Loss of Inheritance – Incompetence, Greed Or a Setup?

Becoming a Trustee

Relatives have asked you to become a Trustee for their Living Trust. Perhaps flattered by their belief in your honesty, or because of ignorance, you accept. Even if there are few assets and the transition after the Grantor of the Trust dies, the Successor Trustee has much to learn. This is explained through the Estate of Bowles, discussed later in this article.

If there is not much in the estate you are asked to administer, it might be easy to pay out the funds and be done quickly with the responsibilities. Not all issues of inheritance are difficult, especially if there are few Beneficiaries. If this is the case, you are lucky.

It is a different experience when millions are at stake, and from court cases on these more dire examples, the rest of us learn what not to do. Where passing wealth is handled with expertise, there is no contest to be decided, so the more well-run Trusts remain silent on how the administration provides proper distribution. After all, the bigger Trusts go on for generations. There must be a trick to it.

Passing the Mantle

Remember this, all Trusts become irrevocable when the Grantor(s) passes. While he or she is alive, though, the Grantor can spend the money, allegedly earmarked for Beneficiaries, without being questioned. The rules and set legalities about the Trust are found in its Declaration of Trust or Indenture. They govern the conduct of the Trustee(s) after the Grantor(s) die. This is when the conflicts and confusion can begin.

A common way to chose the Successor Trustee, though, is the surviving spouse takes the reins of the family finances. The logic is that this person cares about the children, and will use prudence in dispensing the wealth. Unfortunately, the spouse is not necessarily the right choice. When the Trustee is elderly and finds those friends who visit often more valuable than the children, wealth can easily be given away. Passing out the children’s assets to close associates is not uncommon. You will see how this works when some of the issues are examined in the Estate of Bowles.

Trustee Training

Despite its vital importance, across the entire subject of inheritance, we find training of Trustees has been systematically neglected. Through this neglect, billions of dollars are lost; while the courts and lawyers make millions, and wealth is gone to the future generations of the family. This happens mostly because those who receive the assets have little experience with money management.

It is common for the uninitiated Trustee to consult with CPAs and lawyers, who have little-to-no experience about Trust Administration. While knowledgeable about their particular fields of expertise, they lack the particulars about internal Trust administration. Left with a pile of paper and assets, the new Trustees do their best, and many of them are successful-if they have enough education and common sense.

How do you learn to be a Trustee?

Sources of Information

Apprenticeship is the most important aspect, except in our world, there is no formal apprenticeship program available. The next choice is to read books on the subject of inheritance, except there are few. Left with no direct source, reading what initially appear to be dry and boring court cases becomes the next alternative; how does one find the cases to read, and how does one find the meanings to foreign and alien terms?

Ways to get Informed

Although there are books on the subject of inheritance, most people do not know this and so, the only real option left is to read court cases. Filled with obscure legal terminology, most people find this a daunting task, but here are some pointers of how to continue for those who have no formal legal training:

1. Find court cases by searching through legal sites and look for terms such as: Probate, Wills, Estates, Trusts; or if you know a lawyer, ask him or her to find you any relevant cases to read.

2. Skim through the case, just to pick up the ideas and terms.

3. Ignore all the references to other court cases. Unless something intrigues you, it is not necessary to get the information. Just absorbing the gist of the issues involved is enough at this point in your journey through a strange land of alien ideas and a complicated forest of people.

4. Read the first and last sentence of each paragraph.

5. Put the case down, walk away and then come back to it when you feel like it.

6. Read sections.

7. Get a legal dictionary and look up every word or term you do not understand.

8. Start at the beginning of the court case; read it slowly.

Deliberate Obscure Language

Our legal setup stems from Roman law, and when William the Conqueror, who was from France, established himself as King of England in 1066 A.D., he changed the legal format and required that cases be argued in French. This deliberate maneuver ensured the English people had no direct access to the courts.

The two languages most needed to understand the root of legal words are Latin and French. Most people have no such training, so forgive yourself immediately as you muddle through the jargon used. You will be surprised how well you do! Once you understand the complexities of the language and are able to deal with it, you will astound yourself how much you grasp. Even reading one court case provides a mountain of information.

Getting an Education

Usually, the motive for tackling a task of this size is there is no place else to get the information. If you feel responsible for others, you need to get some education about what you are doing.

By the way, I have no formal legal training. I gained my knowledge while muddling through the jargon, and direct experience with many issues of inheritance. I am a Trust Administrator, so I see many events, and I set up the paperwork. What I share with you, I learned the hard way, and every time a new strange incident occurs, I have to whack away at the mountain of new ideas presented. There is no reason you cannot do the same.

Profitable Business

The subject of inheritance is in such disarray, and is so important to surviving into the future, it cannot be neglected. Please note: By not providing an educational forum for Trustees, the mistakes listed in the following battle among the Beneficiary, the courts and the Successor Trustee happen more often. This is lucrative business for the legal profession. This is why those who become Plaintiffs are likely to have oodles of money. The average person will run out of funds long before an Appellate review like this ever happens.

Dissipation of Wealth

Through the following example, you will see how a Trustee, totally and wholly ignorant of her duties and role, simply ignores all her obligations. Others were more than willing to help her squander the funds of this large fortune.

The court case discussed in the next several paragraphs has been simplified. I have left out the Trust Types mentioned, and all the citations to other court cases. This is a bare bones version of a complex and lengthy court battle.

Prohibitive Court Costs

Because the costs of pursuing legal remedies are prohibitive, most of the Trust cases reaching the Appellate level are worth millions. This one is no exception.

Loss of 15 Million Dollars

In 1988, the Estate of Bowles was worth over 17 million dollars when Thomas C. Bowles passed. The assets had dwindled to 2.7 million when his wife, Mary J. Bowles, died in 2006. She had been named the Successor Trustee, and is the one responsible for squandering the assets between 1988 and 2008.

Lacking Substantial Evidence

First Regional Bank in California had been named as the Successor Trustee after Mary J. Bowles passed. The question haunting the bank, as well as the Beneficiaries, was where did the funds go? After a lengthy review of paperwork and an investigation by First Regional Bank, it was determined there was not enough of a paper trail to make a full recovery. Thus, lacking substantial evidence of what occurred, the bank decided it was not worth pursuing those who received funds from the Trust.

This leaves the Trust without a Trustee, as the one named is not willing to make restitution on behalf of the Beneficiaries. Believing only tools of “formal discovery” would get the needed information, the bank determined the effort to recover the lost assets would not be “productive.”

Who Can Sue?

The next issues revolve around what court has the authority to decide the matter. This became a lengthy debate among judges about the Probate Code, and who has jurisdiction to sue the culprits who got the funds from Ms. Bowles. Clearly under their influence, she gave away the assets held for the Beneficiaries to strangers and her preferred Beneficiary, Richard Cavalli.

The brother of Richard Cavalli is Kevin Cavalli who has launched this lawsuit. Because he is a Beneficiary of the Estate of Bowles, he has no standing to sue for this Trust. Kevin Cavalli argues the Trustee, First Regional Bank, will not sue for the Beneficiaries, and thus, he has the right to continue.

The Probate Court did not agree, and thus this matter was taken to the Appellate Court for a decision.

Kevin Cavalli prevailed. The Appellate Court stated third parties can be sued by a Beneficiary of a Trust, and since the Bank will not make the effort to recover the property, the Appellate Court determined Kevin Cavalli has the right to sue. The matter was returned to the Probate Court for proceedings.

The proper procedure would be for Kevin Cavalli to sue Mary J. Bowles as Trustee. Since she has passed, that is not possible.

Less Than Market Value

Richard Cavalli, a Trust Beneficiary, induced the Trustee, Ms. Bowles, to sell directly to him Trust property for less than full value. To handle this transaction properly, Ms. Bowles would have sold the property at fair market value and the earnings would be put into the Trust to be shared by the Beneficiaries. Because Mr. Cavalli got all the property for less than its value, the other Beneficiaries were cheated out of their inheritance. These Beneficiaries included his brother and four of Ms. Bowles grandchildren.

Mary J. Bowles Estate

Mr. Richard Cavalli was named the Trustee of a separate Trust in which Ms. Bowles put all her personal assets. After she died, he was to manage it for the Beneficiaries she named. Somehow, she trusted him? Because Ms. Bowles’s assets are held in a separate Trust, and by her negligence the Estate of Bowles assets were squandered, her estate can now be ordered to reimburse the Estate of Bowles.

Breach of Fiduciary Responsibilities and Duties

The confusion entangles the Estate of Bowles in legal controversy. All of this could have been avoided if Ms. Bowles were trained. Because she was not, we assume she either deliberately or ignorantly engaged in fraudulent transactions, by both reducing the size of the Trust and squandering the inheritance of the children and grandchildren.

In this lengthy court case; the following breaches of Trustee responsibilities were listed. This is one of the longest lists ever attributed to one Trustee. It has been adapted to be applicable to all incompetent and untrained Trustees:

1. Distributes Trust principal to him or herself when it was not necessary for health, support, or maintenance;

2. Fails to invest prudently all Trust property;

3. Commingles Trust assets with other assets, including those of the Trustee’s own property and other Trusts;

4. Make imprudent loans to a third party, who provides no security and, after receiving the funds from those loans, later defaults. The Trustee takes no action to collect;

5. Sells Trust property to third parties for less than fair market value;

6. Gives out Trust property to a third party who has no right to the property;

7. Fails to keep complete and accurate records of transactions;

8. The Trustee puts his or her own interests over those of the Beneficiaries, thus in breach of the responsibility to act neutrally;

9. Encourages the third party to whom loans were made to file for bankruptcy so the third-party gets a discharge of debts owed to the Trust;

10. Fails to give out income and principal of the Trust according to the Trust terms.

11. Fails to make required distributions to beneficiaries.

We assume, without training, any Trustee could make these errors. If possible, get the court case of the Estate of Bowles (2008), Cal.App.4th [No. B203254. Second Dist., Div. Five. Dec. 22, 2008.] for a thorough tour of the facts, and an incredible education.

If you suffer because of the missteps of an errant Trustee, share this article with that person. It just might save a fortune.

Source by Maureen Terry

Noise – Pollutants, Remedies, and Trivia

Noise per se is not harmful; in fact, it is common in places where there are crowds and each person present wants to be noticed or heard. In the market, noise is to be expected since every merchant wants to attract the buyer’s attention. In sports arenas, where supporters cheer and shout their moral support for their favorite team or player. You can even add the noise of jeers hurled by hecklers and sore fans. In schools, especially when the teacher is not around to rap their sticks on the table and impose authority for them to keep their voices down. You’re not supposed to complain about noise if you stay in these places for some time.

Noise becomes irritating if you’re in the comfort of your home and an endless drone of low flying airplanes will pass overhead. It causes your blood pressure to rise since the occurrence can shake your walls and rattle you window panes. On top of that, you have read so many incidents about how accidents can happen; that by some stroke of misfortune any one of these planes may accidentally use your roof as landing pads.

Noise becomes a form of pollution if you’re living in the city and the traffic could bring a lot of cars honking simultaneously as their way of trying to protest the long hours they have been waiting in queue. Add the multitudes of pedestrians who’d rather walk than wait it out in the city traffic, most of them talking simultaneously, enough to create a din. Noise in the city can disrupt your sleep, invade your privacy when you find it hard to carry on with a simple conversation or create an unpleasant atmosphere for work done at home.

If you live in the suburbs, you might think that noise pollution can’t touch you here since the neighborhood are mostly residential properties and only a few cars pass by. That’s possible, if your neighbors are aware that the use of lawn mowers and leaf blowers is capable of making intrusive and disruptive noise that can get into your nerves.

Even the workplace can be vulnerable to noise if the office interior was not properly equipped with sound proofing materials or acoustics. Factories and its factory lines with the constant whirring sounds can deafen your ear if you get a daily dose of it as a worker.

Noise pollution is an environmental issue if it is invasive and disruptive causing negative effects on health and productivity.

Remedies for Noise Pollution

Homes located in areas near airports, factories and cities adapt their homes against noise by adding noise barrier and sound absorption materials such as barrier walls, acoustical foam, custom sound enclosures, pipe wrap, acoustical doors, windows and ceiling tiles as well as double paned windows.

Offices use a “white noise” machine which helps cover up unwanted and intrusive noises to diminish the sounds that can disrupt the work in an area. The machine produces a casual and non-directional sound that comes off as harmonious enough to cover whatever unwanted noise is spreading through in the work place.

Trivia: A Unique Type of Noise Pollution

In the Philippines, people love to while away their time by singing along with their karaoke or videoke machines. It is quite common among the neighborhood in slum areas to set the decibels of their machines at several notches over and above than that of their neighbor’s. Imagine a place where houses with but single pieces of ply-woods to separate them, will have people singing at the top of their voices using microphones and accompanied by blaring sound machines with high powered speakers to boot.

Imagine these people finding themselves uplifted from their slum origins through the hard work of their overseas relative and are now residing in quiet residential neighborhoods. The more reason they have to enjoy life and sing to their heart’s content and the neighbors have no recourse but to put ear plugs in their ears.

Source by Ciel Cantoria

The 3 Important Personality Traits of a Successful Medical Biller and Coder

Not all jobs in the health care field involve hands-on patient care. Like medical billing & coding, it is an administrative job that ensures health care service without having to directly interact with patients most of the time. Nevertheless, it is an important field in the health industry.

Medical billers & coders responsibilities

– Review notes from physicians and other health care professionals. This is to identify the procedures and services the patient received.

– Follow up with physicians and other health care professionals in order to verity the services and procedures they have provided to their patients.

– Apply corresponding codes with the use of coding system

– Process and filing of insurance claims

– Follow up on claims

– Prepare and send monthly bills

– Report delinquent accounts to debt collection agencies

Although medical billing & coding are different, the job can be handled by one person.

When thinking of starting a career in this field, you will need to develop some of the personal traits mentioned below.

– Able to manage stress. This profession requires long hours. It is a very stressful job. Hence, if you want to be in this field, you have to know how to manage stress while performing your duties. You should learn how to say “no” to unreasonable work to prevent you from experiencing physical and emotional exhaustion.

– Compassion. You may not have to interact with patients and families always, unlike nurses do. However, you should know how to be compassionate and sensitive towards patients and families who are dealing with serious conditions or injuries. Through compassion, you can offer them positive experience while coping with their situation.

– Patience. As mentioned earlier, this job is a very stressful one. You need to have a high level of patience when interacting with patients while performing your roles. Some patients can be annoying when they are in a stressful situation, especially when they hear that their insurance provider will not cover some of the procedures and medications they received. So, you need to be patient with them when trying to explain why they need to pay for their medical procedures or medicines.

Education requirements for this occupation

This profession requires an individual to have a post-secondary education, such as business administration, health information systems, and other related courses. These programs are available through associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. The subject involved will include business, technology, and health care. Through general education, you will be able to experience hands-on training and gain extensive knowledge about the overall process of medical billing & coding.

Pursuing a career in this field is not that difficult. However, you will need to gain a solid foundation in this area so as to help you become a proficient medical biller & coder.

Source by Dorothy G Johnson

What Spell Casters and Witches Do When They Cast Magic Spells

If you followed a professional spell caster or a practicing witch around for one whole day, you would find out that over 90 percent of his or her life is really not that different from anyone else’s. Really, its the other ten percent that you may find quite unusual. This is the time when a witch or spell caster does his or her magical procedures that get them in tune with the universe on a metaphysical level. These procedures help him or her gain the the things they might need to obtain a more serene way of life.

Some of the things spell casters and witches do to prepare for these magical procedures:

Witches Study Their Environment – This is very important to a practicing witch. In her house you will find tons of books both old and new on the subjects of economics, ecology, sociology and mother nature. Witches are very earthy beings. They use their environment to cast spells. Some of them use their own backyards!

Magical Beings Predict The Future – Some witches use tarot cards, their dreams to see into the future or the traditional crystal ball. If a witch can’t foretell future events, there’s really no point in doing a magic spell or ritual to change them.

Magic Spell Casters Use Different Materials To Cast Spells – Metal, rocks and gemstones to name only a few things, are some of the materials that witches use in their spell castings. Plants and herbs are also a big part of mixing potions used to create and cast spells. Casting a magic spell to change events and to do greater good takes a lot of skill to mix these potions and ingredients used in casting a magic spell!

Witches Use Their Inner Energy To Make Things Happen – She uses her own inborn energy as well as energy from outside sources to help change different areas of her life or the lives of others that seek her out for magical help. These areas include healing, changing the future of certain events, attracting love, attracting money and gaining protection. Some witches and magical spell casters carry around rocks, crystals and gemstones charged with magical energies. They also give them to family and friends to attract certain things like money, love or protection.

Spell Casters And Witches Visualize Their Future To Get What They Want – This is another powerful exercise a witch uses to obtain what she wants! Anyone can do this to get what they want! All you have to do is think about what you want, or sit down and write it down on a piece of paper, or get a photograph of what you want. Place it somewhere that you will see it every day. The next step is to visualize what you want, act like you already have it and the most important factor is you must believe in it. You will see how quickly you’ll materialize that car, house or whatever it is that you want!

These are just some of the things that witches and spell casters do in their magical world. Magic is REAL and its a great gift to have and share with the world! If you’re interested in having some magic spell work done to change your life for the better, I would highly recommend it! There’s nothing wrong or evil about spell casting and magic! It’s a wonderful tool to use to get what you want to have a better future!

Source by Olivia Fiore

Retirement Savings – 401(k) Plan Advantages and Disadvantages

What is a 401(k) Plan?

A 401(k) plan is a retirement savings plan that is funded by employee contributions with matching contributions from the employer. The major attraction of these plans is that they are taken from pre-tax salary, and the funds grow tax-free until withdrawn.

Advantages of 401(k) Plans

Following are advantages of 401(k) plans:

  • Since the employee is allowed to contribute to his/her 401(k) with pre-tax money, it reduces the amount of tax paid out of each paycheck.
  • All employer contributions and any growth in the capital grow tax-free until withdrawal. There is a compounding effect of consistent periodic contributions which is quite dramatic over a 20- or 30-year period.
  • The employee can decide where to direct future contributions and/or current savings, giving much control over the investments to the employee.
  • If your company matches yours, it’s like getting extra money on top of your salary.
  • Unlike a pension, all contributions can be moved from one company’s plan to the next company’s plan (or to an IRA) if a participant changes jobs.
  • Since the program is a personal investment program for your retirement, it is protected by pension (ERISA) laws. This includes the additional protection of the funds from garnishment or attachment by creditors or assigned to anyone else, except in the case of domestic relations court cases dealing with divorce decree or child support orders.
  • While the 401(k) is similar in nature to an IRA, an IRA won’t enjoy any matching company contributions, and personal IRA ones are subject to much lower limits.

Disadvantages of 401(k) Plans

Following are disadvantages of 401(k) plans:

  • It is difficult and expensive to access your 401(k) savings before age 59 1/2.
  • 401(k) plans don’t have the luxury of being insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
  • Employer matching them are usually not vested (i.e., do not become the property of the employee) until a number of years have passed. The rules say that employer matching contributions must vest according to one of two schedules, either a 3-year “cliff” plan (100% after 3 years) or a 6-year “graded” plan (20% per year in years 2 through 6).

401(k) plans have proven to be popular with employees for several reasons, being the tax deferral, the increased portability of this plan, employer matching contributions, and the increased control associated with self-direction of investments.

Source by Hilary Basile

Leadership – Organizational Typologies

Organizational Typologies Focusing on Authority and Intimacy, Corporation Character and Culture, and Healthy Corporate Culture

To begin a logical discussion about typologies regarding authority and intimacy, corporate character and culture, and the characteristics of a healthy culture, necessitates first looking at the basic types of organizations that exist. This information is of significant relevance because the type of organization will often supersede the macroculture of the particular society in which it resides (Schein, 2010). The type and uniqueness of the organization also plays a major role in analyzing the relationships between employees and their organizations. As Schein points out, this is “the most fundamental cultural dimension upon which to build a typology” (Schein, 2010, p.163). We, therefore, begin the discussion of our subject typologies by characterizing the primary types of organizations.

Schein (2010) characterizes organizations into three primary categories: coercive, utilitarian, and normative. Coercive organizations are those whose members are physically captive to the organization. These would be correctional institutions, involuntary mental institutions, branches of the military, and other specialized training facilities. Utilitarian organizations would be all types of business organizations where there is an exchange of pay for performance or service. Normative organizations are comprised of nonprofits such as churches, philanthropic and other groups with goals that in some way benefit society at-large (Schein, 2010).

Typologies of Authority and Intimacy

By the very nature of the coercive organization, authority is absolute, and produces strong counter-cultures among its citizens, who assume they must unite in order to defend themselves against the absolute authority that reigns over them. As a result of their assumptions, close peer relationships commonly develop and underlie the strong counter-cultures of the organization (Schein, 2010). What is equally important to note is that all counter-cultures are not necessarily negative. An example would be Christian- and other religious-based counter-cultural groups in prisons. Prison authority typically separates the physical locations where each sub-group is housed.

In the utilitarian organization even though the authority is a negotiated one, we find the development of counter-cultural groups represented by organized unions, who represent and protect the interest of employees from the exploitation of management. Typically, organizations shun close relationships to avoid strong counter-management subcultures. A relevant example would be the teachers’ union, who draw together thousands of otherwise disconnected members in joint support, to fight against efforts by state-run education boards who believe it is necessary to cap certain union benefits.

Authority and intimacy within the normative organization is uniquely different, mainly because these are often voluntary and charitable organizations that members chose to become a part of, and always have the freedom to leave. Authority is accepted by members, and intimate relationships are encouraged and desired, with the expectation that unity will enhance the likelihood of achieving organizational goals (Schein, 2010). Religious institutions are a great example where authority is typically represented by a charismatic or founding leader. Interestingly, even though members may complain on occasion, they often remain a part of the organization because of their commitment to the goals of the organization. The intimate relationships also become a connection to sustaining membership.

Typologies of Corporate Character and Culture

Organizational typologies for corporate character and culture revolve around two dimensions: how primary tasks are driven, which is characterized as a personality type, and the nature of organizational leadership, characterized by the orient of the organization’s primary focus. The former is represented by the twelve Jungian archetypes. The latter dimension describes the leadership orient; what type of leadership drives the organization in the fulfillment of its primary tasks (Schein, 2010). A third model based upon Blake and Mouton’s original “managerial grid,” a two-dimensional leadership theory that measures both the leader’s concern for people and concern for productivity (Daft, Marcic, 2011), was modified by Ancona with a third element, external environment; which according to Ancona, must be considered for an accurate assessment of effectiveness (Schein, 2010).

Using the previous example of a correctional facility, the primary focus dimension would be role-oriented, and the Jungian archetype would be revolutionary. For the religious organization, the type would be support-oriented with a caregiver personality. For the business organization, the type would be power-oriented with a ruler personality.

Characteristics of a Healthy Culture

The question that remains is: what exactly does a healthy culture look like? Schein provides a list of 10 characteristics of a healthy culture, derived from a 2006 research study conducted by Sackman, Bertelsman, and Stiftung, that led to the selection of six companies they called, “outstanding examples of the evolution and use of corporate culture in achieving their excellent performance” (Schein, 2010, p.172). An extra 13 additional characteristics were added from a change program conducted by O’Donovan, 2006 (Schein, 2010).

The first category is people. The characteristics are:

1) The individual’s locus of control: internally directed. 2) The nature of an individual’s value: intrinsic to being human; 3) The power of mankind: subject to universal laws; 4) The complexity of human intelligence: multi-faceted; 5) The nature of corporate culture: intelligent; and 6) The essence of diversity: differences in thinking.

The second category was places:

7) The natural environment: The center of existence. The last category was things: 8) The organization’s central paradigm: principle-centered in word and in spirit; 9) The nature of company values: a true commitment; 10) Public image: authentic; 11) The nature of the organization: an entity; 12) Core purpose: responsible provision of goods and services; 13) Workforce-organizational relationship: member/citizens; 14) Organization-external stakeholder relationship: to be respected; 15) Organization-business environment relationship: attuned; 16) Bad news and whistle-blowing: a threat; 17) Decision-making: moral; 18) Ownership for learning and development: localized; 19) Communication: open; 20) How best results are achieved: altruism; 21) Speed of response to customer demands: high; 22) The service provider: all staff; and 23) Emotional expression: to be encouraged.

References

Daft, R.L., Marcic, D. (2011). Understanding management 7th edition. South-Western Cengage Learning. Mason, OH 45040.

McShane, S.L., Von Glinow, M.A. (2012). Organizational behavior. McGraw-Hill Irwin, New York, NY 10020.

Schein, E.H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 989 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-1741.

Source by Diana D Williams

10 Lessons We Can Learn From Honeybees

We can learn many things by observing the behaviour of honeybees. Here are ten examples of lessons we could usefully apply to our own lives.

1) Honeybees live within their means. There are no banks, loans or credit cards in the bees’ world; only the resources they themselves gather and store. Like us, bees need to eat every day, and they do everything in their power to ensure a constant food supply by storing it – not so much for themselves, but for bees yet to be born.

2) Honeybees achieve extraordinary things by working together. Fifty thousand workers can shift a lot of stuff. Co-operation is the key to their success: tens of thousands of individuals behaving as a single organism.

3) Honeybees demonstrate that division of labour can be highly efficient. And everyone knowing how to do the full range of essential jobs makes for flexibility and adaptability. Bees move through a series of jobs in the hive before finally emerging as food-gatherers. In an emergency, they can revert to their former occupations to make up for losses.

4) Honeybees make honey while the sun shines. Bees are opportunists, taking advantage of available food as soon as conditions are right. Even when their stores seem full, they will find odd corners to pack with food,

5) Honeybees behave as though individuals matter, while the common good is always their first priority. Ego is not a feature of honeybees: their first duty is to the colony and bees will sacrifice themselves without hesitation if they perceive a threat to the colony.

6) Honeybees understand that hard times happen, and they are always prepared for shortages as well as disasters.

7) Honeybees share: they know there is plenty for everyone, including other species. Honeybees do not compete head-on with other species: there is overlap in their food sources, but they do not need to drive others from their territory.

8) Honeybees adapt to their surroundings. They know that this is the only effective survival strategy. This extends even to their use of propolis, which varies according to local conditions, and can protect them against localized pathogens.

9) Honeybees understand that honest communication is at the heart of community. Bees are great communicators, using vibrations and pheromones to pass complex messages around their colony. As far as we know, they are incapable of telling anything but the truth as they understand it.

10) Honeybees’ survival depends on selecting high quality, un-tainted food from a variety of sources. Because we have assumed control of much of the available land for our own purposes, we are responsible for ensuring that they continue to have access to flowers untainted by toxic chemicals to which they have no defence.

For almost all of the last 80 million years or so, bees have had flowering plants to themselves. Only in the last 100 years has their natural diet been contaminated with substances they can never before have encountered: man-made chemicals designed to poison them and their kind, some of them cunningly incorporated into the very bodies of the plants they feed on. More and more of these toxins are being spread on crops and on the soil, and the bees have no chance of surviving their onslaught.

We must reform our farming methods. The alternative is a world controlled by corporations, intent on bringing the food chain completely under their control.

The elimination of ‘nuisance species’ is already underway by those who stand to profit from GM crops. To those who stand to make billions of dollars from maize, wheat, rice and cotton, the honeybees are irrelevant. They simply don’t care if they disappear: they have no use for them, as all the crops that grow from the GM seeds they sell are wind-pollinated.

Ironically, some of these very same corporations are already making profits from breeding and selling other bee species – such as mason bees and bumblebees – to those whose crops do require pollination. Because these bees need to be bred in quantity and renewed every year, they have found a way to commercially benefit from the developing situation that must raise questions about their involvement in the demise of the honeybee.

Have they, in fact, deliberately poisoned the honeybee in order to exploit the resulting gap in the market?

Source by Philip Chandler

What Shapes Your Voice – Environment Or Genes?

Surprisingly, the answer to that question is actually your environment. While the innate quality of the speaking voice is something you inherit, there are numerous environmental factors that play a viable role in how you sound and speak. If you were raised in one of the southern states, it is likely that you have a drawl; if you are from Texas you probably twang; and, if you call any of the 5 New York boroughs home, there is a good chance your speaking voice is characterized by nasality.

Genetic influence, responsible for the vocal instrument which includes the voice box, throat, mouth, nose, and chest cavity, is one of the reasons you may sound like your same-sex parent if you had a loving relationship with that parent. By no means will your voice be identical however. One of the beauties of the speaking voice is that it is as individual to you as are your fingerprints.

Do you sound like your mother or your father? The best answer to that question is hypothetical. Were you at your parents’ home and answered their phone, would the caller mistake you for your mom or dad? If you were given unconditional love by your same-sex parent, the answer would probably be yes.

What environment does to your sound, however, is to take the innate quality of your voice and shape it. Let me explain this by using the characteristic of nasality. In order to speak with a nasal voice, you must push the majority of your sound through your nose. Fran Drescher is a good example of this technique. In her role as The Nanny, Drescher was powering and amplifying her voice through her nose. The result was a strident and harsh sound.

Had Drescher been raised in one of the mid-western states her sound would be surprisingly different. While the pitch (highness or lowness of sound – not the volume which deals with loudness or softness) of her voice is surprisingly low, the fact that she maneuvers her sound through her nasal passages makes her voice sound higher in pitch than it actually is. Were she to take her voice out of her nose and allow her chest to be her ‘sounding board,’ she would discover a much warmer, deeper resonant sound.

This does not mean you are stuck with the voice you hear on your voicemail however. Most people are unaware that they have a better voice inside – a voice that, when trained properly, would be powered by the chest cavity. The great voices you hear from the likes of George Clooney, Kathleen Turner, Cher, and James Earl Jones all make use of their chest, the largest of the 5 resonating cavities, to produce those spectacular voices.

Just how good is your ‘real’ voice? Allow your chest to do your talking and you may discover a voice as dynamic as that of Vin Diesel or Ashley Judd!

Source by Nancy Daniels

Are Magic Spells Safe?

Determining if it is safe to cast a spell begins by looking at the type of spell. Is it a love spell or is it a curse? Is it a Wiccan spell or a Santeria spell? Although there are always exceptions, a good rule of thumb is that a curse is going to be less safe than a love spell. A spell that is intended to cause harm is going to be less safe than a spell intended to heal or protect somebody.

This leads to the second point – intention. The intention of yourself, as well as the intention of the person casting the spell, will influence the degree to which the spells manifests dangerous side effects. If your intentions are not entirely pure this can filter into spellcastings, possibly even making the magick corrupted and dangerous. Even in cases where a person casts a curse out of anger, but doesn’t truly want the result there may be some backlash. The most important aspect of intention is being in harmony with the result of the spell, rather than traditional ideas of right or wrong.

Intention on the part of the person casting the spell, if not the person having the spell done (in the case where a spell is done for one person by another), is also very important. If the person trying to cast a spell is not focused enough, distracted, or even harboring doubts and malice toward his or her patient a good spell could quickly turn sour. This is why it is important to find someone of the highest skill if you choose to have a spell done for you.

Whatever results from the spell will also determine if negative effects occur. For example, if you cast a curse and you harm somebody there might be a karmic debt you have to account for at some point. However, if you cast a curse and it ends up causing more good than harm (such as stopping a bad person from hurting others) then, despite being a curse, it is unlikely to have any long term harmful consequences.

The skill of the caster is also important in a more encompassing way. All of the former issues – impure intentions, type of the spell and even the end result of the spell can be accounted for with the right casting technique. This is a mixture of a person’s innate ability, their devotion and time practicing their craft and the specific methods they have developed to cast spells that really work.

Source by Jean Silver

Hollywood Harems: A Documentary Film Review

Tania Kamal-Eldin’s Hollywood Harems: A Documentary was produced by Women Make Movies (Firm) in 1999. Tania Kamal-Elin is an independent filmmaker and University educator. She has an MFA in Visual Arts from UCSD, a MSC in Political Economy from the London School of Economics. She also has taught at Palomar College and UCSD. Kamal-Elin’s accomplishments include publishing various fictional novels along with co-authoring a book of short stories. Her current job is an Assistant Professor at American University, School of Communication in Film and Media Arts, in Washington D.C. In Hollywood Harems: A Documentary, Kamal-Elin reveals to viewers that Hollywood’s depiction of harem dancers has inadvertently or purposely reinforced the stereotype surrounding Middle-Eastern women while continuing to elevate the social status of Anglo-European and American women.

The stereotype surrounding Middle-Eastern women has been pervasive since Europeans first visited the Middle-East and brought back highly-exaggerated tales of sensualized locales where the lust of men and their thirst for the skin is indulged. Despite its falsity, the portrayal of scantily-clad women sensually strewn across a room in various positions doing nothing but lazily enjoying music and indulging themselves has been Hollywood’s go-to depiction of Middle-Eastern women. In fact the majority of Middle-Eastern women do not partake in such morally ambiguous activities but embraced the stereotype that Western nations placed on their culture; for example in Micklewright’s Harem/House/Set:

“The Ottoman snapshots, playing with the harem stereotype, reveal not only an understanding of the stereotype but also a complex sense of parody. By inhabiting the stereotype themselves and intentionally constructing a defective version, the photographer and his subjects are claiming their own agency in addressing (and mocking) Western constructions of their society.” (Micklewright 257)

Kamal Elin utilizes clips of harems from Hollywood productions dating back to the 1920s to the 60s, 70s, and 80s to show how Hollywood convinced the general public to believe Middle-Eastern women are more-than willing subjects in male-fantasized harems. In reality, the actresses portraying these stereotypical harems are actually born and raised in America’s heartland arriving in Hollywood with no resources and forced to accept whatever available acting opportunities there were. In some cases, these actresses embraced the role of harem girls and made their fortune convincing young men of their exotic sensuality.

Hollywood Harems: A Documentary is a historical film piece that shares many of the same aspects of our other readings: Highly-sexualized harems are a product of stereotypes perpetuated by Anglo-European and Anglo-Americans because either the belief that the status of women in Western countries is morally superior to those from the Orient or to fulfill the fantasies of young men that believe in the rumors about Middle-East harems. In Hollywood Harems: A Documentary, the film producers of the different clips combined distinct elements of items originating from Arab, Persian, Chinese, and Indian culture to form the atmosphere of a fictionalized Middle-East that viewers were accustomed to in a fashion similar to how British photographer Roger Fenton created a harem setting for his photographs. Fenton’s photographs portrayed a “lavish use of textiles of different colors, textures, and patterns to create the space, which is furnished with a low couch and cushions. Smaller decorative elements-the inlaid table, a tray bearing a coffee pot and cups, the two pipes, and the musical instruments (spike fiddle, tambourine, and drum) fill out the scene.” (Micklewright 242)

Fenton’s use of these decorative elements gave his buyers the Middle-Eastern setting they desired, despite the fact that the general population of the Ottoman Empire from which he was took his inspiration hardly had harems within their own household and those with rooms designated for harems were not even remotely close to Fenton’s portrayal.

Hollywood Harems: A Documentary reveals that the media’s portrayal of Middle-Eastern harems was received enthusiastically by the general public as the correct depiction of the everyday life of Middle-Eastern women. The various clips in Hollywood Harems: A Documentary were for the most part in black-and-white but the filmmakers manipulated several film elements to contribute to their intended Middle-Eastern atmosphere. Some filmmakers utilized dim lightning in their work in order to bring about a sense of seediness and taboo that insinuated that harems were places where shady and possibly illegal transactions were commonplace. Filmmakers also decided the costume choices directing women to wear only the minimal amount of clothing because the regulations dictating the amount of clothing for females required in a film only applied to Anglo-women and not ethnicities. Lastly, just like Robert Fenton or Sebah and Joaillier’s depiction of harems, the filmmakers strategically placed luxurious items such as ottomans, musical instruments, and reclining chairs to bring together the sense of a room meant for relaxing and sensual activities.

Tania Kamal Elin’s Historical Harems: A Documentary is valid source of history that accomplish its mission of identifying the influence of Hollywood films on the general population’s perception of harems and Middle-Eastern women. Kamal Elin juxtaposes clips from different decades in the 1900s demonstrating how the misguided stereotype of Middle-Eastern harems persisted to present-day. My reaction to the film is one of surprise and enlightenment due to my realization that the majority of people hold this stereotype about harems myself included. The influence of media in everyday life is tremendous and I am certain that I hold numerous other stereotypes that have yet to be discovered. The visual elements of the harems from each clip was indicative of the time it was produced, showing us what viewers of each certain time-period believed harems to be. Historical Harems: A Documentary provides an eye-opening insight into the stereotypes of Middle-Eastern harems held by Western civilizations.

Source by Phong J Nguyen