Celebrities, Publicity, & Damage Control Techniques

Celebrities prefer specific media outlets when they have to do damage control and reclaim public approval.

“Tonight Show” host Jay Leno announced the birth of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s baby girl Suri when it was phoned into him within two minutes after the birth. Happy and celebratory shows that make people laugh are great for joyous occasions.
Cruise couch-hopped on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show while proclaiming his love for Katie Holmes apparently feeling Oprah was the ideal venue to persuade questioning hearts.

Paris Hilton went on the “Late Show” with David Letterman after she was released from prison in an attempt to prove she’s since matured and moved on.

Michael Richards known as “Kramer” sought help from Rev. Al Sharpton to fix his public image after a series of racial slurs at a comedy club where he was performing.

Oprah revealed her drug use in an interview with Billy Bush, the cousin of President Bush. CIA agent Barry Seal attested to George Jr. and Jeb Bush both using cocaine, explaining why Oprah chose a possibly sympathetic Billy to reveal her own crack use should she need to turn the tables on her show later if Billy got too ugly.

Pamela Anderson announced on her website several wedding ceremonies for her and Kid Rock in an effort to get media attention by way of repetition. “We got married on August 3rd in a Beverly Hills court house before we left to honeymoon in Detroit! But our real wedding was July 29th in France. We’re having the best time. Looking forward to more ceremonies …”

Just over two months later the two divorced and dueled over who filed divorce documents first. Irreconcilable differences were mentioned along with Pam’s miscarriage.

6 Easy Tips for a Beautiful Lawn

A pretty lawn is the result of persistence and hard work, and then some more persistence and almost no hard work at all. How does that work? Here are six easy tips on how to keep your lawn in a beautiful state at all times.

#1 – Evaluate
When you decide to have a nice lawn, the first thing you have to do is see if your own lawn is good enough for that. If you have dead grass, a patched yard, and unbalanced soil, then dig into your pockets and do yourself a favor: hire a gardening service for re-turfing. Some lawns are too old or warn-out to be rejuvenated, or it takes way too long. Better start from scratch and a good gardener will be able to replace the lawn with a functioning one.

#2 – Water
This one should go without saying, so buckle up, make a schedule and make sure you do proper watering. The hot seasons require watering every few days, the colder seasons have rain and snow for that – it’s an easy thing to do, just remember to do it.

#3 – Mow
Mowing the lawn is essential to having healthy grass. If you let it overgrow, you invite weeds and other nasty Greenland inhabitants to get in the way of healthy grass-growing, and then you will get the patchwork again.

#4 – Rake
When the autumn season comes, remember that raking is not just something recommended – you actually should do it. All the leaves that fall, they degrade into the soil, and create an uneven feast for the soil, sometimes ruining the initial look of the lawn. That is why leaves should be raked and then collected.

#5 – Clear
Garden clearance is essential. Whenever you feel that there are too many things that should not actually be on the lawn, you should take a rubbish bag and do your chores right. Weather can be quite cruel on lawns and wind can bring about a lot of unwanted items, so be prepared to clear out whatever does not belong.

#6 – Decorate
Naturally, if you want something to be beautiful, simply make it beautiful. Lawns should not necessarily be naturally pretty. You can bring beauty yourself with the right d├ęcor. A properly placed patio here, a garden gnome there, a garden patch over there, and voila! You have the lawn you always envisioned and all you have to do is make sure you keep it clean and do your patio cleaning right.

Keeping the lawn beautiful requires work, but pays off with a nice green view outside the window. It makes for a healthy place to plan a garden, invest in a landscaping service, or just have a nice and clean place to enjoy summer afternoons.

We Need An Education Policy, Not A Campaign

Rhetoric and policymaking are two different skills with two different aims. Though politicians need both, it can be tempting to substitute one for the other.

President Obama has never had a problem with the rhetoric. It’s what made him such an effective campaigner. Unfortunately, in playing to his strengths, Obama is inclined to continue to craft ideas that sound more like the attractive watercolor of a campaign platform than the unglamorous blueprint of real policy reform.

The new college affordability plan the president unveiled at the start of his recent Northeast bus tour is a perfect illustration of the problem.

“Higher education cannot be a luxury,” Obama said at the University of Buffalo unit of the State University of New York. “It’s an economic imperative. Every American family should be able to afford to get it.” (1)

In the transition from “what” to “how,” the stirring rhetoric gave way to fuzzy policy. The president proposed to create a ratings system for universities that would eventually tie federal financial aid dollars to the schools’ performance and value. The idea is to create an incentive for colleges and universities to limit costs without sacrificing the future success of their students.

Another component of the plan is to ease student loan burdens by expanding the existing “pay as you earn” system, allowing more borrowers to cap their monthly payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income and, in many cases, to have the balance of their loans forgiven after 20 years (10 years if the borrower is employed full-time for a public service organization).

Almost everybody wants to get college costs down, but Obama’s plan displays a flawed understanding of what is driving them up. We will not rein in costs by enabling more students to borrow more money, more cheaply. And how do you create responsible, cost-effective borrowing by telling the borrower that the less economic return she earns on the money she borrows, the less of it she has to pay back?

Making borrowing easier up front and less risky down the line will postpone the day that students and their parents finally abandon the most expensive schools as out-of-reach. When students find it easy to borrow the cost of tuition, schools can raise those costs without experiencing any substantial dip in their admission pools.

Further, you can’t put more people through school, or keep them there longer, by limiting the number of schools at which you will finance their educations. All this will do is create more competition to get into the schools that are favored by the president’s rating system. As Andrew Kelly points out at AEIdeas, the American Enterprise Institute’s blog, capacity in existing institutions is finite, and schools are already rewarded for selectivity; the more people apply, the better for the perception of the institution’s desirability. (2) These slots will become the focus of even fiercer competition if they also become the only ones offering federally subsidized aid.

What happens to everyone who can’t get into a top-tier school? How, specifically, would the top-tier schools even be determined? Campaigns don’t bother with specifics; the president hasn’t said.

The real problem is that schools are in the business of selling not a skill set, nor even an education, but a ticket – a degree from an accredited program. The academic community, with a powerful financial interest in the status quo, sets accreditation standards that determine which programs are ticket sellers. The result is unsurprising: You generally can’t go on to any sort of graduate-level education without first having paid the toll at a four-year undergraduate school. And more and more jobs require at least an undergraduate degree.

If we really want to reform education, accreditation practices have to change. The government should set standards for college-level courses just as it does for high school. We could go further. How about accrediting courses – whether traditional on-campus, high school Advanced Placement, or online – rather than entire undergraduate-level programs? Government-accredited courses, in a variety of combinations, could lead toward a government-issued degree, more or less the way high school diplomas work today. The equivalent of a high school graduation can be earned via the GED test. There is no reason not to offer the same sort of option for an undergraduate degree.

A degree that reflects a sequence of accredited courses, however the credits were earned, ought to be acceptable for admission to many if not all graduate-level programs, enforced by the federal government’s role in financing graduate education. Nobody should have to sleep in a dorm or eat in a college dining hall in order to get into a nursing program. Admission to most graduate-level programs ought to be available by testing in. It should not be a function of having paid for a certain number of undergraduate-level credits, whether outright or with loans. It certainly should not be a prerequisite that one has paid a college activity fee.

This sort of reform will not eliminate the traditional campus model, any more than public high schools and the GED eliminated private prep schools and other academies. But it could create a much cheaper, mass-scalable avenue toward an education that is appropriate for the 21st century. A host of occupations require specialized training in addition to a four-year degree – training that is not so much beyond undergraduate work as apart from it. If students and parents chose a four-year degree in this scenario, it would be a conscious form of consumption, not the only way to access specialized graduate work or entry-level white collar jobs. And a more-flexible model could educate a workforce based not on years studied or credits collected, but more precisely on subjects studied and mastered.

Education is valuable, but not everyone wants or needs to be educated in the same way, or at the same price point. Putting the choice back into students’ hands would be real education reform. It would stand the current financing model on its ear, and it would channel money, regardless of its source, far more efficiently.

It will take a whole reform program, not just a campaign, to create this sort of change. I wish I could say the president’s proposal is a start, but it isn’t. It is just another campaign speech from someone who does not seem to realize that his campaign days should be over.


1) ABC News, “Obama Unveils New College Affordability Plan”

2) AEIdeas, “3 questions on Obama’s new higher education plan”

Is Driving School For Me?

Do you want to learn how to drive the professional way? Then driving school may be the way to go. If you want to learn how to drive an automobile the right way, then you are in good company. In any given day, there are hundreds of people who flock to driving schools for one reason or another. There are those who simply want to learn how to drive (first time drivers), then there are those learning defensive driving and even more who want to lower their insurance premiums. In the US it is not uncommon to see people returning to driving school in order to have driving tickets expunged from their record. In some instances, a traffic judge can assign a driver to attend driving school for moving. In turn there could be a promise by the court to erase their violation from their driving record. It is not common to see people enrolling in driving school to avert a driver’s license suspension or revocation. Many families also take their children especially teenagers to driving school in order to teach them driving etiquette.

One way of finding a good driving school is to contact your insurance agent or the public safety office for you individual state. Driving schools come in several different categories. This works especially well because one can simply plug into the school that works well for them. Schools that cater for passenger cars are different from, for example, schools that handle drivers who are geared to drive trucks. The same applies for semi-trucks. Depending on how fast a student learns, school can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. Again, this may vary from school to school and also the student’s propensity to learn.

Then there are exotic driving schools that are geared to those who want to sharpen special interest. One of these special interests is racing which can have an element of risk. Those who enroll in this type of school are not first time drivers even though the school will not necessarily turn anyone away just because they are a novice. Teenage drivers are especially fond of this. This kind of school also teaches how to control a vehicle in unusual circumstances. Race schools also tend to cost more than regular driving schools.

Defensive driving schools have also become very popular. This is in part due to the fact that they are mandated by many judges as a remedy for people who have been caught with moving violations especially multiple ones. People who have not committed any moving violations also enroll in defensive driving to better their driving skills and also to reduce their insurance premiums. Defensive driving is also taken by people who have committed driving violations and are on the verge of having their driver’s licenses suspended. The judge thus recommends defensive driving as a way to avert this.