Bill O’Reilly: Bill’s Column – The Truth About Grit

On April 7, 1970, John Wayne received the Academy Award for Best Actor after wowing them in the movie True Grit. For Wayne, it was really a lifetime achievement recognition, as he beat out the likes of Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, all considered “serious” actors, unlike the personality-driven performances Wayne specialized in.

Wayne’s portrayal of the hard-drinking U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn was a classic. The actor totally blew away his costars Kim Darby and Glenn Campbell (yes, that Glenn Campbell). In one scene, the Duke is riding the range between Ms. Darby and Mr. Campbell, and they look like Lilliputians to Wayne’s Gulliver. Whatever else you might think about John Wayne, he dominated the screen whenever he appeared on it.

Forty years later, there is a remake of True Grit starring Jeff Bridges as Cogburn. Bridges is a serious actor and plays the part well. But he can’t touch Wayne. By the way, another serious actor, Matt Damon, plays the Campbell part, and Bridges blows him away. Some advice for the younger leading man: Stay away from the old pros; they know how to move the audience in ways you don’t.

The True Grit comparison also reflects the times the films were released. Back in 1969, the United States was in turmoil over Vietnam, and the rise of the Woodstock generation. Revered traditions were breaking down fast, confusing and angering many Americans. John Wayne was a throwback to better times, a man respected by traditional folks. And it was Wayne they were watching on the screen, not Rooster Cogburn. It was Wayne who protected the young girl out to avenge her father and it was Wayne who imposed justice on the brutal bad guys. The strong-minded actor brought audiences comfort amidst chaos both on the screen and in real life.

Today we are a country once again experiencing turbulent times. But Jeff Bridges offers no antidote to that; in fact, his portrayal disturbs rather than comforts. Bridges plays the flawed Marshall well, and might very well be nominated as Wayne was, but he revels in Cogburn’s neurosis while the Duke used it as a prop. John Wayne was accessible to the audience as basically a good guy. Jeff Bridges puts the troubled character he plays right in your face.

And that’s the difference in America over these forty years. We once were a country with boundaries and rules of behavior. Now many of those boundaries are gone. We expect explicit violence and personal angst. Many of us relish seeing that. In 1969, when True Grit played in the theatres, Americans were looking for heroes like John Wayne to show them nobility. Today there are far fewer heroes and we don’t expect much nobility, even in the movies.

I liked both True Grits. But for me, it was Wayne who still deserves most of the cheers. The man was larger than life, a symbol of the insurmountable American spirit. Boy, do we need that today.

Interesting point of view.

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Post office marks new first-class stamps ‘forever’ – Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – Postal patron Sean Swilling is tired of the inconvenience that comes with every change in the price of mailing a letter. That makes him just the type of customer the U.S. Postal Service wants to please with a policy designating all new first-class stamps as “forever.”

Beginning in January, all new stamps good for 1 ounce of domestic first-class mail will forgo a printed denomination and be acceptable for the typical letter regardless of the current postal rate.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Swilling, a research analyst for commercial property, said Tuesday during a mail run at a downtown Washington post office. “For me, a guy who uses snail mail regularly, it’s a hassle to get 1- or 2-cent stamps. Streamline things — that would be perfect.”

The move is designed to help customers cope with postage increases, a Postal Service official told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The official requested anonymity to discuss a policy that hasn’t been announced formally.

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe plans to announce the new policy Jan. 14, the official said.

Makes sense.

Liberal Give ‘Til It Hurts (You) – by Ann Coulter – HUMAN EVENTS

Liberals never tire of discussing their own generosity, particularly when demanding that the government take your money by force to fund shiftless government employees overseeing counterproductive government programs.

They seem to have replaced “God” with “Government” in scriptural phrases such as “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

This week, we’ll take a peek at the charitable giving of these champions of the poor.

In 2009, the Obamas gave 5.9 percent of their income to charity, about the same as they gave in 2006 and 2007. In the eight years before he became president, Obama gave an average of 3.5 percent of his income to charity, upping that to 6.5 percent in 2008.

The Obamas’ charitable giving is equally divided between “hope” and “change.”

George W. Bush gave away more than 10 percent of his income each year he was president, as he did before becoming president.

Thus, in 2005, Obama gave about the same dollar amount to charity as President George Bush did, on an income of $1.7 million — more than twice as much as President Bush’s $735,180. Again in 2006, Bush gave more to charity than Obama on an income one-third smaller than Obama’s.

In the decade before Joe Biden became vice president, the Bidens gave a total — all 10 years combined — of $3,690 to charity, or 0.2 percent of their income. They gave in a decade what most Americans in their tax bracket give in an average year, or about one row of hair plugs.

Of course, even in Biden’s stingiest years, he gave more to charity than Sen. John Kerry did in 1995, which was a big fat goose egg. Kerry did, however, spend half a million dollars on a 17th-century Dutch seascape painting that year, as Peter Schweizer reports in his 2008 book, “Makers and Takers.”

To be fair, 1995 was an off-year for Kerry’s charitable giving. The year before, he gave $2,039 to charity, and the year before that a staggering $175.

He also dropped a $5 bill in the Salvation Army pail and almost didn’t ask for change.

In 1998, Al Gore gave $353 to charity — about a day’s take for a lemonade stand in his neighborhood. That was 10 percent of the national average for charitable giving by people in the $100,000-$200,000 income bracket. Gore was at the very top of that bracket, with an income of $197,729.

When Sen. Ted Kennedy released his tax returns to run for president in the ’70s, they showed that Kennedy gave a bare 1 percent of his income to charity — or, as Schweizer says, “about as much as Kennedy claimed as a write-off on his 50-foot sailing sloop Curragh.” (Cash tips to bartenders and cocktail waitresses are not considered charitable donations.)

The Democratic base gives to charity as their betters do. At the same income, a single mother on welfare is seven times less likely to give to charity than a working poor family that attends religious services.

In 2006 and 2007, John McCain, who files separately from his rich wife, gave 27.3 percent and 28.6 percent of his income to charity.

In 2005, Vice President Cheney gave 77 percent of his income to charity. He also shot a lawyer in the face, which I think should count for something.

In a single year, Schweizer reports, Rush Limbaugh “gave $109,716 to ‘various individuals in need of assistance mainly due to family illnesses,’ $52,898 to ‘children’s case management organizations,’ including ‘various programs to benefit families in need,’ $35,100 for ‘Alzheimer’s community care — day care for families in need,’ and $40,951 for air conditioning units and heaters delivered to troops in Iraq.”

(Rush also once gave $50 to Maxine Waters after mistaking her for a homeless person.)

The only way to pry a liberal from his money is to hold tickertape parades for him, allowing him to boast about his charity in magazines and on TV.

Isn’t that what Jesus instructed in the Sermon on the Mount?

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do … But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:2-4)

In my Bible, that passage is illustrated with a photo of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

At least the hypocrites in the Bible, Redmond, Wash., and Omaha, Neb., who incessantly brag about their charity actually do pony up the money.

Elected Democrats crow about how much they love the poor by demanding overburdened taxpayers fund government redistribution schemes, but can never seem to open their own wallets.

The only evidence we have that Democrats love the poor is that they consistently back policies that will create more of them.

No surprise.

Fiat’s 500 C Convertible Car – WSJ. Magazine – WSJ

Photograph by Ruy Teixeira

Back in pre–auto bailout 2008, in the darkest of these automotive times, rumors started that European carmaker Fiat Group was toying with the idea of saving beleaguered Chrysler. Some may have thought, “Yes! The Dodge minivan will live on!” (the marriage went through, and it does), but most auto cognoscenti asked, “When will I be able to drive a Cinquecento?” And that time is now. Almost.

The hardtop version of the Fiat 500, the spunky, wildly successful update of the small car that will have Mini/Honda Fit/Smart car owners looking up trade-in values, comes stateside this month. But to experience what midcentury Italians actually fell in love with, you must wait.

The car debuted in 1957 as a convertible, and we’ll get ours, the one you see here, next summer. Back in the day, the 500 C was a symbol of Italian postwar ingenuity. Today, it’s the perfect representation of a different kind of motoring good life in America. One that’s not about SUVs. Or hybrids. Or sports cars. Or hybrid sports cars. It’s about being small and economical while also looking like you’re having the time of your life.

Cool.

Digits – WSJ – ‘Merry Christmas’ vs. ‘Happy Holidays’ — a Look at the Numbers By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries

You might not know it, but the phrase “Merry Christmas” is getting more popular, and it completely dwarfs the use of “Happy Holidays” — at least by one measure.

Your Digits blogger has been playing with Google’s Books Ngram Viewer, a tool released last week that lets you search the tech giant’s database of words from more than 5 million books. According to these books, the phrase “Merry Christmas” is a far more important part of our literary culture than “Happy Holidays.” By a large margin. We’re talking 17-to-1, here.

And authors have been writing “Merry Christmas” more of late. In 2008, the latest year for which Google has data — and coincidentally the year in which the Journal’s opinion writers proclaimed that Christmas had lost the “war on Christmas” — the phrase was used more than ever.

Yahooooooo!!

Digits – WSJ – Apple Sued Over Mobile App Privacy By Yukari Iwatani Kane

Apple and four app developers have been hit with a lawsuit that alleges violations of computer fraud and privacy laws by allowing ad networks to access users’ personal information.

Zuma Press

The suit was filed on Thursday by the law firm KamberLaw on behalf of Jonathan Lalo, a Los Angeles County resident, in federal court in San Jose, California. It seeks class-action status.

The suit was filed less than a week after the Wall Street Journal published an article raising privacy concerns over the transmission of personal information based on a study of 101 mobile apps on Apple’s iPhone and phones that run Google’s Android operating system. The complaint, which sites the Journal investigation, names app developers Pandora, Dictionary.com, The Weather Channel and Backflip Studios, the maker of the Paper Toss app, as well as Apple

???

SEO Ain’t Enough…The 5 Reason Visitors Bail on Your Site

Unless you’ve never read my blog or seen one of my webinars, you’ve already heard me preach that improving your rank in Google search results is the best way to build traffic and generate leads for your online business.

However true this is, the time and money you spend attracting people to your site won’t be worth a handful of common keywords if your landing page practically forces them to click away.

Buyers in competitive markets understand the options they have, so your site needs to make its case in minutes or seconds.  Making the prospect spend that time trying to figure out what you do or how to stop an assault on his senses directly affects your conversion to sales and discourages visitors from exploring resources on your site.

From overly technical language to incoherent design, searchers report a variety of reasons for clicking away. Don’t miss an opportunity to get bookmarked today or to have your page sent by visitor who likes what she sees.  Instead, use a casual visit to establish your credibility because today’s lurkers may become tomorrow’s sales.

The 5 Reason Visitors Bail on Your Site

1. Your Landing Page Makes a Secret of What You Do

Some internet marketers get so focused on educating visitors that the services your online business provides get lost in the clutter.  Ads that make it impossible to tell what product is being promoted may work for selling perfume, but your site shouldn’t make a secret of your product or service, no matter how exclusive your client list.  Don’t make your readers work to find a list of services to learn if your online business offers anything they need.

2. You Offer the Same Information as the Number Nine Ranked Site

Believe it or not, some searchers actually skip the top results because they often present the same information in slightly different forms.  If your strategy involves educating readers, you’ll need to tell them something they don’t already know.

Incorporating data from an independent study that supports your product’s use or an article on new developments in your field builds your credibility and shows you’re keeping up with changes in your service area and industry.

3. You Add Rather Than Evaluate or Group Resources

How often you introduce new resources to your page will depend on the focus of your online business.  Although new links and resources are essential if you want return visits or comments on your site, racking up novel offerings without assessing their value or integrating them with your original design leads to a confusing and disorganized page that will make your visitors click away.

Group new resources in a logical way in tabs or drop-down menus so that visitors and loyal followers of your site can find and use the resources you introduce.

4. Your Language Use Reflects on Your Online Business

Bricks and mortar operations can communicate with customers in a store, but you only have the written word.  Visitors to your site will pick up on spelling errors, dead links and unnecessarily technical language.

While your language use and housekeeping may leave readers wondering if you take any more care with the services you provide, less obvious issues in the copy on your site can drive new readers to click away.

Visitors should be able to glide across your page without having to stop to read the writer’s mind.

5. Primary Colors Are for Primary School

Blinking ads and animations might be perfect for a children’s site, but they don’t always work for promoting financial services.  Leave the moving ads and banners that block text to competitors who don’t mind looking desperate.  Unless your online business has something to do with distracting people when they read, don’t start a Las Vegas light show on your site.

Top ranked sites garner traffic but don’t necessarily convert it to sales, or even build their businesses over time.  Today’s top ten results may fall to page four without the revenue to purchase competitive keywords.  Making the best impression on visitors to your site is as important as getting them there.  You can build your online business one click at a time as long as those clicks are moving in the right direction.

Good advice.