For our weekend business and political readers:

LESSONS FROM A YOUNG MAVERICK
Mark Cuban is the young out-spoken billionaire owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks. His antics and outrage between the lines are legendary. He has been fined so many times, the total could support a small country.

How did he get his dough, and what prompted him to succeed?

But being fired from that job was the determining factor in my business life. I decided then and there to start my own company. I didn’t have that much to lose, and it was something that I knew I had to do. I was 25. I went back to that guy with the $15,000 job and told him that I didn’t have the money at the time, but if he let me keep this job and the money, I would do the work and it would help me start my own company. He said, “Sure.”

I started a company called Micro-Solutions. I was a PC consultant, and I sold software and did training and configured computers. I wrote my own programs. I immersed myself in the PC industry and studied Microsoft and Lotus and watched what the smartest people did to make things work.

Cuban tells some colorful stories of the secrets of his success at this link from Forbes.

GLOOM, DOOM, AND MORE GLOOM
“The belief that America is losing its economic edge is pervasive. Americans are more pessimistic about their country’s prospects than at any point since Gallup, a polling firm, first started asking them in 1959.”

And according to the Economist it’s not just the public sighing about the advances of the Chinese and other stalls in the economy. The Fed doesn’t like it either.

And growth is so sluggish and “America’s politicians have been feckless in the face of this impending disaster. All the bickering over budgets of the past two years has done little to diminish this soon-to-be-crushing burden.”

So what is the possible future?

Click here to see what the Economist predicts.

THE STAGE J.C .PENNEY FELL OFF
It’s called staging. It’s an industry standard in retail that Harvard Business Review says J.C. Penney’s new CEO forgot.

The purchase process is staged. First, consumers recognize a need, then they search for information about products that might solve that need, they create a consideration set, and finally make a choice.

Why did Costco get it right and Penney’s flounder?  Lessons from the retail scene at this link.

IT COST A LOT TO SUPPORT YOUR KIDS, NOT GRANDPA
It’s called the “sandwich generation” and if there weren’t enough financial pressures in everyday living, the Wall Street Journal says the “Big Squeeze” has taken over.

A new look at the so-called sandwich generation finds that financial pressures tied to caring for family members from different generations are mounting on middle-aged adults. And the increased strains are coming primarily from grown children rather than aging parents.

Find out why at this link, and the Journal also gives you more details with graphics by clicking here.

WILL THE STATES FINALLY DECIDE GAY RIGHTS?
It’s complicated. The Supreme Court has this most volatile issue at its center piece, but the New York Times in a revealing post says maybe not.

While the court may throw out a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the justices signaled over two days of arguments that they might not feel compelled to intervene further, since the democratic process seems to be playing out on its own, state by state, elected official by elected official.

Get the full analysis and what the Times thinks might happen, at this link.

DATA-MINERS STEAL PLENTY FROM POLITICAL CONSULTANTS
We’ve all heard about nasty politics and the money involved. Well there are nastier ones who want that money, and have gotten pretty good at stealing it.

When the FCC set up the online database, nobody — not the ad buyers, the stations or the FCC itself — realized that more discretion was needed. The result: Thieves strolled through the filings, lifting account numbers, tracking numbers and authorized signers’ names from the checks they found.

How much is being fleeced? Go to this link at NPR’s Politics page and find out.

RICK PERRY FACES THE SUNSET
The Texas governor has come, according to Politico, to “the fork in the road.” His inner political team is scattering as his third term winds down.

Now, in the aftermath of Perry’s calamitous and dissension-riddled 2012 presidential bid, much of that gang has dispersed. As the governor weighs whether to run for an unprecedented fourth full term, Texas politicos say it’s largely unclear who would steer another re-election campaign — or a second Perry attempt at the White House.

Politco’s full look at this potential national candidate can be found here.

VIRGINIA POLITICS, GO FIGURE
Virginia is not just for lovers, it’s for political lovers. In 2013, the state of Virginia will offer a glimpse into the political mood of the country.  You might call it the off-year comeuppance: In every one of Virginia’s past nine gubernatorial contests, the Old Dominion has rejected the party of the president elected only a year before.

Virginia and New Jersey have long occupied a special place on the political calendar, because they are the only states to pick their governors so soon after a presidential contest.

But with New Jersey’s Chris Christie (R) cruising to a second term, Virginia alone holds any suspense this year. Its significance has been magnified by the fact that in the Barack Obama era, Virginia has gone from being reliably red in national elections to the truest battleground — supplanting Ohio as the state whose results most closely mirror those of the country.

Virginia’s gubernatorial contest also reflects the volatile state of politics nationally, where partisanship runs strong, but so does the desire for solutions to serious problems.

Want more. Go here.

THE HUMBLE NEW POPE
As a true man of God, Pope Francis did the extraordinary. He washed the feet of prisoners in a youth detention center near Rome as part of the Maundy Thursday service.

The new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics has brought a new sense of simplicity to the Vatican, reports the BBC’s David Willey in Rome.

He has broken with tradition for the foot-washing ceremony, which is normally performed on lay people in one of Rome’s basilicas.

Pope Benedict XVI visited the Casal del Marmo centre in 2007, but not for the Holy Thursday Mass. Only for the first two years of his pontificate did he perform the feet-washing himself, after which the task was delegated to priests.

For the whole holy story click here.

WE WILL GO TO MARS?
Will we ever? NASA thinks so and in an intriguing post from the American, the “Dream Delayed” is detailed.

It has now been 63 years since the release of the first movie to treat space exploration as a serious topic. Eight years later, the government got around to establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to conduct civilian space exploration. Eleven years after that, NASA put a man on the moon. Mars was obviously the next target. Forty-four years later it still is. NASA is suffering from budgetary lucrepenia and, with parallels to the film “Destination Moon,” has decided that private enterprise will have to take on the job.

Want a ride?  Take off here.

A LIBRARY FOR THE DEVELOPING WORLD
It’s a conundrum that library advocates have struggled with for years: in many areas in the developing world, libraries run on donations, which means they often end up with irrelevant books that never even get removed from their boxes. People still come to libraries in these places for a quiet place to read and study, but certainly not because of the resources they provide. Recently, a crop of initiatives have launched that aim to make libraries more relevant again.

FastCompany explores a new initiative called Librii that aims to use technology – in more ways than one – to create a new model for making available both electronic information and physical books in Africa.

You can read more here.

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