INDEPENDENCE DAY 2013. ON THE ROAD AGAIN. MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA. AND A GRANDE DAME WITH THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP AND JOY. COME AND GET ACQUAINTED.

“… OUR LIVES, OUR FORTUNES AND OUR SACRED HONOR.” INDEPENDENCE DAY, 2013. “FROM THE MOUNTAINS, TO THE PRAIRIES, TO THE OCEANS WHITE WITH FOAM….”

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. She made the request as if she thought I might deny it, as if I might deem it inappropriate for a business website. However, if she thought this, she didn’t think it for long. “Of course you should read the Declaration of Independence in the Live Business Center. I’m only irritated that I didn’t think of it myself.” And thus did Barbara Buegeler, Senior Monitor in Worldprofit’s LBC, do what every Citizen should do one day each year this day: that is not just to think about this exalted document, but to actually read it aloud as our ancestors used to do, beginning on July 4, 1776.

Sadly, most people do nothing, no thought, no reading, no consideration at all of one of history’s signature documents, the document that laid the revolutionaries’ case, our case, before the bar of public opinion worldwide, thereby not only alerting our English masters that a new reality was at hand, but every oppressive government wherever it might be, not just then but forever after.

And so the lady from rural Texas began to read, each word famous, but some touched by God Himself…

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of this earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Having thus forthrightly stated their risky intentions through the genius of young Thomas Jefferson (just 33 at the time he put quill pen to paper) the members of Congress assembled; each now a marked man, a man venturing everything that makes life comfortable and sweet, thrilled to the riff each hoped would unify 13 fractious colonies; the riff that would forever brand George, by the Grace of God, King as the very archetype of tyranny, when in fact he was anything but.

To make his point and to foment the revolution to which he and his resolute colleagues were committed, he did what all revolutionaries do: he contorted the truth. He exaggerated, misstated, rearranged, and reshaped, the better to achieve his treasonous goal. For make no mistake about it, these were men who were playing for the biggest stakes and were betting everything on being right, for the consequences were staggering if they were not, for each one individually and for all collectively.

And so Jefferson, a world-class propagandist, gifted with the power of words, took sharp aim at his anointed sovereign, never mind that hapless monarch and the monster of iniquity conceived and portrayed by Jefferson had virtually nothing in common. No matter.

Thus, at least 18 times in prose that grew in harshness and intensity with each new clause beginning “He has…”, Jefferson walloped his king and liege lord, the man, he asserted, who never tired of menacing, upsetting, exasperating and even destroying the colonies which were the jewels in his imperial crown. Thus….

“He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary to the public good”… to…  “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

It was splendid, masterful invective, broad, audacious, designed to outrage and turn every colonial, no matter how disengaged, loyal and pacific, into a fervent partisan, a new breed called Americans.

However, there was a problem, a big problem. The real king George III and Jefferson’s bogeyman were not the same person… no way. How to handle this conundrum? Lie. For after all, if a man is proposing treason, what matter a lie or two? You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.

About the King, a true revolutionary himself.

But if Jefferson had carefully distorted his facts, sometimes in degree, sometimes in veracity, sometimes by a word or two of artful arrangement, sometimes false in every particular, who then was the man for whom his subjects worldwide sang “God Save The King”?

That man, George William Frederick (1738-1820) was the product of revolution, the heir of revolution, the living pledge of revolution and the man whose very life confirmed that the promise and settlement of the great and Glorious Revolution of 1688 abided; that the sovereign reigned but ruled as little as Parliament allowed, and that year by year was less and less.

For this revolution, lead by renegade aristocrats, assured the final victory of Parliament over Crown, thus turning this Crown, however radiant and burnished into the creature of the people and their potent legislature, from whence came everything, including whatever colonial policy they thought best, whatever obstreperous colonials might think.

And this presented Thomas Jefferson with a stupendous, daunting problem which would surely have confounded and thwarted many a lesser man. What’s more Jefferson had many other things on his always active mind. For one thing, he was physically uncomfortable as all the delegates were. It was insufferably hot in Philadelphia those crucial days of argument and revolution. Delegates grew irritable from tossing night after miserable night, unable to find the rest they sorely needed for matters of such high
importance.

Worse, they discovered the tenacious presence and bite of bed bugs, determined creatures, no respecters of persons or causes, savoring the flesh of delegates, happy in their work.

Then there was the matter of his parlous financial condition. Throughout his long life, Jefferson lived like the wealthy man he never was. He spent money he didn’t have, borrowing money he had no way, and perhaps no intention, of paying back. He was well acquainted with duns pestering him for long overdue sums. And so it was in Philadelphia, where its many Quaker residents curiously adhered to the quaint notion that what was borrowed needed to be repaid in timely fashion, a point of view entirely
foreign to Jefferson, a man of careless finances and high living.

But there was another reason, too, and that was his beloved wife, Martha Wayles Skelton, who was a 23-year-old widow when he married her January 1, 1772. Theirs was a love match with all that entailed and in the long, uncomfortable nights he missed her to the core of his ardent being and longed for her passionate embraces. Remember, he was just 33…

However, the revolution needed him and so he put his genius to work crafting the words of revolution. Fortunately he had opponents who were not remotely as gifted in that department, opponents who failed to answer Jefferson and his colleagues, and so lost the crucial battle for hearts and minds. Jefferson made a brilliant case; his opponents relied on their established rights and disdained the messy business of human persuasion. And this wasn’t remotely good enough…. as the loyal royalists learned to their eternal detriment and rue.

Lord North.

This brings us to the very antagonist Jefferson might have wished to have…
Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford, Knight of the Garter, Privy Councillor (1732-1792) known to history by his courtesy title, Lord North, the man who, along with his dread lord, threw away the greatest of empires. His tenure in office running from 1770 to 1782 was disastrous for the Crown and the greatest possible benefit to Jefferson and the Great Republic which grew from the great Declaration. In short Jefferson and his colleagues lucked out, and as Napoleon later said, “Give me the lucky man.” That was most assuredly Jefferson, most assuredly not North.

And the sad thing is, North knew it and often begged his sovereign for permission to resign. But the King wanted a man as prime minister he trusted, and that was North, a man of no vision, no knowledge of Americans and the colonies, without empathy, inspiration or the ability to cut a deal that would keep them British. He pleased the king and so his majesty kept the man congenial to him, catastrophic to his realm. How Jefferson, brilliant, dazzling, splendid Jefferson must have whooped at his unrivalled fortune in having such a hack, such a mediocrity as his opponent…

Thus was the greatest empire sundered; thus did the Great Republic grow apace, the one lead by the blind and inadequate, the other driven by determination, brains, and growing expertise in the artistry of revolution. In such circumstances, the English could not prevail; they had so little to offer whilst the revolutionaries promised everything including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, the hand that trumped
all.

“God Bless America!”

Thus we arrive at today by stages short and long, difficult and easy, losing and winning, proud and abasing. But always important and influential for such is our destiny, and we must play it out. But I have this question for you, my reader, my every reader. How can we do so with massive ignorance about who we are, where we came from, what we have done and why it matters, for that is our painful and dangerous situation today when so little is known of America and that little so often wrong. How long can we sustain our might and mission under such enfeebling circumstances… and how can we possibly help the world and be that bright city while presenting such a poor and tawdry example?

That is why I urge you to read the great Declaration aloud and help rescue the Great Republic from her sad plight today, so dangerous, so inglorious, so abashing in every way.

Then go to any search engine, and find Irving Berlin’s great hymn to the Great Republic, “God Bless America,” first written in1918, revised in 1938. I recommend the stirring version by Kate Smith, a chanteuse who belted it out and brought a tear to the eye of every true American, every lover of freedom, and every citizen trustee for our great story,

“Through the night with a light from above”.  

Of blueberries. They’re mine!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

We are just now in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts being fried by one of the worst heat waves in our long history. Mitigating factors are few and far between, and meteorologists are enjoying themselves digging for obscure facts that do nothing to reduce the debilitating heat. Only one thing helps in this climate, and that is… blueberries.

And so that is the subject of today’s reflections. And not a moment too soon, for today promises to be another scorcher.

Author’s Program Note. Before continuing, I want to remind you of a most appropriate tune that will provide just the right background for remarks. You’ve known this tune your entire life. It was recorded by many artists, perhaps most notably Louis Armstrong in 1949. Then Fats Domino, in the 1950s, recorded a rock n’ roll version. It is, of course, “Blueberry Hill”, and I suggest you go to any search engine and find your favorite rendition. If you’re alone (but only if you’re alone) belt out your favorite version. You’ll have fun doing it. But make sure the neighbors are not in ear shot. They will not understand.

My sentiments on blueberries.

I am a prodigious eater of blueberries. I don’t just eat them, I live for them. Why, the room in which I am writing you today was even painted in a delicious shade called “blueberry muffin”. At $3.99 a box at Montrose Spa (the nearest place for blueberries) but not always the best quality (Shaw’s Market in Porter Square takes the prize) I am a significant supporter of the entire blueberry industry. Indeed, I say (with pride) that during blueberry season I dispose of thousands of them, very few (I confess) shared with another. Which is why I want to share my special poem about blueberries with you. It is in the nature of a declaration and must be treated as such:

“They’re mine.”

Touch my blueberries at your risk; each one is mine and must for me be kept.

Of course you want a basket, then you want more but have them here you must not nor even dream.

For these berries each and every one are mine.

And don’t attempt to beg for more these berries are as I have politely said all mine and shoo you off I would if you should transgress.

A scene is small price for every berry on the hill.

And now I sense you are about to cry and beg for blues you cannot resist but these (I must insist) are mine.

And if you fail to find and pick (for fail you must) and forced to other hills and selfish folk the same will be… those berries, too, will be for me.

Sorry.

But that’s the way it must be for berries and I make two and have no need of thee, for three.

Some facts about blueberries.

Blueberries are flowering plants of the genus Vaccinium (a genus that also includes cranberries and bilberries). The berries themselves are blue and sometimes purple in hue and are perennial. Species in the section Cyanococcus are the most common fruits sold as “blueberries” and are mainly native to North America.

Blueberry flowers are bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red, sometimes tinged greenish. The fruit is a berry 5-16 millimeters (0.20-0.63 inch) in diameter with a flared crown at the end. They are pale greenish at first, then reddish-purple, and finally dark blue when ripe.

Blueberries have a sweet taste when mature, with variable acidity. Blueberry bushes typically bear fruit in the middle of the growing season; fruiting times are affected by local conditions such as altitude and latitude, so the height of the crop can vary from May to August.

Cultivated or wild bushes.

Blueberries may be cultivated, or they may be picked from semi-wild or wild bushes. In North America, the most common cultivated species is V. corymbosum, the Northern highbush blueberry.

So called “wild” (lowbush) blueberries, smaller than cultivated highbush ones, are prized for their intense color. The lowbush blueberry, V. angustifolium, is found from the Atlantic provinces westward to Quebec and southward to Michigan and West Virginia.

Blueberry connoisseurs may engage in heated exchanges on the merits of both varieties. I aver, indeed I insist, that the so-called wild version is not only the most beautiful variety but the most tasty, too. I came to this unshakable conclusion one afternoon when returning from Maine, arguably the capital of blueberry nation. The traffic moved so slowly I was able to stop at every roadside stand to taste, purely in the spirit of science, both varieties in ample measure… first sampling one, then the other, then back to the first, thereby avoiding any hint of prejudice. My verdict is final.

Where blueberries are grown.

Maine produces 25% of all lowbush blueberries in North America, easily making it the largest producer in the world. Its blueberry industry was propagated from native plants that occur naturally in the understory of its coastal forests. The Maine crop requires about 50,000 beehives for pollination, with most of the hives trucked in from other states for that purpose. The wild blueberry (my favorite as noted above) is Maine’s official fruit, and rightly so. Taciturn Mainers do not like to admit its superiority; for them, as for me, “they’re mine”.

It should be stated here (in the interests of fairness) that Michigan, not Maine, is the leader in highbush production. 32 percent of such blueberries are grown there; New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina also grow them in large numbers… but, as I told you, these (though they will always do in a pinch) lack the distinguishing characteristics prized by adamant purists like me.

Uses of blueberries.

Blueberries are sold fresh or processed as individually quick frozen fruit, puree, juice, or dried or infused berries which in turn may be used in a variety of consumer goods such as jams, jellies, blueberry pies, muffins, snack foods and cereals.

Blueberries have a diverse range of micronutrients, with notably high levels (relative to respective dietary reference intakes) of the essential dietary mineral manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber.

Especially in wild species, blueberries contain anthocyanins, other antioxidant pigments and various phytochemicals, which possibly have a role in reducing risks of some diseases, including inflammation and certain cancers. These facts, of course, bolster our affection but cannot account for our passion for this supreme fruit, enticing, seducing, secure not merely on our palate but in our hearts. For this we must turn to our musicians, our poets.

I give you “Blueberries” by Robert Frost (1874-1963). In this rattling poem, Frost, who so well knew the land and its bounties, described blueberries “as big as the end of your thumb, Real sky-blue and heavy, and ready to drum in the cavernous pail of the first one to come!” He made sure he was that first one, for he too knew the necessity of coming early and making sure “they’re mine”.

But we leave this colloquy with Fats Domino, who, rightly too, found his thrill on Blueberry Hill, where he, no doubt, made it clear to all comers, those blueberries, each and every one “are mine”.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

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Of the nation’s heat wave and how we kept cool in years gone by. A story of high summer. July, 2011.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. When one is sweltering in the immensity of unbearable summer, one does (as you well know) what one can to cool off, and promptly, too. Music helps… especially if it’s as cool as Martha and the Vandellas and Cole Porter. They have provided me with the background sound of the day, the sound of this article.

In 1963 Martha and the Vandellas (known from 1967 to 1972 as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas) released an absolutely sizzling dance number entitled “(Love is like a) Heat Wave.” It was a jump-up sound then, urgent in its insistence that you get up and dance, whatever the thermometer. And all these years later, it hasn’t lost the zest that made this popular Motown group a pulse for the nation. It’s one of the reasons “Rolling Stone” in 2004 ranked Martha and the Vandellas #96 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

An entirely different — but equally cool — sound distinguished Cole Porter’s come-back musical “Kiss Me, Kate” based on Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”. It came after a string of disappointments, which made America wonder whether this master of wit and sophistication had lost his touch. He had not… and it became the first musical to be given a Tony Award, in 1949. “Too Darn Hot” comes from this, Porter’s biggest hit and summarizes exactly how I feel about the terra caliente. You can easily find both songs in any search engine. Find them now… listen carefully… and of course do so in a very cool room. Otherwise, you may not be tempted to get up and dance…

Heat, more heat, no break in sight.

I checked the 5-day forecast today in the Greater Boston, Massachusetts area, though it only reinforced my pronounced sense of doom that we are in for it and no mistake. Today will reach an insufferable 94 degrees F. Tomorrow even worse and on Saturday but paltry “relief”. I plan to remain in the house, swathed by “cooler” air; be clear I do not say “cool”. I suffer from the completely characteristic belief of all true New Englanders that there are only a few unbearable summer days and that one falls far below one’s hardy Puritan ancestors if one gives way and “coddles” oneself with refrigerated air… when God’s own, good enough for grandpapa, should be good enough for me. I suffer accordingly and am derided by my air-conditioned friends, whom I publicly chide for their lack of grit and fortitude… and secretly envy and covet.

Summer at 4906 Woodward Ave. when we burnt and never worried.

These punishing days of discomfort, perspiration and self-pity go to my memory at once and return me to the searing days of a 1950s summer in Illinois, where humidity and high temperatures produced a keen desire for escape, to anywhere else at all. Even to one’s own backyard turned water park and entrepot for experiments in cooling off. My family with three children and young parents (but without air-conditioning) lived outside as much as possible, and had all the necessary accoutrements for comfortable surviving.

Liberally strewn about the yard, much lived in, never immaculate with carefully tended grass, were the symbols that made clear an active, kid-centered environment. There was a simple garden hose, turned into aqua-weapon with deadly effect… little brothers with attitude soon learned to peer around the corner of the house before advancing, since big brother prided himself on ever new, more exacting forays and gambits. When all else failed on a brutal summer’s day, the hose always worked, the water clear, frosty, unpolluted, never in plastic bottles with pompous names and pictures of snowy mountain tops.

Then came the Slip ‘n Slide.

Slip ‘n Slide is a toy manufactured by Wham-O, first introduced in 1961 after being invented by Cody Abramson. The toy is a long sheet of thin plastic, flanked lengthwise on one side by a heat-sealed tubular fold. The tube can be attached to any ordinary garden hose. Water runs through the tube and out small perforations, spraying into the sliding surface. The Slip ‘n Slide then becomes very slippery, enabling users to jump onto the plastic and slide the length of the sheet. June, for the record, is National Slip ‘n Slide month, but only by company fiat.

Slip ‘n Slide provided years of fun and also, no doubt, a plethora of plastic burns, scuffs of every kind and a body deeply red from one “watch me mom!” stunt after another. Years later both manufacturer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommended that only children use the toy because of back and neck injuries when teenagers and adults use it. Injuries occur because people heavier or taller than children might stop suddenly while diving onto the toy. Between 1971 and 1991, seven adults and one teenager reported injuries while using Slip ‘n Slide including neck injuries, bone fractures, quadriplegia, and paraplegia. No doubt we sustained bruises of various kinds… but the only member of the family to complain was Mrs. Whiskers the cat, who was often (and always hilariously) taken down the yellow plastic slide to howls of feline indignation and outrage. By contrast, Missy the beagle delighted in the hub-bub and spray. On one memorable day when an unknowing neighbor sought to remove “that dog” from the Slip ‘n Slide, my 4-year old brother put her firmly in her place: “Is no dawg,” he pointed out, “is Missy”, an unanswerable line that makes me laugh to this day.

One necessary kid device after another.

This yard extensive with woods where wild animals were still to be seen, before the unceasing growth of this suburban sprawl drove them away, this yard featured amusements both handmade and manmade. There was the much-used remains of a real fort my father (talented with his slender hands), built for us. It was a minor work of art, soon demolished by older jealous boys with less nimble fathers. We built another, more practical, always well stocked in buried storage bins with the hard crabapples we knew so well to throw and sting. Illinois, remember, prides itself on its handy young men, and we were surely such.

And so it went, our yard an open-to-the-sky toy box… here featuring the shoebox lifted by a stick, pulled by a string the better to catch the careless robin; we did one day… and, having succeeded in our task… promptly let it go again. We were not a family that killed for fun, sport, or pleasure… and I am proud of that.

In due course, my father had his way and constructed one of the large plastic pools where the water was six feet, or more. It instantly became the center of young, leisured Illinois, to the extent that when the municipality built a brand- new facility, we refused to go… to my father’s chagrin, since he was one of the trustees who made that pool possible. Frankly, the raspberry and blackberry bushes that grew beside our pool, made ours seem desirably rustic and secluded. After all, what is summer moonlight for?

And still the unending heat beat down, but we were not done with our responses yet.

About this time, my grammie came, who always knew a thing or two about families and the need of parents (however young) for a respite. In her immaculate Oldsmobile she drove us to the Walgreen’s in the center of town, the only place to get the ardently desired and soon gone cherry phosphate or raspberry-lime rickey. I’d know their taste anywhere.

And then home, dinner and the last sacred rite of a sultry summer’s evening: running behind the DDT truck as it sprayed the neighborhood with poisons, the fleet of foot (myself in the lead) at the pipe, quaffed and quaffed some more. The dense chemical clouds, the whoops of joy and laughter didn’t lower the temperature one degree… but they raised our spirits… and thus exhilarated we moved out of the heat… towards the livable September temperatures which would liberate us all for another year.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is, where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

Atlanta, Georgia school cheating scandal. How a pencil eraser and mendacious educators shamed a great city and robbed its students.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. The great city of Atlanta and many other Georgia towns are, at this very moment, in the throws of the latest installment of their ongoing school cheating scandal. It’s a scandal that could take place in most any school district, but which is worst in Atlanta, a city that has well and truly lost its moral compass . Here no one, whatever their high titles and educational degrees and licenses, is responsible for anything.

And so I have selected for the music to accompany this article, Chaka Khan’s tune “Ain’t Nobody” (released 1983)… because in Atlanta ain’t nobody educatin’, ain’t nobody learnin’, ain’t nobody leadin’, ain’t nobody truth tellin’… and ain’t nobody cleanin’ up the mess and galvanizing the folks so that Atlanta can hold up its head again… proud of its achievements, not abashed by its lies, deceptions and deceits. You can find Chaka Khan’s tune in any search engine. Get it now… and let its pulse get you in the mood not just for disgust, outrage and indignation but for the hard work of school and municipal reform which must start at once, this very day… And don’t read this article with any smugness at all… for you cannot be sure the “educators” in your town aren’t doing the same things but just haven’t been caught yet.

Who’s bright idea was this anyway?

Investigators and the public may never know the name of the first educator who erased the wrong test answer and entered the correct one, and if there were only one such infraction, or even just a few more, we could simply say, “There are always some bad apples in any barrel.” But this is not what happened in Atlanta… where, at least 178 Public School employees in 44 schools, including 38 principals, all decided, some independently, some working together, to alter standardized test results.

Now think about this for a moment.

Each of these educators has gone through years of (we hope) rigorous training, with degrees and licenses to prove their hard work and diligence.

Each will swear on a stack of Bibles that they believe in education and that they are well and truly dedicated to helping students achieve success through the application of high standards of learning and instruction.

Each would take the most sacred oath that cheating, altering test results, passing off another’s work as your own, and all the other egregious forms of educational mendacity are wrong… and can never be tolerated at any time…. and that educators who perform these deeds should and must be punished and driven out of the Academy forthwith fueled by the indignation of the worthy.

Every teacher, every administrator would, I know, signify in any way requested their adamant belief in these propositions… and yet an astounding, astonishing number of these same teachers and administrators altered test results with their own hands… risking their careers and sacrificing their self-respect and honor to do deeds which all knew were wrong and which each abominates and deplores.

How had so many gone so wrong?

While there is finger-pointing all around, the most digits are pointed at former Superintendent Beverly Hall (1999-2011). Her mantra was “performance, performance, performance” which was what the people wanted…. but which morphed over time to “performance at any cost” with the emphasis on the “any”. In the Hall Administration you got the Superintendent’s eye (and extra bennies and emoluments) by demonstrating improved, increasing, dazzling performance. She, once so voluble, now has “no comment”.

The problem is, education doesn’t work like a machine process, a conveyor belt delivering better product for less. Oh, no, education is not remotely like that. Education is a slow, incremental process, where results today, with today’s students, are determined by what each previous teacher in each grade was able to achieve with each student. There is no activity slower than education… nor one in which so many each have a part to play.

Each and every teacher and administrator knows this… but each one decided that pleasing the powers that be was more important than doing the hard work of focusing on each student, with painstaking dedication, effort, and patience. And thus with a simple pencil eraser did each erase everything each knew to be true, good and necessary about their vocation… thereby shaming themselves, their city, their honorable colleagues, and, of course, the students who were, with each erasure and substitution, bereft of what they needed so desperately, a real education, an education of merit, of high standards set and high standards achieved, and above all of honest endeavor and honest testing and review.

As I said, finger pointing is rampant as everyone scurries to save themselves in an environment where there is now intense scrutiny and a desire to see heads roll and so demonstrate that there is a new broom sweeping clean. Interim Superintendent Erroll B. Davis, Jr. says that the prevailing “culture of fear and intimidation” in his predecessor Hall’s regime must be changed. “People,” he says, “felt that it was easier to cheat than to miss their goals and objectives.”

Not just one incident, but a series of incidents.

Americans, of course, want fast answers to endemic problems. And here is no exception. The people don’t want to believe they were thoroughly betrayed by the very people they must rely upon the most: the teachers, educators, and administrators charged with the sacred objective of lifting their children, one step at a time,to a higher, better place.

But the current scandal is just that — “current”, for the good citizens of Atlanta have been cheated by the cheaters since 2001 at least, and quite possibly longer.

Over the course of the last decade, one cheating scandal after another has punctuated the Atlanta school calendar. All bear a dreary resemblance to each other. High standards are set which cannot be met, though those setting them reap a torrent of praise for such daring and boldness.

In due course, though, the high standards are shown to be too high, unrealistic, overly ambitious. Cheaters enter to bridge the difference between what is… and what could never be. And, in due course, these cheaters, or at least some of them, are caught… to the outrage of citizens and short-changed students.

And so new leaders are brought in, who set unrealistic goals and tell you they have the necessary skills, you betcha, to achieve the objective and make Atlanta proud… yet in due course they, too, fail — but only after reaping educational awards and honors for proclaiming goals too steep to achieve. Thus they, too, are discarded and villified.

And all the while the students of Atlanta are bereft of the education they must have and have every right to expect. They do not get it because their parents, their teachers, their elected officials and bureaucrats at every level will pontificate about education… but will not engage in the slow painstaking business of educating one student at a time… for they want an education to be what no education has ever been: a machine process, an assembly-line activity… and until the citizens of Atlanta know this and demand this these humiliating, demeaning, abashing scandals must and will continue.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.

Book now for the bicentennial of America’s least necessary war, The War of 1812. The scenery will be unbeatable!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Most Americans don’t know we had a dust-up in 1812 with our not-so- distant British colonial masters. Well, we did and from June 30-July 6, 2012 we’ll be celebrating it in high style in Boston, Massachusetts, then in 11 other East Coast American cities that had a role in the war. The festivities will run from 2012-2015, with millions expected to come see.

No doubt the most popular and easily the most photogenic part of this commemoration will be the parade of the world’s tall ships, with more of these graceful relicts of days gone by assembled in one place than ever before. How many tall-ships will there be? William Armstrong, a spokesman for Operation Sail, the sponsor of this event along with the U.S. Navy, could not say exactly. But he did say that 120 nations have been invited to participate, and no doubt most of them will. As such it will draw visitors from around the globe to this living reminder of maritime majesty.

Two extra special features make a trip to Boston de rigueur when the tall-ships come. First, this is the home port of the USS Constitution, launched in 1797. It is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Dubbed “Old Ironsides” in sea battle where enemy cannonballs were seen to bounce harmlessly off her timbers, she defeated 4 superior British vessels, uniquely earning each of her captains a Congressional gold medal, perhaps in part because the Constitution’s victories were one of the very few aspects of the war in general to go well.

The second reason why Boston was selected to lead off the festivities has absolutely nothing to do with commemorating the war and absolutely everything to do with creating a truly whiz-bang of a program. While the tall-ships grace the harbor and capture every eye, the city of Boston (and all true believers in America’s national past-time) will be celebrating the centennial of Fenway Park, a theme which will inspire every sportswriter to wax poetic, nostalgic, with nary a dry eye in the (uncomfortable, over-priced) bleachers.

Not worth remembering.

Sadly all this hard work and the unbeatable thrill of seeing a large percentage of the most graceful and interesting sailing vessels still extant celebrates an entirely forgettable war that should never have occurred and which showed that Yankee rhetoric (always soaring and bombastic) far outpaced Yankee management, efficiency, and organization. In short, the Yanks, having pulled off the biggest victory of the 18th century, eviscerating British North American power and gaining independence, took the wrong moral from the tale and assumed their old nemesis was a paper tiger, always and forever to be defeated by the vainglorious sons of America. It was an arrogant point of view that was soon shown to be wistful thinking, and nothing more.

Family quarrels are always the most pernicious and hurtful.

From the very moment the British accepted the loss of her American possessions every patriotic Briton ached for a rematch with her now liberated and bumptious former colonies. Because this was a family quarrel, each side (and particularly the British) took the greatest possible pleasure in irritating Americans, outraging Americans, belittling Americans and humiliating Americans. The colonies might be lost, well then, let the regime of insult, condescension, and mutual irritants commence. And because both sides were Britons, who knew each other as well as the back of their own hand, they knew exactly what to do to cause maximum pain and umbrage… and they did it with relish and unbridled joy, “Take this, serves you right!”

For such antagonists another conflict was, and everyone knew it, inevitable. It was simply a matter of when… thus both nations bided their time; Britain bit by inexorable bit undoing Napoleon and his evanescent imperium, anxious to face again the unlikely winners who had humbled them with the gall and wormwood of 1776 and all that. It was a truly memorable antagonism, entirely personal, no holds barred, each and every encounter seen as an insult by the other. As I said, it was a very nasty family matter, casus belli unnecessary.

Historians will tell you the War of 1812 had many causes and no doubt they are right. But all those who have fought for victory in their homes and offices will know the messy battles in operation “Top Dog” in which the opponents battle for ultimate supremacy. In such a situation, with the need for overall power and control paternal, primal, with mutual good will and correct relations impossible until the fundamental matter is well and truly settled. They fought because each existed and that each found affronting and profoundly irksome.

The British goal in the War of 1812, a war which commenced as Napoleon then retreating from Russia after his fate-tipping disaster, thereby liberating British power, money and focus to upend the Yanks, was to continue her near absolute command of the world’s seaways. “Rule Britannia” was not a song; it was profound national policy.

By contrast, the Yanks, now controlling the most valuable real estate on earth, were anxious to get the rest… and this meant seizing Canada, every Yank believing that Canadians were anxious to be liberated. They weren’t, but that made absolutely no difference. Liberated and Americanized they would be, like it (and they surely would), or not.

The War of 1812 shaped up accordingly.

The British, the world’s greatest sea power, aimed to cripple the new American navy while making it quite clear that it would continue to impress seamen (particularly American seamen) into her vessels, whatever howls of outrage that might engender. Ships might be built… but able seamen were, as always, in short supply and thus England, whose very existence was predicated on maximum sea power, seized Americans wherever they could be had… without a shred of remorse.

The goal of the Americans was to justify their (to them) hefty allocations of limited national resources in a navy. Thomas Jefferson and friends (one of whom, James Madison, was president in 1812), profoundly provincial, regarded a navy as an expensive luxury, hoped to hobble it. The navy needed victories to prove how essential it was. And, of course, there was the great prize, Canada. Voltaire may have regarded the Canadas as a patch of snow… but the War Hawks in Washington, D.C. did not. They craved Canada in the worst way, and the way they went about wooing her showed just how bad that could be.

The ins and out of this struggle go beyond the confines of this article and may be found in “The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict” by Donald R. Hickey. Suffice it to say the Yanks made a dog’s dinner of their Canadian incursions and not a single Canadian was sorry. Thus, they kept their snow to themselves. The British burnt Washington, D.C. including the White House, to avenge a similar barbarity by the Yanks when they invaded Canada. And the greatest victory of the war by either side was the Battle of New Orleans, which in due course made General Andrew Jackson, president of the United States. Ironically that great victory took place after the peace treaty between the belligerents had been signed in Ghent.

No doubt some of this history will be told next summer, but the futile inconsequence of the war will be mentioned, if at all, sotto voce.

You, however, now know and will astonish all who pontificate in front of you. For you have heard the story here… so do book your reservations now with Operation Sail the better to see the key places in this forgettable conflict about to be commemorated more grandly than the war itself ever was.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is . at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.

Casey Anthony: Now that your trial is over, your true sentence will be delivered, for you are now and truly a marked woman for life.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

These are the facts.

Caylee Marie Anthony (born August 9, 2005) was last seen with her mother Casey on June 16, 2008 and was reported missing by her grandmother, Cindy Anthony, on July 15, 2008. Her skeletal remains were discovered in a wooded area near the family home on December 11, 2008. Casey Anthony was indicted on charges of first degree murder and pled not guilty.

The prosecution sought the death penalty and the trial lasted for six weeks. On July 5, 2011, the jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child, but guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. Anthony received a sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for each count. With credit for time served and good behavior, she was released on July 17, 2011, free to walk out of the courtroom and resume her life as an ordinary citizen. But the fact is since the eye of the media (lead by legal commentator Nancy Grace) came to focus on you and your predicament, you have ceased to be in fact the “ordinary citizen” you are in law.

According to journalist Geraldo Rivera, you are the “most reviled acquitted defendant”, even more so that O.J. Simpson or Michael Jackson. Rivera was also quoted on the Fox News Network as saying, “We feel she is a murderer who has escaped the death penalty” Public outrage was immediate and intense.

You contributed to the mayhem by engaging in behaviors the public felt were inappropriate for a mother:

Item: lying to detectives from the Orange County, Florida Sheriff’s Department.

Item: failing to report your child missing despite the fact you admitted you had not seen her for 31 days.

Item: partying around the town both before your missing daughter was found… and, worse, after her decomposed body was discovered.

Item: Having a tattoo reading “Bella Vita” (beautiful life) placed on your body just weeks after Caylee’s death.

The prosecution’s case was based on who would benefit from Caylee’s death… with the accusing finger firmly pointed at … you! The media, which loves stories like yours that grab public attention and won’t get go… tried and found you guilty… and you only aided and abetted these folks by your endless prevarications, deceits, deceptions and lies. In short order you were turned into a pleasure-seeking monster, cavorting on the grave of your innocent child, Caylee, who, quite simply, got in the way of your selfish, sybaritic life.

The prosecutor thought their bird was cooked, when their expert maintained that you made 84 computer searches seeking detailed information about chloroform. (It was only later than this same “expert” admitted he was wrong; there had, in fact, only been a single such search. Still…

Then the unthinkable occurred: you were found innocent on all counts, except for one which convicted you of lying to police officers. I saw your face on television at the moment the verdict was handed down; you wept… perhaps just for simple relief… perhaps because you thought that your ordeal was well and truly over. But in fact that verdict immediately moved you and the entire matter to a different, much more difficult place than the penal system you had just avoided.

Millions of people were astonished and outraged by the jury’s finding and from the immediate instant it was delivered shouted their acute, their adamant disapproval and disgust. Never mind that your constitutional rights meant you were innocent until proven guilty or that the jury did its arduous work correctly and honorably. They had “reasonable doubt” and were, whatever their personal opinions, forced to decide as they had.

The people knew” (by some primal calculus), egged on by the media, that you were guilty… and now, aghast, flabbergasted, disbelieving, they watched as you, who had certainly murdered Caylee, walked. Millions of folks, certain in their minds as to what really happened and who was guilty and needed maximum punishment, wanted Justice for Caylee… and were frustrated they were not about to get it through the judicial system.

At that moment of what had to be joy for you… the system which had just given you freedom… ensured you would be a haunted, hunted, despised and disdained woman for the rest of your life. Your life on the lamb started even before you left the courtroom and was ordained for the rest of your life. For, whatever the legal system says, public opinion, fed by powerful media, have ensured that you will be seen as a child murderer, the worst crime in all the calendar, with vigilante vengeance likely and popular vindication for anyone disposing of you certain.

Let’s look at what this means for you…

You will be in a store like Wal-Mart ready to take advantage of a fantastic sale. Soon you’ll feel rather than see that there are three, now four women whispering about something… you don’t need to be told that what they’re whispering about is… you.

You hope the check-out girl hasn’t seen… but one of the women walked over to a supervisor who, without batting an eye, told the check-out girl to take a 15-minute break,that her shift is over. The supervisor stands there, looks you in the eye and says, “You’re Casey Anthony, aren’t you?”

You decide to lie…. you’re good at lying… but he’ll only ask to see your i.d. and then his strong surmise will become irrevocable fact. So, you say nothing, drop the things you so much wanted on the floor… and, for the thousandth time put your chin up and, looking dead ahead, walk out.

But, like the sentence of the people itself, this incident continues.

You are Casey Anthony… and you are beginning to understand what that means.

The women who were whispering about you inside… are now a growing group. They do not know for sure that you are Casey Anthony (you do your hair different now) but they sense it.

You see your car. You know that if you can get in and drive off before their suspicions harden into fact, you’ll be ok. And so you walk faster… and as you do you see in the corner of your eye that the women are screaming now…. You don’t need to hear the words… you have heard them all before…. over and over again.

“Baby killer! Murderer! Murderer!”

And as you open the car door,the first stone hits the windshield… the second hits you and you feel the blood run down your head.

You manage to get in… get the key in the ignition… reminding yourself to stay cool… and get out fast.

This time you get away… but you are Casey Anthony and you know that such an incident can happen any day, every day.

Then one day, you’re getting ready for a date with a boy who simply knows you as “Casey” and you’re hoping he’ll never find out. You’re leaving the beauty parlor, looking terrific for the first time in months. All of a sudden there’s a sharp pain in your chest… and you see Toni the beautician, the lady who has just done your hair. She’s got blood on her hands… the pain from the sharp instrument she’s thrust into your body is unendurable. But she’s smiling… “That was for Caylee Marie…” And amidst the chaos and confusion, you hear the women in the beauty parlor cheering, for Toni, for Caylee… and for the end of you…

… the woman found innocent of murder by a jury of her peers… and guilty by an outraged nation scoffing at the verdict, determined to get justice for the dear little thing you cared so little about. You are Casey Anthony, innocent, and your dead body lies in a heap on the floor of the beauty shop… your eyes open, seeing nothing.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is . at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associate , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.

An appreciation for the turbulent life and undeniable talent of Amy Winehouse. Dead at 27, July 23, 2011.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Amy Jade Winehouse was exactly the woman your mother was terrified you’d become… and nagged at you to avoid. She covered her body with old-time sailor tattoos… had a beehive style hair-do that looked like it was construction art… popped pills like juju beans… drank like a fish and then became a “bad drunk”… found men, let them abuse her, then ditched them… to do it all over again. And, if this were not enough, she experimented with every drug her international contacts could get her… then went through some more.

Yeah, she was a mess alright… but there was one redeeming grace… and that was the lady had talent… and an outsized personality that enabled her to showcase her works… and (when she was at her best) wow the folks… while changing the outmoded verities in the musical world… where she was a seismic force smoking out hypocrisies, superficialities, and any hint of silly sweetness. She was authentic to her fingertips… and that made a lot of people — including mothers with young girls — plenty nervous.

Now this volcanic force is dead, aged just 27, and we are left to wonder at why she gave up everything she loved — including her very life — to feed her destructive passions. A good place to look for clues is in her prize-winning 2007 tune “Rehab”. Go to any search engine now. Play the song once or twice, and pay particular attention to the lyrics… “They tried to make me go to rehab but I said ‘no, no, no’.” And then the kicker we all knew to be true, “Yeah, I’m outta control.” She was right… and it was the tragedy of her life.

She did what she wanted… with whom she wanted… where she wanted.. when she wanted. She knew what was acceptable behavior… she ignored it to achieve who she was. If that upset others, too bad. Her need to behave in ways you found selfish, reprehensible, ridiculous made her maddeningly impossible to be around; you never knew what was coming next… because she never knew what she’d be doing next. It was an exhausting way to live…. and no one knew it better than she did and in moments of clarity she screamed for help “I don’t ever wanna drink again”. But she did drink… and smoke… and shoot up… and inhale… engaging in every form of abuse she could think of, devise or learn from her cadre of fellow travelers, each going to hell in their own fashion….

But through it all there was the music and the talent that produced it. And if we must condemn her, let us do so for this reason: that she abused her talent, wasted her talent, insulted her talent, and treated her talent with contempt, with every injection risking it, threatening it, threatening all. For this she deserves the strongest possible condemnation…

…. Amy Winehouse knew this. But as time went on, it didn’t matter anymore… she knew she was on the road to oblivion. “Can you blame me for being a slave to my passion?” Yes, most assuredly we can… because her passion was not ingestion and self abuse (though it seemed so)… her passion was the music she created… the sound she shaped… the impacting words… these things were her passion and she squandered these with too little remorse and regret. Damn her.

The beginning.

Winehouse was born September 14, 1983 in the Southgate area of north London to a Jewish family whose inclination to jazz later influenced her work. She was the younger of two children (older brother Alex) of Mitchell Winehouse, taxi driver, and Janis Winehouse (nee Seaton), pharmacist. Mitchell often sang Frank Sinatra songs to young Amy, who took to a constant habit of singing to the point that teachers found it difficult keeping her quiet in class. Even then it was clear she had talent… Like other young artists there were many false starts… she got her first guitar at 13 and began writing music a year later. She also began working at this time, for openers a showbiz journalist for the World Entertainment News Network, also singing with a local group the Bolsha Band.

But her passion was the all-girl groups of the ’60’s, particularly The Ronettes, her favorite; it’s where she got her “instantly recognizable” beehive hair-do and Cleopatra make-up.

Break-through.

Just 20, her debut album “Frank” was released October 20, 2003. Produced mainly by Salaam Remi, many songs were influenced by jazz and, apart from two covers, every song was co-written by Winehouse. The reviews were good and brought comparisons to Macy Gray and Sarah Vaughan. In due course, “Frank” garnered a host of awards and honors… and reached platinum sales levels. The little Jewish girl from north London had her foot on the ladder… but as usual did it her way. Instead of engaging in the usual puffery, she said of this album she was just “80 percent” behind it. Her producers fumed… but the world smiled; here was a person who told the (often inconvenient) truths… and we all liked her better.

International success.

In these days, Winehouse was a prodigious worker, an artist who never tolerated the second rate in herself, or anyone else. She knew what she wanted from herself… and from you. “Back to Black” was the result, released in the U.K. October 30, 2006. It became the best-selling U.K. album in 2007, selling a staggering 1.85 million copies over the year. The money guys heard the clink of coin… and were willing to tolerate Winehouse’s often eccentric behavior because she delivered the bucks.

The most influential song on this album was “Rehab”. “Time” magazine called it the “Best Song” of 2007. Interviewer Josh Tyrangiel praised Winehouse for her confidence, saying “What she is is mouthy, funny, sultry, and quite possibly crazy,” and “It’s impossible not to be seduced by her originality.” The world agreed; prizes and honors were showered upon her… and, of course, money, lots and lots of it. All she had to do was keep her demons under control. But who can promise so much, even with the entire world and its golden prizes at stake? She still had higher to fly… the farther to fall when her punishing descent began. Let’s stay a little on the lady still ascending, for her fall is painful, distressing, the stuff of agony and dismay.

In 2008 she won Grammy Awards in the categories for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single “Rehab,” while her album “Back to Black” was nominated for Album of the Year and won Best Pop Vocal award. She was now well and truly at the top of the world… for an instant, until the contrary forces she had kept in balance, began pulling in opposite directions she could no longer control. Thus did mighty mayhem break loose… and Amy Winehouse lose her ascendancy in the world… and, far too soon, her life.

She was drawn to, loved, married, dallied with and tolerated, all the wrong people… the weak men who pandered to her vices and abused her body, her weaknesses and kindness; the ones who fed her pills and substances of every kind which she never needed and was unable to resist. Thanks to the constant lurid tales in the tabloids, we all saw it. Hers was a tragedy occurring before our eyes, an irresistible inevitability which at last on July 23 bore its strange fruit. The scene was dirty, squalid, disgusting… with honors, awards, trophies strewn about the place, indicators that life was vanity, all vanity. Short, ironic, painful, pride abashed and all alone.

So did Amy Winehouse kill herself, her talent and her many dreams… but she could not kill her music, rhythmic, honest to a fault, intriguing, bold. Here was the woman at her best… and now this best must stand against the ages, to remind us of her integrity and audacity, for she had these in abundance, and so should we remember her.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

A tale of the city. Someone to watch over me.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. This article will touch you more deeply than you might otherwise allow if you find one of the innumerable renditions of George Gershwyn’s “Someone To Watch Over Me”. (1926, from the often-revived musical “Oh, Kay!”) The one by the late chanteuse Amy Winehouse (given the tragic and squalid circumstances of her end) is both ironic and haunting for she most assuredly had no one to watch over her… much less save her from herself.

Go to any search engine now, find the singer you like… play it once or twice…for this is the desired, unmistakable sound for today’s tale…

It starts with a boy from the Prairies…

“Know thyself!” is perhaps the most famous (and surely the shortest) command (and admonition) of our culture. Pausanias, a Greek writer of the second century A.D., had the words chiseled in the wall of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. There’s been plenty argumentation ever since, as curious offspring seek to live those words, fully, completely, ardently…

… while protective parents, wiser to the world’s ways, say and will say to the end of the universe “Over my dead body, buster! And be back by 11… or else!”

If I tell you, confess really, that I was the boy who always was home early and never (except for one notable occasion, too notable to tell you here) knew what transgressing against “or else” might mean, you will perhaps have an inkling about the subject of this tale. I was always “The Best Boy”, sheltered, protected, indulged… I was not insensible of my privileged situation… but deep within (so deep for years I didn’t even know the notion existed) there was a desire to taste forbidden fruit and find out what happened when you walked on the Wild Side in dead of night

Others were anxious to help me out of my deep-seated predicament. Once, at university, a determined bunch of boys, affronted by my puritan outlook, tied me to a chair and, for an unblushing hour or two spat every four-letter word, every expletive (none deleted), and every vulgar configuration known to advanced eighteen year olds at me… my hands tied to my side, no chance of protecting those virgin ears. I was appalled… horrified… but I emerged, despite their strenuous efforts, unscathed. What was more notable than their failure to brand me was the fact that every one of my outspoken captors, every single one, was a clergyman’s son… the apple of the bishop’s eye being by far the most advanced and knowledgeable about the devil’s flamboyant lexicon. In due course, he, too, became a clergyman…

It didn’t matter where I was, people, being the helpful souls they are, sensed my situation… and wished to autograph it with a unique imprecation, malediction. One day, in about 1967, I attended a packed poetry reading given by Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982). It was standing-room only; I know. I was standing.

Rexroth, with Satan’s own radar, read a poem, perhaps it was about innocence, then announced he would, dowser-like, find the most innocent boy in the crowd. As he searched, he made his way closer to… me. And then, to my acute embarrassment, he announced he had found him… and that he was…. me. Thereupon he planted a fervent wake-the-dead kiss on me. I sank to the very earth, red, abashed, humiliated… most of all for the unwelcome designation that came with the buss: the most innocent boy on campus. Worst of all, it may have been true…

And, if so, it stayed true, for I was on the determined path to fame and fortune, which had not so much been prophesied as promised me… and I meant to have them, all of them, just as fast as possible….

It was then I discovered Nick and Nora Charles. Quick! Do you know who they are? Your parents could tell you. They were the utterly attractive couple invented by Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) the crime writer and brought so memorably to life by William Powell and Myrna Loy in a series of 14 “Thin Man” films from 1936-1941. They were what ever boy wanted who was sure life was what was happening wherever he wasn’t… and he yearned to go to that place at once, no questions asked, full speed ahead. As a result, I didn’t merely watch… I scrutinized Nick and Nora and every aspect of their wonderful lives.

This included the way they dressed, how they made their martinis…. and how they comported themselves when they’d each had one too many (crucial for a boy who had never tasted alcohol at all)… and of course just who was included amongst their extensive acquaintance. Why, they knew everyone on both coasts, governors, mayors, congressmen, thieves, murderers, marauders of every kind. And, of course, a small army of the “little people” who keep big cities going 24 hours a day and who see everything and everyone.

I learned a lot from just how Nick and Nora (who was always quick to follow Nick’s fancy footwork) treated these folks: always with courtesy, good humor, and no “side” whatsoever. It was an eye-opening revelation; you could be a convicted felon and yet be treated, by respectable folk, like the human being you were. I saw the same truth at work when in “Gone With The Wind” Melanie Wilkes met Belle Watling when Belle dropped off a pocketful of gold for Atlanta’s desperately needy hospital. Miz. Wilkes said she was proud to be under an obligation to Miz. Watling… This, I learned for good, was what a real lady would say.

And thus, firmly convinced that each person I encountered, no matter how black their history or damning their circumstances, deserved my politeness, my empathy, my kindness, I embarked on Life 101 and began to collect an astonishing grab-bag of people from the gutter up. One day one of the most troubled of these, a young man whose life, at just 22 or so, so, resembled nothing so much as the essence of chaos, confusion, mayhem and pain, said that he respected me because I treated him the same way I treated everyone else, not like a petty criminal with a rap-sheet as long as my arm. It was one of the most profound compliments I have ever received. Such people called me “Dr. Jeffrey” and said that in the certainties of my life they found a refuge, no matter how limited, for the uncertainties of their own. And, of course, the “helps” (as Queen Victoria called them) helped, too; the food, the clothes I (the least fashionable of men) no longer needed, the few bucks that cost me so little to give… all these were thankfully received. Most of the time, it was just the thought that counted and the unjudging ear.

But just the other day, the potential hazards of my behavior was borne home to me when I received a phone call from the bank that someone had just tried to cash one of my checks, only to discover just how well known I am, since the teller knew (as she would) that the signature was not mine. The miscreant fled… in unnecessary trouble for just sixty dollars. I probably would have given it to him… after all I know he has a young child.

My valued bank officer Helen read me the riot act. How could I have let him in, into my house of all houses… and left my checks out? How could I explain… she would only say, and rightly so, that I might have been killed. But she knows nothing of writers and their needs; hers was the advice of common-sense and bankers. I took the dressing down like a boy of 20, not a respected man of 64. Then later that day I called the lady and thanked her for looking out for me, grateful for her concern and even the sharp words delivered with her Irish up. You see, I have someone, and maybe many such, to watch over me… while the thief I befriended faces misdemeanor charges and perhaps the dawning recognition of the worst that’s yet to come…. without anyone to watch over him.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

‘You know you want me!’ Crucial job-finding strategies for the unemployed and particularly for new graduates trying to enter the world of work.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. If you’re like millions of people worldwide, you’re engaged in the often frustrating, discouraging and disheartening hunt for a job. I’m here to help, especially if you’ve just graduated from college and you’re trying like the dickens to grab that first job.

The music I’ve selected to accompany this article is perfect for the state of mind you need now and must maintain throughout the entire job-hunting process. The tune is “You know you want me! (Calle Ocho) ” by rapper Pitbull, recorded in 2009. You’ll find it in any search engine. When you do, play it a couple of times. And I mean play it! And dance it!

This high energy song has just the right lyric: “You know you want me!” Because isn’t that what the entire process is about: getting the all-important employer to say these magic words to you… so that you can reciprocate the favor by saying “You know I want you!”, the mutual “I do’s” commencing the perfect relationship.

Oh, just one thing: don’t even dream of going to any job interview dressed like Pitbull and his video friends. Dressed like that, they’d never get a real job…

1) Looking for a job is currently your job. Behave accordingly.

Right now, you think you’re unemployed. But you’re wrong. You have a job; it’s looking for paid employment. You must arrange your day exactly as you would any regular work day.

Before you go to bed (at a reasonable time, too) arrange what you’ll need for tomorrow. This includes knowing precisely what potential employers you’ll approach and ensuring you have everything you need to do so (phone numbers?)

Also, lay out the clothes you intend to wear, right down to that eye-catching rep tie. That’s right, dress for success. You are what you wear.

Too many job seekers allow themselves the luxury of looking like an unmade bed as they look for paid employment. They’re unbathed… undressed… and hence unsuccessful. But this is hardly surprising. Yo! Get some self-respect and dress for business… the way your successful competitors are doing and which you most probably are not.

2) Go out, come in, start your day.

Just because you’re not currently engaged in remunerative employment certainly does not mean you jettison all your good habits. Remember, looking for a job currently is your job. Thus, after you’ve finished the usual morning tasks (including donning appropriate threads), leave your abode for your “office”.

Go out the door. Close the door. Open the door, then march to your desk, ready, willing and able to get started. You might think this exercise foolish and unnecessary, but it’s not. With it, you are signaling your brain that you are in the “work zone”. This means complete and total focus on the job hunt; no long gossipy conversations with your buddies; no old films either, or “just a few” video games.

When you are at the place you have dubbed your office, you engage only in professional, work-related activities.

This is a must.

3) Set-up your computer so you’re ready to engage.

You need a file containing complete details of the people and organizations you’re contacting. This includes name, title, street address, city, state/province, zip/postal code. Also, phone number, fax, email address, etc.. And, importantly, notes on your contacts. With this information readily available, you immediately enter the ranks of the most organized and efficient job seekers.

4) Write and keep your resume updated; ready to be emailed.

The purpose of a resume is not to talk about yourself (though it may seem so) but to show your prospective employer just what you can do for him… based on what you have done for others. This means concentrating on results, results, demonstrated results. This puts the focus of your resume where it needs to be: on what the employer wants, not on you.

But, you say, I’ve just graduated from college, what kinds of demonstrated results have I had?

At this moment, you may suddenly feel that the degree you worked so hard to get (and you an honors graduate, too) isn’t worth the paper it’s engraved on. Wrong again. It was, is, and always will be precious, important third-person validation. You were awarded this degree because of proven results.

For openers, can you write a clear, clean, understandable English sentence, one that makes your meaning pellucid? Good. You’re ahead of 90% of college graduates. Tell your prospective employer, because in moments of desperation and exasperation he’s been known to utter some abrasive home truths on the communications errors his current employees are making, embarrassing him and the company while perplexing and irritating customers. Show him you’re different.

Do you have exemplary habits? Do you make commitments and keep commitments? Or do you say one thing, and do something quite different? Your new employer is quite qualified to show you what he wants from you; but now he wants reassurance that you’re worth the time and trouble. Got good habits? Then flaunt them. Remember, “You know you want these…”

5) Treat the “little people” you encounter with respect. Remember, they know more about the organizations you are contacting than you do.

One way you can get a leg up on your job-seeking competitors is by showing you respect the so-called “little people,” secretaries, executive assistants, go-fers, young people on internships, etc. ALL leaders must have know how to work with such folks, because they (and not just the CEO) are the essential elements of the equation.

When you talk to these people on the telephone, sit up, take a deep breath, put a smile in your voice. If they use their first name (“Hello, this is Mr. Goody’s secretary Mary”), then you do the same thing. Remember, Mary has access to the people you want to connect with. Be pleasant, upbeat, friendly… turn her into your advocate.

The same applies when you arrive for interviews. Be at least 15 minutes early. Bring extra copies of your resume, work samples where appropriate, copies of letters of recommendation , extra business cards, etc. Put a smile on your face, even though you may be nervous and anxious. While waiting read the company’s brochure. And you’ll really make a good impression if you print the company’s website and underline the areas where you could make a constructive difference. Now that’s being “with it”…

It’s time for carpe diem. At the end of today, 24 hours of your life will be used up, gone forever; that’s true for all of us. The real question is whether you’ll be ahead or behind at day’s end. For the result you want, when you see your prospective employer (or talk with her on the phone), say “Hello, I’m here to help you ma’am; I hope you’ll give me the opportunity!” That said, you know they’ll want you. How could they not?

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates