Do, Re, Mi

Speakers On – Full Page.

This video was made in theAntwerp, Belgium Central (Train) Station on March 23, 2009, with no warning to the passengers passing through the station.

At 8:00 am a recording of Julie Andrews singing ‘Do, Re, Mi’ begins to play on the public address system, and as the bemused passengers watch in amazement some 200 dancers begin to appear from the crowd and station entrances.

They created this amazing stunt with just two rehearsals!

This has got to be one of the nicest videos ever produced, at any time, anywhere on this planet.

Do you agree?

Talking Point

Facebook still has everything to prove

By Christopher Williams

Everyone knows the Facebook script by now. Humble beginnings in a university dorm room, explosive growth, worldwide domination of social networking, culminating in a wildy successful stock market flotation and big profits all round. Right?

Maybe not. The IPO is now reportedly scheduled for June, and will doubtless ride a wave of investor excitement to wild success. But the big profits ending, already questionable, was further undermined this week by some pretty disappointing pre-flotation financials.

User growth remains strong. More than 900 million people use Facebook every month, which is undeniably very impressive. But the firm’s bottom line actually weakened in the last 12 months.

It told the Securities Exchange Commission, the Wall Street regulator, that in the three months to March 31 it made a profit of $205m. Which is nice, but not as nice as the $233m it earned in the same period last year, and just a little over 20 cents for each of its members.

Yahoo!, widely seen as an online media business in decline, meanwhile grew its profits in the quarter from $223m to $286m.

A speedbump on Mark Zuckerberg’s road toEl Dorado, perhaps, but this isn’t howSilicon Valleysuccess stories are supposed to go. Google’s profits never dipped year-on-year as it prepared to float, back in 2004.

Facebook’s financial standing look even worse compared to Google when you consider that its revenues actually rose year-on-year, from $731m to $1.06bn. That means its margin was battered in the last 12 months.

Facebook blamed its hiring of an extra 1,000 staff and big increase in its sales and marketing, and research and development spending. Google was making similar investments at the same point in its history, yet profits contuinued to soar.

It’s led some skeptical commentators to ask the question this week ‘what if Facebook isn’t so special after all?‘. What if it’s just not that profitable a business? What if its costs keep rising as it acquires new members in developing countries, who have similar storage and bandwidth demands to their Western counterparts but nowhere near the same value to advertisers? What if it never attains Google-style scalabilty and mega-profitability?

It’s unlikely that any of these questions will rain on Facebook’s $100bn IPO parade, given the anticipation among investors. But in the longer term, it still has everything to prove.

Emma Barnett is away.

Where All The Americans Went

A Russian arrives in New York City as a new immigrant to the United States . He stops the first person he sees walking down the street and says, ‘Thank you Mr. American for letting me in this country , giving me housing, food stamps, free medical care, and free education!’

The passerby says, ‘You are mistaken, I am Mexican.’

The man goes on and encounters another passerby. ‘ Thank you for having such a beautiful country here in America !’

The person says, ‘I not American, I Vietnamese.’

The new arrival walks further, and the next person he sees he stops, shakes his hand and says, ‘Thank you for the wonderful America !’

That person puts up his hand and says, ‘I am from Middle East , I am not American!’

He finally sees a nice lady and asks, ‘Are you an American?’

She says , ‘No, I am from Africa !’

Puzzled, he asks her, ‘Where are all the Americans?’

The African lady checks her watch and says, ‘Probably at work!’


In Egypt, even the Islamists are playing nice

These Islamists could teach us a thing or two about democracy. When the Nour Party, which speaks for Egypt’s ultra-radical Salafi movement – the one with the long beards that wants no-questions-asked sharia, including bans on bikinis, booze, and Western bankers – set about deciding which candidate to endorse for the presidential elections, its leaders put together an 11-strong committee. On it were two practising psychologists.

One of the interviewees was Hazem Abu Ismail, a charismatic lawyer and preacher with a big grassroots following, who believes in all the things the party believes in, and who everyone assumed would get its backing. But the psychologists threw in a spanner. He was too emotional, they said: too egotistical to be president. The one thing the party knew, its sharp-suited spokesman Nader Baker told me, was that the era of the strongman was over.

“Abu Ismail was someone who could be another dictator,” he said. “He thought his point of view was right even if 10 people were trying to persuade him to the contrary. The appraisal was that he had a big ego, and that he could be very dangerous.” The last thing Egypt needed, he added with a shudder, was an idealist. The people had suffered too much from politicians who tried to inspire them.

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