In the 2008 crisis, JPMorgan Chase, along with a handful of other banks, was considered too big to fail. The theory is that if such megabanks were allowed to fail, the US (and the world economy) would be dragged down with it.

My theory is that Chase has already failed, at least as a mass consumer bank.

Fact is, I have banked with them for many years, in more than one state. Granted, I am not a wealthy individual, and although I have personal and business accounts with the bank, I am obviously not seen as a VIp client.

But there is another fact. Out of the last eight times I had a request or required a service from Chase, I only managed to have a positive outcome once – because that day I had decided I was not going to walk away with a no.

If Chase is a mass bank – and the fact that it has branches all over the place testifies to that, here are two branches less than 1 mile from each other where I live- then it should provide services to the masses. It does not seem interested to do so.

The last time I contacted Chase with a request, I asked for a home equity line of credit. First of all, ridiculous as it may seem, although there were several “officers” doing nothing but looking at the ceiling of the posh branch, the guy who took me had me speak to somebody over the phone in a remote location. The conclusion I have is that this product is only available for people who have more than 50% of the mortgage paid off. I gave a 10% deposit on my home, the mortgage is on the tenth year, and the bank, after applying a ridiculous 80% rule, said all I had was 4000 bucks equity I could borrow against…

Then I asked whether they would lend money against a frozen savings account or CD, and the officer said it does not do it any longer…in other words, the most simple and safe operation in banking, borrowing against liquid funds, is not done by this bank anymore (they used to do it, just a few years ago). So, why are those folks sitting pretty at the branch, if the bank does nothing?

So Chase kinda reminds me of a SNL skit, about a Change Bank, which all it did was change money! That seems to be today’s Chase.

The only thing that keeps me from taking my money from it is because I would need to change a lot of stuff, like incoming and outgoing payments, etc, etc, etc. Or else, I would just say bye bye Chase.

I never had my identity stolen, however, a couple of months back, I suspected something was wrong.

A few years ago, I requested free credit reports (everyone is entitled to one, once a year), writing directly to the top credit reporting agencies, by snail mail. It worked great.  Now, you have to go through a website, which confuses users by hinting their identity has been really stolen. Since I have very little time to waste with games, I decided to go directly to one of the providers, and I chose Experian.

The free report I was entitled to quickly became a 1 dollar report. That meant I needed to provide a credit card number to pay the buck. And here a little nagging problem started.

Not only would I be charged US$ 1 for the report, however, by requesting it from Experian, I would agree to try out for a US$17.95 a month credit monitoring service, which I could cancel at any time. If I canceled within 7 days of ordering the trial subscription, I would not be charged anything, not even the first charge.

I ordered my US$1 (free) report on a Wednesday, and found out all was clear with my credit. Then, the next Wednesday I called to cancel the subscription. Funny thing. To sign up, you can do everything on line, within tops five minutes . To cancel, you have to speak to a rep, and stay online for a good 30 minutes. I hate to think that the idea is to have you give up on the cancellation and be stuck with the subscription forever…

Be that as it may, I did call, stayed on the line patiently, and spoke to a nice rep. Although she kept on trying to convince me to keep the service, I denied every time. Then, after five attempts to keep my hard earned dollars, she offered the service for half-price, which I found outrageous. After I gave her a few thoughts on the hard selling tactic (why not offer the service for US$8.00 to begin with?), she confirmed the service would be cancelled, THAT I WOULD NOT GET ANY FURTHER BILLING FROM EXPERIAN, and I got an email confirmation on the trot.

Much to my dismay, I just got my credit card bill, and guess what it contains? A US$17.95 charge from Experian!! Yes, siree!

Needless to say, I was beyond outraged by this point. I explained, over and over again, that I opted out of the service within the prescribed seven days, that I got verbal and written confirmation, yet, the representative insisted I did not comply with that requirement, and that although the subscription would be canceled henceforth, that US$17.95 charge would stand.

After referring to this business deal in not very endearing terms, and making a rhetorical observation concerning the mission of the company, which is to protect us from scams and aspects of this transaction, which looked like a scam to me, I told the representative that I would feel free to share my nasty experience with the entire world, by writing on several dozens of blogs to which I contribute material.

That did the trick, though. She was so adamant that the charge would stand just a few seconds before, however, when I said I would make the matter public, a third party, a supervisor, I guess, entered the picture and allowed the credit!

I can only say this: before you order anything from Experian, think twice. I have since then read similar stories on the internet, so I can assure you that this is not an isolated incident. I am ready to do battle next month again.

One of the main problems we find when correcting translations done by other translators is when the translated document is an interpretation of the original. While for literary purposes adaptation and interpretation are desired in translations, the results can be disastrous in legal, certified translation of documents. In other words, even a good literary translator can botch a certified translation, overdoing it, or underdoing it.

For instance, a translator can be compelled to use false cognates when doing a translation. A Bachelor degree is a 4-year college degree in many countries, while in others, the same word means a high school certificate. This, of course, means a significant difference in educational level. Mind you, in this case, it is not an adaptation – the correct rendering for “bachillerato” is a high school diploma

A few countries have legal separation and divorces, which are not the same thing. Many translators quickly adapt legal separation, calling it a divorce, causing many head aches to the clients. The DHS knows which countries have legal separations and divorces, and checks originals in other languages, by the way.In certain cases, medical diplomas are translated improperly assigning a Doctorate degree to physicians. A medical diploma is a doctorate in the United States, because medicine is a graduate program. In many countries, however, a student enrolls directly into Medical School, upon leaving college. In such cases, the word “Doctor” to describe the degree is improper.

While some of these mistakes are rather innocent, others can cause great expense. Therefore, clients should avoid translating documents in store fronts that claim to provide myriad other services. In these cases there is likelihood the translation will be done by someone who does not have command of these little, seasoned translator rules that can make a lot of difference.



Reproduced from

Che Guevara (Jim Fitzpatrick's style)

Che Guevara (Jim Fitzpatrick’s style) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Self-deprecating ethnic humor has been around for a long time, much more so in the last few years. Jewish humorists have been practicing it widely, so have African-American, oriental, gay, lesbian, Hispanic comedians.

Trouble is, if you are a non-Jewish comedian and say something slightly off concerning Jews, you might be hunted by the Anti Defamation League for years. Woe to you, forever labeled an anti-semitic insensitive. If you are an African-American comic, you can normally refer to people in your group as niggaz, hos and bitches without any constraint, but in the mouth of others this spells trouble. Gays have their own set of diatribes to refer to themselves, forbidden to heteros. Hispanics do the same, and so on, so forth. There is an unwritten rule that as long as the offensive stuff stays in-house, it is OK. Like dirty laundry. It is not OK if it crosses any border, then it becomes prejudice.

I always found that to be peculiar. To me, name-calling is name-calling. Somebody should contact the FTC and file a name-calling cartel complaint.

The funny thing about this book is that, while self-deprecating, it is not offensive. It does point quite a few inconsistencies, even hypocrisy in “white” behavior, but it does so gently, lightly.

By the way, the book is self-deprecating because the author Lander is apparently white.

The self proclaimed Guide lists 150 things that White People like, starting with coffee and ending with rock climbing. At the end of the book, there is a score card, where you can find out how white you are.

There is white, and there is WHITE, of course. There is the wrong kind of white, which the book never quite defines, but it is easy to figure out who they (we???) are. Then there are folks like me, white skinned, but foreign-born. I am white until I open my big mouth. So I obviously do not fall within the definition of white, but I could use the information to my advantage to make myriad friends in white society.

The social critique is wonderful. According to the author, “white people”, all of whom consider themselves geniuses, strive to be known for their exacerbated individuality and uniqueness. In fact they are obsessed by it, but in the course of their journey end up being all the same, if not entirely in essence, in method. The “white people” he refers to is the self defined cultural-social-economic-political white elite of the country. People who, according to the author, love foreign film and hating corporations, adore Oscar parties and having gay friends, appreciate Che Guevara and Tibet with unwarranted vengeance, and pretend to be Canadian when traveling aboard while raising gifted children without exception. These are people who are obsessed with unknown musicians, exquisite taste in art, expensive sandwiches and religions their parents don’t belong to, as long as these produce good artifacts that match modern furniture. There is a lot of politically correct behavior in this tome. I reckon White People like political correctness, boy do they! As long as it does not involve downgrading their property value, or putting their money where their mouth is to any large extent…

Most entries are extremely hilarious, and I could not put the book down and stop laughing.

At times if feels as though the perspective is how the “right” kind of white people see themselves, other times, how the rest sees the “superior” group. Whichever way you look at it, it is funny.

I did not keep a score, but at the end of the day I discovered I am not that white, after all. At best I am one of those wrong kind of white folks…

If you are tired of reading about the imminent economic meltdown or biographies of rather uninteresting B celebs, grab this book.

One of the worst things about malpractice law suits is that such legal proceedings are generally brought supposedly to ensure bad doctors and hospitals pay for their misdeeds, so they do not harm other patients. At least that is what the good folks and attorneys who bring these lawsuits say.

Trouble is that as most of these suits are settled out of Court, the settlements normally call for non-disclosure of the particulars of the lawsuits in the media anywhere. Thus the institutions and professionals whose behavior has supposedly been faulty get away, unscathed, and are able to make their next victim, for the public is ill informed about past doctor and hospital malpractice history. Sure, their malpractice insurance premiums will go up, but then all they do is keep raising their fees until only Bill Gates is able to pay for healhdon’tcare in this country.

Any serious discussion about healthcare that does not deal with the medical malpractice industry is not serious at all. That is for sure.

If you have a Citibank credit card, you should read this carefully.

There is a lot of growing environmental concern these days. Companies want to be seen as eco-friendly, thus they offer the option of paperless statements. You know, you sign up to get the statements on the internet, by email or through the company’s site and trees get saved.

As far as this being eco-friendly, it is all baloney. You end up printing the statement for your own records, so there are no trees being saved. The company’s are just shrewdly transferring the cost of printing, handling, mailing the statement and payment to you. And you get no breaks, only ever higher APRs.

That would be OK except if banks, such as Citibank, were not deciding for you that YOU HAVE to accept paperless statements. That happened to my wife.

My wife is not too crazy about computers. And as far as bills are concerned, I am not too crazy about new technology, too. But since August, Citibank stopped sending her statements by snail mail.

Mind you, this happened one month after the bank had sent her a refund for overpayment on the account!

Since then, it has been hell. She has requested statements be sent by mail more than four times, and the request has not been complied with. As a result, she has been penalized four times with late fees (@ $39.00 a pop) because by the time they call her, she is late. She is also not getting the statements on email either. But she continues to get junk mail from Citibank, which claims that statements have been returned to them!!! And no one in the bank takes responsibility for this.

Now they continue their crusade against the poor thing, reducing her credit a whopping 95%.

Another thing. Do not ever believe a bank when they say they are waiving fees of any type. They almost never do.


As we approach another presidential election, the level of discussion of core issues in the country will be peaking in the next few months. So-called conservatives will aim to remain in power, while so-called liberals believe their turn in D.C. is near.

If you consider yourself a liberal or conservative, and subscribe to the strict definition of what it is to be a conservative or liberal in U.S. politics, you may as well call yourself a hypocrite, either way. This is what I call the hypocrisy of death, one of the reasons why I have a deep dislike for labels, and my stomach churns at the very mention of these two.

One of the core issues is abortion, the other death penalty. Which make both by-the-book conservatives and liberals converge into hypocrites. For strict liberals are against death penalty, in favor of abortion, while strict conservatives are against abortion, for death penalty. Both are very inconsistent, and are basically used as pawns in the political process. A nice way of polarizing things.

In my logic, a person who opposes abortion should be against death penalty, and those who approve abortion, should do the same for death penalty. The inconsistency lies in the fact that man-inflicted-death is man-inflicted-death: if a person believes a pregnant mother has the right to determine the death of an unborn infant, it follows that same person should have utter disregard for human lives of “worthless” prisoners. The same logic would apply to protection against man caused death: protecting unborn children is just as important as protecting fully grown men and women from being killed in an electric chair. If the police supposedly protects us from killers, authorities should not have the right to order the murder of incarcerated individuals. For the death penalty is a form of murder. Call me radical, but the status quo is hypocritical, and I believe, my argument flawless.

A lot of Christians jump on the strict conservative bandwagon, which opposes abortion, but believe man still has the power to kill violators of laws. Some go as far as quoting scripture, stating that Mosaic law prescribed the death penalty for a variety of violations. The Gospel of John, Chapter 8, illustrates very clearly that Jesus didn’t come to fulfill only dietary laws. The Pharisees present to Jesus an adulterous woman, stating that “the law of Moses says to stone her”, on verse 3. On Verse 7, Jesus says, “let those who have never sinned, throw the first stones.” Sure, many people might naively argue that Jesus was revoking only the punishment of adulterers. This serves right to many a people who do send people to the electric chairs, prosecutors, lawyers, judges, politicians. Otherwise, should the stoning of adulterers still apply, these same folks might be next in line, so prevalent is adultery in all sectors of society. At least to me it is clear that Jesus died for the sins of murderers as well, and it is not by chance that Jesus hung on a cross through man’s death sentence, and had victory over it. Plus, Jesus pardoned the other punished criminal while hanging on the cross. My interpretation, backed by hermeneutics, is that Jesus revoked all death penalty.

Thus it follows that protecting human life is a God given gift we have received. Protecting both unborn children and vile criminals. Life imprisonment is enough punishment for any human being, as freedom is also one of the greatest gifts we enjoy. Thus the position of card-carrying conservatives is hypocritical.

And so is the position of their nemesis, the radical liberals. Yes, liberals, you are also a hypocrite. If the life of a serial killer is precious enough to save, so is the life of a poor, unwanted child. The fact the mother did not want the kid is irrelevant. Sex is not a sport or entertainment. It is a serious activity, with ensuing consequences, the most important of which is the conception of a child. A person who is not prepared to raise a child should not be having sex, as much as a proven trigger happy individual should not be licensed to carry a gun. An unwished or diseased baby is just as undesirable to society as a criminal on death row. If society is to take care of criminals, it should take care of wanted children (facilitating adoptions in the USA, for one, and taking care of highly diseased children, without any cost to parent(s)).

It is too bad that a lot of the political debate hinges and polarizes on this particular issue. Liberals appear more modern and humanitarian in their worldview, but hypocrites they are. And conservatives appear to have the moral upper hand, all for law and order, but hypocrites they are, too. In the end, voters mix up social and economic conservatism or liberalism, which I suppose, serves a purpose for people who want to manipulate the system economically, one way or another. The majority of politicians get embroiled in this mess, and appear totally out of touch with reality and devoid of any critical thinking, letting partisanship do the thinking for them.


Watch for all types of iterations of scams.

Section 419 scams abound, they are no longer coming from Nigeria. I have gotten them from all over the place, with religious bents, politically charged, and even on my own language – terrible and laughable translations probably done for free, online. They are worth the laugh, though.

However, a client of mine just reported a new type of scam.

A large job was quote for a “client”. After negotiations, the “client” agreed to pay the rush fee, etc. The ‘client” then sent a Bank Check (in other words, certified funds), but “by mistake”, sent a check exceeding the negotiated price. He then asked my client to refund the difference, keeping 200 bucks for his trouble.

It turns out not all Bank Checks are real. The unlikely situation raised my client’s suspicions, and sure enough, had he trusted the bank check and refunded the money, he would be a few thousand dollars short on his bank account, for the Bank Check bounced all over the place.

So you are warned. Beware of the “EXCESSIVE PAYMENT – KEEP THE DIFFERENCE” scam.


I cannot say that I am a big fan of Bill Maher’s program on HBO. I actually do not watch it, for I like balance, and the program is anything but balanced.

The other night I was waiting for a movie on HBO, and watched the last few minutes of Maher’s lopsided tour de force. Suddenly he cuts into a conversation and says, “by the way, gay marriage passed in New York”. The public applauded as if they had all won the lottery!!!

Sorry, I find that reaction to be highly hypocritical.

I wonder if Maher said, “by the way, all of your fathers have just come out of the closet”, if the public’s reaction would be so overwhelmingly enthusiastic!

You see, applauding gay marriage is one thing, actually dealing with homosexuality close to home, altogether, another.

Ok, so maybe I am judging. Not only that, it would also be an impossibility for the fathers of everyone in the audience to decide to come out of the closet on the same day. Call my exaggeration poetic liberty. I am trying to make a point.

The audience’s behavior is thus a two measure scale.

I have a neighbor, who incidentally has a different nationality and religion than me, as well as a different financial standing. He used to say, when we moved in the building “what nice neighbors, I will invite you to dinner one of these days.” in a very condescending way. Well, six years down the line, we, the South Americans across the hall are still waiting for the invite. He has already intruded into my home a few times, to make building politics, but have yet to receive invites to enter his tonier abode.

Same principle. My patronizing neighbor has all the right bumper stickers, says the nice things to his nice South American neighbors, and probably watches Bill Maher just the same, but it is so evident that he does not really mean half of what he says. No action, just cheap talk and senseless posturing.

It is indeed sad that people cannot really be themselves, they rather fit into stereotypical templates. After all, being yourself is the most important human right of all.

Gosto de fazer novos amigos no Facebook, e de fato, já conheci muita gente legal assim.

Infelizmente, às vezes a gente se arrepende de certas amizades novas.

Há algum tempo atrás, convidei uma pessoa que tinha diversos amigos em comum. Achei interessante aquele que parecia ser o seu projeto de vida, a inclusão de mulheres na política brasileira. Certa vez, lhe fiz uma pergunta na maior inocência, sobre algo relacionado justamente à política, e me respondeu rispidamente, dizendo que não era lobista. Já vi que tinha que tomar cuidado com a acérbica “dona”.

Um belo dia desses, a grande “amiga”, postadora compulsiva que ás vezes postava umas cinquenta bestuntices por dia, colocou uma postagem sobre o maravilhoso e ético sistema bancário saudita, alegando que não cobra juros para emprestar dinheiro!!! Fiz um comentário (com base em outros comentários já feitos e com base na realidade), frisando que a coisa não era bem da maneira como ela estava colocando. Entre outras coisas, que aquele negócio de não cobrar juros é conversa para boi dormir, e que na realidade, os bancos sauditas deitavam e rolavam cobrando juros dos “infieis” no exterior, seja como investidores em bancos ocidentais ou de forma direta.

Pra que! A mulher desandou a me agredir, a certa altura me chamando de intrigueiro, dizendo que aquele que fala de coisas que desconhece é intrigueiro – presumindo que eu deconhecia o assunto. Até me dedicou um bolero (acho que era um bolero, estava sem som no meu computador). Já tinha aprendido a lição, e não dei continuidade à estúpida discussão. Para que me expor?

Para começar, achei interessante sua paixão pela sociedade saudita, na qual as mulheres pouco ou nada contam. Por outro lado, nas minhas épocas de baladas nos anos 80 cansei de ver sauditas bem á vontade no exclusivo clube A de Nova York, fazendo muitas coisas que não ousariam fazer no Reinado…Foram estes que comparei à atuação estrangeira de parte do capital proveniente de petrodólares.

Segundo, sem entrar no mérito da questão, entendo um pouco sobre o sistema bancário mundial. Faz parte do meu trabalho. Não precisa ir muito longe – basta lembrar do corrupto banco BCCI, cujo principal acionista era um banqueiro saudita, Khalid bin Mahfouz, para entender que as coisas eram bem diferentes do que a supostamente bem informada “amiga” pensava.

Por outro lado, simplesmente não chamar juros de juros, não faz com que não sejam juros…A remuneração do capital emprestado, como no Bai’ al ‘inah e Bai’ muajjal nada mais é do que uma forma de juros.

Nada tenho contra os sauditas, mas não gosto de generalizações baratas, principalmente baseadas em ingênuas, superficiais e simpáticas conversas de coquetéis, e não na realidade nua e crua dos relatórios técnicos e investigações. Há sauditas íntegros que cumprem rigorosamente os preceitos das suas religiões e convicções, como há israelenses, ingleses, iranianos, japoneses, americanos, ganenses, brasileiros…mas também há os hipócritas de carteirinha, em todas as nações, religiões e culturas.

Não entendi – e não entendo até onde a “amigona” queria chegar com postagem tão besta, nem tampouco, com os coices gratuitos.

Só que depois dessa, não só cancelei nossa efêmera e conturbada pseudo “amizade”, como a bloqueei do meu facebook.

Igreja Brasileira em Miami

A topnotch site

Portuguese Translations

A topnotch site

Birimi Solai

Some surprising stuff

Morton Ybia

This site is the cat’s pajamas

Bork Su

This site is the cat’s pajamas