Monday, June 23, 2008

I Miss George Carlin Already

George Carlin may have left the planet, but he hasn't left our consciousness.

One of my rites of passage was listening to his famous "seven words" routine, which every teenager knew as the "seven dirty words." To this day, mainstream broadcast TV and radio will not allow these words, even though you can hear them on most rap songs on your ipod.

On a New York radio station, they played the routine again, which eventually resulted in a 1978 Supreme Court ruling upholding the government’s authority to sanction stations for broadcasting offensive language.

“So my name is a footnote in American legal history, which I’m perversely kind of proud of,” he told The Associated Press earlier this year.

Carlin should be more of a footnote. He was the natural heir to Lenny Bruce, who often expanded the boundaries of humor and satire, simply by telling the truth. Keep in mind I'm not confusing pushing the comedic envelope with good taste or that vulgarity is always funny. It's not and there are far too many comics and writers who feel that it's their divine right to invoke potty and body function jokes on a regular basis.

Carlin took taboos and smashed them around with his microphone. He was a genuine wit and laser-guided social observer. He could make fun of anything with a good spirit and keen eye.

One of my favorite Carlin routines was the strung-out "Hippy-Dippy Weatherman."

"Tonight's forecast --- dark!"

We need more George Carlins to test the limits of the 1st Amendment. There's no need to go without him, though. Here are some of his top jokes, as cited by

* Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

* Swimming is not a sport; swimming is a way to keep from drowning. That’s just common sense!

* A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.

* If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.

* The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.

* Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man…living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money.

* If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled?

* Why do croutons come in airtight packages? It’s just stale bread to begin with.

* The IQ and the life expectancy of the average American recently passed each other in opposite directions.

* When someone asks you, “A penny for your thoughts,” and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny?

* Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac?

* Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice?”

* I don’t like to think of laws as rules you have to follow, but more as suggestions.

* Here’s a bumper sticker I’d like to see: “We are the proud parents of a child who’s self-esteem is sufficient that he doesn’t need us promoting his minor scholastic achievements on the back of our car.”

* Have you ever wondered why Republicans are so interested in encouraging people to volunteer in their communities? It’s because volunteers work for no pay. Republicans have been trying to get people to work for no pay for a long time.

* In America, anyone can become president. That’s the problem

* Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

* I’m always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realize I’m listening to it.

* The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.

* Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.

* The Golden Gate Bridge should have a long bungee cord for people who aren’t quite ready to commit suicide but want to get in a little practice.

* I think I am, therefore, I am. I think.

* Capitalism tries for a delicate balance: It attempts to work things out so that everyone gets just enough stuff to keep them from getting violent and trying to take other people’s stuff.

* What was the best thing before sliced bread?

* Life is a zero sum game.

* I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.

* The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

iMoney: The best selling mutual fund book

I've been out of the blogosphere for a while as I complete a book on the housing crisis entitled The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome: Revitalizing the American Dream, which will be published by Bloomberg Press early next year.

I'll be blogging more on that subject in the future.

But first, let me introduce you to my latest project, which I co-authored with my friend investment adviser Tom Lydon. It's entitled iMoney: Profitable ETF Strategies for Every Investor (FT/Prentice Hall). I'm proud to say that this book came out of nowhere to the top of's mutual fund bestseller list. You can buy it online or in bookstores in July. It's only been out for a few days, but the first print run is sold out and new books will ship in about a week.

Exchange-traded Funds are hot and have gone from almost nothing five years ago to more than $612 billion in assets. They are not stocks, like dot.coms, and I believe they will be around for a long time. They are bundles of securities, currencies and commodities that trade on stock exchanges. They are like mutual funds, except that they are completely transparent and need to be bought through brokers. Their prices are constantly updated throughout the day and you can do everything from buy foreign currencies to small slices of the biotechnology sector.

I recommend ETFs for your portfolio. You can buy all of the US stock and bond markets in just two funds. In fact, the most basic portfolio you could own would be

-- Vanguard Total Stock Market Index ETF
-- Vanguard Total Bond Market Index ETF or iShares Lehmann Aggregate Bond ETF

Oh, and did I mention that these fixed portfolio index funds cost half as much to manage as their mutual-fund counterparts? That's another plus. They are fairly simple to understand until you get to some of the more complex products that allow you to benefit from downward swings in specific markets. That means you can bet against, or short, these funds and make money during price declines.

So far, the book has been well received and buyers starved for a readable book on this subject are flocking to it. It's full of stories from Tom and I and we had fun doing it. Now we are promoting it. If you invest or know someone who invests, please have them take a look at it. There's more information at or at

Here's some basic information from

From the Back Cover

The Up-to-the-Minute Guide to ETF Investing: Pick the Right ETFs for Your Unique Goals!

“The authors cover the ETF waterfront. Whether you are a young investor just starting out or a seasoned stock veteran looking for new investment opportunities, this book is a valuable resource.”

-- Sam Stovall, Chief Investment Strategist, Standard & Poor’s Equity Research

"Finally! Lydon and Wasik objectively analyze exchange traded funds for the average person. We particularly liked iMoney's comparisons with more familiar mutual funds, the clear discussions about risks, and the varying viewpoints from some of the industry's smartest minds."

-- Alan Lavine and Gail Liberman, syndicated columnists for and authors of Quick Steps to Financial Stability.

Smart investors have made ETFs today’s hottest investment. iMoney is the only ETF investment guide with up-to-the-minute advice that reflects today’s ETF marketplace: advice that is fully customized to your specific investment goals.

The authors explain exactly how ETFs fit into today’s investment universe. Even better, they present specific roadmaps, strategies, and model portfolios for a wide range of investors, from recent college graduates through retirees.

You’ll learn how to build and monitor your ETF portfolio; choose among the fast-growing array of ETFs; and profit from changing global market trends. The authors discuss domestic and foreign stock ETFs; sector, commodity, and currency ETFs; fixed income ETFs, long/short ETFs, and even “actively managed” ETFs. They preview emerging industry trends, and objectively assess the key criticisms that have recently been leveled at ETFs.

· Tomorrow’s ETF book, not yesterday’s! Reflects the newest ETFs and strategies, and prepares you for emerging market trends

· By two of the world’s leading ETF experts...

...Tom Lydon, founder of, the nation’s #1 consumer ETF site, and John F. Wasik, global personal finance columnist

Provides specific strategies and portfolio recommendations
Not just theory! Discover what to buy, based on your unique investment profile
Covers every major type of ETF...
...including overseas, sector, commodity, currency, and bond ETFs...even long/short ETF strategies!

Happy Investing!