Bohemian Rhapsody on Classical Guitar

March Madness! Baby boy on Tennessee Game Day and cute 1930’s boy!

cute boy in golf hat coca-cola wagonNewest baby UT fan on gameday!

Big Trial starts tomorrow: Interesting Litigation still pending in Levi Strauss Co, “Little Rock Six” Whistleblower termination suit.

The following is published at Wikipedia, here:

Pending SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) Litigation:

Levi Strauss & Co.

Robert Schmidt and Thomas Walsh had significant leadership roles at Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co), as directors of the global tax department.[21] While employed by LS&Co. in that capacity, they were instructed to withhold material documents from the IRS and to limit information to LS&Co.’s new auditor, KPMG. Schmidt and Walsh refused, advising their supervisors that they would not be a party to fraud. On December 10, 2002, LS&Co. summarily fired the two directors. LS&Co.’s termination of Schmidt and Walsh occurred approximately five days before KPMG arrived on site to conduct a comprehensive audit of the company. The trial in this litigation is scheduled to start March 31, 2008 in the US District Court in San Francisco, California.

Gerald R. Brookman was hired by LS&Co. on January 18, 2005 as an IMS/DB2 systems programmer at the company’s Westlake, Texas IT facility, at a starting yearly salary of $85,000.[22] When the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) audit conducted by E&Y in 2Q05 revealed major deficiencies, senior LS&Co. management ordered Brookman and others to conceal these problems from KPMG. On October 20, 2005, Brookman and all six employees of the transportation department in the Little Rock, Arkansas nationwide distribution center were terminated. LS&Co.’s termination of Brookman and the “Little Rock Six” occurred approximately four days before KPMG arrived on site to conduct an audit. A civil RICO federal lawsuit has been filed against LS&Co. on behalf of Brookman, the “Little Rock Six”, and 74 other LS&Co SOX whistleblowers who were terminated in 2005.

Criticisms of Sarbanes-Oxley: making companies play fair and yet still allowing them to compete globally is hard. :)

The following was Found at Wikipedia, here:

Detractors such as congressman Ron Paul contend that SOX was an unnecessary and costly government intrusion into corporate management that places U.S. corporations at a competitive disadvantage with foreign firms, driving businesses out of the United States. In an April 14, 2005 speech before the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul stated, “These regulations are damaging American capital markets by providing an incentive for small US firms and foreign firms to deregister from US stock exchanges. According to a study by the Wharton Business School, the number of American companies deregistering from public stock exchanges nearly tripled during the year after Sarbanes-Oxley became law, while the New York Stock Exchange had only 10 new foreign listings in all of 2004. The reluctance of small businesses and foreign firms to register on American stock exchanges is easily understood when one considers the costs Sarbanes-Oxley imposes on businesses. According to a survey by Korn/Ferry International, Sarbanes-Oxley cost Fortune 500 companies an average of $5.1 million in compliance expenses in 2004, while a study by the law firm of Foley and Lardner found the Act increased costs associated with being a publicly held company by 130 percent.” [23]

In a February 29, 2008 opinion column for WorldNetDaily, Ilana Mercer wrote, “The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, courtesy of the Republican Party, cost American companies upwards of $1.2 trillion. The capital flight it initiated caused the London Stock Exchange to become the new hub for capital markets.” [24]

Additional complaints have been documented in The Wall Street Journal:[25]

[Intended reform was among] the mistakes of Sarbanes-Oxley. “Reform” of the accounting industry ended up being a gold mine for the very auditing firms that Congress wanted to punish, as a few megafirms thrive in a more regulated market.

Wall Street Braces for biggest overhaul since Great Depression.

The following is an excerpt from this article at today:

“While Wall Street faces the biggest overhaul of its regulatory structure since the Great Depression (and since the often decried Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 -these parenthese added by blogger, not original to article), analysts are already wondering if the plan to be announced by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Monday would help prevent the kind of risky investments that led to the near-collapse of Bear Stearns Cos.

The plan maps out a course for broader oversight of the nation’s financial markets by consolidating power into the Federal Reserve. It will eliminate overlapping state and federal regulators and give the central bank an expanded role in looking at the books of investment banks and brokerages.

What remains unclear is exactly how much the Fed would be able to control Wall Street’s freewheeling investment banks — the banks including Bear Stearns that have lost billions of dollars over the past six months from buying risky mortgage-backed securities. While the proposal will for the first time impose regulation of hedge funds and private equity firms, some say it is lacking the kind of muscle to curb the Street’s appetite for risk.

“This is a good start for the basis of discussion,” said Peter Morici, a business professor at the University of Maryland and former chief economist of the U.S. Trade Commission. “But, this is bank reform written by an investment banker. … There’s nothing so far to improve the conduct of business on Wall Street to avoid another crisis.”

footnote: from Wikipedia: “Sarbox” (Sarbanes-Oxley); is a United States federal law enacted on July 30, 2002 in response to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals including those affecting Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, Peregrine Systems and WorldCom. These scandals, which cost investors billions of dollars when the share prices of the affected companies collapsed, shook public confidence in the nation’s securities markets. Named after sponsors Senator Paul Sarbanes (DMD) and Representative Michael G. Oxley (ROH), the Act was approved by the House by a vote of 423-3 and by the Senate 99-0. President George W. Bush signed it into law, stating it included “the most far-reaching reforms of American business practices since the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt.”[1]

Jim Rogers says U.S. Should Abolish the Federal Reserve Bank on CNBC, 3/12/08

New home sales have tumbled 29.8 percent in the past 12 months, inventory is highest since the 1980’s.

The following is an excerpt from, published on 3/26/08:

“New home sales have tumbled a dramatic 29.8 percent in the past 12 months as a multiyear slump continues to deflate the American residential property market despite sustained Federal Reserve interest rate cuts.

The Fed has slashed US rates since September, partly in a bid to revitalize the ailing home market.

Although sales fell, prices increased in February from a month earlier suggesting that recent price declines might be luring new home buyers back into the market.

“There are still too many houses sitting out there but progress is being made. Interestingly, the median price rose in February though it is down almost three percent over the year,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors.

The median price of a new home increased 8.2 percent from a month earlier to 244,100 dollars while the average sales price climbed 4.9 percent for the month to 296,400 dollars.

The ongoing drop in sales continues to pressure builders’ inventories of unsold new homes.

The government survey showed that the new home market has a 9.8 month supply of homes at the current sales clip, meaning it would take that time to clear the unsold volume of new properties languishing on the market.

The glut of homes on the market has swelled to heights not seen since the early 1980s and has risen markedly in the past year as the property slump has worsened.

The US central bank has trimmed its key short term interest rate to 2.25 percent in a bid to shore up home sales and wider economic momentum. Fed policymakers have slashed the federal funds rate from 5.25 percent since September as a credit squeeze has deepened the economic malaise.”

Baby’s first snowman!

Why we celebrate Easter.

The following is an excerpt from The Season After Easter – A Magnificent Eucatastrophe!

“A eucatastrope, said Tolkien, is “the joy in a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth.” Quite simply, a good ending not expected. Surely, to the frightened apostles on Good Friday, this was the meaning of the resurrection, and likewise for us, the “good ending unexpected” of Easter ought not be shut away as one might save a basket for next year.

To know the joy of the resurrection, we must hold fast to the significance of Christ’s death beyond the weeks we recite the stations of the cross. Christ’s death is not mere historical fact — the tale of an heroically good man standing up to the injustices of the world and being crushed for his trouble. This is a compelling and instructive story line, but it is also an incomplete accounting of the faith.

To say that Jesus died because those in power ordered him killed does not reveal the great truth of his death. We come closer when we say that Jesus died for our sins and in fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. But even this falls short either because it is too glib or because it leaves us baffled how any father, let alone Our Father, would give a son over to the profound suffering of the crucifixion. What’s more, our own mind revolts at the notion of an innocent man being punished for the transgressions of others.

Tolkein’s contemporary and friend, C.S. Lewis, reminds us in “Mere Christianity” that Jesus was not being punished in a retributive sense, but in the sense of generously paying a debt or footing a bill – our bill. The debt we incur each time we assert that we belong to ourselves.

This rebellion of spirit of course began with Adam and Eve, but it continues for each of us in every act of selfishness or self will. Our self-conceit is all the worse because it is made in the face of the infinite abundance of God’s gift of life and creation to which we have no entitlement. All humanity was greatly “in the hole,” as Lewis would say, with no way out.

The debt that Jesus assumed for us was frankly beyond our capacities to fulfill. And if we think about it, were it not for the incarnation, beyond God’s. It was not in God’s Divine nature to spurn, as we spurned, unmerited gifts of love. He could do it only by assuming our nature and then by dying unto it. Only then would the debt be repaid.

So in these days after Easter, let us not understate the significance of passion, death, and resurrection. Most of all, let us not run up a new debt. We do that by putting undo emphasis upon the next success in material things; we do that when we constantly demand to be entertained, rather than accepting the day for what it brings or taking time to find the peace of prayer or the spiritual refreshment of simply being of comfort to others; we do that when we presume we can make do without the help of others; and most of all, we do that when we extend our love only on condition.

The Easter season continues. It does not end on Easter Sunday. It is a eucatastrope! The resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the incarnation. A story in Christ Jesus that, as Tolkien observed, begins and ends with joy, if we open ourselves to it.

“We’re in Challenging times.” -President George W. Bush after hearing about Bear Stearns bail out.

Excerpt from original article (click to read.) by

Tuesday, March 18, 2008:

“The extraordinary unraveling of securities giant Bear Stearns Cos., one of the pillars of the Wall Street establishment, has taken the anxiety gripping the nation’s financial markets to a whole new level, threatening to deepen the agony of an economy that already is on its knees.

Over the past six months, a crisis that began when home loans to high-risk borrowers started to sour has cascaded into a near-panic in which the downfall of a big securities firm threatens the stability of the nation’s financial system.

“This is a once- or twice-in-a-century event, and no one knows the downside,” said Ian Morris, chief U.S. economist at the British bank HSBC.

If U.S. credit markets were to seize up, Main Street businesses and ordinary households would be all-but-unable to borrow, which would have a dire effect on spending, investment and jobs. That’s why the Fed is jumping in, economists stress.

“It’s not that the Fed cares about one particular firm. It’s more that the failure of one firm has an effect on the entire financial system,” Morris said. “Other players hoard cash out of a fear of lending to each other. The system freezes up and produces domino effects.”

Bear Stearns is the most prominent casualty to date of what was once called the subprime mortgage crisis but has long since transformed into an economy-wide credit chill.

The storied 85-year-old brokerage, known as one of the powerhouses of the bond market, came to the brink of failure after losses on mortgage-related holdings scared other investment firms away from dealing with it. Its failure might have touched off a panic in which banks and brokerages stopped lending each other money, bringing the financial system to a near meltdown with incalculable consequences for the broader economy, market watchers say.

The Federal Reserve, fearing the fallout from the collapse of one of the securities industry’s biggest players, took a series of unprecedented measures to shore up the financial system over the weekend. After arranging the forced marriage of Bear Stearns to rival JPMorgan Chase & Co., the nation’s central bank took steps Sunday to make itself both the ultimate guarantor of a wide range of debt and the lender ready to step in when other creditors are racing for the exits.

On Monday morning, President Bush huddled with his economic advisers and said afterward: “We’re in challenging times.””