The first thing to say this morning is thank you, to the creators, cast, and crew of ‘The West Wing.’ You did great. A lot of us watched the final episode last night and will really miss this alternate reality. The next thing – and I keep meaning to ask this but always forget: Will someone please tell me how bananas can be so cheap? Even leaving aside the pitiful wages I fear the growers pay, how can anything that big and heavy arrive in New York, miles from the nearest banana tree, at four for a dollar?

PRICE REDUCTION

Well look at this. Fidelity has slashed the annual expense charge on its Charitable Gift Fund. Fidelity pioneered these funds – Vanguard, Schwab and others have them, too – through which people of semi-modest means can have, in effect, their own family foundations. As I’ve written many times, they’re terrific. They simplify charitable giving with virtually no hassle or expense. Anyone who might be able to fund such an account with $10,000 or more in cash or appreciated securities should take a look. Beginning July 1, Fidelity is cutting its annual administration fee on these accounts from 1% (‘100 basis points’) to six-tenths of one percent (’60 basis points’) – and even further, to as low as 15 basis points, for amounts above $500,000 and up. So now, in addition to being the pioneer, its fees are competitive.

MY GOD, SHE’S SMARTER ALREADY

Lorraine Baldwin: ‘I started working with PositScience yesterday and it is really fun. The graphics are phenomenal.’

VOTING MACHINES

J.R.: ‘It pains me to fan your fire, but, well . . . here.’

☞ The link is to an article called ‘Diebold Voting Systems Critically Flawed’ that quotes a number of computer science professors including my old high school classmate Mike Shamos. Mike was frighteningly smart even at 15. You perhaps know him as one of the world’s leading authorities on billiards. He knows the angles, and unfortunately, it seems there are a lot of ways to cheat at voting.

And if you don’t trust the Black Box Voting web site, how about the New York Times? Mike was quoted there, too. You can read that story here.

But for an even better overview, start (and perhaps finish) with this.

Then, if you share the general alarm and outrage – yet could not overcome your torpor, Friday – click here to join the chorus.

 

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