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Saturday, March 29, 2008

OBSERVE EARTH HOUR TONIGHT!!!

Tonight, March 29, 2008 at 8 p.m., join millions of people around the world in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights for Earth Hour....
Atlanta at Night 47417 OR Wild Horses of Virginia???
Official Earth Hour Web Site

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nancy Pelosi Listens to Tibetans

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives, is demanding an independent investigation into China's deadly crackdown in Tibet.

It is important that China's largest trading partners speak out loud and clear about the human rights violations committed by this year's host of The Olympics. Some weak leaders seem to be inclined to only whisper their regrets behind the scenes.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi at Inauguration 28171

I have seen scant footage and many still images purported to be taken in and around Lhasa these past few weeks. All indications are that a Burma-type insurrection of Buddhist monks and citizens is taking place. The Chinese military opened fire and approximately 100 monks and other protesters were killed. Of course China is prohibiting all western news organizations from traveling to Lhasa. That action alone can only mean the Chinese government is doing something they do now want western people to know about.

Accusations by the Chinese against the Dalai Lama seem almost absurd. The largest army in the world feels threatened by a spiritual leader in-exile? Chinese words reveal how much power they perceive the Dalai Lama to possess. Quite interesting indeed!


This is a huge issue for China because they were planning to showcase Tibet using an Olympic torch-carrying ceremony. Now portions of Lhasa have become a giant torch, for the cause of Tibetan freedom.

To keep all this in perspective, however, the U.S. government arrested hundreds of protesters this week at events aimed at stopping the carnage in Iraq. There was little serious press coverage of the events. People in the U.S. are supposed to have the right to assemble peacefully and seek redress but the Bush Administration nows puts a stop to all unwanted demonstrations near the President. We now have a policy of that includes torture and unlimited detention with no hope of trial by jury.

China's leaders have some incredible counter-arguments to use when Mr. Bush does care to pick up phone and give them a call.

Note: There is a "tourist video" circulating that shows apparent looters taking advantage of the situation to break into a few vendor's stalls. These young men seem barely able to accomplish that task in the poor-quality video. In all likelihood this video is Chinese propaganda. It does not reflect the actual protests taking place. After all, China has the largest state-run propaganda machine, far, far larger than U.S. organizations such as Voice of America. The government in Beijing has severely restricted Chinese citizens abilities to view coverage of events in Tibet.

If you want to see quite a few good photos of the protests in Tibet go to the world's photo album, Flickr and search for Tibet. Click Most recent to sort the photos by date. You can use these photos to see for yourself what is actually taking place in Lhasa and surrounding communities.


Links:

Washington Post article
The Olympics
BBC article

Monday, March 17, 2008

Multiple Runs On Big Banks

MULTIPLE RUNS ON FINANCIAL SHARES
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Journalists are not supposed to announce that there is a run on a particular financial institution. That is the journalistic equivalent of yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre. Nevertheless, very rich people have lately been taking their money out of many large financial institutions.

Small depositors and investors need to beware. When rich people are starting a run on the banks something really crucial is failing.

Incredible sums of money have moved out of Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, and other financial institutions. The Federal government, in the face of Treasury Secretary Paulson, has begun a bailout of financial institutions, but as usual the efforts are too little too late. Paulson was the head of one of the largest financial institutions in the world just a few years back.

George W. Bush just walks around in an unbalanced state, doing the worst stand-up comedy routine while the nation melts into foreclosure. Dubya tells us our mighty nation has become like his presidency, "stuck in a ditch."

Wrong again, Mr. Bush, our nation has been driven off a cliff by a college cheerleader dabbling in preemptive warfare and human torture.

The Federal Reserve Bank, not a part of the U.S. government but rather a private institution, appears to be making the situation worse. The largest bankers intend to consolidate their incredible wealth in a few huge banks. Interest income from banks that massive balloon into chauffeur-driven Bentley's for the top dogs.

BANKS FAILING TODAY

A major bank with 1,400 branch offices and over 400 retail mortgage locations, National City Corporation (NYSE:NCC) shares are down 46% today.

Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM) is not far behind.

In the Third World, when ordinary people lose faith in the financial system they take their money out of the banks and keep it with them. There are just too many prior cases of corrupt leaders looting state-run banks. But that would be a more likely scenario for Haiti or Guinea rather than the United States, right?

Are Americans prepared for a major run on the banks or a major recession?

It is almost equally foolish to keep your money in your mattress as it is to keep it in a failing bank. But wait, some brilliant scholar reminds us that the U.S. Federal government insures the first $100,000 of your deposits.

So just let your bank fail and then file a claim for the money with the U.S. Federal Reserve. Ask someone who had their money deposited at Home State Savings Bank in Ohio. In the 1980's that bank went belly-up. It took depositors months to get back some of their money.

WHAT MONEY?

Oddly enough there is very little scope for a run on the banks in the United States anyway. People have not been saving money for years. The official savings rate is a negative number, like -.1%. There simply is no money in the accounts people might "run" to take money from. Last week's paycheck is automatically applied to last month's bills anyway. If any group were likely to make a "run" on the bank it would be the electric company or the credit card company.

The credit card company is the same company as the failing banks. We have come full circle. There already is a run on the banks going on every month, but it is only the automatic payment system of the credit card issuers at work.

WHO'S NEXT?

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (NYSE:LEH) is down 35% today. Expect it to go on the chopping block for $2/share tomorrow.

McCartney Settlement Clears Way for Beatles on iTunes

Stella gets her millions.

BBC Article
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Now the only remaining issue keeping the Beatles tracks off iTunes is
Michael Jackson. Luckily he needs the money badly so expect his
lawyers to allow the Beatles catalog on iTunes by summer.

This article from CNET indicates Jackson's lawyers think they control the situation:

CNET on Beatles catalog

Wolves Take Down Bear

The wolves have taken down a bear, and now the lead dog gets the largest share of the kill.
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JPMorgan Chase & Co. suddenly has enough money to buy Bear Stearns, at $2/share. It is an incredible deal considering how cautious JPMorgan has been in this crisis.

Bear Sterns (NYSE:BSC) traded at $172 a share on January 17, 2007.

Federal Reserve Bank Headquarters 13390
Now it is easy to see why the US Federal Reserve is deliberately steering the economy into a deep recession. Rich bankers doing a little market consolidation on the backs of U.S. taxpayers.

Citigroup, Inc. was essentially handed over to Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. It is ironic that the sheiks may do a better job at handling the money than Sandy Weill, a Brooklyn Jew. The world turns.
Alligator, Everglades NP 46319
Expect a few more banks, and their stock prices, to plummet in the days ahead. There are predators just waiting to make a kill.

My surviving strong U.S. market plays include the Van Eck Steel Fund (SLX) and of course, Apple, Inc.. Apple announces April 23 at 1700 EDT.

I sold all shares in U.S. financial firms in 2007. I do hold ITU and BBD in Brazil, Bank of Muscat, Commercial Bank of Qatar, Savings Bank of the Russian Federation (Sberbank), and ICICI Bank out of Mumbai.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

RE: Charlotte Allen's Washington Post Outlook Piece

As a young person I spent many years living and working among the poorest people in the world. In Haiti and rural India of the 1980s women rarely acted silly or frivolous, they were too busy giving birth, taking care of children, and mourning those that did not survive. Occasionally a women's magazine would arrive with some visitor from overseas. Village women would pour over these magazines in amazement. Many wondered how hard they would need to work to afford the dresses, thick make-up, jewelry, and shoes they saw in that copy of Ladies Home Journal, McCalls, or perhaps a Bollywood movie magazine.
Purulia District, India 00024
Don't get me wrong, Indian women too wore charcoal beneath their eyes, their babies have make-up applied soon after birth. The poorest women still had a tiny diamond in their nose and henna on their hands and head. The sari is perhaps one of the most frivolous outfits, certainly not often practical yet women still wear them while working in the rice fields.

Poor Haitian women wear clothing in such poor condition people in the U.S. would not use them for rags.

I began to see many of the so-called women's traditions for what they really are. Men have known they can control women for millennia. Sometimes they use shiny trinkets, pretty colors, and pleasant scents to sell junk to the ladies. In many cases tradition is the enforcer, women do what they do because they always have done so. Everyone in society tells them must get married and have children to really be happy. Other traditions are enforced by brutal violence. Subservience to men is a prime example of that.

For hundreds of years young women have been taught to paint their faces, wear impractical clothing, and basically look pretty for men. For most of that time there seemed no need for women to attend school or vote, those things were reserved for men. One thing soon becomes as plain as any woman that flouts these maxims. Young men are also trained; trained to go after the women that paint their faces, wear sexy clothing and look pretty. Our society and culture accomplish this training relatively early in life. Parents, siblings, and friends simply carry the same, often silly, messages in their daily routines, the way they dress and act.
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This silliness and obsession with superficial things is not only deeply ingrained in human behavior, it is an important part of the global economy. Major corporations reap huge profits from the steady stream of new clothing, women's media like television, books, and magazines, and of course make-up sales. Women that achieve wealth and status in society often prove their intelligence to loyal fans. They go out and spend millions more on breast implants, liposuction, lip implants, and botulism injections.

This whole pseudo-economy is worth far more than the global market for necessities like food. If women stopped buying makeup, excessive clothing, celebrity magazines, and anything Oprah recommends global markets would soon collapse. I am serious about this but not to worry, this will never, ever, happen.

Men are absolutely required by unwritten law to spend exorbitant sums on an overpriced piece of carbon. The marriage ceremony is worthless unless you spend a few months salary at the jewelry store. And at the wedding dress store. And the caterers. And the travel agent. You get the picture. Women's frivolous activities make the world go around, don't they?

Better buy all those Hallmark greeting cards too or she might leave you to go sleep with a man who is willing to buy those cards, diamonds, and new dresses.

I see women walking down the street wearing thousands of dollars all over their bodies, and sucking on a cigarette. A few men do spend extravagantly on clothing, but the markets for men's and women's clothing are two entirely different beasts. It is all about putting the most appealing feathers on the frock, isn't it? Would a man ever pay $2000 for a suit and refuse to wear it to more than one event?
Life In Annapolis 19558
I see so many women that spend hours on their appearance but rarely enrich their minds with a serious book. Women try so hard to look like the heroin addicts that model the latest fashions. Young women quickly learn that their bodies can get them almost everything they desire in life. Of course there are plenty of women attending college, running businesses, and using their smarts out in the world, but they almost all follow the same codes of conduct. If you don't color your lips and eyelids, show some boob, and some leg once every now and then people will think you are a prude.

Women who try to buck any of these standard practices risk ostracism from peers. Dress plainly, refuse to wear make-up or your twin shoulder holster and you madame will be labeled antisocial, perhaps even accused of being a dyke. If you study hard and become successful in your field, be prepared to be run out of town like Carly Fiorina.

Men enforce these rules as vigorously as women. If she refuses to look pretty then drop her, divorce her, or just spend more time with a woman who does conform.

Woe to the man that criticizes the status quo with regards to women. The marketing people will emasculate you, that is if the insecure women don't get you first.


Links:
Original Washington Post Article (3/2/08) Page B01

The Washington Post article that inspired this essay can be located using the following link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/29/AR2008022902992.html

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Next Generation Phone

July 4th Fireworks 00024

I

want my phone permanently implanted in my head, so I never have to search for it. I want it completely voice-activated with the best voice recognition software, no buttons whatsoever. Rollover minutes would take on a whole new meaning. Video and Internet content should play on a virtual heads-up display visible and audible only to me. I want my business mail read to me by an intelligent voice and personal e-mail read to me by a sexy voice. The power supply should be my own personal magnetism and warmth, that way I never have to worry about low batteries. Seriously, why should we even need to wait a year or two for such technology, it should be on the market now.

Monday, March 03, 2008

DO NOT TALK TO STRANGERS

Along For The Ride 48350 A mother and child stood behind me in line at the grocery store yesterday. The young boy was having great fun playing with the candy bars and all the colorful packages. He suddenly stopped that for a moment and walked up to look over my purchases. Next, he looked up at me.
I briefly said to him, "Hello. Are you having fun shopping at Trader Joe's?"

He quickly nodded and said with a big smile, "Yes, very much."

The young boy's mother was standing right behind him watching the entire time. She immediately grabbed the boy by the arm, pulled him aside, and whispered to him in an angry tone of voice.

"Do you remember what I told you about talking to strangers? You are never to talk to strangers, do you understand me?"

The little boy nodded "yes", almost in tears after this scolding. He returned to stand silently in line behind me, trying so hard to look away.

In the meantime the cashier and I continued one of those conversations normal people often initiate when they are out in public. We probably just talked about the weather, or if I found everything I was looking for in the store today. The point is, we socialized.

RIGHT OR WRONG?

Young parents probably agree with the scolding given to the little boy. Many of the latest trendy books on raising children include this recommendation:

Teach your children never to talk to strangers.

McGruff, the Crime Dog, likely teaches a similar lesson.

In the case of a child playing alone out in front of a house, it makes some sense to teach them not to talk to any stranger that happens to drive past. However what about when the child is standing right next to mother, inside a grocery store?

What are we really accomplishing when we teach a 5-year old child to be afraid of talking to all strangers, even if mother is standing right there? If the child truly takes that lesson to heart what has the mother really done?

At what age does the No-Talking-To-Strangers rule get relaxed?

"OK, son, you're 13 today, now you can talk to all strangers."

"Jane, now that you are 11 you may talk to strangers in line at the grocery store but not at the butcher shop."

WHY DO WE TALK TO STRANGERS?

My mother never once told me, "Never talk to strangers" though I was taught not to take any rides in cars with people I did not know.

I met my first girlfriend, my wife, and many other wonderful companions all because I was willing to talk to strangers.

Every single work opportunity of my adult life has involved speaking to countless numbers of total strangers. I only worked in retail stores for perhaps 6 months of a 30-year work history. People who work retail, restaurant, or sales positions will talk to even more strangers over the course of a career.

My spoken vocabulary includes thousands of important words that I learned from total strangers.

Most of my fantastic experiences living and traveling overseas have resulted from talking to strangers.

Strangers are the only people who have ever helped me when my car has broken down in distant lands.

LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES

Society will quickly become a really dismal place if we teach all our children not to socialize. Ultimately, every normal child does have to talk to strangers, just to get through childhood and grammar school. A king's little prince may be entitled to live that ridiculous sequestered life but not a child of middle-class America.

It is far more important that parents teach their children to be discerning as they travel through life. Children do need to learn how to identify people they can safely talk to. It is also important to understand there are some situations where we can trust one another more easily. For example, there is a difference between encountering a well-dressed stranger in line at the grocery store and a stranger dressed in rags you may stumble over in a dark alley.

A person that has not learned how to initiate and a carry on a conversation with the right people is left at a serious disadvantage later in life. The best opportunities are often discovered by word-of-mouth. Talking is what humans do that sets them apart from most other living things, without speech we live at a definite disadvantage, ask any hearing-impaired person.

Of course I do not know the best answer to this situation but I do know one thing. Nobody wants to live in a society where all the people are so afraid of criminals that they stop talking to each other.