T. G. I. F. Solitude

Out Man Made Global Problems/Opportunities

Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

                                                                                Nelson Mandela

We refer to and call men like Mandela, LEADERS... and, as we all know, the rest of us are supposed to follow our leaders, and yet, a majority of us in today's global society do not... why?

Here is what The Spirit of Adventure Foundation has to say about all of this....

...the human race has brought excessive and unjustifiable destruction on the planet, on its ecosystems and on its life forms. Despite remarkable achievements our record is disgraceful. We have long seen ourselves as separate from and superior to Nature. Consequently money, status and power have ruled, the vices dominating. Unsurprisingly we now face problems that threaten our existence, including:
  • Pollution and degradation of our air, water, land and all life forms
  • Over population (humans) and species extinction (non human)
  • Climate change – global warming
  • Destructive weather (anytime anywhere…)
  • Economic . financial and social extremism
  • Obesity, drug abuse and disease epidemics
  • Fragmented, trivialized and stressed societies
We have allowed the false gods of materialism, instant convenience and immediate gratification, to contaminate almost all corners of the planet. Rampant consumerism is a more powerful force than any previous or current religion.

The underlying problem of the man-made world is that it is built on fear and human separateness. In practice, this problem has created false ideals of money, status (egotism) and power, thereby encouraging vices, not virtues.

A tiny minority of humans now largely control what happens in this modern world. Many are ruthless, immoral and extremely clever. Exploitation of consumers and the earth’s resources are the name of the game – regardless of consequences.

For this unscrupulous group to be effective, they require a largely compliant and confused population. They also need a system of propaganda and a mass media that offers a maximum of spectacle and entertainment.

Celebrity cultures have thus emerged, in which personality has replaced character. The virtues basic to good character, have been largely replaced by the vices e.g. rudeness, arrogance and egotism.
The man-made world - collapsing because it is built on these shifting sands - must now be rebuilt on the stable foundations of love and unity. This is the central message and priceless gift from wild Nature - that of belonging.

In 1964, when The Sound of Silence single was released by Simon & Garfunkel, I was attending high school in Cairo, Egypt and did not care about anything else other than what was going on in and around my sphere of influence. However, two years later when attending College in NC, the lyrics of the song became a “battle cry” for our newly discovered social awareness.

And, during this time of social unrest in America, those of us who gave a damn, tried to convince our older leaders of what they, their peers, friends, and colleagues were doing to the rest of this country... but, no one would listen.

And, as we can now look back on 2014 which is ½ century later or 50 years, no one again is listening and the lyrics (below) to that song are not only just as important but have become almost desperate pleas in an effort to change the situation and get someone to listen and hopefully do something.

"The Sound Of Silence"
Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
'Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.

"Fools," said I, "You do not know –
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you.
Take my arms that I might reach you."
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said,
The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.

Commentary on Action:
Whether we realize it or not (conscious/subconscious), everyone who is walking around breathing is constantly performing (in the blink of an eye) a cost/benefit analysis regarding the sum total of all that they do from one minute to the next, one hour to the next, one day to the next, etc. As I write this article, I have intuitively decided that it is worth it to me taking the time to put these thoughts down on paper and share them. There is a cost/benefit analysis performed every morning when our alarm clock (real or imagined) goes off and we decide whether or not to get up or sleep in a few more minutes.

I could probably draw on more analogies to explain this point but aside from being redundant, I simply do not think it will be necessary; so, let me get straight to the point.

What I have experienced when observing local governments and their decision to install a traffic light at an intersection that does not currently have one, these males and females and without reservation only make that decision along with the allocation of money only after several people have been KILLED in automobile accidents as a result of not have a traffic light at that intersection. And no, just having accidents is not sufficient justification relative to the financial obligation that is necessary for that new traffic light to be installed.

While you may think that this is somewhat farcical, it is in fact, the truth. I have watched this happen in cities at least 12 times or more, the first of which was back in 1964 when attending college and after becoming more social aware after listening to The Sound of Silence song.

If this is a sad commentary on our society then sobeit... but, not even our local Churches can stop this from happening in our communities.


A Punting Political Pundit

In a very diabolical way, I refer myself as a political pundit because I know very little if anything about the world of politics other than how a “Bill” passes through both houses of Congress which I hope I remember from my high school Civics class. And, who knows, maybe I don't recall that very well and my thoughts are actually worse that I had originally thought that they might be...

So, I guess I could be in some seriously deep shit here if I am not careful... oh well...

First of all, let me say with complete DISRESPECT (for both Republicans and Democrats) that those members of the House of Representatives and those members of the Senate, should unequivocally be considered a bunch of frigging ASSHOLES... and, if I were President here... I would spend all my days and nights and maybe some weekends too (although I like my weekends off) lobbying and politicking to get each one of those BASTARDS not re-elected the next time they are up for re-election... and, believe me, there is nothing personal here... it is just business and just in the best interest of the 80% of the US population that they do not really represent but claim that they do....

Now, I am sure that all the Conservative Talking Heads Talk Show Hosts would want to wash my mouth out with Lysol Soap but they are all riding the “Millionaires Train” as well so what real credibility to they really have to the rest of us?

NONE... and that is putting it in a politically correct blunt way, which is good now that I think about it because I don't want to offend anyone who may not be reading this.

At one point-in-time which I would venture to say was about 40 years ago or 1975, each Political Party stood for something specific with the Republicans being conservative (pro business) and small government and the Democrats being liberal (pro labor) and big government but both wanted a balanced budget, and both wanted military protection, and both wanted education, and both wanted to take care of our senior citizens.

Those values are still there (within the ranks of both political parties) but they are hiding in the corners of false promises of transparency, re-election priorities, making the other party look bad, and not realizing that millionaires will never understand what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck.

And, therein in lies the key to our difficulties. It is just that simply but no one sees it or wants to recognize that this kind of discrepancy exists because that would not put them in a very good light with all those constituents who voted them into public, political office... now would it?

I mean think about this...

From about 1950 until 1980 +/- our public education system grades 1-12 were consistently ranked as #1 across the entire world... and, that is some heavy duty shit folks... but today, our education system is ranked #14 across the entire world...

What happened?

Was it Republicans that caused this to happen because they believe in small government or was it the Democrats whose liberal views finally got the best of them?

And, you want to know something?

Each political party is pointing the finger at the other political party blaming them for the problem rather than working together to solve the frigging problem.... and, if that is indeed the case, which it is, then both political parties are to blame...

  • If there is high unemployment, then both political parties are to blame,
  • If there is an increase in drug trafficking, then both political parties are to blame.
  • If there is an increase in urban violence (racism), then both political parties are to blame.
  • If there is an increase in terrorism, then both political parties are to blame.
  • If there is a decrease in the quality of life, then both political parties are to blame.
  • If there is an increase in infrastructure decline, then both political parties are to blame.

And, at this point, it should seem rather obvious to the reader(s) of this article that both political parties are to blame for damn near everything that is going wrong in this country... but, it is not their fault alone, because we are all the sons-of-bitches that re-elected all of them again and again and again... so, we are receiving exactly that which we asked for... nothing more and nothing less...

But seriously, it is not that simple is it?

The real CRISIS IN AMERICA boils down to the “haves” and the “have nots,” with the understanding that most of the “haves” never send the elevator back down for the rest of us to get on... and, no matter how much we want that to happen, it simply cannot happen and never will happen and MUST NOT EVER happen; otherwise, it would throw our economic system into chaos...

When Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations, he spoke about the “invisible hand” that would always be there to regulate the economy and for the most part it has... and, to those of us who believe or perceive that it has not performed this task as Adam Smith stated it would, are WRONG simply because we have not given this “invisible hand” enough time (years) to work properly.

But, Adam Smith, in a manner of speaking, missed the boat because he never addressed the need for an economy predicated upon “haves” and “have nots,” on upon Management and Labor... and therein lies our other big problem about which our politicians do not fully understand or appreciate and those that do see this, are, for all intents and purposes, IMPOTENT to affect any meaningful type of change.

The Global Economy has simply exacerbated this situation taking it well beyond the point of no return
and that FACT both political parties understand all too well, especially since they are well entrenched in the ranks of the “haves”.

And, what I really am having a hard time understanding is why the “have nots,” let them get away with this... because there are many more of us than there are of them.


Hump Day Art

The Art of
Jean-Pierre Cassigneul

Time Value of Money

A time value of money calculation is one which solves for one of several variables in a financial problem.

In a typical case, the variables might be:
  • a balance amount
  • a periodic rate of interest
  • the number of periods
  • a series of cash flows

More generally, the cash flows may not be periodic but may be specified individually. Any of the variables may be the independent variable (the sought-for answer) in a given problem. For example, one may know that: the interest is 0.5% per period (per month, say); the number of periods is 60 (months); the initial balance (of the debt, in this case) is 25,000 units; and the final balance is 0 units.

The unknown variable may be the monthly payment that the borrower will need to pay.

So, how does this work?

Let's suppose that you had $100 and you invested it for one year at 5%... at the end of that year you would have $105...

Now, think about it this way... supposed (with the same $100) you expected a 10% return on your money but only received 5%... You would have $105 after one year but you expect to have $110... so, the value of that money is not the same as what you had hoped it to be.

But, suppose you did not invest it at all, you just held onto it for that one year; you would still have that $100 but your purchasing power would only be $99 as opposed to a purchasing power of $100 a year ago... so, by simply holding onto your money... the value of that money decreases over time.

Let,'s take a few years and using $1 compare to 2014 since we are still in 2015:
  1. 1950 – $1 2014 – $.10
  2. 1960 – $1 2014 – $.13
  3. 1970 – $1 2014 – $.16
  4. 1980 – $1 2014 – $.32
  5. 1990 – $1 2014 – $.54
  6. 2000 – $1 2014 – $.72
  7. 2010 – $1 2014 – $.92
What does this mean?

Well... simply put... if you were born in 1950, your parents could take an American dollar and buy $1 worth of stuff with it... but, in 2014, your parents would still have one American dollar but it would only buy $.10 worth of stuff with it 64 years later.

And, as you can see that the purchasing power of a dollar increases as we move closer and closer to 2014, but even between 2010 and 2014 (4 years) the American dollar could only purchase $.92 worth of stuff... so, during each one of those 4 years, the American dollar lost $.02 worth of value...
Now, this may seem like it is not much but what if we were dealing with millions and billions and trillions of dollars as is the case with our business, industry, and government? Those 2 pennies would add up to “big” dollars.

Let me share this with you...
In the decade of the 1960's, I could buy:
  • a Mcdonald's hamburger for $.15
  • a gallon of gasoline was $.18
  • a pack of cigarettes was $.20 or $.25 from a machine
  • a movie ticket was $.10 during day and $.15 at night
In 1960, I could buy 6 hamburgers, large fries 2 and a drink for $1 but in 2014, it would cost me $7.89 for a drink, fries, and a hamburger.

Now, let's look at saving your money in a passbook savings account but in order to prevent fees from being assessed on your money, you will need to start that account with $5,000 which does not sound like too much money does it?

And, the rates will vary depending upon State and geographic location within that State, but I would suspect that the bank will offer to pay you 1.35% to leave your money in their bank. So, for your first year, it will be $5,000 X .0135 which will be 67.50 and your money will have increased to $5, 067.50, but once inflation is factored into the situation which was just under 2% for 2014, which would have been somewhere between $90 to $100 (so I will average to $95), you money is now worth, after sitting in the back for 12 months, $4,972.50.

How do banks stay in Business?
How do banks make money?

Well, Banks loan out money (your money actually if your money is at that bank) at a rate of 3-4% and sometimes higher depending upon how good/bad your credit rating is and depending upon what type of loan you are seeking. It does not take a brain surgeon to see that if back pay you 1.35% and loan at 4%, that they are making 2.65% profit or gross margin as they say which is profit before expenses.

So, what else do banks do with your money?

Well, banks may group monies together and invest one big lump sum in a Mutual Fund that is paying anywhere from 8-10%. And, this is the same money that they are paying you 1.35% to use. Obviously, their profit margins increase substantially.

Of course, you as an individual could invest in these Mutual Funds too, but you would simply not command the buying power that these banks have in comparison your your return would be substantially less, plus there is typically and annual service change of about $1,500 annually to manage your money leaving you with very little capital gains (profit) after that is extracted from your so-called earnings.

Banking can and does get lots more complicated than this, but these are the basics of the World of Finance around which our economy revolves.

Incidentally, the reason why inflation is not any higher than it is... well, that's because our American Economy is hardly growing although it is moving along like a snail that encounters bumps and holes in the ground. And, you should be thankful for that because with today's wages, a 3% inflation would put a huge dent in one's pocketbook.

Oh yes... almost forgot... interest income shows up as ordinary income on your Income Taxes, so you are going to have to deduct Uncle Sam's cut of your profits as well, planting your ass deeper into that hole... and, pretty soon we will have you down deep enough where we can cover you up with dirt and a manure and sprinkle a little water on your head to see if you will grow... just kidding about sprinkling the water on your head... sorry.


Hearing In Order To See

Our language is filled with all sorts of hidden uses and double meanings that, for the new learner, might be a “tad” difficult to understand at first... I mean, what exactly does “tad” mean... and, for that matter, how far actually is “yonder?”

Years ago, I remember one of my colleagues asking to explain the difference to someone learning the English language, the difference between, to, too, and two... in a sentence, so that the person easily understands which to, two, or too is being used. It is possible, but not readily available from an easy point-of-view.

And, while we put adjectives (for the most part) in front of nouns, verbs, and other adjectives, other languages put them behind which only serves to confuse the issues. And then, what about using the right or appropriate or correct (but according to whom) verb tense when we speak... because, even when we use the incorrect tense our meaning is still conveyed to the listener... so, what is really wrong with that?

Even the well educated, in some instances, have trouble using these two words correctly: effect and affect... without having to think a little. And, good and well is often used incorrectly as well... but, that seems to be less obvious.

But, one of the most important aspects of any language, especially English, I would think is punctuation; although, very little importance other than in formal writing has been given to it... yet, punctuation can be a very powerful tool...

For example... punctuate this sentence: A woman with her man is nothing.

  • Most males would punctuate it this way: A woman, without her man, is nothing.
  • Most females would punctuate it this way: A woman, without her, man is nothing.

We must also take into consideration, tone of the voice, and whether or not eye contact is being made by one or both parties when conversations are taking place... as they too conveys an impression as well as an underlying meaning of the words, phrases, or sentences being used.

It is commonplace, for example, for a politician to be shaking your hand while making a comment to you while looking at another person or the next person in line... perhaps, to be formulating a comment that he wants or needs to make to that person... or, trying to anticipate what that person may be thinking that they want to say to the politician. All-in-all, that type of behavior associated with appropriate use of the English language conveys insincerity and distrust... yet, it is oftentimes used.

So, how does all of this relate to my topic title you may be wondering because hearing is not really speaking the English language now is it?

Well, that is true, but we all know that hearing MUST take place in order for appropriate communications to take place... and, we all know too that appropriate communications in almost every set of circumstances does not always take place in this country and when using the English language...
So, what might be the problem?

The language or us?

Husbands and wives do not often really listen to what the other is saying after the first few months of marriage and it gets worse the longer they remain married.

Those who attend church services on a regular basis, do not always listen to what the minister or clergymen are trying to convey to the audience and the more often they attend the worse it becomes.

Those who must communicate at work to subordinates (including all industries, military, and services) oftentimes do not really say what they mean to say nor do they convey it the way they need to convey it and those listening typically only hear what they want to hear or what their mental paradigm does not filter out for them.

When we invaded Iran years ago, the first American casualty was a result of “Friendly Fire,” which took place because of bad communications between two people. Can you imagine how the person felt who had to explain that one to the family of the deceased?

For me this is fascinating... because it shows me and should the rest of the world, just how difficult language and communications can be... and yet, language and communications are so often taken for granted in the business world as well as in everyday life.

Some of my examples, granted, are in the extreme but presented that way to make my point... and, I do realize that they are not always applicable nor do they always fit the reader's perspectives, experiences, or point-of-views... still, they are nonetheless fairly accurate when applying the idea in a generalized way.

Still, it is interesting (at least for me) because what prompted this article was the fact that when I woke up today and walking into the kitchen for coffee, music was blasting out of the Bose Wave Machine as if we had front row seats at an Eagles Concert... I glared in the direction of my wife who was looking at something on her iPad and when we made eye contact, she turned down the NOISE and said:

I was seeing if the song I liked had made it to number 1 this week...

Well, my first thought was that she was seeing nothing... she was listening to determine... but, having learned from previous and rather painful experiences, I fortunately said nothing but simply proceeded quite innocently and carefully over to the coffee machine to insert a pod... I am allowed only decaf coffee pods these days, but I am still allowed to spoonfuls of Cappuccino Mix...

I sat down on the couch about the same time that this RAP song started playing and I said:

Ya know, I think RAP music is the best music that was every invented by Americans... (pausing as if to be thinking I was...) including JAZZ...

If looks could kill, I would not be writing this article right now nor would I be smiling to myself wondering what the hell I had just gotten into...


Economic Scarcities Will Haunt Americans For Years

It does not take a Dr. of Economics to understand or fully appreciate the impact that scarcity has on the American economy and the American way of life. By now, I am sure that most Americans remember the financial meltdown of 2008 and the how scarce money was, and if you were not on the same wave length as the rest of us, then I am sure you appreciated the concept of scarcity when gasoline prices rose to almost $5/gallon. But, just in case your memory banks are full on nonsense, let me return to square ONE and bring you back up to speed.

What is Economics?

Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources that have multiple purposes. So economists look at how items are distributed to the public on a large scale and this is done from 2 vantage points.

The first vantage point is from the perspective that these items are scare and scarce simply means that one CANNOT get all the items to the store when the people who are going to buy these items want to have them there.

For instance, say you are making bead necklaces and you can make 100 necklaces a day and as soon as that day is over, you take them to the market to sell them or you have someone else take them to the market to sell them while you make more. Those necklaces sell out in an hour but it is going to take you another day or work before you can send another 100 necklaces to the market... and this creates a shortage of your necklaces which therefore makes them scarce.

The second vantage point is being referred to as having multiple purposes and the best way to explain this is from the standpoint that you own a dairy farm and supply milk to the market on a daily basis as well... but, your milk is purchased not just by people who want to drink milk, but also by people who use milk as an ingredient to make other items like bread, cakes, pies, pancakes, waffles, and cheeses, just to name a few. Consequently, the milk that you take to the market has multiple uses.

So, if all those people who need/want milk for a variety of reasons need/want it at the same time, then the supplier of milk MUST figure out a way to allocate milk to each one of those buyers and this could be done equally to each one, or it could be done by price and how much are these buyers willing to pay me for my milk. And, in so doing, scarcity is again created in the market.

In either case: milk or necklace, PRICE can be used and often is used to make sure that these items are still around until a new supply can be brought to the market for sell. Therefore, PRICE regulates the allocation of these scare resources that have multiple purposes.

If we then look at Petroleum Crude Oil and understand that this oil is not just used to manufacture gasoline for our automobiles but it also used to manufacture jet fuel and is a key ingredient in the manufacturing of plastics... but, if oil is scare and the jet fuel manufacturing companies are willing to pay more for that oil that the gasoline manufacturing companies are, then that oil is going to be sold to the jet fuel manufacturers and not to the gasoline manufacturers... and, the result is a higher price per gallon at the pump.

But, there is more to the story of scarcity than what has just been described... so, let me explain that as well...
I am sure that many or perhaps most of us are aware of the drought in the State of California and all the wild fires that they are experiencing because of the dry conditions. Well, in addition to all the homes that have been lost by these fires that may not impact our families outside the State of California, what will impact our families is the fact that much of our fruit and vegetable supplied to grocery stores across the US come from the State of California... and, if I am not mistaken, growing stuff requires water and when there is little to no water, then stuff will not grow or not as well.

And, this economic scarcity will cause higher prices for fruits and vegetables... and, it is not just fruits and vegetables but bird flu has caused the death of lots of chickens to the point that economists are predicting not just a shortage of eggs but extremely higher prices as well. In fact, there are places in the States of Texas and California that are rationing eggs to consumers.

It also stands to reason that if there are less eggs, then there are less chickens and if there are less chickens then the price for chickens is going to increase as well.

Another example...
Warm weather typically causes crops to grow faster which is good; however, some crops like wheat and grains should not grow faster which will result in reduced yields. Just one aspect of wheat and grain is what cattle farmers use to fatten up their cows...

So, less grains and wheat, less fatten cows and less fattened cows, then less beef for sale and higher prices at the grocery stores and subsequently at the check out lines.

Here is what I think most Americans did during these last few months of LOWER gasoline prices at the pumps... they either drove more or took that extra money and spent it on other stuff that they may or may not have needed.

I would be completely and overwhelmingly surprised if I heard that a majority of Americans saved the extra money not spent on gas to spend later on other items that may have increased due to unexpected situations.... LOL on this one...

And my friends and also my foes, despite these higher prices, employers are not going to giving out higher raises or paying higher wages... that just will not happen as our economy is in a posture very suitable for extremely slow to moderate economic growth.

America sells most of its output to countries in Europe (or Eurozone) and when they are experiencing economic issues like they are RIGHT NOW, then these Europeans buy LESS STUFF from America and if less stuff from America is purchased then employers have less money to share with their employees... while still making the profit they want and need to make so that their lifestyle is not upset.

Our Bankers, Real Estate People, and Speculators were totally responsible for the financial meltdown in 2008 that HURT so many MIDDLE CLASS Americans and while NONE of these Executives went to JAIL, Wall Street and the Stock Markets have rebounded and then some... but, our working economy is sluggish and Owners and CEOs are apprehensive regarding an uncertain future and investing; especially, with unrest in the Middle East, Economic uncertainty in Europe, and an Economic stumble in China...

Global Warming just makes all of this worse than it really needs to be... but, there is no one to blame there but OURSELVES.... and, God knows we cannot do that.

Now, to add icing on our Economic Scarcity/Shortages Cake, we have the rest of the world (outside of the US) growing as they become more and more involved in globalization and global economics. For example, the Middle East has money to burn from selling its oil to the rest of the world... and, these Middle Easterners are buying more and more of the same stuff that Americans are buying.

Then we have an enormously large growing Middle Class in China and because of their excess wealth, they too have money to burn and are buying more and more of the same stuff that Americans are buying.

Then there is India, which is right behind China in population which includes a growing Middle Class as well and this Middle Class also has money to burn and are buying more and more of the same stuff that Americans are buying.

Now, when you put all of this stuff together... and, I have, then what results is a situation whereby Americans are going to be presented with less stuff but at higher prices... of course, we could declare war on these other people and kill them all off so that they will have no money to burn and will no longer be in a position to buy the same stuff that Americans buy.

However, I don't think that would be a good idea at all, and believe that we would be better off if we took our chances with Global Warming instead.

And, it is predicted by several experts from several areas that these patterns will continue for several years to come... or, well into your future.