Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Change" declared the word of the year -- in JAPAN!

Using a brush to write the single character on a wooden platform as tourists looked on at Kiyomizu temple in the ancient capital of Kyoto, chief monk Seihan Mori declared “change” to be Japan’s character of the year.

The selection of the kanji character, pictured at the right, is “ expression of the Japanese people’s wishes to see political, economic and societal changes..." as they anticipate Obama's term according to Mori.

The Kiyomizu temple dates back to 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633. It takes its name from the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water drop into a pond within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills.

Iraq Report Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders -

Huff Post: Report Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders - “BAGHDAD — An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.

The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.

In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ "

--- That waste can be used to help the American Economy!

Paul Zimmerman Interview At The 2006 NFL Draft - Dr. Z Suffered Two Strokes

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Sports Illustrated's legendary writer Paul Zimmerman at the 2006 NFL Draft. Here's we talked about why the Houston Texans picked Mario Williams as the number of pick over USC Running Back Reggie Bush.

But then the conversation turned to how he felt about Katie Couric being then the new anchor for the CBS Evening News. He hated the choice, whereas I felt she was right for...focus groups.

But then we talked about the biggest change in football and he pointed to the emergence of the Black Athlete and how fast the game has become. If you listen to Dr. Z, you understand the tremendous knoweldge he has of the game and how much of a treasure he is.

Dr. Z has suffered not one, but two strokes recently and there's talk that S.I. is cutting back his workload. I hope not. But read
S.I.'s Peter King's column on the man who lives just 25 minutes from him in New Jersey.

Why There Are So Few Minority Conservatives, Part 176 | Oliver Willis

Why There Are So Few Minority Conservatives, Part 176 | Oliver Willis Oliver is right on -- Republican extremists, some call themselves Conservatives -- are too far to be of any real value to the improvement of the American condition.

U.S. Training in Africa Aims to Deter Extremists -

U.S. Training in Africa Aims to Deter Extremists - “KATI, Mali — Thousands of miles from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, another side of America’s fight against terrorism is unfolding in this remote corner of West Africa. American Green Berets are training African armies to guard their borders and patrol vast desolate expanses against infiltration by Al Qaeda’s militants, so the United States does not have to.

A recent exercise by the United States military here was part of a wide-ranging plan, developed after the Sept. 11 attacks, to take counterterrorism training and assistance to places outside the Middle East, like the Philippines and Indonesia. In Africa, a five-year, $500 million partnership between the State and Defense Departments includes Algeria, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia, and Libya is on the verge of joining.”

Bad Times Draw Bigger Crowds to Churches -

Bad Times Draw Bigger Crowds to Churches - “Like evangelical churches around the country, the three churches have enjoyed steady growth over the last decade. But since September, pastors nationwide say they have seen such a burst of new interest that they find themselves contending with powerful conflicting emotions — deep empathy and quiet excitement — as they re-encounter an old piece of religious lore:

Bad times are good for evangelical churches.”

Big Penis - Will I Hurt My Partner? - DanAndJennifer's Video Gets 2 Million Views

In a recent NY Times article it was reported that some YouTubers are making $100,000 a year from posting videos.

As a YouTube partner myself I was interested in what kind of content generates enough views to have that kind of income? So I happened on DanAndJennifer's "ask channel" where this couple (I guess they're a couple), have this video posted in July and has been seen over 2 million times since then. Wow. Ok, sex -- even the discussion of it -- sells. But in fairness, they talk about it, rather than show it.


More racy videos? I think I'll stick to politics and current events. Well ok, sex is a current event, sometimes I make a foray into that area.

Heather Brooke Rinehart and John Bzdil Charged in Columbia University Fraud Case

NY Daily News: Couple charged in big Columbia University con split for Christmas: “The feds say the couple bilked Columbia by submitting $112,500 in invoices for a bogus spinal muscular study. At the time, Bzdil was managing the pediatric neurosciences department of the Neurological Institute of Columbia.
He signed off on an invoice Rinehart prepared in which she claimed to be a clinical manager for an international support group for people with spinal muscular atrophy, prosecutors say. She claimed to be paying a Columbia doctor for the study.
The couple spent $25,000 on the "Bzdil/Rinehart Wedding" at the Skytop Lodge in the Poconos on Sept. 15, 2007, FBI Agent Jose Charriez said in a criminal complaint.
Bzdil approved another $84,000 in reimbursements for a massive online buying spree on, Charriez said.
Charriez said particular favorites were Bliss products such as Mammoth Minty Scrub, All Around Eye Cream and Lovehandler.
"Lovehandler wages war on not-so-hard 'core' areas by unleashing extended release caffeine to help whittle the appearance of wiggly waists and pudgy tummies," its product description reads.
Bzdil and Rinehart each face 20 years in prison if convicted on fraud charges.”

Bernard 'Bernie' Madoff: From Queens lifeguard to soaking fraud

Bernard 'Bernie' Madoff: From Queens lifeguard to soaking fraud: “BY LARRY MCSHANE NYDAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Saturday, December 13th 2008, 11:55 AM Feds say Madoff's Ponzi scheme was worst ever. Bernard Madoff, "Bernie" to his Wall Street pals and deep-pocketed investors, launched his financial career with $5,000 earned as a Far Rockaway lifeguard.

That was nearly a half-century ago. Today, investors with Madoff's firm are drowning after the former Nasdaq chairman admitted fleecing his customers of $50 billion.

Madoff, 70, was known as a quirky figure inside his company offices at Manhattan's Lipstick Building. Still, he was respected for his uncanny - and apparently illegal - ability to generate cash for his clients.
The Hennessee Group, which tracks investment performance, says Madoff's firm suffered just five down months in 13 years between 1993-2007.”

Shaun Donovan Named Secretary Of Department Of Housing And Urban Development By Obama

HuffPost - Shaun Donovan Named Secretary Of Department Of Housing And Urban Development By Obama: “CHICAGO — Promising a prominent role for his housing department, President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday named a Harvard-educated architect to lead an agency dealing with the mortgage mess that dragged the country into a recession.

With one in 10 U.S. homeowners delinquent on mortgage payments or in foreclosure, Obama said New York City housing commissioner Shaun Donovan will bring "fresh thinking, unencumbered by old ideology and outdated ideas" at the Housing and Urban Development Department to help resolve the housing and economic crisis.”

The Pope And The Vatican Discover Qik and New Media

Look who's into New Media: The Pope and the Vatican. h2onewscrossmedia is the organization that uses the cell-phone-based live streaming online service called According to TechCrunch, they have more views than Ashton Kutcher!

Here's a video from their stream page:

Robert Scoble shared his thoughts with TechCrunch:

As Qik’s first user, I find the service very cool, but I find that more and more I’m moving away from it for a few reasons:
1. cell phone video is cool at first, but then you keep finding areas where it doesn’t work well and you can’t get the HD quality you can get with a newer HD camera and YouTube, Facebook, SmugMug, or Vimeo.
2. The chat room sucks in comparison to Ustream, Stickam, or
3. You can’t use your laptop’s camera, your FlipCam, or other recorded video on the service. That’s why I’ve been showing up on more lately.
4. The service and/or bandwidth sometimes goes away right in the middle of doing something important (like filming a press conference) and there’s often nothing you can do about it. While on Kyte I can switch to a recording and use the service just fine when the connection comes back up.
5. I like the player on Kyte better and it’s embedable in more places.
But, Qik is better for many uses and I still use it from time to time to take videos of my family because it’s easier to use for many personal things. I hope that 2009 brings lots of upgrades to Qik so I can use it for more than just my videos of my family.