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4/30/11

Music Break: Lester Flatt

Foggy Mountain Breakdown...

Live TV Letterman 
with Gary Scruggs (harmonica), Randy Scruggs, Vince Gill, Albert Lee (guitar), Marty Stuart (mandolin) Glen Duncan (fiddle), Jerry Douglas (dobro) Paul Shaffer (piano) and Steve Martin (banjo)

http://youtu.be/icMTVV5Lwaw

4/29/11

We are headlong into a Double Dip

The Great Recession is far from over...

What is important is our attitude and determination regarding it.

A lot can be said and written about the various events and problems that the United States and the global economy have. I will leave that for a video blog I'm working on.

What I will write is that the vast majority of our government and elected leaders has done us great disservice and has not been acting in the best interests of the American people. We, the people, have allowed this to go on too long and it is up to us to change it. We need to figure a way to get rid of the entrenched political and bureaucratic class along with their friends in the financial world without too much clash amongst ourselves. It is inevitable that there will be discord among us as conditions deteriorate and we disagree about solutions. That is part and parcel of a Democratic Republic such as ours. We will loudly and acrimoniously disagree but we need to avoid violence, we have had one Civil War in this country and the current conditions do not require another. Rather, it requires a revolution of a different sort, one that can be carried out in the vein that the Founding Fathers clearly laid out for us.

One thing is certain in my mind. I have studied enough US history to know we have been here before in our long history, at times in worse conditions, also that in the past people have thought we would never return back to a much better place. I also know that the American people themselves will dig us out of this and not our government or any other forces but by our sheer will and skills. It is The American Way and that is still alive and well among us, even if it seems dormant for the moment. We will endure, survive and overcome but there is no short term fix for this. It is a journey that requires a minimum of 5-10 years of hard work and we can do it, even as spoiled as we've become after 30 years of prosperous times.

Now, more than ever, is the time to revive the American Spirit, remain positive and realistically optimistic and determined to overcome and defeat the obstacles before us. This country has done it before and can do it again. There will be times we will feel down, disheartened and discouraged and it is important during those times we continue putting one foot in front of the other and keep going. It is interesting to me that two opposing forces, unionists and the far left along with tea party sympathizers and the far right, are the ones stirring up debate and flexing their muscles. They are the ones that will eventually move all of us to remove the roadblocks causing the idiocy emanating primarily from the northeastern corridor stretching from Boston to Washington, DC. The government will once again be directed by the citizens of the country and not the other way around.

4/26/11

If You're Looking for a Road Map

In the New Economy you won't find one...

Use your inner compass; be your cartographer.

There has never been a better period in my lifetime for an individual to be able to have a chance to cut a swath for their own path. There was a moment in time in my young life, the late sixties and early seventies, when opportunity to become my own person, create my own road, direct my life in any direction any way I wanted to. Most of that had to do with my youth and part of it was the times. Fortunately I was free to make decisions that were appropriate for me but some previous options available to me vaporized a decade later due to the juncture of history we were in. The eighties were a period that recalled an earlier era, since the turbulence of the two previous decades had unsettled so much without satisfactory resolution, that most people wanted a return to "stability." Stability meant going back to values that were not bad and were likely necessary at that interval. Technology had not reached a point where it could change or improve our lives or the world.

The nineties became a transitional era when technology, especially communications, the internet, medical and other sciences became highly developed and rapidly advanced as well as methods of doing business began to change. It was a time of duality of good and bad to be followed by a decade when much of what had occurred was assimilated, digested and culminated in an economic disruption that was inevitable. We were moving unaware from the Old Economy to a New Economy which inescapably impacted the social and geopolitical elements of daily living. Consumerism and the accompanying debt load that came with it, the old conservative structure cracked and the hankering for a new form of politics that we have discovered does not lie in the opposing progressive liberalism. In the US we voted for a President who had the image of change but not the substance of it. Far from it, what looked like what we were hoping for did not actually hold the values we desired. It was a valuable lesson for not only the United States but for the world.

For those of us forced out of our former careers and way of life, we need to go beyond what we used to be and get on with what we are becoming and going to be.

Now, more than ever is the time to have that second chance, another shot at a "do over" at life. Where there is adversity, difficult times and a seeming downfall from former success there is opportunity. We are never likely to see such a significant change in the economy, political world and society as there is now as long as we are not blind to it. Especially for those of us in our mid-forties and fifties, we are old enough to know a lot more than we did and not too old to recover and recoup what we may have lost. More importantly we have the chance to recreate our lives more like the image we envisioned when we were younger, before life took us in directions that we didn't think about and opportunities we didn't have. The former trails are still there, well worn and found just as easily as a long driven US Highway long ago replaced by an Interstate, themselves showing the wear and tear of age and also not travelling at the high speed of broadband internet. The time is now for us to rethink what we want to be for the remainder of our lives, choosing wisely and creatively the New Economy road we want to build to reinvent ourselves and lead us in new and more satisfying directions, since the existing highways and byways belong to Old Economy of yesteryear.

4/22/11

Living In America

Toxic People, Toxic Situations...

Avoid them.

We're in poisonous times right now as we head into almost four years of when the world became aware in the summer of 2007 of the great economic disruption. It is a toxic time for many people who aren't prepared to guard themselves from noxious fumes. As someone who is interested in the social sciences I've had to be careful at times of absorbing and emitting too much toxicity. An ironic situation itself, since in 2007 when I was personally struck by this global financial fiasco, I was determined to remain positive and above it all. Generally I have been upbeat and made the most of the situation but at times have paid too much attention to the economic, political and social events of our time. That is not to say that I think anyone should remain uninvolved and obliviously unaware, only cautious about how to absorb it and manage personal thought toward current events.

It was a conscious decision on my part to not participate in the psychological downside of this recession, that seems to have developed into a depression. One thing I have learned, through periods of unemployment, temporary and underemployment, involuntary and voluntary, is being "laid off" from a "real job" in 2007 was the best thing that could have happened to me. Since I was 16 years old I've worked long periods for a major corporation, a huge bank and state government. According to the standards of the Old Economy, these were "real jobs" that were considered "careers." I struggled with identity when I was booted out of the first one, an epically long 30 plus years off and on journey. I also felt I had to replace that so-called career with another one, which I managed to do not once but twice.

The New Economy has been liberating for me. In many ways I was fortunate since I had several small sources of income and a support system that allowed me to get by financially. Not always having funds to do everything I wanted to do when I wanted to do it wasn't as bad as I would have once thought. It is through a process of time I began to realize I had been relieved of the toxic situation of trying to fit the proverbial square peg in a round hole. I was never cut out for a career in the world of major corporations and banks and I managed to survive among toxic people but it was at a cost to me. It was too draining. That was when the economy was supposedly good, although on reflection most of us know it was a consumer economy based on a false happiness I couldn't buy into. That kind of life was a more poisonous time for me than the one we live in now.

What I have learned about this entire situation is to avoid toxic people and toxic situations. For me that means not being employed in a job that is poisonous to me due to negative people and oppressing organizations. It has now become irrelevant to me that the part-time job I have, that I generally enjoy, is considered by many as my being underemployed. What those people don't realize is that part-time underemployment provides me with medical benefits, some additional income and most importantly, free no-stress time. During that time I am able to be creative and supplement my income from freelance work that is creative and enjoyable to me. Most importantly I don't feel I have to fit into a work situation I don't feel comfortable in, a toxic situation for me and for the most part allows me to avoid toxic people. That is as valuable to me as the skyrocketing price of gold.


4/20/11

You Can Quote Me On That

What is propped up most go down....

Gold is skyrocketing and so is the US Stock Market. Why is that? Both are bubbles but one is likely to last longer and if I were a betting man it would be on gold as well as silver. Gold and silver still have real value and the dollar no longer does. The US dollar has been so devalued by overprinting that it sends the wrong message to cash savers, interest rates are too low.
Fund traders are investing in the stock market for short term returns on the investments the average person has placed money in for a better return. Once the Federal Reserve quits Quantitative Easing and withdrawing from the capital markets in June there will be trouble. Look for the beginning signs on April 27 after Bernanke gives his first press conference after the next Fed meeting.

Arizona Landscape

Don't forget Earth Day...

This Friday April 22, 2011 "Waste not, want not." 



4/19/11

Economic, Social and Geopolitical

Ayn Rand on neoconservatives...

"Conservative Sellout of Capitalism"

Ayn Rand's reasoning on Religious Conservatives (Social Conservatives), Liberals and Statism in this video from the 1950s is as current now as it was then. It explains why her philosophy is popular again today. Those calling themselves conservatives in favor of free markets and capitalism use three interrelated arguments based from faith, tradition and depravity. These are fallacies that contradict the fundamental principles of the United States.

http://youtu.be/vpp5EXZZrgA

http://www.youtube.com/user/LibertyPen

4/18/11

Thinking Out Loud

Courage and Encouragement...

It takes courage to live in a world where we are bombarded with multi-weaved visuals and sounds ranging from good to bad on an unprecedented scale as never before. This is true if you live in a relatively quiet New Hampshire village or a large Western American city such as Phoenix. The blare is incessant, unless we gather up our strength and bravely fend off what we don't want or need to see or hear.

We are heroes for living in an evolutionary cultural era of sweeping change. What we present to others is intangibly reflected back to us.

Certainly we are not the first humans to do this. We should recognize we are living in a time period that is not merely a change of century but the turning of a page in history. For this most certainly is a monumental juncture of future present and we are living in global change, not unprecedented, but definitely not the relatively placid post-Industrial period of the past century. Strange how we don't really recognize a significant time period when we're living in it.

Our heroism for drawing breath in this unsettled time is rewarded by the reassurance we pass onto others, which in turn is handed back to us.

We sense the change in the atmosphere like hair rising on our arms from static electricity before a lightning storm. We're aware lightning is going to strike but its target is unknown to us. We live in an instant of time that will be recounted in history in ways we may not recognize due to the distractions of the moment. Safeguarding ourselves from fear of the unknown requires courage. The spirit and guts we need for courage can be obtained by encouraging others, that is then redirected back to us. It is the intangible law of return on investment in others.

Arizona Landscape

Communication going up, sending and receiving...


4/17/11

You Can Quote Me On That

Operating outside the standard time schedule...

"I'm a night person who won't be forced into a lifetime of days." 

This is the time of year that I start entering my most creative period and nighttime is when it all happens for me. I am quite content with the heat of desert summer (well...until the very end of August), day and night. As any creative person knows, creativity is like manic depression (therefore many creative people are often manic depressive) and occurs like mood swings. There are cycles of abundant creativity in bursts with extents of time when relatively little happens. I fully recognize that my anxiety and low level depression occur mostly in winter months, even though what we refer to as winter in the desert is nothing like what a person in upstate New York might call it.

This is not a problem at home since I live with someone who works all night and is a day sleeper. Mostly I steer clear of the so-called "regular" world that operates on a daytime weekday schedule. I do my waking and sleeping to suit my own circadian rhythm that is regular to me. Fortunately my "real" job is part-time with varying hours and days so I choose an afternoon-evening schedule. I circumvent a so-called "normal" life and am quite content not living in the 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday world (nor do I operate well in one). I am free of being dependent on one source of income but several that combined, most of the time anyway, is enough for me to live on and obtain the tools and supplies I need to be creative.


I'm aware I am not the only one who lives in a similar way and I tend to think our lives are much healthier and happier for those of us who follow our own natural cadence. Too many people try to force themselves into a pattern against their nature and create stress not only in their lives but in general society. Perhaps one benefit of this economic era of high underemployment and unemployment will cause a lot of people to reevaluate their priorities in scheduling and managing their lives.

Arizona Landscape

Rear View Mirror Self Portrait...

4/15/11

Living In America

It's not easy to stay motivated and positive...

The alternative however, is not a good choice.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling alright until I moved to get out of bed. At first I thought that allergies, which are prevalent and very bad this year and the medication I had taken before bed, had caused me to sleep hunched up. That was my explanation until I stood up and realized that my back hurt badly, in the kidneys-kind-of-way and not just sore but painful.

This always freaks me out because it is close to the pain I woke up with one Sunday early in 2008 to find out during a week of doctor visits, something I dislike, that my left kidney had failed and as a result the right one was failing. Sparing the details, I ended up with months of several operations and outpatient procedures. I've also been having these past few weeks other small signs that could be related that I've brushed off. OK, I can deal with it, knowing it's probably only at worst a kidney infection or a stone. I drink a lot of water (it's all I drink) every day and now drink even more now to try to clear it out. I'll wait until Monday to see how it goes and then decide how to proceed if nothing's improved. My theory is if I'm not unceasingly nauseous, passing blood or throbbing with intolerable pain, physical problems usually can wait a few more days.

That discovery would have been alright if I hadn't been told shortly thereafter that the person I've lived with for 15 years, suddenly realized that he couldn't find my Post Office Box key, the only one that exists. This required retracing his steps to all the places he'd been before the post office, at the post office and from the post office as well as searching the house. Still...no key. Later in the day I went back to the post office again to ask if anyone had turned in a key. To summarize, this is going to be a different kind of pain in the backside, since I've had this post office box for decades and the other key disappeared years ago. I am going to have to pay the Federal Government to replace my lock, which will also wait until Monday, when I plan by then to still be walking upright.

Why am I recounting this Too-Much-Information in a blog that could be read by anyone? One of the few YouTube video bloggers that I still subscribe to who is of the video online community I was once part of, Mean Black Dude, in the Washington DC/Maryland area, posted a video blog "Motivate Me!." In his vlog he asks "how does one stay motivated in this society?" and keep on going in this economy. (Careful if you're squeamish about the "BS" word.)

It's a good question I think everyone from all segments of our society ask themselves. Some ask it every day, all day and others of us just ask it every once in awhile on a bad day. My response to him was in the limited context of what YouTube allows in 500 characters. Essentially I commented: What keeps me motivated may sound really corny but it's staying positive. I'm a pragmatic, realistic man so I control what I can, myself and my attitude, letting the rest go. I avoid negative people and refuse to buy into bad attitudes. That said, it's not easy to do, it takes effort. You can read the entire comment section here to see his response and the variety of other comments.

Am I always positive? Am I one of those happy, upbeat people that drives everyone nuts? Absolutely not. It is work to stay optimistic sometimes and I have down days. Some of them have been down weeks these past few months but in the back of my mind there is always the thought, that the only other option to not being generally optimistic and positive is not a pleasant one. I know because I tried it for a time when I was younger. Fortunately I discovered that being an angry young man wasn't good for me and especially for anyone around me. The prospect of being an angry old man also meant being a very depressed and bitter old white guy we all recognize. I'm not sure what woke me up but I'm glad something did. Perhaps it was another dramatic medical event in my twenties, the early death of my father when I was starting college or a combination of a number of unfortunate things that happened then.

When I had a medical crisis in 2008, far worse than I let most people realize, I again recognized that my only option was to remain optimistic, positive and self-reliant. That is because when you send out those signals to people, they are returned to you, multiplied. It attracts people to you who will also provide you with support and mutual help. When I had a less than productive or good day such as today, I somehow manage to keep putting one foot in front of the other and stop it from being a negative day.

I also reminded myself that no matter where you are in life you are, high or low, you can always look and find someone better off than you are and someone worse off than you are. That is what keeps me motivated to stay optimistic and positive as well as considering that the alternative is not a good choice.

4/12/11

You Can Quote Me On That

The next "Budget Crisis" won't be negotiable...

The Federal Government could learn from Arizona.

The deal-making-as-usual by the standard issue political class of posturing Republicans and Democrats in Washington DC, that held a "down to the last minute" showdown this past weekend, was a mockery to taxpayers. They tried once again to make fools of us. No one really caved and all that happened was a lot of shifting of money and budget figures.

The new State Legislature of Arizona that started this year after the last General Election inherited a budget fiasco due to the tomfoolery of the last Legislature. This month they created a real actual budget that was signed by the Governor. This budget slashes spending and cuts some agencies and services realistically and without sleight of hand shifting of dollars on paper. It also rejects borrowing and recognizes there is a huge shortfall in revenue that will be carried over to the next session of this Legislative Session (Arizona's legislative sessions are two year terms) next year that will have to be dealt with by more cuts. The reasoning is simple: "We ain't got no real money." State revenues are falling and there is no point in creating a budget that continues to spend money that is not coming in.

The next Federal Government budget, even if Bernanke keeps printing phony money, can no longer be a cat and mouse game replete with high drama, back door dealing and accounting gimmicks. That is because we really don't have the revenue to fund a lot of things that the government spends on and it will be worse by then. If tax revenues aren't high enough and since raising taxes only makes an already overtaxed population (yes, the "rich" also) that much poorer, what is there to budget maneuver? And yes again, there will be hue and cry over welfare programs for the "needy," Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, among other things. Repeat: "We ain't got no real money." Nothing adds up to nothing.

If however, the current political class tries those tricks again, as I suspect they might, we would get the government we deserve for voting the jackasses into office. The next budget is not up for high drama and should not be negotiable. If that is what occurs, we would be far better off voting the members of Congress up for reelection out, voting in inexperienced but pragmatic and realistic representatives that reflect us, the real people of America.

Arizona Landscape

Camelback Corridor at 24th St Biltmore Financial District...

Camelback Mountain in the distance


4/11/11

Economic, Social and Geopolitical

Are Free Markets possible with Big Business?...

It strikes me that long ago Big Business and Big Government created a peaceful co-existence arrangement along with Big Labor Unions out of mutual co-dependence, that a truly free market doesn't exist or is even possible under today's conditions. Our country is a big country and that in itself seems endemic to the nature of it, since we whitewashed our regional differences with pervasive look-alike fast food joints, big box stores and regional offices that serve only the headquarters in New York or Los Angeles. The completion of wiping out of all but the smallest differences in sections of our country occurred in the last 30 to 40 years. Regional variations were a valuable component of free enterprise, since they spurred innovation to meet common demands, adapting variations in providing products and services to suit local needs.

In a 1959 TV interview with an intellectually inferior Mike Wallace, Ayn Rand points out that the Industrialists of the late 1800s and early 1900s were the original collectivists, since they conspired with elected officials and government to elect laws and regulations in their favor. In doing so they began the distortion of markets, making them no longer actually free markets, instead closed ones. Workers in reaction to industrial labor laws in turn created labor unions to conspire with government to enact laws in their favor against the robber barons. The end result has been over decades markets have been altered to resemble more as agreements among large businesses and labor unions operating as collectives.

Businesses operate in their own self-interest to monopolize markets, fending off competition by securing laws in their favor, contracts that shut out potential competitors and broad copyright and patent laws that allow them to over exert rights over potential business adversaries. This has gone on so long it is now accepted as normal practice in commercial enterprise when it is not. Large corporations are experts at this, swallowing up anyone who has a better idea that doesn't violate contract law or a patent. If the potential competitor does not give in, they are harassed and become mired in expensive marketing wars and litigation. Unions are complicit with this because they are now part of the status quo and it is in their favor.

Established business leaders no longer seek to create products in the spirit of improving our lives and making things better. Their co-conspirators are business schools who churn out MBA graduates with uniform thinking of how a business should function with specific marketing mindsets. The marketing mindsets serves only their employers, to sell consumers goods they may or may not need. The quality, innovation, improvement and relevance of goods is not a consideration, they are concerned only with selling the idea of a product and not the worth and value of them in real life application. They are the enemies of free market capitalism.

In turn, their enemy is any change or disruption in the marketplace that may shift the balance out of their favor. Technological change such as the internet and scientific products, such as new medicine, that can easily be produced is an example of this. It is also the cause of the current shift in the economic, social and political in markets and why existing entities are filing lawsuits and counterclaims on new products. The result is Big Business and corporations are doing everything they can, with their government counterparts, to preserve the structure they have spent over a century developing. Due to the laws and regulations they have conspired to distort the bazaars we refer to as markets, they are sometimes temporarily winning. Apple still produces an idea and product and then tightly controls it, suing everyone in sight who has even a vaguely similar idea or product.

The question then is will the mutual aiding and abetting by current dominating large business entities, that contain tacit agreements among themselves, that keep markets under the control of a handful of large companies continue? Will the pharmaceutical industry, with the innovation of science and industry, be able to maintain control within a small group of mega-corporations that allegedly "compete" with each other with a wink and a nod? In order to avoid pure collectivism as promulgated by progressives and unionists, breaking down the lobbies of any existing industry that works to close markets must occur.

When Corporate Republicans talk about being for "free markets" it is as much a joke on the American people as when Democrats state they are for the "common man." The same is true when AT&T says they welcome competition and Non-Governmental Organizations say "let the best social service agency win" when competing for the same government grant money. Disassembling this legacy will be piece by piece at first and will seem both painstakingly frustrating and impossible in the beginning.

Just as the Civil War was followed by a more disrupting Industrial Revolution, shook up the economy and way of life of America, the current economic disruption caused by technological and scientific innovation has the potential to do the same. Our challenge is to bust down the walls built by entrenched business and government. Chipping away the bricks and mortar will be slow at first. We are in the beginning stages of a second wave of a current downturn, which has every signs of being an economic earthquake of epic proportions that in a day, the business and political walls will tumble down. The weakness will be from systemic structural problems, new disruptive technology and scientific entrepreneurs chipping away, culminating in a long period of regrouping of markets. At that time we need to ensure that markets are decentralized again, similar to the way business was once conducted regionally, but on a new and different scale. Small to medium sized businesses must then learn again to compete on an even surface, not comprised by government intervention, to reinvigorate the core of American ideals.

Ayn Rand "Destroying Capitalism from Within" 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-lptr_0Xck&feature=channel_video_title

4/8/11

Writing: Fact and Fiction

It's only words...

They are powerful in the way they are used though.

It's the assembly of how words are laid out that is important. That is true in writing fiction or nonfiction as well as speaking to groups or in conversation.

As units of language words are strung together to make a whole structure; a sentence then also can become a paragraph and paragraphs become essays, blogs, books and so on. Generally words put together come naturally to me, both in writing and speaking. Very often I don't appreciate that and I should since, in my mind anyway, that is the only real talent and skill I have.

It is because of my ability to use words and compile them together to make thoughts, it is also how I construct my world and gather people around me. Whether I realize it or not, consciously or otherwise. The manner in which I write and speak has the effect of either drawing or repelling people to or away from me. I have learned that the hard way over the years.

This concept is not a revelatory groundbreaking idea. The power of words has long been recognized as having significant impact on the way people react to us, which in turn boomerangs and shapes the way we act. The entire effect also is significant to the way we perceive ourselves and how we believe others perceive us. Anyone skilled in communications, psychology and sociology knows this. Generally I am thoughtful towards others, try to remain positive and make others around me comfortable.

On a personal level it is difficult for me to be conscience of that. Although it is inherent in my nature to write and speak well, I am not mindful of that every time I put fingers to keyboard or open my mouth. It is my best asset but can also be my curse. I was reminded of this recently when I reached the end of my rope with a situation and a person. I have a very long patience but beware when I finally do lose it. That is because I also can have a very bad temper, normally kept in check, but when I do lose my patience it leaps forward and I have yet, even this late in life, learned to hold my tongue. Ninety percent of the time I can, it is the ten percent of the time that destroys good I may have done, the person it is directed at and witnesses. It also hurts me not only for reputation reasons, that can usually be repaired but requires a long amount of time and some people never forget it. The damage it causes me is because I feel terrible afterwards.

The way we use words, in writing or speaking, are powerful when linked together to transform any given moment in time our lives. This is not an original idea. When I do harm using words injudiciously, not only do I recognize the damage I have done, it is a compelling time to reaffirm that words are best used to encourage, influence and motivate others. The good news is that words, when used judiciously, can repair damage done and also inspire yourself and others.

4/6/11

Economic, Social and Geopolitical

Does anyone really believe this stock market?

We've surpassed the economic crisis of the real estate boom and crash, related mortgage mess, debt overhang along with high unemployment and have already moved into deeper global problems than many imagined. Earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, New Zealand, Burma with an even more devastating one in Japan accompanied by a tsunami causing highly radioactive water leaking into the ocean.

There are political disruptions all across the Middle East that are not going to be quelled by European nations, the US and NATO bombing Libya. In fact that's the last thing we should be doing, getting involved in "foreign entanglements." We are on the verge, if not already in, the Third World War.

Al of the above significantly involves the supply chain and management of vital parts and goods we need, not to mention food supply that has had a bad crop year due to weather. The only people reaping profits are Midwestern farmers who are doing well on government crop welfare. What all this adds up to is inflation and more inflation. Bernanke and Geithner wanted inflation to pump up the economy on consumption of consumer goods. The result is already beginning to reflect what many predicted, too much inflation on necessary goods.

We are a nation that consumes goods produced by other countries. We manufacture very little anymore and we have trillions of dollars of deficit now and what do we have to show for it? New clothes? Furniture? Lots of fattening snack foods? The vociferous over-printing of money has largely been spent on payments to the low or non-producing sector of the economy. In other words, largely the public sector or in some form of welfare to subprime consumers or subsidizing financial institutions that services them, creating an illusion of a "slow recovery."

The only thing recovering is the cash reserves of private sector companies that they are hoarding because they don't know what the government is going to do next. Individual savers are losing because their cash is becoming inflated and interest rates are for all practical purposes nil. We're rewarding credit spenders and punishing savers.

It is no wonder Ron Paul and others want the Federal Reserve audited. The Treasury and the Fed have also been subsidizing the stock market by buying and selling shares in wholesale blocks. The movement and trends are easy to spot to anyone with a perceptive eye. Aided for good measure by CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Barrons and the New York Times, among others. To once again state a repeating refrain, the fundamental underpinnings of the economy are not sound. In particular the Gross National Product and employment alongside the unrealistic price to earnings ratios of companies do not bear out the US Stock Market being as inflated and "bullish" as it is.

When the Federal Reserve starts withdrawing support from the Markets, then what? Careful of the shards of glass falling from high rise buildings on Wall Street.

End of rant...

4/4/11

Thinking Out Loud

Being trendy is uncool...

Cool is not being in vogue and anti-cool.

The last thing anyone would call me is trendy but some do call me "cool." Even my twenty something nephews think I'm cool in whatever the vernacular of their generation is. It is an enigma to me how I obtain that assignation, especially since I write phrases like that...

All I can think is that I am called that by some people because I am, I suppose, a classic kind of guy. That is, in several ways, at least. I tend to stick to things that are timeless and "classic" while still always being open to new things. They often become classic. I adopt things a lot of my boomer generation doesn't, such as I'm pretty decent at computer stuff, smartphones, video editing and creating a website blog content. I suppose classic could also mean I'm pretty old for hip stuff even though I don't listen to Classic Rock. It was good then and occasionally good to hear it again but not all the time especially as a radio format. To me that means being stuck in time and I have never liked that, preferring to develop and grow, moving on down the road to the next stop.

Even still, I don't chase trends, know a lot of new music and follow current TV show and movies. I'm not very wired in that way. Mostly I don't seek it out but I do discover new music (to me), for instance Mumford and Sons or The Avett Brothers, through some happy connection. My basic wardrobe hasn't changed much, just updated to suit the times. Also TV has always bored me, my attention span doesn't care for most popular movies and I don't hang out at popular venues to find out what the latest and greatest stuff is. Neither do most of my friends, they must be uncool too.

My conclusion is that although I know my age, I view it as a marker on how far I've come and grown, it doesn't define what I should and shouldn't do. Trendiness though really is for young people and the pretentious in New York City and Los Angeles that like vaporization. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try new things if it suits you. I am open to always learning and trying new stuff if it's interesting and makes sense to me. Maybe being cool is not following the latest new thing and tossing it aside for the next thing that comes along, but adopting what is new that is classic and worth keeping, building upon it and ignoring the rest. Uncool then becomes pursuing up-to-the-minute latest and greatest rage and cool is really being anti-cool.

Arizona Landscape

Presidential Chicken Guarantee...

4/1/11

A Head of My Time

Business goes social web...

Uh oh...move over Facebook and LinkedIn, the business world has entered the social web. I know quite a few people who work for large companies that have adopted internal social web pages. I've heard about the managers who've been asked by their manager why they were not "connected" or "friended" by their employees.

I've always been an early adopter and was blogging in the late nineties, getting the idea from one of the original well known blogger, Andrew Sullivan. Prior to that I had already been through BBS, ICQ, forums and other internet communication tools. Early on in this past decade I adopted the new social web services and instant messaging platforms that got eaten up by other big internet names. Then along came YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare; by the middle of last year I was done with Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, StumbleUpon, etc. and deleted all my accounts. I enjoy the interaction on Google Reader and Buzz but YouTube and Blogger are enough for me right now.

Blogging and YouTube are considered old hat by the early adopters now and they're onto the latest platform. By now the pattern is familiar...early adopters take to a service, it becomes popular and the latest craze, gets bogged down by the noise of the masses and the early adopters move on. Personally I believe that the social web platforms as they exist now are pretty much in place and there will not be much more innovation and new social web services. Rather the ones that exist will morph and continue to grow and develop. The reason I still blog and make videos for YouTube is I like the challenge of continuing something considered outmoded by faddists, that actually is still relevant, keeping it current, alive and well. I now tend to view early adopters as people who think they're cool with short attention spans. They don't stick around to develop and achieve on a lasting platform.

When LinkedIn first started I saw the value in it and when I was invited to join their site I accepted the offer. Little did I realize how the social web would catch on and that later business would adopt the concepts and when that happens, you know that a conception has not just become mainstream, but has been co-opted by "The Establishment.". So now my life has come full circle to this...the company I work for has now introduced a social web site. Having seen the value of LinkedIn, although the mainstream social web services became too time consuming for me, I see the worth of participating as an early adopter of this tool for work. My perspective is that it is another method of networking to be used at work just as the phone, texting, instant messaging and email is a way to build working relationships with others in my company. We'll see how it goes.