You Know You Spend Too Much Time on the Internet...

Friday, November 28, 2008 , , 1 Comments

...when you Stumble onto a post by someone you follow on Twitter.

I'm not going to name names. But damn.

At what point do I disconnect my life from the digital pieces it gets tied up in?

The sad thing was out of however many people I follow, I knew who the guy was when I saw the name of his blog.

Get Off the Internet!


Peace Out, Homie

Thursday, November 27, 2008 , , , , 1 Comments

You can't go wrong with one of the most infamous shots in 8 years of infamous shots in honor of our very final Turkey Day under the laughably evil Bush Administration.

While Bush is off pardoning turkeys
, America watched the tragedy in India unfold. It was a bit difficult to think about Seahawks vs. Cowboys and tryptophan hangovers. Sadly, we've felt this before. It's a challenge to our concepts of "being American." And it happened on 9/11.

Regardless of what you believe, whether you're some whacked out conspiracy nutjob or an alt media darling, if you were there and if you were American, you understand that something was taken from us that day. Everything came to a screeching halt, we panicked, we clogged phone lines trying to reach family, we gobbled up every bit of news we could get because we just couldn't believe it was real.

My first reaction to the words "terrorist attack" was horror. And sadness for those people.

But then I immediately got angry. I got angry when I stopped and thought about George Bush sleeping well at night and pardoning turkeys while he's allowing a fake war to suck the last of the marrow out of our economy's bones and knowing that he let 9/11 happen to us.

And then he used it as an excuse to spy on us.

Thankfully, as it was time to end my day, I found this:

WHITE HOUSE (CNN) - Whoops! A picture of a Christmas tree is not the first thing you would expect to see on an invitation to an event celebrating Hanukkah, but that is exactly what recipients of invitations to this year's White House Hanukkah reception initially got in the mail.

The invitation sent to American Jewish leaders on behalf of the President and First Lady, requesting "the pleasure of your company at a Hanukkah reception," bore an image of a Clydesdale horse-drawn cart, carrying the White House Christmas tree, with a Christmas wreath-adorned White House in the background.

So while I was still pissed off, I also could do nothing but laugh about it. Laugh about how ridiculous this all was, and laugh at the fact that we just sort of sat there and took it. Oh well. This is what we got stuck with.

Now that he's alienated himself from his own party and G-20 heads of state, I guess he's got no one left but the turkeys.

And a bunch of ticked off Jewish leaders offended by him turning the holiday into a damn Budweiser ad. Or not respecting their religious denomination. Whatever, it doesn't even matter at this point, we're just waiting out the last few weeks. It'll be over soon...

So happy Turkey Day, even to the biggest Turkey of them all.

Hug your weird drunken uncle and tell your Grandma she makes the best pie and, most importantly, be nice to each other.

We have a lot to be thankful for. Like this. Be good, kids, and have yourselves a wonderful Turkey Day. I'll save the rant about how the English came to America and brutalized the Native Americans, blah blah blah... You know that story already.


The Case of the (Possibly) Missing CEO

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 , , , , , 1 Comments

the power (and hype) of social media.

This morning, the news of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai hit Twitter before it hit major US news stations and of course I was the Twitterati with my Windows Mobile smartphone in one hand and my double black eye (light sugar and cream, just how I like 'em) in the other. "WTF is happening in India?" I asked. I'd soon find out.

IBN CNN was streaming Live coverage of the situation, which I caught once I'd gotten into the office.

At some point, and in the most roundabout of ways, I caught a rumor that Ernst & Young Global CEO Jim Turley may have been in Mumbai for EY's yearly Entrepreneur of the Year awards ceremony.

As yet, nearly everything is unconfirmed. But just like when September 11th revolutionized blogging and the Internet as we'd known it up until that point (at least according to Debbie Weil, amazing author of "The Corporate Blogging Book"), everyone is talking and information is quickly spreading across the world.

Why do I care if EY's CEO is missing? First of all because I care about people, period. This event saddened and frightened me in a profound way; every American can tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news of the 9/11 attacks, and hearing of this despicable event brought back a very uncomfortable wave of sickening feelings deep in my soul.

Secondly, because I'm not just in the business of looking awesome, I have a day job and it involves accountants. Specifically, unlicensed ones. We frequently work with unlicensed Ernst & Young staff; immediately upon hearing that their CEO (and, potentially, many other EY staff) may be in Mumbai in the middle of all this sent me on a desperate hunt to track down Jim Turley and make sure he was ok.

So far, I haven't gotten much. A secretary of a secretary in Ernst & Young's New York headquarters gave me his direct contact info and promised that Mr. Turley always checks his voicemails and e-mails. If he was to be tracked down, that'd be the way to do it.

She also promised that everything would be OK but was now worried about him herself.

So I'm putting it out there into the vast expanse of the Internet hoping someone knows that Jim Turley and any other EY staff who may be in Mumbai are OK.

I'll be praying with my fingers crossed beneath my desk until then, anxiously awaiting an e-mail reply from the CEO of the 3rd largest accounting firm in the country. I really hope I'm wrong on this one...

...and am so incredibly sorry for the people of India at this moment.

And wouldn't you know, no sooner than 3 seconds before I hit "publish" on this post, I get an e-mail from the head of EY's press team that Jim Turley is NOT in Mumbai and is fine.

Whew. Told you I'd be glad to be wrong on this one.

Rule #1 of blogging: You can't always be right

And sometimes, not being right is a great sigh of relief so deep it leaves a streak of fog across your computer monitor.


Mom, Who is That Vampire?

My son asked me on Saturday while at our little rally "Mom, who is that vampire?" Since we were marching down Market St in San Francisco, I imagined he was referring to some sucked-up drug addict shuffling across the street. He pointed to a sign by a fellow End the Fed protester with a picture of Henry Paulson done up all scary vampire-style.

"Oh," I said casually, "that's one of the bad guys. And he is a vampire, except instead of sucking our blood he sucks our money."

My son shook his head to show he understood and we spoke nothing more of it for the rest of the day until we sat at our destination and I explained the way our fractional reserve (read: economic slavery through endless debt) system worked in terms of ice cream and pennies while Cindy Sheenan cursed President-elect Obama for being the same old crap in a recycled shell.

Later on, he pointed to another sign in which a clever protester had Photoshopped a picture of a Federal Reserve building with spider legs. "Mom, why is that building a spider?" my son asked.

"Well, because most people are afraid of spiders," I told him, "and that building is full of bad men trying to scare us."

He shook his head again and returned to people-watching from the safety of the perch of my shoulders.

How do I explain to my 5 year old that the Federal Reserve is the boogeyman that will be in his back pocket every day of his life once he's old enough to carry a wallet? The monster under his bed that says he owes them interest on money that they printed out of thin air? The wheel on which his little hamster legs will have to run to keep up with the exponentially-flawed fractional reserve pyramid scheme?

Hopefully, I won't have to get to that part of the story.

Meanwhile, I'm just hoping the little one doesn't ask me if he can be Barack Obama for Halloween. Apparently, Obama is a superstar among the Juice Box Sector.

As far as I'm concerned, the fact that Obama reached into the most scandalous vault he could find (the Fed) and pulled out Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary invalidates any "rockstar" image I ever held of our future fearless leader.

Why can't the kid just be a Power Ranger instead?


Somali Pirates to Become Bank Holding Company

The Federal Reserve, in a move perceived by many economists as the boldest yet by this private banking cartel during the current financial crisis, announced today Somali pirates aboard a hijacked Ukrainian military freighter now hovering near the Somalian coastline would be permitted to identify themselves as a bank holding company. This, of course, would authorize the pirates to participate in any and all government handout/bailout/freakout programs involving payouts of several billion taxpayer dollars.

"We've got a lot of weapons on board," said one of the pirates in a press conference earlier this morning to a group of seagulls that had perched on the ship, "and if we don't get help soon, we're afraid these weapons could be repossessed. We didn't want them falling into the wrong hands, like those of their owners, so this just seemed the only viable option."

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke could not be reached for comment.

The pirates' CEO and CFO, it was reported earlier last week, actually took a private, decked-out life boat to meet with the Federal Reserve Chairman and US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Rumors of the pirates offering a giant squid (worth nearly $4,320 on the market using the new 'fuck it' value accounting rules instituted by the Fed as an alternative to controversial fair value accounting guidelines) as a gift to Fed board members circulated wildly around the Internet in the wake of this meeting though Fed members insisted no gifts were offered nor received.

The evening after Paulson and Bernanke met with pirate leaders, however, Bernanke was spotted at local DC bar Pirate's Booty wearing a gold eye patch. He insisted this had been bequeathed to him by his great-grandmother, who apparently also had a collection of French peg legs and floofy Armani shirts.

"If we don't do something now, this ship is going under," Secretary Paulson said in a letter released to the press late last evening, "and besides, we've got automakers and credit card companies in our back pocket now, we thought adding a military ship with real pirates would be pretty wicked awesome. Have the airlines failed yet? I could really use an airplane. That'd be way cool."

It is expected that the pirates will request a $25 million dollar piece of the $900 billion dollar Funds Under Coerced Kickbacks decision, which faced opposition in both houses of Congress this past September. Even though the historical bill was rejected by every member of both parties, it passed unanimously.

American media reaction to the landmark decision has thus far been minimal.

In fact, no mainstream stations picked up the story. When asked by alternative media reporters why they were reluctant to pick up the report, a CNN spokesperson said simply "Have you seen Paris Hilton lately? Now THAT girl is newsworthy."

The Somali pirates insisted that their leader would not be receiving a large bonus this year. "He's probably going to die of scurvy before Christmas," said a representative for the pirates who wished to remain anonymous, "so a bonus isn't really relevant at this point."


Is This How Bad it Has Become in America? Good. Maybe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008 , , , 3 Comments

I hopped on BART to Daly City just in time, slipping out of my office at 5 45 like I sometimes do just so I can catch the early bus home. Otherwise I'm stuck at DC BART for an hour until the next one comes and it's November, Daly City is freezing by noon. No thanks.

I got my copy of 'Choke' by Chuck Palahniuk from Amazon today; I am so Internet-programmed that I paid $22 to get a book delivered in 2 days that I could have gotten for $16 at the book store down the street from my office. This is bad.

The book, however, is amazing. 8 pages into it and merely 30 minutes into my hour and a half commute and I am smitten, I declare this on Twitter just because I feel like it. It's almost like I use my Twitter stream to keep track of my own life - bits and pieces of my day are recorded forever and even come with a time stamp.

I am my own most loyal follower.

So of course as I manuever my way out of my Internet browser, I check to see if anyone's said something to me. I won't talk to people on the bus (God forbid) but am happy @ing every Tom, Dick, and Guy Kawasaki on effing Twitter.

I catch a post from, presumably, a BART rider.

It says simply:

I feel for you lady, carrying your just-got-let-go box on BART.

Suddenly I am both humbled and impressed. San Francisco, if you don't live here and therefore know, is a cold city. We're not talking fog.

I've cried like a baby on public transportation or city streets over a boy or a work problem or Jamba Juice discontinuing Pumpkin smash smoothies and ONLY ONCE in a decade here has someone asked 'Are you okay?'

That man was a homeless 30-something selling drawings in front of a bar on Market Street. And after he let me blubber on for half an hour about how horrible my life was (I've since forgotten what was so damn distressing), all he asked for was a single cigarette for the road.

Because of my industry, it's my job to stay up on finance and accounting - but you don't have to be an expert (or enthusiast) to know it's gotten bad out there.

But for compassion and empathy to emerge from such chaotic and frightening circumstances as ours right now, and in such a historically indifferent place as the Bay Area, it is a testament to our strength as human beings.

If we don't work collectively to figure this mess out, demand answers from our government, and resolve to get this pigsty straightened up so our children can actually enjoy the fruits of our labor as opposed to the weight of our mistakes, we will fail as a society.

It will not be The Fed's fault, the SEC's fault, fair value accounting's fault, The White House's fault; it will be our own.

I saw tonight (through the power of some silly Internet tool) that we are evolving, America. It is truly unfortunate that we had to fall so hard before it happened but we're here and we have no choice but to deal.

Generation Y especially has our work cut out for us, we don't know any reality but 'Me First', we'd rather be playing video games or watching crappy reality TV and very few of us realized how to play nice with others because we were too busy hanging with Mario and Luigi. We are going to have to step up. This is our retirement money we're talking about. We're lazy as a bunch, so we're sure not going to want to work our butts off until we finally die at 82. We deserve to sit on our porches sipping sweet tea, our tattoos stretching further and saggier every day.

Some good will come from this, good like tonight, total strangers reaching across anonymous space to say "I understand what you're going through."

Even if most of it will occur in the random and obscure expanses of the Internets.