Who would have thought there could be danger in Iowa? Tornados and mumps? It’s like the Congo!


Your own retirement may look a little shaky, but here’s something to be happy about:

As you’ve surely seen by now, Exxon’s outgoing chief, Lee R. Raymond, got a $398 million retirement package. (Plus perks.) It seems like a lot, but he worked there for 43 years, so it’s not even $10 million for every year worked.

Some may argue he was already paid for those 43 years – 2,236 paychecks, if Exxon pays weekly. But how do you give him less than $398 million without killing the morale of other Exxon employees with their eyes on the CEO prize? Who is going to compete for that top job if, at the end of a distinguished career, all you can look forward to is – say – a $75 million package?

More good news: The Republican leadership have cut his taxes smartly, and are working hard to see that he can pass this wealth on to his heirs tax-free.


My favorite track on the new SING ALONG WITH THE REPUBLICANS album (and its companion, SING ALONG WITH THE DEMOCRATS), from The Freedom Toast, is sung by President Bush (well, it sounds like President Bush) to the tune of Daisy, Daisy:

Congress, Congress, give me your answer, do . . .
I want tax cuts fav‘ring the very few.
They’re made to look u-niversal
That’s not their real dispersal.
But they’ll look sweet
On the balance sheet
Of a corp‘rate exec or two.


. . . you probably have this free download.

(Or maybe you clicked Windows XP’s Start menu and selected ALL PROGRAMS / ACCESSORIES / ACCESSIBILITY / MAGNIFIER.)


LJ Kutten: ‘I have been buying a lot of used books on Amazon. I try to buy them cheap. I find a book I might like and put it on my wish list. I periodically check my wish list and if the price is right, I buy it. It recently dawned on my that I could buy a used hardback a lot cheaper than a new paperback. Tonight the book I ordered was $1.30 in hardback (like new condition) versus $9.95 in paperback.’


Clare: ‘I was using Amazon to find out how much an old volume from my husband’s mathematics library was worth, to figure out whether to sell it on Abebooks or donate it to the town library. Amazon came back with a price and also a button to push if you had a copy you wanted to sell. I pushed THAT button and inserted a price and a comment on the condition, and Amazon automatically recorded the whole thing, signed me up as a seller, and listed the book as available.’

☞ So has it sold? At what price? Worth the shipping cost and hassle?

Clare again: ‘My husband’s a long-retired mathematician and I am finally prevailing on him to consider deaccessioning some of his library holdings. This particular thing was a Gibbs lecture from 1896 or so, which is apparently somewhat rare. I searched on Abe and alibris and found one copy, for $1400. I then went to Amazon and searched again. There were no copies, but the little button said ‘I own one I want to sell’ so I clicked on it and announced that a copy was for sale for $1000. No, it hasn’t sold yet. But the simplicity of listing it (not having to look on the back of the title page to copy down all the dreary notations) was unequalled. I do a fair amount of shipping of various things and in general it’s gotten much easier over the last couple of years. The post office sells boxes and bags, etc. and is more accommodating about re-used boxes.’


Clare again: ‘I’m always amazed at how easy it is to now do things over the net. I am currently awaiting the paper proofs of a book I’ve edited (from a friend’s memoirs). I’ve researched the business of ‘self-publishing’ fairly extensively in the process of working on it, and oh, my, is it complicated! And the costs are all over the map. Have you seen Fantastic for very short-run, on-demand printing, but expensive for printing, say, 500 copies.’

☞ If I’m reading their site right, you can print a single copy of a hardcover book – with dust jacket, no less – for $15 plus 2 cents a page: $20 or so for a 256-page book. Yowza! Start writing!


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