Upset at the post office? mail a coconut!

posted by on 2009.12.09, under Humor

I have never had a problem with the post office, but if I did, I would follow the example of these people in Florida, who had an interesting way of protesting their local post office being shut down.

Apparently, it is acceptable to mail coconuts without any packaging.  It costs a little over $4 to do so, and is a nuisance for mailmen to handle.   Thousands of coconuts were mailed to John Potter, the Postmaster General.


posted by on 2009.12.09, under Humor, Technology

I knew this was coming….I saw it coming last year when my land lady brought a homeless person into our house, and he spent 12 of the 24 hours of the day facebooking.  I admit, it was a bit embarrassing that he had more facebook friends than I did.  Shortly after finding an exit to Thailand, he released a series of hilarious facebook videos of him singing justin timberlake songs…no joke. 

Sites such as: Begslist, CyberBeg and all aim to give panhandlers a forum to beg for money.  Some of the sites, ironically charge up to $45 a month to be a member, but according to NPR, some of the appeals are very “heart wrenching.”

The problem I have with this is that there are enough of internet scams going on, and these forums just provide a new venue for these crooks.  Living in Venice, I deal with homeless people daily, and fortunately they all realized my modest wealth, and no longer as me for money.  But the truth is, I have a personal bias against giving homeless people money.  One particular homeless man in SF swindled my roommate into helping him out, only to steal my 2 week old laptop.  Either him, or the dozens of people that have bought or sold the laptop since, could be using it for begging on these sites.

However, for the hardworking families that have been hit the hardest by the economic crisis, perhaps some good can come out of this.  It is a bit more private, and less degrading than panhandling on the street.  Personally, I would prefer to donate money (if I had any) to a site more like Kiva, that gives microloans for people trying to start a business, however most of these sites help people in foreign countries. Helping American people keep their houses and buy their childrens books are very noble ideas too.

Just as long as its a scam.  At least they already have computers, and won’t try to steal mine again.


Accountants in the supreme court

posted by on 2009.12.08, under News

There is a huge trial going on in the Supreme Court that will drastically impact business in the US.  After the corporate scandals and accounting fraud from the Enron days (2002), Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) act was passed  to protect investors from being lied to again.  There has been controversy surrounding this law since was passed, The Wall Street Journal estimates the law costs our economy $1 trillion since it was passed, and that 20% of public companies were considering going private because of SOX.

The trial is between Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and an accountant named Brad Beckstead.  Beckstead believes that the governing board should be appointed directly by the President, not the SEC, turning the issue into a separation of powers issue.  If the court rules in Beckstead’s favor, than the entire SOX law will be brought down, because it does not have a “severability clause” (law is invalidated if one clause goes down)

It will be interesting to see what happens with this.  It is generally agreed upon that SOX was put together hastily after the scandals in the early 2000’s, perhaps to restore investor confidence. None the less, the intention seemed to be for the welfare of the economy and the vital investors that keep it afloat.  Rahm Emmanuel had mentioned taking actions to reform the act, to help small businesses out.  If SOX goes down completely however, there might be a window of opportunity for creative accountants to take advantage of the lack of regulation..  There could be terrible consequences to the recovery of the economy if certain people get greedy again.  I am interested to hear from accountants how they feel about this….I am guessing that there will be mixed feeling, as I understand many jobs were created in auditing from the law, but it has also seemed to be a nuisance to professionals in the industry.

Outside of this accounting issue, I am not convinced that corporate crooks are finished with trying to destroy this country for their personal profit……While flying home for Thanksgiving, I read about what is UBS is doing to Detroit , kicking the city when it is down, cashing in on $400 million break-up fee from an unethical “exotic derivitive” investment it swindled the city into.  Detroit is now spending $4.2 million extra a month to pay this debt, before they can spend a dime in education, city utilities, or any recovery effort to try to fight the 28% unemployement rate.  This is going on all over the place, and I personally am disgusted to hear about it.  Weren’t these the same financial institutions that were begging for tax money to bail them all out?  Why am I not getting text messages from CNN at 5am about this kind of stuff, but instead getting constant updates about Tiger Woods love affairs?

A quote from a phenomenal movie NETWORK is appropriate here,
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Dolphin Wars

posted by on 2009.12.08, under News, Technology, Travel

Russia is still trying to “one up”  America, recently acknowledging that they need to catch up to our Navy when it comes to militarized sea mammals.  The US Navy apparently employs both sea lions and our beloved “Flipper” for two main reasons:
1) look for underwater mines
2) keep a look out for an underwater swimmer terrorist attack.

Dolphins are trained to use strobe lights to point out the bad guys, however sea lions, those smart little buggers, are armed with cuffs to restrain intruders.  As an advocate of swimming in the Pacific Ocean at any opportunity, I was saved from an attack from the SF bay “rogue sea lion” thanks to San Francisco traffic a few years ago.  My respect for this animal has since been restored.  One question, what regulation will oversee these new soldiers for interrogation and torture methods if they actually catch an enemy, we don’t need another Guantanamo Bay PR disaster.

So, in the past month, all I have heard about the Russian military is that they are planning on blowing up clouds with their air force, and using their navy to train more dolphins and sea lions.  Very interesting….