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January 25, 2007 

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Mahatma Gandhi, Indian ascetic & nationalist leader (1869 - 1948)


In This Issue

1.     Who Is Playing Poker With Your Life?

2.     The Eleventh Commandment, Part 3

3.     Announcements

4.     Fun Fact

5.     About Montebello E-News and My Montebello



Online Community Lesson



Poker is a game of bluff.  There are people who bluff us about things important to us—and they get away with it. 

            Here is a small example, from an e-mail, which a friend sent me last week: 

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavorings. … 

            Each of us probably has received a story in which there was some extraordinary claim or eye-opening revelation, but it is not the purpose of this lesson to judge a story on its face.  Rather, the story above ended with a hyperlink, 

Snopes is a reputable “hoax buster”.  If you read something on the Internet which sounded like an exposé or were too good to be true, Snopes probably would have an explanation as to whether you read the truth, half-truth or an out-and-out fabrication.  Here is where the bluff comes in:  because the story ended with the hyperlink to Snopes, the story appeared to be true.  For my friend who received it from somebody else and sent it to me, for me, and for many others, it would have been enough to see the Snopes hyperlink to believe that the story about margarine were true. 

When, in fact, the story was false.  Therein lies the bluff.  We do not normally take the step to click the hyperlink and check.  If we did, we would find out that the story were false.  Somebody is cleverly gambling that we would not click and check. 

How serious is this?  Do you recall, from the campaigns for propositions last fall, that some television advertisements would say, “Check the text of the proposition yourself [so that you see that our side is telling the truth]”?  Such a statement could well have been a bluff.  Those who made the statement might have done so with the expectation that we would not check, that we would take their word for it.  Does such high-stakes bluffing work?  Nobody has researched this, to the best of this writer’s knowledge, but what do you think?  How many times have we believed somebody when he or she has said, “Check it out for yourself”, without our taking the step to check out the story?    

If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to with “Lesson answers” in the subject field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization. 

  1. When a friend sends us, via the Internet, a story originating with a third party, we should

(a) use the “eleventh commandment” [see the essay series in the January 11, 18, and 25 issues of E-News for a definition of “eleventh commandment”].

(b) assume that the story would be accurate unless we heard otherwise. 

  1. When a reputable source is cited to back a story, what should we do?

(a)    Do nothing until we have checked out the story.

(b)   Accept the story and move on.

(c)    If the story might affect us or others significantly, we confer with a family member or close friend who knows how to investigate the claim.



The Eleventh Commandment, Part 3:

Shall We Ask Mal Brooks?

 Семь раз отме́рь, оди́н отре́жь.

Translation from Russian: Measure seven times, cut once. 

            In part one, we stated the eleventh commandment, “We shall not pass judgment or take action without confirming the information which has incited or attracted us.”  In part two, we suggested that a family member or close friend become a guardian, confirming information before we ourselves decided or took action.  In this part, we look at the feasibility of having a guardian, because feasibility could lead to a needed renaissance of democracy in our country and give democracy a new respect around the world.   

            Let us start by considering that we already have guardians in our lives, although we do not call them that.  Our physician is a guardian; we rely on his or her confirmation of information.  A lawyer and an accountant, too, are guardians, as are other professionals. 

            But that does not mean that we would ask a lawyer to confirm that a congratulatory letter telling us that we have won the lottery would be true.  Would you pay $50 to $200 for the lawyer to say “yes” or “no”?  Also, does our physician have the time to speak about a ballot proposition?  Would we contact her every time we heard a claim about a wonder drug or miracle cure?  So we do need a family member or close friend as a guardian. 

            There is no cookie-cutter answer as to who should be the guardian.  For some of us, a professional in the family, whom we could call at home or see at a family gathering, could serve as a guardian.  For others, a creative combination of retiree, who has the experience, and teenager, who has the exposure to fact and discussion in school (at least theoretically), could serve as a guardian team.  For yet others among us, we might form a circle of friends and ask each person to be a guardian with regard to a subject, like health, the law, propositions, consumer products, and so on.  This last one could be made interesting if we gathered once a week for coffee and conversation on things that mattered.  (Let us develop that thought.  A café discounts for “coffee and conversation” clubs on certain evenings.  There is even a tax incentive to form such clubs—certainly a creative alternative to the “Hail, Mary” approach whenever the California Secretary of State spends millions printing those thick proposition books and expects us to learn from them.  Maybe, instead of paying for those books, our state should pay for the coffee and conversation?) 

            This last option would seem feasible for most people, because there would be an element of enjoyment, which would translate into sustainability.  In other words, if we took the eleventh commandment and the need for a guardian to heart, the last option, for most of us, would have the best chance of continuing for years to come.  Additionally, as each person became a guardian for a subject, learning how to research that subject, he or she would have a research skill, which could enable her to give a second opinion on a different subject.  (Yes, just as we seek second opinions about our health.) 

            If we adopt the eleventh amendment and make it a habit to confer with a guardian, will there be enough benefit to us to justify our investment of time and energy? 



FOR EVERYONE.  Book sale at the Chet Holifield Library, 1060 South Greenwood Avenue, Montebello, about a block south of Washington Boulevard.  The sale will take place on Thursday, February 15, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  323.728.0421. 

FOR FAMILIES.  Homebuyer education classes, in English and in Spanish, by the Montebello Housing Development Corporation.  1619 Paramount Blvd Montebello, CA 90640.  The next English class is on Saturday, February 3, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The next Spanish class is on Saturday, March 10, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  You may register by calling 323.722.3955 or by going online to .

FOR FAMILIES.  “Homeownership Opportunities Fair”.  Saturday, January 27, 2007, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Centro Maravilla Service Center, 4716 Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles 90022.  Admission, food, raffle, and children’s activities are free.  Montebello residents are welcome.  Seminars include how to apply for a first home loan, how to refinance existing loans, housing rights, and first-time homebuyer programs.  Sponsored by Citibank and the Montebello Housing Development Corporation. 

FOR EVERYONE.  Do you have large or bulky items which you wish to get rid of?  Athens Disposal Services will be conducting a free collection for items such as couches, tables, furniture, rugs, and other hard-to-handle items.  Regular trash services will remain as scheduled and are not part of this collection.  According to our city’s recycling newsletter, if you trash is regularly picked up on 

            Monday, then the free collection will be on Saturday, January 27;

            Tuesday, then the free collection will be on Saturday, February 3;

            Wednesday, then the free collection will be on Saturday, February 10;

            Thursday, then the free collection will be on Saturday, February 17;

            Friday, then the free collection will be on Saturday, February 24.



Fun Fact

 Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the U.S.Treasury.    


About Montebello E-News and My Montebello

 To learn about this newsletter, Montebello E-News, and the accompanying, growing Web site, “My Montebello”, visit  Also, you will find instructions and contact information for submitting announcements for publication in this newsletter.



































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