Category Archives: Doing Good

Gotta See – Atlas Shrugged Movie – Premieres Friday April 15th

I wrote awhile ago about Atlas Shrugged and our current government collapsing under its own weight – See Atlas Shrugged Coming True. I am excited that the movie of Atlas Shrugged is debuting tomorrow, appropriately enough on tax day, April 15, 2011.  You can go to the movie website and “Demand” it for your area. The filmmakers are working hard to distribute the movie to a wider audience and in more theaters. It is the first movie in a planned trilogy, and funny enough, Part One covers about a third of the book.

My original impetus to write about Atlas Shrugged stemmed from an article in the Wall Street Journal. It was called Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years. It seems to me that it was fact in the 50’s and it is still fact now – the government can’t get out of its own way. The budget crisis continues – especially in the State of California and on the Federal level. With the threatened federal government shut down this past week and the emergency meetings to broker deals and get enough funding for the government to stay open, something in our government structure needs to change.

This morning the editorials, even in our local paper, read this way – Republicans are big spenders, Reagan’s spending rose 108%, Bush’s spending rose (by some other high percentage), it’s their fault the National Debt is in the trillions. I read this with interest because to me, both the republicans and the democrats tax and spend. Both parties spend on pork barrel projects. Both parties put taxes in place to keep up the spending. Both parties put tax cuts in place even with spending in place. Tax cuts come when they need to look good in an election year. These shenanigans all make a nice smoke screen for a deeper issue — the  two party system we have in place doesn’t work. It doesn’t represent the views of the people. Other parties want to get their messages out and heard, and have a seat at the table to solve some of our long-standing problems. Having other parties involved in election debates, not just the running for office, would bring other viewpoints, other suggested solutions to the forefront as well as garnering more votes and maybe a few seats – just look at the Tea Party as an example in the elections last Fall.

Having every congressman and senator read Atlas Shrugged, as suggested in the Wall Street Journal article, is a good  start. And maybe they could watch the movie tomorrow as a quicker start than reading the 1,168 page book! I think I’ll have to put Atlas Shrugged on my summer reading list for a refresher!

Let me know if you go see the movie and what you think of it!


Red Cross, Johnstown Flood, Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

How Can You Help with the Relief Effort for the Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster in Japan?

In 1889, the South Fork Dam broke, unleashing over 20 tons of water and massive amounts of debris onto Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a small coal and steel town of ~10,000 people. Officially, over 2,200 people died in the flood and ensuing fire, and many more went missing and were never found. To a small town like Johnstown, the scale of the disaster is not unlike the earthquake and ensuing tsunami disaster in Japan today.

As unlikely as it seems, one great thing came out of that disaster – The Red Cross began offering disaster relief services. Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross, led with disaster relief efforts after the Johnstown Flood. The Red Cross has been assisting with disaster relief efforts ever since. In 2007, I was lucky enough to visit the Johnstown Flood National Memorial and learn more about the Johnstown Flood disaster. The sheer scale of it was awesome. The videos posted of the tsunami disaster are even more awesome. The destruction is unbelievable and sad. My heart and prayers  go out to those who have died in this disaster and to those who are working like crazy in the recovery efforts.

I know many people are looking for a way to help with this recovery effort. The Red Cross is a neutral organization that assists in disasters like this worldwide. I saw a message today that United Airlines will even match miles as donations under their Charity Miles program when you donate to the Red Cross.  These miles will be used to help transport people to/from the disaster area in Japan. I am sure we will start seeing more and more programs like this to help Japan recover.

Please consider donating miles through your own airline affinity program or donating cash to the Red Cross.

An Inspiring Woman for International Women’s Day: Michealene Cristini Risley

Celebrating Michealene – Today is the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. It is a day for celebrating the strides women have made around the world. As you can see from the news lately, we have a long way to go in many countries, but the celebration is about the progress. I want to tell you about an amazing woman that I have the pleasure of knowing and she should be celebrated today for the work that she has done (and is doing)!

Follow Your Dreams

I first met Michealene Cristini Risley when we worked together at Sega (yes, that Sega – I was very popular with my “video-game crazy” cousins at the time). She was the head of licensing and I worked with her on setting up Sega Studios in Los Angeles. She was working on a division to film games and make digital video games. I know it sounds quaint now that everything is digitized, but back then (1994) it was a novel idea! At the time, she told me wanted to be a film maker and I was having a hard time seeing it. Not seeing that she could be a film maker but seeing how it was going to happen with the job she had at the time. Well, it is a matter of baby steps, taking one step at a time to reach your dream. When she left Sega she took that one step and then another and then another. She produced one film and then another. The important thing I learned from her is to take the first step.

Tapestries of Hope Film

Following her dreams, Michealene made a film about girls being raped in Africa because of a bogus and completely untrue myth that if you sleep with a virgin it will cure HIV/Aids. Tapestries of Hope premiered last fall and is playing in other places as it is scheduled. In making this film, she went out to breakfast one morning with her crew and came back to find armed agents shouting and carrying on. She (and her assistant) were arrested and thrown into 5′ x 5′ jail cell with squalid, sub-human conditions for three very long days. A man read about the plight on Facebook and called the CIA. Her husband hired human rights lawyers and she eventually bribed her way out of prison after being interrogated by no less than 15 men. She immediately left the country – thankfully, with her film in tact. With this film, Michealene was able to showcase the work of Betty Makoni and the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe. Following her dream has shed light on terrible conditions in Zimbabwe and the work of another amazing woman. I urge you to take a look at the film.

What Can You Do?

You can take one step today – take one step towards reaching your dream. If you are working towards your dream you probably already know what that step is that you need to take. If you don’t have a dream that you are working towards – write it down and figure out one step that you can take today. Michealene isn’t stopping with this one film, she is working on another project – writing a book  about here experience in Zimbabwe. She is also encouraging support of legislation like the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which did not make it out of the 111th Congress. If you are interested, you can support the efforts of groups like Women Thrive Worldwide, which worked on this legislation. Happy International Women’s Day!

Thank you Michealene for all of the work you are doing and the inspiration of truly following your dream!