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“Perfumes: The Guide” by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez via [Allure and Luckyscent]

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Perfumes - The Guide  by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez

Perfumes – The Guide
by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez

Perfumes: The Guide (Hardcover)Perfumes: The Guide (Hardcover) by Luca Turin (Author) Tania Sanchez (Author)
Buy used from: $23.00

The Scoop
Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are experts in the world of scent. Turin, a renowned scientist, and Sanchez, a longtime perfume critic, have spent years sniffing the world’s most elegant and beautiful–as well as some truly terrible–perfumes. In Perfumes: The Guide, they combine their talents and experience to review more than twelve hundred fragrances, separating the divine from the good from the monumentally awful. Through witty, irreverent, and illuminating prose, the reviews in Perfumes not only provide consumers with an essential guide to shopping for fragrance, but also make for a unique reading experience.
Perfumes features introductions to women’s and men’s fragrances and an informative “”frequently asked questions”” section including: 

  • What is the difference between eau de toilette and perfume?
  • How long can I keep perfume before it goes bad?
  • What’s better: splash bottles or spray atomizers?
  • What are perfumes made of?
  • Should I change my fragrance each season?

Perfumes: The Guide is an authoritative, one-of-a-kind book that will do for fragrance what Robert Parker’s books have done for wine. Beautifully designed and elegantly illustrated, this book will be the perfect gift for collectors and anyone who’s ever had an interest in the fascinating subject of perfume.

 

Adore or odour?

THE BEST…

Mitsouko
L’Heure Bleue
Chanel No 5
Joy
Shalimar
Angel
Diorella
Chanel Pour Monsieur
Timbuktu
Knize Ten

AND THE WORST…

Creed’s Love in White
Chanel Gardenia
Michael Kors

The Classics

Some of these five-star landmarks definitively changed the history of perfume, and some stand the test of time because they continue to smell fantastic, decade after decade.

By Tania Sanchez

Chanel No. 5 (1921) and No. 5 Eau de Toilette (1924) Two monuments of perfect structure and texture.

Mitsouko by Guerlain (1919) Dark, rich, and exquisitely beautiful.

Habit Rouge by Guerlain (1965) A soft and rasping scent, like stubble on a handsome cheek.

L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain (1912) Guerlain at its best; a wearable praline.

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent (1977) The most distinctive spicy oriental ever.

Pleasures by Estée Lauder (1995) This antidote to the loud fragrances of the 1980s; smells fresh out of the bath.

Shalimar by Guerlain (1925) The perfect little black cocktail dress, translated into fragrance.

Angel by Thierry Mugler (1992) A huge, brassy belly laugh of a scent.

Vol de Nuit by Guerlain (1933) This is what quality smells like.

White Linen by Estée Lauder (1978) The smell of snow in sunshine.

Five-Star Scents

We rank fragrances, giving five stars to masterpieces, four stars to excellent fragrances, three stars to solid, yet uninspiring ones, two stars to disappointing scents, and one star to fragrances so vile they insult the smeller. And we call them like we smell them. One startled PR assistant asked coauthor Luca Turin, after he requested an actual perfume and not just press releases, “What will your opinion rest on?” He answered, “A triangular appendage in the middle of my face—called the nose.” 

By Lucia Turin and Tania Sanchez

Badgley Mischka
Gorgeous Fruity
The first thing I noticed was a big, breathtaking fruity top note, which I promptly forgot about, since what doesn’t have a big fruity top note these days? The second time, I was floored by the lushness and freshness, reminding me of ripe fruit before everything goes to brandy—peaches, mangoes, lychees, pineapples. Like church bells on Easter morning, this is simple and perfect and sure. It’s like a novel in which the hero discovers that his friend is the most beautiful girl in the room, and only familiarity prevented him from seeing it was time to face the facts: It’s love.

Beyond Paradise by Estée Lauder
Symphonic Floral
What is so impressive about Beyond Paradise’s masterful portrait of a fresh, fictional, ideal tropical flower is that the image holds steady for hours. It takes a lot of work to make something this accomplished appear this easy. Lovers of exotic beach-fantasy florals put out by niche firms should pick up the weird sci-fi rainbow nipple bottle at the Lauder counter and give it an honest try.

Calyx by Prescriptives
Guava Rose
Calyx maintains a perfect balance between clean crispness and rosy sweetness without ever falling into either camp completely. For a scent of the ’80s—1986, to be exact—Calyx also manages to smell incredibly fresh and modern. This scent helped inspire the next generation of fruity, clean florals, although none have really improved on it. It’s one of those rare fragrances you could wear your whole life.

Chinatown by Bond N.Y.C. No. 9
Gourmand Chypre
The plucky Bond No. 9 has produced its masterpiece. Chinatown is one of those fragrances that smells immediately, compellingly, and irresistibly great. It’s both oddly familiar and surprising. Some people find it too sweet. To my nose it smells like a corner of a small French grocery in summer, in the exact spot where the smell of floor wax meets that of ripe peaches. A treasure in a beautiful bottle.

Lolita Lempicka by Thierry Mugler
Herbal Angel
With most of the many fragrances inspired by Thierry Mugler Angel, the first thing you think on smelling them is: Hello, Angel. Not this time. Lolita Lempicka keeps the sweet, woody stuff but skips the push-up bra. The fragrance is snappy and smart, the ideal accompaniment for flirtatious banter from prim girls in glasses. It’s also a clever feminine that clever men can wear. I once got on a subway just as a pretty young man stepped off in a cloud of it. Bonus: darling bottle.

Missoni
Kaleidoscopic Floral
I have no idea whether this perfume will still be around in ten years, but I will make sure I have enough of it to last me a lifetime. Missoni is one of the most accomplished fragrances to be created in years. The fragrance alters as it dries on the skin; it’s beautifully modulated, and then it has a luminous, almost minty accord. The subsequent effect is a perfume that feels very much alive, somehow composing itself as it goes along. Most other perfumes are rapidly fading photographs; this one is a movie.

Tommy Girl by Tommy Hilfiger
Tea Floral
No fragrance in recent memory has suffered more from being affordable than Tommy Girl. It’s as if it were deemed less desirable for being promiscuous. Tommy Girl’s origins were explained by its creator Calice Becker, who asked a chemist to sample the air in the Mariage Frères tea store in Paris to figure out what gave it its unique fragrance. To this tea base an exhilarating floral accord, traje de luces, was added to form Tommy Girl. Hilfiger’s public relations team asked Becker for a reason to label the fragrance as typically American. A botany expert was called in, and, to everyone’s surprise, the composition fell neatly into several native American varieties of flowers.

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, copyright ©2008 by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez.




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“Too Good To Be True”: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff by Erin Arvedlund

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Too Good to Be True –
Arvedlund’s In-Depth Look at Madoff

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Too Good
to Be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff
by Erin
Arvedlund

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$7.44
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by Annie Scott
Too
Good to Be True
” is a new book by Erin Arvedlund which chronicles
the catastrophic fraud committed by Bernard Madoff over the last
no-one-knows-how-many years. 

Arvedlund wrote a Barron’s article
back in 2001 called “Don’t
Ask, Don’t Tell
” questioning the magical returns of Madoff’s
so-called “hedge fund,” which is now widely accepted to have been the
largest, most outrageous, most ginormously craptastic,
how-do-I-express-without-cursing Ponzi scheme in history.

“Her
article in Barron’s, based on more than one hundred interviews, could
have prevented a lot of misery, had the SEC followed up,” boasts the
jacket of her new book “Too Good to be True,” which was released August
11.

I didn’t know what to make of the book at first; it seemed to
read somewhat Biblically — a lot of begetting (who Madoff knew, how he
knew them, etc.) and not a lot of action. For the first 100 pages or so
I kept thinking “Arvedlund had better sex this up,” especially
considering the number of other books on Madoff, including the highly
anticipated “Madoff’s
Other Secret: Love, Money, Bernie, and Me
” by his mistress, Sheryl
Weinstein, released August 25.

Well, if money is your porn, you
won’t get through this book without removing an article of clothing.

The
book slowly becomes a whodunit, naming both names and numbers and
ultimately presenting the unsatisfying fact that Madoff got away with
one of the oldest tricks in the book — the same trick relied upon by
everyone from white collar criminals to wedding crashers and underage
drinkers — he pretended nothing was wrong, and so nobody asked him any
questions.

As the story picks up, it becomes the heroic tale of
Harry Markopolos, whom Arvedlund wisely and perhaps correctly dubs an
Everyman; “a straightforward American guy who liked numbers.” This man
practically gift-wrapped red flags and hand-delivered them to the SEC
for a decade preceding Bernard Madoff’s arrest. Reading, I felt a
discouragement with our country’s level of corruption I haven’t felt
since I watched Michael Moore’s damning portrait of war and the oil
industry, “Fahrenheit
9/11
.” The SEC was created during the Great Depression to regulate
our financial industry, but, according to Arvedlund, it’s being run by a
bunch of early-career lawyers who don’t want to step on anyone’s toes
— and who were getting their financial advice from Uncle Bernie
himself.

The book has no mercy on Madoff — there is no point at
which we are expected to believe in him. It simply relays the facts like
an obituary; one which gets juicier and juicier as it exposes the
cyclone of fraud which took place. It was executed in such simple and
easily understandable ways — virtually the whole scheme seems to have
relied upon Madoff’s refusal to upgrade an archaic computer system which
required one to enter stock price data manually. “Entering the data by
hand [Robert] MacMahon noted, meant that the person doing it could put
in whatever they wanted,” writes Arvedlund. As you probably already
know, Bernie found himself in the business of making up numbers. The
book purports that he created monthly statements by going back over the
last month’s market and seeing what he would have had to trade to make
the profit he claimed to have made (which I’m guessing someone else
probably did for him while he was in France, buying his third boat).

The
book recounts the aftermath well; the suicides, the testimonials in
court (left me wanting more), and delicately suggests other individuals
who could be to blame; for example Michael Bienes, who did a lot of
recruiting for Madoff — a pointed final statement in the section about
him says “At the time of this writing, no one has sued Bienes over his
ties to Madoff.”

“Too Good to Be True” will appeal to both the
savvier members of the financial community who knew (or should have
known) better than to trust Madoff, and to the underdogs and
mom-and-pops who were (or might have been) swindled. The lesson is
clear: no one should be so well-respected that they don’t have to answer
questions, and if everyone pretends they understand something they
don’t so as to appear sophisticated, or they accept being kept in the
dark about the means so long as the ends are 10-20+ percent, villains
like Madoff will always be able to take advantage of that pride and
greed — not to say that his victims were guilty of either; it’s the
feeder funds and his recruiters at whom we should all be looking. And,
of course, probably his family and everyone else who worked alongside
his IBM AS/400.

In these economic times, most of us have had a
taste of what it’s like to lose money, and it’s easy to identify with
Madoff’s victims. I found myself choked up at the end of the book — not
because the damages will perhaps never be repaid, not because our
country seems to constantly wager the well-being of its citizens (I’m
speaking of the SEC dot gov’s alleged shameless favoritism), but because
although he was one of the most well-connected, powerful, and
untouchable figures in the world, they got him. It took the collapse of
the financial market, but they finally, finally got him.

Well
done to Arvedlund for telling the story clearly and with more facts than
most of us knew were available. “Too
Good to Be True
” is available from Amazon
for $17.13.


BOOK REVIEW: Smart Girls Marry Money:”How Women Have Been Duped Into The Romantic Dream–And How They’re Paying For It” by Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake via [Marie Claire and ABC.com]

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The Feminist Gold Digger

model carrying a dollar bill purse walking dog wearing a dollar <br/>sign cape

Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the  <br/>Romantic Dream--And How They're Paying For ItSmart
Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the Romantic
Dream–And How They’re Paying For It
by Elizabeth
Ford

Buy new: $7.18 / Used from: $6.38

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Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake — an Emmy-winning news
producer and an M.D., respectively — are no bimbos. And yet, they’ve
written what sounds like a bimbo bible. In a chatty, if bitter, tone, Smart
Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the Romantic Dream —
And How They’re Paying for It
makes the case against marrying for
love. We couldn’t resist a few words with the authors.

Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the <br/>Romantic Dream--And How They're Paying For It

MC:
You’re both accomplished working women, but you’re telling us
we should marry for money. What gives?
FORD:
The juggling
act required to be a successful woman, to be a good mom and to be a
careerist, makes you want to say, “Screw it, I should’ve married money.”

MC: So you’re saying we should quit our careers?
FORD:
You should definitely keep your job. But we haven’t climbed
the ladder as far as we should have. We have to keep that in mind when
looking for a partner, and steer clear of seductive slackers.

MC:
But what about all the gains we’ve made in the workplace?
DRAKE:
You
can always find a poster girl who earns more than a man. But the
average woman earns one-third of what a man earns over the course of her
working life.

MC: Did you two marry for love?
DRAKE:
I did. And I’ve been happily married for 10 years.
FORD:
I married the love of my life when I was 26 years old. Now I’m
a single mom, and he’s engaged to a girl 15 years younger than me.

MC:
Oy, that sounds tricky.
FORD:
I was with my husband for 13
years, and then he wasn’t in love with me anymore. The bitterness is
there.

MC: Thus the book’s premise?
FORD:
It’s
meant to be funny. It’s meant to be catty. It’s meant to be a good
read. The title gets people’s attention. You picked it up, didn’t you?

Smart Women Marry Rich, Says New Book

Why Do Women Choose ‘Big Blue Eyes’ Over ‘Big Green Bank
Account?’

By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES

June 5, 2009—

Heart-stopping, knee-weakening, “when-is-he-going-to-call” kind of
love wanes in about 18 to 24 months, but the kind that comes in dollars
and cents lasts a lifetime.

At least according to a new book, “Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women
Have Been Duped into the Romantic Dream — and How They’re Paying for
It.”

The book confirms what mothers have been telling their daughters for
generations: “Girls are told at their mother’s knee: “It’s just as easy
to love a rich man as a poor man.” Or, “No Romance without Finance.”
And, “Marry the one you can live with, not the one you can’t live
without.”

Many women would agree that one good man in the boardroom is better
than two in the bedroom.

Such was the case with Ginger Borgella, a 29-year-old Maryland
therapist who writes the blog, “Girls
Just Want To Have Funds
.”

“How a man treats his finances — if he is not willing to honor his
debts and obligations — is an indicator of how he will treat you in the
marriage,” she told ABCNews.com.

“I want a man who is financially savvy,” said Borgella, who asked to
see her prospective husband’s credit report.

That report wasn’t perfect, but the couple made a mutual plan to
establish financial security and have now been married since 2006 and
own their own house.

“I don’t want to be broke,” said Borgella. “I’m not Paris Hilton, but
I lead a comfortable life.”

“Smart Girls Marry Money” is a satirical self-help guide is written
by two middle-aged professionals scarred by their first marriages.

They aim their advice squarely at nubile girls who have falsely
equated romantic love with happiness.

Why are girls are encouraged to court the man with the “big blue
eyes” rather than the one with the “big green bankroll?” they ask.

Both authors — Los Angeles mothers Daniela Drake and Elizabeth Ford
— say they “married for love, but reaped the consequences.”

Drake is a primary care doctor with an MBA and Ford (divorced from
the son of actor Harrison Ford) is an Emmy-winning television producer.

Ford admits the book’s title is “meant to get your attention.”

“It’s not just about how to marry a rich guy,” she told ABCNews.com.
But women are way too obsessed with the “love drug.”

The question women should ask about the fiance is, “Does he have a
financial plan and how does that match up with your values?”

Romantic love, they say, is never a valid reason to get married.

“Both men and women think it is the end-all, be-all of happiness,”
said Ford. “Every movie ends with the wedding scene and a pregnant girl
at the end and they live happily ever after.”

Science seems to back this theory. MRI scans now reveal a
“complicated biological cocktail of hormones” that light up in the brain
when people are in love, according to the book. And, Ford notes, the
activity is in “the most primitive, reptilian” part of the brain.

Knowing that that loving feeling doesn’t last and that women have a
“sell-by date,” women should pursue the “gold digging imperative” —
finding a man while they still have their youth and looks.

“I am just old fashioned enough to find [marrying for money]
repellant,” said Stephanie Coontz, professor of history and family
studies at Evergreen State College in Washington.

Still, she notes that romantic love is a modern notion.

According to her 2005 book, “Marriage, A History: From Obedience to
Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage,” it began in the Victorian
era.

“There is nothing new about this idea,” Coontz told ABCNews.com.
“Women have been marrying for mercenary reasons for most of history.
They had to, because they couldn’t support themselves.”

She said that as late as 1967, women routinely considered marrying a
man they didn’t love “if he met the financial criteria.”

For thousands of years, marriage was based on political and economic
convenience for both men and women.

“Until the 18th century the biggest infusion of cash until marriage
was death and an inheritance,” said Coontz. Next was the dowry.

“Families were interested in the connections to in-laws to improve
their financial interests,” she said.

But as the middle class emerged and men could support themselves
rather than depend upon an inheritance, they became “the most
exuberantly romantic,” she said.

“Women who were totally dependent and legally subordinate said things
in their diaries like, “Caution: My heart inclines to Harry, but I
can’t take that risk.”

By the mid 20th century, modern attitudes gave men and
women equality to choose a mate, but not economic equality.

Men expect power because they make more money and women “trade
services for deference,” Coontz said. “This has created an unstable
situation.”

The best hope for a stable and satisfying marriage is one where both
husband and wife share the bread-winning, child care and housework,
according to Coontz.

“Women mostly say it is less important to have a man earn a lot of
money than a man who can communicate and share his feelings,” she said.
“And that doesn’t mean they want to marry a deadbeat.”

The book’s authors agree that economic equality is important.

They argue that women can’t earn as much as men, especially after
having children, and if they do marry well, and then split, they are
shortchanged by divorce, both professionally and financially.

The book cites research by Professor Stephen Jenkins, director of the
Institute for Social and Economic Research, who found that five years
after divorce, men were 25 percent richer, whereas women still had less
money than they did pre-split; and that 31 percent of mothers received
no support no payment for children.

Women face the pressure to do it all — raise children, earn a decent
salary and be a hot sexpot in bed.

And, the authors note from personal experience that 50 percent of all
marriages are doomed to failure.

“If falling in love is a valid reason to get married, then falling
out of love is a reason for divorce,” said Ford, whose husband left her
two years ago to raise their now 8-year-old son, motivating her to write
the book.

Ford’s enthusiasm for the topic was also fueled by a younger sister
who graduated from college “looking for love” and ended up with “slacker
guys who don’t pay the rent.”

Her co-author, Drake, left her husband, because he had no concern for
the couple’s finances. She is now remarried with two children.

A good marriage, they both say, is an economic partnership. And
research shows that if a couple stays together long enough, the
passionate love will reignite.

Such was case with one blogger on the Web site Urban Baby who said
her best friend had always dated “rocker guys” but, instead, married a
Jewish MBA consultant.

“She admits that he is not as sexy, interesting or thrilling as her
past boys,” she wrote. “But he is understanding and kind and super
intelligent. I ‘m sure that loft in Tribeca didn’t hurt either.”


“BUY*OLOGY: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy” by Martin Lindstrom via [USA Today]

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‘Buyology’ offers a peek inside
buyers’ heads

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We BuyBuyology:
Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
by Martin
Lindstrom

Buy new: $10.20 / Used from:
$9.10
Usually ships in 24 hours

By Seth Brown, Special for USA
TODAY

Picture a mad scientist in his
laboratory, cackling with glee as he tries to unlock the secrets of the
human mind. Now, consider the unsettling possibility that the scientist
may be on to something.

Marketing expert Martin Lindstrom is that
scientist, caught up in the excitement of research in his new book, Buyology.
Lindstrom first became aware of neurological marketing research
through a Forbes magazine article, “In Search of the Buy
Button.”

The article discussed a lab in England, where a
neuroscientist teamed with a market researcher to scan the brainwaves of
subjects watching commercials. Lindstrom was thrilled that unbiased
access to the consumer brain was finally available.

A difficulty of standard marketing research,
Lindstrom says, is that people will not — or cannot — provide accurate
information about their mental states.

When asked why they prefer a brand of soft drink,
or how a warning label affects them, most people cannot give a straight
answer. This, Lindstrom says, is the great advantage of brain waves.

“They don’t waver, hold back, equivocate, cave in
to peer pressure, conceal their vanity, or say what they think the
person across the table wants to hear. … Neuroimaging could uncover
truths that a half-century of market research, focus groups and opinion
polling couldn’t come close to accomplishing.”

Two technologies were used in Lindstrom’s
studies: SST (Steady State Topography) and fMRI (functional Magnetic
Resonance Imaging). In a series of tests spanning three years and more
than 2,000 subjects, he concluded:

  • Warning labels on cigarettes don’t work. They
    stimulate activity in the part of a smoker’s brain linked to cravings.
  • Traditional advertisements no longer create lasting
    impressions.
    By age 66, most people with a TV will have seen
    nearly 2 million commercials. That makes it hard for an ad to increase a
    viewer’s memory of a brand, despite the millions spent.
  • Product placement only works when fully integrated. It
    works when Coke-bottle-shaped furniture is part of the set design on American
    Idol
    , for example, or when Reese’s Pieces candy was used for bait
    in the movie E.T. However, when a product is not integrated,
    such as FedEx packages appearing in the background of Casino Royale,
    there is no measurable effect with regard to viewer recollection of
    brand.
  • Sex sells itself. Viewers of sexually suggestive
    ads did pay attention, but more to the sex than the ad. In one study,
    fewer than 1-in-10 men who saw a sexually suggestive ad could recall the
    product, while twice as many remembered the product in non-sexually
    suggestive ads.
  • Successful branding functions like religion. Simple
    rituals, such as putting a lime wedge in a Corona or slowly pouring a
    Guinness, give the brand added cachet. Brands attract zealous followers —
    “I’m a Mac; I’m a PC.” Scans using fMRI technology showed that some
    viewers had the same neurological response to strong brands that they
    did to religious iconography.
  • Subliminal advertising can be highly effective. When
    watching an advertisement, viewers automatically raise their guard
    against its message. With subliminal advertisements, viewers’ guards are
    down, so their responses are more direct.
  • Marketing isn’t restricted to the visual. Many
    companies use smells to sell products. Fast-food restaurants and
    supermarket bakeries use artificial fresh-cooked food smells. Sounds
    also effect buying. A study showed shoppers purchased French or German
    wine depending on which nationality’s music was playing on store
    speakers.

Lindstrom’s research should be of interest to any
company launching a new product or brand. “Eight out of 10 products
launched in the United States are destined to fail,” Lindstrom writes.
“Roughly 21,000 new brands are introduced worldwide per year, yet
history tells us that more than 90% of them are gone from the shelf a
year later.”

It’s likely that the information in this book
will be used in future marketing campaigns, so even if you aren’t in the
marketing business, it’s a worthwhile read as a measure of
self-awareness and self-defense.

Seth Brown is a freelance writer and the
author of Rhode Island Curiosities. His website is
http://www.RisingPun.com


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BOOK REVIEW: The Measure of America: American Human Development Report, 2008-2009 via [Columbia University Press]

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(Summary) The Measure Of
America: American Human Development Report, 2008-2009

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The
Measure of America: American Human Development Report, 2008-2009 (A
Columbia / SSRC Book)

Buy new: $75.00 / Used from:
$62.84
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days

by Sarah Burd-Sharps

“The Measure of America” is the first-ever human development report
for a wealthy, developed nation. It introduces the American Human
Development Index, which provides a single measure of well-being for all
Americans, disaggregated by state and congressional district, as well
as by gender, race, and ethnicity. The Index rankings of the 50 states
and 436 congressional districts reveal huge disparities in the health,
education, and living standards of different groups. Clear, precise,
objective, and authoritative, this report will become the basis for all
serious discussions concerning the realization of a fair, just, and
globally competitive American society.

Policymakers and the media are continuing to react and respond to the
publication of The
Measure of America: American Human Development Report, 2008-2009
:

* Kristen Lewis, one of the book’s co-authors, was
recently invited by Charles E. Schumer to testify before the Joint
Economic Committee for a hearing entitled “How
Much More Can American Families Be Squeezed By Stagnant Wages,
Skyrocketing Household Costs , And Falling Home Prices”.

Lewis discussed the report’s findings and highlighted particularly
worrisome areas of vulnerability for different groups of Americans in
today’s faltering economy. The Web page includes Lewis’s statement to
the committee and a video of the hearing.

* NPR’s Day
to Day
recently had a fascinating program that focused on The
Measure of America
and interviewed residents of both Fresno County,
which the report ranks as the least economically developed district in
the country, and New York City’s Upper East Side, considered the most
developed.

In addition to listening
to the program
, you can also read about it and follow a discussion
on the NPR Blog, Daydreaming:
Taking Stock of the California Dream
.

* In the Falls
Church News-Press
, Congressman Jim Moran of
Virginia’s 8th Congressional District noted that the district he
represents was ranked the 2nd best district in the nation in terms of
its human development index. However, he also pointed to the many
disparities between the haves and have-nots that the report lays bare.
Moran concludes:

This report is yet another wake-up call to America that our domestic
strengths: ensuring everyone has access to a good education, is afforded
quality healthcare and can obtain a job that is both meaningful and
provides a decent standard of living are receding. Closing the gaps
brought to life in this report should be a national priority. The
billions we are sending overseas each day to Iraq for war and to oil
producing nations for our energy would go a long way towards bringing
new job, health and educational opportunities to the long-neglected
regions of our country.




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Measha Brueggergosman a Celestial Opera DIVA with no “Ego”. via [afrobella]

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I absolutely HEART this big stunning goddess with the big spell
bounding voice, with an even bigger spectacular Afro! This Canadian
prima donna hails from the Maratimes. Marsha Brueggergosman has sung in
almost all of the major cities over the globe. She’s opened the seasons
of the Quebec Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, and the San Francisco
Symphony, just to name a few. She is a soprano who is a free-lance
soloist ie. “hired gun” brought in to work with the world’s best
orchestras. Despite the fact that her glorious “once-of-a-lifetime” job
requires her to travel to the world’s greatest of cities and to perform
in the most luxe of venues in front of the highest echolen of classical
arts patrons; Measha never gives off the impression of being jaded. In
fact, her one low brow indulgence is reality TV, while my ONE highbrow
indulgence is opera!Lol. I strongly suggest that you check out Measha Brueggergosman and
find out when she will be performing in your city.

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Night & Dreams Night
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Shoptimism by Lee Eisenberg via [WSJ]

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The Bonhomie Of Buying

Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter  WhatShoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What by Lee Eisenberg
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Our shopping habits may be easily manipulated, but they are not as irrational as critics like to believe.

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As the economy tanked last year, pundits claimed that we were entering a new age of frugality. We would stop shopping and learn to “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,” like our grandparents who lived through the Depression.

There was just one problem with this prediction: Given how much money is riding on the consumer economy, legions of people now spend their lives figuring out how to make the buying experience more alluring than the days of pulling Gold Medal Flour down from the shelves of the general store. As an IBM report once noted: “We probably know as much about the behavior of the human shopper in its natural habitat, the mall, the grocery, or the department store, as we do about the activities of any species of animal in the wild.” Now former Esquire editor Lee Eisenberg adds his own take, examining why modern Americans find shopping so irresistible.

Mr. Eisenberg’s previous book, “The Number,” was magnificently hyped as offering a new way of looking at retirement; “Shoptimism” aims to offer a similarly novel view on the big idea of buying and selling. There is a coincidental affinity between the subjects: One of the reasons we have such trouble saving for retirement is that merchandisers are so good at getting us to part with our money in the here and now. As for his credentials, Mr. Eisenberg tells us that he was once a senior executive at Lands’ End, in addition to being “a breadwinner, which means I take a proprietary and sometimes overbearing interest in how my wife and kids choose to disburse what hard-earned money I bring to the party.”

Mr. Eisenberg approaches consumer culture more as an anthropologist than as what he calls a Buy Scold (berating Americans for spending money on things they neither want nor need). He turns up some interesting tidbits. Black Friday shoppers, just after Thanksgiving, say that they’re battling the crowds on behalf of themselves rather than shopping for loved ones. November is usually the second biggest month for buying things, after December, “but not every year—global warming,” Mr. Eisenberg says, “can play havoc with sales of sweaters and winter outerwear.” The brains of tight-fisted folks react to high prices in the same way they do to physical pain. We absorb advertising messages so well that—in a world saturated with PC Guy vs. Mac Dude ads—we actually perform better on creativity tests after being cued by references to Apple products. At the same time, brands are losing their vice grip as shoppers figure out that generic items are often made in the same factories as branded ones and as retailers like Whole Foods manage to turn their private labels into desirable goods.

Much of this information has been written about before—Paco Underhill, the author of “Why We Buy” (who makes an appearance in “Shoptimism”), has explored shopping habits for some time now, and Martin Lindstrom‘s “Buyology” tackled the neuroscience of shopping last year. But it’s entertaining to have it compiled in one big box store of a book, packaged in Mr. Eisenberg’s genial prose.

After a while, though, his endless taxonomies of shoppers (e.g., Bring-Back Queens and Friends of Faux, with a soft spot for designer knock-offs) get as tedious as finding the right tie from a sales rack at Macy’s. And Mr. Eisenberg misses opportunities to create a more compelling narrative. As part of writing “Shoptimism,” he took a job working at a Target store during the holiday season, but he offers maddeningly few details about the day-to-day realities of the experience, aside from the fact that he learned not to touch the wheelchairs of disabled customers. By contrast, we hear more than we need to about his field trip to help his wife buy a little black dress. This escapade is supposed to show the shopping experience from initial idea to postgame wrap-up, but it seems to take the same hour and 45 minutes to read that Mr. Eisenberg reports he spent in the store.

Despite such meandering, Mr. Eisenberg does eventually stumble onto the overarching argument inherent in his title: Shopping, in modern America, is fundamentally an optimistic activity. While our shopping habits are easily manipulated, they are not quite as irrational as critics like to believe. For most of us shopping, when done right, really does make us feel better. We buy because it “confers instant membership in a community.” We buy “to express ourselves.” Most important, we buy because “buying is fun, sociable, and diverting, an escape from boring, predictable existence.” If a sweater or an iPod can do that, and Mr. Eisenberg is convincing that it can, then no wonder, recession or not, it’s hard to keep Americans out of the stores.

Ms. Vanderkam is a writer in New York.


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