May’s Genius Trivia: Just In Case It Matters To You

by Dennis Duitch

  • CHARISMA PLUS EGOMANIA MINUS COMPETENCE IS A DANGEROUS FORMULA… People tend to assume that confident individuals are competent, when there is no actual relationship between those two qualities… In Leadership, it is competence far more than confidence that is important… starting with setting a good example, since subordinates notice what behavior gets rewarded and which standards are set by the person at the top… Managers need enough presence to persuade their teams to follow the business plan, but should think in terms of coaching rather than inspiration… Team leadership also requires having sufficient empathy to understand the concerns of others, and when things go wrong – as they inevitably will – the flexibility to adjust strategy… which does not suit the style of overconfident or narcissistic people.”  [THE ECONOMIST ]
  • MOST RECYCLED TRASH IS NOW ENDING UP IN LANDFILLS OR INCINERATORS. Asian countries purchased over 40% of American waste (plastic, glass, metal, paper) until 2018 when China banned imports of “loathsome foreign garbage.” Problem is that the U.S. recycling industry cannot now handle our trash – since a quarter is “contaminated with food waste and non-recyclable materials, including bowling balls, used syringes and pizza boxes/cans/bottles, with residue which wreaks havoc on the automatic sorting equipment.” Some cities are now burning the refuse and converting waste to energy, but most municipalities “have been forced to suspend or cancel recycling programs altogether and send everything to landfills… The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that recycling & composting prevented approximately 186 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere in 2013, the equivalent of taking 39 million cars off the road.” [THE WEEK]
  • ELECTRIC VEHICLES POSE ACCIDENT CHALLENGES FROM ‘THERMAL RUNAWAY’ FIRES – a “self-accelerating chain reaction in which their lithium-ion batteries explode, releasing energy that further increases temperatures as high as 900 degrees that is likely to ignite other batteries, taking up to 24 hours to extinguish requiring thousands of gallons of water… A standard 12-volt battery is used by most gas-powered engines, but a typical Electric Vehicle operates closer to a potentially deadly 400 volts (and the newest Porsche boasts 800 volts).” Well over three-quarters of a million electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles are currently on U.S. roads with few such incidents so far, but the battery pack fires which have occurred created infernos that firefighters were incapable of stopping before total destruction of vehicles and surrounding buildings.   [BUSINESSWEEK]
  • NEWEST CALIFORNIA TAX SURPRISE: Legislation was proposed last month to re-impose a 40% inheritance tax of lifetime gifts & estates, up to the $11.4 federal exclusion level (inflation adjusted), less $3.5M state exclusion = $7.9M, beginning 2021. The tax would be administered by a new CA Social Inheritance Accounts department to “directly address and alleviate socio-economic inequality, to counterbalance the uneven effects of international wealth transfer.”  [GREENBERG GLUSKER ALERT]
  • ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE BOTS WILL SOON BE COMPETING TO RESOLVE DISPUTES. Algorithms in development are attempting to integrate rule-based & case-based reasoning with “neural networks which are loosely modeled after the human brain and designed to recognize patterns.” Because AI cannot (so far) recognize nuances, they can’t replace judgement and won’t soon be disrupting Mediation skills but, until then, a reminder that ‘Informal Mediation’ is an exceptionally effective manner of dispute resolution between business associates, executive teams or Boards, divorcing spouses, or dysfunctional family members – by facilitating focus on core underlying issues to ensure that each party listens and fully hears the other’s concerns, versus letting attorneys do the talking (and too often complicating the issues). Effective resolution usually involves interface between finances/ taxes/ economics/ legalities/ emotions/ and family or team dynamics. When conflict can be minimized, and parties hear the same facts and concerns in real-time, opportunities for negotiation & compromise are almost always successful. DCG have decades of experience in timely resolving disagreements with dramatically less stress & cost. Call us first.  [AICPA.ORG]
  • RECRUITING MILLENNIAL JOB CANDIDATES REQUIRES DIFFERENT STRATEGIES than many managers are used to. Critical elements include: “(1) Making the candidate comfortable & relaxed so they open up; (2) Listening more than talking; asking open-ended questions that invite expansive answers (versus yes/no) and scenario-based examples; (3) Looking for demonstration of progression in job skills, and what has driven their job changes reported on the resume; (4) Looking for soft skills & attitude that emphasize collaboration more so than individual glory; (5) Ensuring that the job description is thorough, clear, provides for challenge & advancement opportunity, work/life balance, and is discussed point-by-point. DCG can help.  [FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT]
  • CALORIE IS THE WORLD’S MOST MISLEADING MEASURE… Our fixation with counting it assumes both that all ‘calorific values’ are equal and that all bodies respond in identical ways, but not so… The process of storing fat – the ‘weight’ many seek to lose – is influenced by dozens of factors apart from calories: our genes, trillions of bacteria that live in our gut, food preparation and sleep, so food can take between 8 to 80 hours to travel from dinner to toilet bowl… The body absorbs 30 calories a minute from fizzy drinks, compared with 2 calories a minute from potatoes… Some peoples’ intestines are 50% shorter than others and absorb few calories, meaning they excrete more energy in the food per se … plus the amount absorbed depends on how food is prepared; cooking increases digestion by up to double depending on whether it’s boiled, roasted or microwaved… Additionally, calories listed on food packets & menus are routinely wrong – U.S. government regulations allow understatement by as much as 20%, but on some processed foods is off by as much as 70%... According to the World Health Organization, some two billion adults, 40% of people over age 18, have become overweight in the past four decades due fundamentally to energy imbalance between calories consumed versus calories expended.”   [ECONOMIST]
  • WHILE RUSSIA RIVALS AMERICA IN MANY AREAS, like technology, science & military power, Living Conditions remain at a 3rd-world level for a huge proportion of its people. According to their Federal Statistics Service, some 2/3 of rural households have no reliable hot water and no indoor toilets – some 35 million people. The Russian presidential Academy reports that “poverty is widespread outside of Moscow, with 22% of Russians unable “to buy anything beyond basic staples needed for subsistence.”  [THE WEEK]
  • THE NEXT STAGE OF AUTOMATION: COLLABORATIVE ROBOTS aka COBOTS are machines that “physically interact with humans, working alongside in a shared workspace, to create a semiautonomous production process drawing on the strengths of both… Interacting intuitively in a fluid way by combining the coordination & cognitive capabilities of humans with the robotic accuracy & ability to perform monotonous tasks… plus greater flexibility and easier programming than fully automated systems, companies can use COBOTS for multiple processes and without technical knowhow – ideal attributes for smaller firms.” China is leading development and predicted to dominate two-thirds of the market, providing COBOTS at a price below $20K within six years.  [IMPACT LAB.NET]
  • MOST ADULTS SPEND OVER HALF THEIR WAKING HOURS IN WORK-RELATED ACTIVITY AND COMMUTE. Many recognize the importance of ‘work-life balance’ but far fewer are cognizant of the importance that ‘energy’ plays in maintaining life balance, particularly including motivation. There are four primary aspects of obtaining or depleting energy levels: Physical – related to how well or tired our bodies feel; Mental – stemming from analytical or thinking tasks; Emotional – derived from interpersonal connection with others; and Spiritual – evolving from perceived fundamental meaning from our efforts. To better manage energy: (1) Accept the fact that ‘recuperation’ time is essential; and (2) “Adopt ways to boost energy by identifying what drives & drains your personal energy levels, and incorporate these into daily routine” – some as simple as meditating, listening to music, smiling,  a few moments with a child, or taking a few deep breaths and relaxing. [McKINSEY]
  • CYBERSECURITY PROTECTION IS ALSO IMPORTANT FOR YOUR CAR, which is pretty much an extension of your computer or smartphone, where “sophisticated infotainment systems accumulate much of the same sensitive digital information (bank info, account names/passwords, contacts & numbers, text messages, etc)… which happens when you plug your phone into a rental car USB port, pair a Bluetooth device, or use the navigation system.”  So when getting rid of a vehicle, it makes sense to ‘wipe clean’ as much as possible, by cancelling/transferring hotspots, streaming services, subscriptions, data plans, and by deleting phone book data, navigation addresses & maps, Bluetooth settings, garage opener, and other stored data. Many vehicles have a ‘factory reset’ feature with delete instructions in the Owner’s Manual, for this purpose.  [HOW STUFF WORKS.COM]
  • FRUSTRATING NEWS FOR DISCRIMINATE FISH EATERS who care about avoiding high mercury content or protecting endangered species: DNA testing by government & private organizations keep finding mislabeling over half the time in samples from half the states in America, with “one in three stores & restaurants selling at least one mislabeled item.” The federal government does require ‘traceability and catch reporting’ for 13 types of seafood (including tuna, swordfish, king crab, mahi mahi, red snapper and Atlantic cod), but control is complicated since 80% of fish eaten in the U.S. comes from international sources involving fisherman, middlemen, distributors, along with retailer packaging & shelfing by people who have no clue about species distinctions. One alternative, which FDA approved just this month, is now genetically-modified salmon (to be produced by a land-based plant in Indiana), which unhappy activists refer to as Frankenfish. [CNN]
  • “OUR BODIES CONVEY THOUGHTS & FEELINGS, SENDING MESSAGES VIA BODY-LANGUAGE SYMBOLS that others pick up and use to make judgments about us.” Tips to gauge emotional intelligence through body language: (1) Handshakes  with limpness connote lacking confidence or interest, and too strong signals aggressiveness; (2) Facing Squarely  denotes complete & undivided attention, while turning away indicates discomfort, disinterest, distrust, and/or not being engaged; (3) Standing Up Straight reflects confidence & self-respect, versus slouching which indicates lack of serious intent or caring;  (4) Checking phone or time devices indicates distraction and conveys ‘something more important to do’; (5) Eye Contact leaves an indelible impression, so avoiding it can arouse suspicion as to honesty/completeness of the discussion, and looking down while speaking can be a sign of self-consciousness; (6) Facial Expressions, if too severe, can convey hostility, and forcing a smile or scowling can make others uncomfortable, but a natural smile makes people warm up. [FAST COMPANY]
  • “NATURE IS THE LIFE-SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR THE PLANET, the food system on which humanity depends… and Species extinction is an ordinary part of the natural process.”  But science suggests that 99% of all species that ever existed are now gone, and that the current acceleration of extinction is leading to catastrophe. Estimates are that over the past 40 years, the number of wild animals has decreased by between 50% for wild animals up to 97% of Bluefin tuna, and that “humans are living through a ‘mass extinction’ epoch during which three of every four species will vanish.” In the case of insects – now some 1.4 billion per human – a 50% projected die-off (from pesticide use, climate change and habitat destruction) doesn’t sound so bad, except that flying and crawling bugs pollinate over three-quarters of food crops & flowering plants, as well as channel nutrients back to the earth, so “insect apocalypse is nothing to cheer… and actually now jeopardizing the future of people.”  [THE WEEK]
  • PUBLIC SECTOR RETIREMENT PLANS ARE HEADED FOR COLLAPSE. Prior to 2002, policies called for ‘full funding,’ but presently the average level is around 72%. In order to “reduce the burden on today’s taxpayers,” assumptions about portfolio growth are set at nearly 7.5% on average, meaning that over time the return on investments could/would meet that level and provide necessary funds for projected payouts. According to Boston College Center for Retirement Research, this strategy then necessitates allocating some 72% of assets to ‘risky’ investments (particularly equities & hedge funds), a strategy which exceeds the average Private Pension Plan risk allocation level (which professional investors recommend) by at least 10%. So, with a less-than-optimal chance of achieving over-optimistic returns, Public Plans – including social security – are unquestionably headed for tough times and increased future taxes to fund.  [ECONOMIST]

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“Genius Trivia: Just in Case it Matters to You” is the work product of Dennis Duitch, author, poet, sculptor and musician. Presented by: www.duitchconsulting.com

Genius Trivia: Just In Case It Matters To You

by Dennis Duitch

  • “SMARTPHONES ARE INTERTWINED WITH OUR LIVES,” replacing not only landlines, but computers, cameras, iPods, books and newspapers. Surveys show up to three-quarters of American users never switch off their phones and half check it before getting out of bed each day (two-thirds if measuring just millennials), while 10% wake up during the night to check status.  Daytime, some 37% use smartphones “primarily for making actual phone calls” (versus social media, email, photos, news, etc.), but landline instruments are creeping back as people discover the benefits of: (1) “being more intentional about accepting calls versus just accepting invites; (2) focusing fully on the person talking for improved quality of call outcomes – productivity, accuracy & efficiency; and (3) living mindfully in the moment for a greater sense of fulfillment, by preventing calls from encroaching into the rest of one’s life.”  [FAST COMPANY]
  •  “CULTURE IS THE OUTCOME of the vision or mission that drives an organization, the values that guide the behavior of its people, and the management practices, working norms, and mindsets that characterize how work actually gets done… In merger situations, while 95% of executives describe ‘cultural fit’ as critical to the success of integrating teams, 25% cite a lack of cultural cohesion & alignment as the primary reason merger integration efforts fail.”  DCG have decades of experience in providing ‘Cultural Congruity’ services to clients, which consistently demonstrate two critical strategies: (1) that initiatives be driven by leaders instead of delegated to HR or Communications groups, and (2) that they be developed well in advance, and utilize a tactical mixture of “hard measures (like structured incentives) with soft measures (like communication and celebration)” throughout the new company.  [McKINSEY & CO]
  • 45% OF HEART FAILURE PATIENTS ARE REHOSPITALIZED within six weeks, and 25% within 30 days. This occurs predominantly when blood oxygen volume is low or blood pressure is high, which “causes breathlessness, tiredness, dizziness, and increases risk of kidney & liver as well as further heart damage.” Inventors at Rochester Institute of Technology have now designed a toilet seat with WIFI-enabled sensors that can monitor patients and transmit directly to doctors on a real-time proactive basis, since “the aorta – the body’s largest artery – runs into the thighs, reducing the likelihood of mistakes from self-monitoring, and conceivably saving millions of lives.”  [DAILY MAIL.CO.UK]
  • “AMERICA IS AT WAR WITH OURSELVES, A TANGLE OF IDEOLOGIES ALL PULLING IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS… Things that use to be taken for granted – values like common decency and civility – are suddenly rare. Issues that were once uncontested are suddenly grounds for fierce debate.” Fault lines have evolved between boomers & millennials, urban & rural dwellers, educated & non-educated workers, activists vs liberals vs conservatives, and collectively ‘haves’ versus ‘have-nots.’ According to Pew Research, there are no issues that are widely considered top priorities by both parties, and the average partisan gap in their rankings is 19 points… Not since ‘slavery’ has there been such a stark contrast between ideologies of the States… and the days of even general consensus seem lost.”  [LBN EXAMINER]
  • “A GROWING BODY OF EVIDENCE MAKES IT LIKELY THAT CANNABIS USE IS TRIGGERING MENTAL-HEALTH PROBLEMS.” A Kings College London clinical study of over 900 European patients newly diagnosed with psychosis found 30% tied to “strong cannabis – with potency greater than 10% increasing the risk five-fold and less potent strains increasing it three-fold… Meanwhile, in some brands (Royal Gorilla, Girl Scout Cookies, Fat Banana) the THC level is above 25%.”  [THE ECONOMIST]
  • SOUNDS OF ANYTHING WILL SOON BE 94% BLOCKABLE by a 3D-printed ‘acoustic meta-material.’ Boston University researchers have designed a material which “sends incoming sounds back to where they came from…by reflecting certain frequencies through the air… These silencers can be tailored to circumstance, fitting HVAC systems, drone turbines, MRI machines, office or apartment walls, and co-workers.”  [FAST COMPANY]
  • ‘5G’ IS THE NEXT GENERATION OF WIRELESS NETWORKS, starting to rollout this year, which “could replace wired broadband in the home and allow for billions of other connected devices, unlocking an array of technologies from autonomous cars that share traffic data to immersive virtual reality games… with download speeds for a movie reduced to 20 seconds and drones able to send video and mapping data to be analyzed in real time.” American firms are vying with China’s telecom industry for patents and standards control, since “the nation that dominates 5G gets to develop a whole generation of mobile services with improved artificial intelligence and machine learning, by allowing algorithms to access more data faster.” Currently China’s Huawei conglomerate is in the lead, however the U.S. has banned their products “amid fears of espionage and stealing trade secrets,” so it could be several years before the dust settles and 5G is fully implemented.  [THE WEEK]
  • RE: TURNING BACK TIME.  U.S. and Russian researchers teamed up to conduct an experiment which “returned the state of a quantum computer a fraction of a second into its recent past… effectively reversing the second law of thermodynamics that posits only one-way direction of time – from the past to the future.” If accurate, the ‘reversal algorithm’ utilized in a four-stage experiment involving ‘superconducting qubits,’ which found 85% results in which their quantum computer “returned back to its initial state,” suggests the eventual potential for some very strange future.   [WWW.IMPACTLAB.NET]
  • NO FEDERAL OR STATE LAW REQUIRES A SYSTEM OF IDENTICAL VOTING MACHINES, but a strange decision was reached by the state of Georgia. Despite cyber-expert evidence that its existing computerized voting machines are “most hackable in the country, and allow for no auditable trail,” Georgia has rejected a plan for hand-marked ballots because this would discriminate against the blind. Their argument: “if the blind can’t use them, neither should anyone else… akin to saying that because some people can’t walk up stairs, now everybody has to use the elevator.” 70% of U.S. electorate currently vote with hand-marked ballots feeding into a computerized scanner, accompanied by computer-assisted machines for the disabled. [BUSINESSWEEK]
  • ONE IN FIVE ‘HIGHLY ENGAGED’ U.S. WORKERS EXPERIENCE ‘BURNOUT’ IN SOME FORM, and “obsession with work is largely to blame,” according to a 2018 Yale University study. The symptoms to be aware of are predominantly: (1) Chronic Exhaustion – feeling tired, getting sick more often, and/or weeks of intense anxiety; (2) Becoming overly cynical – detached from work, or easily annoyed by co-workers and friends; (3) Feeling unproductive or incompetent, even at the small things. Life Balance is not just a random millennial phrase. If Burnout symptoms occur, it’s time to take a break!  [FAST COMPANY]
  • “AMERICAN POLITICS ARE DANGEROUSLY POLARIZED, WITH COLLEGE-EDUCATED WHITE LIBERALS LEADING THE CHANGE – people who occupy the commanding heights of media, academia and pop culture… who suffer from a ‘white savior’ complex, likening anyone who opposes their views on Medicare-for-all, religious liberty, or border security to slave-owners or supporters of Jim Crow,” to a point where, today, Bill Clinton’s views on illegal immigration and crime “would render him a racist bigot… Obama would be a moderate and a bigot… and even Hillary’s pledge to ‘protect our borders’ combined with interventionist policies are completely at odds with the liberal platform.” As the most culturally powerful people on the planet keep rapidly shifting the goalposts, with zero toleration for opposing perspective of any kind, the likelihood for achieving any national consensus continues to deteriorate and head towards an unraveling of American heritage, culture and society.  [NATIONAL REVIEW]
  • EMPLOYEES WHO FEEL UNRECOGNIZED OR UNCHALLENGED are often motivated to job-jump, especially when confident in their own potential. A growing trend in larger companies is to identify these as Hi-Potential (Hi-Po) workers and develop programs for ‘special’ coaching & mentoring, in expectation of developing superior performance and leadership as well as retention. However, the success of such programs is mixed for reasons including: (1) Lack of clarity & consensus among managers in defining expectations; (2) Inconsistent criteria in identifying Hi-Po candidates – often prioritizing current performance above degree of prior track-record success (in other business cultures & climates); (3) Ineffective communication which can “create divisiveness and undermine teams, when employees not selected feel demoralized, while ‘chose ones’ can feel embarrassed or undeserving”; (4) Resentment of Millennials who, in general, “view Hi-Po programs as inherently biased and inequitable… Simple succession planning practices and targeted leadership development are proven alternatives, also more cost-effective and less time-intensive to develop leaders and increase morale.” DCG can help.  [GENERATIONAL INTERCHANGE]
  • NEARLY HALF OF AMERICAN CFOs FORECAST “THE END IS NEAR for the near-decade-long burst of global economic growth… resulting in sub-3% GDP growth and a non-cataclysmic recession” by the end of 2019; over 80% expect this to happen by close of 2020. The recent Duke University Business Survey of more than 500 CFOs attribute this likelihood to “a waning expansion that began mid-2009 which heightened market volatility, the impact of growth-reducing protectionism, and the ominous flattening of the yield curve, which has predicted recessions accurately over the past 50 years.”  [CFO MAGAZINE]

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“Genius Trivia: Just in Case it Matters to You” is the work product of Dennis Duitch, author, poet, sculptor and musician. Presented by: www.duitchconsulting.com

Genius Trivia: Just In Case It Matters To You

By Dennis Duitch

  • CONFUSION REMAINS OVER TAX DEDUCTIBILITY OF FOOD & BEVERAGE COSTS CONSIDERED ‘BUSINESS MEALS’ when accompanied by ‘Entertainment.’ Latest federal regulations clarify that Entertainment means ‘activity’ at sporting events, night clubs/lounges, theaters/concerts, athletic/golf/country clubs – which are no longer deductible. But Meal Expense remains deductible (at 50%) when food & beverages are: (1) provided to current customers, clients, advisors, or contacts; (2) “ordinary & necessary in carrying on the trade or business”; (3) not “lavish or extravagant under the circumstances”; and (4) supported by bills or receipts which are stated separately from any entertainment charges.
  • “NEARLY HALF OF ALL AMERICANS TODAY SAY THEY ARE ‘LONELY’ and 13% say there are zero people who know them well.” Among seemingly evident impacts is the possibility that “partisan viciousness on social media has increased polarized politics, because people are turning to political tribalism for the sense of community they used to get from simple connection to those around them.” The implications are broad, potentially affecting all ages since loneliness – defined by social scientists as “having fewer meaningful relationships which make people feel known and understood – triggers the release of stress hormones which can lead to high blood pressure/inflammation/weakened immune system/heart attack/stroke/cancer/insomnia/ and depression. Also, combined with a “lacking emotional support system, this can lead to unhealthy habits such as substance abuse/overeating/and not exercising… Surprisingly, young people are actually most at risk of being lonely in modern society” according to a recent Cigna study of twenty-thousand people which found that Millennials and Gen Z (ages 18 to 37) scored highest, despite “seemingly infinite opportunities to connect online, but which can increase feelings of being left out or of being dissatisfied with one’s own life.” [THE WEEK]
  • EIGHT ‘B’ VITAMINS ARE GENERALLY CONSIDERED CRITICAL FOR AGING ADULTS, to inhibit cardiovascular & neurodegenerative disorders, vision loss, and particularly brain shrinkage. Studies have found up to five times “progressive brain atrophy” in seniors with lower levels of B12.  Impaired brain damage – manifesting as slower thinking, attention deficit and memory lapse – is also an impact which can affect vegetarians & vegans who avoid meat and animal products.  [LIFE EXTENSION]
  • OUR LEGAL SYSTEM IN ALL ITS GLORY: A Federal Class Action Complaint that the word ‘Diet’ in Diet Coke meant “it would help you lose weight (per se, without exercise or counting calories) by plaintiffs who felt they had been tricked” has taken a year of Federal Court time. Big time 700+ attorney law firm Baker Botts took on the challenge by “throwing this case against the wall to see if it sticks,” until the judge dismissed it “because no reasonable person would ever believe that Diet Coke would make you skinny” – however that hasn’t stopped an Appeal. Taxes of course fund the Court system (this judge’s salary is $244K/yr), Diet Coke’s attorneys charge who-knows-what, and frivolous cases like this “burden the courts and public, plus make the U.S. legal system & lawyers a laughing stock.” But it’s democracy! [THE FOOD LAWYERS NWSLTR]
  • AMERICAN WORKERS OPT FOUR-TO-ONE FOR A JOB WITH BENEFITS over an identical job offering 30% higher salary but no benefits. According to a Harris Poll of more than 2000 adults, 56% cited priorities being health insurance or 401K retirement plan matching, and 33% cited paid-time-off, but flexible work hours, working remotely, and (for millennials) skills training plus student loan forgiveness rank significantly. Other Poll findings are that workers expect a fully-competitive salary, but are increasingly motivated by more than just the a paycheck to be recruited and retained; also 63% said they “are confident the freedom being their own boss would be worth more than the job security that comes with working for an employer… while one-in-five said they are likely to start or continue their own business next year.  [AICPA.ORG]
  • AS INCOME TAX FILING DATE NEARS, THE GOOD NEWS is that IRS tax Audits are at an all-time low, the result of budget and corresponding staff cuts. While focus is still on areas where taxpayers are ‘traditionally noncompliant’ – small businesses and high-wealth individuals – the likelihood of audit is minimal. Of some 150 million filed returns last year, IRS audit ratio was one in 184. For partnerships, S-Corps, and Corps with below $10M revenue, under .7% were examined. For sole-proprietors reporting under $1M, the audit rate was just over 1.5%; below $200K the rate was just over 2%; for W-2 employees earning under $200K, only .3% were selected. However, triple the number of assessments also result from Automated Matching Programs which target discrepancies between taxpayer reported income and documents supplied directly by payers (particularly 1099 and K-1 forms), so ensuring that all such data is included & accurate is critical. For further courtesy guidance, call DCG.   [ACCOUNTING TODAY]
  • COFFEE CONSUMPTION LOWERS MORTALITY RISK. A ten-year study conducted by UK BioBank involving a half-million men and women found that one cup daily was linked with 8% lower risk of premature mortality, graduating to 16% reduced risk for those drinking six to seven cups daily, for both regular and decaffeinated coffee.  [LIFE EXTENSION]
  • ‘LISTENING’ IS QUITE DIFFERENT THAN ‘HEARING’ WORDS, a diminishing trait in today’s world of input competing for our attention. But actively Listening is not only critical for clarity in understanding what others are saying, it also demonstrates respect for others and facilitates the likelihood they will reciprocate by Hearing what you have to say. The primary factors which make us poor listeners are: (1) Multi-tasking, since “our brains process serially, not in parallel, and are unable to ‘take in’ multiple sources of info at once, precluding the ability to listen”; (2) Preconceptions & biases about others which lead to judging & dismissing their input. Ego can also prevent hearing words from people you may perceive as “intellectually or socially inferior”; (3) Thinking you already know what another person will say, especially if you disagree, which leads to “dismissal instead of a conversation, focusing only on the disagreement” without regard for other potentially relevant input; (4) The natural desire to talk, to “appear knowledgeable and smart by sharing what we know, which can make a discussion just about you.”   [FAST COMPANY]
  • DRONE TECHNOLOGY IS RAPIDLY REPLACING MANY OF THE “MOST DANGEROUS AND HIGH-PAYING JOBS within the commercial sector… by combining technologies involving computer vision, artificial intelligence and object avoidance tech, in autonomous aircraft, ground and sea vehicles that operate autonomously.” Beyond military defense, emergency response, humanitarian & disaster relief, Drones are changing the world we live in: Agriculture, Weather forecasting, Waste Management, Construction, Insurance, Real Estate, Transportation, Telecommunications, Sports, Photography, Tourism, Advertising, Manufacturing & Inventory management, Fitness, Food Services & Delivery, News Coverage, Gaming, Education, Security, and numerous other industries & activities. With a global market currently forecasted above $125 billion, Drones will also be dramatically impacting the investment markets accordingly. Meanwhile, the FFA has just proposed rules which will now allow drone flights overnight in populated areas, which will likely create annoying buzzing from the whine of drone rotors. For a comprehensive analysis: 38 Ways Drones Will Impact Society: From Fighting War To Forecasting Weather, UAVs Change Everything [CB INSIGHTS]
  • 90% OF CYBERSECURITY INCIDENTS ARE CAUSED BY HUMAN ERROR, since even strong firewalls are ineffective without proper training for ALL people in the organization. Strategically, allowing people to work “from home, café, or their own device, can boost productivity, morale and perception of freedom. The same goes for vendors or customers who need access to the company’s information systems (e.g. to check order or inventory status).” But providing appropriate processes and controls is critical to protect business assets and aspects. Google encourages implementation of an “only-what-they-need-to-know principle throughout the organization, along with access allowed only from company-managed devices which are at a lower risk of compromise… which can reduce the chances of either inadvertent or malicious human error.”  [CORPORATE BOARD MEMBER]
  • WITHIN THE NEXT 11 YEARS, FORECASTS from major world organizations – governments, NGOs, banks, CPAs, consultants – estimate that: (1) the U.S. adult obesity rate, currently 40%, will increase to 50%; (2) 25% of U.S. passenger miles will be travelled in shared, self-driving vehicles; (3) Artificial Intelligence will add more to the global economy than total current economic output from China & India combined; (4) worldwide, the wealthiest 1%, who currently own 47% of global wealth, could increase that percentage to 64%; (5) global population will increase by another million people to 8.6 billion, but the 10% currently living in extreme poverty (earning below $2 per day) will shrink to only 6%; (6) global military spending will increase by 50%.  [TIME]
  • TIME’ MANAGEMENT IS AN ILLUSION; it passes irrespective of our desire, intention or behavior. So framing efforts to improve productivity and efficiency in the context of the clock is misdirected. Reality is that the problem in achieving results is “misplaced attention in a distracting world filled with technology which is designed to persuade us to engage with it, and constantly conspiring to steal time.”  [FORBES]
  • “CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS ARE 60% ABOUT GETTING YOUR HEAD, HEART & GUT RIGHT, AND 40% ABOUT SAYING IT RIGHT… Under conditions of stress and threat, our motives can become short-term and selfish – worrying about being right, winning, avoiding conflict, looking good, even thinking escape – versus focusing on the real issues.” Tips for handling difficult conversations begin with: (1) Clear motives & objectives for yourself, the other side, the relationship, and avoiding “attributing evil or malicious motives to justify any negative actions” (like terminating an employee or contract); (2) Gathering the facts to best mitigate opposing views and avoid discussion “degenerating into contesting conclusions rather than shared information… Never begin with a conclusion. Share facts & premises, layout data and explain logic that supports your position”; (3) Listen fully and fairly to the other side, helping them “feel less of a need to resist you in order to be heard.”  [HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW]
  • MAJOR LONG-TERM CONCERNS FACING THE WORLD IN 2019, according to the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report, involve extreme weather, natural catastrophes, and cyber-attack resulting in massive data fraud or theft. The top five “human side of risks – a sense of insecurity, increasing anxiety, unhappiness and loneliness – are: Climate Change, along with increasing Cyber Dependency, Polarization of Society, Income/Wealth Disparity, and National Sentiment.” [BUSINESSWEEK]
  • ARE WE BECOMING A RACE OF ROBOTS? “Most people do not have a thought in their heads that has not been put there by someone or something else. We have become a race of programmed minds which can be persuaded to believe and do almost anything as long as the drip, drip, drip of lies and misinformation continues to bombard us… with ideas which have been fed by those in power, through political systems, media, religion, schools and universities… Humanity has been gripped by a spiritual amnesia which has taken us down a dark and dangerous path from which we may or not escape depending on the choices we make… We stand on the threshold of indescribable and incomprehensible change and can be sure that nothing and no-one will be left untouched by what is happening on the planet.”  [ROBOTS’ REBELLION]

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“Genius Trivia: Just in Case it Matters to You” is the work product of Dennis Duitch, author, poet, sculptor and musician. Presented by: www.duitchconsulting.com

Genius Trivia: Just In Case It Matters To You

by Dennis Duitch

  • CURIOUS ABOUT HOW MUCH INFO GOOGLE KEEPS ON YOUR LIFE? You’ll be astonished, if not mortified. The link below will get you access to request a trove of data which Google notes “could take hours or even days to compile, depending on how active a user you are” and how many years you’ve been googling. Among other surprises, you’ll find your history of both public and anonymous searches in ‘incognito mode,’ even though users are told that “chrome doesn’t save your browsing history like URLs, cached page text, or IP addresses of pages linked from websites you visit.”  https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2018/03/30/download-google-data-how-what-found/473227002/  [USA TODAY]
  • “MOST ORGANIZATIONS HAVE GENERALLY ACCEPTED THAT CYBER PREVENTION & SECURITY IS IMPOSSIBLE and have turned efforts towards assuring the defensibility of data and core operations… with constant situational awareness to detect problems in their incipient phase, recognizing that defense supported by data analytics and artificial intelligence is no longer just an option but a necessity.” And it’s getting worse. Reality is that nation-state hackers are increasingly “undermining our trust in critical systems and, as such, are attacking the confidence & psychology of our nation… The lines between cyber criminals and nation-states (N. Korea & Russia in particular) have become increasingly blurry with attacks targeting election systems, electric grids, and other critical infrastructure – evidence that there’s a larger game afoot: a contest of wills and a competition for strategic leverage in cyberspace.”  [HELPNET SECURITY.COM]
  • WHEN HIRING MISTAKES HAPPEN, impacts can include “cost of up to ten times salary if terminated within 2½ years, along with disruption of the organization, damage to morale, reducing employee productivity, creating HR headaches, and diminishing work quality, along with customer satisfaction and business reputation.”  Principal weaknesses which can result in poor hires include: (1) “Recruiting for Pedigree and Experience instead of Skills. Transferable skills like leadership, communication, resilience and problem-solving are usually far better predictions of future success”; (2) Lack of a standard process for interviewing, like a standard checklist of questions which can be later compared among interviews; (3) “Cutting bait on bad hires… It’s human nature to delay, defer, and rationalize second chances, but correcting mistakes before negatively impacting the entire organization is critical to avoid punishing good employees for bad hires, which forces them to end up overworked & burned out from picking up the slack, and contributes to unwanted turnover.”  DCG can help.  [CFO MAGAZINE]
  • TECHNOLOGY AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL SOON LITERALLY BE CHANGING THE FACE OF ‘ENTERTAINMENT.” Facets include: (1) A “real life Thunderdome’ being built 30 stories tall in Las Vegas, with a  3½-acre spherical LED screen which “arcs over the audience like a planetarium times ten,” and over 150,000 directional speakers which can beam to different sections of the 12,000-seat arena in different languages; (2) Hologram performances through ‘military grade lasers’ which can replicate how the human face actually moves; (3) Hyper-virtual reality including ‘haptic feedback vests’ which can mimic anything from a jolt upon being shot in the chest to the sensation of an elevator rising; and (4) interactive TV which will lets viewers choose their plot lines.  The couch-potato world will be expanding dramatically.  [ROLLING STONE]
  •  ODDITIES & ENDS: (1) In America, women who are ‘poor’ weigh on average twelve pounds less than wealthier women; for men, the reverse is true. According to the Gallup survey, “there are no obvious answers but undoubtedly the differing roles of the genders have been assigned by society and the differing pressures they face at various income levels provide some clue.”  (2) Oregon’s next ballot initiative in 2020 may legalize Magic Mushrooms, “which some studies have shown to have positive effects, especially for those undergoing cancer treatments and chemical depression.” Under federal law, possession of psilocybin however remains classified as a Schedule 1 substance and constitutes a felony. (3) A recent discovery of 200 million ‘termite mounds’ covering an area the size of Minnesota, in a remote Brazil forest, some as old as 4000 years and standing 10 feet high, is now considered another “Wonder of the World, equivalent to 4000 Great Pyramids of Giza.”
  •  POOR HEALTH HABITS RESULT FROM “EATING WITH OUR EYES VERSUS THINKING WITH OUR STOMACH.” Studies show the average American makes over 200 choices daily involving food & diet, “most impulse-driven by our mindless, subconscious urges and/or by manipulative external commercial forces – supermarket corporations using subtle psychological tricks to entice us.” Examples include sprinkling vegetables & fruit with water for shiny & fresher appearance but which actually accelerates rotting, and positioning expensive branded products at eye-level with cheaper ones on top & bottom shelves. While ‘hormone-driven fullness signals’ are indeed sent from the stomach wall to our brain, the 20-minutes that takes typically allows for second helpings, extra snacks and desserts. And “diverting attention from what and how much we’re eating to other things (like watching TV or texting) does the same… Countless studies have proved that mere mentioning that a food Americans are about to be served is ‘healthy’ lowers taste expectations… whereas the opposite happens for French eaters with healthy foods expected to be the tastier option… In order to regain control of calorie intake, the trick is to eat mindfully.”  [LIFE EXTENSION]
  • THE SUICIDE RATE IN AMERICA, now some 800,000 annually, is “largely among white, middle-aged, poorly educated men in areas that were left behind and crushed by busts” during the two economic recessions of the last two decades. Researchers have determined that media attention given to higher-profile cases has materially contributed to an 18% increase since 2000. One example is the Robin Williams suicide reported in great detail, after which there were “1,800 more suicides than would otherwise have been expected in the subsequent four months, often using the same manner of death.”  Another likely contributing factor is that Americans work 10% longer hours weekly and up to 20% more hours annually than Europeans, while opting to take only 17 annual holiday/vacation days off – forfeiting one-in-four days from their average allotment.  [THE ECONOMIST]
  • BEWARE OF ‘MERCHANT CASH ADVANCE’ SCAMS which have hit some 25,000 businesses across the country in the last several years. Manipulated by “the same people who’d pushed stock swindles in the 1990s and subprime mortgages a decade later…the scam avoids regulatory scrutiny by sidestepping usury & consumer protection laws and state licensing requirements by keeping the word ‘loan’ out of paperwork and describing deals as advances against future business revenues.” At effective interest rates up to 400% plus automatic daily remittance from bank accounts, the scheme involves “an archaic legal document called a ‘Confession of Judgement’ which forfeits the borrowers right to defend themselves in court, allowing the lender – without any proof – to legally seize assets without notification.” Criminals, with forged documents and/or fabricated defaults, can then utilize New York county clerks to “rubber-stamp the paperwork (in one month, a single clerk’s office issued 176 Judgements in 38 states), and NYC Marshalls (mayor-appointed to collect private debts for a 5% fee) are able to freeze the debtor’s bank account and obtain funds.” By the time borrowers are aware, the cash is gone and without any rights to protest. [BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK]
  • SLEEP PROBLEMS ARE PREDOMINANTLY AN EFFECT OF AGING, but also result from disruption of Circadian Rhythm, an “integrated hierarchy of biological clocks’ throughout organs, tissues & cells which feed a central clock in the human brain…strongly linked to the cycle of day/night and light/dark that control our core body temperature which drops as we sleep.” Certain medications and exposure to ‘blue light’ from cell phones & computers are the main disruptors, but jet-lag travel is the most directly impactful since “our bodies don’t recognize the change when we fly into new time zones, so core temperature during sleep continues to drop based on the time cycle of wherever we last were.”  Waking up before the full cycle then makes one feel groggy, as daylight is telling the brain we should be awake, but core temp is still in sleep mode. HOLIDAY TRAVEL TIPS: Experts say that jet lag symptoms can be mitigated by (1) keeping your sleep environment dark until completing the sleep cycle; (2) eating minimally during travel between time zones and immediately adhering to the new zone schedule; (3) staying hydrated drinking 8 glasses of water; (4) exercising muscles; (5) using melatonin supplements.   [LIFE EXTENSION]
  • BEGINNING AS EARLY AS A DOZEN YEARS FROM NOW, THE EARTH FACES A “RISK OF EXTREME drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.” According to the latest report from U.S. Global Change Research Program (a team of 13 federal agencies with help from 300 leading scientists), we’re on path to the ‘crucial threshold’ of reaching 2.7 degrees above pre-industrial heat levels by 2030, with average annual temperatures increasing 9 degrees by the end of this century. In this scenario, predicted impacts involve material “agriculture & shellfish reduction, wildfire destruction, loss of dependable & safe water supply, real estate and public infrastructure loss from rising sea levels & flooding, energy & power system failures, and permafrost thaw which amplifies the problem by releasing further carbon dioxide & methane.” Consensus of the experts remains that “this warming trend can only be explained by human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases… but, as of now, not a single G20 Country is meeting targets in reducing these levels.”  [CNN]
  • “THE DIGITAL MANIPULATION OF VIDEO MAY MAKE THE CURRENT ERA OF ‘FAKE NEWS’ SEEM QUAINT… With academic and commercial labs developing ever more sophisticated tools (algorithms that map facial expressions and mimic voices with precision), and social media having helped bring on a new era which enables individuated encounters with the news that confirm biases and sieve out contravening facts, …mass manipulation is the culmination of the internet’s history to date, and probably only a low-grade version of what’s to come: ‘infopocalypse’ …where our eyes routinely deceive us.  Put differently, we’re not so far from the collapse of ‘reality,’ as unedited video has acquired an outsize authority in our culture and the public has developed a blinding, irrational cynicism toward reporting & other material that the media have handled & processed – overreaction to a century of advertising, propaganda and hyperbolic TV news… Fabricated videos will create new and ‘understandable’ suspicions about everything we watch, ultimately destroying faith in our strongest remaining tether to the idea of common reality.”  [THE ATLANTIC]
  • “THE ACTIVE INGREDIENTS IN CANNABIS, THC and CBD, enhance the body’s anti-inflammatory network (the endocannabinoid system), minimizing pain and helping injuries heal.” Latest clinical trials by Scottsdale Research Institute are providing the basis for currently “working with football players to end the NFL’s band on weed.” [MEN’S HEALTH]
  • “THE FUTURE OF SECURE AUTHENTICATION IS VOICE PROFILING,” now close to supplanting DNA or fingerprinting as the key measure of what defines individuals. Research at Carnegie Mellon University has, using Artificial Intelligence, now “generated a 3-D image of a speaker’s face, simply by analyzing a voice recording… It turns out your voice picks up micro-signatures which offer hints – more than the human brain can conceive – about not only facial features, but also mood, social status, upbringing, age, ethnicity, weight, height and information about the environment around you.”  Beyond authentication, A.I. may facilitate voice technology which can tele-medically provide early identity of medical conditions. [FORTUNE]
  • AND THE FUTURE WILL SOON ALSO SEE A.I. TECHNOLOGY THAT “DETECTS DECEPTION FLAWLESSLY” based on image and facial recognition. Researchers at Univ. of Maryland have developed a system to “autonomously detect deception in courtroom trial videos… by classifying micro-expressions (such as ‘lips protruded’ or ‘eyebrow frown’) and by analyzing vocal patterns …significantly better than common people.”  [FUTURISM.COM]

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“Genius Trivia: Just in Case it Matters to You” is the work product of Dennis Duitch, author, poet, sculptor and musician. Presented by: www.duitchconsulting.com

Genius Trivia: Just In Case It Matters To You

by Dennis Duitch

  • WEED VS WINE’ IS THE NEWEST CALIFORNIA BATTLE, as winemakers’ “dominance of what is delightfully known as people’s Intoxication Budgets” is in jeopardy. Sonoma County is the first to have imposed restrictions on “who may grow weed and where,” attempting to forestall the 15% fall in alcohol consumption which other states have experienced, as “more women, baby boomers and high earners choose pot as a presumably more healthy substitute.” Marijuana dispensers are also aggressively utilizing the wine industry’s marketing techniques – like Tasting Week, 100-point rating systems, and publishing Weed Spectator magazine – as well as offering better-paid, year-round jobs on cannabis farms to recruit workers from seasonal grape harvesting. “On the principle ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,’ a marijuana-infused Sauvignon Blanc is also now available from one winery… and drinking, not smoking, may become the future of weed.” [THE ECONOMIST]
  • “THE POLITICAL CLIMATE AND ECONOMIC STAKES OF ANY AMNESTY LEGISLATION now impacts a population of roughly 22 million illegal migrants – twice the establishment estimate of 11 million” – according to latest analysis at Yale University and MIT. “This shocking estimate will force recalculation of the impact on wages & salaries, crime rates, welfare consumption, rental & real estate prices, productivity rates, and distribution of job-creating investment funds to coastal versus heartland states… It also undercuts demands for yet more legal immigration of foreign workers, consumers and renters.” [LBN EXAMINER] A HUGE FACTOR IS MACHINES, projected to replace over 50% of workplace tasks within the next seven years (versus 30% today), according to latest forecasts by World Economic Forum, with globally 75 million current jobs eliminated. While over 130 million new jobs will be generated, they will require “design or programming, critical thinking, and social intelligence – all of which are more resistant to automation” but which demand significant skillset training.  [TECHNOLOGY REVIEW]
  • FROM A HACKER’S PERSPECTIVE, “THE INTERNET IS STILL IN ITS WILD WEST PHASE, the era of highways before seatbelts & airbags… before someone comes along and says we’ve got to secure this somehow. ‘Spoofing’ internet addresses which lure surfers to fake websites to steal credentials and plant malware” is the hack-du-jour. Domain address expansion was the instigator – by combining words, dots & symbols relating to some 1,900 ‘top-level domain’ extensions (including .party, .beer,  .city, .shop, etc.) which can easily make an internet address look real. Beyond confusing-enough Cyrillic & Chinese alphabet characters, internet organizers have utilized characters covering 139 scripts, which look “visually the same down to the last screen pixel” while re-directing intended searches to bogus scam sites.  [THESTAR.COM]   Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to be the top country hosting domains that serve web-based threats (at last count, 252 compared to 139 from Russia) and also the main source for Exploitation Toolkits which cybercriminals use to distribute malware.   [BLEEPING COMPUTER]
  • CRYPTOCURRENCIES HAVE FALLEN FAR SHORT OF THEIR AMBITIOUS GOALS established by techno-anarchists: an online version of cash, a way for people to transact without the possibility of interference from malicious governments or banks… Economists define a currency as something that can be at once a medium of exchange, a store of value and a unit of account. Cryptocurrencies satisfy none of those criteria… With few uses to anchor their value – as users must wrestle with complicated software and give up all consumer protections they are used to, while few vendors accept it and security is poor – there is little reason to think that such ‘currencies’ will remain more than an over complicated, untrustworthy casino.” [THE ECONOMIST]
  • “THE MOST CELEBRATED FORM OF GOVERNANCE KNOWN TO THE WORLD IS DEMOCRACY, a system of, by, and for the people. Because of this personal construct, democracy is susceptible to the same human frailties that afflict us all – greed, prejudice, hubris, intellectual dishonesty, and moral weakness. Government, therefore, is only as sound and effective as the people who are empowered to run it at any given time and its fundamental imperfection. Sometimes, driven by these flaws of the human condition, Democracy can be trifled with by those who hold the reins of power and, despite carefully devised checks and balances, individual positions misused in ways unseen by the public, with systems unduly influenced in defiance of both the law and conscience.” For an honest, incredibly articulate & easy to read perspective on today’s challenge to our entire system of democracy – for anyone with an honest desire to comprehend the fiasco which has consumed the vast majority of public discourse and generated unprecedented distrust among Americans – read THE RUSSIA HOAX by Gregg Jarrett.
  • “TRADITIONAL RETIREMENT IS A THING OF THE PAST… With today’s high-pressure office jobs taking an unprecedented toll on health, millennials are increasingly trying to leave the work world by age 40.” The trend is now toward FIRE – Financial Independence, Retire Early, in several variations: LEANFIRE advocates are about extreme frugality; FATFIRE involves working as-long-as-necessary to end up allowing a ‘higher standard of living’; BARISTAFIRE folks leave their desk jobs early but continue to work part-time at Starbucks for health insurance coverage. The mantra, in all cases, is to avoid “lifestyle creep – the temptation to spend more money as income rises,” with a base model something like accumulation of a stockpile to cover four years living expenses in cash (enabling travel or whatever ‘retirement’ then means) plus at least $1 million invested effectively to cover the rest of their lives. The devil is always in the details: (a) prioritizing savings over consumption or obtaining material possessions in the early years, and (b) realistically forecasting life expectancy & living costs. Good luck kids.  [THE WEEK]
  • DEMENTIA CAN HIT AS EARLY AS AGE 30s. Signs include: (1) Frequent falling; (2) Staring or skipping lines while reading; (3) Eating nonfood objects or food which is rancid or spoiled; (4) Losing knowledge of what objects are used for (but not necessarily just forgetting words or names); (5) Losing of sense for social norms, like inappropriate interpersonal behavior or disregard for laws & rules; (6) Not recognizing sarcasm or lying by others; (7) Inability to read social cues; saying insulting or inappropriate things; losing empathy. A five-minute worthwhile video: https://biggeekdad.com/2016/08/7-early-signs-dementia
  • “21st CENTURY PROGRESSIVISM IS ALSO A RELIGION – a militant faith, a true church in nearly all important respects, a community of belief and shared values, with dogmas, heresies, sacraments and fanatics; with saints it revers and devils it abhors, starting with the great Satan Donald Trump. If religion were to disqualify a catholic from public service, it would logically have to disqualify a practicing progressive, who is the creature of a belief system that is, on the whole, considerably more dogmatic than the one with headquarters in Rome.”  [WALL STREET JRNL]
  • OVER-REACTING TO WORDS OR ACTIONS OF OTHERS is a human trait known as ‘Transference Reaction’ – when we attribute characteristics to people we don’t know well “automatically and without thinking… when they perform roles similar to those originally carried out by important people of our early years (such as family, teachers, doctors, celebrities and authority figures in general)… This happens because the human brain is wired for ‘pattern recognition’ and tries to make sense of what it sees/hears by fitting into familiar shapes, with previous experiences used as a shortcut for understanding and interpreting new information, effectively tricking us into assuming that a person will behave similarly to a previously experienced other.” Creating awareness of this, by reflecting on patterns of our behavior that have caused problems or resulted in poor judgement can help avoid those results and certain reduce the stress they can lead to.  [HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW]
  • PSYCHOLOGISTS & RESEARCHERS NOW ATTRIBUTE A GENERALLY HIGHER LEVEL OF HAPPINESS TO SENIORS over Middle-Agers in their 40s & 50s when pressures are greatest, suggesting that “in some ways, youth & middle years are really sort of a training period for the unanticipated pleasure of being an older adult… Life satisfaction appears to follow a U-shaped course, with twin peaks in childhood, when the world is one great theme park, and in older age, when Seniors have been on all the rides a thousand times and are perfectly content just to watch.” Their greater happiness level is attributed to (1) having developed the ability to “normalize crises (good and bad)” after experiencing so many which did eventually pass; (2) having become “Masters of Terror Management Theory,” reconciled to the reality that death will eventually come, so why waste energy worrying about when; and    (3) having attained “wisdom, which allows them to see the obvious, or to use common sense without second-guessing themselves or the outcomes.” [TIME]
  • “DAILY USE OF e-CIGARETTES CAN NEARLY DOUBLE THE ODDS OF A HEART ATTACK; when combined with dual use of conventional cigarettes (the most common use pattern among vapers), risk raises five-fold, compared to non-smokers.” A study of nearly 70,000 people by UC-San Francisco researchers concluded that the powerful dose of nicotine which vaping delivers more than offsets its benefit from lower levels of carcinogens, and that toxins link directly to risk from both cardiovascular and non-cancer lung diseases.  [SCIENCE DAILY]
  • STRATEGIC PLANNING IS NOT JUST A BUZZ-PHRASE, it’s the process by which businesses can address the array of challenges that lead to success or failure, whether intending to expand or just stabilize. The process effectively has three dimensions: (1) Clarifying a STRATEGY which articulates the consensus Vision of what owners ‘want to get to and look like’ at some time-targeted point, with explicit measurable Goals; (2) Developing an OPERATING PLAN which defines ‘what it will take to make that happen,’ with tangible Objectives – time lines, required people & financial resources – necessary to minimize risks and optimally execute the Strategy; (3) Implementing a BUSINESS PLAN which focuses on action steps to achieve the targeted levels of revenue/profitability/cash flow referenced to reality-based assumptions. STRATEGIC PLANNING is most effective when all important stakeholders have some voice in developing these elements – not just the C-Execs, but also key Managers, Advisors, sometimes Investors/Financiers and even key Clients.
  • OVER 2/3 OF U.S. PARENTS BELIEVE IN SPANKING UNRULY CHILDREN WHEN DISCIPLINE IS NECESSARY, and 19 states allow teachers to paddle misbehaving students. But the majority of research (based on review of 75 studies involving 160,000 kids) disagrees – contending “there is no evidence that spanking is associated with improved child behavior or helping them learn to regulate their own behavior… Other studies also suggest that young adults who were spanked are more likely to attempt suicide, drink heavily, use drugs, and are more prevalent to depression, antisocial behavior, aggression & negative relationships with family members.” While these studies and statistics neglect to address other critical factors – like sociological, geographical, environmental, or economic – which materially impact child-rearing, the “percentage of young middle-income mothers of kindergartners who endorse corporal punishment” has dropped more than 50% over the past three decades.  [WEB MD]
  • “THE WORLD IS FULL OF TALENTED PEOPLE WHO WILL NEVER FULFILL THEIR DESTINY because of a lack of consistency and/or focus, very often attributable to anxiety arising from pressure or stress… A few simple ‘anchoring’ steps can generally rivet attention to make a positive difference, by creating word/picture impressions in your brain which trigger ‘mindfulness.” Try: (1) Performing any physical gesture (e.g. circling thumb & forefinger) while closing your eyes and ‘relaxing’ by taking a few deep breaths thru the nose; then (2) Inwardly concentrating on how you will perform the upcoming activity, by silently telling yourself things like ‘I will ask appropriate questions/ listen well/ speak with confidence/ close assertively/ handle this matter/ place this golf shot/ etc. while remaining calm and relaxed throughout.” It works.   [DEVELOPMENTAL EXCELERATIONS]
  • ODDS & ENDS: (1) Facebook has removed 82 groups of accounts with over a million followers which represented themselves as U.S. or British citizens posting “liberal or progressive viewpoint, with inflammatory content on politically-charged topics (including race relations, immigration, Trump opposition & police violence)…then inserting messaging on Saudi & Israel which amplified the Iranian government’s narrative.” The ‘false flag’ accounts however were originating in Iran. [TECHNOLOGY]  (2) In Virtual Reality, food evidently tastes better on a farm, according to Cornell Univ. researchers who used VR headsets on “panelists tasting identical samples in a standard sensory both, a pleasant park bench, and a cow barn… Because food tastes differently in different surroundings, the VR process provides an immersive environment for cost-efficient studies.” [TELECRUNCH]   (3) The U.N. reports that four in every ten U.S. births are now to unmarried parents and 60% in European countries, and “the traditional progression of Western life has been reversed, due to changing societal & religious norms, as well as millions of childbearing-age women now in the workforce.” Meanwhile, rock-star Marilyn Manson now sells “a $125 dildo emblazoned with his face, noting that the paint is environmentally safe but may fade with multiple uses.”
  • “SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS IS RARELY ATTRACTIVE, AND EVEN MORE RARELY REWARDED.” Today’s Left Liberal agenda, according to national polling, is consistently losing voter support by “painting Conservatives as their intellectual and moral inferiors, deriding anyone concerned with illegal immigration as a Racist, or hesitant about transgenders using the ladies room as a Bigot.” Liberals take for granted that anyone who doesn’t automatically accept the rapid changes in cultural norms must be “backward and deplorable... Pressing a political view from the Oscar stage, declaring a conservative campus speaker unacceptable, flatly categorizing huge segments of the country as misguided – these reveal a tremendous intellectual and moral self-confidence that smacks of superiority. It’s one thing to police your own language but a very different one to police other people… Continuing to write-off nearly half the country as ‘irredeemable’ is provoking a cultural and political backlash.”   [NEW YORK TIMES]
  • BEING CYBERSECURE DURING FOREIGN TRAVEL IS INCREASINGLY TOUGH as mobile phones and computers can be stolen or hacked, and airport searches can put sensitive data at risk. Basic precautions start with avoiding Wi-Fi connections and any internet connection without a Virtual Private Network (VPN), as well as using a password manager without reusing passwords. A deeper level of protection “from being forced to hand over sensitive info at the border of many countries (particularly China, Russia, Brazil & Chile) involves taking a disposable prepaid phone and laptop wiped of all but essential information.” Other annoying but practical precautions include: using device encryption & access control; avoiding links solicited through text messages (especially ‘alerts’ and ‘urgent’ notifications); using privacy screen protectors; disabling all wireless services when not in use; and avoiding openly displaying company logos or other identifiers.  [FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT]

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“Genius Trivia: Just in Case it Matters to You” is the work product of Dennis Duitch, author, poet, sculptor and musician. Presented by: www.duitchconsulting.com

Genius Trivia: Just In Case It Matters To You

by Dennis Duitch

  • HACKERS CAN NOW USE FACEBOOK PICTURES, AS WELL AS PROFILES, TO GATHER INTEL for phishing or malware attacks. An open-source facial recognition tool, released as Social Mapper, can now track a person, by photo, across up to eight social media platforms and “create a report on the target including links to all profiles, photos and any emails associated with their accounts.”  [FUTURISM]
  • TIPS FOR GETTING BACK TO SLEEP AFTER NATURE’S URGE WAKEUP: (1) Do not even glance at the time, since attention “adds stress in release of fight-flight hormones”;  (2) Do not touch your smartphone, since the “blue light it emits can keep you up – especially if the screen is close to your eyes”;  (3) If still awake after 20 minutes, take a break from trying with anything that avoids thinking about sleep, like light reading or stretching;  (4) Try “deep circular breathing” while focusing on sights, smells & sounds of a relaxing place or activity;  (5) When all else fails, get a start on the day’s work which sometimes may put you right back to sleep.  [THE WEEK]
  • THE NEWEST AIR TRAVEL GIMMICK IS ‘SMART’ LUGGAGE. (1) Modobag doubles as an electric sit-down scooter, rideable along the corridors to terminal gates, after raising retractable handlebars with a thumb-tab to operate motor & brakes; battery & transmission take up a good portion of packing space and it weighs 20 pounds (half the allowance for carry-on bags) but it does fit overhead - www.youtube.com/watch?v=HazWCa3huMY ; (2) Travelmate is another: an “autonomous suitcase that follows you around like an unflaggingly faithful gundog” - www.youtube.com/watch?v=oT5mhcBba08     [ECONOMIST]
  • UNSURPRISINGLY, NEWEST RESEARCH FINDS THAT SPENDING MORE TIME IN NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS IS HEALTHIER. “Living close to nature and spending time outside has significant & wide-ranging health benefits,” according to global data involving 140 studies of nearly 300 million people in 20 countries. Populations living in Greenspace – “open, underdeveloped land with natural vegetation, as well as urban parks and street greenery” – have reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, pre-term birth and early death, along with reduced blood pressure, heart rate and stress. In Japan, it’s called ‘Forest bathing’ with improved health attributed to “using the senses to soak up the sights, smells & sounds of the natural world… and breathing in the compounds emitted by trees which may stimulate immune systems to reduce inflammation.” [SCIENCE DAILY]
  • A TRADITIONAL REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE COMPANY NOW OPERATES SOLELY ONLINE through a Virtual Campus with over 12,000 employees, contractors & agents spread out over 300 markets in the U.S. and Canada, where hiring, training, collaboration and administrative tasks are handled by avatars, without overhead costs or commuting to any physical location. eXp Realty is a NASDAQ traded company with over $1 billion capitalization who developed a sophisticated virtual world in three years, and “remain light years ahead of everyone in terms of leveraging virtual reality this way.”  [SINGULARITY HUB]
  • STUDENT LOAN DEBT, NOW AROUND $1.5 TRILLION, IS STAGGERING. While most loans are federally backed, low-interest, and can be stretched out twenty years after which loan-forgiveness generally applies, they are burdensome to graduates – most of whom do not obtain high-earning jobs. Above $31K, private loans are also available to students but at higher interest and without debt-forgiveness provisions. An alternative is now evolving at some universities working with investors to offer an ‘Income Share Agreement’ which acts as Equity rather than Debt,” with investors taking a share of the student’s future income stream. Obviously investors “will offer better terms to students at universities whose graduates earn well… but caps on repayment mean high-fliers do not end up paying back fortunes” and students will have better opportunity for cash flow in early years as their income level grows.  [THE ECONOMIST]
  • WORK MEETINGS ARE AMONG THE TOP ‘PRODUCTIVITY KILLERS,’ mostly from “too much communicating or socializing.” While team communication is critical to creativity, meetings often get “derailed and lose their focus due to even one overly chatty teammate.” Tips for better controlling a meeting: (1) Distribute an advance Outline/Agenda noting discussion items and meeting length; (2) Prioritize items and remind participants before each segment whether timing is on track; (3) Anticipate ‘triggers’ which typically usurp time – like participants who tend to elaborate on past experiences or ideas,– and guide them by acknowledging the value of what they may have to say, but noting that after-the-meeting will allow time to explore; (4) “Keep in mind that everyone has a different personality type and some may not even be aware they are overly chatty, so always avoid belittling them in front of the team.”  [U.S.NEWS & WORLD REPORT]
  • “ENGAGING IN ‘SUPERSTIOUS’ ACTS MAKES PEOPLE BELIEVE IN MYSTERIOUS FORCES RATHER THAN PROBABILITY (whether consciously or unconsciously), where outcomes are simply meant to be.” Research at Northwestern University found that superstition affects the way people think about risk and the odds of success or failure; that they “stop making rational deliberations about probability and, instead, believe that outcomes are predetermined… The simple act of crossing one’s fingers or clutching a rabbit’s foot keychain somehow flips ‘loss aversion’ on its head – i.e. that people will take significant risks to avoid losing money, but will not accept that risk in hope of receiving a windfall… But, while performing superstitious actions, people just look at the endpoints (gain or loss) without thinking about expectancy – fatalism at its finest.”  [INSIGHT.KELLOGG.NORTHWESTERN]
  • ‘BLOCKCHAIN’ IS STILL AN IMMATURE TECHNOLOGY but continues to attract billions of dollars in capital investment; IBM alone has funded over $200 million and hired over a thousand staff.  In simplest terms, the core advantages of Blockchain are “decentralization, cryptographic security, transparency and immutability… resulting from a database shared across a public or private computing network where each computer node holds a copy of the ledger, so there is no single point of failure. Every piece of info is mathematically encrypted and recorded with various consensus protocols required to validate a new block before it can be added to the chain of historical records, with automatic triggering when certain transactional conditions (i.e. dangers) are met. This prevents fraud or double spending without requiring 3rd party authority.”   [McKINSEY]
  • TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS US TO CONSUME FIVE TIMES MORE INFORMATION TODAY THAN A FEW DECADES AGO.  But, by spreading consumption habits too thinly and “letting the headline tides pull us along… we’ve become less productive learners.” Techniques for reversing that trend include: (1) Since filtering information that is irrelevant is critical in order to perceive, remember and make decisions about new info, reading and viewing needs to be focused on and limited to select topics; (2) Since it’s easiest to retain new information by associating it in a structured, repeatable way with what we already know, it should be put into ‘frameworks’ which act as the internal architecture for our brains; (3) then, by synthesizing the new info with your prior database, perspective is broadened, and solidified by reviewing the composite material and literally asking yourself ‘what are my key takeaways’ from this new information.”  [HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW]
  • FLAWLESS MANIPULATED VIDEOS – photorealistic superimposed faces, movements & voices – can now be translated into any altered video, by an artificial intelligence-powered system usable on any home computer, where it’s almost impossible to tell fake from real. Reality is that ‘deepfake’ videos are starting to be used for smearing politicians & political parties or shaming someone, and fears are growing that they could be used to “create international incidents by showing soldiers committing atrocities, or world leaders declaring war on another country and triggering an actual military response… It will only take a couple of big hoaxes to really convince the public that nothing is real… Soon we won’t be able to trust our own eyes.”  [THE WEEK]
  • ‘PSYCHOGRAPHICS’ IS WHAT THE CURRENT FACEBOOK CONFLICT IS ALL ABOUT. “Beyond demographic data like age/gender/race, its focus is on customer emotions/values/attitudes and other psychological factors… by using massive datasets which group people into psychological groups.  Referred to as the “dark arts of marketing, psychographics is at the cutting edge of digital marketing, and could transform how marketers influence decision-making.”  [CBINSIGHTS.COM]
  • “STRESS IS REALLY JUST OUR BODY’S RESPONSE TO A CHALLENGE and follows an ‘inverted U’ function: as pressure goes up, do does performance. But this is only to a certain point. Beyond that, greater pressure cause performance to drop.” So there’s a ‘sweet spot’ for stress: whereas chronic stress can lead to blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia and other health problems, the ‘right kind’ of stress, in the right circumstances, can be beneficial – by “secreting hormones of (1) adrenaline (which increases attention) and (2) cortisol (which mobilizes glucose for energy, stimulates the immune system, and enhances growth of neurons critical to learning & memory).”  Research studies at Stanford suggest that “attitude about stress can influence whether we experience it as manageable or noxious, and that emotional & biological response to stress is modifiable just by adjusting one’s mind-set about it… Other studies demonstrate that when people feel in control of a difficult situation – whether actually right about being in control or not – they were less impaired by stress.”  [NEW YORK TIMES]
  • “ON THE INTERNET, THE DEVIL’S IN THE DEFAULTS…but 95% of users are too busy or too confused to change them.” Examples of ‘set up’ defaults which don’t even get looked while giving away your rights include: (1) Facebook’s right to expose your friends list and all pages you follow; (2) Google’s right to save a map of everywhere you go and let marketers use your name in their Facebook ads; (3) Microsoft Windows 10 Cortana is allowed to gobble up your entire digital life; (4) Amazon’s Alexa records every word spoken in the room… Changing complicated Privacy Settings means less personalization from some services, but can curtail some of the creepy advertising and other stuff fueled by your data.” To get back control, steps are spelled out at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/06/01/hands-off-my-data-15-default-privacy-settings-you-should-change-right-now/?utm_term=.43bff2524184  to change your settings and regain some control.  [THE WASHINGTON POST]
  • WHY ARE CALIFORNIANS LEAVING THE STATE IN DROVES? The Wall St. Journal forecasts hundreds of thousands will move out over the next few years. “Reasons for the mass exodus include rising crime, the worst traffic in the western world, a growing homelessness epidemic, wildfires, earthquakes and crazy politicians that do some of the stupidest things imaginable.” Add unconscionable home prices; a continuing influx of illegal immigrants (who, thanks to Sanctuary State legislation, are provided with food, shelter, healthcare & drivers licenses); unfathomable regulations from dozens of overlapping agencies; and punitive income taxes that “eat away at disposable income.” Top three areas losing population are Silicon Valley, San Mateo & Los Angeles counties. Top out-of-state destinations are Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas & Washington.   [ZEROHEDGE.COM]
  • DESPITE ‘DO NOT CALL’ REGULATIONS, LITERALLY BILLIONS OF ROBOCALLS CONTINUE to plague landlines and wireless phones. The FTC has enforced actions against nearly 600 violators but abusive calls daily “harangue households with calls that are at best a nuisance and at worst threaten unsuspecting consumers with financial scams.” In April, legislators in both House and Senate introduced bills to hopefully curtail the problem by “requiring phone companies to provide effective technology that verifies accurate caller IDs and offer consumers free robocall-blocking… along with a ‘right of action’ against telecommunications companies for violations.”   [MANATT TCPA CONNECT]
  • WHEN CAN LAW ENFORCEMENT SEIZE & SEARCH YOUR MOBILE PHONE, TABLET OR PERSONAL COMPUTER? Laws are a little fuzzy among the states, but legal precedent generally holds that: (1) If you or, in your absence, an employer/spouse/roommate give consent. (But, even then, you are not required to provide passcodes or encryption keys under the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination); (2) In event a warrant has been issued, or if the “device is on and displaying something clearly illegal… or it looks like an imminent threat that evidence will be destroyed”; (3) When in an airport or crossing a border.  FYI, a $15,000 device which local and some federal enforcement agencies now possess (called GreyKey) can now crack open both password and fingerprint-protected iPhones.  [FUTURISM.COM]
  • AND THE FUTURE WILL SOON ALSO SEE A.I. TECHNOLOGY THAT “DETECTS DECEPTION FLAWLESSLY” based on image and facial recognition. Researchers at Univ. of Maryland have developed a system to “autonomously detect deception in courtroom trial videos… by classifying micro-expressions (such as ‘lips protruded’ or ‘eyebrow frown’) and by analyzing vocal patterns …significantly better than common people.”  [FUTURISM.COM]
  • VISION PROBLEMS ARE THE LATEST ‘SCREEN TIME’ DANGER FOR SCHOOL-AGE KIDS – not because of electronic screen emissions, but because kids who spend as little as four hours weekly indoors on screens, versus outdoors in sunlight, become near-sighted. “Almost 90% of 18-year olds in the U.S. and Europe now have Myopia, a condition which prevents light from focusing directly on the retina, making distant objects appear blurry.” AND NOISE POLLUTION IS ANOTHER INCREASING DANGER TO BOTH KIDS & ADULTS, “causing hearing loss, hypertension, insomnia, and inducing stress which can cascade into worsened immune systems, heart problems, increased anxiety and depression.” The danger level for human hearing (temporary or permanent) is prolonged exposure to anything over 85 decibels. The major contributors are diesel trucks (generating 90 decibels at 50 feet away), jet engines, construction sites, trains, loud traffic, rock concerts and boom boxes.  [THE WEEK]

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“Genius Trivia: Just in Case it Matters to You” is the work product of Dennis Duitch, author, poet, sculptor and musician. Presented by: www.duitchconsulting.com

Genius Trivia: Just In Case It Matters To You

by Dennis Duitch

  • BREATHING-IN THROUGH YOUR NOSE AND EXHALING THROUGH YOUR MOUTH GIVES “BETTER CONTROL and the ability to act more quickly than mouth breathing.” According to recent neuroscience research at Northwestern University, nasal inhaling increased ability to recognize faces, remember objects, and demonstrated that “the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the brain with dramatic difference related to emotional processing & memory.” Practical considerations hint that in pressured, dangerous or fearful situations (like public speaking, before & during negotiations, feeling overwhelmed with learning new stuff or meeting new people), mindful attention to nasal inhaling can be helpful.  [DEVELOPMENTAL EXCELERATIONS]
  • THE METAPHORICAL ‘DOOMSDAY CLOCK’ is ‘set’ by a Board of cybersecurity, environmental science & nuclear policy experts who “weigh existential threats to humanity, including war, pandemics and artificial intelligence.” They moved the Clock ahead 30 seconds last month and it’s now set at 2-minutes-to-midnite, “marking the closest humanity has (in their eyes) theoretically been to annihilation” since the testing of H-bombs in early 1950s. “The point is to get people talking about urgent issues facing humanity, whether rising oceans, killer robots or nuclear destruction, but reality is that our daily deluge of disturbing headlines” has numbed most Americans to a quick thought and then on to more immediate personal issues.  [THE WEEK]
  • LARGE OCEAN FISH, ESPECIALLY TUNA, CONTAIN HIGHER-THAN-AVERAGE AMOUNTS OF MERCURY – particularly dangerous to young children thru age 12 whose nervous system, brain, heart, kidney & lungs are susceptible to the harmful toxic effects. Canned or bagged ‘Chunk-light’ tuna is safest for tuna sandwiches since it’s usually Albacore or Skipjack variety which are smaller, faster-growing & shorter lived fish, with less accumulated mercury than blue-fin.   [MENS HEALTH]
  • “THE FUTURE OF SECURE AUTHENTICATION IS VOICE PROFILING,” now close to supplanting DNA or fingerprinting as the key measure of what defines individuals. Research at Carnegie Mellon University has, using Artificial Intelligence, now “generated a 3-D image of a speaker’s face, simply by analyzing a voice recording… It turns out your voice picks up micro-signatures which offer hints – more than the human brain can conceive – about not only facial features, but also mood, social status, upbringing, age, ethnicity, weight, height and information about the environment around you.”  Beyond authentication, A.I. may facilitate voice technology which can tele-medically provide early identity of medical conditions.  [FORTUNE]
  • “DESPITE YEARS OF SANCTIONS, INDICTMENTS, AND OTHER ATTEMPTS TO COMBAT HACKERS, attacks continue and experts warn it could be twenty years before the situation is under control… In the absence of a clear legal framework (as politicians try to wrap their heads around the concept of ‘The Cyber’) hackers and spy agencies are experimenting to see what they can & cannot get away with, creating a free-for-all online… The oft-forgotten reality is that all countries commit espionage (even against their own allies) to understand capabilities and intentions… Some are looking for trade secrets, some for weaknesses that could be used in future attacks, and others want to just stir up trouble… So making a clear distinction between what they consider standard (if unsavory) elements of ‘statecraft’ and those activities less acceptable (like industrial espionage, election meddling, destructive cyberattacks) has proven difficult. Hacking is cheap, easy, deniable, and everybody is doing it. No wonder it’s proving so hard to stamp out.”  [TECHREPUBLIC.COM]
  • AMERICA NOW POSSESSES THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL SUPERCOMPUTER. The ‘Summit,’ built by IBM, utilizes over 185 miles of fiber optic cables, two tennis-courts worth of floor space, and nearly 37,000 processors. It can perform 200 quadrillion calculations per second (that’s 200,000,000,000,000,000 or 200 Petaflops – roughly “a million times faster than a typical laptop, and nearly twice the peak performance of the next most powerful machine (in China).” The next milestone in large-scale computing is targeted by 2021, named ‘Aurora,’ which would multiply power five times, to 1000 petaflops.  [WIRED]
  • ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE HAS PROVEN 27% SUPERIOR TO HUMANS IN DETECTING CARDIAC ARREST by analyzing the words & voice tone which an emergency incident caller uses.  After researching over 150,000 recorded calls to test the algorithm, software correctly detected 93% of cases and made its determination a half-minute faster on average.  The Univ. of Copenhagen study (on audio archives “considered the best in medicine”) also concluded that “a patient’s 30-day survival rate triples when a dispatcher recognizes cardiac arrest during an emergency call.”  [BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK]
  • EYEGLASSES MAY SOON BE REDUNDANT. Israeli researchers have developed a process which, so far in animal testing, can repair corneas and other refractory problems to improve both short-sightedness and long-sightedness. Now in clinical tests, patients can use a smartphone app to “measure eye refraction and create a laser pattern which ‘stamps’ onto the corneal surface. A synthetic nanoparticle solution (Nanodrops) can then correct the vison problem.”  [JERUSALEM POST]
  • ADMINISTRATIVE POSITIONS AT COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES HAVE GROWN at 10 times the rate for tenured faculty. At Cal Poly Pomona, while full-time faculty increased by around 400 over three decades, the number of Administrators grew to a roughly 1-to-1 proportion with total students. The University of Michigan currently employs a ‘Diversity Staff’ alone of nearly 100, for which aggregate compensation/benefits exceeds $11 Million annually. “There are various reasons for surging education costs, but the primary one is expansion of administration, and particularly ‘diversicrats’ on today’s campuses.  [ZEROHEDGE]
  • SUMMER TRAVEL WARNING: BEWARE OF HOTEL POOLS.  In recent years, “nearly a third of disease outbreaks linked to recreational water facilities occurred in hotels/inns/lodges.” Around 60% were caused by the Crypto parasite – which can survive for days in even well-maintained pools & hot tubs and which, from just swallowing a mouthful of water, “can make otherwise healthy kids and adults sick for weeks with watery diarrhea stomach cramps, nausea & vomiting.” Another 30% were felled by bacteria responsible for hot tub rash, swimmers’ ear, or pneumonia. CDC advises showering before swimming. [THE WEEK]
  • IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL, MORE THAN 20 LOBBYISTS ARE REGISTERED FOR EVERY MEMBER OF CONGRESS, most deployed to “block anything that would tax, regulate or otherwise threaten a deep-pocketed client.” Money now dominates all activity so completely that elected officials “have been reduced to begging on the phone for campaign cash up to five hours a day, and spending their evenings taking checks at fundraisers organized by those swarming lobbyists.” The overriding impact is that the real polarization which has divided America is not so much political parties, but rather “the protected vs. the unprotected, the common good vs. maximizing and protecting the elite winners’ winnings… On one side are the few who don’t need government for much, and even have a stake in sabotaging its responsibility to all citizens… On the other are the many who look to government to preserve their way of life and maybe even improve it.” A fascinating article on how, over the past five decades, “the core values that make America great have instead brought it down.” http://time.com/5280446/baby-boomer-generation-america-steve-brill
  • IT’S BEEN A YEAR SINCE ‘WannaCry’ RANSOMWARE infected over 200K machines in 150 countries, bringing the global marketplace to a standstill and causing billions in damages. Since then, there have been over 175 million new attempted attacks as “nation-state developed hacking tools have become widespread, and as newest variations of ransomware have evolved to automated, self-learning ‘ransomswarm’ strategies which accelerate attacks to digital speeds.” While cyber-awareness has improved, poor security practices continue to plague companies who focus solely on deploying patches and updating antivirus programs but fail to “define how a ransomware infection will be contained & remediated, then actually implement that defense strategy… A ransomware attack should be a blip on the radar that wastes people’s time only to restore from backups, not a week long debacle of trying to restore service and deciding whether to pay the ransom or not.”  [THREATPOST.COM]
  • SURGICALLY EMBEDDED MICROCHIPS UNDER THE SKIN have become pretty mainstream in Sweden, with organized corporate-sponsored “Implant Parties for people to hook themselves up…The chips essentially act as a digital keychain” – unlocking doors to cars & offices, making credit card transactions, signing into the gym, buying train tickets, and of course allowing whomever/whenever to track the person (similar to chips veterinarians implant in dogs & cats in case they run away). “Near Field Communication (NFC) chips give corporations a fair amount of control over your activities, and ‘opting out’ is a lot more convoluted than leaving your wallet at home… also making your personal info far more vulnerable to hacking.” But technology moves forward irrespective of those type concerns, so get ready for personal microchipping.   [FUTURISM.COM]
  • SCIENCE FICTION FILMS CONTINUE TO FORECAST REALITY. “Predictive Policing and Surveillance Algorithms – a mini-version of ‘Minority Report’ – now serves Los Angeles, a dozen other California police & sheriff departments and Highway Patrol, along with numerous other U.S. cities & counties… Palantir-powered software “assigns people points based on past offenses, or even just having been stopped by (or in contact with) law enforcement, which determines who ‘ought’ to be monitored. Those targeted by the algorithm and flagged as people of interest can then face extra police surveillance for up to two years, just because they may be associated with or know of criminal activity – even if they haven’t done anything wrong ever, in their entire lives… The system model intakes ‘suspicious activity’ reports from across the many agencies and compares against each other plus all sorts of intel (including instant access to 911 call records) to identify patterns.”   [FUTURISM.COM]
  • VISION PROBLEMS ARE THE LATEST ‘SCREEN TIME’ DANGER FOR SCHOOL-AGE KIDS – not because of electronic screen emissions, but because kids who spend as little as four hours weekly indoors on screens, versus outdoors in sunlight, become near-sighted. “Almost 90% of 18-year olds in the U.S. and Europe now have Myopia, a condition which prevents light from focusing directly on the retina, making distant objects appear blurry.” AND NOISE POLLUTION IS ANOTHER INCREASING DANGER TO BOTH KIDS & ADULTS, “causing hearing loss, hypertension, insomnia, and inducing stress which can cascade into worsened immune systems, heart problems, increased anxiety and depression.” The danger level for human hearing (temporary or permanent) is prolonged exposure to anything over 85 decibels. The major contributors are diesel trucks (generating 90 decibels at 50 feet away), jet engines, construction sites, trains, loud traffic, rock concerts and boom boxes.  [THE WEEK]
  • THE POST-MILLENNIAL GENERATION – KIDS BORN AFTER 2000 BEST KNOWN AS ‘GEN Z’ – have grown up during a period of mass disruption, watching parents lose jobs & retirement savings, older siblings achieve college degrees but struggle for jobs to offset student debt, and technology consistently and rapidly displace itself to the point where old systems (business, political, even daily functional) are visibly failing. Recent research focusing on generational attitudes suggests that over three-in-four Gen Zers now believe getting a 4-year college degree “no longer makes economic sense,” and are instead looking to alternative educational programs “from apprenticeships to bootcamps.” Also known as App Generation and iGens, they have expectations of continuous diversity in work since, “accustomed to flitting between apps, they expect that going online will allow teaching themselves anything they want,” after which over 60% say they “plan to start their own businesses or work independently within five years.” Employers who fail to strategically plan for workplace continuity are at risk; let DCG help mitigate it.    [TIME]
  • ‘REVERSE’ MORTGAGES ARE BECOMING MORE FASHIONABLE FOR SENIORS 62 AND OLDER. These are loans against ‘equity’ in a home (excess of appraised market value over the loan) which requires no payments of interest or principal unless/until the borrower moves, sells the house, or passes away.  Proceeds (in the form of a credit line draw down) can be used for any purpose. Most are insured by the FHA, an agency of the U.S. Dep’t of Housing & Urban Development, up to a loan limit of $636,000 and protect the borrower from liability even if accumulated loan & interest balance is below value when sold. Some commercial lenders also offer ‘jumbo’ larger reverse mortgages for high value properties. Borrowers must simply remain current on property insurance, taxes and appropriate maintenance. Particularly for persons unconcerned with their home providing financial legacy to heirs, this can be a very viable retirement strategy.  [REVERSE MORTGAGE MAGAZINE]
  • OVER ONE-HALF OF AMERICAN EMPLOYEES ARE SEARCHING FOR NEW JOBS THIS YEAR and, according to numerous surveys, the priority for over a third of is about getting (1) Health insurance benefits, and (2) “appreciation for their work” – probably correlated to why most job searches on the internet and job-sites peak on Mondays before 11:am. Meanwhile, employers are instead focusing more on utilizing artificial intelligence to assess “soft skills.” Notwithstanding the number of workers still unemployed (and no longer part of the statistical labor-rate count), it appears that “with workers getting scarce, the fight for talent will dominate 2018.”  [CFO MAGAZINE]
  • “DEMOCRACY HAS ITS FLAWS.” Only a quarter of American adults could name all three branches of government, and one third couldn’t name any, according to a Univ. of Pennsylvania survey last year. The result, as so readily evident in election results, is that “voters apathetic or disengaged from public policy debates make poor electoral choices.” While the right to vote is generally denied to children and those judged mentally incompetent, arguments have been advanced for a more selective process, one being ‘weighted voting’ – in which “a ballot counts more or less depending on a voter’s qualifications, determined by a civics test or maybe by one’s profession or education…implicitly equating knowledge with good judgment, which experience tells us isn’t a sound equation… Democracy does have its flaws, but elitism isn’t the way to cure them… Conservative writer William F. Buckley once said: I’d rather entrust the U.S. government to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”  [BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK]
  • IT’S ESTIMATED THAT UP TO TWO-THIRDS OF BOTTLED WATERS ARE JUST TAP WATER, but costing two-thousand times greater. Calling water ‘purified’ simply means that some process (filtration, distillation, or reverse osmosis) has removed contaminants from the tap or spring. ‘Ionized’ means the water has also been exposed to an electrical current, which is one way to create ‘alkaline’ water with a PH level above neutral. ‘Vapor distilled’ is another label which means the water was boiled into steam then condensed back. Beyond the fact that some four billion pounds of plastic are used annually in packaging bottled water (requiring energy input equivalent to some 45 million barrels of oil), it turns out that tap water “comes with more safeguards, since the federal government requires more rigorous safety monitoring of municipal taps.”  [ECOWATCH.COM]
  • PLASTIC HAS BECOME THE LASTEST DIRECT HEALTH DANGER. Researchers at State University of New York studied water bottles from the U.S. and eight other countries to find that “93% were contaminated with microplastics – tiny pieces of plastic which get ingested” when we drink bottled water. Eleven different brands (including Aquafina, Dasani, Evian & Pelligrino) averaged ten plastic particles per liter which can accumulate in the body.  [BBC.COM and THE WEEK]
  • 89% OF AMERICANS STILL “BELIEVE IN GOD as a concept or being that is arguably more existentially important to individual human beings, and historically more momentous, than any other single word,” according to a Gallup poll.  [LBNElert.com]
  • THE MOST EFFECTIVE LEADERS CONSISTENTLY CONNECT WITH THEIR EMPLOYEES OR TEAM by positive actions which influence behavior to motivate performance. “Being a leader in people-centric work cultures differs drastically from managers in toxic workplaces who bark out demands and use century-old tactics like fear and negative reinforcement… In close teams and interpersonal interactions that build trust, authenticity wins out every time.” The most effective strategies have proven to be:  (1) Asking for and listening to advice from employees. Studies at Harvard & Wharton found that subordinates perceive those who do so as ‘more competent; (2) Acknowledging mistakes. Putting ego aside and admitting errors in judgement increases trust since people are generally turned off by others who seem ‘too perfect’; (3) Acknowledging others contributions. Recognizing deserved efforts & achievements “sends ripples of trust across the organization, when recognized as a cultural trait”; (4) Manifesting positive confidence. Top leaders let it be known that they are confident in team abilities and never thwart the possibility for accomplishment of challenges.  [INC MAGAZINE]
  • SIX HOURS OF DAILY STANDING BURNS ENOUGH CALORIES to lose 5½ pounds after one year and 22 pounds after three years, according to multiple Mayo Clinic studies with over 1,000 people. “Spending more time on your feet (perhaps at a standing desk) is also healthier than the well-established harmful effects of prolonged sitting.”  [THE WEEK]
  • THE POPULARITY OF FORTUNE TELLERS & TAROT CARD READERS has opened the door to ‘Demonic Activity’ and tripled the demand for Exorcism” by some 500,000 Italians each year. The Vatican has responded by offering additional courses for Priests enabling them to “purge people of the devil and possession.”  [LEVINE BRIEFING NOTES]
  • THE GLOBAL DRONE INDUSTRY IS EXPECTED TO GROW BY A FACTOR OF TEN OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS. According to the FAA, some 420,000 commercial drones will require as many remote pilots, while smaller hobbyist drones multiply to 3.5 million. Beyond delivery of online retail and possible U.S. Postal improvement, PricewaterhouseCoopers projects that “agricultural drones which assist farmers with crop surveillance & fertilizer application could be worth more than $32 billion; could save the insurance industry up to $7 billion by reducing costs related to data allocation, risk evaluation and battling fraud; and could spark the global infrastructure market in land surveys & asset inspections by as high as $45 billion.  [IMPACTLAB.NET]
  • ‘SERVICE ANIMALS’ ARE NECESSARY FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, but in the past few years there has been “a surge of animals brought on planes by passengers insisting they couldn’t fly without them – including pigs, monkeys, turkeys, snakes and untrained dogs. Delta alone flew 250,000 Service and ‘Emotional Support’ animals last year, “many unfit to sit in a passenger seat and which have disrupted flights by urinating & defecating, barking, biting, and fighting other support animals… People are abusing the accommodation to bring their pets aboard regardless of the discomfort to other passengers. What happened to decency? ...The credo of today’s culture fetishizes individual preference and expression over communal well-being – simply and shamelessly: I am the center of the universe. What I want is what I need, and who cares how it affects you?”  [THE WEEK]
  • THE “FUTURE OF ARTIFICAL INTELLIGENCE IS AUGMENTING HUMANS,” according to global government leaders who met this month with experts & innovators at the World Government Summit in Dubai. Top execs from organizations like World Bank, Int’l Monetary Fund, World Trade, World Health, UNESCO, World Economic Forum, & Human Longevity met managers from Microsoft, Amazon, IBM Watson, Facebook, etc. to discuss “the most immediate way that A.I. should be used to benefit humanity; the consensus was ‘augmenting humans.” Beyond brain implants that take humans to the next phase of evolution, wearable earpieces to translate language in real time, smart contact lenses to monitor glucose levels, an algorithm for predicting death, and the like, the objective is also for systems to “deliver humans from the seeming mundane systems of the present, to free us from hours of drudgery and allow us to truly spend our time on tasks we deem worthwhile.” Nice.  [FUTURISM.COM]
  • SAVING PASSWORDS ON YOUR COMPUTER BROWSER IS CONVENIENT BUT DANGEROUS. A new study from cyber-security experts at Princeton University found that ‘Password Management’ tools (on Safari and Google Chrome) which store and autofill website login data have security loopholes which both (1) enable hacker access to passwords which can be exploited; and (2) allow advertising firms to “steal information which is used to track user activity from website to website, gathering browsing habits in order to target advertisements.”    [DAILYMAIL.CO.UK]
  • SILICON VALLEY IS NO LONGER THE TOP TECHNOLOGY HUB IN THE WORLD. San Francisco now ranks third, behind Beijing and Berlin, based on “average software engineer salaries, how long it takes to get a business up & running, cost of living, growth index and startup output… The study shows how fast-moving and internationally-competitive the tech industry is.” Combined with Shanghai’s hub (which ranked sixth in the Expert Market study), Beijing’s fast consumer adoption rate and rapid business timelines, helped along by the government’s injection of $1.5 billion last year, have made China “home to leading tech companies including Google & Intel… playing a leading role in supercomputers and market influence in security products, messaging apps, ride-sharing services, electric cars and e-commerce… with an industrial incubation plan to improve its innovation ability in artificial intelligence.” [CHINADAILY.COM.CN]
  • AS AMERICAN CULTURE EVOLVES, SEXUAL ‘HARASSMENT’ IS A FAIRLY NEW PHENOMENON. It effectively began in 1980, when federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated that “unwelcome sexual advances which affected an individual’s work were grounds for a complaint.” Since then, according to EEOC, a “range of 25% to 85% of women have faced harassment at some point in their working lives,” and a recent YouGov poll supports culture change with statistics that young men 18 - 30 were double the percentage of men over age 64 who considered the following behavior (absent a “romantic partner” relationship) to be unacceptable: “Commenting on attractiveness; Placing a hand on her lower back; or Looking at breasts.” Expect the 24/7 headlines ‘outing’ abusers (by today’s standards) to be the ‘new norm’ and just tip of an iceberg. [THE ECONOMIST]
  • IMPOSTER SCAM CALLS INCREASE DAILY – on mobile as much as on landlines. Latest examples include claims of being from the IRS: “you owe back taxes and a warrant for your arrest will be issued if you don’t settle by this afternoon.” / POLICE: “We’re raising money for officers injured in the line of duty; how much will you be donating today?” / JURY DUTY CLERK: “I’m calling from the XYZ courthouse; you missed jury duty and unless we collect the $300 penalty today, a warrant will be automatically issued for your arrest” / BANK: We’ve uncovered a major data problem with your checking account; Please verify this info so we can confirm you haven’t been hacked.” / GENEOLOGY WEBSITE: “Our site has identified 14 matches in your family history; we can confirm and provide this info to you with just a few more pieces of info.” / MILITARY REP: “I’m from the VA to finalize the supplemental pay approved for your service group; we just need your bank for direct deposit.” [COACHELLA VALLEY WEEKLY]
  • ANY MOBILE PHONE CAN NOW BE BUGGED, TRACKED & HACKED from anywhere in the world. Your mobile device is essentially an open pocketbook & file cabinet to your life. How it’s done is the outgrowth of real world espionage and “potentially the weapon of our own destruction.” A 20-minute documentary shows how calls, texts & email data is being captured by commercial spies, crime rings and local hackers via the Electronic Signaling System SS7 – which covers 7 billion smartphones across 800 telephone companies – with an inexpensive piece of technology. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4tUx1W3zLc
  • MUSIC IS CONSIDERED BY MANY TO BE A UNIVERSAL LINK which provides “communication of simple ideas between people even when they have no language in common.” A recent Harvard University study played dozens of musical excerpts (under 15 seconds each) to 750 online volunteers from sixty countries who neither understood the lyrics nor were familiar with the music, but ranked the music by what they “thought the song’s function was” and how confident they were. Options were Dancing, Healing, Expressing Love, Storytelling, Soothing a Baby, or Mourning the Dead. Results were that “perceptions of a song’s function were generally in good agreement with its actual function.” It turns out that Hans Christian Andersen was right in the 18th century, that music indeed transcends cultural boundaries, with his poetic phrase “Where words fail, music speaks.” [THE ECONOMIST]
  • IF/WHEN STROKE VICTIMS CAN GET MEDICAL HELP WITHIN 3 HOURS, severe brain damage can usually be mitigated. An easy way to identify STRoke is by just asking the person three questions: S- smile or stick out your tongue; T- talk; R- raise both arms. If they have trouble with any one of these (particularly a non-crooked tongue), call emergency immediately.
  • FOR THE BITCOIN MANIA: “Very possibly an unprecedentedly dumb bubble built on ludicrous speculation… outpacing almost all the great bubbles of the past (except for the Dutch tulip mania of the 1630s).”  Along with lesser-branded competitors, Bitcoin is an ‘electric cryptocurrency’ which is ‘created’ by ‘miners’ all over the world who ‘verify’ and ‘approve’ transactions simultaneously on their computers, based on purportedly secure encryption, utilizing blockchain technology. In theory, cryptocurrency is a type of “digital gold which could be used as a hedge against inflation or trouble in the global economy,” as well as for privacy from regulatory and taxing authorities (once the domain predominantly of drug dealers and other criminal enterprises). “For now, the rise in Bitcoin seems divorced from any fundamental rationale.” [THE WEEK]
  • FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE:  AI will increasingly continue to transform the essence of human culture, with major adverse impact on jobs – replacing professionals, bankers, insurance agents & adjusters, researchers, taxi & truck drivers, instructors, designers & creative professionals to the point where intelligence and advanced training will no longer protect job stability. Robot-to-worker ratios (now 1.6 to 1 in America) will continue to rise, and robots will very soon be creeping into many other areas of our lives – serving meals, providing health care, policing, national defense, education, and even sexual services.  When computers can easily outthink and outperform us, a sort of learned helplessness is also likely to set in and the concept of ‘working’ altogether will continue losing relevance for more people.
  • TIME PRESSURE IS THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF STRESS which, besides impacting the efficiency and effectiveness of business productivity & profitability, can lead to anxiety disorders, headaches, upset stomachs, insomnia, high blood pressure, and behaviors (like drinking & smoking) that increase risks of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. DCG offers clients and contacts a courtesy lunchtime workshop in Time Management Techniques (“Work Smarter not Harder”) to help owners & employees alleviate stress and minimize these impacts.  Winter/Spring scheduling is now available.
  • INCREASING TEENAGE ANGST IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO “SMARTPHONE AND SOCIAL MEDIA OVERLOAD,” according to a longitudinal study of more than a million young Americans. Psychologists found that “playing games, using social media, texting and video-chatting were all associated with less happiness than adolescents who invested more time in real world, not-screen activities – such as playing sports, reading newspapers and face-t-face social interaction.”  [LEVINE BRIEFING NEWS]
  • COMING SOON: A CAR THAT WILL READ YOUR BRAIN WAVES was unveiled this month at the Consumer Electronics Show. The driver “wears a skullcap with electrodes that transmit brain-wave activity to influence the steering, acceleration and breaking systems. While the driver still turns the wheel or hits the gas pedal, the ‘brain-to-vehicle technology’ anticipates those movements and begins these actions up to ½ seconds sooner… The skullcap also can distinguish driver preferences & discomfort, so the car can adjust accordingly and switch back to manual.”   [THE WEEK]

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“Genius Trivia: Just in Case it Matters to You” is the work product of Dennis Duitch, author, poet, sculptor and musician. Presented by: www.duitchconsulting.com