Japanese Quake Relief [via David Angsten]

These stunning before and after pictures show the amazing progress--and lack of progress--in Japanese cleanup and recovery efforts. (Click HERE for more pix.)For readers interested in contributing to the cause, you can go right now to this page on Amazon.com, and for $3.99 buy a collection of wonderful Japan-themed stories specifically written by 20 different thriller/mystery authors to raise money for Japanese quake relief. Every nickel raised from sales of the book will go to organizations working to rebuild shattered communities and shattered lives in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (You can find more details on this remarkable collaboration at the website of author Tim Hallinan).

Please buy the book and pass on the word--you'll enjoy some excellent stories while helping do some good.

Public Toilet in Houston

It's made entirely of one-way glass!

No one can see you from the outside, but

When you are inside it's like sitting in a clear
Glass box!

Rice Fields of Japan [via David Angsten]

Looks ordinary enough... but watch as the rice grows!

Stunning crop art has sprung up across rice fields in Japan , but this is no alien creation. The designs have been cleverly PLANTED! Farmers creating the huge displays use no ink or dye.

Instead, different colour rice plants have been precisely and strategically arranged and grown in the paddy fields.

As summer progresses and the plants shoot up, the detailed artwork begins to emerge.

Closer to the image, the careful placement of the thousands of rice plants in the paddy fields can be seen.
Rice-paddy art was started there in 1993 as a local revitalization project, an idea that grew from meetings of the village committees.

The different varieties of rice plants grow alongside each other to create the masterpieces. In the first nine years, the village office workers and local farmers grew a simple design of Mount Iwaki every year. But their ideas grew more complicated and attracted more attention.

In 2005, agreements between landowners allowed the creation of enormou s rice paddy art. A year later, organizers used computers to precisely plot the planting of four differently colored rice varieties that bring the images to life!



Psalm 91:4, He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Longest Password [via Mary Calhoun]

During a recent password audit by Microsoft & Google, It was found that a blonde was using the following password:

" MickeyMinniePlutoHueyLouieDeweyDonaldGoofySacramento"

When asked why she had such a long password,

She said she was told that it had to be at least 8 characters long

And include at least one capital

“Feel-Sighted” - August 18th - September 3rd

Artists include: Sylvia Cooper, Airom, Michael Chearney, Nancy Larrew, Alisa Gabrielle and Jaime Becker Curator: Hannah Kim

Opening Reception: Thursday August 18th, 6-10pm

Show Duration: August 18th through September 3rd

The Center for the Partially Sighted Donor Appreciation Night: Thursday, September 1, 6-9pm

Closing Reception: Saturday, September 3rd, 6-10pm

Location: BG Gallery (Bleicher/Golightly) 1431 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday 12-6pm Thursday-Saturday 12-11pm, +1 310-878-2784 www.bgartdealings.com

Press Contact: Hannah Kim, Hannah@bgartdealings.com

Bleicher Golightly Gallery presents “Feel-Sighted,” a group exhibit featuring touchable artwork. Presenting an unconventional way to “see” art, this show displays works that were meant to be touched as the foremost but not exclusive way to appreciate the art. Some works have been created by artists with partial vision. Inspired by how influential the role of touch can play in the creation of these works, artists invite their guests to don blindfolds and enjoy the works with their fingers instead of their eyes.Employing a diverse vocabulary of textures, forms, and even temperatures, these works invite new considerations and critiques of the traditional visual-only reception of art. Certain showcased artists, who rely heavily on their sense of touch to create their works, invite guests to experience art as the artist does during its formation. The idea was to create work that felt as great as it looked and synthetically inspire the viewer to enjoy it wholly, not just through sight alone.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Center for the Partially Sighted, an L.A.-based non-profit. The Center for the Partially Sighted brings technological training and assistance to those who have lost their sight to help them live independently, and also creates opportunities for them to lead fulfilling and productive lives. We are pleased to coordinate an event that presents works of art to those who have lost much of their sight, as well as to those who typically experience art through their eyes alone. www.low-vision.org

Goldman ‘Too Big’ to Face Prosecution Over Mortgage Securities, Hintz Says [via Nina Reznick]

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) won’t face criminal prosecution related to sales of mortgage-linked securities because such a move could threaten the U.S. financial system, according to Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which is reviewing a Senate subcommittee report that alleged Goldman Sachs misled clients before the financial crisis, will avoid jeopardizing the fifth- largest U.S. bank by assets because it’s viewed as “too big to fail,” Hintz wrote in note to clients today.

“If an alleged violation is identified during a Goldman investigation, we expect a reasoned response from the Justice Department,” Hintz wrote. “In a worst case environment, we would expect a ‘too big to fail’ bank such as Goldman to be offered a deferred-prosecution agreement, pay a significant fine and submit to a federal monitor in lieu of a criminal charge.”

Stephen Cohen, a spokesman for New York-based Goldman Sachs, declined to comment on Hintz’s note. Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department in Washington, didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.

Under a deferred-prosecution agreement, the U.S. files charges against a company and agrees to dismiss them after a certain period, typically if the company pays a fine or penalty and improves its governance or other practices. In October, the Justice Department dismissed a conspiracy case against UBS AG (UBSN), Switzerland’s biggest bank, after the expiration of an 18-month deferred prosecution agreement with the Zurich-based bank.

Litigation Risk ‘Manageable’

Hintz, ranked the No. 1 analyst covering brokerage firms in a survey by Institutional Investor last year, said that the Justice Department’s approach to criminal charges against companies has changed since accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP’s business collapsed following a felony charge.

A 2003 Justice Department policy document “stated that prosecutors can reward cooperation by offering a negotiated settlement to a targeted company that can range from immunity from criminal indictment to a deferred prosecution agreement,” Hintz wrote. “Ultimately, the targeted company is treated not as a hardened criminal but as the equivalent of a juvenile offender that can be reformed.”

Goldman Sachs’s potential civil litigation risk related to sales of mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations “is manageable,” Hintz wrote, because the statute of limitations for many of the claims has already passed.

Franchise Will ‘Suffer’

Goldman Sachs’s most senior employees, known as partners, have every incentive to put the firm’s legal and political problems behind them, Hintz said.

He kept his “outperform” rating on Goldman Sachs. The stock fell $2.32, or 1.6 percent, to $138.41 at 9:55 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Goldman Sachs has declined 16 percent this year through yesterday.

“As politicians continue to criticize the firm and the public scrutiny persists, we believe that Goldman’s clients will begin to rethink their relationship with the firm and the franchise will ultimately suffer,” he wrote. “With approximately 17 percent of the ownership in the hands of current and former partners, this control group has ample motivation to make amends with politicians and the public in order to reduce the threat to its franchise.”

In July, Goldman Sachs agreed to pay $550 million to settle a civil fraud suit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that alleged the firm misled clients about a mortgage-linked investment. The settlement, in which the company also admitted to making a “mistake,” was agreed to three months after the firm’s statement that the allegations “are completely unfounded in law and fact and we will vigorously contest them and defend the firm and its reputation.”

Fabrice P. Tourre, the only Goldman Sachs employee who was also sued by the SEC in that case, hasn’t settled that suit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Harper in New York at charper@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net.