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July 09, 2010

This columnist is enraged that someone offered him free lemonade

There is no 'free' lemonade :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Terry Savage A small excerpt, but please, please read the whole thing.
We follow the same rules in our family, and one of them is: Always stop to buy lemonade from kids who are entrepreneurial enough to open up a little business. My brother immediately pulled over to the side of the road and asked about the choices. The three young girls -- under the watchful eye of a nanny, sitting on the grass with them -- explained that they had regular lemonade, raspberry lemonade, and small chocolate candy bars. Then my brother asked how much each item cost. "Oh, no," they replied in unison, "they're all free!" I sat in the back seat in shock. Free? My brother questioned them again: "But you have to charge something? What should I pay for a lemonade? I'm really thirsty!" His fiancee smiled and commented, "Isn't that cute. They have the spirit of giving." That really set me off, as my regular readers can imagine. "No!" I exclaimed from the back seat. "That's not the spirit of giving. You can only really give when you give something you own. They're giving away their parents' things -- the lemonade, cups, candy. It's not theirs to give." I pushed the button to roll down the window and stuck my head out to set them straight. "You must charge something for the lemonade," I explained. "That's the whole point of a lemonade stand. You figure out your costs -- how much the lemonade costs, and the cups -- and then you charge a little more than what it costs you, so you can make money. Then you can buy more stuff, and make more lemonade, and sell it and make more money." . . . If that's what America's children think -- that there's a free lunch waiting -- then our country has larger problems ahead. The Declaration of Independence promised "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It didn't promise anything free. Something to think about this July 4th holiday weekend.

Chinese dairies are still poisoning milk

And just like in 2008 the poison is melamine. Melamine is a toxic substance that can help milk--and other foods--pass certain tests for proteins and nutrients. But it makes the foods fail the Will-This-Food-Kill-Me? test. BBC News - China dairy products found tainted with melamine
Chinese food safety officials have seized 64 tonnes of raw dairy materials contaminated with the toxic industrial chemical melamine. The Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, reported that the quality watchdog in Qinghai province took the material from a dairy plant there. Test samples showed the milk powder carried up to 500 times the maximum allowed level of the chemical. The use of melamine in milk in 2008 killed six babies and made 300,000 ill.

How a museum dies

Nobody Asked Me, But. . .The Olympia Needs Our Hel - U.S. Naval Institute
The Olympia was a successful museum vessel, at least according to the numbers. More than 100,000 visitors annually paced the same decks where Dewey uttered the immortal fighting words, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley." In 1996, the museum, flush from a six-year $15 million capital campaign, took control of the Olympia. The future looked bright. But now, 14 years later, the nearly broke museum is giving up the distressed vessel, claiming her maintenance poses an insurmountable fiscal challenge. What has been steadily sinking the ship? Not disinterest. Instead, more modern American vices-greed, corruption, and civic disengagement-may have overpowered this monument to the strong, optimistic America of old. As the Olympia sat deprived of basic maintenance, the Independence Seaport Museum's chief, John S. Carter, enjoyed perks far above compensation provided at peer institutions. In 2004, his salary exceeded $350,000, and he lived rent-free in a $1.7 million executive mansion bought, maintained, remodeled, and even furnished with museum funds, according to news reports. The criminal complaint against Carter claimed that by 2006, the museum had been billed more than $335,000 for work on the director's Massachusetts home. While Carter charged the museum over $280,000 for personal purchases of jewelry, home electronics, designer clothing, and rare artwork, almost $200,000 dollars in maritime artifacts-including a rare print of Dewey-went missing. Rather than support the Olympia, Carter defrauded the museum of more than $900,000 dollars in a scheme to restore and resell-for personal gain-several antique pleasure boats. The museum faltered. Between 1999 and 2005, its endowment went from $48 million to a mere $7.7 million. Admission receipts tumbled by half. And all this time, the final arbiters of fiscal management, the museum board, did nothing. Outside the museum, interested stakeholders did little more. In 2002, after the U.S. Naval Institute's own Naval History magazine published a devastating article detailing the Olympia's dire condition, Carter flatly rejected the story in a letter, claiming the account was "somewhat dated and generally uninformed." This strange rebuttal evoked little response, even though the Olympia's decay, well documented by photographs in the magazine, was undeniable.