Friday, July 31, 2009

House votes to restrict Wall Street pay

The House did it before it left for summer recess. The bill passed on a 237-185 vote.

In the article "Citigroup, which is now one-third owned by the government after taking $45 billion in government money, gave 738 of its employees bonuses of at least $1 million, even after it lost $18.7 billion during the year."

Big bank bonuses in 2008

Despite the Wall Street crisis, the NYT is reporting that many of the banks that received TARP money still paid out million dollar bonus awards. To be fair, a number of these banks have paid back the TARP money already, but Citi has not and is among those cited in the article.

Amazing skills, rising star

In this video he is only six years old. He is already being talked about as the sport's next Zinedine Zidane and is being closely followed by Europe's soccer elite. His name is Madin Mohamed and you can be sure we will be hearing his name in the future. Check out the video below to see some mad skills.

Don't forget about Free Chocolate Friday

Every Friday from now through September you can get a coupon here to get a free chocolate product from Mars. Dubbed the Mars Real Chocolate Relief Act, it provides a coupon for your favorite Mars product. This includes Snickers, Twix, Milky Way or M&M's, among others. Every Friday it is valid for the first 250,000 coupons ordered.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Romario may be going to prison

Brazilian soccer sensation Romario faces three and a half years in prison for not paying taxes. His excuse, are you ready for this? His attorney claims "it wasn't his fault." Now there is a very technical and articulate defense strategy. He was a great player, but maybe not as good at some of the other more mundane responsibilities in life.

From Mexican day laborer to U.S. Winemaker

This is a great story. They say that the U.S. is the land of opportunity and it certainly was for Rolando Herrera. Today he makes and sells his own wine which goes by the name "Mi Sueño" which means my dream in Spanish.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Quote for today

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way.

Henry Boyle

What Citi should say to the U.S. taxpayer

But never will. This is a great letter. Would Richard Parsons ever send it? No way. Would Uncle Vik approve of it? Does it matter? Read the letter. It's pretty funny and to a large degree, accurate.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How the heck did they do it?

Living in South Florida in August can be tough. The heat can make you miserable if you let it, but let's face it, we have air conditioning. The question is how did people live in climates such as these without air conditioning and obviously, some still do. This article talks about some of the tricks people employed to beat the heat prior to air conditioning.

The best that ever played the game?

Argentinians will argue this point until they are blue in the face, paying homage to their own superstar, Diego Maradona. In truth the argument could be made for either one, but Pele is still considered by many to be the best to ever play the game. The Brazilian style of soccer or "futebol" as they call it has been dubbed "the beautiful game" and none played it more beautifully than Edison Arantes do Nascimento who became an overnight sensation during the 1958 world cup when as a 17 year old he dominated the tournament with his dizzying goal scoring prowess, scoring a hat trick in the semi-final match. He never looked back and scored nearly 1,300 goals in his electrifying career.

His business acumen has never measured up to his athletic prowess however and that is the crux of this article in the WSJ. They say timing is everything in life and Pele had the unfortunate timing to be born in an era before the explosion of player salaries such as the recent stratospheric transfer fee of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. Nevertheless, Pele has never really helped himself out, opting for some questionable business ventures. In essence, he is still awaiting his payday and still trying to make it happen.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. If you have ever worked for this next manager you may have felt sorry for them. You may even have tried to advise or warn them at some point, usually to no avail. At least they generally have a sunny disposition, so while you may get beat down by the situations arising from this manager's inadequate skill set, at least he/she is in a good mood while it is happening.

MOTW: Jolly Manager

Poor, ill-equipped Jolly Manager. With his/her rotund physique and elfin visage, Jolly Manager was raised in a small landlocked town, learning only a rudimentary dog paddle as a child. This leaves Jolly Manager with a woefully inadequate skill set when the time comes to swim with the sharks, who are carnivorous, always much better swimmers and thoroughly merciless. Although cheerful, Jolly Manager walks around with the equivalent of a “kick me “ sign on the back of his/her ill-fitting shirt/blouse without ever knowing it is there and routinely gets pummeled by more self-aggrandizing co-workers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bringing your own wine to a restaurant

I see more and more people doing this these days and I have to assume it is an attempt to be more frugal when dining out. This article from the duo at the WSJ gives some advice on how to do this in an acceptable manner. As always, they provide quite a few common sense tips which one might not have thought of.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Isla del sol

Armik, an Armenian/Persian guitarist performing Isla del sol. Have a great day!

Weekend Haiku

White dew-
one drop
on each thorn.

Buson (1716 - 1783)

Friday, July 24, 2009

They really said that?

We have all heard the advice about interviewing. Put your best foot forward, sell yourself but don't lie. Dress appropriately, research the company you are interviewing with prior to your interview so you appear knowledgeable and interested. Never be late. Be prepared with some good questions so when the eventual invitation comes, "Do you have any questions for me/us?" you ask something on point and intelligent. Do not ask about money too early if at all, etc, etc, etc.

Yes, we have all heard the advice and still wondered what mistake we made when we didn't get a call-back or the job itself. Still, it is hard to believe some of the pearls in this article. It really is unfathomable that people actually said these things during the process of an interview. After all, since they were interviewing it is assumed they wanted the job, but who knows?

Don't forget about Free Chocolate Friday

Every Friday from now through September you can get a coupon here to get a free chocolate product from Mars. Dubbed the Mars Real Chocolate Relief Act, it provides a coupon for your favorite Mars product. This includes Snickers, Twix, Milky Way or M&M's, among others. Every Friday it is valid for the first 250,000 coupons ordered.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What role did they play?

My first post on this event which you can go to by clicking here was entitled, "The problem is Chavez."

Well, enquiring minds want to know. At least United States Senator Jim DeMint wants to know. He is introducing an ammendment to the defense authorization bill that would, in the words of his release,

"Require the Director of National Intelligence to present a full report on any role that Venezuela, Nicaragua, or Cuba’s leaders played in the ongoing crisis in Honduras, leading up to and after the removal of former President Manuel Zelaya from office."

A bird that travels far

What is unique about the migration pattern of the Arctic tern? Answer after the jump.

The Arctic tern breeds in the southern sections of the Arctic, and winters along pack ice near Antarctica - 11,000 miles away! The distance that it travels is greater than any other species of bird.

Another sign of change

In the music business. This article talks about a different business model for aspiring artists created by a venture called Polyphonic.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

12 year old makes professional debut in Bolivian soccer league

Mauricio Baldivieso is thought to have become the youngest player ever to play in professional football. He came on as a substitute in a Bolivian football match and was promptly given a rude reception when an opponent tackled him in such a rough manner that Baldivieso, holding back tears, had to receive medical attention. He later returned to the game amid cheers and thanked fans after the game.

From the article
, his exact words were, "A million thanks to everyone,” said an emotional Baldivieso after the game, “I am the most happy man in the world.”

Well, happiest boy at least even though I am sure he felt like a man after that tackle.

Strange things happen in our state

And strange sights too. Yes, we do have Land Shark stadium on the Dade/Broward line where the Dolphins and Marlins play ball, but that is a far cry from a real land shark, i.e. one in the middle of a busy street. This specimen stopped traffic in Miami.

Music can be used for many ends

It can be used to soothe, to please others, to express oneself, to make money and on and on. It can also be used for other ends. Remember Manuel Noriega when he holed up in the Apostolic Nunciature, the Holy See's embassy in Panama. During the resulting stand-off, U.S. forces bombarded the embassy with loud music played through boom boxes to try and get him to vacate the premises.

Well, I could not resist linking to this article about songs used to interrogate suspects and induce them to confess. Please look at choice number 5 on the list.

People who know me well know that I have long maintained that playing the first few bars of this choice would be enough to get me to confess to anything. It is interesting to see that it has actually been used, albeit in New Zealand to protect a mall from misled youth. I firmly believe that repeated listening to this specific genre of music does eventually lead to cranial implosion and have said so in other writings.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It's a beautiful city with lots of charm and the Swedes are genuinely friendly people in my opinion. I had a wonderful time while I was there even though I was working. I have also spent some time in a small city up in the Arctic circle named Skellefteå (pronounced Shellefteo I am told) and the people there were great too. I was there in the winter and the nights are very long. In fact, in the winter there is only daylight from approximately 11:00 am to about 2 or 3 pm if I recall correctly. Sweden has some good Disc Golf players as well. Overall, they tend to be very long drivers.

And while this Rick Steves' Europe article talks about people knowing Sweden for ABBA and their music, I prefer other Swedish music and have written previously about some Swedish musicians on this blog such as:

Stakka Bo, click here to check him out.

Lisa Ekdahl, click here to check her out.

Dr. Alban, click here to check him out.

Anne-Lie Ryde, click here to check her out.

Oh, and whatever you do, stay away from the Surströmming IMHO.

Where did those deleted posts really go?

On Twitter that is? Well, they are gone, sort of, so be careful if you are a stream of consciousness type person who posts first, then thinks later, subsequently thinks the better of it and finally deletes. Tweleted might be your undoing.

The most painful putts in golf history

Tom Watson's miss in the British Open was bad for him. He ended up losing out on a chance to make history, but this article says it was not the worst miss in golf history, not by a long shot (no pun intended). I've written about putting (in disc golf here and golf/disc golf here) before on this blog. Everyone focuses on it because it is the last thing they see in a player's game before they win or lose a tournament, but it really is only one facet of a complete player's game.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Treasury cancels plans to hire cartoonist

They planned to hire one to lighten the mood. No comment.

The money quote in the article,"Of all the agencies, the Bureau of Public Debt should know that there is very little that is funny about today's economic conditions," Dorgan said in a statement released Friday."

Senator Dorgan is the one who questioned the move.

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. The good news about working for this next manager is that he/she leaves you alone. The bad news is that he/she leaves you alone. Don't expect any interest or guidance from this manager and thus no development, but you are typically free to manage yourself, which for some can be a very good thing.

MOTW: Transition Manager

This character is marking time until a “real” job appears within the company. As such Transition Manager takes minimal interest in what his/her unit is doing. This type of manager leads to some interesting goings on within the office since most of his/her time and energy is focused on networking and job searches and not on what his/her people are or are not producing.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Frozen shoulder

My arm had been hurting when I would play disc golf so I finally broke down and went to the doctor. He sent me to an orthopaedist who diagnosed me with this condition. I guess the technical term is adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder, but its common street name is frozen shoulder. Whatever it is it hurts a lot. The good news is it should go away in about two to three years. Wonderful! It will be interesting to see what my disc golf game will be like after two comebacks, first my neck and now this. Great.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend Haiku

This moth saw brightness
in a woman's chamber-
burnt to a crisp.

Issa (1763 - 1827)

Friday, July 17, 2009


Eurydice from Sleepthief featuring Jody Quine, an interpretation of the Greek mythological legend of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Citi made money

Citi reported a 4.3 billion dollar profit for the second quarter, temporarily relieving some of the non-stop stress Uncle Vik has been facing. This is great news, although much of the result was due to the sale of the Smith Barney wealth management division to Morgan Stanley. Nevertheless, it is a good sign for the embattled financial services supermarket which is trying to slim down and fine tune its business model.

Do you know the name of the wife who outlived Henry VIII?

Many people know Henry VIII married six times. Do you know the names and the fates of those six wives? Answer after the jump.

He ruled England from 1509 to 1547. His not always so lucky wives were as follows: Catherine of Aragon, whom he divorced; Anne Bolyen, whom he had beheaded; Jane Seymour, who died during childbirth; Anne of Cleves, divorced; Catherine Howard, another decapitation; and Catherine Parr, who somehow outlived him.

Don't forget about Free Chocolate Friday

Every Friday from now through September you can get a coupon here to get a free chocolate product from Mars. Dubbed the Mars Real Chocolate Relief Act, it provides a coupon for your favorite Mars product. This includes Snickers, Twix, Milky Way or M&M's, among others. Every Friday it is valid for the first 250,000 coupons ordered.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Now that is a great boss

Finally a good story from this whole Madoff mess. Robert Lappin has made his employees whole. The 401k his company's employees invested in was managed by Madoff. Despite losing some of his personal fortune investing with Madoff, Lappin has taken it upon himself to restore approximately 5 million dollars that was lost by the 60 employees of his two companies because of the fraudulent money manager. Now that is a manager who is a stand-up guy.

Do not be confused - There is an "i" missing in the name

And it is two words. That is CIT Group (not Citigroup) whose last trade yesterday was at 1.64 and while it is also a lender and perhaps in danger of failing as of yesterday it is "NOT considered by the government to be too big to fail."

Citigroup, on the other hand, has a ticker symbol which is just a plain "C" and its last trade yesterday was at 3.17. It also still has 45 billion dollars of TARP money in its pockets.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2008 USDGC Distance Finals

A while back I posted a YouTube video of the record distance throw at the 2008 USDGC Distance Finals here. Here is a cool look at some of those throws set to music by someone on YouTube with the handle LUDAing. Kudos for a nice look at the power, grace and style of some of these bombers, including "Double G", who won the competition that night.

Marc Dreier

Remember this post a while back about the lawyer who bilked several different types of investors (mostly hedge funds) for approximately 700 million dollars. Athough prosecutors had asked for a 145 year sentence as punishment the judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

The perfect seafood wine?

I can't vouch for Muscadet, having never tried it, but the WSJ duo have not steered me wrong so far. So I think next time it's seafood I will be checking it out.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A 38 hour return trip

For a trip of under 3 hours flying time. Here is the short version. I was supposed to return from Guatemala City to Miami on a flight Saturday July 11th arriving at 1:40 p.m. I did not arrive at my house until 8:00 p.m. on Sunday the following evening. An airline I will not mention but which goes by the initials AA (responsible for the delay in the first place) was finally able to reroute me through Dallas to Miami on Sunday the 12th. Needless to say I arrived a bit upset, sleep-deprived and feeling thoroughly defeated by the air travel system.

This land is your land

Happy birthday Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie.

Madoff's new digs

He will be in some infamous company. He is headed to federal prison in Butner, NC, where he is sentenced to spend the next 150 years. Among his new fellow inmates are some interesting characters.

From the article, "They include Omar Abdel-Rahman, the terrorist known as the "Blind Sheik" who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and former Adelphia Commmunications Chief Executive Officer John Rigas.

Also incarcerated there: former U.S. Naval Intelligence Analyst and convicted spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard; former Colombo crime family boss Carmine Persico; and Russell Weston, the perpetrator of a 1998 U.S. Capitol shooting that left two U.S. Capitol Police officers dead."

Our teleprompter President

Since he uses it for practically everything it's good to have a backup. Even the teleprompter is afraid of the administration's economic measures. Watch what happens.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. This next manager is generally inoffensive to people but can be problematic to bottom line results. Strategically mentioning guardian angels around this manager tends to have a brightening effect on this manager and thus enhances his/her perception of you as a staff member.

MOTW: New Age Manager

Believes everyone has goodness in them and that the world changed for the better after the Harmonic Convergence. Thinks that corporations are too cold and robotic and that people should be allowed to express themselves and work in a positive atmosphere, regardless of results. His/her office is usually decorated with soft, pastel colors and no one is allowed to give corrective feedback. A weekly, communal macrobiotic meal on him/her for all the staff is not unusual. Casual dress is encouraged. Bonus points are awarded for anyone with crystals in their office.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Storing Wine

Some tips on storing wine from our friends at the WSJ. Bottom line, don't obsess over it. We've been fed way too many rules over the years about temperature, location and length of time. Myself, I keep both our whites and reds between 55 and 60% Fahrenheit. We drink them when we feel like it and guess what, the approach works fine for us.

Flu versus Swine Flu, did you know?

With all the hoopla over the possibilities of a swine flu pandemic I thought it would be interesting to give some context. According to WikiAnswers, WHO puts the number of confirmed cases of novel H1N1 deaths world-wide at around 430 dated as of July 6th, 2009. In contrast to this, do you know how many people died in the flu epidemic of 1918-1919? Answer after the jump.

In the three waves of the 1918-1919 flu epidemic, at least twenty million people succumbed. Indeed, many estimates run as high as thirty million dead. Coming on the heels of the First World War (in which only ten million perished), the pandemic spread more quickly and widely because of the large troop movements of the time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Corazon Espinado

Guitar legend Carlos Santana and Mana perform Corazon Espinado.

More bonus reviews for AIG and The Man Who Crashed the World

This one is just not worth wasting too much blog space over. We are all saturated with public outrage over this issue. "Too big to fail" is a phrase I just don't want to hear anymore and yet another government appointed czar enters the picture.

Instead if you want to read something interesting about AIG click here.

Weekend Haiku

Climb Mount Fuji,
O snail,
but slowly, slowly.

Issa (1763 - 1827)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Don't forget about Free Chocolate Friday

Every Friday from now through September you can get a coupon here to get a free chocolate product from Mars. Dubbed the Mars Real Chocolate Relief Act, it provides a coupon for your favorite Mars product. This includes Snickers, Twix, Milky Way or M&M's, among others. Every Friday it is valid for the first 250,000 coupons ordered.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How is Obama doing?

This is hardly surprising given the administration's response to the recent spate of events in North Korea, Iran and Honduras just to name a few. Polls are now beginning to show that while Obama still inspires confidence as a leader, some are beginning to question his toughness. The short article focuses on his plans for the future of the nation and handling a "crisis" and doesn't mention foreign policy specifically, but it is my guess that this is also influencing the results. Charisma and nuanced speech only go so far as his recent Russian trip proved.

Hope and Peril After an Escape From the Cubicle

For me it was more like an ejection than an escape. So far it's been a lot of peril, a lot of hope and very little revenue. According to these findings I just have to make it past the four year mark. Wonderful.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cyber attacks "Denial of Service" hit several sensitive U.S. sites

Several sites were cyber attacked in the U.S. and South Korea by cyber criminals, among them the U.S. Treasury Department and Secret Service. The attacks paralyzed the sites for an inordinately long time and some say that the sites are still being affected. North Korea is one of the countries suspected of initiating the attacks.

I mention these two sites specifically because in my previous post about counterfeiting the concept of supernotes comes up. Many attribute the appearance of the supernote as a problem whose genesis is also North Korea, although this has never been validated. Two sites to hit if a rogue nation were interested in counterfeiting our currency would of course be the U.S. Treasury Department and the Secret Service websites. Coincidence? Perhaps.

The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter

Abandoned by his father at an early age, living with his siblings and a bipolar schizophrenic mother in abject poverty, Art Williams had to grow up in a hurry. An extraordinarily intelligent boy, he soon turned to a life of petty crime until a master counterfeiter took him under his wing and mentored him in the craft. Thus was born the most notorious and successful counterfeiter that the United States Secret Service has ever faced.

William's specialty was the 100 dollar bill, and with the exception of supernotes, the most exact copy of the real thing the authorities had ever seen. Williams was able to replicate all the security measures built into the new 1996 currency release of the hundred dollar bill deemed the "New Note" so perfectly that his demand exceeded supply by a far margin. In this way he lived his life, supporting himself and his family and although eventually caught through an unlucky circumstance was soon free on a technicality.

To this day he would probably be passing phony notes had he not decided to look up his father and reunite with him after an extremely long absence. His search took him to a remote town in Alaska and in a twist reminiscent of a contemporary Greek tragedy, what transpired upon their rapprochement was his undoing. Today Williams is incarcerated and still proud of his master works of art.

Written by Jason Kersten, The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter is a fascinating read and an interesting look our currency in circulation, how the Secret Service, (whose two missions include guarding the president and the nation's currency), try to protect its integrity. There is no doubt that Williams is a master at his craft, but it just goes to show that even geniuses eventually slip up when involved in illicit activities.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

We may not have oil or dollars, but...

A friend in Honduras sent me this picture. In an oblique reference to other countries interfering in their business the sign says,

"Honduras is an example for the world. We don't have oil or dollars, but we have balls."

Let us not fool ourselves. While the safety and sovereignty of Hondurans is in question, what is really at play here is the future of Latin America in general, essentially the rest of the countries that have yet to fall victim to Chavez's machinations. He has already sealed the deal in several other Latin American countries. His petrodollars allow him to do that. Honduras, a small country of approximately seven million people is the litmus test for the rest of the region. Chavez is a persona who views himself as the saviour of Latin America and the mentor for many others who would follow his example and end democracy there. The Hondurans have spoken and do not want his rule by proxy. That much is obvious.

Watch one gentleman, Senator Tom Coburn, who gets it.

In a related note, the Secretary of State is slated to meet with Mr. Zelaya. I am not holding my breath on any favorable outcome from that meeting even though I am hoping Mrs. Clinton heard Senator Tom Coburn's words and heeds them.

And read this story where Honduran Supreme Court Justice Rosalinda Cruz explains that what occurred was the execution of an arrest order and not a "coup."

Emerging internet technology...

And its effect. Clay Shirky, a prescient voice, talks about the internet's effects on expressive capability in the new media. In this video he argues that emerging technologies available to the masses today (Social Networking such as Facebook, Twitter, etal) are enabling loose collaboration in a way never witnessed before and thus making history as it happens. His words, "We are increasingly in a landscape where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap."

Australian wines

Selling more, but making less on the sales. Are the "critter labels" to blame? Whatever the issue is, it doesn't sound like a sustainable business model to me and they had better turn it around because I like their wines, especially Penfold's.

Monday, July 6, 2009

They should have let him land

After being denied entry to Toncontin International Airport in Tegucigalpa Zelaya landed in El Salvador instead. They should have let him land and account for his illegal actions. The more they shut him out, the more of a circus it becomes, the more he plays the victim and garners world opinion to his side. As the saga continues to evolve, the country will increasingly become a pariah in world opinion. End result, the Honduran people will pay dearly for Zelaya's legacy. Meanwhile, Chavez chuckles with contentment.

It's Monday

And we all know what that means. Time for another MOTW, Manager of the Week. Contamination from this next manager's behavior can signal the death knell for any employee. If you find yourself working for such a specimen The Night Canopy's advice is to get out as fast as you can. Run Forrest run, and never look back.

MOTW: Cover Up Manager

This manager thrives by ensuring that all screw-ups, mistakes and failures are kept hidden from Senior Management. Cover-Up Manager tends to hold a lot of clandestine meetings where sinister cabals plan covert and intricate damage control operations. If invited to one of these meetings call in sick and do not attend. Above all, do not get involved in any swearing in ceremonies or blood tie rituals with this manager as history has proven that these cover up approaches are eventually destined to fail, taking everyone who participated in them down with the ship.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

And it's official. He's back!

Again, with a roar. Although they played great golf, Lil' Kim, and a Hunter (Mahan that is) stalked him, the Tiger is back, winning the AT&T National in fine form. He's an amazing specimen. Even with surgery and a long layoff, his talent and "deliberate practice" far outweigh his opponents. He's just that good.

Losing Touch

A recording of The Killers Losing Touch.

The plot thickens...

Zelaya has now been denied entry, flying in from our nation's capital Washington.

The money quote in the article, "I don't want a single drop of blood to be spilled in Honduras," Micheletti said.

How much longer until the world supports the Hondurans in their quest for democracy? The Honduran military acted entirely within the bounds of the Constitution. The military gained nothing but the respect of the nation by its actions and Micheletti, responsibly, wants to any avoid bloodshed of his countrymen. It is time to understand that Chavez and his ilk have no place in counties that want no part of his demagoguery. Let Hondurans decide their fate and don't sponsor any more plane trips for Zelaya originating from Washington. Enough is enough. Let the Hondurans decide.

Facebook outs a spy's wardrobe

And he wears a Speedo! Well come to think of it, don't most European men? I've said before that people on Facebook are sometimes a little out of control. After all, I don't really want to know when my "friend" Joe makes a turkey sandwich and how much mayonnaise he put on it, but this is a bit different. After all, the man is the incoming head of Britain's international spy agency. The account has since been taken down. As the Russians (who incidentally own a piece of Facebook now) would say, "Большое спасибо." That means "Thank you very much," for the information that is.

Crossing Heaven's Border

Based on this description in this article I really want to watch this documentary.

One snippet from the description, "One of the saddest things filmed here is the discussion between two sisters who meet just across the border in China. One is planning an escape to South Korea and a career, she dreams, as an actress and musician. The other sister now thinks of going back to the North lest she betray dictator Kim Jong Il, whom she reverently calls the Dear Leader. In vain her clear-eyed sister notes that Dear Leader has made millions of his subjects starve while he is well fed and fat. Oh, no, the brainwashed sister argues, he got that big stomach from working so hard and a lack of sleep. "

It had to happen

Honduras has been suspended from the OAS. So now they have become a pariah because they want democracy. Let's face it, the OAS is about as relevant as the United Nations is these days. This is an issue for the Honduran populace to decide, not clueless bodies of bureaucrats/politicians voting based on their own agendas comprised to serve their own interests.

And if you believe the findings of this article about Costa Rica, the Honduran military was even so nice to Zelaya that they exiled him to one of the "happiest" places on the planet. What's wrong with that you ask? Given what he is accused of, absolutely nothing. In fact, it's pretty benign treatment if you ask me.

Performance Reviews - The bane of employers and employees alike

But no longer. The nation's Commander in Chief will soon be easing that burden on those supervisors currently working and too busy to engage in bureaucratic endeavours. As part of the stimulus package and in an effort to remove the onus of this difficult task from otherwise busy Americans, President Obama will be calling you to hold your own personal performance review, so make sure your paperwork, including your self-evaluation, is in order.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

If he is right...

Then let Zelaya go back without being accompanied by "international figures." The article says such a move would be "awkward." Of course it would. "International figures" is simply code-speak for Chavistas. If he has done nothing wrong as he and the world claim, then he should have nothing to fear. But one thing is certain, this is for the Hondurans to settle and so they must, by themselves.

Ouch! Not again.

This headache which our current administration has is turning into a migraine each time North Korea ups the ante. According to this article a U.S. diplomat said : "This type of North Korea behavior is not helpful." Oh, great, that will fix them. Perhaps that statement isn't the most helpful. If our foreign policy stance doesn't awaken from its nuanced, have-it-all-ways soon it will be more than a migraine, it will be a full blown brain tumor with no cure.

Happy Fourth of July

A simple wish to all my American readers to have a happy and safe Independence Day. Enjoy your freedom.

Weekend Haiku

Tethered horse;
in both stirrups.

Buson (1716 - 1783)

Friday, July 3, 2009

A "coup" in Honduras? Nonsense.

The sub-title is eloquently put, "Don't believe the myth. The arrest of President Zelaya represents the triumph of the rule of law."

Read the whole thing. It's only one page long and succintly tells all you need to know from a legal and constitutional standpoint.

The money quote from the author, "Don't believe the coup myth. The Honduran military acted entirely within the bounds of the Constitution. The military gained nothing but the respect of the nation by its actions."

More stress for Uncle Vik

And this one is of his own making. According to sources Citi was in talks to sell its credit card book when the talks broke down because Citi wanted a premium for its portfolio of branded and private-label credit cards. Now we all know cards has been a flagship business for Citi for a long time, but analysts are predicting that loan losses on credit cards due to economic factors (as in people not having jobs, etc.) will be the next nasty problem for lenders.

The talks are no longer ongoing and Uncle Vik may rue the day he didn't sell to GE. In February I posted this little nugget. Well, it still holds true. If you hold a garage (that's right I wrote garage and not garbage) sale you have to sell stuff people are willing to buy and at the price people are willing to pay, otherwise you end up stuck with the stuff and eventually dropping it off at Goodwill.

How Jackson did it

An excellent look at the two albums (Off The Wall and Thriller, click here) which cemented Michael Jackson's place in music history as the iconic King of Pop. The author of the article talked with Quincy Jones, the producer of both albums, and delivers a detailed explanation of their production for music aficionados. For instance, everyone knows that Eddie Van Halen delivered the guitar solo in Beat It, but among the nuggets included here are that Jeff Porcaro, drummer for Toto, was on drums for that song and that Steve Lukather also from Toto, was on guitar as well.

Also, say what you will about the guy, but he could really sing as well as dance, unlike many performers out there today, are you listening Britney? Listen to this A Cappella (well, with only a drum machine as accompaniment) version of Billie Jean and see what you think. He really had that elusive it in spades, whatever it is.

Nuanced charm about to meet heavy-handedness

And this gentleman thinks it will be a stalemate. I'm not so optimistic. Given the administration's penchant for treading gingerly in foreign policy so far, I think Mister Obama is going to return from this trip slightly more disappointed and on the wrong side of a stalemate. Большое спасибо.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

No Answer From Petrograd

Here's No Answer From Petrograd from Yonderboi. Enjoy.

If Citi customer service isn't answering your calls

It's because the Swine Flu has hit. Memo from Citi Health Services to employees after the jump.

To: Employees on the 4th floor of 390 Greenwich St.

From: Citi Health Services

Sent: Wed Jul 01 13:18:27 2009

Subject: Probable H1N1 Case at 390 Greenwich St.

We have learned that an employee at our location has been diagnosed with a probable case of H1N1 Flu. The employee was in the office today, and at that time was showing some symptoms of H1N1 Flu. Please note that, due to medical privacy concerns, we cannot provide additional information as to the identity of the employee who has become ill. We are asking that employees on the floor take special care to ensure you are:

* Taking appropriate protective measures to prevent becoming ill and/orspreading illness to others.

* Staying home from work if you begin demonstrating flu-like symptoms.

You should monitor your health for the next seven days, and if you are not feeling well, please do not come into work until you are symptom-free for 24 hours. Individuals who are at a high risk of complications from influenza-like illness (those who are 65 or older, have chronic medical conditions, and pregnant women) should contact their physicians for specific health recommendations.

Additionally, for those of you who manage teams, if one of your employees begins showing flu-like symptoms, send that person home immediately and contact Citi Health Services at 212-559-3981.

Thank you.

And the Oscar goes to...

Jose Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales. As my friend living in Honduras told me,

"Everybody should watch his intervention on Telesur, a Chavez financed TV station in the days prior to his ousting and compare his demagoguery there to what he said at the UN. Double personality? Or following the steps of his allies? That is, do and say what is necessary to force the neo-nationalism being pushed by Chavez down the throat of defenseless, impoverished people."

It is interesting he has delayed his return. Originally he said he would return today. Now per this CNN article it won't be until at least Saturday. If he is as innocent and wronged as he claims, then he should have nothing to fear. No matter what eventually happens it is my feeling that the Honduran middle class is going to pay dearly for this affair.

The Bee Gees or Queen?

What an existential question you say. Apparently, in the right hands, either one can save your life. Being a music lover, I prefer Queen since I was never really into Disco, but this guy will forever be indebted to the brothers Gibb. Oh, and to his wife of course.

More bad news

The economy is still struggling. We lost another 467,000 jobs in June. To make matters worse I read yesterday that prospective employers (the few that are out there) prefer to hire people who are already working, under the premise that the ultimate survivors are the most productive and competent employees since they haven't been laid off yet. Great.

Saving money when ordering wine

Here are ten good suggestions on how to save money when ordering wine in restaurants from our wine guides at the WSJ. These are some common sense tips that will help in tough economic times.

Last night we went out to eat and I used suggestion number 3. The result was this really good wine for a very good price. I probably would never have ordered it since I had never heard of it, let alone tried it. I'm glad I did.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

U.N. and O.A.S. want Zelaya back in. Chavez chuckling with glee.

From this CNN article. This is what Roberto Micheletti, the veteran legislator who has been sworn in as provisional president with the support of Congress had to say about that.

"He already committed crimes against the constitution and the laws; he can't return to be president of the republic," Micheletti told reporters Tuesday. "He can no longer return to the presidency unless a president from another Latin American country comes and imposes him with arms."

This of course is a thinly veiled reference to Chavez who has already publicly stated he can invade Honduras if he wants to support his buddy Zelaya. Oh, and by the way, Micheletti is from Zelaya's own party so it's not as if the opposition staged the "coup."

As one Honduran commenter expressed on this blog,

"I'm Honduran and I'm so happy that someone outside wrote this telling the world what is happening here. Today we had pacific manifestations supporting the new government. It was a beautiful protest, people singing and shouting "Viva Honduras" everything went well until the people who supports Zelaya came with stones to scare, hurt and insult the people who was there. Is this what we want in Honduras. Believe me, no is not. People from everywhere agreed on putting outside their houses white sheets, or flags to tell the world, to tell Chavez, Zelaya and all his friends that we want peace, that we have had enough from them and we don't want them here. I've never seen this country more united than now. People from different social classes, religions, parties, ages are together saying to Zeleya: No More! Zelaya claims to be opposed by the "Burguesy" of this country. This is not true. The people who opposes him is the people who works hard everyday to get something to eat to their families, people who goes to school looking for a better future, people who knows that we were born free and free want to remain. I pray that other governments around the world can see the truth and see that Zelaya right now is playing to be the victim; if he feels so right about what he's doing, why doesn't he has the courage to come alone on Thursday? if he's innocent of everything, he shouldn't be afraid. The one who owes nothing, fears nothing. Thank you again for the support. Let the world know the truth. Thank you."

No, thank you for expressing your views. I couldn't put it any better myself.

Janeane Garofalo is a tool

Katrina Pierson, on the other hand, is not and takes the high road on this one. Garofalo is entitled to her opinion, misinformed as it may be, but because she is a minor celebrity people pay attention to her. Myself, I have never seen a redneck sipping a cup of Earl Grey, but that's just me. Perhaps they do it at secret parties. Watch the video, you decide.

Stanford seen as flight risk

Remember this post? Well, common sense prevailed and Stanford will not be released on bail, at least not for now. The man is seen (shockingly) as a flight risk. Whatever may have given the judge that idea?

On this day...

On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule after 156 years as a British colony.

The perfect burger

Just in time for the Fourth of July, the NYT serves up the perfect burger. I still prefer the simple hamburger, but there are some good ideas in the article.