2018 July 14 ~ Background to Tariff Wars
For some interesting background to Trump’s tariff wars, go to our Newsletters tab and look for the one entitled The Global Economy. It’s under the 2016 listings.
2018 July 07 ~ a Best Friend for Humanity
We could use some ‟best friends!” After all, our escalating environmental problems threaten to swamp us. Consider ~
Here’s where our best friend comes in.
Most of us think of trees as great for providing shade, edible fruits and nuts, and firewood. However, most of us have lost sight of a far more basic and essential service that trees provide to us. That’s because this far more basic and essential service is invisible to the naked eye.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. That’s the opposite of humans, who inhale oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Trees complement our ‟burning” cycle, just as we complement their ‟burning” cycle. Humans and trees dance together in a tight, circular symbiosis.
Let’s keep planting more trees ~ our friends. The more trees we plant, the more ‟best friends” we’ll have. Globally, here are many tree-planting efforts going on at the moment, but we simply can’t plant too many trees, given our environmental situation. We have to step up our tree planting efforts.
And, if we have to cut a tree down, let’s find a way to immediately plant more trees in its place.
Our survival may just as well depend on our coming into a tight harmony with the plant world.
Remember, trees ~ because of their various gifts to us ~ are ‟our very best friends.” Let’s plant as many of these ‟best friends” as we can, and as quickly as we can.
2018 June 30 ~ Does America Have a New Enemy?
And we thought that the two entities competing for top spot of America’s No. 1 Enemy were the pharmaceutical industry and free-floating big money. Now, out of a historic bulwark of American righteousness and decency we have a new competitor to the top spot.
A renowned and longstanding strategist of the Republican Party, Steve Schmidt, has declared that the Republican Party has become ~
▸ “corrupt, indecent and immoral”
▸ “filled with feckless cowards who disgrace and dishonor the legacies of the party’s greatest leaders”
▸ “has become a danger to our democracy and values.”
Wow ~ and that comes straight from the heart of the historic Republican Party itself.
Has the political party of Abraham Lincoln hit a new low?
2018 June 22 ~ Observing the Summer Solstice
It’s here ~ the longest day of the year officially marking the beginning of our Summer. Summer is the season when the plant world works so hard to create food for us to survive on during the long calendar year. It’s the miracle of photosynthesis. Plants, harnessing both the sun’s energy and the earth’s nutrients, create food for all ~ edible roots and tubers, tasty nuts and grains, delicious fruits and greens. There is so much that the plant world brings to our dinner tables!
We need to take a moment to remember how important the plant world is to our earthly survival, and to take better steps at being a good steward of the plant world.
Probably a good way to start being a good steward of the plant world would be to stop pouring industrial toxins into the environment. We humans are not the only life forms on this planet that appreciate a clean, breathable environment. So, too, does the plant world, the source of all food for all animal life on planet Earth.
Let’s be “Children of the Light,” and take good care of all the blessings that the radiant sunshine brings to our earthly home. That includes the world of living plants, and that plant world’s need for a toxic-free environment.
2018 June 14 ~ Update on Crypto-Currencies
On March 03 we blogged about the need to be ultra careful about getting involved with crypto-currencies.
Recently, billions of dollars held in various crypto-currencies were wiped out by a hacker.
Can you imagine your panic if you had been one of those investors!
Click here for the background article, and scroll down to read our original blog dated 2018 March 03 and entitled Beware those Crypto-Currencies.
2018 June 08 ~ The Most Lethal Virus on The Planet
A study has just come out from scientists that humanity ~ a very small portion of all the organic life on Earth ~ has wiped out most of the other organic life on Earth. And, this destructive practice is still ongoing, and it is accelerating and worsening.
The species homo-sapiens is coming across as a destructive and violent form of life. Not only is it lethal toward other forms of life, but it is even violent and destructive within itself, overwhelmingly characterized by violence and warfare between different human cultures and groups.
Humanity is probably the most lethal virus on the planet. From a planetary perspective, is this a species that Mother Earth would want to keep around?
The answer is self-evident.
If you had a private garden in your backyard, and in that precious garden you had a vicious organic life-form that was lethally destructive to everything that you tried to plant in that garden ~ well ~ what would you do?
2018 May 30 ~ Change Your Twitter Password
Recently, Twitter announced that more than 330 million users may have had their passwords compromised. The exposure lasted more than a month.
In our Let’s Schmooze newsletter entitled Primer On Internet Safety (under the 2018 listings), we recommend changing passwords on a quarterly or yearly basis, depending on how sensitive the locked data is ~
“Third, never use the same password on more than one account, and change passwords at least quarterly or yearly. Make sure that your passwords are a random mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Eight to thirteen characters would be great.”
Routinely change your passwords, and keep your data safe!
2018 May 21 ~ What’s Wrong With This Picture?
America is considered the most wealthy and advanced country on the face of this planet. It would be natural to expect that all of its citizens are thriving. However, we’re getting news like this ~
“Almost Half of US Families Can’t Afford Basics Like Rent and Food” (CNN)
“Tens of Thousands of Louisiana Residents Could Face Eviction” (CNN)
“Homelessness Is One of America’s Most Intractable Problems” (CS Monitor)
What’s wrong with this picture? America’s wealth needs to be more equitably distributed among its citizens. Right now, America’s poor are so destitute that they have no reason to remain supportive of America’s way of doing things.
A few centuries ago, when the poor in French became so destitute that they felt that they no longer had anything to lose, they toppled the economic system ~ the French Revolution. Heads rolled and the blood flowed.
Let’s hope that we have learned from that experience, and that we don’t have to repeat it! It’s all right to be relatively wealthy, but not if we standing on those who are hopelessly mired in abject poverty.
The foundation of a lasting culture and society is better far better built on compassion than on greed.
2018 May 12 ~ Greenwash ~ the Flip-Side of Sustainability
Many things in life seem to be like a double-edged sword that can cut for good, or for bad. The popular concept sustainability has its own dark side ~ the perilous behavior becoming known as greenwash.
Greenwash is basically lip-service to sustainability ~ a well-publicized pledge to clean up Earth’s environments without any real follow-up action to do exactly that. It is a profound example of “fake news” ~ ergo, announcements that sound good, but that have no real substance or truth to them.
We’ve talked about this a number of times ~
In our Let’s Schmooze newsletter entitled Global Trends To Watch, we noted that “Members of this species tend to have the tendency of saying one thing and actually doing the opposite. This could be a detrimental species characteristic if this tendency becomes an obstacle to psychological commitment manifesting itself in physical action."
In our blog entitled popular word of the day ~ Sustainability, we noted that “There seems to be an abysmal gap between saying and doing. Think of all the lip service we've heard in the press from governments and big business regarding their trumpeted determination to help clean up the environment. This is where the fat should hit the fire. But it doesn't. There's very little sizzle out there. Getting government and big business to pledge action is not enough. That's just a warm-fuzzy publicity stunt for public consumption. If promises aren't followed by action, then the promises are hollow."
In our blog entitled The Paris Climate Deal ~ Time to Measure Actual Performance, we noted that “If we're not careful, this could lead to a tragedy of the commons again ~ this time on a global level. Everyone pledges with a manufactured smile for the photo shoot, but then sneaks back home and cheats on the other pledges in order to gain an individual advantage. The problem is that if everyone sneaks back home and cheats ~ assuming that all the other pledges are complying ~ then everyone ends up cheating and no one actually acts on the pledge.”
Now we have a word for deceitful pledges regarding sustainability ~ greenwash.
Let’s not be fooled by greenwash. Let’s be ever alert to sustainability pledges that are not followed up with some real, substantial action.
Let’s demand some real "sustainable" action!
2018 May 07 ~ Miracles Do Still Happen
The Transcendent is still very active in our lives. The life testimony of young Trenton McKinley is indisputable evidence of that. Even his doctors attribute his resurrection experience to the direct intervention of God.
If God intervenes in a single life, perhaps He will help us save Mother Earth from our follies. Our environment is dying, and any possible human interventions will probably be too little and too late.
Perhaps God will be there for us as He was for Trenton.
Click here to read the source article for yourself. When reading it ourselves, we were profoundly moved.
There’s hope, as long as we listen to God at least as much as we think for ourselves. Let’s give God a chance. Our own thoughts and machinations have brought us face-to-face with the distinct possibility of self-extinction.
It wouldn’t hurt to quickly welcome some extra help into our lives.
2018 April 28 ~ don’t juice it ~ Just Eat It Instead
Day after day, we are bombarded with incessant advertising messages encouraging us to buy all these “miraculous” fruit and vegetable juices “loaded” with “live-giving” vitamins and minerals. It’s like good old-fashioned snake oil. “Drink our juice and everything in your live will be transformed for the better.”
Better take a better look at that juice ~ uh, modern-day snake oil. It’s usually saturated with added sugars calculated to make the juice taste good to the taste buds, and to have you coming back begging for more. Be careful! Refined sugars in our modern culture are tantamount to a drug habit, and they cause as much trouble as any addictive drug out there. Just look at the overweight and diabetic problems pervasive to our sugar-loving societies.
Here’s a better idea. Skip the juice, and simply eat the source fruit or vegetable. Example. Instead of drinking orange juice, eat the meat of the orange itself. After all, most of the good stuff, like antioxidants and bioflavonoids, is in the connective and protective tissues, and not necessarily in the juice itself. When we drink processed or squeezed orange juice, all we are getting is the liquid content of the orange. However, when we eat the meat of the orange, we get all the extra good stuff that is in the fibrous content.
Processed juices may be convenient in a fast-paced society, but they are eventually lethal. However inconvenient, dealing directly with the source fruit or vegetable is far healthier.
Perhaps we should slow down a bit, put convenience of the moment aside, and consume food in more natural ways.
2018 April 22 ~ Viewing Earth Day thru Thanksgiving Day
Today is Earth Day ~ devoted to protecting the environmental health of our Mother Earth. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to view it as another form of Thanksgiving Day, and remembering all the blessings that Mother Earth showers upon us?
Earth is our home ~ in every sense of the word. It provides us with both life and protection for our existence, and the existence of countless other species. Our planet Earth is a “Mother” in every sense of the word, both literally and figuratively.
Due to our rapacious attitude toward Mother Earth, we are well on the way to losing that special parentage.
Let’s replace our exploitative attitudewith an attitude of true thanksgiving. It might give us a few extra days before we “extinct” ourselves.
2018 April 18 ~ Fighting Plastic Pollution ~ More Good News
In addition to using mealworms (see our blog below dated 2018 April 07), scientists may have found a way to use an enzyme (catalytic protein) to eat and break down plastic.
It’s important. Roughly 300 million tons of plastic is produced annually. Most of it ends up in trash dumps and in our oceans. Some experts predict that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by the year 2050. That’s not good.
If we pull way back on plastic production, and utilize mealworms, enzymes and bacteria to destroy the plastics already out there, maybe we can turn a bad situation around.
It’s worth a try. For the source article on this new enzyme approach, click here.
2018 April 07 ~ Worms to The Rescue
If it wasn’t for the ordinary mealworm, we might be in danger of perishing from what is currently referred to as plastic particle water pollution. It’s a serious threat. We are a plastic society, and we are starting to drown in all of our beloved plastics.
A recent plastic threat is coming from micro-beads. These little jewels, usually made of some sort of polyethylene, are about one millimeter in diameter. They are great in cosmetics and other personal care-type products, because when they are dropped into the production mix they have a somewhat ball-bearing effect on the final product, introducing a silky texture together with easy spreadability. That’s what make all our personal care products so much fun to use ~ they flow so very easily when we use them.
However, these little jewels are causing us some grief. When washed down the sink, or flushed down our toilets, they pass right thru our sewer filtration plants and enter into our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans ~ by the zillions. They get into everything they touch. It’s not only discarded plastic bags and plastic water bottles that are befouling our environment. It’s also all these uncountable micro-beads. Unfortunately, they appear to have a very slow decomposition rate. Governments are starting to ban them, and some corporations are pledging to phase the use of micro-beads out of their industrial processes.
But ~ blessed be the Heavens ~ there is hope from a rather unexpected source ~ the lowly mealworm. In larva form, these mealworms are historically known to feed on stored grains (hence their name mealworms) and are often used in scientific research. The good news is that they have a great appetite for plastics, and digest them into biologically safe feces. And, they proliferate fast, reproducing themselves by a factor of 500 in just a week or two. The mealworm just might be the answer to our growing plastic pollution problem.
Isn’t it amazing ~ just to think of it ~ that we might be saved from our plastic nightmare by ever-so-lowly a humble worm? It's parallel to maggots being the saving grace to a number of gravely ill patients in today's ultra-modern medical world. Again, saved by a lowly, humble worm, or maggot.
Little squirmy things can be of great value. They can save lives, whether it is just an individual lying seriously ill in a hospital bed, or an entire world at risk of drowning in plastic pollution.
Let’s not forget that. Let’s appreciate the little squirmy things in life.
2018 March 31 ~ Renewable Energy Is Getting More Popular With the Big Dogs
And ~ that’s a great thing to see! Earlier, we blogged about how corporations and consumers are coming together to contain a misguided federal government. What’s happening in renewable energy is a good example of this ongoing and increasing cooperation between the business world and the people world.
Large corporations are signing PPAs (power purchase agreements) committing themselves to purchase large amounts of clean, renewable energy over the long term ~
These are only some of the better-known corporations. There are so many more companies on this list. Most of the Fortune 500 companies are seriously committing to the goal of sourcing their power needs to clean, renewable energy.
This developing trend renews our faith ~ that, given the will ~ humanity may still have the ability to turn things around ~ if it’s not already too late. Our environmental situation is post-critical. Time may have already closed the window of opportunity for productive change. It will be touch-and-go for a while.
Perhaps we really need to mean it when we say ~ In God We Trust. However, it would help if we asked for God's help with clean hands. If we approach God with dirty hands, we might just be turned away and told to come back after we had washed our hands.
We do that to our own young-uns!
2018 March 24 ~ the Spring Equinox . . .
. . . has again brought to us the annual renewal of life. It’s an ageless gift brought to us by Mother Nature herself. With flowers blossoming and birds singing, we rest in the sure knowledge that the long, cold winter is over, and that life will reassert itself.
However, today many species ~ both plant and animal ~ are on the verge of becoming extinct. There is no renewal of life for them. Life for their species is coming to an end.
It’s something to think about. Many of these species extinction events are occasioned by either (1) humanity’s encroaching on natural ecologies, or (2) humanity’s industrial poisons being poured into the environment. While we enjoy the renewal of life every Spring, we are causing many species to lose that blessing.
Things come around full circle ~ eventually. If we’re not careful, we might find ourselves riding that extinction train. The foundations of our existence are as delicate as those of any other species, and we may be shooting ourselves in our proverbial foot.
It is entirely possible ~ that if we shed our predatory instincts and ways, and replace them with the values and goals of a caretaker ~ then we might be allowed to remain here on this planet a bit longer.
To think that Mother Nature is mindless would be a gross mistake. It’s rote military wisdom that in human warfare, underestimating one’s opponent can be lethal.
Let’s be on the winning side of this conundrum. Let’s work with Mother Nature instead of mindlessly exploiting her ~ until we’re extinct.
2018 March 17 ~ Strange Bedfellows, indeed!
Historically, in capitalistic America, corporations have colluded with governments to skin the little guy. Now, all of a sudden, corporations are colluding with the little guy to try to rein in out-of-control governments.
That’s quite a change! Whoever imagined that corporations and consumers would become unusual bedfellows in a capitalistic regime?
The issues are manifold ~
~ you name it, the controversies are unending.
And, increasingly ~ corporations eager to sell their products to the consumer base in extremely competitive markets ~ well, these eager-beaver corporations are tumbling head-over-heels lining up with consumer interests instead of the usual corporate or governmental interests ~ to get those sales, of course!
Because, consumers are increasingly “voting” for public policy with their dollars, and not just their votes. After all, the dollars in our pockets are as important ~ if not far more important ~ than our political votes ~ and we spend them much more often. We powerfully vote with our dollars when we take the time to be selective about whom we buy from.
As consumers we literally carve out a brand-new world more to our liking when we are fussy and exacting about who gets our business ~ and our consumer dollars in the process. That power in our wallets is dynamite. Every time we spend a dollar, we are ~ in a very direct economic sense ~ voting in a supportive way for the company that we are doing business with.
Let’s continue to take the time and thought to make our “dollar” votes really count, and watch out what companies we are “voting” for with our purchases. Our newsletter entitled Finding Good Companies can help us do that. Just go to the Newsletters tab to find it. It’s under the 2017 listings.
2018 March 10 ~ We’re Making Good Progress on Battery Technology
And ~ that’s great news. Fossil fuel and nuclear power plants do indeed provide us with stable, predictable electricity, but they have awful environmental consequences. With advancing battery technology, we will be increasingly able to stabilize and utilize the unstable, unpredictable electricity generated by those sweet, clean, renewable sources ~ such as sunshine, winds, tides, and geothermal.
Progress in battery technology has been made on four different fronts ~ capacity, charging, safety, and environment.
In battery capacity, research is being conducted on increasing capacities using nano-technology. If successful, the current capacity of lithium-ion batteries may be increased as much as tenfold.
For battery charging, efforts are being made to shorten the time necessary to recharge a battery. However, fast charging leads to a safety issue.
Battery safety becomes at risk. Numerous media reports have documented the increased incidences of batteries catching fire or exploding, causing damage both to the device and the user. Efforts to keep batteries cool are being made in both internal and external engineering.
Battery environments are becoming greener. Tesla has huge lithium-ion battery packs installed in different parts of the world enabling local electric utility systems to take better advantage of renewable power sources. Scientists at research universities (RMIT) are making efforts to replace lithium with a dynamic mixture of carbon and water, significantly lessening costs and enhancing battery safety.
Ergo, humanity is making meaningful progress in greening electricity generation and usage with advanced technologies. That will greatly help us save Earth from our industrial excesses.
2018 March 03 ~ Beware those Crypto-Currencies
People investing in private, digital money schemes are getting wiped out of millions of dollars. Recently about 600 powerful computers with a street value of two million dollars were stolen. These computers can be used to churn out lots of untraceable digital money, like Bitcoin, the first crypto-currency started up on 2009.
By the way, crypto-currencies are simply digital monies nonchalantly created out of the thin internet air by private parties. There are no government or big bank guarantees behind them. When consumers get wiped out, there are no regulatory agencies to step in and say, “Whoa, that’s not right!”
Crypto-currencies are the Wild West in private money creation, and anything goes. They’ve been equated to a fad, public mania, pyramid scheme, economic bubble, and to ponzi schemes. They’re great for private parties who want to evade taxes or launder money. Crypto-currencies are a high risk investment, like the aggressively marketed sub-prime loans that melted down national economies in 2007 ~ the notorious Great Recession.
Keep your money safe. Quick money schemes usually turn out to be quick “lose” schemes targeted at greedy and want-to-believe parties. We talked about this in our Newsletter entitled Thrifty Investments (under the 2008-2015 listings).
Be careful. Serious money should be handled seriously!
2018 February 24 ~ Here’s Some Good News Worth Celebrating
It appears that in just a few years usable energy from renewable sources will be cheaper than energy derived from fossil fuels. We may have our Asian neighbor, China, to thank for that.
China has driven the cost of electricity from $043 per watt down to just $0.30 per watt. That makes things interesting.
Why? Burning fossil fuels furthers the toxic contamination of our environment, whereas renewables are breathtakingly clean. It only makes sense to use renewables. The sunshine falling on our planet, the winds circling our globe, the tides in our oceans, and geothermals ~ all are free for the taking. One only has to tap these free energies.
Maybe ~ just maybe ~ in a few years, as we gear over to renewables, our environments will start clearing up. Hopefully, it won’t be too late to turn things around. We’re cliff-hanging off the edge right now.
Click here for the source article.
2018 February 17 ~ Internet Safety Update
As a number of you have requested, we’ve coalesced our writings on internet safety into an updated newsletter, including an integrated index to the relevant blog entries. Go to the newsletters tab, and look for the entry entitled Primer on Internet Safety in the 2018 listings.
2018 February 10 ~ a Primer on Viruses
Did you know that viruses are the most abundant form of organic life here on our planet Earth? Did you also know that viruses swirl around our globe on countless atmospheric currents, raining down in wild abandon on everybody and everything?
Antibiotics (antibacterials) won’t help ~ they’re for fighting bacteria. Viruses can only be fought by the host’s immunity system. That fight is sometimes successful, and sometimes not successful.
The best way to fight a looming virus threat is by being pre-vaccinated by a really small dose of the virulent virus, so that the body can build up an immunity to a larger infection by successfully fighting the smaller dose that was deliberately given earlier. Of course, since viruses like to mutate all the time, vaccination is only partially effective.
So, what is this little nasty that we call a virus? It’s simply a small snippet of genetic material, either of the DNA or RNA persuasion. It propagates by copying itself inside the living cells of its unwilling host, like our human bodies. It is not a form of bacteria, since a bacterium is a whole cell, while a virus is only genetic material. On the average, a virus is much smaller than the size of a bacterium ~ you could fit a hundred viruses inside one bacterium. A virus can affect any time of organic material, with transmission by either air, liquid, or solid.
What’s could be its purpose for existence, outside of bedeviling our own lives? Perhaps, it exists to provide for ongoing genetic diversity across all life forms on Earth ~ by injecting random genetic code into various living organisms. Who knows? Perhaps viruses are the “grease” that keeps the wheels of Darwin’s evolution from burning out. Of course, cosmic radiation in the upper atmosphere could also be playing a part here.
Go to our blog below for an approach to wrestling with the flu virus that is running rampant around the globe right now. If we have to continue dealing with these nasties, we may as well deal with them intelligently.
2018 February 02 ~ Some Good Reasons to Take the Flu Seriously
A great write-up by Ashley Halsey III at The Washington Post illuminates why we should take the flu seriously. It is probably one of the leading causes of human fatalities, ranking akin to the notorious Black Plague that ran rampant centuries ago, and killed countless millions.
Our best recommendation? Get the flu shot year after year, so that over time the body builds up an immunity to various mutations and types of flu viruses. That might help a bit for what’s coming next.
If you think you might be coming down with the flu, go see your doctor, fast. Although viruses are not susceptible to antibiotics, the antibiotic that your doctor prescribes for you just might help you with another illness trying to sneak aboard under the umbrella of the flu virus itself.
Pull out all the stops in protecting yourself and those around you. It can be a matter of life and death
2018 January 27 ~ Let's Bring That Computer Speed Back Up!
The Meltdown & Spectre kernel disasters have slowed a lot of computers down (see our Jan. 06 blog below). We were hit today. However, fortunately, it’s not a hopeless cause.
Disabling the unnecessary Superfetch algorithm will help to speed things back up. Superfetch was designed into Windows to get it to load software applications super fast, but with Meltdown & Spectre still floating around in all of our core processors, Superfetch has turned tail and become a leading cause of computer slowdowns.
If you have trouble disabling Superfetch, just go to the Contact tab & send us an e-mail. We’ll be glad to guide you thru the rather quick routine.
For years, thru its numerous upgrades, Microsoft has inserted various algorithms into its core operating systems in an attempt to get Windows to load quickly ~ you know, people are notoriously impatient ~ they don’t want to wait for anything! However, the bottom line is that the Meltdown & Spectre CPU flaws have ~ in a round-about way ~ caused these well-intentioned speed-up algorithms to backfire and actually slow a computer down by constantly over-accessing the hard drive.
We’re going to have to find and disable these well-intentioned speed-up algorithms one-by-one to get our computers back up to speed. Superfetch is a good one to start with.
We’ll have to do this until the Meltdown & Spectre kernel flaws are permanently re-engineered. That could take a while. When the CPU chips were originally engineered, the circuits that hold the Meltdown & Spectre flaws ended up deep in the chip design.
It’s going to take some serious re-engineering to get rid of these flaws. That takes time. In the meantime, we’re going to have to constantly tweak our precious Windows 10 operating system to keep it running down the road at more than a crawl.
2018 January 20 ~ Get Ready to Kiss Your Chocolate Goodie “good-by”
Experts are warning that chocolate may disappear from our stores in about 30 years. The cause? You guessed it ~ global climate warming!
Whether it’s bakers’ chocolate or milk chocolate, we’ll all miss it. Natives of Middle America were using it more than 5,000 years ago as a hot drink, and ever since Christopher Columbus brought those cacao beans back to Western Europe, chocolate has become a hugely popular flavor all over the globe.
Most of today’s cacao beans are grown in West Africa by mom-and-pop farmers who are ill-equipped to adapt to the effects of climate warming ~ in their case ~ decreasing moisture in the soil. Genetic modification may hold out some hope, but the taste we are so fond of might be lost with the genetic tampering.
Today’s cacao bean, naturally bitter, is fermented, roasted and ground before served up to the consumer, usually flavored with sugar and milk solids to make it more tasty. It’s impossibly good. There are so many chocolate aficionados out there it would be impossible to count them. What’s a candy counter without chocolate temptations?
It’s a 50 billion-a-year global business, and within a few years we will be approaching a chocolate deficit of more than 100,000 tons a year. Prices should start soaring shortly.
Better enjoy it while it’s around. Click here for more.
2018 January 13 ~ Our Oceans Have C-O-P-D
That’s right ~ you name it ~ bronchitis, emphysema, asthma. Our oceans’ condition is so bad it would be as if each of us was only operating on one lung. That means shallow breathing, fatigue, and the inability to perform hard or sustained tasks. Our bodies would be slowly dying from the lack of adequate oxygen.
Since the majority of Earth’s oxygen comes from the ocean, this is a real threat to our sustained existence on our home planet. For too long we have been dumping garbage, sewerage and toxins into our oceans as if they were bottomless pits.
That’s where we went wrong. With nearly seven billion humans constantly dumping into the oceans, even though they cover more than two thirds of our planet’s surface, we have reached the bottom. We now can find our pollution at the deepest bottom of the oceans, the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific, more than 36,000 feet (11,000 meters) down.
We need to start respecting our oceans, and immediately become devoted guardians of their health. Otherwise, when we have “extinct’ed” ourselves, we’ll be gone, but it will be the oceans that will still be here, slowly healing themselves once humanity is long gone from Earth.
Let’s not do that. Let’s start practicing some real, “practical” thrift. A good way to start ~ let’s start minimizing our garbage, sewerage, and industrial toxins.
Click here for an interesting source article.
For further intra-website reading on practical thrift, go to the Newsletters tab and read the articles entitled Thrifty Investments, Kind Investments, and Kind Lifestyles, all in the 2008-2015 listings.
2018 January 06 ~ Major IT Alert ~ Meltdown & Spectre kernel flaws
It seems that all of us have been running compromised hardware for the past 20 years, due to a newly discovered engineering flaw in the ever-popular Intel computing chip. It has to do with the Meltdown and Spectre processor flaws in the kernel core. They are serious chip-technology flaws that can compromise just about everything on your electronic device.
Ultimately hardware itself may have to be replaced. But, in the meantime, all of the major players are rushing out software fixes that will do fine, although for some high-end users like gamers processor speeds might appear a bit slower. For most of us, we will not notice any speed difference.
Be sure to keep your operating and malware software up-to-date. That’s always been good advice, and it is especially important in light of the Meltdown and Spectre discoveries.
2017 December 30 ~ Is Our Air Really That Nasty?
Absolutely! And now, according to Reuters, it’s so bad that the Northeast states in the United States are suing the EPA over air pollution coming in from the nearby Midwest states.
An increasing number of news reports indicate that, because of polluted air, global warming is really, really making people sick. Millions of people are actually dying from contaminated air. These news reports forecast that the situation is only going to get worse.
The air we breathe will get nastier, the food we eat will become more dangerous, and the water we drink and use will become more polluted. Life-threatening diseases will get worse. Allergy seasons will come ~ but not go. Heat waves will become more lethal. All of these forecasts are allegedly due to global warming. Asthma from breathing dirty air will become a far more common complaint, and send many more people to emergency rooms.
The picture is ugly. As a first step, we probably need to be more aware of how our local air is affecting our own health. There’s a web site that does that, and we’ve entered it at the end of this blog. You just have to put in your zip code.
Awareness is the first step to recognizing a problem, and then finding a solution. We all need to become more aware and more sensitive to these environmental issues, and how they are affecting our health and the health of our loved ones.
How’s the air quality in your neck of the woods? How about your loved ones?
To find local air qualities, click here
2017 December 23 ~ Reflecting during the Winter Solstice
The crops are in, and we are now approaching the depth of winter. The next Spring Equinox, which marks the time when we replant our fields, is still a few months away. Winter is a time of rest and reflection, and a time when we can relax and enjoy the comfort of our labors during the year. Winter starts with the Winter Solstice, the time when the day is the shortest, and the night the longest. Winter ends when the Spring Equinox comes in March.
In the Spring we planted, in the Summer we carefully tended our fields, and in the Autumn we reaped. It is during the Winter that we have the leisure to reflect on our past toils, and to reflect on the renewed toils to come with the next Spring. During the Winter, as the land rests, we too need to rest, and also reflect.
In fact, let’s reflect together a bit. A lot has happened during this year 2017. Perhaps the most momentous event was what happened in America during January, 11 months ago. There was an upending of an old order (Democrats), and the rushing in of a new activism (Republicans). The new Republican administration was sworn in on January 20th, roughly a month after the Winter Solstice during December 02, 2016.
It’s entirely plausible that the Founding American Fathers scheduled the popular vote, the Electoral College vote, and the Inauguration ~ all after the harvesting of the fields, and before the next planting. Years ago, it was during the Winter that Americans comfortably had the time to tend to political affairs, without worrying about having to be at home tending the crops.
The new Republican order, sworn in during last January, presented itself as populist in tone and approach. Apparently, in America, as revelations of systemic corruption continue to appear in the media, voters are increasingly rejecting the old established elites, and turning to voices that seem to carry more compassion for voter concerns. But, it can be dangerous when elites are upended.
Established elites carry the wisdom of governance. When voters topple established elites because that wisdom was misdirected, governance wisdom is in danger of going out the window just like the proverbial baby is in danger of going out the window when the bath water is tossed. Civilizations can quickly die that way. The story of Easter Island in the South Pacific is only one of many historic instances.
As we rest in the comfort of this Winter and reflect on these things, let’s wish the very best for the new Republican order. It’s been running into a lot of trouble with the electorate ~ given the ongoing corruptions and scandals ~ some from decades ago.
It would appear that the American people are increasingly tired of both the Republican and Democrat parties. Perhaps we need a new approach. For ideas on that, click here to go to the US Together tab.
2017 December 16 ~ which one to use ~ Form W-2 or Form 1099?
What’s a W-2 employee? What’s a Form-1099 independent contractor? For decades these questions have been critically important in human resource, and great pains have been taken to maintain the distinction. Lawsuits have been filed, and cases have been heard and rendered. In fact, the number of court cases filed may have gone up in recent years ~ the issue is that important. Court rulings have affected millions of people, and have impacted billion-dollar budgets ~ both corporate and government.
So, what is the difference between an employee and an independent contractor? How are these two classifications alike, and not alike?
One of the main similarities is that in both cases ~ whether the hired person is classified as an employee or as an independent contractor ~ the hired person is told what the job is that needs to be done. In other words, the employer tells the hired person what they need to accomplish in order to earn their wages (employee) or fees (independent contractor).
One of the main differences between the employee and the independent contractor is in how the assigned task is accomplished. Generally, if the hired person is an employee, the employer not only tells the hired what needs to be done, but also exactly how to go about doing it. That is, the employer not only dictates the task, but how it is to be accomplished, down to minute detail if necessary.
On the other hand, if the person is hired as an independent contractor, they are also told what the job is, but left to their own discretion as to how to go about doing the job. The employer does dictate the task, but not how it is to be done. Minute detail is left to the hired person.
This particular distinction has been a major thrust of legal arguments in courtrooms around the country. Those legal battles are still ongoing, and globally there are billions of dollars at stake for both corporations and paid labor. The latest instance is the travails of Uber and its employees.
For those of you thinking of setting up a small business enterprise, consider carefully how you wish to document your employees. After all, you don’t want to follow Uber into the courtroom, right!
2017 December 02 ~ Recession-proof education
Ever since the economic debacle of 2007-2008, many folks have wondered if a college education was worth it. After all, there are a lot of Bachelor and Master degrees still waiting tables in second-hand, part-time restaurant jobs. And to add to the misery of it, many graduates come out with crushing student debt. Was it really worth all those years of time, energy, and money ~ just to bust tables?
For those caught at the bottom of the economic ladder ~ probably not. A different approach to education would have prevented them from being caught in the sticky spider-web of the so-called Great Recession. Let’s chart a way to secure an education today without being trapped in a meaningless job.
First step ~ go to a local community college and acquire a work-related, 2-year degree in a skill that is interesting to you, and one with which you can find immediate, gainful employment after completion of the 2-years.
Second step ~ leave the college scene, and work in your new skill area for a few years. Pocket that loot; it’ll feel good ~ you deserve it. Then, if you still have a thirst for more formal education, go to the next step.
Third step ~ acquire a Bachelor’s degree (two more years of formal education) in the liberal arts. Your major and minor do not need to be tied into your community college 2-year work-related degree. That little money-maker is always there for you.
Fourth step ~ leave the college scene, and secure the best employment that you can with your 2-year work-related degree and your 4-year Bachelor’s degree. Keep your mind open when you chase that new job. It can, but doesn’t necessarily need to be, linked to your 2-year technical degree. Then, after a few years, if you have a thirst for still more formal education, go to the next step.
Fifth step ~ for those who wish to become a craftsman, or professional, in a technical capacity, acquire a Master’s degree in that particular field. For those who wish to go into management, acquire either an MBA (Master in Business Administration) or an MPA (Master in Public Administration). Both involve only two more years of formal education.
Now you have a rather complete and seasoned education ~ six years worth ~ and the job market will beg for you. The 2-year community college work degree taught you how to think like others. The next degree, the Bachelor, taught you how to think for yourself. The final degree, the Master, taught you how to think for others.
Now you have it all. Go and enjoy life!
We hear this term thrown around all the time ~ sustainability. It’s probably one of the most politically correct words on everybody’s lips today, especially within the green movements and among financial investors. Exactly what does it mean? Why is the concept sustainability so important that it gets talked about all the time?
Sustainability simply means the ability to keep a certain situation going for a period of time. For example, a sustainable economy is an economy that can be kept going and going without any meaningful changes to its underpinnings. Usually, a sustainable economy is one that does not run out of essential resources, over the long haul.
As an aside, an economic order is how a group of people go about extracting a living out of their surrounding physical environment; social-behavioral examples in human history are (1) hunting and gathering, or (2) agricultural, or (3) industrial.
So, the important question becomes ~ our economic order ~ the way we go about surviving and living ~ is it sustainable?
This question is exactly why the term sustainability is talked about so much nowadays. A lot of people, perceiving the environmental degradation quickening all around us, are coming to the rather obvious conclusion that our economic order ~ the way we survive and live ~ is not sustainable, and perhaps maybe not even survivable.
In humanity’s history, many civilizations have died out because their economic order was not sustainable over the long haul. We don’t want to march in that ash-pit parade, right!
We need to come up with a new economic order, or way of surviving and living, that is sustainable ~ given Earth’s dwindling resources.
A good first step in the right direction would be to concentrate on working with the better companies, whether it is to take a job with that company, or to invest in that company’s stock, or to buy that company’s products. Go to our Newsletters tab and pull up the newsletter entitled Finding Good Companies in the 2017 listings. That article will touch on the different things that we want to find in good companies.
There are actually good companies out there showing real social responsibility ~ and some compassionate capitalism ~ by attempting to give back to their communities. Our Millennian generation seems to be good at finding socially responsible companies to do business with.
Recently, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released more than 13 million documents demonstrating how wealthy people hide their money from the tax man. Private tax haven trusts in foreign countries hide trillions of dollars from the public view. Both individuals and corporations have been found cheating the public this way.
Whenever anyone dodges their tax responsibilities, others suffer. There is less money for social goodies such as infrastructure repairs, health services, and public education. When the little guy realizes that the big guys are cheating, their trust in so-called democratic institutions is eroded.
Click here to read it for yourself. It’s not good. More than a one thousand scientists have just warned us that we are exterminating ourselves with industrial poisons and toxins. Without public trust in our institutions and leadership, there is no way that we can turn that situation around. We all need to start measuring up, and marching together in the right direction.
There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. The question is ~ how does one use that wealth?
The wealthy need to join the march. First step ~ start paying fair share taxes. Rebuild public trust in the common good. Stop hiding in your tax havens and start leading with your wealth, intelligence, and heart. If humanity ends up going down the drain, all that hidden wealth in those offshore tax havens will not help one little bit.
The pollution is everywhere ~ from the ice-cold Poles to the deepest trenches in the oceans. The wealthy can hide their riches in offshore havens, but no one can escape the poisoning of a planet.
In that regard, we live or die together ~ both rich and poor. We’re in this together ~ whether we like it or not.
The Washington Post has just made all of us aware of a great piece of good news. According to NASA scientists, the huge hole in the ozone layer has shrunk to its smallest size since 1988. That’s important for a number of reasons.
The ozone layer protects us from the harmful side effects of our Sun’s radiation. Without the ozone layer, there would not be any life on the land surface of Earth. Life might survive in caves or in the oceans, but not otherwise. The ultraviolet radiation would eventually kill all land plant life, together with the animal kingdom that relies on the plant world for nutrition.
The really good part is that humanity had a hand in reversing this bad situation. When we realized the dangers of a growing hole in the ozone layer, global humanity worked together in phasing out the chemicals responsible ~ chlorofluorocarbons found in the traditional refrigerators, aerosol cans, and air conditioners. They were phased out and banned everywhere. The global effort was successful, and the hole in the ozone layer is slowly, but steadily, closing.
We have no doubts that true global efforts directed toward the rest of our environmental problems carry the potential to achieve the same success.
We must work together. No one can do it alone, whether it be an individual or a country. Those standing apart from global efforts are condemning themselves and others to painful extinction.
October 28, 2017 ~ Free Exercise on the Cheap
Looking to get healthy? Or, maybe stay healthy if you already are? There’s a health exercise that’s not only free ~ but you can do it anywhere you wish ~ and anytime you wish. Expensive exercise equipment isn’t needed. Personal coaches are unnecessary. Just “you, yourself, and yours.” And, it’s considered ~ above all ~ the best exercise routine out there.
That’s right, you guessed it ~ move those legs! Let those big leg muscles help your heart move that blood around! We won’t go over all the physical benefits of a nice, brisk walk ~ because ~
Those physical benefits are already very well known! What’s really great about walking are the mental and psychological goodies that pile up. Walkers think better. Walkers are happier people. And because of that, walkers are more productive people. It’s not difficult. Just arrange to work "walking" into your daily routine wherever you can. Instead of driving or riding ~ get those legs going. You don’t have to “run the mile.” Just 15 to 20 minutes a day will start to show the benefits.
Try it ~ you’ll like it ~ promise! Not only will you think and feel better, but the environment will benefit, too. Take a friend with you ~ good company makes walking really fun! That’s like icing on the cake, right!
For most of this year, we have written multiple blogs regarding the issue of humanity exterminating itself.
January 28, 2017 ~ we blogged about the Doomsday Clock, and noted that it got stepped up due to issues such as the spread of nuclear weaponry and climatic change.
March 25, 2017 ~ we blogged about polluted air, and noted that millions of us are dying from contaminated atmospheres.
May 27, 2017 ~ we blogged about species homo-sapiens destroying the planet in its quest to reshape the planet to suit itself, and wondered if self-destruction is the hallmark of an “intelligent” species.
September 02, 2017 ~ we blogged about the fact that humanity’s industrial toxins have created a “Great Circle of Death,” and wondered if humanity has passed the point of no return.
When writing these blogs over the past year, it was easy to feel like a lonely voice in the wilderness. Mainstream media has been totally captivated with its reporting on “alarming” climatic warming. Comparatively, the greater danger of widespread industrial toxins was barely mentioned.
Now we are starting to get news articles that touch on the greatest danger ~ the global poisoning of our planet by our industrial byproducts. Now we see headlines such as “Pollution kills more people than all wars and violence.”
It’s heartwarming to see media attention start to swing to the real issue that is threatening global humanity. Climatic warming is not the problem. We have billions of people successfully living in the tropics. We can adapt and manage.
However, poison and toxicity is quite another thing. Poisons kill whether the temperatures are high or low. It’s what they do. They’re toxic to human life at any temperature range.
The problem is ~ how does one get all of these countless industrial poisons out of our atmospheres, waters, and lands? We’ve been dumping industrial poisons and toxins into our habitats since the dawn of the Industrial Age, circa about three centuries ago.
It’s doubtful that we would survive their natural decay rate. Poisons in general tend to have notoriously long shelf lives.
Are we at a dead end? Or, is there an alternative that we haven’t thought about yet?
In our preceding blog (October 07, 2017 ~ automation & robotization Can Be Painless) we observed that a little bit of thoughtful humaneness on the part of the corporate giant Evian neutralized the expected negatives of modern automation and robotization. It seems that what Evian did is not necessarily an isolated event.
C-Space just issued a report detailing how corporate humaneness in business dealings can really green-up the bottom line. Corporate giants such as Amazon, Jet Blue, L. L. Bean, Market Basket, Olay, Panera Bread, and Royal Caribbean were cited as examples.
The study claims that companies practicing corporate humaneness can actually out-perform companies focused solely on the business-as-usual model of not leaving a nickle on the table.
Today’s predominate shoppers (think Millennials) want the companies they shop with to display the same qualities that Millennials expect in their personal relationships ~ trust, respect, empathy, openness, reciprocity, and a sensitivity to social and environmental issues.
Companies good at that ~ in both branding messages and actual customer interactions ~ enjoy better customer relationships. That, in turn, translates into increased sales and greener financial performance.
Humaneness really does pay ~ even in business dealings! Something for our corporate traditionalists to think about.
You heard that right ~ robotization is not necessarily the demon that it’s usually portrayed to be ~ if it’s done right, or course.
The European bottled water giant Evian has demonstrated that to the entire global community. In fact, while automating their bottling facilities, they actually ended up hiring more workers. How did they do that?
Easy. Instead of firing all the pre-automation workers and replacing them with post-automation newly-skilled workers, they retrained their existing workforce with the new skills needed to monitor and maintain all the new automation equipment. In doing so, they happened to demonstrate a loyalty to their workforce rarely seen in the larger corporate environments.
Ongoing global automation and robotization can easily be perceived as a threat to worker livelihoods. Our source article states that in 1980 it took 25 jobs to generate one million in annual manufacturing output in the United States. Today, 37 years later, that same one million in annual manufacturing output takes only 5 jobs.
That statistic can be scary, any way that one might look at it. However, Evian has shown us that fear of the future can be mitigated with a wholesome approach to change.
Evian’s perspective is that the economic part and the social part of a company cannot be split apart ~ all stakeholders need to be included as part of the anticipated change.
Their perspective is a nice nod to the importance of the “other.” In rampant capitalism, rational self interest (personal greed) is considered a virtue. Perhaps we need to revise that value from rational “self” interest to rational “other” interest. After all, humans are social animals, and no one human being can survive ~ or even exist ~ without the help of other human beings. Taking good care of the “other guy” is paramount to the survival of “self.”
Don’t you agree?
Click here to pull up our source article as a pdf file. Read it for yourself. We enjoyed tripping over it during one of our recent surfs thru the Web.
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Joseph Heirling ~ Writer ~ Contact Site