Be careful about ignoring the present

•December 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In another example of where he human mind has outdone itself, some corporations are recognizing the consequences associated with tools which appear to increase efficiency. The Financial Times reports that some firms are limiting email use, or even outlawing it altogether.  For many companies, it is simply that email is seen as inefficient. “We believe email is fundamentally unproductive, you need to sift through too many documents and things get lost,” says Leerom Segal, president and chief executive of Klick, a Canadian digital marketing company. “Most companies are grappling with email overload,” says Monica Seeley, an email management expert at Mesmo, a consultancy, and author of Brilliant Email. “Companies are losing up to 20 days per person per year, dealing with email poorly.”

Mr Segal believes doing away with email has been fundamental to Klick’s growth. “Our financial growth as an organisation is proof that this works. Since 1997 we have been growing at 30 per cent profitability, and we attribute a lot of that to our system. It allows us to be more responsive and clients notice that,” he said. There are even companies specifically in business to serve as email marketing consultants.

Twenty years ago, multitasking appeared to be a valuable workflow process. It may not only be contributing to less fulfilling personal lives, but doing damage to corporate balance sheets as well.


China Syndrome of human sociality

•December 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Modern technology has provided humans with a tremendous system to manage life. A mere 500 years ago, groups of Europeans arrived on the shores of North America, looking for a new life. While the continent was rich with resources, there was decades of literally life or death struggle to survive. The basic necessities of food and shelter were obtained through daily effort. A few thousand years before that primitive humans roamed the earth hunting wild and often dangerous creatures for nourishment. This was true “hand to mouth” living, making the “paycheck to paycheck” challenge faced by many today seem comfortable.

Even 100 years ago the richest humans such as a Rockefeller lived a life which may not have been as filled with creature comforts as a lower middle class American might today. Air conditioning was non-existent, heat was spotty, electricity was unreliable, and even food availability and quality was not fully developed.

So the daily struggle to obtain food and shelter are largely facilited by the modern systems in the human developed world. What are we doing with all of the extra time previously used hunting, building shelter, tending fires, cultivating gardens, making clothing, walking to remote locations, and reparing tools? Through the 1950’s the 1st World built productive enterprise and vivid social networks, creating intelligence for the future.

Having run out of challenges, the void has been replaced with less stimulating, lower quality pursuits. In some cases dangerous. Fast food, numbing electronics, soothing entertainment, and , it is like the Ridalin of mental inputs. When the intangible goods we use are of inferior quality, they run the risk of falling apart, injuring us, and not being worth anything. In turn, the person will fall apart emotionally, become damaged, and have a lower value mentally. In the later decades of the 1900’s, “Made in China” meant lower quality, although that is not the case today. The “products” which affect the health and development of individuals today originate from many places, but they share the same low quality as the “Made In China” batch of physical goods from the 60’s and 70’s.

Cheap inferior products often break, injures the user, and serve no productive purpose. Inferior life pursuits do the same thing to the psyche.

Look beyond the pursuit of happiness

•December 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Pursuit of happiness? There is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness. Chasing it will result in it running away just as fast, and the pursuer will be running away from existing happiness that was where they were in the first place.
Allowing oneself to move through life at a pace which matches the natural flow, gives existing sources of satisfaction the opportunity to attach to you. Simply immersing in the present allows even more pleasure to come chasing you all by itself. Then you will have happiness pursuing you.

A person cannot make the future into something specific, nor can he live on the fleeting memories of the past.  The present holds all the satisfaction you need if you let it. Do today right and tomorrow will be just fine.

See also “Proof of the Present”

Municipal budgets

•June 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Last week I mentioned a subject frequently referenced on Aware Brain; municipal budgets. This issue could be the most significant factor in the lives of Americans in the next few decades. As revenues sink, local and state governments are shedding staff and services at an alarming rate. Shedding staff contributes to even more unemployment in the area. At the same time the cuts in services have real effects on the people living within the municipality.

Two years ago I wrote that some of the consequences from municipal budget cuts could be things such as more people getting food poisoning due to fewer restaurant inspections. It looks like that was an optimistic prediction. Raymond Zack fared much worse last week in Alameda California. It seems that he drowned in the Pacific Ocean while rescuers looked on, unable to assist due to the fact their water rescue certifications and equipment had been cancelled due to budget cuts in 2010. Sorry Ray.

Economists and financial experts are envisioning an even worse future.  “Local revenues probably haven’t seen the worst of it,” says Christopher Hoene, director of research at the National League of Cities.  Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, expects state and local governments to slash 20,000 to 30,000 jobs a month through the middle of 2012. Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors notes that when states cut spending to balance their budgets, as required annually, a ripple effect multiplies the damage: Companies that do business with states and localities suffer. These companies, in turn, scale back their own hiring. More than 467,000 state and local government jobs have vanished since the recession officially ended in June 2009.

Steven Leslie, financial services analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research firm, predicts that tight government spending at the local, state and federal levels will persist during a prolonged period of slow growth.

More on municipal budgets.


Day after Groundhog Day

•June 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In case my “Groundhog Day” prediction from yesterday of more economic hardship to come was not enough of to convince you by itself, today we saw some extraordinary news reports. It seems that the idea of more declines is not just ours.

From the CNBC article, several economists are concerned about the future.

Peter Yastrow, market strategist for Yastrow Origer, told the network “What we’ve got right now is almost near panic going on with money managers and people who are responsible for money.”

Mark Mobius from Templeton Financial predicts that another financial crisis is just around the corner. “There is definitely going to be another financial crisis around the corner because we haven’t solved any of the things that caused the previous crisis,” Mobius said.



Groundhog Day

•May 31, 2011 • 2 Comments

So after a year or so of living life and being productive with enterprises, how are we doing with the economy and housing? My last post here was April 2010, a little over a year ago. On the surface, the economic conditions appeared to have stabilized from the crisis in 2008.

So now we’ll pop out of the groundhog den and look to see if winter is over. Today however Case-Schiller is reporting not only that a double dip in housing is confirmed, but that the level is at a new low. While CNBC says it is worse than “expected” , they must not have read this blog in 2009 when we projected exactly this result. Today the experts seem to be agreeing. David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices, said in a statement. “Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight.” “People just don’t want to own homes anymore,” he said.

To continue the metaphor, the groundhog is predicting more winter. Keep an eye on the municipal budget issue. Counties, cities, and states are still facing massive budget deficits and are cutting services like crazy. As law enforcement is one of the big areas cut, more episodes of social violence are observed. Dozens of stories of assaults, gang violence, brazen rapes, and attacks on police were on the front pages just in one weekend as unruly behavior is becoming commonplace.

Boston riots have been going on for 4 days, with the Massachusetts State Police unable to control them.

Oh yeah, food stamp use is up 40% over the past two years as well.



More pressure on crime investigations due to municipal budgets

•April 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Even in the affluent city of West Palm Beach, law enforcement is forced to slow its investigations of old cases. Detectives see answers to murders, rapes and other violent crimes, but budget constraints do not provide sufficient resources to use all the tools they know how to. The speed at which these crimes are investigated slows as a result.

As I wrote several times last year, some municipal safety agencies have been warning citizens to be more proactive in their emergency preparedness. I quoted one EMS worker who advised residents to “buy a fire extinguisher.

Now it seems that one California County Sheriff is planning a strategy of issuing more gun permits to lower the crime rate. Sacramento County is floating this idea due to the reality of its budget constraints. “”Routine sheriff’s patrols of unincorporated areas of the county would virtually stop. Sheriff McGinness has also stated that the investigation budget would be completely cut. I find it hard to believe that there will be no budget to investigate rapes, murders and kidnapping. However, there is already almost no investigation done for property crimes like burglary and auto theft, so I guess it’s possible.”

If the predicted consequences from municipal budget cuts in Alabama are accurate, more gun permits might be a necessity rather an a strategy. ”

Officials with the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles say massive budget cuts could lead to more crime. Robert Oakes, who is the agency’s assistant executive director, says one of the first things the department will dois park parole and probation officers cars, preventing them from doing field work. “You can’t send officers out to verify homes, check employment and serve warrants,” Oakes says. “It’ll increase crime,” Oakes says. “When you have up to 50,000 felons who are not adequately supervised, they will be free to do what they want to do.”