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9:00 AM ET, Thursday, December 17, 2009:Among the ways to game Uncle Sam at the end of a year: Pre-pay 2010's expenses, e.g. rent. Sell losers. Take the hit against gains.

Today's jobless claims are worst than expected. This will be a jobless recovery. Nearly 20% of our workers are out of work. Sad.

The Fed said yesterday it "will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions, including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations, are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period."

Translated, this means the Fed is screwing savers (like you and me) by allowing the banks to pay us zilch.

Hoisted by its own petard. When the Federal Government saved the big banks, it created monsters. It gave them carte blanche to do whatever they wanted – like making money with the risk-free carry trade, but not lending money to risky businesses. It’s what you and I would do, had we been running a big bank.

Lack of lending annoyed Obama, who didn't think his "Too Big To Fail Decision" through, but it was predictable.

If Obama wants loans for small businesses, he has his own “bank.” It’s called the SBA.

Sadly, the SBA is grossly underfunded. And its lending is very limited – only $35,000 per loan -- about what a small business could secure on the owner's credit cards.

The SBA got $50 million in additional funding from the recent Recovery Act. $50 million. Whoopee!.

Why not take some of the returning TARP monies and give it to the SBA to make business loans?

With loans comes jobs. Seems like this would please Obama (and the country).

What am I missing?

I believe it's called logic.

Kennedy once said Washington was eight square miles surrounded by reality. He remains right.

Shutter lag is the worst. Press the button and wait. It's the story of point-and-shoot cameras. Three ways to cut the lag:

1. Move the ISO from auto to 100.

2. Move the automatic white balance to sunlight or incandescent -- depending on where you are.

3. Slightly press the shutter button, hold it, wait for the smile, then fully press it.

Curiosity about China. Huge investment opportunities abound in "clean energy." If you didn't read the piece from this week's New Yorker, you should. It's long. But It will educate you about China and how it's handling those opportunities -- far better, I suspect, than we are:

Beijing’s crash program for clean energy. By Evan Osnos

Live in New York? This video of Alicia Keys will make you feel good. Click here.

Great news: McDonald's says more than 11,000 of its U.S. restaurants will have free Wi-Fi in January. The 1,362-store Panera Bread chain and Bruegger's Bakery Cafe, which has 292 outlets has free Wi-Fi now. Google is providing free Wi-Fi at major airports during the holidays. Starbucks Corp., which has 11,000 locations in the U.S., charges $3.99 for two hours of Internet access, but does have a rewards program for frequent customers who can get two hours for free. McDonald's free Wi-Fi, which is going to provide unlimited hours of access, will surely place pressure on Starbucks to lower its costs, several analysts said.

AT&T is helping McDonalds provide the free Wi-Fi. Geeks figure it's doing this because of growing saturation on its 3G cellular networks -- largely a result of the iPhone. My two tennis clubs -- Roosevelt Island and Old Chatham also have free Wi-Fi, with prominent signs that say "Laptops welcome." Biggest usage is not grownups watching dirty movies, but kids doing their homework. I kid you not.

Carols for Christmas. Sing carols around the Christmas tree. Free sheet music for all your favorite carols from here.

The best place to rent in New York City. It's called Gotham Hall. It's spectacular.

More on Gotham Hall.

Do not buy a wireless clock. They don't work long-term. Mine presently are running four minutes slow. Go figure.

Tiger at NFL game last weekend. She chased him with a giant golf club.

My wife is bored with Tiger "jokes." I continue to be amused.

Four Jewish Brothers.
Four Jewish brothers left home for college, and eventually, they became successful doctors, and lawyers and prospered.

Some years later, they chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the gifts that they were able to give to their elderly mother, who lived far away in another city.

The first said, "I had a big house built for Mama."

The second said, "I had a hundred thousand dollar theater built in the house."

The third said, "I had my Mercedes dealer deliver her a SL 600 with a chauffeur."

The fourth said, "Listen to this. You know how Mama loved reading the Torah and you know she can't anymore because she can't see very well. I met this Rabbi who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Torah. It took twenty rabbis 12 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 a year for twenty years to the temple, but it was worth it. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it." The other brothers were impressed.

After the holidays Mama sent out her Thank You notes.

Milton - Bubbeleh, the house you built is so huge, I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway.

Marvin - Mine Shayne Kindeleh. I am too old to travel. I stay home. I have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes and the driver you hired is a Nazi. The thought was good. Thanks.

Menachim - Tataleh, you give me an expensive theatre with Dolby sound, it could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead. I've lost my hearing and I'm nearly blind. I'll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the same.

Dearest Melvin - You were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious.

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads on this site. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.