Mark Zuckerberg Well Done!!!!!!!!!!! The Election Miracle In Zimbabwe

My hat is off to Mark Zuckerberg this morning. It’s not because Facebook shares are skyrocketing up. It’s because of what is happening in Zimbabwe. For the first time in 33 years I am seeing what appears to be a basically honest election in Zimbabwe. I am following the action on Facebook and on News 24. Will Robert Mugabe get kicked out? I hope so but can not guarantee it. I credit Facebook with this wonderful change of events. Mugabe and his thugs know that the whole world is watching them every second and they are being very careful. Morgan Tsvangarai you are a man of great courage and vision. You are on my short list of most admired people.

Dear friends imagine if Facebook had been around in the days of Hitler,Stalin, the military dictatorship in Argentina, etc. It would have been a different world with far less dead bodies.

Mark you are a revolutionary and a great visionary. If I was talking to you in person, I’m sure that you would respond with the words:”You ain’t seen nothing yet!!!!”

Two Ball Point Pens From 16.5 Years Ago

The small things in life should mean a lot to you. Sixteen and a half years ago I was awarded two ball point pens by the George S. May Company. These pens were given to me by my boss at the time, Steven Sanchez, for excellent sales performance. Despite all of my good work, I cleared less than $400 every two weeks. I rode a bicycle (that I still have hanging in my garage). I had no medical insurance. I could not even afford to rent a room on this salary. I lived in a homeless shelter. In the end the taxpayers and charities of Santa Clara County, California were subsidizing this company so that it could pay exploitation wages to its workers. Walmart knows this story well. This is how they prosper.
On the other hand that miserable exploitation job gave me pride and hope in life. It also matches with that old saying: “Once you have a job you can always get another one.”
I carry these pens with me every day to remind me of how far that I had come in life. It gives me humility. 
After George S. May Company I was very lucky to get a job with an incredible man who owned a trading company in Holland. He gave me some profound words of wisdom as follows: “Jack I could lose it all tomorrow.” I never forget those words. Everyday I’m thankful for what I have and humble. Many people down at the bottom are never fortunate enough to pull themselves up. The millions of poor people,even in a rich country like the US, are living proof of this.

On Being A Problem Solver

If you asked me to describe myself in a short phrase, it could be as follows: “A problem solver.” I love to take things that are not working right and fix them. I did a lot of that work yesterday. Elena became concerned about the fees on her 401(K) from her place of employment. I did a careful analysis. Much to my pleasant surprise, most of the funds in her account charged zero fees. I did find three funds with poor performance and high fees. I moved her out of these funds. Then I looked at a problem from the electric company PG&E. Our monthly bill literally had gone up 50% or more. This was quite concerning considering the fact that we had spent a lot of money during the recent remodel to make the house more energy efficient. I looked at consumption and billing. Consumption of electricity and gas had dropped. We are now on an energy averaging monthly bill. The increase was due to an accounting matter and not increased consumption. Monday I will go back to a pay as you go monthly bill.

The Co-Creator Of The Simpsons Is Terminally Ill With Colon Cancer

The animated television series The Simpsons has been part of my life for almost 25 years. It’s cute. It’s original. It appeals to people of all ages and political ideologies. It has an incredible audience all over the world. It also never loses its appeal and popularity. I got the sad news that one of its co-creators, Mat Groening, who is 58 years of age was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and has 3 months to 6 months left to live. Matt is a man of incredible achievements in life including 9 Emmy awards. He graduated from Stanford and now lives in Malibu. Sadly Colon cancer is curable if detected in time. A colonoscopy might have saved his life.
Matt has decided to donate the bulk of his substantial fortune to charity and this is very touching. He is animal lover. So animals will be well provided for in his will.
My dear friends with all of his talent,money and power, his life is being unfairly taken away from him. None of us knows how much time we have left. We should treasure every day on earth.

Some Good Advice From Stratfor

My friends Stratfor is a private intelligence agency. I am a low-level subscriber (Some corporate CEOs and world leaders pay up to $100.000 per year for their superb services.) I tell friends that I get a better intelligence briefing each morning than President Obama gets. For example last year we had to go with a family member to Tijuana, Mexico. Elena was quite worried about dangers from drug cartel activities there. I contacted Stratfor and did research on Tijuana. It is under the jurisdiction of the Sinalola cartel. This cartel tries to keep a low profile and rarely resorts to violence. With this information in hand we took a trip to Tijuana. It was an enjoyable day. The only hassle we had was with US immigration coming back to the US. Stratfor has a simple recommendation for all travelers. Always carry a small flashlight with you. This could be a life saver if you have problems on an aircraft or a power failure in a hotel room in some foreign country (Not as unusual as you would think.)

A Great Little Novel About Argentina’s Dirty War (Military Dictatorship 1976-1983)

I am a survivor of two military governments-Peru and Brasil during the 1970’s. Peru’s military government was benign with more intimidation than actual violence. Brasil’s military government did some violent things but a lot of people were merely sent into exile. I only personally knew of one person who disappeared in Brasil in 1970. Elena lived through the military government in Argentina. It was monstrous. It could be compared to the reign of terror of the Nazis. Over 30,000 people disappeared. Children were robbed from their parents and property illegally taken on a grand scale.

It is hard to come to terms with what we lived through. When I go to Argentina the thought always goes through my mind as follows: “How could such nice and civilized people had done such terrible things?”

I just finished reading a charming little novel translated from Spanish with the title “My Father’s Ghost Is Climbing In The Rain.” It is by a 38 year old Argentine writer named Patricio Pron. This book touched my heart. It showed me all of the conflicts and pain of the young people who grew up after that horrible time and had to come to grips with the horrors that their parents lived through.

The Facebook Revolution And Africa

I first got interested in Zimbabwe when I was a student at Tulane University. My first wife and I befriended a man from Zimbabwe named Mutizwa Chirunga who was also a Tulane student. When his son was born, we were the only Europeans invited to the christening ceremony. In 1981 I went to Zimbabwe and spent some days there. In 1984 I became friends with a man named Brian Lawrence when I lived in Perth, West Australia. He was from Zimbabwe. In 1999 I became friends with a dear and special lady from Zimbabwe named Mandy Findlater. In 2004 I opened a retirement account at Imara SP Reid in Johannesburg. It is a company owned by people from Zimbabwe and an excellent investment firm. In 2006 Elena and I were talked into investing in the Zimbabwe share market. Our holdings were worth literally billions of Zimbabwe dollars for a while. (I always kid Elena that it was the only time in her life when she was a billionaire.) I have closely followed the political turmoil there. Each time an election took place there was violence and intimidation on a grand scale to insure that Robert Mugabe stayed in power. In this particular election the opponent, Morgan Tsvangarai, has made great use of Facebook. This seems to have made Mugabe’s people more cautious. I have heard no reports of violence or outright intimidation. Instead it appears that Mugabe has resorted to handing out money and other kinder tactics to win votes. To me this is proof of how effective Facebook is to bring transparency to elections and other events. Mark Zuckerbeg you have created a social revolution in ways you may have never imagined!

Take The Time To Write A Will!

After work last night, Elena went with me to sign her will and have it witnessed by two next-door neighbors. It is probably the first time in Elena’s life that she has a legal will. My mother and father both died without leaving a will. This made life “hell on earth” for my dear sister and I. We ended up sitting in court for years and seeing big legal bills eat away at the estate. In most states (including California) it is simple to write a will. You can print a form off the internet or even write one by hand. You just need 2-3 witnesses to your signature. You do not even have to pay for a notary or a lawyer. To those you love, one of the nicest ways to say: “I love you” is to leave them with a will. It is also a wonderful way to make sure that your pets are taken care of after you pass to the next life.

Sunday July 20,1969-Neil And Buzz Land On The Moon!!!

Forty -four years ago man first set foot on the moon.

1969 was a surreal year. Most of us knew that the wild and liberated 1960’s with all of its hope and revolution was fading. We did not know what was coming next. We believed that the Vietnam war would end soon. Right before the moon landing, Life Magazine ran a cover story about the 125 young men who died in Vietnam that week. They had a picture of each military person who died. I was in the US Navy and thankful that my picture was not there.

On that fateful Sunday my first wife and I decided to go for a ride from Houston to Beaumont on Hwy 90. As the afternoon rolled on, we listened to the progress of Apollo 11 as it headed for the moon. As the LEM got closer to the lunar surface, we pulled off into a rest area and stopped. We listened transfixed to the radio. Neil Armstrong was just like a great airline pilot who was so calm, reassuring, and competent that the passengers were not the least bit concerned. (Little did we know that he had a huge crisis on his hands with fuel very low and no good landing site detected. Neil literally had to “think outside the box” and come up with a wild lateral flight path that saved the day.) Our hearts beat fast and we were on the edge of our seats. Not a word was spoken. Finally we heard that the LEM had touched down and the motors had cut off. We were so relieved and sort of numb also. It had not sunk in yet what a great accomplishment we were witnessing. Later we listened as Neil stepped down from the LEM and put his feet on lunar soil.

We returned home after the landing. Ironically we lived in an apartment off of Waugh Drive in Houston. Our landlord was a very nice man named Larry Waldstrasse. He was an MIT graduate and worked at the Manned Spacecraft Center on the Apollo program.

My first wife decided to take a good nap after all of the excitement. I went to the offices of my employer at the time, Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. I joined my dear friend Ralph Wallace III and our supervisor Charles Weaver. We had a television on. We listened with great pride and fascination as President Nixon called Neil and Buzz from the White House and congratulated them on their incredible achievement. We all felt awed and proud. Later we got word that President Nixon had issued an executive order making the next day a holiday for all Americans. We did not have to go to work.

On Monday morning my first wife slept late. I got up early and got in our blue Mustang Mach One. I drove around the area where our apartment was for a long time. I felt so proud and happy. I was sure that this was the beginning of a true space age when humans would go to Mars, etc.

Sadly these great expectations were not realized. The Vietnam war went on for six more years. Some 21,000 more Americans would die. We had Watergate and a national crisis of confidence. Things never were the same.

I still feel incredible pride for that moment. It was one of the high points of my life.

Nelson Mandela Celebrates Birthday #95

I returned to South Africa in April of 1990. The country I had left in 1981 had been full of apprehension and sure that a sad end would come. The country that I returned to was guardedly full of hope. Nelson Mandela had just been released after serving 27 years in prison. Most people released after such a long confinement would have been bitter and vengeful. They would have dedicated their whole life to “getting even” with those who put them in prison. In the worst case, South Africa could have deteriorated into a violent and bloody civil war, as is the case in Syria now. Under this scenario the best case would have been that Mandela came to power with big promises and proceeded to act just like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

The Nelson Mandela of 1990 and today was and is a statesman and a man full of wisdom and a great love and vision not just for South Africa but for the world. He was fortunate to be negotiating with F.W. de Klerk, then state president of South Africa who knew that change had to come. The lengthy negotiations were often testy and tense. In the end a road map was established to take South Africa to full democracy. I was very blessed to be able to vote in South Africa’s first all-race election in 1994. I was part of the great celebration on the night that the election finished and Mandela was elected. One African lady came on television and said the profound words: “Finally they will stop treating us like children.” I got to watch Nelson Mandela be sworn in as president in Cape Town. I have seen South Africa grow and prosper over the last 19 years.

I never got to meet President Mandela. I did get to meet his “right hand woman” Barbara Joyce Masekela who has been so kind to me. I cried at the end of the Clint Eastwood film Invictus.

Madiba when you were sick and all hope seemed gone, I prayed for you. What a glorious day it is that you have lived to be 95 years of age.! Stevie Wonder should serenade you with that beautiful song: “Happy Birthday To You Baby!”