Thursday, December 25, 2008

You Know You're Over Christmas When.....

You know you're over the whole "Christmas" thing when you take down the tree on December 25th. Is that bad?

At least I waited until all the presents were opened, food was eaten, and kids and other family gone to greener pastures...


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sixty Years: Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Oh. My. God: Too Funny

Friday, December 19, 2008

Good and Evil: The Wrecking Crew

I've been in Sacramento.

As everyone knows, California's financial situation is at crisis proportions. Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed a package of spending cuts and revenue enhancements. Republicans have "taken a vow" not to generate revenue via tax increase/s, and have proposed an alternate and draconian budget of cuts to services and supports to California's most vulnerable citizens (disabled, elderly, children).

While democrats are the majority party in the state, they do not possess the super-majority required to approve the tax increase revenue enhancements without some republican votes as well.

The republicans have taken a hardline stand to "protect taxpayers" (insured and in perfect health) and corporate welfare. The result is that either the budget is balanced solely via cuts to programs and services to the elderly, children and people with disabilities... or they will hold up the budget until the state runs out of money, thus ending funding for all programs and dismantling and destroying California's network of care. California's new wrecking-crew.

Which brings me to the reason for this post:
How can otherwise "good" people perpetrate "evil" acts?

Read this excellent post by Matt Langdon at the Hero Workshop blog which highlights Professor Phil Zimbardo's speech at Stanford University on The Psychology of Evil and Heroism:

Also from Matt Langdon's post, his Cliff's Notes:

Evil is The exercise of power to: Intentionally
Harm (phsychologically);
Hurt (physically);
Destroy (mortally);
Commit crimes against humanity.

The Road To Evil
Mindlessly taking the first step;
Dehumanization of others;
De-individualization of self (Anonymity);
Diffusion of personal responsibility;
Blind obedience to authority;
Uncritical conformity to group norms;
Passive tolerance of evil through inaction or indifference;
Accepting an ideology that accepts evil.

Heroism is the antidote to evil
We want to promote the heroic imagination by creating an educational system that instills in every child the self-belief that, “I am a Hero-in-Waiting. I will act heroically when my time comes.”

Banality of Evil: Ordinary people commit extra-ordinary evil deeds.
Banality of Heroism: Ordinary people commit extra-ordinary good deeds.

Most heroes are one time heroes. They rise to the occasion.

The very same situation that can inflame the hostile imagination in those who become perpetrators of evil can also inspire the..
Heroic Imagination in others of us or…
Render most people passive bystanders and guilty of the Evil of Inaction.

One day you will be in a new situation with three paths:
Path One: You become a participant in evil
Path Two: You become guilty of passive inaction
Path Three: You go straight ahead and become a hero.

The Wrecking Crew could have been heros, instead they commit crimes against humanity.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lee Iacocca

Excerpt from: 'Where Have All the Leaders Gone?'
(Copyright © 2007 by Lee Iacocca. All rights reserved)
(Click here for more info on Lee Iacocca)

"Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'Stay the course'.

Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned 'Titanic'. I'll give you a sound bite: 'Throw all the bums out!' You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore.

The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq , the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving 'pom-poms' instead of asking hard questions.

That's not the promise of the "America" my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you? I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have. The Biggest 'C' is Crisis! Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It's easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else's kids off to war when you've never seen a battlefield yourself. It's another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. What we got was A Hell of a Mess. So here's where we stand. We're immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We're losing the manufacturing edge to Asia , while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way.

These are times that cry out for leadership. But when you look around, you've got to ask: 'Where in hell have all the leaders gone?' Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction and common sense?

I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point. Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.

Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again. Now, that's just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you're going to do the next time.

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when 'The Big Three' referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it? Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.

I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't you guys show some spine for a change? Had Enough?

Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope I believe in America . In my lifetime I've had the privilege of living through some of America's greatest moments. I've also experienced some of our worst crises: the 'Great Depression', 'World War II', the 'Korean War', the 'Kennedy Assassination', the 'Vietnam War', the 1970s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11. If I've learned one thing, it's this: 'You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That's the challenge I'm raising in this book. It's a call to 'Action ' for people who, like me, believe in America .

It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's shake off the crap and go to work. Let's tell 'em all we've had 'enough.'"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Clip of the Day: Chris Matthews

In this clip, Chris Matthews on Hardball does a segment with Joan Walsh of Salon and Michelle Bernard, MSNBC conservative pundit. The topic being Charlie Gibson's inverview with President GW Bush (and First Lady Laura Bush), and in particluar Bush's response to Gibson asking him what the biggest mistake of his Presidency may have been....

Watch the evisceration...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December 3rd: My Birthday

Not much to say, I don't quite feel celebratory about this year's birthday.

Above is a pic of me and my younger cousin when I was about 16 yrs. I'll bring it in to the cosmetic surgeon's office when I go for my facelift (snark) (er, not).

Below is a list of historical events that occurred on December 3rd.

1984 India Bhopal Chemical Accident
December 3rd, 1984 : Thousands of people die from the effects of toxic gases which leaked from Bhopal Union Carbide Factory near the central Indian city of Bhopal. The leak also caused injuries to nearly 250,000 more with over 10,000 have since died from toxic gas related diseases. The cause of the leaks was traced to most of the safety systems not working and the deaths and injuries were caused by exposure to the highly toxic gasses.

1967 South Africa First Heart Transplant
December 3rd, 1967 : Surgeons at the Groote Shur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, led by Dr. Christiaan Barnard, perform the first human heart transplant.

1943 Hungary Concentration Camps
December 3rd, 1943 : In Budapest more than 2,000 citizens in cafes and restaurants were arrested allegedly to “combat a wave of defeatism” a Turkish report said. Those captured were held on trumped up charges of spreading lies about what was happening in Africa and Russia. Some prisoners were released, but most went to concentration camps.

1944 Greece Civil War
December 3rd, 1944 : Following the liberation of Greece by British forces from German forces a civil war breaks out in Athens as communist guerillas battle democratic forces for control of a liberated Greece.

1957 Algeria Independence
December 3rd, 1957 : France was struggling to hold Algeria and it was costing the French government $2,380,000 a day. The issue of Algerian independence was a contentious one and was debated constantly. Premier Maurice Bourges-Maunory’s government fell because it was against Algeria’s autonomy.

1964 U.S.A. Students Arrested
December 3rd, 1964 : Police arrested some 800 students at the University of California at Berkeley, one day after the students stormed the administration building and staged a massive sit-in.

1965 U.S.A. Ku Klux Klansmen Convicted of Murder
December 3rd, 1965 : An all-white jury in the southern US state of Alabama has convicted three Ku Klux Klansmen over the murder of white civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo.

1971 India / Pakistan War
December 3rd, 1971 : Border battles between India and Pakistan erupt into full-scale war when jets from West Pakistan attack at least four Indian airports.

1974 Britain Economic Crisis
December 3rd, 1974 : In the midst of a terrible economic crisis, the Labor government of Britain was going to slash defense budgets by $464 million initially and then up to $1.74 billion by 1980. The areas most affected would be east of the Suez.

1979 U.S.A. Who Concert
December 3rd, 1979 : Eleven Who fans are killed and dozens are injured in a crush of people trying to get into the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio. when thousands of fans (with first-come, first-served festival seating tickets) rush towards the locked doors when they mistook the sound check for the concert having started.

1986 China MBA Courses
December 3rd, 1986 : After President Reagan’s historic visit to China in 1984, an MBA course was sponsored by both Chinese and American governments. Thirty-nine Chinese students were to be become “experts in capitalism” and U.S. businesses were partnering with them. Chairman Deng Xiaopung was moving China further down the road to capitalism and industrialization.

1989 Malta Summit Ends Cold War
December 3rd, 1989 : The leaders of the two world superpowers, the US President George Bush and Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev declare an end to the Cold War (The Malta summit is regarded as the official end of the Cold War).

1999 Space Mars Polar Lander
December 3rd, 1999 : NASA loses contact with Mars Polar Lander shortly before it's planned atmospheric entry, the failure of the mission was blamed on a software error.

2002 U.S.A. Priests Indiscretion Uncovered
December 3rd, 2002: Thousands of personnel files released under a court order showed that the Archdiocese of Boston went to great lengths to hide priests accused of abuse, including clergy who allegedly snorted cocaine and had sex with girls aspiring to be nuns.

2006 Iran Missile Testing
December 3rd, 2006 : Iran made a show of strength by testing missiles some of which could reach Israel. The tests occurred after an American-led warship did military exercises in the Persian Gulf. Iran and the West continue to be in conflict over Iran’s nuclear power program.