there in a few months, and it was fun looking at all the new books. While the little one cruised through the children's books not far from where I sat (and could keep an eye on her), I grabbed two biographies that interested me and began to read.

The first one was Carol Channing's Just Lucky, I Guess. Did you know Carol Channing is a Christian Scientist? And that she's 81? She looks fabulous for that age, even though she really does look much different without her heavy stage make-up than she does with it. Carol has never smoked, drank and rarely eats sugar. Her mother lived to be 100, so if her genes are anything like "Mom's", she has a few decades to go!

Carol had some fascinating stories to tell about her celebrity acquaintances. One we really enjoyed was about her friend, the playwright Neil Simon, and his claustrophobia. Carol is also claustrophobic. In the book, Ms. Channing relates a hilarious tale about Neil's air plane ride during his honeymoon, and about how the claustrophobia affected his bathroom privileges. Read the book for the whole story.

The second autobiography we picked up was Mary Higgins Clark's Kitchen Privileges. We didn't know this, but Mary grew up in the Bronx. She had a crush on her future husband and childhood neighbor, Warren Clark, from the young age of 16. He was twenty-five. Mary Higging and Warren Clark had their first date when Mary was 21 and Warren was 30 and eventually married and had five little Clarks. Sadly, Warren passed away when he was barely 50 years old and Mary Higging Clark had to support her five children. We know the rest of the story: after seven years and over 40 rejections, Mary Higging Clark sold her first novel and went on to become one of the most successful writers of fiction in the last century!


Canadians Save Bacon

Did you know that prescription drugs in Canada cost HALF what they cost in the United States for the SAME medications? Yep! Canada has a law to keep prices low. Many U.S. citizens are crossing the border to buy expensive medications such as Celebrex, which sells for about $150.00 for a bottle of 100 in the United States but only about $75.00 for the same 100 pills in Canada!

According to some news reports, at least one pharmaceutical company has taken steps to prevent U.S. prescription drug customers from obtaining their medications at a cheaper rate by crossing the border into Canada: GSK has threatened to stop shipments to Canada. GSK is citing concern for consumer safety, and not profits, as the reason the pharmaceutical giant is taking this step.

Senior Citizens aren't buying this excuse. They want to know why Glaxo Smith Kline, and other pharmaceutical companies, can't sell the medications in the U.S. for the same low prices as does Canada.

Canada has laws to keep prices low on prescription medications. Why doesn't the United States??


Pigs at the Trough

There was an interesting book at Barnes & Noble on the subject of corruption and greed in corporations and politics in America. It was entitled Pigs at the Trough and the author is Adrianna Huffington. Sounds interesting. This book would be very be very timely reading material. Over 220 corporate executives were in trouble this year over questionable business practices.


Nippies told you so...the newest "contagious dis-ease"...

Two weeks ago, we at Nippies predicted that if the doctors in Pennsylvania and West Virginia got a satisfactory reaction to their "Campaign of Terror" (threatening to stop treating patients if caps weren't placed on malpractice lawsuits), the Campaign would spread to other states.

Well, guess what??

Doctors in New Jersey are now making noises about staging their own walk-outs unless their demands regarding tort reform on medical malpractice are met.

Seems like the physicians "Dis-Ease" with medical malpractice policies is contagious and spreading like wildfire...

January 20th, 2003

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

After much thought, we at Nippies have decided to post, in full, Dr. King's speech calling for an end to the VietNam War, which was delivered on April 4th, 1967.

Here is the link to the special page we have put up with Dr. King's speech, entitled:
Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
JAN 2018 NOTE: Page was lost when Yahoo.com hosting three out my files in 2009

January 19th, 2003

Tomorrow is Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day <> We at Nippies hope you will remember Dr. King, his ideals, his goals, his struggle, and his sacrifices during the day no matter where you are. A good way to commemorate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. might be to try, if only for one day, to understand the views and choices of those who are different than you are.

We heard a very interesting talk today on the radio. A Catholic nun, who also happens to be a scholar on the subject of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke about his speech about why he was in favor of ending the Viet Nam war, and about how war was the enemy of the poor. The nun compared Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life of non-violence to that of Ghandi.

Click on the January 20th link above to view Dr. Martin Luther King's speech.


Is She Cloning Around?

No matter how you feel about cloning, and just about everyone with a heartbeat has a very strong opinion one way or another, you might be interested in reading what Dr. Brigitte Bosseiier, CEO of Clonaid, had to say to the U.S. Congress on the subject of cloning humans. Here's the URL:


The whole world waited anxiously after Brigitte Bosselier's announcement on December 27th, 2002 that Clonaid had successfully cloned the first human. The baby girl's name was supposedly "Eve" and proof of the cloining, via DNA tests, was promised by Bosselier to be forthcoming within a week or so. Brigitte Bosselier also stated at the time that several other cloned babies were on the way.

The promise of such proof was withdrawn when a Florida attorney filed papers to have the child placed under protective custody. Now, the world will have to wait and see if the several million dollars of free publicity given to Clonaid was warranted. Or if the announcement was just a grand hoax.

January 18th, 2003

HELL NO! WE WON'T GO! - The Sequel!!

Hundreds of thousands of Americans - including many celebrities - participated in anti-war protests today not only in Washington, but in Chicago, Tampa and San Francisco, as well. Clearly, the closer President Bush moves us towards war with Iraq, the more agressive and loud are those who oppose this war.

What makes this anti-war movement quite different than the VietNam anti-war rallies is the participation of not only the draft aged young men and the young women, but also of their parents and others who remember the horrors of Viet Nam.

We, the parents of draft age sons, remember the VietNam War. We remember the casualties, the deaths. We all had brothers, relatives, friends, acquaintances, neighbors and classmates, boyfriends, and husbands who went away and never came back. Or came back forever changed from their horrific experience.

There have been murmurings for months now amongst the mothers of draft-aged sons. We at Nippies wrote about this back in September, 2002, when our son received his selective service card. There are petitions circulating on the internet against the draft, and they are being started by parents. One such petition can be found at Democrats.com

Copy and Paste:

Maybe it's because we have studied history and know that the majority of soldiers on the front lines come from families without affluence. The Civil War was an example of how the wealthy were exempt from war if they so chose: For $350.00, one could send someone else to take one's place in the war, and often did. Sometimes slaves were sent in the place of their young masters.

In the VietNam era, there were the college deferrments. Young men who graduated from high school and didn't have the means, either scholastically or economically, of attending college, or who dropped out of high school altogether, often found themselves being called for combat in Viet Nam before they had even lost the baby fat from their faces. Those who went and didn't come home in a box were never quite the same carefree person we may have remembered pre-Viet Nam.

The mothers of draft-age sons are being especially vocal on this issue. One mother got well over 200 responses on the web site www.DemocraticUnderground.com when she asked for mothers of draft age sons to organize against reinstating the draft.

Copy and paste:

The other day on public radio we at Nippies heard snippets of a commentary by an unknown author (unknown to us - we were engaged in business at the time and could only hear part of the transmission). This man wrote about how there would be no wars if the children of the wealthy were the first to be drafted and placed into combat. The author made a very valid point. It is the rich and powerful who decide when and were we fight wars. They would certainly try harder to avoid war if they knew for certain that their children would be the first to go into combat.

We at Nippies have supported President Bush on many issues. But of late, President Bush has caused us to step back and reevaluate our opinion of our president. Bush's new economic policy proposals which clearly favor the rich and the corporate fat cats; his grandstanding for complaining physicians via recommendations in Scranton, PA, the other day to place caps of $250,000.00 on medical malpractice non-economic awards (pain and suffering) no matter how severe the injury caused by a doctor, and with his full-steam ahead attitude toward pursuing a war with Iraq make us wonder just where his priorities lie.

One thing we can't believe is President Bush is only after oil. That just seems too far fetched to believe, and it seems like just so much propaganda from the likes of Saddam Hussein.

We at Nippies want America to remain free and we realize that many men were killed or wounded to keep our country free from evil dictators. (My father was one of those men). We at Nippies realize that Saddam Hussein is an evil, power hungry man who would stop at nothing to remain powerful and who has even had his own sons-in-law murdered. What kind of man orders an election with no opposition as Hussein did this year? Sounds like "vote for me or be killed" to us. Why is the man so hated in his own country that he never sleeps in the same house, or should we say presidential palsce, two nights in a row and even arises in the middle of the night, every night, to avoid assassination? His favorite ex-mistress claims he would look at tapes of people being killed for amusement. The man has impersonators to fool those who want to kill him. He has food tasters and guards for his food. The man must be very, very hated...

War may, someday, be inevitable against this man. But as the mother of a draft age son, we want to be sure that every avenue toward peace has been explored before America jumps head first into a war that will be unlike any other known in history. It will not be a fair war, if there is any such thing, with decent man pitted against decent man. There will be sneaky, biological and chemical warfare on foreign turf. There will be deceptive practices, lies, false promises and slaughter. There will be hundreds of thousands of deaths of young Americans.

As Wolf Blitzer stated in his special report on CNN tonight which focused on the possibility of war with Iraq: If Saddam Hussein uses chemical warfare on our young soldiers, and we have every reason to believe he will, they will find themselves paralyzed and dead in seconds, minutes. These words made us picture a men dying in a way not unlike a bug sprayed with a powerful secticide. Saddam Hussein has unleashed mustard gas on Kurds during the Iraq-Iran War. There was a film clip of a young Kurd soldier on the Blitzer special gasping pathetically for air after being poisoned by Saddam's soldiers.

We cannot go into this war, if there is indeed a war, alone. We need the backing of the UN and many other nations. We simply aren't prepared to take on a man without a conscience. A killer with nothing to lose like Saddam Hussein will not go down until he's used every trick in his very bloody bag of tricks.

There are many like parents of draft age children across America, most of us the children of World War II or even Viet Nam vets, who may have a new chant:

Hell No! They won't go!

January 17th, 2003

"Harris-mint or Her-ass-ment?

We at Nippies have always been fascinated by words. Spoken words, written words...we love them all.

Spoken words are most fascinating because of the way they not only come in and out of fashion, but also because of the way we change the way we pronounce such words. History also tells us that we often change the way we spell words, as well.

Nippies' thoughts turned to this subject this morning as we watched the credits for the 1938 Howard Hawks film, Bringing Up Baby roll by. There was a credit there for the "screen play". Hmmm, we thought. Isn't "screenplay" one word?

So, we checked on dictionary.com and found that "screenplay" is indeed one word now. Apparently, back in 1938, the word screenplay was then two words, because that is the way it was presented on the credits for the Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant classic screwball/romantic comedy.(See http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=screen%20play)

Nippies' thoughts then turned to other words whose pronunciation, we've noticed, varies from speaker to speaker. Take data, for instance. How do you pronounce that word? We at Nippies have it heard pronounced as "day-tuh" with a long vowel sound on the first "a", and "daa-tuh" with a short "a" sound in the first syllable, in nearly equal parts. The correct pronunciation, according to dictionary.com, is the former with the long "a".

"Era" is another word that sounds different on different lips. We at Nippies have always heard it pronounced "air-ah" but heard a very learned person on the radio the other day say "eer-ah". Of course the fact that the speaker was British could have had something to do with this difference in opinion of how to correctly say the oft used word. The British, after all, are known to say "sched-yule" as opposed to the American pronunciaton of "sked-yule" for the word "schedule"...

Ten years ago when "sexual harassment" was on everyone's lips - or on their minds but never, ever! on their agenda! - we at Nippies marveled at how the pronunciation of harassment had seemed to change from the way we had always heard it pronounced. "Ha-rass-ment", with the accent on the second syllable, was the only way we at Nippies had ever heard that word float our of a pair of lips. Then, suddenly, the word "harassment" morphed into "Harris-mint", as in "Richard Harris" and "tic tac".

What happened there?, we wondered the first time we heard the foreign pronuncement of the very American word. We had to hold back a giggle. Well, we reasoned much later when we'd heard that pronunciation making it's way more and more into the mainastream, perhaps we were wrong and had been living in an exclusive enclave of misprounouncers all these years. But, alas, no. Dictionary.com states, from what we at Nippies can decipher from their lexiguese, that the word is correctly pronounced "ha-rass-ment" with the accent on the second syllable. And yes, the second syllable does rhyme with that naughty word.

All this brings back, with no small degree of guilt, memories of my own father and how amused we were when we heard him pronounce the word "Russians". Everyone was using the word "Russians" back in my formative years, as may of you may remember. Anyway, Dad always made me smile inside when he pronounced the word "Roosh-ins". We at Nippies attributed this unusual pronunciation of my father's to his lack of sophistication. He was an intelligent, well-read man, but had only graduated from high school. Now, after having slid into the role of parent who pronounces words differently, on occasion, than my worldly 18-year-old son, I realize that my father was only pronouncing the word Russian the way he had heard it pronounced and which was, most likely, the way everyone pronounced it in his formative years.

The way we pronounce words is just one aspect of our language that we at Nippies often think about. Another aspect that fascinates us is how Americans seem to overuse certain words or phrases. For example, the word closure was so overused for a while in the late 1990s that we at Nippies almose gagged everytime we heard it. The term "state of the art" made us cringe in before that. FYI and "for the recore", (now there are two terms which been grossly overused), we at Nippies have jumped on the language bandwagon where these words, terms and phrases are concerned.

Oh, Nippies could go on and on!

There are probably dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of words we could discuss here. If you have any views about words or phrases, please feel free to write to us.

Copy and paste the following URL to visit a web site (Lake Superior State University) which lists, annually, words and phrases which should be banished for overuse, misuse, and other convincing reasons:



On Aaron Brown Tonight: The $50.00 Burger

French Chef Daniel Boulud, creator of the $50.00 DB Burger, was Aaron Brown's guest tonight. For those of you who have read about the price tag on the burger, which is served only in New York at Boulud's restaurant, don't get the wrong idea. This is not an ordinary burger.

Aaron Brown and the CNN staff bought a DB Burger Royale, as the creation is called, and invited Daniel Boulud on the show to give an explanation of the ingredients. The burger, which normally sells for $29.99, has gone up in price because Boulud has added black truffles while the delicacy is in season. Black truffles sell for $500.00 per pound.

The bun, which has seeds of some sort, is baked in the restaurant. The meat is low fat ground beef. However, there the similarity to any regular burger ends. This burger is stuffed with short ribs which have been braised for hours. There is also fois gras in the burger's center. And grilled tomato on top. Chef Boulud told Aaron Brown that any good chef could make this "burger" at home if they had two days of preparation time to spare.

By the way, 44% of all of Chef Boulud's customers who patronized his Manhattan restaurant today purchased one of these $50 burgers...

Oh well, we at Nippies were going to put it on the menu tomorrow, but we'll have to go back to our previously planned menu of fajitas from a box mix. Maybe next week.

January 16th, 2003

No Cheesecake Allowed?

Soldiers who are waiting to deploy to Iraq and the Middle East got instructions, and so did their families, today. NPR (National Public Radio) had a tape (partial, of course, for security reasons) on the air of just what was said to the soldiers and their families.

Of interest: the families were instructed NOT to send, in their future "Care" packages, any pork, photos of nude or partially clad people, and other items that would offend the Muslims.


Scranton Or Bust

President Bush is scheduled to travel to Scranton, Pennsylvania today to discuss the "medical malpractice crisis" there.

(Update: 4:45pm EST...President Bush did, indeed, turn up at Mercy Hospital in Scranton, PA to address the medical malpractic "crisis". He appeared at a special round table session opened to doctors only. No one was there to represent the victims of medical malpractice, from what we've heard.

President Bush's trip was interrupted by the news that UN Weapons inspectors discovered empty warheads. Now there is a real crisis.


Who's Crisis Is it, Anyway?

The opinion of we at Nippies opinion has not changed. The medical malpractice "crisis" is nothing compared to the real crisis of the those who most pay for their own health insurance ( with a price tag very close to $10,000 annually) and are left with practically no expendible income if they wish to provide good coverage for their family. The little guy is being ignored here. This is the issue that Governor-elect Rendell and President Bush should take care of first and foremost.

In case you didn't know, the doctors are "pleased" that Governor Ed Rendell is helping them out in their crisis in Pennsylvania by proposing that Pennsylvania's health insurers should contribute $220 MILLION dollars from their surplus funds to "ease" the doctors' crisis. Wow. Imagine that. Taking money from the health insurerers, which will obviously translate into HIGHER PREMIUMS for the little guy paying for his own health insurance, to ease the burden of the poor physicians!!

If there is indeed a surplus, shouldn't it be passed on to those who are struggling to pay high health insurance premiums before it is given to a fund to help the physicians?

Pharmaceutical ads for prescription medicines are largely responsible, in the Nippies' opinion, for the huge increase in health insurance. Many people are running to their doctors and following the advice of the ads: "Ask you doctor about...". According to some sources, prescriptions account for 27% of all health care costs.. Certainly many of these prescriptions are unnecessary, especially the ones for toenail fungus and other such non life-threatening illnesses.

And Nippies' has said it before and we will say it again. There is a glut of unnecessary and ineffective tests being performed annually in the United States and these tests are driving the cost of health care through the roof. Not our opinion, but an opinion of objective experts such as those at John Hopkins. Copy and paste what they have to say about the very costly, and very popular, whole body and CT Scans now being heavily marketed in the U.S.:


A related issue on money and medicine:

Consumer advovate Ralph Nader went up against the President-elect of the American Medical Association the other night on television. Nader confronted the big doctor about how the crisis is being misrepresented by the physicians. The worst case scenarios (those of OB/GYNs and neurosurgeons) are being touted to garner support and sympathy for all doctors. Neurosurgeons and a few other specialists are the ones facing the highest malpractice premiums. Perhaps the medical malpractice insurance for this group of specialists is formidable.

Ralph Nader is concerned, and rightly so, that the demands of the physicians - caps placed on awards for medical malpractice as well as other demands such as the requirement of a doctor to "certify" that a lawsuit is even warranted - will result in a great injustice for those who are injured by medical malpractice.

The president-elect of the AMA countered with the statistics that up to 80% of the lawsuits brought against physicians for medical malpractice result in no awards. Perhaps. But that does NOT necessarily mean the cases that result in no awards are really without merit. It is very, very tough to get hospital personnel and other people involved in the case to testify against their employers. Common sense will tell you that.

Nippies can tell you about a case in our own family. Mr. Nippies was operated on several years ago to have a cyst removed from his hip. The operation, we were told, would take about 60-90 minutes. There was a chance of the cyst being malignant.

The orthopaedic surgeon opened the wrong side and dug around for a cyst for over an hour before he realized he was in the wrong place. He stitched the wrong side up and then the other side was opened up and the cyst removed. The operation took over 4 hours...nearly three hours longer than we at Nippies had been told.

You can imagine the anxiety that we at Nippies experienced as we waited for the surgeon to emerge through those swinging doors. What could be taking so long?? We were sure Mr. Nippies had cancer. We were relieved when we heard that the reason for the delay was an error, and not more extensive surgery for a medical reason. The cyst was benign. Benign...what a beautiful word. That was all we cared about.

During the next two weeks, that surgeon called our home relentlessly each evening to try to talk Mr. Nippies into taking some money for the "mistake". We were not sue-happy. We didn't want to bring a lawsuit unless there were further problems. We were also naive: we did not consult with an attorney. The physician assured Mr. Nippies that there would be absolutely no future problems with the hips.

Mr. Nippies could not walk for two weeks because both hips were incredibly sore. So, at the end of two weeks, when Mr. Nippies could hobble his way to the doctor's office on crutches and without the advice of a lawyer, off we went to the surgeon's office. We were tired of the constant phone calls.

There was a check waiting for us. For two weeks pay. My advice to my husband beforehand was to not take the money but, rather, to wait until we could see if there was a problem with pain, with mobility. But we were behind in our bills from the missed work. Mr. Nippies is self-employed and no work meant no money.

There was a "representative" of the hospital where the bad surgery had taken place waiting for us in the surgeon's office alongside the obviously nervous surgeon. The "representative" had a "simple form" for us to sign before we took the money. The "representative" was asked by me if this paper would place any limits on our right to seek damages should Mr. Nippies have any future problems. He assured me there would be absolutely no problem, just sign the paper and take the money. (Not being a lawyer and being very trusting at that time, I believed him when he said the legalese did not restrict our rights to seek compensation for any unforeseen damages).

Ok, by now you've figured out the rest. Mr. Nippies had pain and weakness for nearly a decade after the surgery. He needed to hire an assistant for some of his workload, resulting in a cost of nearly 20 times what he had received in compensation from the doctor and hospital responsible for his pain. And the "paper" we had both been instructed to sign was an ironclad agreement that we would not ever pursue any legal action against the responsible doctor and hospital in any way or at any time.

Now you know why we at Nippies have little sympathy for these "poor" doctors . Yes, yes, yes, we know that many people sue who exaggerate their injuries. And yes, yes, yes, we know many good doctors are out there who put their patients first and are the victims of unwarranted medical malpractice lawsuits. But there are also many more people who have been injured by doctors do NOT sue who should sue, or who should win their case who do NOT because of lack of cooperation from the people who could testify on their behalf.

The surgeon we mentioned is still operating on people, and, we've heard from others, still making plenty of "mistakes".

There is a very ironic ending to this Nippies' story. The "representative" of the doctor and the hospital was actually a law clerk from the hospital's attorney's office. And that attorney is now advertising very heavily in our area on television and in the telephone book as a PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER who is "honored" to represent the seriously injured in court, to help them get the compensation they deserve. This lawyer claims he's "proud" to have been doing so for over 30 years.

Yes, dear readers, it was far, far less than thirty years ago, but before the personal injury bonanza that lawyers have been reveling in for the past 12 or so years, that Nippies' injury took place.

So, as you may have surmised, we at Nippies' have no special love for either doctors who want to protect their empires nor the personal injury lawyers who have been busy building an empire of their own.

January 15th, 2003

K-Mart Continues To Shrink

K-Mart will close another 300+ stores. If that isn't scary, what is?

We at Nippies support K-Mart because we've always had a wonderful shopping experience there. Of course, we prefer to shop, as we have always said, at the Mom and Pop stores that were plentiful in days of yore. Sadly, there aren't many of those wonderful, privately owned everyone-knows-your-name type stores left in America.

America needs MORE competition in the retail market and not less competition. Support K-Mart. Don't automatically drive to Mall-Wart and Bulleseye type stores for your goods and services. K-Mart has a great selection, great prices and, in our experience, has always had a better and more courteous return desk.

Speaking of monopolies, the Toys R Us CEO was on MSNBC Power Lunch last week. He was speaking about how the giant toy retailer picks up more customers as the mom-and-pop stores and weaker department stores - we at Nippies believe he mentioned Ames specifically - close. Food for thought.

Ames was another Nippies' favorite. They had a wonderful variety of merchandise and some items you could not find in the other discount retail giants. Like what? Unfinished furniture, for one.

Remember the movie with Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock where there was only ONE fast food restaurant - Taco Bell - left in America because it had won the monopoly wars? The film, 1993s Demolition Man, was making a little joke and was supposed to be very futuristic. But we at Nippies believe the time that movie depicted is fast approaching, at least as far as the monopolies are concerned.

January 13th, 2003

Happy Birthday, Martha. We love you always!

January 12th, 2003

Father and Son

What happens to a father and son relationship when the son reaches the legal age? Aren't they a bit like bucks who lock horns?

The son thinks turning 18 means he is instantly an "adult". Laws in certain states propagate this belief. Even if he is still in high school and living under the father's - and mother's - roof, suddenly he's old enough, in the eyes of the law, at least, to enter the army, to buy cigarettes, to marry, to quit school, and do a myriad of other things best left for true adults. What a difference a day makes in the life of a teen.

The son seizes, with both hands, the opportunity to assert his independence - when it is convenient. That is the way the father sees it, at least. Perhaps the son sees it as a testing of the waters. After all, he can't be expected to remain a little boy until the day he walks our of the family home. He must test his wings first, mustn't he?

The father, on the other hand, no longer has a little boy but refuses to see him any other way - except when it's convenient for him. The boy becomes a man when it is time to take over some of the father's chores: he can now take out the garbage, take the car to the car wash, or shovel the snow. The "boy" doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps - or tire tracks - to the curb, car wash or driveway. An argument begins. It is not pleasant.

We at Nippies are living in the midst of this type of situation of late. As we type, the old buck and the young buck are locking horns not in the physical sense but in the mental sense. We have taken shelter in the office to type out our current situation which (aren't you lucky) you get to share vicariously.

It all started - this time - when our son decided that he would accompany his band mates (yes, he's a budding musician) to Philadelphia for a gig at a pub on a night when heavy snows were predicted.(Thankfully there was no school the next day.) We at Nippies, and Mr. Nippies, were beside ourselves with worry. The trip to Philadelphia entails a ride through the Pocono Mountains, known for their treacherous roads when snow falls. Yes, snow was falling on this particular night.

No amount of reasoning could penetrate through the young buck's head. Our son was not going to let his band mates down, even though he agreed with us that it was not wise to travel such a long distance in sub-freezing weather for a gig that would offer a little exposure (it was a small bar) for even less money.

The young buck left the house to meet with his band mates for a meeting. Our son opposed the trip and was going to state his view, but informed us that if the majority ruled in favor of keeping the gig, he would go along. He assured us he intended to return home before leaving for Philadelphia.

Long story short... he made the trip to the City of Brotherly Love. No, he didn't take our car. But he also didn't take any money, and went clad only in a thin, black, unlined leather jacket. He was careful not to return home beforehand to obtain emercency money. We can only suppose that he knew he would meet opposition from his parents and didn't want the confrontation. Gratefully, he did call en route, and when he got to Philly, and on the way home so we "wouldn't worry." HAH!

Normally, we would be proud that our son wanted to meet his obligations. But there were many grey areas in this situation. For one, the pay for the entire band was only gas money - $50.00. The band was doing the gig for "the exposure in a new market". Another consideration in the issue: the band's manager made the committment without consulting with the band members. So, who's obligation was it, really?

Our budding star made the trip and, thankfully, made it home in one piece. Thank God we didn't get the snowstorm the weatherman had predicted. Had it snowed, only God knows what would have happened.

Our son is mature in many ways. He's a very deep thinker, loving, and hardly the self-centered sterotype that comes to mind when one thinks of a teenager. Yet he does not possess the complete emotional maturity and sound judgment necessary to make it on his own, despite what he thinks. He'd starve, for one thing, because he thinks a frozen pizza and a Pepsi are all he needs to fuel that young body. And he'd probably not show up at school most days without being rousted out of bed 30 minutes before the first bell. Hats and coats would be definitely be things of the past.

So what to do? Well, we at Nippies guess we will have to do what most parents in our situation do. Besides hiding the car keys, we will try our best to hang in there until his common sense catches up to his beard growth.

January 11th, 2003

James van Praagh-bably

James van Praagh is a very convincing psychic. We at Nippies caught his interview last night on Larry King Live, and he was on the mark several times with callers who called in wanting information on deceased loved ones. Van Praagh also looks the part of a psychic. There is something about his eyes.

Of course, we at Nippies are still skeptics when it comes to psychics. There are just too many phonies. And van Praagh did have to gracefully side-step a few faux pas during the phone calls. During one call, he predicted that there was a store involved in the caller's life. Nope, there wasn't, replied the bewildered caller.

Still, van Praagh hit on some remarkable truths that he could not have been guessing at. One call which particularly impressed Nippies was when a woman called in wanting to speak about her dead son. James van Praagh was quite definite when he said he was "killed" and didn't die of disease. That took guts, and he was right. The man had died of a drug overdose.

Sylvia Browne is another psychic who often is seen on television. She was on Larry King Live last year shortly before 9/11 and there was to be a challenge of some sort, at some unnamed point in the future, involving she and a skeptic, James Randi, who was appearing with her on LKL the night we at Nippies were watching. However, everyone forgot about that challenge, as far as we at Nippies know, once the nation was hit by the terrorists a few days later on September 11th. There was no longer room, and rightfully so, for frivolity involving psychics. But Sylvia Browne was really convincing. We particularly got a chuckle out of the part of the interview where she told the skeptic he should have his heart (left ventricle) checked because she detected a possible problem . Randi immediately looked flustered. A subsequent check of James Randi's web site, www.randi.org, by Nippies led us to discovery, in his archives, that he did, indeed, go and have his heart checked out quite thoroughly. Mr. Randi has a history of heart problems but there was no problem with his left ventricle, James Randi reports.

Oh well, Sylvia, you can't win them all. By the way, a reading by Sylvia Browne over the telephone costs $700.00. If you opt to have Sylvia Browne do your reading in person, the cost is about $750.00, or was last time we checked. (Sylvia Browne is currently making a national tour...check for her schedule at www.sylviabrowne.com ..."silver seating" tickets are in the $69.00 range.)

Can we contact our dearly departed? Who knows for sure. But we at Nippies cannot imagine why anyone who had "passed over", as the psychics call the process of having died, would come back here and hang around CNN's studios when they can be taking it easy in Heaven, Paradise, or wherever we think our loved ones have gone to when they leave earth.

Later on, on Connie Chung, we were treated to a few moments with psychic Uri Geller. Uri is a good friend of Michael Jackson's, in case you didn't know. He claims that Michael Jackson looks quite good in person and without make-up, for those of you who care. How nice for Michael!

Uri Geller is the one who bends spoons with his mind. On this particular show, Connie watched a monitor as Uri held a spoon, a rather large spoon, in his hand and promised to bend it with his mind. The spoon had come from CNN's kitchens. Uri Geller held the spoon between his thumb and index finger and seemed to be massaging it, then claimed that it had melted as a result of his powers. Connie broke into peals of laughter as the spoon broke in half. We at Nippies weren't impressed. Had he placed the spoon on a surface, looked at and then caused it to bend we would have been quite impressed.

Well, Uri Geller promised that if we took a broken watch on top of our television set, we at Nippies, and everyone else watching, would have an instantly repaired watch or clock when he was done with it. Unfortunately, we could not make the sprint from our viewing place to where the broken watches are stored in our home. So, we placed an ink pen on top of the TV set, as directed by Uri, and waited for it to fly off. It never happened.

The next day (today), we at Nippies had forgotten all about Uri's promise to fix things with his power. We went to work on the bills, and took out a calculator that we use, and have used daily, for nearly 20 years. We at Nippies have often bragged to whoever would listen about how we have never, ever had to replace the battery in this particular calculator, which we got for nothing as a gift from Chrevron Travel Club, despite thousands of hours of use.

You guessed it. The calculator, which is kept only about 8 feet from the television set that we watched Uri Geller on, did not, for the first time, turn on.

When you figure out what that means, we at Nippies would like to know.

What are your experiences with Ouija ® boards? This device, in commercial use since 1890, is supposed to answer questions put to it by spelling out, with a planchette, the answers. The Nippies' opinion on the Ouija® board has changed over the years.

The first time we ever saw a Ouija ® board was on a long ago, lazy summer's eve. We at Nippies were just entering our teens, and our elder sister and her friends had set up a Ouija ® board on our front porch. The friends took turns trying to pairing up and aking Ouija ® questions. One of Annie's pals, a guy names Joe, had placed his fingers on the plastic teardrop shaped planchette. Annie sat across from Joe and had placed her fingertips on the planchette, as well. As we at Nippies watched, the planchette began flying about the board. (We don't remember what the question or answer was.) Like it was yesterday, we can remember not believing that that the Ouija ® planchette was moving on it's own.

Years went by and, again, the Ouija ® entered our lives. Again, we did not experience the power of the Ouija ® firsthand. But a co-worker at a hospital where we were working reported to us one night, as we drove from nightclub to nightclub, as friends in their early twenties are apt to do, that her friend, alone in her room late at night, had begun using the Ouija ® on a regular basis. The Ouija ® would answer questions for her, even though she was alone with no one to share the planchette with.

The Ouija ®, my friend went on, began identifying himself to her friend as a "Mr. Ralston" and that he resided in "hell". It scared our friend's friend so much that she threw it out.

We at Nippies must admit we were intrigued by this tale. Again, we filed the tidbit of information away in our memory bank and forgot about the Ouija ®. We didn't put too much import on what we'd heard because, while we knew that our friend was reliable, we didn't know what her friend was really like. Perhaps she was a prevaricator, we told ourselves.

Then one night, about 8 years ago, we at Nippies were at a gathering at one of our in-laws. Out came the Ouija ® board. This time we were asked by to participate in the Ouija ® experience. Why not?, we at Nippies thought. So, we closed our eyes, as requested, and sat across from our husband's eleven-year-old cousin, who was a very high-spirited, daring and fun-loving little girl. Soon the Ouija ® planchette began to fly round and round the board. How amusing, we thought.

We at Nippies decided that a peek was called for. We opened our eyes slightly and then opened them all the way and gasped. The cousin-in-law had taken her fingers off the Ouija ® planchette and had sat back to watch as the piece flew around the board - taking my fingers on a wild ride!

It was a very odd experience, dear readers. We at Nippies won't get into the details about what questions we asked that night or what "Mr. Ralston" or whoever or whatever was telling us in response to those questions. But we can assure you that that Ouija ® was moving on its own that night and it was pulling our fingers around the board. As we are sure that everyone who sat around and watched was sure that we at Nippies were giving the Ouija ® planchette a little - or a lot - of help. But we truly were not. It was fascinating.

During the next year we at Nippies often thought about that chilling Ouija ® experience. We can't say if we would have tried the Ouija again with the same little in-law cousin, or at all.

Sadly, our little cousin-in-law passed away, very suddenly and very unexpectedly, later that same year. She died, at age 12, from an extremely high fever that overtook her little body, as she slept, on Halloween Eve. She had not been seriously ill.

We at Nippies can safely say that we have no intentions of ever trying the Ouija ®, which was introduced to the American public by toymaker William Fund over 100 years ago, again. Once was enough. However, we at Nippies always love to learn. We enjoyed our visit to http://www.museumoftalkingboards.com/, which has an online museum dedicated to telling the tale of talking boards.

January 10th, 2003

Sunset Boulevard - A Classic

Sunset Boulevard is now playing on American Movie Classics. And what a classic it is. Watch this movie if, for not other reason, you get to see the faces, on one screen and in one film, of Buster Keaton, Erich von Stroheim, Cecil B. DeMille, Gloria Swanson, Hedda Hopper, and, of course, the classically handsome William Holden. He'd make the cover of GQ even today.

Just in case you aren't a movie buff, as are we at Nippies, the famous line "OK, Mr. DeMille. I'm ready for my close-up..." came from Sunset Boulevard. It is uttered by the main character, Norma Desmond, to the famous director, Cecil B. DeMille, near the end of the film.

William Holden, who has always been a favorite of ours from Hollywood's Golden Era, portrays the very young (32) Joe Gillis, a struggling writer who ends up at the mansion of Norma Desmond (Swanson) one day and, literally, spends the rest of his life there. "Norma Desmond" is a former silent screen Star! who just cannot let-go of the past. She falls in love with Joe and attempts a comeback.

Erich von Stroheim portrays Max, The Butler, a long-suffering faithful servant who is feeds into her delusions. For those of you who aren't familiar with von Stroheim, picture a plump Norman Fell (Mr. Roper from Three's Company). Really...he's a dead ringer.

Erich von Stroheim, who was born in what is now Austria in 1885, was both an actor and a writer. Erich von Stroheim lived and worded for most of his later years in France and was awarded the Legion of Honor there shortly before his 1957 death.

This movie has fascinated generations of movie fans. Why? We at Nippies can only speak for ourselves: we are fascinated because we've always felt we were watching Gloria Swanson portray herself in this film. Everytime we watch black and white film we have the feeling that Ms. Swanson was hoping that the film, which is about a comeback attempt, actually was a comeback attempt for the ex-silent film star. (At any rate, the comeback didn't happen...her appearances after this movie were only in low-budget, unsuccessful, and/or documentary films). And, considering Ms. Swanson's penchant for younger men in her later years, one has to wonder if she didn't develope a crush on the ruggedly handsome William Holden, who was twenty years her junior.

Speaking of age, another interesting feature of this film is that Norma Desmond (Swanson) is only supposed to be about 50 years old and she's already portrayed as a veteran has-been. Turning 50 in Hollywood today is not, thankfully, what turning 50 in Hollywood was back then. Gloria Swanson really was only a little past her 50th birthday when she played this role, and, believe us, she didn't look like a Goldie Hawnish 50. (Lovely Goldie is actually 56 but looks 40ish.) Back in 1940s and 1950s Hollywood, actresses were already considered a bit long in the tooth by the time they hit 30, but not so actors. William Holden was just hitting his stride in his thirties:Bridge on the River Kwai, The World of Suzie Wong, Sabrina, Love is a Many Splendored Thing and many more great William Holden classic films were still a few years down the road for the Hollywood legend.

Most likely you've seen this movie. If you haven't, Sunset Boulevard a must see.

January 9th, 2003

Low Humor

If you read Nippies on a regular basis, you already know that we consider ourselves to be protectors of the poor and underprivileged. So, it should come as no surprise that we are greatly upset at CBS network's plan to place a reality show based on the Beverly Hillbillies into one of it's prime-time slots.

Come on, folks. It's politically incorrect to make fun out of most religions (Catholicism excluded, it seems), races, sexual persuasions and ethnicities. One thing that we've never heard strongly criticized is ridicule of the poor and unsophisticated.

First there were the "you might be a redneck if" jokes that swept the country. Some of them were very funny because they targeted bigotry more than the lack of money. But eventually we began to hear the "trailer park trash" barbs (of late shortened to "trailer trash".) Hey, we at Nippies like a good joke as much as anyone. But to target people who cannot afford a conventional house and ridicule them for this reason? That form of "humor", we've always thought, is the cheapest and lowest form of entertainment.

The trailer trash "humor" has always upset us. No, we don't live in a trailer, thank you. But what we at Nippies always think of whenever we hear the term "trailer park trash" is that so many innocent people are being held up for ridicule. Can you imagine how hard-working people, and their children, who live in a trailer must feel every time they hear a "comedian" deliver a new "trailer trash" joke? It must be a gut-wrenching feeling. But these sort of jokes always seem to get a laugh from an audience.

So now we have CBS sweeping through the Appalachian states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina South Carolina and Georgia looking for just the right "hillbillies" to cast in their new pseudo reality-based show. CBS will place this "lucky" family in a Beverly Hills mansion and pay them a hefty sum each week so we all can tune in and laugh at their antics.

What's wrong with this picture? Wasn't that classic 1960s television show, The Beverly Hillbillies funny? Sure it was. Because Jed, Jetrho, Elly May and Granny had a little of all of us in them back then when most of America was unsophisticated and when there wasn't a real social stigma to being poor. Most of us didn't live in luxurious homes, but rather were struggling to get to a better place. Often our parents rented. That is not the case today. Today, the average new home in America goes for over $300,000.00 and the poor are the ones who have fallen through the cracks, usually at the expense of the rich. Back then, you could be poor and still be considered respectable. It's tough to do that today, isn't it?

The fabric of America was quite different in the 1960s: our parents or grandparents were very often first, second or third generation immigrants who were not college-educated and who worked as shoe salesmen, grocery clerks, and other unskilled jobs. They didn't make much but utilities were cheap, cheap, cheap and the family doctor and/or dentist was, most likely, your neighbor or your father's war buddy and would accept a "payment plan" or even forego a fee on occasion.

There is a huge class division in America today, and it is growing.

We at Nippies can only speak for ourselves, but we really hope CBS reconsiders putting this show on the air. If they do, they will have reached a new low-point. Does CBS really want to be known for this?


Good News For Tipplers

A new study shows that having a moderate amount of alcohol 3-4 times a week in the form of beer or liquor, not just wine as was previously thought, reduces the risk of heart atack by 30%.

Researchers believe alcohol contributes to better heart health by raising the level of "good" cholesterol, or HDL, reducing the tendency for blook to clot, and also reducing inflammation in arteries.

We at Nippies have nothing against drinking alcohol but we don't particularly like the stuff. However, we are reconsidering our preferences on the subject of alcohol. We'll have to find a form of alcohol that suits us.

The jury is still out on how alcohol affects your risk of breast cancer. Remember the previous reports that having just one alcoholic beverage a day increases the risk of that dreaded disease.


NYPost: CNN's Ratings Are Slipping

The New York Post recently ran an article on Page Six reporting that CNN's ratings continue to slip to Fox News Channel. Several CNN on-air personalities were handed pink slips on January 3rd, according to Page Six:Garrick Utley; Brooks Jackson; James Hattori; Allan Dodds Frank and Mark Potter.

The item on Page Six also states that CNN honcho Teya Ryan has handed down orders that all on-air personalities are to appear "happy", but a CNN rep has denied the claim, stating that "CNN's journalists always strike the appropriate tone."

FOX News Channel viewership has risen 34% to 1.2 million while CNN's has fallen to 898,000..


DVDEALS: Just in case you are looking to rent a great movie on DVD, we have a suggestion: Unfaithful, starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. The movie also stars French actor Olivier Martinez in one of his first English-speaking roles.

Unfaithful first caught our eye shortly after New Year's when we at Nippies went to the video store and noticed that every single copy on DVD had been rented out. Hmmmm, we said, it must be a good DVD. OK, we reasoned, if it's that good we'll rent the VHS. No go because all 10 copies on VHS had been rented out, as well.

Well, as we all know, nothing succeeds like success! So, we at Nippies placed a "hold" on the next available copy of Unfaithful/ We were not disappointed.

This movie, at first, appears to be a mirror image of Fatal Attraction, that box-office killer, psychological thriller, and cheating-husband chiller! However, Unfaithful is much richer both in plot and cinematography. It also has a subtle but unmistakable psychological impact on the viewer. Things are really not quite what you think they are.

Olivier Martinez is wonderful in his role as the "younger" lover of Diane Lane. (He will, in fact, celebrate his 36th birthday on January 12th, making him only one year younger than Diane Lane). Olivier, who was born into a Parisian working-class family (his father was a mechanic), is not only eye-candy and very young looking for his age, but he delivers a superb performance. We at Nippies are sure we'll be seeing more of Olivier Martinez, a former jeans salesman, on the big screen, and thats a good thing.

Rent it and see for yourself. It's amazing how one act of poor judgement in one's life can result in endless ripples of regret and tragedy.


What would Jesus drive?

That's easy. If he drove a car at all, and we doubt that He would, it would be a really old clunker. If you are familiar with Jesus, you know He would have given most of His money away to the poor and wouldn't be able to afford an SUV - or any other type of nice car.

We at Nippies do feel sorry for those folks who are have just purchased a SUV. How could they possible know the huge impact this campaign, propagated by the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, would have on owners of SUVs?

There are similar spots, produced by the Detroit Project, promoting the idea that SUVs support terrorism because they (the SUVs) are gas-guzzlers, thereby making our country even more dependent on the oil-producing Arab countries which may fund terrorist organizations.

January 8th, 2003

Dr. Atkin's Popular Again

Dr. Atkins, the diet doctor, was on Larry King Live on Monday night. We at Nippies were intrigued. It seems that, after years of disrespect, many experts are now saying that Dr. Atkins may have been right all along. You can lose weight by eating a diet high in fats and proteins as long as you greatly limit your carbohydrates.

Dr. Atkin's diet starts out with what is called the "induction" phase. During this phase, which lasts a minumum of 14 days, according to the instructions found at www.AtkinsCenter.com, you eat a diet of three large meals, or four to five smaller meals, made up mostly of meat, fish, shellfish, fowl, and eggs. You can also have a good deal of certain types of cheese.

Carbohydrates are limited to three cups of loosely packed lettuce, or other veggies listed on the "approved foods" list. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

There are four phases to the Atkins Diet. The induction phase is a quick-start phase. You then go on to the other three phases: an ongoing weight-loss phase, a pre-maintainence phase, and then a life maintainence phase. We at Nippies are not experts on this diet, and don't profess to be. Go to the www.AtkinsCenter.com for the real "skinny" on this diet.

However, the fact that we at Nippies aren't Atkins diet experts does not mean that we haven't tried the diet. Heck, no. Way back when we were diet-crazy teens we did, indeed, try this revolutionary weight loss system. And it did, indeed, work. But as mentioned above, it was our experience that the diet was too good to be true, at least for us. Perhaps we weren't following the diet correctly, or perhaps it has changed drastically, with improvements, since we dieted the Atkins way.

From what we remember, at the time we dieted with Dr. Atkins, it was ok to eat unlimited amounts of meat, cheese, eggs. And eat unlimited amounts we did. We at Nippies thought we'd died and gone to heaven as we grilled burgers with gobs of cheese - but no buns or ketchup or side of fries to keep those meat patties company. Still, we at Nippies said "mmmmm". Later, we'd feast on omelettes with more lots of cheese filling. Yippy! Fried eggs, steak, chicken galore filled our days. And so on and so fourth. But no toast! No orange juice! No coke or fries.

After about a week of this diet, we at Nippies had lost a lot of weight. We at Nippies cannot remember exactly how pounds we'd lost, but, in truth, the weight loss may have had something to do with the fact that after the third day we were so sick of eating the burger without the bun and the eggs without the toast and juice that we just as soon not eat much at all. We noticed our energy level seemed to be depleting, which was odd. We at Nippies were, at that time, hard-core runners, often running up to 10 or more miles daily.

Than, one day, we woke up tired. We ourselves to hop out of bed as we usually do, but the spirit was willing and the flesh was really weak! So weak, in fact, that our legs would not allow us to get out of bed. Even all these years later, we can picture ourselves trying to get up and remembering that the thought was that our whole body felt like lead, as in the metal. After a few minutes, we were sorta ok and got up, but there was no running placed on our itinerary for that day...

Later on that same day we at Nippies attended a bridal shower for a dear friend our ours. Now remember, we had gone a whole week without a cookie, a soda, a glass of juice, or even so much as a crouton. NO carbs had passed our lips. Somehow, we made it through the meal at the bridal shower while adhering to our Dr. Atkins diet. Then came dessert.

By this point, our normally slim body was absolutely sleek...concave even. We at Nippies decided to end the Dr. Atkins diet when a dish of pink sherbet arrived with a cookie placed jauntily, and temptingly, atop the frozen confection. With bright eyes and shaking hands, we brought the cookie to our lips. We bit. We swallowed. KAPOW!

The next hour was a blur. But we at Nippies can tell you that whatever happened to us at the point of reintroducing carbohydrates into our system was unprecedented in our personal history. It was as though a hunger was released somewhere in our being that we didn't know existed. We at Nippies went NUTS for sweets. Had to have them, had to hame them, had to hame them...

The ride home was tortuous. Upon arriving, we at Nippies went directly to the kitchen cupboard (they're called cabinets now, younguns). There was a large box of animal crackers/cookies that was a staple in our parents' home at that time. WOOF...the whole box was gone in a flash, consumed by a carb-deprived Ms. Hyde. And the feasting on carbs went on for most of that night, from what we remember....

By the next week, we at Nippies were back at our pre-Atkins diet weight, which was never bad in the first place. We had been unfaithful to Robert Atkins, but we were of control.

In fairness to Dr. Atkins, this is just our personal recollection of his diet. It was very long ago. We at Nippies are fairly certain we followed the Robert Atkins diet the way it was supposed to be followed. However, from what we've read at the www.AtkinsCenter.com site, the diet has changed quite a bit since then. It now allows a very limited type and amount of carbs during the induction period. We don't think any carbohydrates were allowed back when we were disciples of Dr. Robert Atkins.

Phew. It seems like yesterday that we ate that box of cookies. Thank goodness we have left the diet phase of our life behind. As a matter of fact, we haven't really dieted, nor felt the real need to, in a long, long time. Somewhere we read a very wise saying..."At forty, it's either the face or the figure", or something like that.

Sounds good to us.

January 6th, 2003

Huge Expenditures By Pharmaceuticals = Rising Healthcare Costs?

On January 4th, during a Nippies rant on the rising cost of health care and health care insurance in our country, we at Nippies promised to take aim at the pharmaceutical companies' contribution to this crisis. We intend to deliver this promise today. However, there is a newspaper out of Washington state called The Olympian which said, in an article written by ER physician Tom Burke of Providence St. Peter Emergency Department, what we want to say much better than we could.

Please read this article from The Olympian, linked by permission below, to see why we at Nippies believe that the pharmaceutical industry, as well as physicians and patients themselves, must be called to task immediately to curb the meteric rise in health care costs.

Pay special attention to the HUGE amount of money spent by pharmaceutical companies on marketing (34%) compared to the paltry amount spent on research (11%)!! This irresponsible spending is now causing record-setting spikes in the cost of health care, thereby causing millions of middle class and poor Americans fall right through the cracks where health care insurance is concerned:


Thank you!

January 4th, 2003

Can Doctors Be Objective?

We at Nippies were very dismayed at President Bush's new Economic Plan. As many of you may have already seen on the news, his new tax cut plan would save Americans with an income of $1M a whopping $24,000.00 per year on taxes. The savings for Americans making $40,000.00 - $50,000.00? A paltry $76.00. Yes, that is seventy-six dollars. Why isn't everyone screaming????

This favoring of the wealthy is a trend that is sweeping across America. Look at the media coverage that the doctors are getting in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The doctors are screaming about their "malpractice insurance crisis." The incredibly organized members of the AMA in Pennsylvania and W. Virginia are threatening walk-outs (and moving to another state) if something isn't done to ease their "high" malpractice premiums. This Campaign of Terror has gotten results: the governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, has complied with their moans and has taken some sort of initial relief measure. The doctors are "pleased" with this initial step, but, of course, want more. They want caps placed on medical malpractice case awards AND they want another doctor to OK the lawsuit before it can be filed. What a joke! How many doctors are going to approve a malpractice case against one of their colleagues? Any doctor/surgeon who would certify a malpractice case would become an instant pariah in the medical community.

The problem here? The real crisis isn't with the doctors and their high malpractice premiums. No. The real crisis is with the extremely high cost of health coverage for the self-employed, which has risen 15-19% this year!!. The cost of paying for your own health insurance, if you are self-employed, has risen to nearly $10,000.00 per year for a good family health insurance policy. That means if you, as a self-employed resident of Pennsylvania, GROSS $40,000.00 per year, which is tough for the little businessman who is already drowning in corporate competition, then you must spend about one dollar out of every four of your gross income, not net income,to provide health coverage for your family. After business expenses and utilities, etc., how much expendible income is left for the small business owner? NOTHING is left. As a matter of fact, we at Nippies think the current mad rush for home equity loans has a lot to do with the impossibly high cost of paying for health coverage.

Sorry, doctors, but we at Nippies just can't cry in our beer for you. You are quoting the very worst case scenarios, such as those for surgeons who perform high-risk surgery such as neurosurgery, and trying to garner sympathy for your whole profession. Your malpractice premiums may have risen from $37,000.00 to $60,000.00 (this was a figure taken from a local newspaper), or thereabouts, but that still leaves an awful lot of EXPENDABLE INCOME for you to spend. And spend it you do! Most physicians and surgeons do not live anywhere near their patients. They live in the suburbs in million dollar homes and they drive Mercedes. Many surgeons gross well over $1M per year, some gross even more.

Even more telling about the lack of a real "crisis" are the threats and the extended "walk-outs" that many surgeons and physicians are now staging in protest of their high medical malpractice premiums. It just goes to show that these doctors can afford to take a month off from work!. How many of us who provide for our own health coverage can afford to "strike" for a month? We at Nippies don't know of any...

Listen, Governors Ed Rendell (Pennsylvania) and Bob Wise (West Virginia): there is a more immediate crisis in your states. If this Campaign of Terror by doctors and surgeons continues to be successful and doctors and hospitals are helped with their "crisis" before the working class in your states are helped with theirs, millions more of your constituents will fall through the cracks where healthcare coverage is concerned. As we said before, the AMA and Pennsylvania Medical Society is incredibly well-organized AND well-funded. But please, Governors, take a look at the problems of the little guys who voted you into office before you go helping doctors who can afford to take a month off from fulfilling their Hippocratic Oath. Take care of the real crisis that faces your constituents - the crisis that faces those who must provide for their own health insurance. And here's a note to the doctors who are threatening to walk out on your duties to your patients: you won't have anyone to walk out on if the cost of health insurance for the Average Joe keeps going up.

What's the first question any doctor's/surgeon's office asks when you call for an appointment? "What kind of insurance do you have"?

We at Nippies hope you will contact Governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Bob Wise of West Virginia and tell them where the real crisis lies, but most importantly, tell Governor-Elect Ed Rendell that it is UNFAIR to take money from the state's health insurers surplus fund to ease the doctors' "crisis". According to Capital Blue Cross Chief Executive James Mead, he is "disappointed and troubled" over Governor-elect Ed Rendell's proposal and "the companies (health insurers) need surpluses to keep premiums low".

Governor-elect Rendell's proposal is proposing taking from the poor (self-employed making 30, 40, and 50 thousand per year and paying their own health insurance premiums) to pay the rich (physicians with 6 and 7 digit incomes!!!:

PENNSYLVANIA Governor-Elect Ed Rendell
Forum Building, Room 439
Commonwealth Ave & Walnut Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120
717/346-2100 (phone)
717/346-2150 (fax)>


WEST VIRGINIA Governor Bob Wise
Contact Governor Wise
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, E.,
Charleston, WV 25305
Call Toll-Free: 1-888-438-2731

Tomorrow we at Nippies will be writing about some of the reasons that health insurance has risen meteorically in the past few years.

Pharmaceutical companies, take cover!


Demi Moore - Did She Or Didn't She?

Attention all 40ish women: Just in case you caught a glimpse of the fabulously fit and toned Demi Moore, 40, and were beating yourself up over how you look compared to the former Mrs. Bruce Willis, put down the wet dish rag you were flogging yourself with. It turns out, according to an article in the January 3, 2003 New York Post (page 41, photo by Ramey, text by Megan Turner) that Demi has had lots of help in the make-over department: "The star hired a nutritionist, a trainer, a yoga instructor and a kickboxing coach to supplement a reported $380,000.00 worth of cosmetic surgery, including an operation to downsize her breast implants; liposuction on her stomach, buttocks and thighs; collagen for her lips; and porcelain caps for her teeth."

No wonder her thighs don't touch.

We at know Demi Moore looks wonderful. It's her job to look this good if she wants to continue playing parts like the one she just pulled off in Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle. So, if your husband pulls out a photo of the recently renovated star and discreetly places it where you can find it, make sure you make him his favorite meal, and then, when he's putting the last morsel in his mouth, tell him you'd like to withdraw $380,000.00 from your joint savings account (haha) for a little remodeling. After he calms down, show him this Nippies' commentary. We at Nippies are fairly certain he'll compare you no "moore" to a Hollywood hardbody.


Do You Know An Agatha?

Over the holidays, we at Nippies attended several gatherings. While at one party, an old friend of ours, "Selma", who told me she had run into a mutual acquaintance of ours at a local drug store. This mutual friend, who we will refer to as "Agatha" to protect her identitiy, never married. She lived with and supported her long-widowed mother until the mother passed away a few years ago. She has no marketable job skills, but is a talented (and starving) artist.

Selma was quite distressed over how ill Agatha looked when she saw her purchasing a single can of soup at the drug store, which is only about a block from Agatha's house. She approached Agatha and inquired about how she was doing. Agatha told Selma she was just recovering from the flu. She ended the conversation by saying "never be alone."

Agatha is very alone. She was an only child, and has no living relatives. Agatha works at a local store for just above minimum wage. Her home, which is half of a double home, needs repairs. After her mother died and she lost the mother's Social Security, she supplemented her income by charging living expenses on charge cards. Agatha is now about to declare personal bankruptsy.

Selma and I decided to do what we could to help Agatha in her current situation. Neither one of us are in the position to offer much help financially, but we did what we could. On one of the trips we at Nippies made to Agatha's home to see how she was doing (she's now recovered and is back at work), she told us that she wasn't even able to call her employer to tell them she wouldn't be reporting to work. (She almost lost her job.) Knowing that Agatha had her phone removed from her home some time ago in an effort to economize, we asked why she didn't ask the neighbor who lives in the other half of her house if she could use her phone to make the call. She did ask, she told me, but was refused.

Perhaps the neighbor and Agatha had some type of "fence war", as we at Nippies call these long-standing cold wars between neighbors. But, even so, what type of person would refuse even their worst enemy a single use of their telephone in an emergency?? At the very least, couldn't the neighbor have offered to make the call herself? Or brought her some soup or food, or even checked on her to make sure she was still alive?

We at Nippies don't know this neighbor, nor do we know the circumstances that led to the feud between Agatha and Mrs. Neighbor, if there is such a feud. Agatha didn't elaborate on the reason for the refusal. For all we know, Agatha may have done something very annoying to the neighbor. But one had to wonder about how heartless some of us are when no one is looking. Sure, Americans are quick to open their pocketbooks and send a donation to a widely publicized cause such as the fund for the victims' families of the 911/World Trade center bombing. We can be very generous when a cause is popular and publicized on television or in the newspapers, even if the recipients of the donations are total strangers. But don't all of us have people in our own backyards, in our neighborhoods, or at our place of employment or at our place of worship who could use our help? And how often do we just walk on by or turn a blind eye and deaf ear to such need?


Three Letters

There were three letters in today's New York Post "letters@nypost.com" section that were quite disturbing. The letters referred, we gathered from the text of the three letters to the editor, to an incident at the Barbara Kleiman Residence which occured over the holidays. A fifteen-year-old boy named Ernest Reyes appeared at the residence, which is a homeless services facility, and asked to be let in or asked for help because he was being persued by someone with a gun. Allegedly the staff on duty refused to help the teen because the staff "avoids involvement with street crime." The boy was shot and killed.

The three letters expressed outrage at the staff for refusing to help the boy. "It just proves how heartless some New Yorkers have become," stated a letter from Thomas Austin of Kearney, NJ. Another letter suggested the supervisor of the facility should be fired.

We at Nippies agree with the letter writers. But there was another disturbing aspect to the reaction to the tragedy of Ernest Keyes. Why were there only three letters??. Right in the same column there were five letters in response to the question, "What should rise at the site where the World Trade Center once stood?".

It just goes to show were some of our priorities are, and how heartless we can be when no one is looking.

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