Monday, February 16, 2009

Best of the Week - February 8-15, 2009

Some of the best things that I've read over the past week ...

Finally, there's one corporate CEO who gets it. I applaud Steven Korman for his appeal to corporations to resist laying people off just for the hell of it. Certainly, as Korman says, some "reductions in force" are necessary at some businesses just to stay afloat. That's different from slashing thousands of jobs and lives for the sake of increasing profits by miniscule amounts, which might be impossible to do anyway. It's hard to wrap one's head around the fact that our country lost more than half a million jobs in January alone.

We all know people who seem to be faking their way through life. This article in Time shows us that, indeed, more people may be incompetent than we otherwise realized.

One of the best fundraising events I ever attended was a very simple, low-key affair sponsored by Girls Inc. of Philadelphia. My boss at the time was part of their board and we went to the event after work. Held in a large hotel lobby, it was no different than similar such functions - hors d'oeurves, cocktails, a silent auction, merchandise for sale. What was it about this event that makes me remember it 5 years later? I think it was the palpable passion that the organizers felt for the girls they were helping and the commitment they had. That's why it's sad to see this article about Girls Inc. coping with the loss of their DHS funding, this in the midst of an already challenging economic environment. They're a casualty of others' mistakes, but the girls they serve don't have to be. This is one of those instances where I wish I could do more than write a check that would only be a drop in the bucket in the face of their losses.

Here in the Betty and Boo household, we adore The Muppets and the genius that was Muppet creator Jim Henson. We watch episodes of The Muppet Show regularly on DVD with the kids. Muppet fans will enjoy this article from Mental Floss, "Surprising Stories About 20 Muppet Characters" about real-life people the characters are based on, the "backstory" on the various characters, and more.

Lost in the discussion about the stimulus package (which is certain important) was the announcement on Thursday, made by Vice President Joe Biden at the Special Olympics World Games in Boise, Idaho, that Kareem Dale has been named the special assistant to the president for disabilities policy. According to the article on the Special Olympics website, "Dale’s appointment marked the first time a U.S. president has had a special assistant focused exclusively on disability policy." I don't expect miracles from Mr. Dale, nor do I expect him to fix everything that is wrong with disability policy in our country, but it certainly nice to have a friend of people with disabilities in the White House.

If you haven't visited the Special Olympics World Games page yet, this collection of photos and feature stories is a good place to begin. Just when I think I have read the most inspiring story ever, I read another and think the same thing. One that is likely to stay with me for awhile is the story of Maryam Hasan, a Special Olympian from the United Arab Emirates. Her sport? Snowshoeing. Maryam trains in 100 degree heat on the Arabian beaches. Her motivation is her absent father, and her goal isn't a medal - it is to win her father's approval and acceptance by showing him that, despite her physical challenges, she can succeed. (Go to this page and then scroll down to "Be A Fan of Empowerment" to watch the video about Maryam.)

Have a great week!

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