Saturday, October 08, 2005

Are You Two Meant to Last?

Are You Two Meant to Last?

Brought to you by Laura Schaefer and!

Ever wonder if you and your main squeeze will make it all the way to happily ever after? While no one can be 100 percent sure where their romantic future will lead, one researcher claims he can suss out a couple's long-term prospects with a mind-boggling degree of accuracy.

This Nostradamus of love is otherwise known as John Gottman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington, who has been observing couples for three decades. In one landmark study, he recorded fifteen minutes of conversations from seven hundred couples, comparing the number of positive interactions they displayed toward each other (such as smiles or compliments) to the number of negative ones (eye-rolls, sarcasm, or criticism). From that data, Gottman determined that healthy couples generally adhere to a "magic ratio" of 5 to 1--that is, a minimum of five positive comments or gestures are offered for every negative one. Ten years later, Gottman and his colleagues checked back with the couples to see who were still together... and found that their predictions were 94% accurate. In other words, this "magic ratio" did seem to serve as a crystal ball into a couple's future!

So what if you'd like to tally up your own chances of growing old with your current amour? Should you be keeping a running chart of every kiss, grimace, and comment you make to each other? Of course not; Gottman recommends couples try staying generally positive; then the ratio should take care of itself. "Couples who avoid saying every critical thought when discussing touchy topics are consistently the happiest," says Gottman. If you think that's easier said than done, consider how simple it is to change an "honest" comment like "We're not staying at your family's place after the wedding; they drive me crazy" into "I'd really love to get a hotel room for your cousin's wedding; wouldn't that be romantic?" This also applies to comments you make about your relationship to friends and relatives, so the next time you're tempted to wallow in a gripe-fest with a pal about how "We haven't laughed together in ages," try reframing it as, "I really miss the times we laughed together--I wonder what I can do to change that?"

Laura Schaefer is the author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time. After reading Dr. Gottman's tips, she plans to go call her boyfriend and tell him he is the hottest thing since Christian Bale as Batman.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Quipster Nipsey Russell Dies

Quipster Nipsey Russell Dies

by Charlie Amter
Oct 3, 2005, 10:15 PM PT

A 1970s TV fixture known for his rhyming wit, Nipsey Russell has passed on, so here's his obit.

The comic actor, who ascended to the "Poet Laureate of Television" thanks to his steady stream of quippy couplets on the talk- and game-show circuit, died of cancer Sunday in New York's Lenox Hill Hospital at age 80, according to his longtime manager, Joseph Rapp.

An Atlanta native, Russell got the show-biz bug in the 1940s as a car-hop at the local drive-in The Varsity, where he would earn his tips by cracking up customers.

After graduating from the University of Cincinnati and serving as an Army captain in Europe during World War II, Russell settled in New York and hit the club scene. He recorded several albums of his stand-up routines and earned a cult following, which led to his first big break--a guest spot on The Ed Sullivan Show. That attracted the attention of NBC producers, who cast him in the bit part of Officer Anderson in the 1961 sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?--a role Russell reprised in the 1994 big-screen version.

So began a five-decade career that reached its pinnacle in the '70s with recurring stints on The Match Game, To Tell the Truth, The Dean Martin Show, and The Tonight Show, where he served as a guest host for Johnny Carson.

Russell was a sought-after guest thanks to his comic stanzas ("The opposite of pro is con/ That fact is clearly seen/ If progress means move forward/ Then what does Congress mean?" or "If you make sweet love with a school teacher/You'll have an amazing night/She'll do it and do it and do it again/Until you get it right."), which earned him his nickname.

By the end of the decade he scored his best known movie role, playing the Tin Man in Sidney Lumet's 1978 musical The Wiz, which costarred Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Richard Pryor.

In the '80s, he made the requisite Love Boat voyage, served as a panelist on $20,000 Pyramid, hosted the TV series Juvenile Jury and Your Number's Up, and appeared in the films Wildcats and Nemo.

Considered a mentor to younger comics, Russell was invited to The Chris Rock Show in the 1990s and poetically dissed Conan O'Brien on The Late Show. "Roses are red/Violets are blue/The real Nipsey Russell says/'Conan, screw you!' "

He also appeared on Spin City, the Comedy Central series Viva Variety and the soap operas As the World Turns and Search for Tomorrow. His last TV appearance came in 2003 on Hollywood Squares.

A lifelong bachelor, Russell left no survivors.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Court Nominee Has No Judicial Experience

Bill's Pre-comment: If you have not already heard, the Democrats have already promised a filibuster, which is illegal under The Constitution of the United States of America.

Court Nominee Has No Judicial Experience

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent
Mon Oct 3, 6:41 PM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush named White House counsel Harriet Miers to a Supreme Court in transition Monday, turning to a longtime loyalist without experience as a judge or publicly known views on abortion to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Miers "will strictly interpret our Constitution and laws. She will not legislate from the bench," the president said as the 60-year-old former private attorney and keeper of campaign secrets stood nearby in the Oval Office.

Miers' was Bush's second selection in three months for vacancies on a high court long divided on key issues. The announcement came shortly before the president attended a ceremony marking John Roberts' new tenure as the nation's 17th chief justice.

"The wisdom of those who drafted our Constitution and conceived our nation as functioning with three strong and independent branches has proven truly remarkable," Miers said at the White House before departing for the Capitol and a confirmation campaign already taking shape in the Senate.

In conference calls and interviews, the White House worked aggressively during the day to tamp down concern among conservatives determined — as Bush has pledged — to turn the court in a new direction.

Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said through his spokesman he wanted a confirmation vote by Thanksgiving, a compressed, seven-week timetable by recent historical standards. Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, pledged thoroughness.

"There needs to be, obviously, a very thorough inquiry into her background as a lawyer and her activities, people who will know her on the issues of character and integrity, which we will find out," he said.

Despite criticism, initial reaction suggested Bush had managed to satisfy many of the conservatives who helped confirm Roberts — without inflaming Democrats who repeatedly warned against the selection of an extreme conservative to succeed O'Connor, who has voted to uphold abortion rights and preserve affirmative action.

Several officials familiar with Bush's consultations with Congress said that Sen. Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record) of Nevada, the Democratic leader, had recommended that he consider Miers for the vacancy. In a written statement, Reid praised the Dallas native as a "trailblazer for women as managing partner of a major Dallas law firm" and said he would be glad to have a former practicing attorney on the court. If confirmed, she would become the second woman on the court, and the third in history.

Frist greeted Miers by telling her, "We're so proud of you." Sen. Mitch McConnell (news, bio, voting record), R-Ky., the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, issued a statement saying he looked "forward to Ms. Miers' confirmation."

Republicans hold a 55-44 majority in the Senate, with one independent. Barring a filibuster, they can confirm Miers on the strength of their votes alone.

Miers has served as an adviser to Bush for more than a decade, in positions as varied as private attorney, chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission and in the White House.

When Bush decided to run for governor of Texas in the early 1990s, he turned to Miers to research his own background for information that his opponents might try to use against him. When terrorists struck the United States in 2001, she was with him as staff secretary on what had been a routine trip to Florida.

While her loyalty to Bush is unquestioned, Democrats publicly and Republicans privately wondered about her qualifications for the high court.

"The president has selected a loyal political ally without a judicial record to sit on the highest court in the land," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record) of Vermont, senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the appointment raised questions about Miers' role in controversies during the Bush administration and more broadly about "the Supreme Court maintaining its political independence."

At the same time, several senators, Reid and Specter among them, said they would be pleased to have a justice with no prior judicial experience, and the White House moved to fend off any charge that Bush was merely picking a longtime associate.

The administration released material showing that 10 of the 34 justices appointed since 1933 had worked for the president who picked them. The list included the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, first tapped for the court by Richard M. Nixon, and Byron White, named by John F. Kennedy.

Republican concerns tended to be more muted. Sen. Sam Brownback (news, bio, voting record), R-Kan., a strong foe of abortion, pointedly declined to issue a statement responding to the nomination.

Officials said state and local GOP leaders peppered the White House with questions during a conference call, raising concerns about a lack of a documented Miers record on abortion and about her overall qualifications for the court.

They also wondered about Miers' $1,000 donations Al Gore's 1988 presidential bid, and to Democratic Sen. Lloyd Bentsen's re-election campaign the same year. She also has donated money to Bush and other Republicans.

Abortion has overshadowed all over issues in Supreme Court nominations in recent years — and to the consternation of conservatives, Miers has scant public record on the issue.

As president of the Texas State Bar in 1993, Miers was a leader in an unsuccessful fight to persuade the American Bar Association to reconsider its pro-abortion rights stance by submitting it to a nationwide referendum.

At the time, she questioned whether the group should "be trying to speak for the entire legal community" on an issue that she said "has brought on tremendous divisiveness" within the organization.

While Miers evidently did not publicly state a view on the issue of abortion at the time, one conservative cited the events to support her nomination.

"It took a degree of courage for Harriet to be involved in that," said Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society. "The ABA is a place where there was an awful lot of liberal activism, so it took some courage for a woman to take the position she did."

Bush apparently discerned similar personal qualities in Miers long ago.

In 1996, Bush called her a pit bull in size 6 shoes. "When it comes to a cross-examination, she can fillet better than Mrs. Paul," he said on another occasion, referring to a frozen fish company.

Dictionary Adds Terms Like Chick Flick

Dictionary Adds Terms Like Chick Flick

By ADAM GORLICK, Associated Press Writer
Mon Oct 3, 6:59 AM ET

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Go ahead, treat yourself. Check out the latest chick flick, get a bikini wax or enjoy an ice cream that might give you a brain freeze.

And if you're not sure what you're getting yourself into, it might be wise to consult the latest edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary which formally defines those terms that have taken root in American conversation.

The words are joined by 15 other new entries that make up the 1,664 pages of the newly published book. So if you're not interested in movies meant to appeal to women, discreet hair removal procedures or running the risk of feeling a sudden shooting pain in the head caused by ingesting very cold food, maybe there's another endeavor to catch your fancy.

Try steganography, the "art or practice of concealing a message, image, or file within another message, image, or file." That may not be the latest craze among hobbyists, but it's an activity that caught the attention of Merriam-Webster's lexicographers.

"We have editors who spend a part of each day reading magazines and newspapers, looking for evidence of how words are being more commonly used," said John Morse, Merriam-Webster's president and publisher. "We're looking for words that show up in the contexts that the average adult might encounter."

The new words offer explanations of emerging technologies and careers, thereby reflecting changes and developments in American society. You could try your hand at being a cybrarian (a person who finds, collects, and manages information available on the Internet,) or as a hospitalist ("a physician who specializes in treating hospitalized patients of other physicians in order to minimize the number of hospital visits by other physicians.")

The Springfield-based dictionary publisher has an ongoing list of about 17 million words it monitors. Every year, a few of them make it into print, followed by a succinct definition. Once a decade, the Collegiate Dictionary is completely rewritten, with some old words tossed out to accommodate the influx of about 10,000 of the latest nouns, verbs and adjectives. The last rewrite was done in 2003.

It takes about 10 years for a promising word to get into the dictionary from the time it first gets noticed. But some have a speedy rise to Merriam-Webster legitimacy, depending on the urgency of their meaning and impact

Among this year's fastest climbers is SARS, the acronym for the severe acute respiratory syndrome that began making headlines just two years ago with an outbreak in China.

"That was enough of a public health concern to get it in the dictionary right away," Morse said. "Now, one of two things could happen. Either we'll never hear about SARS again, and if so, I've wasted three lines of type in the dictionary. Or it will come back, and everyone will go to the dictionary in a time of need to see how SARS is defined."

Merriam-Webster is also recognizing civil unions, which have been talked about enough in social and political circles to earn a place in the Collegiate's latest edition.

The dictionary dates the term's genesis to 1992. But a Vermont lawmaker insists it wasn't really coined until 2000, when his state became the country's first to establish the legal rights of same-sex couples.

"We needed to decide a name for this, and we just didn't have one," said Bill Lippert, a Democrat who now chairs the Legislature's House Judiciary Committee. "Somewhere, someone said `civil union,' and we all said `oh, that sounds good.' It was a name that did what we wanted it to do. It was new, it designated that the fact that this was a civil act, and it suggested the bringing together of a union."

Others terms seem like they've been a long time coming.

Merriam-Webster traces the bikini wax's origins to 1985, and some spa owners say it's about time the hair-removal procedure made it into the dictionary.

"Bikini waxes are now old hat," said Shannon Fluery, owner of the Brooks and Butterfield Day Spa in Northampton, where as many as 40 women come in for a bikini wax each week. "It's not such a taboo as it used to be. People wouldn't talk about it too much and just did them at home. But salons have definitely picked up on them, and now they're very, very common."

At last, Merriam-Webster agreed.


Following is a partial list of new words and their definitions being entered into this year's edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Amuse-bouche (noun): a small complimentary appetizer offered at some restaurants.

Battle dress uniform (noun): a military uniform for field service.

DHS (abbreviation) : Department of Homeland Security.

Hazmat (noun): a material (as flammable or poisonous material) that would be a danger to life or to the environment if released without precautions.

Metadata (noun): data that provide information about other data.

Otology (noun): a science that deals with the ear and its diseases.

Retronym (noun): a term consisting of a noun and a modifier which specifies the original meaning of the noun. ("Film camera," for instance).

Tide pool (noun): a pool of salt water left (as in a rock basin) by an ebbing tide, called also tidal pool.

Wi-Fi (certification mark): used to certify the interoperability of wireless computer networking devices.

Zaibatsu (noun): a powerful financial and industrial conglomerate of Japan.


On the Net:

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Can Friends Become Lovers?

Can Friends Become Lovers?

Brought to you by Kimberly Dawn Neumann and!

Pretty much everyone has had a close friend who's fantastic, funny, always there when we need a sympathetic ear... and who also makes our heart do little flips and wonder "What if...?" True, anyone who's watched When Harry Met Sally knows that getting passionate with a pal is a tricky endeavor. But if it works, it's also totally romantic. So if your buddy's been on your mind all too often of late and you want to see if you can be more than just amigos, read on for some step-by-step advice from relationship experts and real people on how to proceed without losing face--or the friendship.

Step 1: Look before you leap
The most important thing you should do before you act is this: THINK! You might absolutely be on the verge of something wonderful, but then again, it might be a fleeting moment of loneliness or lust that leads you astray. "I have had a few friendships that could have been more at one time, but I always try to let that first impulse pass," says Jennifer of Brooklyn, NY. "If it is meant to be, that feeling will happen again. If it was a passing fancy, then there will be no awkward conversation over what happened 'that night.'"

While waiting for repeated waves of more-than-friendly feelings is a wise idea, you should also ask yourself this: Why haven't you dated this person before? "Sometimes it's simply that you met when one of you was involved in a relationship or something else distracting, like writing a doctoral dissertation, caring for an older parent or whatever life put on your plate," says Joni Mantell, a psychotherapist and relationship coach in New York City. If that's the case -- and if this hurdle has since disappeared -- then it might be a prime time to redefine your relationship. If, on the other hand, you two have had windows of opportunity to get intimate in the past and passed them up, then maybe it was for good reason.

The bottom line: Figuring out what's triggered your change of heart is crucial. "It might be because your friend comes through for you in a crisis like no one in your life ever did, and this makes you realize how special this person is to you," says Mantell. If that's the case, does that necessarily mean a romantic relationship is in the cards? Another possibility is that you have given some thought to your patterns in relationships (in therapy or by yourself), and you realize you would rather date a "nice" man or woman instead of the more exciting, dangerous prospects you were pursuing. "In other words, you are growing up and letting go of old baggage," says Mantell. That's a good reason to seriously consider giving this a shot.

Step 2: Test the waters
So you've decided that your emotions are the real deal... but what about your friend's feelings? Are you two on the same page, or is the object of your affection blissfully unaware that you two could click that way? To determine the answer, ask yourself these questions: Are you the first person they share good (or bad) news with and vice versa? Are they jealous or critical of your dates and partners? Are they possessive about spending time with just you rather than along with others? Do they compliment you as a date would (i.e. "You look beautiful in that dress" or "Man, you're looking handsome today")? Is the amount of time you are spending together increasing? A "yes" to several of these could mean the attraction is indeed mutual.

You can also try dropping hints, which can not only help you gauge their reaction but plant the seed in their minds if they haven't yet entertained the thought of coupledom. Laurie Puhn, author of Instant Persuasion: How To Change Your Words And Change Your Life, suggests trying something like, "You know, I date, but none of the people I go out with really compare to you," or "I was talking to Jane the other night and when she bumped into us she thought we were on a date. Isn?t that funny?" "If the other person says something like 'Yeah, I was thinking that too. It does seem like we're dating' or, if they smile, it's a good reaction," says Puhn. If they look uncomfortable or change the topic, that's not a good sign--but since your comment was so innocuous, it should easily blow over.

Step 3: Make your move
You're pretty sure the sparks are there on both sides... now what? Should you lunge in for a lip-lock the next time you're together, and pray your pal doesn't recoil? Understandably, that prospect can be terrifying, so consider a more subtle move like taking their arm or reaching for their hand during a movie or while consider this stealthy move: "Say, 'I wonder what it would be like if we were dating,'" suggests Mantell. "This style of musing and imagining is good for a safe but playful start which could lead to a kiss or a conversation about you two dating at the very least." If they do say, "Let's just be friends," Mantell suggests that you be ready to reassure them it's OK. But recognize that there is the possibility things may be weird after that. If you decide you can still hang out together, you can alleviate your buddy's discomfort (and your own) by talking about other people you?re interested in, whether that's some new coworker or a cutie?s profile you saw online.

Step 4: Steam things up!
It happened: You two are kissing--and maybe more. While it might be nice to think that you'll click instantly since you know each other so well, familiarity can work against you. "The first contact might be awkward," says Mantell. "Our society is more accustomed to romance built on pure fantasy, and that is harder to do with a friend." Mantell urges that transitioning couples shouldn't give up right away if the chemistry is off. "Acknowledge the uneasiness, make a joke saying something like 'Well, we know each other too well to be relaxed.'" Another option is to promise each other you'll go really slowly until you get used to this new way of interacting. "A classic sex therapy technique is foreplay only, no intercourse, until both people are really comfortable," says Mantell. Try it until you have to break the no-intercourse rule... and then you know the technique worked.

One major caveat: While having sex doesn't have to mean you two are officially an item, the fact that you're already so close can raise romantic expectations. So whether you're interested in pursuing a serious relationship with this person or just out to satisfy your curiosity and keep things casual, it's crucial that you communicate your expectations and hopes -- and have a handle on theirs -- before getting hot and heavy. Just say, "I'm really attracted to you but want to make sure we're on the same page so nobody's feelings get hurt..." and explain your stance from there. You two may forge ahead even if you don't see eye-to-eye, but at least it's on the table. Everyone you sleep with deserves that much, but friends especially do, don't you think?

Step 5: Announce your new status
If you two do seem to be hitting it off, you may start wondering whether to make your budding relationship public--after all, you may be excited, worried, or otherwise dying to talk about it with someone other than the pal you just got passionate with! But breaking the news also requires some caution. The rule of thumb here? Find out how your new amour feels about it and always defer to the wishes of the more private party. Keep in mind that as soon as you involve friends and family, there will be more pressure on your evolving relationship, so it's OK to give yourselves time to adjust.

Also keep in mind that there's a difference between keeping your relationship private and keeping it an airtight secret. In other words, you may want to let certain people in on the news--especially those close to you both. Those are the people who might feel deceived or left out if they learn your couple status later on. In those instances, one of you (both may feel like you're ganging up) should take that person aside and say, "You know how John/Jane and I hang out all the time? We kind of both realized that we liked each other, and now we're dating." Answer their questions, but keep in mind that you shouldn't spill all the details; when in doubt ask yourself, "Would I talk about that if my new partner were in this room?" If the answer is no, keep your lip zipped.

Also know that while you may try to be discreet, people will probably start getting an inkling that something has shifted, and it can be damaging to deny it, says Joyce Catlett, author of Sex and Love in Intimate Relationships. "Don't try to hide the status of your new relationship by holding back physical expressions of your tenderness and affection when other people are around," says Catlett. "Protecting yourself this way can have negative consequences and can make you feel more self-conscious or awkward, even during those times when the two of you are alone." The bottom line is, you and your pal-turned-paramour should be ecstatic that you've found a soul mate so close to home. Who cares if you're fodder for the gossip mill for awhile?

Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a writer and Broadway performer in New York City who has never crossed that line with a "friend" but after writing this piece, she's now wondering if she should've gone for it with a couple of them.

Did You Hear? Karen Williams mentioned for open U.S. Supreme Court slot?

4th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Karen Williams
By NANCY C. WOOTEN, T&D Features Editor

Orangeburg's own federal appellate court judge, Judge Karen Williams of the Richmond, Va.-based 4th Circuit, has been mentioned as a possible replacement to retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor by respected news sources.

Justice O'Connor, 75, appointed as the first woman on the court in 1981, said Friday she will retire upon the naming of a successor. President George W. Bush will nominate a replacement and thereby affect the future direction of American law.

Because Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, 80, who suffers from thyroid cancer, had been expected to retire, short lists of possible successors had been prepared earlier in this week. When O'Connor made her announcement, those lists, as well as new ones, made their way onto wire reports, Web news sites and blogs.

Judge Williams was named on the CBS News Midday Report Friday as one of three women on a list prepared after the O'Connor announcement.

Greg Stohr, a reporter for, an online news service, reported that the departure of the court's first female justice may put pressure on Bush to nominate a woman to accompany the only remaining female on the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The list of possibilities Stohr provided, in addition to Judge Williams, was Judges Edith Jones and Edith Brown Clement of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Susan Black of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit and Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington.

Judge Williams also was listed on among eight female judges whom President Bush might choose to fill the seat. On the University of Pittsburgh's Law Web site, known as, Judge Williams is listed as a potential Bush nominee in a mini-Guide to future Supreme Court appointments obviously written before the O'Connor announcement.

Williams is the former Karen Johnson of Orangeburg. She married Charles H. Williams, son of the late state Sen. Marshall Williams, and graduated from Columbia College. The Williamses have four children and four grandchildren. After teaching school, she graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law and practiced in the law firm of Williams and Williams. At the proposal of U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, Williams was nominated to the appeals court by President George H.W. Bush, father of the current president. She has remained very active in the Orangeburg community as a member of First Baptist Church and various civic organizations.

Most news sources expect President George W. Bush to nominate a judicial conservative, and the Fourth Circuit is known as the most conservative of the appeals courts. Two other Fourth Circuit judges, both males, had been on the short list prepared when Rehnquist was expected to be the first to retire: Judges J. Michael Luttig and James Harvie Wilkinson III. Now that O'Connor is retiring, the pressure to appoint a woman will be greater. The past six Supreme Court nominees have come from one of the Circuit Courts of Appeals. Judge Williams is the only Circuit Court appointee of the senior President Bush who is under 55.