Saturday, December 27, 2008

A nice story from my Dad

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold December morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that a thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:> If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Don't Give a Chimpanzee a Popcorn Popper for Christmas



A Homophobic and a Racist Party...

CNN: "RNC chairman candidate defends 'Barack the Magic Negro' song." We guess that he thinks lynchings were "satire" too. These GOP guys are just Neo-Confederate racists.

and

http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2008/12/ehrenstein-effect.html

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Just as I took the cans to the street, the lights came on...

I figured it was a call to take out the camera. Happy Christmas...

US Economy Shrinks as IMF Warns of Great Depression

US Economy Shrinks as IMF Warns of Great Depression

http://www.truthout.org/122408R

Agence France-Presse: "The US economy shrank in the third quarter, official data confirmed Tuesday, as the IMF's top economist warned of a second Great Depression offering no respite from relentless gloom ahead of Christmas. The abrupt 0.5 percent contraction of gross domestic product (GDP) in the world's largest economy was seen as marking the start of a steep downturn for the United States after GDP growth of 2.8 percent in the second quarter."

From Bilerico, this...

The Star Wars Holiday Special - "Happy Life Day"

The Star Wars Holiday Special - "Happy Life Day"

we have aword for this in Portugese... brega...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Laissez-Faire Capitalism Should Be as Dead as Soviet Communism


Done

Baha'is call for reopening of human rights center in Iran

GENEVA, 23 December (BWNS)- The Baha'i International Community today expressed grave concern over the closing by the Iranian government of Shirin Ebadi's Defenders of Human Rights Center in Tehran and called for its reopening."

The closing of Mrs. Ebadi's office is a blow to human rights for the whole of Iran," said Diane Ala'i, a representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.

"The spokesperson of Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated that the reason behind the closure was that the Center has no license. But it would be a simple matter to give them one. Otherwise, the fact that the Iranian government would shut down the office of its most famous human rights defender, who is Iran's only winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the first Muslim woman so recognized, can only be perceived by the world at large as further evidence that the government has no regard for rights and freedoms.

"Mrs. Ebadi and her colleagues are engaged in defending numerous individuals and groups in Iran, and the closure of the Center will certainly interfere with their efforts and impede the adequate legal representation that they are committed to providing," she said.Among those being defended by Mrs. Ebadi and her organization are the seven Baha'i leaders who are currently being held without charge in Evin prison in Tehran. The seven were arrested in March and May in an ominous sweep that was reminiscent of when Baha'i leaders in the 1980s were rounded up and executed."

Regardless of the attempts against human rights defenders in Iran, Mrs. Ebadi and her colleagues are courageously pursuing their work. For the good of the country, we call upon the Iranian authorities to resolve the administrative issue, and to allow the Center to reopen immediately," said Ms. Ala'i.

To view the Baha'i World News Service homepage, go to:https://webmail.saclink.csus.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=44d8910c372b4b398c58a91d6c6640df&URL=http%3a%2f%2fnews.bahai.org

Global markets swooned today in reaction to photos showing that President-elect Barack Obama had lost his shirt.

The pictures depicting a shirtless Mr. Obama wandering about on a deserted stretch of beach stoked fears that the U.S.'s financial woes were deeper than previously reported.


"We have had a steady drumbeat of bad news about the U.S. economy for weeks now," said Tracy Klugian, global asset analyst for HSBC. "Learning that the President-elect no longer has a shirt to his name was the last thing these markets needed."


In an attempt to calm investors. Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs said that the President-elect still owned a shirt and denied rumors that Mr. Obama had invested funds with Bernie Madoff.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Worst 10 Humanitarian Crises Of 2008

Massive forced civilian displacements, violence, and unmet medical needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, and Pakistan, along with neglected medical emergencies in Myanmar and Zimbabwe, are some of the worst humanitarian and medical emergencies in the world, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reports in its annual list of the “Top Ten” humanitarian crises.

The report underscores major difficulties in bringing assistance to people affected by conflict. The lack of global attention to the growing prevalence of HIV-tuberculosis co-infection and the critical need for increased global efforts to prevent and treat childhood malnutrition—the underlying cause of death for up to five million children per year—are also included in the list.

see: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/publications/topten/

Pope: Protecting Humanity From Gays Is Like Protecting The Rainforest

geeze... Merry Xmas Mr Ratzinger...
http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2008/12/pope-protecting-humanity-from-gays-is.html

After (see post on Dec 20th)

Just completed the verathane job...

Made a litle "bridge to nowhere" to get to the bathroom...

SHAME: AP study finds $1.6B went to bailed-out bank execs

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From Yahoo News, Sunday, December 21, 2008. See http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081221/ap_on_bi_ge/executive_bailouts
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AP study finds $1.6B went to bailed-out bank execs
By Frank Bass and Rita Beamish, Associated Press Writers


Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.


The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages


Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.


The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.


Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services committee and a long-standing critic of executive largesse, said the bonuses tallied by the AP review amount to a bribe "to get them to do the jobs for which they are well paid in the first place.


"Most of us sign on to do jobs and we do them best we can," said Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. "We're told that some of the most highly paid people in executive positions are different. They need extra money to be motivated!"


The AP compiled total compensation based on annual reports that the banks file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The 116 banks have so far received $188 billion in taxpayer help. Among the findings:


_The average paid to each of the banks' top executives was $2.6 million in salary, bonuses and benefits.


_Lloyd Blankfein, president and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, took home nearly $54 million in compensation last year. The company's top five executives received a total of $242 million.


This year, Goldman will forgo cash and stock bonuses for its seven top-paid executives. They will work for their base salaries of $600,000, the company said. Facing increasing concern by its own shareholders on executive payments, the company described its pay plan last spring as essential to retain and motivate executives "whose efforts and judgments are vital to our continued success, by setting their compensation at appropriate and competitive levels." Goldman spokesman Ed Canaday declined to comment beyond that written report.
The New York-based company on Dec. 16 reported its first quarterly loss since it went public in 1999. It received $10 billion in taxpayer money on Oct. 28.


_Even where banks cut back on pay, some executives were left with seven- or eight-figure compensation that most people can only dream about. Richard D. Fairbank, the chairman of Capital One Financial Corp., took a $1 million hit in compensation after his company had a disappointing year, but still got $17 million in stock options. The McLean, Va.-based company received $3.56 billion in bailout money on Nov. 14.


_John A. Thain, chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch, topped all corporate bank bosses with $83 million in earnings last year. Thain, a former chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs, took the reins of the company in December 2007, avoiding the blame for a year in which Merrill lost $7.8 billion. Since he began work late in the year, he earned $57,692 in salary, a $15 million signing bonus and an additional $68 million in stock options.
Like Goldman, Merrill got $10 billion from taxpayers on Oct. 28.


The AP review comes amid sharp questions about the banks' commitment to the goals of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), a law designed to buy bad mortgages and other troubled assets. Last month, the Bush administration changed the program's goals, instructing the Treasury Department to pump tax dollars directly into banks in a bid to prevent wholesale economic collapse.


The program set restrictions on some executive compensation for participating banks, but did not limit salaries and bonuses unless they had the effect of encouraging excessive risk to the institution. Banks were barred from giving golden parachutes to departing executives and deducting some executive pay for tax purposes.


Banks that got bailout funds also paid out millions for home security systems, private chauffeured cars, and club dues. Some banks even paid for financial advisers. Wells Fargo of San Francisco, which took $25 billion in taxpayer bailout money, gave its top executives up to $20,000 each to pay personal financial planners.


At Bank of New York Mellon Corp., chief executive Robert P. Kelly's stipend for financial planning services came to $66,748, on top of his $975,000 salary and $7.5 million bonus. His car and driver cost $178,879. Kelly also received $846,000 in relocation expenses, including help selling his home in Pittsburgh and purchasing one in Manhattan, the company said.


Goldman Sachs' tab for leased cars and drivers ran as high as $233,000 per executive. The firm told its shareholders this year that financial counseling and chauffeurs are important in giving executives more time to focus on their jobs.


JPMorgan Chase chairman James Dimon ran up a $211,182 private jet travel tab last year when his family lived in Chicago and he was commuting to New York. The company got $25 billion in bailout funds.


Banks cite security to justify personal use of company aircraft for some executives. But Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., questioned that rationale, saying executives visit many locations more vulnerable than the nation's security-conscious commercial air terminals.


Sherman, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, said pay excesses undermine development of good bank economic policies and promote an escalating pay spiral among competing financial institutions - something particularly hard to take when banks then ask for rescue money.


He wants them to come before Congress, like the automakers did, and spell out their spending plans for bailout funds.


"The tougher we are on the executives that come to Washington, the fewer will come for a bailout," he said.
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