Craig Eisele on …..

March 27, 2015

Full text of the ‘Declaration of Principles’ between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have signed to govern Nile River water use

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 7:43 pm

Mr. Craig:

REBLOGGED FROM: 

http://ethiopiaobservatory.com/2015/03/24/full-text-of-the-declaration-of-principles-between-ethiopia-egypt-and-sudan-have-signed/

Since the reblog button on WordPress failed to make this link active I have copied the following from the link above. Please go there for more relevant comments and discourse on this topic. 

Editor’s Note from the Ethiopia Observatory:

It is good (that) an agreement has now been signed between the three countries on managing water use on the Nile River and its related aspects. However, the three countries also ought to jointly release the information for their respective peoples. Unfortunately, that has not been the case, at least, as far as Ethiopia is concerned.

I would have been delighted, if Ethiopia, as the Nile’s womb, had taken the initiative to release the information. In such matters, however, the proper practice would have been to release it simultaneously in the three capitals, as sign of respect to their respective peoples and by way of information by the three nations.

Of course, the TPLF/EPRDF regime often loves to operate like a thief. In a country without national leadership, this time – like all other things we know – it may have been consumed by its need for secrecy with every little thing. And in this case, they also did that in a very shameful way.

Egypt showed them that this is not the way this matter should be handled. It released the full content of the ‘Declaration of Principles’ through its national media – Ahram Online to its people and the international community.

The TPLF/EPRDF, I mean it, you are busted once again!

Annoyingly, the TPLF media are now making noises about publishing a version of the agreement – copied and pasted from Ahram Online! I am sure they still lack a sense of responsibility by not translating it and making the agreement available in Amharic, and other Ethiopian languages too.

Nothing would beat the TPLF in beating, harassing, persecuting ethnic groups, imprisoning the Ethiopian people and etc., even forcing them to make contributions toward the construction of the dam! When it comes to giving them information, its habit of ignoring them has taken over, as if this matter is not their business!

If the Sudan has not done it, or does not do it, it should matter little to Ethiopia. That is not a model for anyone to follow. After all, like Egypt, Ethiopia is supposedly one of the oldest organized states of the old world – not a ‘banana republic’ the TPLF nincompoops have created 24 years ago!

I still hope the translated version of the ‘Declaration of Principles’ is accurate, free from contamination by vestiges of the Wichale Treaty virus!

Let us be clear that this is an agreement that would necessitate reaching a raft of future agreements on every conceivable point and details, as paragraph 5 only gives a slight hint of it. In turn, that undertaking would entail a series of long negotiations and further agreements!

TEO’s preliminary observations on substance of the declaration’s content is as follows:

We note there are some ambiguous language here and there, about whose uses states normally show some restraints. In this latest document, for instance, there is “good intentions”, in paragraph 1, its cousin ‘good will in paragraph 9. In paragraph 10, it gets upgraded into a strange animal called ‘the goodwill principle’. It is inserted therein, seemingly to operate as if it were both pillar and subordinate to the ‘Principle of cooperation’.

It is not today that such ambiguity comes back to bite; but when things go wrong and everyone begins to point accusatory fingers. As it stands already a day after the signing of the declaration, Egypt has started spinning its propaganda gin of conquest and victory, claiming in an article Egyptian figures back El-Sisi’s Nile dam negotiations on Ahram Online stating, the declaration emphasizes Egypt’s rights “to maintain and protect the Egyptian people’s historic rights to the Nile water…rights that are inalienable”, as if GERD was intended to deny theirin* (their) right of use.

Modern intellectuals inform us, quoting from the father of ‘good will’ – the philosopher Immanuel Kant – they think he believes: “[A] good will is a will whose decisions are wholly determined by moral demands or as he often refers to this, by the Moral Law”, which in the case of GERD, it is not!

More troubling in this ‘Declaration of Principle’ are the many clear points of give away to Egypt, embedded in paragraph 4. Those speaking on behalf of Ethiopia must show that they are on top of it, and they are clear-eyed about it. Among others, they would need to follow how the laws/regulations Egypt would draw for implementation by its institutions, especially how the actions of regional administrations fit with this latest declaration.

We bring up this issue, because there is reference to this in sub-paragraph 4, where it says, “The three countries will use their common water sources in their provinces in a fair and appropriate manner.” What is the point of it? Is this TPLF’s idea to tell Egypt to use water in a prudent way, or Egypt to tell Ethiopia to use its rain and groundwaters, instead of heavier reliance on the Nile, with Karadobi and other planned uses by Ethiopia of its Nile contributory rivers in mind? If that is the case, it impinges on Ethiopia’s national sovereignty.

In paragraph 5 (b), there is a word referring to GERD having “owners”. How many “owners” does it have? How did they become “owners”? What is the agreed language during the negotiations on this? Clarification is in order here, if the idea relates in case or especially to future involvement of Egypt in the operation of GERD and its management.

Paragraph 5 (c) also speaks of “mechanism”, without a clarifying adjective. What does ‘mechanism’ mean? Could it jump out of water and irrigation ministries to be pushed by Egypt to become an enterprise to manage the dam, Nile water uses, operate, coordinate GERD ‘activities’, follow-up, etc…? What is it? How do we know that its distorted use/employment would not become point of contention in future – due to variances in practice or implementation/interpretation. On thing that comes to mind, for instance, is Egypt wanting something more out of it, although now the language sounds innocuous?

In paragraph 6, it is stated that Egypt and the Sudan would “be given priority to purchase energy generated by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.” Is this priority over the people of Ethiopia? If that is the point of the agreement, this action represents national betrayal.

It means that the TPLF is coding through international agreement what it has been practicing, selling electricity to neighboring countries, with no benefit to citizens. We already know that, while our people are in the dark, Djibouti and the Sudan already receive Ethiopian electricity, the latter one even without any charge for politico-security reason! This is a national disgrace, although we believe the country is constantly short of foreign exchange.

The beast in this paragraph would cause great deal of consternation in our people, and possibly…!

It is a reflection of how much the ethnicist TPLF looks down on our people!

The commentary above  from the editor of the Ethiopia Observatory should cause great concern for all parties if it is fact t is a pillar of thought for the citizens of Ethiopia. The Chest thumping about National Sovereignty circumvents the ideal that treaties between governments always impinges on the sovereignty of a participating country be it in trade or in the sharing of “INTERNATIONAL WATERS” as defined by the UN. Water is NOT a wholly owned commodity, like gold or coal,  if it flows from or through International borders. and therein lies the rub. ~Craig Eisele
Ahram Online publishes a translated version of the “Declaration of Principles” signed by Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in a step to put an end to a four-year dispute over Nile water sharing arrangements among Nile Basin countries. Ten principles are outlined in the document (found below) signed by the three countries.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/125941/Egypt/Politics-/Full-text-of-Declaration-of-Principles-signed-by-E.aspx

Introduction

Valuing the increasing need of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Republic of the Sudan for their over-border water sources, and realising the importance of the Nile River as a source of life and a vital source for the development of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, the three countries have committed themselves to the following principles concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam:

1. Principle of cooperation:

– Cooperation based on mutual understanding, common interest, good intentions, benefits for all, and the principles of international law.

– Cooperation in understanding the water needs of upstream and downstream countries across all their lands.

2. Principle of development, regional integration and sustainability:

– The purpose of the Renaissance Dam is to generate power, contribute to economic development, promote cooperation beyond borders, and regional integration through generating clean sustainable energy that can be relied on.

3. Principle of not causing significant damage:

– The three countries will take all the necessary procedures to avoid causing significant damage while using the Blue Nile (the Nile’s main river).

– In spite of that, in case significant damage is caused to one of these countries, the country causing the damage […], in the absence of an agreement over that [damaging] action, [is to take] all the necessary procedures to alleviate this damage, and discuss compensation whenever convenient.

4. Principle of fair and appropriate use:

– The three countries will use their common water sources in their provinces in a fair and appropriate manner.

– To ensure fair and appropriate use, the three countries will take into consideration all guiding elements mentioned below:

a. The geographic, the geographic aquatic, the aquatic, the climatical, environmental elements, and the rest of all natural elements.

b. Social and economic needs for the concerned Nile Basin countries.

c. The residents who depend on water sources in each of the Nile Basin countries.

d. The effects of using or the uses of water sources in one of the Nile Basin countries on another Nile Basin country.

e. The current and possible uses of water sources.

f. Elements of preserving, protecting, [and] developing [water sources] and the economics of water sources, and the cost of the procedures taken in this regard.

g. The extent of the availability of alternatives with a comparable value for a planned or a specific use.

h. The extent of contribution from each of the Nile Basin countries in the Nile River system.

i. The extent of the percentage of the Nile Basin’s space within the territories of each Nile Basin country.

5. The principle of the dam’s storage reservoir first filling, and dam operation policies:

– To apply the recommendations of the international technical experts committee and the results of the final report of the Tripartite National Technical Committee during different stages of the dam project.
– The three countries should cooperate to use the final findings in the studies recommended by the Tripartite National Technical Committee and international technical experts in order to reach:

a. An agreement on the guidelines for different scenarios of the first filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir in parallel with the construction of the dam.

b. An agreement on the guidelines and annual operation policies of the Renaissance Dam, which the owners can adjust from time to time.

c. To inform downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, on any urgent circumstances that would call for a change in the operations of the dam, in order to ensure coordination with downstream countries’ water reservoirs.

– Accordingly the three countries are to establish a proper mechanism through their ministries of water and irrigation.

– The timeframe for such points mentioned above is 15 months from the start of preparing two studies about the dam by the international technical committee.

6. The principle of building trust:

– Downstream countries will be given priority to purchase energy generated by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

7. The principle of exchange of information and data:

– Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will provide the information and data required to conduct the studies of the national experts committees from the three countries in the proper time.

8. The principle of dam security:

– The three countries appreciate all efforts made by Ethiopia up until now to implement the recommendations of the international experts committee regarding the safety of the dam.
– Ethiopia will continue in good will to implement all recommendations related to the dam’s security in the reports of the international technical experts.

9. The principle of the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the State:

The three countries cooperate on the basis of equal sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the state, mutual benefit and good will, in order to reach the better use and protection of the River Nile.

10. The principle of the peaceful settlement of disputes:

The three countries commit to settle any dispute resulting from the interpretation or application of the declaration of principles through talks or negotiations based on the good will principle. If the parties involved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers.

Originally posted on THE ETHIOPIA OBSERVATORY:

Editor’s Note:

    It is good an agreement has now been signed between the three countries on managing water use on the Nile River and its related aspects. However, the three countries also ought to jointly release the information for their respective peoples. Unfortunately, that has not been the case, at least, as far as Ethiopia is concerned.

View original 2,075 more words

March 26, 2015

Why This Older Man Is Better With Younger Women

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 1:47 am

By the calendar I am 62 years old… but that is only by the CALENDAR. I do not want to be any younger as I have had an interesting and rewarding life in many respects. This gives me so much to offer someone.. and  besides my life is far from over. 

I am the true embodiment of the adage “Age is just a number.” as I get along the best with women in their early 30’s. Women who are mature but still interested in LIVING life to its fullest and learning and experiencing as much of it as possible.  If you cannot see beyond my calendar age then you are obviously too closed-minded for me so there is no loss.

Open minded women who are about truly about learning, experiencing and living life,  fire me up and keep those embers of youth burning inside. I see it as a form of Symbiotic relationship.

I bring to the table (hopefully) a level certain amount of  (Oh I hate this word as it sounds so dang stuffy) maturity, Social Refinement (which basically means I have social manners that transverse all socioeconomic groups)  an ability to interact with people in most countries around the world and the knowledge that my travels and numerous experiences bring. (UGH sounds boring…. but truth is it is not…. as this is but a part of my that makes for a stable “relationship”  it means very little can upset me or catch me by surprise and I am well prepared for most life events.. which is actually a good thing.. I hope)_ 

A mature meaning not a “Girl” (see my previous post) but younger “women” brings fresh eyes to the world and helps me see new viewpoints on the ever changing world and society in general. A mutually beneficial relationship when all contributions are considered. Have you ever looked at a painting or photo so many times that you think you know it until someone seeing  (or experiencing it) for the first time makes a comment than then you go WOW… I never saw that or thought of it in that way before… THAT is what I value so much from a younger woman who is still full of life and wants to know the world, and I want to see it through her eyes and feel her excitement and enjoyment. I know the secrets, but you bring the joy that makes it all new again. 

A strong mature woman who has her own mind is a challenge for younger less mature men as their insecurities cause them to put up barriers and shrug off the most compelling of ideas of women who basically intimidate them. But I thrive on it. Lets change paradigms, Disrupt the status Quo, make noise and innovate and help create for a better world and society and find mutual joy in doing so.

Someone that can debate me about anything, knowing there is a mutual respect and mutual understanding. Throw your ideas at me make a case and lest see if it can be done …. tear down my beliefs, challenge me as to what I think is the reality and make me prove it….  (I am strong enough to take criticism and not be offended). I tutored Calculus in College so I have the patience and ability to get through the toughest of times..  Just bring your zest for life to the table and we will be fine… at least from my perspective…

But then again you have to understand my age is not my age if you already judged me by the number then move on as you are already to closed minded to see the world I can bring you into. Think you can play me for money…. try again with some other fool …. I am trusting to an extent, but very intuitive, I enjoy certain activities  (yes, I am still very capable of those and with more knowledge than most) and other things but I do not lose my mind over a beautiful or sexy woman…. I am easy but not stupid…. or is that I an stupid but not easy.. ohh my addled mind is going….. NOT….  and 

PLEASE .. there is no woman in the world that can win me with sex you can never be that good I don’t care who you are as the best sex is based on trust and trust is developed in a relationship. so I have no interest in sexcapades or hookups and that is just the way I am.  

So as I am trying to say…. your “age” is also a number to me. but I do find more woman in those numbers that still have that combination of maturity and excitement for new things.  The same way I am a better Stalwart for a strong yet independent woman.  it is a quid Pro Quo or that symbiotic relationship that I seek as the mutual benefits seem to be exceptionally great…. but you may see that differently than I do and that is fine. That is why we all have free choice and free will and I will respect your opinion even if I disagree with it. 

I have sought for this unique woman for some time now. But the vast majority of women I meet.. and while many of them are nice people…. there is always a major component missing in what I believe I would find a true life companion…  and most women let alone those under 40 are not the right woman as they lack the ability to dream and plot and plan and to deal with wealth without going berserk.  

That is why I search for that special and unique woman who can control her spending and can learn to give more to the world more than she spends on herself. That level of maturity and unselfishness and willingness to be a part of a greater good for a greater world is the hallmark of a great woman. A good heart and compassion is a always a plus. Obviously,  these things are not common either, even in many of the women I have encountered or been attracted too …. but they are nonetheless important components in anything other than a casual acquaintance.

Some would say I am searching for a female version of a Unicorn… but I think not…. I still believe in fairy tales.. and I am in every story book that children read… If you are the right person I will show you where I am in Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and so many more of those books.  

I have been criticised for my affinity for younger women. For younger people they look at the number age.. for older people they just do not understand how I can find common ground with women from 25 to 40 years of age. And Hence I guess I am seeking the impossible… or maybe just that rare gem who can truly appreciate what I bring to the table and wants to actually LIVE.  

Thankfully I have an Autistic Daughter who loves to tell me that I am TOO YOUNG for my age. and a friend that has told me that  I have “Never Met A Stranger” meaning I can be friends across all age groups and will engage everyone across every socioeconomic group regardless of age, race, gender or religion. I truly love living life. but as people age they mostly withdraw from life and I  am not interested in establishing friendships with people who are content to just exist. I need and deserve more. 

Where I offer a vast wealth of knowledge and experiences, I find younger women to have the lust for life that I thrive on. We have all experienced the person in the group who wants to go home early, that does not want to go out, who would rather stay at home and watch TV or just retire from the world.

Most of the Women I know under 40 are NOT like that. They have energy and that thirst for more ESPECIALLY as STRONG woman.. those are the best!! They don’t need your undivided all day and night attention, are not paranoid or suspicious or worse too jaded from the world yet. Women who want more out of life than watching TV.

A woman that wants to blaze her own trail but appreciates the support and advice of someone who truly has HER best interest at heart and who will support her and her decisions through thick and thin no matter how difficult or antithetical to the conventional wisdom. these women get extra points for their strength and independence and my full admiration. 

There is a dancer in Las Vegas who once posted “Don’t give me a million dollars, Teach me how to make a million dollars.” That woman got my attention …. not my affections but I liked her attitude and to this day I have been tempted to do what she asked…. but people would take it the wrong way as she really is a bit too young and conflicted in her social sphere …. but I do like the cut of her jib. 

BUT Back to age as I have found it to be a problem for me in finding the right woman:

Unfortunately the vast majority of people my calendar age have lost their real zest for life and learning. For many people who have been married and had children they have now look forward to grandchildren. But a large number of those who were divorced are bitter. I always am amazed how many people over 40 have no goals left in life. They have No desire to really live. and it makes me sad to see that as they should be engaged more in the world but they are effectively waiting to die and they just exist. You all know the people I talk about.. not all people over 40 but a large majority. 

Men tend to be bitter because they lost touch with the women in their life while trying to be successful at work. Many of them because they felt women needed to be subservient to their husbands and others thinking that they as men needed to always be in charge.  Some cheated and some had their wives cheat on them mostly because their wives lacked the attention and affection of their husbands. and socializing with other men.

There are as many reasons for a divorce as there are divorces, but the fact remains most men have difficulty recovering and look for new relationships to provide them the status that they perceive themselves to have. But there are many men who picked themselves up.. learned from the experience and moved on and were not crippled for life in the process. After a painful and emotional devastation on my own life I believe I am one of those men that have grown from the experience. But more on that later. 

Many (NOT ALL) women became bitter because they were abandoned with the children and had to place their lives on hold while the children grew. Often abandoned by the fathers and struggling to raise the children alone and on minimal child support  (and sometimes NO child support) there is an anger that lives beneath the surface that even when dormant can come out unexpectedly.

They are tired and disappointed in the events that have caused  their lives to be so much different from what it turned out to be. Once bit twice shy is an appropriate expression and what is worse , just like the men, they find the faults in new men in their life and harden themselves from any real and meaningful possibilities in the future. Hopes once dashed, dreams once shattered, can be the most difficult task of a divorced person, either man or woman. 

I have seen beautiful women who are intelligent and under 40 who make such terrible decisions in their life when it comes to me. They seem to find men who are more narcissistic and cannot stay faithful, ones that have groupies and multiple suitors and then expect to compete. There will always be a younger, prettier sexier and desirable women around the next corner. Stop chasing them and find a down to earth man who will make you his priority and still let you have your life and will support you in what goals and dreams you may have

(This is where I get arrogant and say.. SOMEONE LIKE ME… but it is true… be it educations or career or business or just social work… the man you take on should be your support structure and support your decisions and know when to let you do something risky and be there if it fails not to say “I told you so” but to pick you up dress your wounds, dust you off and send you back into the world to try again. I Used to use climbing a cliff as an example and being on the bottom to break your fall and get you better and putting you right back up on the cliff wall again knowing you have learned and are ready to try again.. and maybe fail again.. with the full knowledge I would still be there to support you).

I hope these women read this part above as you cannot compete for the affections of a narcissistic man who has women everywhere at his beckon call.  In his mind you are there for him.. never the opposite… you are just a pit stop in his life, someone to be used and disposed of. They are attractive in many ways… but you are doomed to fail  I am sad to tell you. 

This qualities make it difficult to find someone closer to my calendar age to bond with and to try to find something more than a hookup. And as I do not do hookups, my social life in that area has been significantly diminished. But I would rather NOT engage in something for temporary satisfaction than to engage and then move on to the next belt notch. 

The other issue with people over the age of 40 is that the bitterness is also combined with a lack of interest in knowledge and learning and experiencing life on multiple levels. I read over 200 articles every day. I have interest in Politics, Religion, Culture, Minority Issues (across the board) , International Relations, Psychology, Sociology, Medicine, Economics (domestic and international), Science (including Quantum Physics), Law, Social Justice, Africa, Asia, and 3 dozen or more other topics.  

Simply put I love learning and like to stay on top of all topics. I find that when examined closely they are all interconnected in one way or another and I am fascinated. FEW people men or women have any interest at all in what I like let alone understand them. but having traveled to over 70 countries I am very aware of the world and how current events can impact us in the future.

I am stable, patient, somewhat intelligent, opinionated but always willing to listen to others and have a real and intense discourse that may well result in reasonably agreeing to disagree and still respect each others positions and positions. MUTUAL respect is a key ingredient to any and every relationship. 

Most women I meet that I truly like,  are under 40, independent (very important to me), are internationally inclined, with at least some knowledge of fashion and who appreciate wealth without flaunting it or let greed take over.  

I travel first class when appropriate. If I take a special  “One in a Lifetime” trip with someone who wants the experience and the most of a trip I make sure it is memorable in every way. AS a planner I make every effort to tailor an experience to the person I am with including those times when it needs to be unstructured. It will always be a great experience and memory .  But when we come back from that trip there is no reason to tell most people how we traveled wor where we stayed  or it was the best most expensive this or that in the country or the best spa or first class flights etc… that kind of bragging is plain gauche and it embarrasses me. Tell them about the culture, the people the local foods, music and dance. and some anecdotes of what happened. Not show off on the cost or money spent.. that is not appropriate . 

Can I afford a Rolex, or a Hublot Tourbillon Solo Bang or even the outrageous Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon 5002 P ….  yes ,I can,  but WHY would I spend that kind of money as I have not worn a wrist watch in over 10 years. (BUT I AM NEVER LATE .. it is discourteous to be late for anyone at anytime)

Even my grandfathers antique rose gold watch I had repaired for more than it was worth because it had sentimental value more than monetary value. Why show it off. Class is so much more than the clothes you wear.

My father raised a gentleman.. a quality I have found to be in short supply in this world today.. even from politicians. How to sit, stand. carry myself, common courtesy and so much more. He taught me to respect others and to respect myself enough not to discredit myself. It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a second to  destroy it…. why take the risk. 

For the Woman I will eventually enter into a relationship with the benefits are obvious and the expectations are always know. Yes you can have a new pair of Louboutins every week (but doing so may be greedy), You want Tiffany, Buccellati or even Harry Winston  jewelry  (I actually like many of the lesser known Mikimota pieces and some Chopard pieces as well)  or Mouawad, Prada or one of my favorite mass merchandise unknowns Lana Marks handbags etc, No problem in moderation. Buying them for the woman I am involved with is my pleasure (and her just reward for putting up with my hubris obviously) but bragging about them is uncouth. Wear them with pride but never bragg. I want a woman who is into life more than money and wants that with me and not my bank. And if you do not know these designers I speak of then I can show you and would be happy to do so…. and maybe you can show me some as well. 

If you expect me to buy a Yacht then you will be disappointed as it is more realistic to Charter one for 250+ K per week than to own it (unless we are living on it)  but to charter one  would be fine to do that so you can have real friends join us. Just do not expect it as I can wear jeans from Ross and still be happy and you should as well knowing that you have the means to do whatever you want.. but that does not mean you should do whatever you want. 

My Expectations are Honesty, confidence, integrity, loyalty, social works and anonymity and especially understating wealth and privilege. Just because you can walk into any store in the world and purchase the most expensive thing does not mean you should!!

I read something once from a woman I actually do like in Nevada and she has all the characteristics I desire and respect in someone, but she does not see me at all, and I know I have no chance with her.. but I still find her more fascinating than any woman I currently know in this world.  Plus she likes Curry , plantains, Ox Tail and more.. Anyway what she wrote was that she wanted to be “A Secret Millionaire”… THAT is the mentality I really like. That is the understated wealth I speak of… 

A young strong woman needs a man like me because I am beyond being jealous or needing control. You are either with me or you are not. I do not compete. I will spoil you and take you to places you have never heard of or dreamed of but I will NEVER talk down to you. I thrive on intelligent conversation much like a sapiosexual would. I want someone who will NOT walk behind me but will walk alongside of me. Someone who knows there is NOTHING out-of-bounds with me in a life together.

But these qualities in a women are not easy to find.  I still want to Skydive, Go to the Antarctic, Easter Island, Patagonia, Peru, Cambodia, Tibet, Burma.  Someone who want to walk on the Great Wall of China and go into the bowels of the pyramids in Egypt, Shop in Marrakech and Safari in Africa. Who wants to have a bungalow over the water and try to sleep in a glass hotel room under the sea.

Someone who will question conventional wisdom and religious beliefs but respect them at the same time for those that believe.  I want someone who wants to run a foundation that is looking to change the world for the better in ways that have not been thought of yet.

Teach me. Learn with me. Let me share my years of experiences with you and know I am younger than most 30 year olds in my thirst for life. But I am not much of a nightclub guy. I would rather host dinner parties in a large home or refurbish  an abandoned 50 room mansion with me for public use, than get “turn up”  in a club. I would rather spend 20,000 dollars on a local charity than bottle service. I can buy cases of Ace and serve it to my guests at private events and do more for more people than showing off in a nightclub. 

I want to be with someone who together we can make each other better someone who does not see me as 62-year-old man but a man who is worldly international, faithful and still very capable of intense intimacy.. basically a unicorn. A one hour phone conversation will have the woman I am hoping to share some sort of life with, anxious for more for only talking to me will dispel the idea that I am my calendar age and am much younger than that.

 I am not a player and have no desire to have multiple women. One good one is worth a thousand fast and easy ones. Bottle rats never have a chance and gold diggers will find cheap tin if discovered. I am even-tempered for the most part. I do get angry and can shout so loud the windows rattle.. but that is a once in a decade situation. and as far as getting physical.. I was once assaulted by one of my partners and she gave me 7 stitches in my head and 3 ruptured discs in my neck and I NEVER hit back… (blame my dad for how he taught me) 

I like to sing.. every day… and I love to joke and play and am fond of sarcasm as humor. But I am very empathetic to those in pain and distress and very attuned to the needs of my partner without invading personal space when needed. 

There are a lot of haters in this world. Some will just enjoy condemning me for openly stating what my preferences are as well as my reasons for them. Others will just consider this the ravings of a mad man. I would rather go through the rest of my life alone than settle for less than I deserve and less than what will make me happy. I have a lot to offer beyond what has been stated above to the right woman.. but I will not be a bank or a sugar daddy… I want someone and something REAL and that has that thirst for life that I have. When I find her I will be the happiest man on earth and will be determined to provide all the ingredients for her to be the happiest woman on earth. 

Until then I continue to grow my businesses and stay active and engaged in this world.. hopefully you will as well for nothing can be more enlightening than knowledge that leads to a greater understanding of this world. If you come at me.. just be prepared to play and have fun…. 

Well 4000 words seems a bit much although I could have written more.. but I trust this clarifies what I am about and why I am the way I am. Who knows maybe after all this there will be that 40-year-old woman who comes at me that is just right.. but I have no real expectations of that… I am who I am and I like what I like.. and NONE of us should settle for anything less that what we deserve as people someone who cares for us and wants what is best for us.. no matter the age or physical appearance. we all deserve someone who cares for us.

Sorry not interested in THOTS. It’s gotta be real ~ not superficial.  

March 23, 2015

How to Know if You’re Dating a Girl or a Woman

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 11:46 pm

Here are 11 Differences Between How Girls Behave and Women Behave

Recently, I read a post on “The 11 Difference Between Dating a Boy vs a Man“. The post can have the genders swapped and most points would still apply. However, we can’t deny that there are some fundamental differences between men and women – from how we are socialized to the chemical and hormonal differences that naturally occur. Thus, I thought it appropriate to follow up with a post on the difference between dating a girl, vs a woman. Again, many points on this post would apply if you switched the genders around.

A boy is attracted to girls. A man is attracted to women. Now, this has nothing to do with the actual age of a person. I’m referring to maturity, life vision and stage of life. In fact, some people regardless of their age, will never really grow up. Also, this isn’t to say that a woman won’t ever have “girlish” or immature tendencies or vice versa. This post refers to one’s maturity and most points would also apply if you switch the genders as well.

If you are a boy, then expect that you will attract only girls. However, if you are a man (independent, knows your worth and value, has a strong moral compass, is considerate and an able communicator and doesn’t let insecurity dominate your psyche), then you should be dating a woman. And if you can’t spot the difference just yet, here are some pointers.

1. A girl throws tantrums. When displeased, upset or angry, she reacts just as she did as a child when she didn’t get her way with her parents. This often consists of screaming, pouting, giving the silent treatment, being passive aggressive and/or punishing. A woman still feels the emotions of being upset/displeased, but has cultivated the skill of responding vs reacting. She comes to the table as an adult, and communicates clearly what is bothering her.

2. A girl perceives herself as a princess and believes people should treat her like so. She is entitled and feels that she is owed and therefore expects more than she appreciates. A woman, has standards (what she holds herself to) not expectations (what she projects on to others).

3. A girl uses her physical beauty as her currency and basis of value. A girl may be so used to feeling validated through her looks and sexuality, that she uses this as her primary tool to get what she wants in life. A woman, knows her worth is beyond her physicality. A woman bases her value on her intelligence, her strength, her integrity, her values, her contributions, her humanity.

4. A girl banks on a man to be her financial strategy. A woman plans to be financially independent – she banks on… herself. And if she so happens to enter a relationship dynamic where it makes sense for her partner to be the primary breadwinner, it’s considered a bonus, not the expected life line.

5. A girl sees the world from a place of lack and scarcity. She competes and will even tear down another in order to secure resources or a mate. A woman helps other women. She knows that there’s plenty enough to go around and takes the high road of integrity to get what she wants.

6. A girl cannot be bothered with anything domestic and is proud of the fact that she cannot cook or clean. A woman understands that being domestic is not a duty, but understands that it is one way of taking care of herself and others. She also understands that in the event she wants to create a family, having a person in the household who can contribute domestically is important.

7. “A girl wants attention, a woman wants respect. A girl wants to be adored by many. A woman wants to be adored by one.” -anonymous

8. A girl does not respect her body.  She has not yet understood that her body and heart are sacred, and that it’s important to be mindful of how she treats it and who she shares it with. “A girl cherishes handbags, diamonds and her shoe collection as her prize possessions. A woman cherishes her health, her sense of self, and her talents as her greatest assets.” – N. Mah

9. A woman takes the time to reflect on the type of human she wants to be, the example she wants to leave and the vision for her life. She has put thought into her values and what she stands for. A girl has not established her moral compass or values and consequently, is often inconsistent. “After spending time with a girl, you feel exhausted because she takes more than she gives. After spending time with a woman, you feel invigorated, because she empowers you with possibility, and a passion for life.” – N. Mah

10. A girl has a checklist that prioritizes superficial qualities above anything else. Here is an example of how this checklist may look: Hot, popular, wears skinny jeans, over 6 feet tall, rich.. This is the checklist of what a woman may look for: High integrity, intelligent, kind, good communicator, emotionally available…

Now, a lot of these differences require taking the time to know someone to figure out if the apple of your eye is indeed a mature woman, or someone with an immature mindset. However, one of the quickest filters that you can notice from the beginning is this:

11. A girl plays games. A woman doesn’t.

Bonus: A woman will engage you in substantive discourse. A Girl will talk about superficial things. 

February 17, 2015

Need to Know Information About Chinese New Year 華人農曆新年

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 3:12 am

      About Chinese New Year     華人農曆新年

New Year’s Day, the first day of the Lunar New Year. Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) This Year 2015 it will Start on February 19th, Chinese folk most distinctive of the most solemn traditional festival, which marked the end of the old year and the lunar new year start. New Year’s Eve, and generally refers to the first day. But in private, traditional Spring Festival is the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month of December from the festival or the twelfth lunar month 23 or 24 of Jizao, until the fifteenth day, of which New Year’s Eve and the first day for the climax. During the Spring Festival, China’s many ethnic Han Chinese and have held various activities to celebrate. These activities are worship deities, and pay homage to ancestors, blow away the cobwebs, Ying Hei Blessings, pray for good harvest as the main content. Rich variety of activities, with a strong ethnic characteristics.This Year 2015 it will Start on February 19th

Origin of Chinese New Year

Spring Festival is also called lunar year, commonly known as “New Year”, “New Year.” Chinese New Year symbol of unity, prosperity, a new hope for the future sustenance of the festival.

According to records, the Chinese people for the New Year has 4,000 years of history, it is starting from the Yu Shunxing. One day two thousand years BC, that the emperor Shun-bit, who led his men, to worship heaven and earth. Since then, people took this day as the beginning of the year, be regarded as first day. This is said the origin of the Lunar New Year, later called the Spring Festival.Over the past Spring Festival, also known as New Year’s Day. This month is called the Spring Festival in January where.
First day ancient Mongol, Yuan Chen, Yuan-cheng, Yuan Shuo, New Year, the Year once, beginning of the year, towards the old and new is, first Zuo, ternary or year, Chinese New Year, the first year since the beginning of the Han Dynasty was in the beginning to the summer in (Lunar) first day as a “beginning of the year” (ie “year”), which fixed the date of New Year, continues to this day. New Year is called as “New Year’s Day.” Revolution of 1911, they began using the Gregorian calendar (Gregorian calendar) per year, gradually became known as the Gregorian calendar on January 1 as the “New Year’s Day,” said the first day of Lunar New Year “New Year.” Country attaches great importance to the protection of intangible cultural heritage, May 20, 2006, “Spring Festival” Folk by the State Council approved the inclusion of the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage.

Chinese New Year customs

The twelfth lunar month in the customs

Xxiii, Tanggua sticky;

XXIV sweep the house;

XXV, grinding tofu;

XXVI, to the flesh (stew stew);

Xxvii, slaughter a rooster (chicken kill tumor);

Xxviii, the surface of hair;

29, steamed buns;

Thirty at night boil,

New Year’s Twist.

Twelfth lunar month 23, the twelfth lunar month twenty-four

Twelfth lunar month 23, also known as “small year”, is a private Jizao day. Folk in the “Twenty-three Tanggua sticky” refers to the twelfth lunar month 23 per year or 24 Jizao, the so-called “official boatman Sanmin four five” argument, which is official in the twelfth lunar month 23, generally in homes in the 24 boat dwellers was held on 25 Jizao.

Jizao is a great influence in our country folk, a popular custom. Old, almost every family Zaojian are equipped with “Kitchen God” tablets. People call this deity as the “Siming Buddha” or “Kitchen God Siming”, he is legend Jade seal of the “nine days Siming kitchen stove East Palace Monarch”, responsible for managing each of the stove, as the protection of God and be a worship. Most stoves in kitchens Wang shrine north or east, in the middle for the kitchen god’s statue. Wang niches of people without lesions, but also to the statue on the wall directly. Some statues painted Kitchen God only one person, while others have both male and female, the goddess known as the “stove Grandma Wang.” This is probably imitated human couple’s image. Like most of the Kitchen God is also printed on the calendar this year, a letter to the “East Siming main kitchen,” “human monitoring of God”, “head of household” and other words to indicate the position of Vesta. Affixed on both sides, “God made good, the lower bound for security and peace,” the couplet, to bless the whole family peace.

Kitchen God from the previous year’s New Year’s Eve has been to stay at home to protect and monitor a; to the twelfth lunar month 23 Kitchen God will have to go to heaven, the Jade Emperor in heaven to report the whereabouts of the family of good or evil, Song Zaoshen of ceremony known as “free kitchen” or “speech stove.” According to the Kitchen God reports the Jade Emperor, and then this one in the new year should be the fate of good and bad fortune to pay for the Kitchen God’s hands.Therefore, the family, the kitchen god’s report is of great interest.

Send kitchen, more time in the evening at night. Family first kitchens, put on the table, the kitchen wall in the kitchen god Buddha in the shrine, and for the surface with caramel and made ​​Tanggua and so on. Bamboo paper and then tied the horses and cattle fed grass material. Chinese New Year festive New Year with caramel for Feng Kitchen God, is to let his old sweet mouth. In some places, the kitchen god will be sugar coated around the mouth, coated side of his mouth: “good words to say, well if let alone.” This is a sugar plug Kitchen God’s mouth, let him not say bad things. In the Tang Dynasty book “Revealed under the age of mind” in between “applied to lesions on the lees Siming (Kitchen God) drunk,” the record. People use sugar coated finish Kitchen God’s mouth, they put statues peeled off, and paper along with the smoke had ascended to heaven. Some places are in the yard at night sesame stalks and pine branches heap, and then for a year as the Kitchen God please the shrine, along with paper horses and forage, set fire to. Yard by the fire will shine brightly, when the family around the fire, kowtow, pray while burning side: this year to 23, Zao Jun on the King to send away to the west. A strong horse, forage, bon voyage to the peace. The Tanggua for sweet and sweet, please forward a good word for Jade.

Send Zao Jun, the number of beggars in some places there were, disguised, went house to house singing songs to send Zao Jun, jump to send Zao Jun dance, called “Song Zaoshen” in exchange for food.

Send custom kitchen is very common throughout North and South in China, Mr. Lu has written, “Boxer send kitchen that is something” Poetry: chicken sugar gum teeth, typical clothing for valve incense. Home and belongings, Qi Huangyangchuan less alone.

In his “Essay on send kitchen,” the article said: “The Kitchen God’s heaven that day, the street also sell a kind of sugar, so there ganzi size, where we also have this thing, but flat, like a thick small pancakes. That is the so-called ‘plastic teeth Xing’ the. intended to eat in your Kitchen God, stick to his teeth, so that he can not tune mouth parrot, the Jade Emperor to say bad things. “Lu Xun poem that ‘Gazelle ‘the story, for “knowledge of the Later Han Yin Chuan”: “Xuan, the negative side by Shiko a sub-Ren Yan. wax on the morning of cooking, and see the Kitchen God-shaped, sub-side Zaibai by the Qing; home with Gazelle, The result of Yi Si. naturally had, the storm to the wealthy. to know III, and then Fanchang, it is often after the lesion and recommended La Gazelle on Si Yan. “Yin sub-side to see the Kitchen God, kill Gazelle worship, and later paid good luck, since then, the custom of killing Gazelle Jizao handed down a.

Tang and Song Dynasties Jizao offerings are quite extensive. Song poet Fan Chengda the “Jizao words” at that time were extremely civil Jizao vivid description: Ancient pass the twelfth lunar month XXIV Zao Jun overturned freely their opinion matters. Ma Yun car wind linger, families with cup abundance Code worship. Pisces pig overripe fresh, red bean Gan Song Mi bait round. Discretion to avoid the man offered his daughter, sprinkle the wine burn Zao Jun hi. Bizi struggle Mo Wen Jun, Jun Mo cat and dog foul touch angry. Song Jun drunk beyond the bounds of the door, a long spoon spoon short Wu Fu Yun, begging their fortunes back points.

The twelfth lunar month 23 Jizao have a close relationship with the New Year. Because, in the week after the New Year’s Eve night, so she took a kitchen god who should get the good and bad fortune, together with the other gods came to earth. Kitchen God is considered to lead the way for the sky gods. Other gods in heaven again after New Year, only the Kitchen God, will long remain in people’s kitchens. To meet the gods of the ceremony known as the “Theosophical” on the kitchen god is called “access kitchen.” Usually in the kitchen then New Year’s Eve, the ceremony is much simpler to just put a new kitchen when the lights, burn incense before the shrine in the kitchen even if the bin.

There is a saying that “men do not worship, women do not Jizao” argument. In some places, women are not Jizao, it was said, kitchen god looks like a small white face, afraid of woman Jizao, the “men and women too.” For the origins of the Kitchen God, that it has a long history. In Chinese folk gods, the Kitchen God’s eligibility be very old. Back in the summer generation, he is already enshrined in a great civil god. According to the ancient “Book of Rites ritual” Kongying Da Shu: “Master Li Zhuan Xu’s there for the Vulcan, worship the Kitchen God.” “Zhuangzi. Dasheng” reads: “stove with bun.” Sima Biao note said: “The bun, Vesta, the Chi Yi, shaped like a beauty. “” Bao Pu Micro-purpose ‘, he also reads: “On dark nights, the Kitchen God is also God white guilt.” The record is probably the source of God Jizao it. There, or that the Kitchen God is fire by rubbing sticks “Suiren”; or Shennong is the “fire officer”; or should we say, “Yellow Emperor for the kitchen” and “Suji Li”; or Vesta said Zhang, a list of words sub-Guo; everyone different.

Because different parts of customs, civil as well as “jump kitchen King” and “play kitchen king” activities. Jizao section, pay attention to people eating dumplings, from Italy, “dumplings off the windward side.” Eat cake and buckwheat mountain. Southeastern region, the popular custom of eating fried corn, Minyan with “Twenty-three, do not eat fried, Early – pot down” argument. People like to be bonded together with maltose corn, fried, frozen into a large, crisp and sweet taste.

Southeastern region popular among the two songs, one is “Twenty-three, pass the master on the day; XXIV sweep the house; XXV, steamed dumplings; XXVI, cut the meat; XXVII rub tin; xxviii, steep dirty; 29, feet, hands; 30, keeper, paste couplets together. ” Reflects the time constraints and intense preparation. The second is a nursery rhyme: “Twenty-three offerings strike kitchen, children clapped laugh. Another five or six days, bumper came. Evil spirits boxes, playing walnuts, little bit gun twice. Later in life ping-pong ring, than the days of high-rise fire. “reflecting the children look forward to New Year’s Viiv psychology. In all preparations, the clip is the most popular folk grilles activities.Content of a variety of animals and plants and other stories, such as the magpie Mui, wearing Tao Liu Yan, peacocks peony show, lion Gun Xiuqiu, three sheep (yang) Kaitai, Erlongxizhu, deer, crane Tong Chun (six contracts Spring) five bat (fu) holding life, rhino Mochizuki, lotus (even) in fish (other), mandarin ducks playing in the water, fringe theater cicada, Hop Immortals and so on. There are a variety of dramatic stories, folk with the “big Teng Temple, second plum, San Niang taught into the soil at four, five women birthday celebration Snow in June, July 7 with the Milky Way, the Eight Immortals Keiju nine clothing,” the statement reflects the the folk drama of the story of preference.The people have a new wife, new wife to bring their own system of grilles cut, paste husband back window, the neighbors also came to watch. After the twelfth lunar month 23, every household should spend steamed bun. Roughly divided into worship and visiting relatives with the two types.The former solemn, the latter fancy. In particular, making a jujube hill to prepare for worship Kitchen God. “A steamed bun flowers, neighbors to help.” This is often the smart folk craft to show women a great opportunity, a flower bun, is an arts and crafts.

Twelfth lunar month 23 after the household must write couplets. People pay attention to God must paste, every door will be posted, every thing will be posted, so the largest number of the Spring Festival couplets, the most comprehensive. Special attention to the gods before the couplet, mostly words of admiration and blessing. Common are the world God together: “Grace like the deep sea, to Germany, heavy as a mountain”; land God together: “soil health white, ground in a gold”; Wealth Alliance: “The sky financial resources the main, human Fluke God”; well God Union: “Well can pass the whole world, home of up to three rivers.” Side barn, livestock pens, etc. couplets, it is a warm celebration and hope. Such as “bumper harvest, domestic animals thrive”; “rice as a mountain thick, oil, salt and deep as the sea”; “Nanshan Tiger like cattle, horses, such as the North Sea Dragon”; “Big Sheep in Sheng, a small lamb by month” and so on. There are also some single joint, such as each room are posted “see the rise of hi”, Siemens posted across the “go see hi ‘, stir posted” Wang Qi sky “, the hospital posted” full House of golden “tree stickers” deeply rooted in the “stone posted” White Tiger down “and so on. Couplets on the door, is a facade, with special emphasis, or emotion, or scenery, rich, witty United beads.

Festival held stoves, they officially started preparations to meet the New Year. From the twelfth lunar month every year 23 to the Lunar New Year’s Eve only, this time our country folk called the “Spring Day”, also known as “sweeping dust day.” Year-end clean-up dust is swept, the North called “sweep room”, the South called “dusting.” Sweep the dust before the Spring Festival, is known as the traditions and customs of our people. Every Spring Festival, every household should clean up the environment, cleaning of utensils, washable bedding, curtains, sweep the six yard Lu Shan whisk dirt spider web, open channel dredging underground drain. North and south, the atmosphere of joy out of health, clean atmosphere of Spring.
“The twelfth lunar month XXIV dusting sweep the house,” the customs, long time. According to the “Spring and Autumn Annals” records, there is the Spring Festival in China in the era of Yao and Shun sweep dust customs. By the private sector saying: because of “dust” and “Chen” homophonic, spring sweep dust have “addition to the new cloth Chen,” meaning, the intention is to make all the “poor transport”, “bad luck” were all swept out. New channels of this practice sustenance of people’s wish and pray for New Year’s.

“Three dead God” in the body cause trouble Taoism said “God.” According to the “too much on the three dead in the Classic”, said: “Peng arrogant name on the corpse in the head; the dead were Peng quality, in the human belly; under the name of Peng Jiao dead, in the human foot.” Said every Gengshen day, the whereabouts of God they were evil Emperor Chan; but as long as people do not sleep all night that night, could have been avoided, called “defensive Gengshen.”

Kitchen to eat sugar, sugar is maltose kitchen, very viscous, it pumping for the long stick of sugar-type called “Kanto sugar”, drawn into oblate type is called “Tanggua.” Put it outside in winter, because cold weather, Tanggua solidification was solid and has some tiny air bubbles inside, crispy taste crisp, distinctive flavor. Kanto sugar really very hard, can not throw broken, to eat must be split with a kitchen knife, heavy material is very thin. Slightly acidic taste, in the middle is absolutely no cell, each weighing one or two, twenty-two, 42, a number of more expensive price. Sesame seeds and sugar have not divided the two sesame, melon-shaped made with sugar or Kitauri shape, the center is empty, thick skin is less than five, though of different sizes, but the deal still weight basis, there is a large Tanggua pounds of weight one, but as a pretext, very few people buy.

The twelfth lunar month twenty-five

Days on the old customs that the Kitchen God, Emperor of the Jade Emperor in person at the lower bound of lunar December 25 and investigate human good and evil, fortune and is scheduled for the coming year, so every family festival of the blessing, known as the “take Jade.”On this day living, speech should be cautious, for good performance to win the hearts and minds of the Jade Emperor, bless the coming year.

Song Zaoshen only on days to bring back New Year’s Eve, during which human atheism jurisdiction holds-barred, folk and more funerals, known as the “age of chaos in time.” Chaotic years of age is designed to regulate the people for their own specific time of social life. End of the year-end, people with leisure and savings, usually rare for people who have the energy to make arrangements for the event, this is a good time. Therefore, real-life needs of people according to the invention of this special time folk. Can be seen, in the traditional society, people rely on folk life of the order is to adjust the.

According to Tian silkworm also called “burning fields silkworm”, “Field burning money”, is popular in the southern area of ​​civil pray customs. This day will be the twelfth lunar month twenty-five torch strapped up in the fields of Chang Gan, divining the New Year with a flame, the flame is harbinger of the coming year prosperous harvest. Some places in the New Year’s Eve at the event.

Festival of Lights is one thousand Mongolian, Daur religious festivals. Mongolian “the next dry Zhuola”, which means one thousand Lantern Festival. The twelfth lunar month twenty-five this day, to do “that dry Zhuola” to the temple to light that points the more the more auspicious. This holiday customs, most Mongolians in Xinjiang virrat popular. Local people on this day to eat roast beef and mutton, a traditional sports recreation activities.

The twelfth lunar month twenty-seven

Traditional folk to focus on these two days to take a bath, laundry, remove the bad luck year in preparation for next year’s Chinese New Year, the capital of “twenty-seven wash remorse disease, xxviii wash dirty” adage. The twelfth lunar month twenty-six bath to “wash Fluke.”

Twelfth lunar month 28

In rumor goes: “twelfth lunar month 28, rice cake steamed bun paste flower.”

The so-called flower paste is posted paintings, scrolls, grilles, and various god code. Which couplets from the ancient custom of the “Spring Festival.” To ward off evil in ancient mahogany trees, “Code surgery,” said: “Peach who, five fine wood also, so those who are evil-volt pressure.”

The Five Dynasties period, the Shu monarch Meng Chang Ya good literature, he every year ordered wrote the Spring Festival, a later couplets marked the beginning, and wrote in the Spring Festival “on New Year’s satisfied Yuqing, Ka section number Changchun”, has become a documented history of China first deputy on the “couplets.”

Later, with the advent of papermaking, there came to the post scrolls of red paper instead of the custom cherry wood.

Old Beijing customs –

Surface of the twelfth lunar month twenty-eight steamed buns made twelfth lunar month 29

The twelfth lunar month twenty-eight face hair, ready to staple food, baking, teaching in the past is no quick hair powder, it is not easy to put an ordinary face, baking does not love the bad, so twenty-eight this day baking, prepare the first day -five staple food, there twenty-seven sent to the surface, xxviii this day is steaming with steam Zaohua date, these stuffed.

Children according to old arguments that start from the first to fifth day of the bread and stir-fry over high heat can not move, so the old habits in the Danian twenty-eight Beijing, twenty-ninth two days to do the staple food. As the Spring Festival avoid doing steamed, fried, fried, baked and other cooking, and steam and fight homophonic, homophonic fried and noisy, fried and fried (four tones) euphony, branded and off the euphony, are unlucky, so the old Beijingers in years ago, the family have enough to eat steamed bread a week or so, called the following year to eat.

New Year’s feast of steamed food in addition to bread, there are some other pasta. Shizong descendants Wanyan Zuo Yin in the “test Kangxi relic anecdotes accessories listed in” New Year’s feast of steamed Manchu had: steamed buns, steamed hi, steamed rolls, steamed Zaoni side garden, steamed red bean bag round, steamed bread descendants, steam wishful wraps. Chinese New Year when the bread, the above points to be used for rouge red dot to show auspicious. Now the absence of so many taboos, want to eat bread during the Spring Festival, you can buy at any time.

People praying in the new year family and the U.S. United States, proceeds smoothly, so he deliberately discordant harmonic things that sound to eleven away. Although this steamed bread baking something a little trouble, but there are a lot of people are still willing to stick to this elders passed down in culture.

Twelfth lunar month 29

The day before New Year’s Eve, called “Little New Year’s Eve,” family home banquet, people between the visit is “not old.” Incense in the outdoors, called “Fantasy”, usually three days.

Over time for years, the traditional festival of Tujia, also called the “annual adjustment.” Tujia one or more days earlier than the Han Chinese Spring Festival.

The twelfth lunar month 30 – New Year’s Eve

Annual Lunar New Year’s Eve is the evening of the last day of the twelfth lunar month, with Chinese New Year (first day) end to end, also known as “New Year’s Eve.” “New Year’s Eve” in the “addition” is the word ‘go; easy; alternate “means New Year’s Eve means” to do on the poor old “people have a new addition to the old unit, there is the old year and in addition to this, other new ones coming year old means is a lunar year last night. Therefore, during the activities are centered around the new addition to the old unit, Prayer for the center.

Zhou, Qin period of a year will do when the palace to hold a “big Nuo” the ceremony, drumming expel pestilence ghost, known as “by addition”, after the day before New Year’s Eve, also known as a small addition, that Xiaonian Ye; except for the big New Year’s Eve, the Danian Ye.

Goalkeeper has posted all over the country the custom of New Year. The original carved mahogany door god is for the human form, hanging next to the man, later painted door god portraits posted on the door. Legendary god Tu, Yu Lei brothers special tube ghost, they hold a door, the size of evil can not start damage. After the Tang Dynasty, there are paintings Reggie Qin Qiong, Yuchi King Tak as the keeper of the two, as well as draw Guan Yu, Zhang Fei as the keeper of. Households around the statue of a door, and their offspring often put one pair of door gods painted a text of a force. Keeper of three types: first is the “door keeper” and more attached to the door or the door on the whole, about four five feet high, two feet wide. The second category is “Street gate keeper” and more posted on the street door, about two feet high, one foot wide. Both goalkeeper is a bad cop bad cop a two deity.Black and white left-right, white good and easy, black and odious, each armed with lance ax. The third category is the “door keeper”, smaller than the Street gate keeper is limited, but also black and white two gods, but there is a black and white statue of the gods. Door up to the posted “unicorn ever been,” like, two powder coated grease comb Fu crown prince doll, all by Kirin. The goalkeeper, shall be affixed to the door on a new marriage, in order to get lucky, and later also for ordinary street door of the New Year dressing up.

Couplets Yiming, “the door of the”, “Spring quote,” is a couplet, as posted in the Spring Festival, hence the name. One source is the Spring Festival couplets. Initially it was the peach wood hanging on the door to ward off evil human form, the door was painted on the statue in mahogany, cherry wood board and then reduced to the keeper’s name inscribed. Another source of spring couplets posted. Beginning Day posted in more than the ancients, “Yichun” word, the latter gradually developed into couplets. Real popularity began in the Ming Dynasty scrolls, and advocate of the emperor. According to the ancient Shang Qing Chen, “hairpin Guoyunlou miscellaneous said,” recorded a year to prepare the New Year when the emperor ordered to be posted one on each door couplets, to show to celebrate. The original scrolls inscribed in mahogany board, and later rewritten in the paper. Mahogany color is red, red with good fortune, the meaning of evil, so most red paper couplets written. But the temple with yellow paper, mourning (mourning under) white, green and yellow, with white the first year, second year green paper, yellow paper the third year, fourth year of mourning before resuming full red the paper. Because of the Manchu still white, clear court couplets with white, blue bag on the outside edge, red stripe inlay on the inside.

When the midnight delivery is midnight, New Year’s bell sounded, over the entire land of China, firecrackers rang Sky. In this “Year of the yuan per month, when the yuan” and “triple” time, some places still in the yard barrier “stir,” to show the busy air sky, booming prosperous. Stir around in burning, the children set off firecrackers, happy to jump, then, the lights inside the house is brightly lit, pre-trial is a bright spark, and outside is the sound of thunder, the excitement of New Year’s Eve into a climax . Ancient poet of letters is always the best poem in praise of the coming New Year.Wang’s “Mongol” poem:

Firecrackers of the year, vase into the Su Tu.

  1000 10000 Hitomi Hitomi days. The total of the new replace the old character.
Paste the word blessing, stickers grilles, paste pictures, put up thousands, which have a prayer, folk decorated home features. New Year is one of China’s ancient folk arts, he reflects the customs and beliefs of the masses, is entrusted with the people hope for the future. Paintings, scrolls, and also as the origin of the “keeper.” Couplets by the god Tu, Yu Lei’s name and the development of the text, and painting along the direction of still pictures. With the rise of printing, wood, paintings of the content is not limited to keeper and the like, and eventually go home to the God of Wealth, and then in a number of paintings produced in the workshop “Gods Samsung map”, “day official blessing.” “bumper harvest”, “domestic animals thrive”, “Spring Blessings” and color pictures, happy people pray to meet the good wishes. Advocate for the Spring Festival couplets the first Ming emperor, along with the paintings also affected by the prevalence of open, there have been three important paintings Origin: Taohuawu Suzhou, Tianjin and Shandong Weifang Yangliuqing; the formation of the three major schools of our pictures. Early Republic of China, Shanghai Zheng Mandolin calendar and New Year will combine the two. This is a new form of pictures. This combined two into one of the paintings, later developed into a calendar. Linked to thousands, is to use auspicious words engraved on red paper on top, one foot in length with Zhi, stick the front, and Spring Festival with shine. The figures on the Eight Immortals, the Buddha before the hanging. More than one thousand people linked to household use it, it’s less aristocratic families. The three-inch long yellow paper, red paper over inch long, is “small hanging 1000″, as used by City restaurants. When is the earliest system of money linked to one thousand (coins) hanging string, and the lucky money, have won the role of pressure.

Set world tables, this is a temporary altar is dedicated New Year’s Eve of the table. Usually no special attention to large temple of heaven and earth desk at home, because usually offer less for the Buddha, to the end of the year-old Buddha do when a big reward, in addition, this table is mainly used for the Theosophical. World tables of contents with different perennial temple, in addition to a total of hanging money, incense, five for large than for its worship of idols is also affected by mostly temporary, such as: “percentage”, which is a wood statues carved version of the album; “Heaven and earth realms eighteen Buddhist gods”, is a wood with a large yellow water color of the creators Mao Bianzhi code; Gods Samsung portraits. Above all, as some Theosophical after incineration, such as “percentage.” Some are required to break five, or even to the Festival of Lights was burned. Put the position of the table is not a unified world, such as the main room where large, can be placed in the house, such as the house without land, they placed in the courtyard. Legend of the night when the lower bound for the heavenly gods, so people have this Theosophical customs.

Shou Sui in New Year’s Eve with our private habits, the common name “boil years.” Shou Sui to eat dinner from the beginning, Dayton dinner to eat slowly, take a seat from Zhangdeng hours, some people have to eat late at night. According to were awe-struck “starter at the age of mind,” the records, at least in the Northern and Southern Dynasties has been the custom to eat dinner. Shou Sui practices, both on the water with the years passing farewell feelings of nostalgia, but also for the coming New Year wish to send to a better meaning.

Firecrackers to celebrate Chinese New Year of our people depict a grand festive scene. Sound is a sign of New Year firecrackers, festive mood of outpouring. Business people. Meaning there is another round of fireworks: they put firecrackers in the New Year’s Eve night school to the new year big fat Italian. However, according to old habits that respect the God of Wealth to vie with one another, set off fire crackers to bring up the rear. Legend, those who want to get rich, firecrackers to ring in the end be considered sincere.

Children playing firecrackers when the housewives in the kitchen is also the most busy time, New Year’s feast days are the first well, but always in the New Year’s Eve dinner the same day the chef to make it. In the north, New Year’s dumplings have to pack up within thirty at night. Then every family of cutting boards are busy in the thump thump thump to cut meat, vegetable. At this point, every household heard the sound of the chopping block, the streets came the sound of firecrackers, shop shop came the “crackling” sound and cadence of the calculations are accounted for sound, and then mixed with the laughter everywhere, one after another, ocean Yinger, woven into a lively music of New Year’s Eve.

Eat dinner, is the most popular happy New Year when every household. Danian Ye. Filled with rich New Year’s dinner table, family reunion, sitting around the table, a total of reunion dinner, my heart is really difficult to put into words the sense of fulfillment. People enjoy the full table of food containing both dishes, but also to enjoy the happy atmosphere share the table with dishes, pots of cold, hot dishes, snacks, general and ultimately two things, one pot. The first fish. Pot boiling, steaming, warm and sultry, indicating booming; “fish” and “I” homonym is a symbol of “more than auspicious”, is also metaphor for the “annual surplus.” There radish commonly known as turnips, wish good luck; lobster, fish and other fried food explosion, I wish the family fortune prosperity such as “fire cooking oil.” Finally, more for a sweet, sweet sweet blessed days ahead honey, this day, if not drinking, but also how much to drink that.

New Year

New Year’s tricks many different parts of north and south, there are dumplings, ravioli, long face, lantern, etc., and their own stress. Northerners used to eating dumplings Chinese New Year is to take the inter-face “more years of age pay child” means. And because the flour dumplings shaped like silver ingots, pots of the tables a symbol of “New Year fortune, gold roll in.” means. Some dumplings, the boiling water after disinfection also several coins into the bag, tell you who was the first eating, and will be able to make more money. The custom of eating dumplings, is passed down from the Han Dynasty. According to legend, St. Medical Zhongjing in deepest winter, to see the poor ears were frozen rotten, they produced a “dispelling the cold Jiao ear soup” to the poor governance of frostbite. He lamb, pepper and some dispelling the warm medicines, into the ear with a face like a bag, “Jiao ear”, the pot boiled, give to the poor to eat, people to eat, I feel whole body warming, ears fever. , People follow the do, has been passed down to today. New Year to eat ravioli, whichever is the meaning of the early opening. Legend of the previous generation the world is chaotic state, Pangu epoch, the universe only four, long face, also called longevity noodles. New Year noodles, is a pre-birthday long years.

New Year’s money is distributed by the elders, younger, and some home after dinner is finished, everyone at the table not allowed to go, so we are finished, issued by the younger elders and encouraged the children and grandchildren in the new year learning self-improvement, a good man.Some people are children of the parents to be fast asleep at night, on their pillow, the more people are children who gathered at the main hall, shouting grandparents, parents Happy New Year, lined up bow; then ask for a red envelope. Grandpa even recovered her mother’s bedroom, the bed went together, a lot of noises special shout: “lucky money, lucky money!” Elderly not enough excitement, pretending to be stingy, besieged by the bargain to explore, and finally dug out red envelopes of our ancestors, We looted, it sped scattered. This scenario was overjoyed every elderly, that this is the New Year every success good luck. New Year to New Year’s money, reflecting the care of the younger elders, respect for elders and younger people, ethics is an integrated family relationship folk activities.

Nursery Rhymes

Samsung in the South, every family New Year;

Junior children’s kowtow, elders give money to children’s.

No money, Niulian children left.

Theosophical distinction for the old and new years, but have not unified the Theosophical time.Some one to midnight ceremony began, some to the “child is” when the midnight start Theosophical, while others are in the “child is” after the party received. Jizao, the gods are back to the Temple, ignore human mundane, to the New Year’s Eve, after midnight, the new year comes, they come to earth director. Theosophical ceremony held at the world table, the longest by a host family. Because the gods of the different orientation of the home to heaven, when the lower bound to the direction of the naturally different, as then any god, where god come from, to pre-check is good, “written constitution”, and then move to lead the family in the hospital in Hong access by position God.Xinwei years as the “constitution book” on the instructions: “God of Wealth east, south mascot, your God, northeast, southwest hi god, Jupiter southwest of God.” By position Koushou Libi, the incense stood to be doing, kowtowed again, and finally the root incense, statues, gold ingots removed, placed in a prepared already in the hospital burning money and grain basin. Incineration with burning pine, sesame stalks and so on. Theosophical when the firecrackers, the atmosphere is very strong.

Theosophical, it will spread sesame stalks from the street door to door, people walk on, pops pair of silent, known as the “hit-year-old,” also called “step away evil spirits.” As the “broken” and “evil spirit” are homonyms, began to drive out the evil spirit to take New Year’s means.

Ancient, ancestor worship rituals are filled. Due to the different parts of customs, different forms of worship, some to the wild Joan ancestral tomb. Han Chinese ancestors, most do fish bowl dishes, bowls filled with high, rather Zhongming Ding food intended. Southerners Refugees in Beijing, ancestor worship is particularly grand, most of the eight bowl dishes, set in the pot, cup and chopsticks set by the souls, in the New Year’s Eve, New Year, per night, will fan the pot, ready for cooking. Flag clan ancestors, Manchuria and Mongolia is different from the Mongolian yellow banner for the butter fried rice, fried with sesame oil withdrawal for the time, dipped in sugar, and another flavor. Manchu banner worship, for walnut cakes and hibiscus cakes, apple, plain wax sandalwood, quiet Su exception. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day cake for prime cooking, for the Spring Lantern Festival night, burning incense and kowtow to the daily morning and evening, offering for the new tea. Although the different forms of worship, most of all New Year’s Eve hanging shadow, Spring withdrawal for the night, close friends and family matter, New Year, also must call Ye Zuxian Tang, not just reverence for his ancestors Zhiyi is not deleted, because people respect the virtues of their ancestors , we also saved.

Old, from the Spring Festival from midnight to open the door money, there is sent to the God of Wealth, the hand holding a piece of paper printed the god of wealth at the door shouted: “Send Treasurer’s coming!” When the house owner, in order to welcome Wealth, they take the tips to come, sending the mouth of the God of Wealth, of course, always found something to say auspicious words. For example: “gold and silver roll in.” it! “Gold lion on the left side, right side of the Golden Phoenix ‘it! So like the mouth of color. There is also a God of Wealth is dressed as the appearance, wearing a red robe, wearing Shamao, fake beard hanging from his mouth, the yellow body carrying a money bag, followed by several drums, and from house to house God of Wealth like to distribute to discuss tips. Each door to others, it sang: “Zuoxiang library full of gold and silver, on the right treasure room full heap.” Unlucky, then a lot of discussion, without a break in the mouth, until the owner happy to take over as Treasurer goes on red paper , give them some money, those who play God of Wealth, profuse, you energetically beat while, in the sound of gongs and drums pound, Qiang Qiang, go to another home.

Su Tu wine is a wine. In the ancient custom, the Mongol family Su Tu drink wine, to remove errors of the gas. Su Tu wine production is: a money rhubarb, Campanulaceae, Chuanjiao each one fifth of the money, Guixin an eighth of the money, money cornel a half, wind one or two, to purple-red capsule containing the suspended wells, Yuan take effect on Yin Shi, Jiu Jian forty-five to boiling. Su Tu ancient drink wine, the method is very unique. Most people drink, always starting from the elderly to drink; Su Tu drink wine, but just the opposite, is from the young to drink from. About the young person grew up, the first drink to show their congratulations, while older people over a year at least one year, after drinking to show retention. Song writer Su Che’s “except on” Poetry: “The Su Tu mid last drink, feel more than seventy years.” That is the custom. This spectacular drink order, in ancient times often give rise to all kinds of emotion, and so it left a deep impression.

In the north, and some people even for a pot of rice, years ago, burned to for New Year, called “every festive dinner”, every year there are leftovers, eat throughout the year, this year also meant to eat grain previous years. This festive dinner across the basin is generally mixed with boiled rice and millet, Beijing slang called “two fermions rice” is white to yellow, which is called “gold with silver, gold and silver bowl full” and “gold and silver rice.” Many places in the Shou Sui fruit cakes prepared when are they want to seek the mouth auspicious color: eating dates (early spring), eating persimmons (all the best) eat almonds (happy people), eating Changsheng Guo (immortal ), eat cake (year after year). New Year’s Eve, the whole family, drink and music, laughing cheerfully.

First day

Spring Festival, commonly known as “New Year”, was originally called “New Year” in the Sui Dynasty Qing Du Taiwan “five candle Collection”, said: “Celebrate the end of May, the day of Mongol, Yiyun moving, Yiyun Yuanshuo.” “Dollars” The intention of the “head”, after the idea was “the beginning”, because this day is the first day of the year, the first day of spring, the first month of the first day, so called “Three”; because of the day or towards the aged, months North Korea, Japan’s North Korea, so called “dynasties”; and because it is the first Hatsumi, so called “Yuanshuo.” First day there the previous day, moving, three moon, three before and so another name, which means that first day is the year, month, day three started.

China is an old multi-ethnic country. Different historical periods have had different peoples according to their own cultural traditions and customs had their New Year’s Day determined that the words “our rules”, the beginning of a period of time to correct. Zhuan Xu Emperor and the summer generations to Meng first month Yuan, using built-yin of the lunar calendar to lunar calendar first day of New Year’s Day; Shang use Yin Li, Yin Li Jian ugly to lunar month first day of New Year’s Day; Zhou use week calendar, weekly calendar built son, who started for the New Year in lunar month; Qin Qin calendar use, Qin Li Jian Hai, the first day of the Lunar New Year’s Day; still use the pre-Qin Li Han, Han was in the beginning the first year (AD 104 years) to switch to Sima Qian, Luo created under the Hong primordial experience, again using the built-yin of the lunar calendar, the first day of the Lunar New Year’s Day. In addition to Wang Mang and once after the switch to build ugly Emperor Ming Yin Li, Tang Empress Wu and Su-tsung of the week when children use to build calendar, the lunar calendar of the dynasty to the Qing Dynasty are used.

Spring morning, open the door down, the first firecrackers, called “open firecracker.” Firecrackers, the broken red everywhere, illuminating as heavenly brocade, known as the “full house.” At this time the streets Bling ahead.

An important activity in the New Year, is home to friends and neighbors of new friends there, congratulations to Chinese New Year, formerly known as New Year. Han Chinese New Year of the wind, Han has. After the Tang and Song dynasties is very popular, and some do not have to go to the person, He can Mingtie vote. Eastern Han Dynasty, known as the “thorn”, it is business cards, also known as “name thorn.” Ming Dynasty, many people posted in front of a red paper bag, specializing Mingtie, called “door book.”

New Year is a traditional Chinese folk custom, people toot, another way to express good wishes.Ancient “New Year” is the original meaning of the New Year for the elderly Baihe, including kowtowing to the elderly salute, Happy New Year wishful, greetings and so on living well. In case of peer friends, but also salute congratulations.

In ancient times, Tang Huo Square neighborhood friends too difficult to door visited, with a business card on the servant sent to the New Year, known as the “flying post”, each bag in front of a red paste, write “Blessings” word, that is used for the bearing of flying posts. This custom began in the Song upper class. Qing Dynasty, “Yan units on order” to describe the Beijing New Year: “is the month also, the film fly, empty away.” Fashion. Large house special “door book” to record the guests and flyer between the door more than a virtual page book, “who went to the” four: a life Pai said the old man, living a hundred Square Lane; one reads more than the rich lords , live ingot Street; one reads your Promise adults, living scholar archway; one said Fu Zhao Lin lords, living Wufu floor.Geely plans to discuss with the mouth color. The New Year has presented New Year’s card, greeting cards, is to send each other flying posts of this ancient legacy.

Useful upper literati Mingtie He cast another customs. Zhou Hui Song, “Shiba magazine,” said: “Song Yuanyou years, New Year He Jie, often used on behalf of domestic servants who were stabbed to.” At that time the literati make friends widely, if the four-door New Year, both time-consuming, but also exhausting, so little to some close friends not in person, but sent the servant to take one kind of two-inch cut with a plum Jian Zhi wide, three inches long, marked with greeting people by name, address and congratulated the New Year on behalf of the discourse of the card to. Ye Ming people to vote instead of New Year. Ming Dynasty distinguished painter, poet Wen Zhengming in the “New Year” the poem describes: “Ye pass but does not seek to meet, were full of paper to shield toward the House; I cast in tandem with the number of paper, never too simple virtual world abhorred.” Here talks about “name thorn” and “name Ye” is the origin of today’s greeting cards. Greeting cards and greeted each other for emotional contact, convenient and practical, and even today is still popular is not bad.

From about the time the Qing Dynasty, the New Year have added “gathering” in the form of the Qing Dynasty in Yi-lan primary “side of the cap over Tan” said: “The capital in the beginning of the year, routine gathering, a joint-year friendship, to don his homeland,” “Every age set by the value off in the red book, eating dinner, for Jingri joy.”

With the development of the times, New Year’s customs are constantly adding new content and form.In addition to follow the past is now New Year approaches, the rise of the New Year’s telegraph and telephone etiquette New Year and so on.

But the first day to fifth day, most families are not receiving women, that the “avoid the door.” Only man to go out New Year’s, women are required to go until the first month after the sixth day visit.New Year’s activities should be extended for a long time, to the fifteenth day of the Festival of Lights around. New Year’s evening to the people called “worship Night Festival”, named after the tenth day “thanks to the Festival of Lights”, so there are “determined to New Year, Cold Food is not late,” the joke.

If for any reason less than routine rituals, in the future make up the line, that the “worship in his later years.”

Old people are beginning to enter the new few days to account for weather confront harvest this year.Said Han Dongfang Shuo began its “Year of account”, that after the age of 8, the day is chicken day, two day dog, three days for the pigs, 4 sheep, five days for the cow six days for the horse, seven great men, 8 for the Valley. If the day is clear, the main thing is the breeding, overcast day, the day of the Lord is not chang. Descendants along its learning, that first day to the tenth day, begin with clear weather, no wind, no snow for the guitar. Offspring from the accounting year-old into a series of ritual, celebration. Have started not kill a chicken, do not kill a dog two days, three days … … the seventh day is not a feminist is not the custom of execution.

Spring in the doors and windows painted on ancient chicken to drive evil ghosts. Jin dynasty people with the “mysterious in the mind ‘in talking about the moon in front of the mountain comes to the degree only Chicken, that is when the sun just rising, the first rays of sunlight shine on the trees that line when you cry Chicken Ming had. It is a cry, the world’s chicken is called to follow up. Spring chicken cut so that, in fact, a symbol of Chicken Little. However, there is the ancient myth that chicken is a bird heavy deformation argument. It is said that Yao Di, the side of the allies had one kind of tribute to ward off evil Shigeaki birds, we all welcome the emphasis that the birds come, but not every year tribute to the people on the heavy wooden carved out a bird, or copper Shigeaki Bird on the door, or doors and windows painted Shigeaki birds, scare away demons, so can not come back. Similar by Shigeaki bird-like chicken, the chicken after it has gradually changed to draw or cut window bars attached to the doors and windows, that later became a source of paper-cut art. Special attention to ancient China chicken, call it “Five Virtues of the birds.” “Hanshiwaizhuan’s Disconnection,” said its head a crown, is Bonaventure; feet away from the can after the fight, is Takenori; enemy front Ganpin, is fortitude; greeted with similar food, is benevolence; vigil yet When dawn crowing, is faith. So people do not cut the chicken in the New Year, but also the first day of New Year’s Day as a chicken.

Enrichment, vulgar mass first day as a broom birthday, this day can not use a broom, otherwise it will sweep away the luck, or even bankruptcy, while the “Sao Zhouxing” lead, lead to bad luck. If sweeping is not necessarily required to sweep from the outside to inside. This day can not be splashing out the trash, so afraid of bankruptcy. Today, many places still preserved a custom, Danian Ye swept away, New Year’s Day no broom, no trash, prepare a bucket to water containing the day nothing more than throwing.

Two days of the first month

Two days of festival in the first month in northern Fortuna, this day whether it is commercial shop, or the ordinary family, festival to be held in the God of Wealth activities. New Year’s Eve each connected to the worship of some god of wealth.Actually bought into the rough print incineration trouble. That day at noon to eat ravioli, commonly known as “ingot soup.” Sacrificial offerings with fish and lamb. Old Beijing’s big firms, both large-scale festival this day, offerings use the “five for”, that the whole pig, a whole sheep, whole chickens, whole ducks, red carp live, hope this year to making a fortune. Who is saying about the God of Wealth is not uniform, mainly in the following categories:

Zhao Gongming, was ordered by his Heavenly Master Zhang Shou Xuan Tan, also known as Zhao Xuan Tan. This person comes from the “Gods”, a late-bloomer to him as “wishful dragon is a dragon Xuantan Zhenjun God.” Zhao clear, the word the New Komeito, the Taoist god of basalt, commonly known as Zhao AD division. This said, comes from the “three religions of God found Daquan”, all the holy name is called: “the mains honest one Yuan Zhao Xuan Tan Tiger Wheel enforcement division.”

Fan Li: Spring and Autumn Period Goujian hands of the Minister, to help defeat Yue Wu, and later made a fortune in business, renamed Tao Zhu. Descendants regarded as the God of Wealth.

Guan Yu: Three of Guan Yu is a “round” characters, the most important duty, and descendants of the “righteousness” and “profit” equal treatment, regarded as the God of Wealth. Mostly dedicated to Guan Yu, who is generally firm, that he has a protective effect on firms.

The God of Wealth

In, Fan Li, Wen Wealth Wealth Xing Jun, Chao Tian, ​​Wu Guan Yu as God of Wealth. There are also those dedicated to Tai Baixing, known as the “wealth Xing Jun.” Because Tai Baixing also called Venus, with a will of the God of Wealth. There to Monkey, Lucky boy who is the God of Wealth.

Most of the people to Zhao Gongming mostly for its printed image is very powerful, black-faced thick beard, a consistent top helmet, hands Zhibian, painted around the pot of gold, large ingots, coral-like patterns, to be set off, you highlight the Furama the effect.

Flood the temple

Goalkeeper burning paper, when the old temple day and night to New Year period of pine branches and sections of the memo and other door hanging door god be incinerated in order to show complete years have passed, but also began to make a living. Proverbs are “burning the keeper of paper, look for physical individuals.”

People that flood the temple of millet birthday, this day I wish sacrifice pray, and fast rice.

Small in North Korea, the feast day. Song court holiday, the first year of Emperor Song Dazhong Xiangfu, declined due to human transmission with hieroglyphics, Shinshu under the edict, will flood the temple feast on for days, officials and other leave days. Later in the DPRK, said small, not sweep the floor, not begging the fire, do not draw water, and towards the same age.

Fifth day of the first month

Fifth day of first month, commonly known as break five. Folk one that broke many taboos over the previous five days Jieke broken. According to the old habit of eating “water dumplings” 5, North called “boiled cake.” Today, some people eat three or two days, some every other day to eat, but do not not eat. Princes street from the mansion to the case of small farmers are

Wu Si is offering households God, Kitchen God, earth god, keeper, the line of God, the so-called “road head”, that Wu Si in the very God. Where the God of Wealth for the sheep’s head and carp to be,

Sheep’s head for the “auspicious” meaning for carp is a map “fish” and “I” homophonic, poetry auspicious. As long as people can be confident that the God of Wealth manifestation can become rich.

Therefore, every New Year, people are fifth day 0:00 in the first month, opened the door and windows burning incense set off fire crackers, fireworks, point to welcome the God of Wealth. Took the God of Wealth, you have to eat the way the first wine, tend to eat the morning. Full of rich people’s hope, I hope God of Wealth can bring home gold and silver, in the new year, big fat rich.

Road head Wu believed in God is a God of Wealth. Vulgar Yishi day for his birthday, offering to meet the sun, is quite spectacular.

Streams of people out, worship God in order to safe road, this is the “ancestral Road” is vulgar; Wu vulgar access road head, and the festival is also the way of God, and this way God becomes the God of Wealth. Way God becomes the God of Wealth is the result of commercial development, increasing the circulation of wealth and goods. Wealth and goods to and from the water between land, people intuitively believe that some kind of dominated the way wealth and goods.

Customs that access road head, the sooner the better, God is first received, particularly efficacious, so called “stolen road head.” In some places, it is really the fourth day of the Mongol “rush rush road head” of, and bent along into the vulgar. Since the way of God is no longer the protector of Streams, people will no longer travel time to go to worship in it.

As for the way people worship in the fifth day of January, the first God, and thus on their birthday, is in God’s Rd “five” and the fifth day of the “Five” involved with the rules. North Festival this day “five poor” as well. In the first month than other months, is taken from the New Year new atmosphere, auspicious year plans, financial resources lush, East and West, and thus wealth Rd.

Fifth day of the first month “to send the poor”, is a useful feature of China’s ancient folk customs of the age. On this day each woman made of paper, known as “sweeping clear mother”, “five poor women” and “five poor mother”, toting bags, sweep the house dirt bag, sending artillery bombing of the fuel door. This custom is also known as “send the poor soil,” “poor wife to send out.” Shaanxi area, avoid breaking five day out, and fresh meat to the pot on the grill, but also stir Madou, so that it cracked voice, that this gas can collapse in addition to the poor, and seek fortune. In addition, the old New Year’s Eve or the fifth day of the first month to eat special bread, commonly known as “poor hole fill.” Wide range of popular folk custom of sending poor, reflecting the general desire of our people New Year, bid farewell to old of poverty, new year’s tradition of psychological good life.

Head Road, also known as “Five Roads God.” He said there is a Yuan Dynasty Rd, to resist Waikou died, so that people worship him as God, the name “Five Roads God.” However, this seems Rd God as the God of Wealth God not involved the way the first Rd. Or Youyi Rd God the Holy Spirit is actually five, or say five speaks, in the reign of Emperor Kangxi Tang Bin ban destroyed the top of Temple Mount after the five-pass, not worship five people speaks, it changed its name and the worship of the first road . General as head of the ancient Wu Si Road, in the line of God, the so-called East and West Rd is also; wealth and goods by road with all the line, so people of God as the God of Wealth to the line, would like to add worship, seeking it cited financial entry, or travel profit. Ancient

Old customs during the Spring Festival since the size of shops closed from New Year’s Day, and in the first month, fifth day of the opening. Fifth day of the month for the fiscal secular holy day, that will choose this day opened Fortune.

Sixth Day First month

Sixth Day “to send the poor”

Sixth Day “to send the poor”, is a useful feature of China’s ancient folk customs of the age. Its meaning is offering to send beast (Qiongshen). Beast, also known as “the poor child.” According to Chen Yuan Liang Song “at the age of Hiroki” drawing “Zong prepared to ask,” reads: “Zhuanxu digoxin, the palace a son, could not finish coat, the palace known as the poor child and subsequently the first month dark death, burial palace of, with that said ‘today sent the poor child.’ “legend beast is Zhuanxu

Son. His weak little body, likes to wear rags, porridge. Even if the new clothes for him, he also torn or

After the fire out of its hole to wear, so “the poor child number palace.” The custom of sending the poor quite popular in the Tang Dynasty, Han Yu, a great writer once wrote, “to send the poor Man,” which stated: “(master) three divisions of the military’s beast and said: ‘heard a Japanese sub-line men, and I There are resources to send grace, children and other interested in the line of peace ‘? “Yao Tang Dynasty also wrote a poem” Misoka send poor three, “the first song which goes: every year to this day, thanks to Street Lek wine. Ten thousand one thousand of view, no do not send poor. Widespread folk custom of sending poor, reflecting the general desire of our people New Year, bid farewell to old of poverty, new year’s tradition of psychological good life.

Seventh day the first month

Man-days known as “Man wins Festival”, “human feasts”, “Population Day”, “seven people” and so on. Legend of Nu Wa initial creation, create a Jigou in pork, beef, horses and other animals, after the seventh day create a person, so this day is the birthday of human beings. Han dynasty folk festival was on, after paying attention to Wei. Ancient man-days are wearing “who wins” the customs, who wins is a headdress, known as color wins, Huasheng, from the Jin dynasty began to cut the ribbon for the flowers, cut the ribbon man, or man to engrave gold paste screen, also worn on the the hair.There is also the custom of climbing poetry. After the Tang Dynasty, more attention to this festival.Each condemns day, the emperor gave the ministers who wins thread color, and climb banquet ministers. If the first month, seventh day the weather clear, the main population of peace for one year, and out smoothly.

This day people eat Chunbing volume “box food” (cooked food), and pancake stalls in the courtyard, “smoke blackening the sky.”

Qibao soup, soup made with seven vegetables, when consumed in man-days, in order to get good omen, and that this matter can remove evil, cure-all. Different parts of the property, the use of different fruit and vegetables, intended to take, there are differences. Guangdong Chaozhou mustard, kale, leeks, spring vegetables, celery, garlic, thick flap vegetables; Hakka with celery, garlic, onions, parsley, chives add fish, meat, etc.; Taiwan, Fujian, with spinach, celery, onion and garlic, chives, mustard, shepherd’s purse, cabbage and so on. Including celery and onions trillion intelligent, skilled in calculating trillion garlic, mustard is longevity, so many.

Eighth day of the first month

Valley Day, the birthday of the legendary eighth day of the millet. That day the weather clear, the main rice harvest this day, the day was overcast then apologized.

Shun Xing Festival, also known as Star. Eighth night, the first month, regardless of whether people go to the temple to burn incense worship Xing Jun (ie, cis-star), so the sky after a homogeneous star, each star to be held in a cis-worship ceremony. Festival star, to the desk, stove, threshold, Guotai, etc. and put on a “golden light” (yellow flowers) and light, called “flowers scattered light”, there are ominous meaning than to avoid. After the Star Festival, the Lantern Festival the whole family together to eat. Ninth month
ninth month is the highest god of heaven Jade Emperor’s birthday, commonly known as “Lord of Heaven,” “Jade will be.” Taoism called “Yuanshi Senior” is to dominate the universe’s highest God, he is commanding the ten realms of human spirits, gods and the highest God, the supreme representative of the “day.” Rumors of the deities in heaven, on this day to be a grand celebration, the birthday of the Jade Emperor in the afternoon return back to Luan Temple.

His birthday, it will hold ceremonies to the table to celebrate, to worship God in the ceremony, very grand, starting from midnight until four o’clock that day, you can constantly hear the sound of firecrackers.

Tenth day the first month

Stone birthday, the day where grinding, milling and other stone tools could not move, and even set up offering Xiangsi

 Stone, fear of injury to crops. Also known as “stone does not move,” “Ten does not move.” To this day every family in Henan custom stone cense. Lunch will eat steamed cake that Chibing within a year will be fortunes. There are other places in Shandong Yuncheng God lift a rock move. Ninth night, it will be a jar frozen in a smooth stone head, tenth day morning, cans tied to the nose, take turns carrying the jar by ten young man to go. Year indicates the stone does not fall harvest.Old folk customs letter. In the first month at the Si mouse activity, also known as “rats married woman,” “rats married.” Dates vary, and some in the first month, seventh day, and some in the first month XXV, the first month in many areas is the tenth day. Pingyao County, Shanxi tenth day of the bread set foot of the wall, the name “He married female rats.” 17 places in Hunan Ning as “rats married women” avoid open the cabinet of the day, afraid to disturb the mouse. The night before, children will be candy, peanuts, put the shadows and large objects such as large pot dustpan knock played for rats Cui makeup the next morning, the Shuxue occlusion, that is you can never disappeared since then. Some regions in mice married women go to bed very early days, nor to disturb the mouse, vulgar that you disturbed it one day, it is disturbing you for one year.

“Married female rats,” folklore, very popular in our country. However, around the “rat married woman,” the time

Is different.In the southern area of ​​folklore, that mouse is harmful, inauspicious, so the lunar New Year’s Eve night to have it married, to ensure safe good luck next year. Shanghai suburbs in some places that married female rats in Sixteenth day, that night, every household fried sesame candy is ready to get married candy mice.

In the north, married female mice 25 in the first month of the evening. In this night, not every household lighting, the whole family sitting on white picket fence, quietly, but the dark eating flour made of “rat claw claw”, “scorpion tail” and fried beans. Do not light up, do not say anything mean to marry female mice provide a convenient, married for fear of disturb the happy event. Eat “rat claw claw,” said the rat paw itching expected, good up earlier action; eat “scorpion tail” that is to marry a female rat hole will not hurt by the scorpion. Fried soybean issued Ga bang Cui Xiang, seems to be married to rats firecrackers.

Married women in rats at night, Hunan Zixing area in the corner, hallway Biancha candles, meaning

The mice were married shone brightly lit through the road.”Married female rats,” “mouse get married,” the paintings and folk paper-cut in China as a “mascot”, holidays, on the wall and windows. Sichuan Mianzhu printed “mice married women” paintings, showing a group of rats carry on shoulders flag umbrella, gong trumpet, carrying the bride wedding.While this group of ugly class swaggering through the streets of the time, waiting for their rhubarb is a cat. Paving the way in front of a pair of mouse rat brother brother, one of which has been the cat’s claws to seize, the other cat is biting in the mouth. At this point, sitting in the sedan chair, “bride”, knowing doom, burst into tears.

Fifteenth

Lantern Festival is China’s major traditional festivals, also known as Lantern Festival, per night, also known as the Lantern Festival, the New Year because it is the first full moon night. Yin ancient customs of this festival have lanterns, it is also known as the Festival of Lights. Lantern Festival vulgar form a longer process, according to the general information and folk legend, the fifteenth day has been taken seriously in the Western Han Dynasty, Emperor Wu of Han Xin the first month on Temple worship night at the Oasis “too a” campaign, by later generations as for the fifteenth day worship the gods of the precursor. However, the fifteenth day as a real folk festival in the Han later.Han culture, the introduction of Buddhism, for the formation of the Lantern Festival has an important impetus vulgar meaning.

Yongping Han Emperor Ming period (AD 58–75), to promote Buddhism by Emperor Ming, Cai Daniel coincides with Buddhism from India to seek return of, say India’s Mount Tuo country drink every fifteenth day, the monks gathered to pay tribute to Buddha relic, is the parameter Buddha’s auspicious really good time. Han Emperor Ming to promote Buddhism, ordered the fifteenth night in the palace and temple, “Lotus Lantern Table Buddha.” Hence the custom of fifteenth Enlightening night with the expansion of cultural influence of Buddhism and Taoism in China to join gradually expand. The Lantern Festival is vulgar because it is the real driving force at the new point in time, people take advantage of this special time of life stage to express their wishes.

Lantern Festival lights up the custom, unprecedented in the Tang Dynasty to become the city of lights, the Tang Dynasty, has developed into a universal carnival. Xuanzong (AD 685–762) when the Kaiyuan prosperity, Chang’an city of the size of a large lamp, Enlightening fifty thousand, lantern variety, the emperor ordered to do huge floor lamps, Quanta 20, 150 feet high, golden bright, very spectacular

After continuous development history of the Lantern Festival, the Festival of Lights of longer and longer. Tang Dynasty Lantern Festival is “the day before Spring” Song also added in the sixteenth after two days, then extended to the Ming Dynasty by the eighth day of the eighteenth full ten days

To the Qing Dynasty, the Manchu Central Plains, the court will not do lantern, folk lantern is still spectacular. Date reduced to five days, continues today

“Riddles,” also known as “playing riddles” is an activity increased after the Lantern Festival, in Song Dynasty. Southern Song Dynasty, the capital Lin’an during the Lantern Festival, when the system fans, many people guessing. Began as Nosey the riddle written on a piece of paper, attached to the bright lights of the lanterns for persons guess. Because the riddle can inspire wisdom and interest, so the spreading process was welcomed by all sectors of society.

Tang and Song Dynasties, when light began to appear all kinds of circus skills Shangwang. Ming and Qing dynasties light Shangwang addition to riddles and 100 opera singing and dancing, it had also added the contents of the opera.

Ancient people in addition to travel outside the city lights, there are welcome Zigu festival toilet God, walking across the bridge touch nail diseases such as customs, have hit the peace drum, Yangko, stilts, dragon, lion and other game. At the same time, but also eat festive food: Northern and Southern Dynasties and the Lantern Festival to eat meat and animals with the Congee or rice boiled oil, the Tang Dynasty to eat something called “surface cocoon” of pasta and coke Shi chase (ie, scones) , the Song of salt and soy bean flour soup made subjects fighting soup, and a “maroon”, eat after the Lantern Festival Lantern of the North and South are learning.

 During the lantern festival, young men and women meet with the timing lover, so the Lantern Festival has become China’s “Valentine’s Day.”
Lantern Festival is a traditional rural society, a large emphasis on folk festival, the Lantern Festival in the bustling city is particularly strong, it reflects the unique carnival spirit of the Chinese people. The traditional Lantern Festival hosted by the customs of daily life function has been digested, people gradually lose the spirit of common interest, complex folk festival has been reduced to “eat the Lantern,” the Sisu.

Send baby light referred to as “send light”, also known as “flowers Light”, etc., that is, before the Lantern Festival, her parents marry off their daughters at home to the new light flowers, wedding gift or general infertile relatives home, in order to add Dingji Zhao, because ” Light “and” D “harmonics.The custom in many places, Xi’an area is sent during the first month to fifteen eighth day lights, large lanterns first year to send a pair of glass lamps are painting a pair hope that their daughter married to come, Lin Early child; such as pregnant daughter, then in addition to large lanterns, but also get twelve pairs of small lanterns, and wished her daughter safe during pregnancy.

Ying Zi Gu, Zi Gu also called Qi (g) Regardless, the North said the toilet more than Regardless, pit Sangu. Fifteenth day of the ancient folk customs to meet God Zigu Erji toilet, divination sericulture, and accounting for public thing. The legend Zigu concubine for the people, for large women are jealous, the fifteenth day of the cubicle was killed, a toilet of God, so people mostly women made Zigu of shape, and meet at night in the toilet room and worship of the pigsty . The popular custom throughout North and South, Southern and Northern Dynasties era found in early records.

Travel sickness, also known as diseases go, casual sickness, take the bridge, is a good of prayer healthy activities. Women Meet the Lantern Festival night travel, go hand in hand, will see over the bridge, thought that it would illnesses and sickness.

Popular area of ​​Guizhou Province, Huang Ping, Miao festival stealing food in the annual Lunar New Year is held. Festival this day, the girls would steal someone’s home in groups of food, non-stealing the family, same-sex friends can not steal, because stealing Knight’s love affair with them on. His food is limited by the cabbage, the number of people eating a meal can be enough. Not afraid to steal food was found to be copies of the others is not to blame. Discovery to the food we put together, do the cabbage dinner. Who is said to eat up, who was loved back, while most of the strong support of the silkworm, the silk is the best spit up.

The traditional festival of Yi in the Lunar New Year festival Bau. “Bau” means “hunting return.” Found in Yunnan, the Yi branch of the Black Heqing living residential area. This section was originally a celebration when the hunters returned from the custom, then move, without a fixed holiday. Old people back pack hunting prey, to hunt the command of the beast, animal skins for hunting people, meat is grilled, during which the beast before the skins with, people from, around the fire to reproduce the hunting action. After the meat cooked, everyone eating. Later evolved into a fixed holiday.

Chinese New Year Psalm

Mongol (Song Wang)

Firecrackers of the year, vase into the Su Tu;

1000 10000 Hitomi Hitomi day, the total of the new replace the old character.

Su Tu wine (Ming Qu)

Purple fairy granted treasure overlooking the square, the new promise is the first taste of youth.

King’s harvest was ordered to tone, stretch down bag full rejuvenation.

Well the night six thousand feet, gold liquid, into the nine-Xia Xiao spring feast.

Feng Li from the beginning put the number of daily visits Zuixiang cup holders.

New Year (Ming Wen Zhengming)

Ye seek to meet but do not pass, to the full name of the paper toward the spacious Cottage.

I voted in tandem with the number of paper, never too virtual world situation too simple.

Fengcheng New Year speech (clear check Cautious)

Qiao Sheng test Silla cut streamers, color painting for trouble gilt moth;

From scissors busy in January, before the age of multi-apartment in needlework.

Spring Song (Ming Yuan Hung-tao)

The east wind warm Loujiang tree, Sanqu nine street smoke condensate. White broken Xuefei Ma Ju-lung, calf cars rolling through Hong degree water.

Pat to go around blowing smoke, Hyun service Liangzhuang 100,000. Luo distinctive color wins the amount of play, community song-filled cluster Mountain God.

Fei Yi Jin with clothing such as fighting, the forefront after a long house prefect. New tales of black yarn Palace flower, blue slave kneeling into the Su Tu wine.

Picking on a jade plate for buildings, both songs boy hair white female. Legendary old music three thousand, Suzhou new spectrum thirteen cavity.

Hu first jump like a tiger mask, narrow shirt embroidered pants hammer drum. Ghost gold python fine cotton body makeup, white Goddess of Mercy dance together in prayer.

Jin is a mountain with the viewer, who points to stagger wire and meat. Wind all the way to Hong laughter, drunk cover thousands of miles Hong Sha Yu.

Ching Lin pale pinkish purple tunic skirts, skirts bun through the amount of light makeup. Lost Youth of praise and sisters, Kenjiro sleeve to throw seeds.

Emergency pipe fan string and time, one thousand young willow branches broken.

Tian Mongol (Meng Tang)

Fight back to the North last night, at the present age of the East;

I was already strong, non-agricultural Lu still worry.

Father on the farming Kuwano, hoe with the boy;

Tian accounted for climate, said this was a total abundance.

Mongol Yuk  Chun (Song Mao Pang)

Lotus drops every year, leakage, Shen Su Tu Bi well frozen wine.

Cold and chilly dawn is still deceptive, Liu Chun-state first slim.

Weight to persuade one thousand beauty and longevity, Boye pepper flower fun Cuixiu.

Zuixiang depths less know each other, with only partial Dongjun old friends.

In addition to the night (Song Tianxiang)

Empty, heaven and earth, time to dignified;

End for surprise rain, the poor side of full Xueshuang.

In Yujin with life, body and forget all the world;

No-Su Tu dream, stay up the night is young.

2015 Year of Sheep – Three Goats Start Fortune Where to Start in Undersanding

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 2:55 am

2015 Chinese New Year

3 Goats welcome 2015 Chinese New Year
Enlarge Chinese New Year Image

The first day of the 2015 Chinese New Year is on February 19, 2015 in China’s time zone. This day is a new moon day, and is the first day of the first Chinese lunar month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar system. The exact new moon time is at 07:48 a.m. on 19-Feb-2015 in China’s time zone.

The Year 2015 is the 4712th Chinese year. The Chinese believe that the first king of China was the Yellow King (he was not the first emperor of China). The Yellow King became king in 2697 B.C., therefore China will enter the 4712th year on February 19, 2015. Also, the Chinese Year uses the cycle of 60 Stem-Branch counting systems and the Green Wood Sheep is the 32nd Stem-Branch in the cycle. Since (60 *78) + 32 = 4712, therefore 2015 is the Wooden Sheep year, which is the 4712th Chinese Year.

2015 is the year of Sheep. Some people say 2015 is a Green Sheep or Wooden Sheep year. This is because the Stem-Branch Calendar is connected to the Five Element theory. Chinese calendars used the Stem-Branch system to count the days, months and years. There are 10 Stems and 12 Branches in this system. Stems are named by the Yin-Yang and Five Elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth).

The Stem sequence order is Chinese Horoscopes Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, Yang Earth, Yin Earth, Yang Metal, Yin Metal, Yang Water and Yin Water. Branches use animal names. The Branch sequence order is12 Chinese Zodiac Sign Rat, Cow, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Chicken, Dog and Pig. Stem and Branch are used together to form a cycle of 60 counting systems which begin with WoodenRatMale WoodMouseWooden Rat and end with Water Pig WaterPigWater Pig. You can see the entire sequence from the Chinese New Year’s page. From 1924 to 1983 is a complete cycle. Year 2015 is Female Wood Sheep WoodSheep YearFemale Wood2015 Sheepthe 32nd of the Stem-Branch in the system. Because Wood is connected to Tree or Green in the Five-Element system, Year 2015 is also called the Green Sheep year.

A Sheep is a farmland animal. Sheep are herbivores and like to eat grass. Therefore, Sheep contains Earth and Wood in the Chinese Five Element theory. The Sheep hour of Chinese Horoscopes is from 1 P.M. to 3 P.M. The ground has absorbed lots of heat at noon. July is connected to Sheep. July is still summer. Therefore, Sheep also contains Fire. Some Chinese eat lamb during the winter in order to keep warm.

Sheep is one of Chinese lucky animals. Sheep doesn’t have to do the farm work. Instead, all the farmland jobs go to the Ox. Therefore, Ox doesn’t like Sheep. Sheep have freedom to look for any kind of grass. They never worry about running out of grass. They have mild personalities and are friendly to humans. Chinese treat Sheep as an auspicious animal.

2015 Year of Sheep – Three Goats Start Fortune

2015 Chinese ZodiacsIn the Chinese New Year of Sheep, Chinese always mention San-Yang-Kai-Tai Three Sheep Auspicious Begin, which means “Three Goats Start Fortune”.  Actually the term is from Three Yang Auspicious Begin, which means “Three Yang Start Fortune”. Chinese replace Chinese Yang Character by Chinese Sheep Character. Both Chinese Yang Character and Chinese Sheep Character are pronounced as Yang. Chinese Sheep Character is Sheep. Chinese Yang Character is Male and is the word from Chinese Yin Yang Character Yin Yang.

Three Yang Auspicious Begin San-Yang-Kai-Tai is from I Ching, which is the most profound foundation of Chinese philosophy. It states the natural phenomena of our universe, then applies it on people relationships in the family, organization, government and the nation. The nature rule of the universe (Dao) is Yin and Yang.  I Ching uses the symbol of broken bar Chinese Yin as Yin and the solid bar Chinese Yang as Yang. Yin is female, cold, earth or down. Yang is male, hot, sky or up.

In the morning, sky is hot and ground is still cold; the Little Yang Little Yang is assigned. At noon, sky and ground are hot, which is Big Yang Big Old Yang. In the evening, sky is cold and ground is still hot, which is Little Yin Little Yin. At night, both sky and ground are cold, which is Big Old Yin is Big Yin. Human live between sky and ground. By adding the human layer with Yin and Yang on those four symbols, they become Eight Trigrams (Ba Kua), which are Sky Sky, Lake Lake, Fire Fire, Thunder Thunder, Wind Wind, WaterWater, Mountain Mountain, Earth Earth. These are natural phenomena in a human’s eyes. Combining these two trigrams together, they become I Ching 64 Hexagrams.

One hexagram has 6 bars. When applying Yin and Yang on them, we have 12 hexagrams standing for 12 months. December has the first Yang growing from the ground. January has two Yang on the ground. February has three Yang on the ground. Full six Yang is in May. The first Yin grows in June. Full Yin is in November.

December January February March April May June July August September October November
Earth-Thunder Earth-Lake Earth-Sky Thunder-Sk Lake-Sky Sky-Heaven Sky-Wind Sky-Mountain Sky-Earth Wind-Earth Mountain-Earth Earth-Ground
Earth-Thunder Earth-Lake Earth-Sky Thunder-Sky Lake-Sky Sky-Heaven Sky-Wind Sky-Mountain Sky-Earth Wind-Earth Mountain-Earth Earth-Ground
1 Yang 2 Yang 3 Yang 4 Yang 5 Yang Full Yang  1 Yin 2 Yin 3 Yin 4 Yin 5 Yin Full Yin
Rat Cow Tiger Rabbit Dragon Snake Horse Sheep Monkey Chicken Dog Pig

Therefore, Three Yang Auspicious Begin San-Yang-Kai-Tai is from Earth-SkyEarth-Sky, which contains the meaning of peace, harmony and good fortune. The time is in the Tiger Month, which starts around on February 4th of each year. Chinese Lunar New Year is usually near the beginning date of Tiger month. Three Auspicious Sheep becomes an auspicious phase for Chinese New Year.

The Snake month is full of Yang. The Horse Month has five Yang. Sheep Month has four Yang. Yang is hot. In Chinese astrology, Snake, Horse and Sheep are in the Fire cycle. The Sheep is the last year of Fire cycle. 2016 will be Monkey Year, which is the Metal cycle. Therefore, 2015 is the turning point year. We need to review what we gained and lost in the past two years. In 2015, we need to prepare a new plan for 2016…

2015 Chinese Horoscope Forecast

2015 Chinese AstrologyTo forecast our luck in the coming years, we first need to know what elements and animals are in our Birth Chart from the Find Your Lucky Element. 2015 is the year of Female Wood Sheep. Sheep mainly contains Earth. It also contains Wood. Therefore, 2015 is a strong Wood year. Sheep is the year after Horse Fire year. Sheep still contains some Fire. Wood can help Fire to burn. So Fire of 2015 is still strong. Therefore, the Earth, Wood and Fire are the key factors to determine people’s fortune in 2015.

Basically, if your Lucky Element is Earth, Wood or Fire, then you will gain some benefit from Wooden Sheep. If your Lucky Element is Metal, then 2015 is considered as a good year because Earth of Sheep will protect Metal. There is no Water in 2015. Water and Earth are opposite elements. Water and Fire are hostile elements. If your Lucky Element is Water, then you might encounter some unexpected challenges. But ultimately, this is simply an opportunity to reach greater achievements.

Spring is the season of Wood. If your Lucky Element is Wood, then you will do well in the beginning of the Sheep Year. Wood will help Fire to bring up the heat. Summer is the season of Fire. If Fire is your Lucky Element. summer will be your best time of the year. If your Lucky Element is Metal, then we have to wait for the heat of Fire to cool down to see your luck. If your Lucky Element is Water, then you have to wait until Winter time when the temperature turns cold.

 

 

 

Chinese character Sheep

January 21, 2015

Black History: Inventor Granville T. Woods

Blacknosis:[Granville T. Woods certainly was an African American inventor who had at least 60 government patents on his many inventions. More than a dozen of these patents were inventions for electric railways but most of them were focused on electrical control and distribution. His most remarkable invention, however, was the induction telegraph, a system for communicating to and from moving trains. Many referred to Granville T. Woods as the black Thomas Edison Scientist.</p><br />
<p>Many professionals in the electrical industry knew Granville T Woods as the “Black Edison”. Woods was considered by many to be the greatest electrician in the world. The most well-known of Woods’s inventions is a railway telegraph system. He made it in 1887 at his machine shop in Cincinnati, Ohio. This telegraph system allowed train engineers to communicate with other engineers on moving trains on the same railroad track. This invention helped save lives by preventing trains from crashing into each other.</p><br />
<p>Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio on April 23, 1856, and spent his early childhood there. When he was ten years old, Woods had to stop going to school so he could work to help earn money for his family. His first job was in a machine shop that repaired railroad equipment. This is where Woods’ interest in electricity and mechanical devices began. This interest lasted for the rest of his life.</p><br />
<p>At the young age of sixteen, Woods moved to Missouri. Woods got his first job in Missouri as a fireman, but later he received a job as an engineer at the Iron Mountain Railroads. It was at this job where Woods gained most of his knowledge about railroads and electricity. Woods spent all of his leisure time studying and experimenting with electricity. Woods read whatever books on electricity he could buy or borrow. He took a course in electrical and mechanical engineering but for the most part, he was self-taught.</p><br />
<p>By 1881, Woods settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Woods lost a struggle with Alexander Graham Bell to market an advanced telephone transmitter for which Woods had received a patent. Without the required funds to market his device, Woods was forced to sell it to the Bell Telephone Company. He later acquired the funding to form his own electrical company with his brother Lyates. The company was called the Woods Electrical Company.</p><br />
<p>Electricity and Railroads were Woods’ passion. Woods was granted fifteen patents in the field of electric railways alone and held a still larger number of patents on systems and devices for the control and distribution of electricity. Woods had over sixty patents to his credit when he died in 1910. Many of his patents were assigned to major corporations after his death. A few of Woods’ inventions that were assigned were the electromagnetic brake apparatus, the electromechanical brake, and the galvanic battery.</p><br />
<p>Despite all of Woods’ success, he had a few obstacles along the way. The most obvious obstacle was that Woods was black. It was hard for Woods to learn about electricity and railroads because few people were willing to teach an African-American anything about science. Woods was not offered a lot of jobs because of his race; despite the fact he was more than qualified for those jobs.</p><br />
<p>One of Woods’ most difficult obstacles was the many legal battles he had to endure. In 1887, Woods made what were perhaps his most important inventions, the “induction telegraph”. This invention dramatically improved the safety of the railroad system. That the invention was important was evidenced by the fact that Woods had to go through three patent suits to protect his rights. Two of these suits were brought about by Thomas Edison and the third by a man named Phelps. Woods won all three of these patents suits.</p><br />
<p>In 1901, Woods invented the “third rail.” The third rail is an extra rail that runs alongside the two main rails on a railroad track. The third rail supplies electricity to run the train. Other inventions include “air brakes” and an egg hatching machine.</p><br />
<p>Woods died on 30 January 1910. Few inventors of any race have produced a larger number of appliances in the field of electricity, and few have done more for the electrical industry than Granville Woods. Many of the applications of electricity were made possible by the genius of Granville T. Woods.

Granville T. Woods certainly was an African American inventor who had at least 60 government patents on his many inventions. More than a dozen of these patents were inventions for electric railways but most of them were focused on electrical control and distribution. His most remarkable invention, however, was the induction telegraph, a system for communicating to and from moving trains. Many referred to Granville T. Woods as the black Thomas Edison Scientist.

Many professionals in the electrical industry knew Granville T Woods as the “Black Edison”. Woods was considered by many to be the greatest electrician in the world. The most well-known of Woods’s inventions is a railway telegraph system. He made it in 1887 at his machine shop in Cincinnati, Ohio. This telegraph system allowed train engineers to communicate with other engineers on moving trains on the same railroad track. This invention helped save lives by preventing trains from crashing into each other.

Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio on April 23, 1856, and spent his early childhood there. When he was ten years old, Woods had to stop going to school so he could work to help earn money for his family. His first job was in a machine shop that repaired railroad equipment. This is where Woods’ interest in electricity and mechanical devices began. This interest lasted for the rest of his life.

At the young age of sixteen, Woods moved to Missouri. Woods got his first job in Missouri as a fireman, but later he received a job as an engineer at the Iron Mountain Railroads. It was at this job where Woods gained most of his knowledge about railroads and electricity. Woods spent all of his leisure time studying and experimenting with electricity. Woods read whatever books on electricity he could buy or borrow. He took a course in electrical and mechanical engineering but for the most part, he was self-taught.

By 1881, Woods settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Woods lost a struggle with Alexander Graham Bell to market an advanced telephone transmitter for which Woods had received a patent. Without the required funds to market his device, Woods was forced to sell it to the Bell Telephone Company. He later acquired the funding to form his own electrical company with his brother Lyates. The company was called the Woods Electrical Company.

Electricity and Railroads were Woods’ passion. Woods was granted fifteen patents in the field of electric railways alone and held a still larger number of patents on systems and devices for the control and distribution of electricity. Woods had over sixty patents to his credit when he died in 1910. Many of his patents were assigned to major corporations after his death. A few of Woods’ inventions that were assigned were the electromagnetic brake apparatus, the electromechanical brake, and the galvanic battery.

Despite all of Woods’ success, he had a few obstacles along the way. The most obvious obstacle was that Woods was black. It was hard for Woods to learn about electricity and railroads because few people were willing to teach an African-American anything about science. Woods was not offered a lot of jobs because of his race; despite the fact he was more than qualified for those jobs.

One of Woods’ most difficult obstacles was the many legal battles he had to endure. In 1887, Woods made what were perhaps his most important inventions, the “induction telegraph”. This invention dramatically improved the safety of the railroad system. That the invention was important was evidenced by the fact that Woods had to go through three patent suits to protect his rights. Two of these suits were brought about by Thomas Edison and the third by a man named Phelps. Woods won all three of these patents suits.

In 1901, Woods invented the “third rail.” The third rail is an extra rail that runs alongside the two main rails on a railroad track. The third rail supplies electricity to run the train. Other inventions include “air brakes” and an egg hatching machine.

Woods died on 30 January 1910. Few inventors of any race have produced a larger number of appliances in the field of electricity, and few have done more for the electrical industry than Granville Woods. Many of the applications of electricity were made possible by the genius of Granville T. Woods.

January 6, 2015

Being a Gentleman Should NEVER Go Out of Style : 100 “Rules” For Being A Gentleman

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 8:00 am

Being a Gentleman should NEVER go out of Style and won’t IF you have the right woman. A True Gentleman is always the utmost desire of the best women. Do these things, and live up to them all always and you will ultimately find the right partner in life for you. 

# 100 Rules of a Gentleman

1. Be kind, always.

2. Kissing her on the forehead is one of the sweetest thing in the world.

3. Don’t keep her waiting just because you know she will.

4. Always remind her that she’s beautiful, especially when she least expects it.

5. Never let a girl think she has a chance when you know she doesn’t.

6. Saying what’s on your mind is actually not the end of the world.

7. If she’s upset, tuck that strand of hair behind her ear and wrap your arms around her.
( don’t let go until the tears have stopped and your shoulder is drenched.)

8. Wear a belt. It’s called underwear for a reason-

9. Chivalry never died; some men just choose to ignore it.

10. Live without pretending, love without depending, listen without defending, speak without offending.

11. Gossip is the game of reporters, school children and tea-drinking ladies.

12. Never lie; she’ll always catch you.

13. Only say ” I love you ” if you actually mean it.

14. A single hand picked flower is more thoughtful than a dozen store-bought roses.

15. You’e her knight in shining armor. Act like it.

16. Don’t be afraid to make the first move.
(… and keep making it.)

17. Intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

18. If you treat her as your queen, she’ll think of you as her king.

19. Don’t put opp walls, they almost never get broken down.

20. Treat her like a princess, not a whore.

21. Hold her hand, especially in front of your friends.

22. Sorry doesn’t mean they’re right and you’re wrong. It means you value your relationship more than your ego.

23. If bros come before hoes, you’re not ready for dating.

24. Don’t promise to call when you know you won’t.

25. Belittling others makes you neither tough nor impressive.
( It just makes you stupid and rude.)

26. Cheesy things are only cheesy when they aren’t genuine.

27. Think with the head above your shoulders, not the one between your legs.

28. Always say goodnight with a kiss, never an argument.

29. Offer her your jacket when it’s cold, and let her keep it once she’s warm.

30. Treat your girl right, or another guy will.

31. Never invite someone into your heart if you don’t intend to let them stay.

32. Handwritten love letters will never go out of style. (Cursive is Sexy)

33. Apologies only count if they are sincere.
( If you don’t mean it, save your breath.)

34. If you ever get caught sleeping in class or at work, raise your head slowly and say, ” In Jesus’s name, amen. ”

35. Aim carefully and return the toilet seat back to the way you found it.

36. Never underestimate the power of a charming smile.

37. Be careful what you say, a girl remembers everything.

38. Kiss her spontaneously in the middle of her sentence.

39. If you leave without a reason, don’t bother coming back with an excuse.

40. Never IM if you can text. Never text if you can call. Never call if you can do it in person.

41. Staying mad with one another isn’t going to help. Be the first to make peace and move on.

42. There is no such thing as being too romantic.

43. Your jeans should never be tighter than your girlfriend’s.

44. Use ”your” and ”you’re” correctly,. While you’re at it, use ”there”, ”their”, and ”they’re” correctly as well.

45. Love your mother.

46. ”Hot” will never be a substitute for ”beautiful”.

47. ”Love” does not stand for legs open very easily.

48. Always respect ”no” for an answer. It’s not a game she’s playing, no means no.

49. Actions will always speak louder than words.

50. Look in her eyes, not her chest.

51. Being badass is not the same as being a jackass.

52. Don’t let her fall.
( But if she does, be sure to catch her.)

53. ” Im fine” never means she’s fine.

54. Never underestimate a girl’s ability to figure things out.

55. Proper grammar will get you far in life.

56. If you can’t think of something nice to say, you’re not thinking hard enough.

57. Romance comes from the heart, not the trousers.

58. Always hold the door open for a lady, not because she’s a lady, but because you are a gentleman.

59. Hugs were invented to let people know you love them without having to say anything.

60. Girls come and go, but tattoos of their names stay with you forever.

61. Let her know you will always be there for her, especially when she needs it the most.

62. Potential means nothing if you don’t do anything with it.

63. If you can’t make her happy, let her be happy with someone else.

64. Never call a girl fat, even if you are joking.

65. Never say ” I love you ” unless you mean it. But if you do, say it more often because people tend to forget.

66. Stay true to your word.
( Promises are like children, fun to make, but hard to keep.)

67. There is nothing sexier tan when you wear a dress shirt with sleeves rolled up.

68. Just like you don’t want to hear about her exes, she doesn’t want to hear about yours.

69. Don’t expect to receive if you’re not willing to give.

70. Your lady comes first. Always.

71. No one choked to death swallowing their pride.

72. Holding a grudge after you accept an apology isn’t really accepting the apology.

73. Never take her for granted.

74. Always offer to pay for her, even if she has money.
( And especially if she objects.)

75. There are many things to play with.
( A persons feelings are not one of them.)

76. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

77. Love her when she least deserves it, that’s when she needs it the most.

78. Never give her a reason to doubt your feelings for her.

79. Never tell a girl she doesn’t understand.
( Chances are, she does.)

80. If you’re not buff, wearing clothes that’s two sizes too small, doesn’t make you look like you are.

81. Remember important dates.

82. Go easy on her, she is trying her best.

83. talkin lyke dis wil mak3 ppl h8 u.

84. Good looks face. Stupidity is incurable.

85. Hating is waste of time because it requires to give a crap about things that aren’t worth the craps you’re giving.

86. Those who say ” fuck bitches, get money” usually don’t have either.

87. Being an asshole does not make you look cool.

88. Staying with someone because you don’t want to hurt their feeling will eventually hurt their feelings.

89. Sometimes, depending on how close you are, the yellow light is a challenge to drive faster.

90. A gesture does not always need to be grand. Sometimes the little things count more than the big.

91. The line between love and lust is very thin.

92. Never use emotion as a weapon. It strikes deeper than you could ever imagine.

93. Say what you think, not what you think you should say.

94. Never make a girl fall for you if don’t intend to catch her.

95. Nice guys finish last because they put their ladies first.

96. It’s the little things you do that will always make her fall the hardest.

97. Never stop trying to show her how much she means to you, even after you’ve got her.

98. Don’t try to hurt someone on purpose just because they hurt you by accident.

99. Never make a promise you can’t keep.

100. Sweet guys are an endangered species. Don’t let them go extinct.

January 4, 2015

A Special Woman Who Intrigues Me So Much Stirred Me To This

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 12:04 am

Tainted

I wish I had met you
when I was younger
when I still chased rainbows
and every day I looked
forward to something new
where my heart hadn’t
been tainted by heartbreak
and trust was something
you gave openly
I wish I had met you then
maybe we could have made it
maybe…

William Chapman

A brilliant mind, a golden heart, an understanding of the world we share, a sensitivity that shows you have not been jaded and so much more….. all the things that set you apart from all the others I have ever encountered or known !! Not having that time or anytime with you has dimmed my life forever more. I envy the one who wins earns your trust and steals your heart for that person is a very fortunate one indeed. 

I don’t publish your name or  give you that fame that others may want or desire for you are to special to be shared with the masses, too wonderful to be tainted by me, and too deserving of a longer, better life than I can give for my time has come and gone. 

So know by this that you have excited the life inside of me. That you have opened my eyes to the wonders of you and shown me what I long ago gave up looking for… a life of joyous wonders with a person who is so enriching just by your presence and knowing you are in this world has made mine better.

 Stirred Not Shaken Yet Moved.

December 19, 2014

Images of the Moor: Race in the Times of Jesus are Explored in History

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 9:31 pm

Brotherhood of the blackheads -Coat-of-Arms Estonia

This coat of arms is from “The Brotherhood of Blackheads”. In the original language: Bruderschaft des Schwarzhauptiger (brotherhood of blackskins). This brotherhood originated in 12th century Reval (modern name Tallinn) in Estonia from 1400 AD .

The Portuguese have the same crusader cross on their flag. They use to be a Moorish country. is it coincidence or relative… I do not know.

The best books about the Moors are Golden Age of the Moor by Ivan Van Sertima and Black Star Over Europe by Runoko Rashidi. “History is a light that illuminates the past and a key that unlocks the door to the future.”

Moors have been  honored in Europe. Riga, Lavtia Germany.  There is the Order of Black Moor Knight St. Maurice

In the 12th century it was believed in the Christian West , the world consists of three continents , namely Europe, Asia and Africa. Later than this time were from the three wise men then  became known as the three kings. It spread the view that symbolized the three kings representing  the three known continents at that time .  Africa at this time is usually more associated with East Africa referred to by the Greeks as a black country  hence the representative of Africa in artistic representation became the Moors .

Starting from this time , there are representations on which the third king , who previously as the other 2  had a white skin color, is shown with black skin. this mostly is believed to be the youngest  called King Caspar is also referred to as the Moor , but can already be found in other early sources as Melchior and sometimes Balthasar as Africa’s representatives .  But the “diversity of skin colors was still prevalent . When restoration work was carried out they found in newer traditions and literary representations of a painting of the Florentine school , where a white king was black painted over as it corresponded to the new iconographic interpretation of the three saints

THE THREE MAGI. ENGLISH, 1520. DURING THE EUROPEAN RENAISSANCE IT WAS COMMON TO PORTRAY THE YOUNGEST OF THE THREE KINGS COME TO PAY HOMAGE TO THE CHRIST CHILD IN THE MANGER IN BETHLEHEM AS AN ETHIOPIAN. THE CHRIST CHILD IS ALWAYS PORTRAYED AS WHITE AND THE YOUNGEST OF THE THREE KINGS IS USUALLY AN ETHIOPIAN.

.3 maji Bartolomé_Esteban_Murillo_-_Adoration_of_the_Magi_-_Google_Art_Project

THE BLACK MADONNA at ST. JOHN’S CHURCH in LUXEMBOURG CITY, LUXEMBOURG is shown as what is much closer to the original portrayal of Jesus.

black madona with Child Saint Johns Church Luxumburg

 

Black Crist Child with black ethiopian Madonna

 

Second coming of Christ on red clouds

Christ at the Second Coming, In the center of the apse mosaic is Christ standing on red clouds (representing the dawn), dressed in golden robes labeled with the monogram I. He holds the scroll of the Law in his left hand.

The basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano is one of the ancient churches of Rome called tituli, of which cardinals are patrons as deacons: the Cardinal Deacon of the Titulus Ss. Cosmae et Damiani is Giovanni Cheli. The basilica, devoted to the two Greek brothers, doctors, martyrs and saints Cosmas and Damian, is located in the Forum of Vespasian, also known as the Forum of Peace. The Temple of Romulus was dedicated by Emperor Maxentius to his son Valerius Romulus, who died in 309 and was rendered divine honours. It is possible that the temple was in origin the temple of “Iovis Stator” or the one dedicated to Penates, and that Maxentius restored it before the re-dedication.

The ancient Roman fabric was Christianized and dedicated to Sancti Cosma et Damiano in 527, when Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, and his daughter Amalasuntha donated the library of the Forum of Peace (Bibliotheca Pacis) and a portion of the Temple of Romulus to Pope Felix IV. The pope united the two buildings to create a basilica devoted to two Greek brothers and saints, Cosmas and Damian, in contrast with the ancient pagan cult of the two brothers Castor and Pollux, who had been worshipped in the nearby Temple of Castor and Pollux. The apse was decorated with a Roman-Byzantine mosaic, representing a parousia, the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time. The bodies of Saints Mark and Marcellian were translated, perhaps in the ninth century, to this church, where they were rediscovered in 1583 during the reign of Pope Gregory XIII.

In 1632, Pope Urban VIII ordered the restoration of the basilica. The works, projected by Orazio Torriani and directed by Luigi Arrigucci, raised the floor level seven metres, bringing it equal with the Campo Vaccino, thus avoiding the infiltration of water. Also, a cloister was added. The old floor of the basilica is still visible in the lower church, which is actually the lower part of the first church. In 1947, the restorations of the Imperial Forums gave a new structure to the church. The old entrance, through the Temple of Romulus, was closed, and the temple restored to its original forms; with the Pantheon, the Temple of Romulus is the best preserved pagan temple in Rome. A new entrance was opened on the opposite side (on via dei Fori Imperiali), whose arch gives access to the cloister, and through this to the side of the basilica.

Jesus’ appearance from behind locked doors, by Duccio-di-Buoninsegna – 1308 A.D.

The Duccio-di-Buoninsegna above, which still has a “somewhat” Black looking Jesus, and some likewise “Black looking” Apostles, seems to mark the end of Black Jesus, and the beginnings of the total lie. No non-White depiction of Jesus is known to have been made after this time – by White people.

December 9, 2014

The cross-race effect

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 5:39 pm

Mr. Craig:

Another way that racism harms white people is by denying them the ability to develop their critical thinking. This is due in part to the constant, regular reinforcement that white is right. White people are raised in an environment in which they are regularly assured of their superiority. Their experts are white, like them. And they often live in segregation, thus denying them the opportunity to be exposed to other viewpoints.

What happens in a culture of white supremacy? White people assume that they are the experts. Even in the absence of any history, education or knowledge.

The most blatant example of this is when a white person (typically a white man) is pontificating about a subject and is challenged when a person of color expresses an opinion. The white person will assume that the person of color knows nothing about the subject and will strive to “correct” him or her. I’ve had this happen when a white person who was not in my field was speaking with authority about something in my field. They never assume that you might actually be knowledgeable on the subject, nor do they assume that you might have professional credentials. (I’d also note that this is a very common experience on the part of people of color. And I recently heard a anecdote about this happening to a writer of color with a white man who was discussing her book. Only he didn’t know she had written it.)

It does not cross their minds. This is racism.

Instead, the assumption is just that you’re wrong. They aren’t listening to what is actually said. They are making an assessment based on their racist assumptions about the speaker. These assumptions prevent them from learning.

We learn early on who is “right” and who is “wrong.” We don’t necessarily learn to judge for ourselves.

Often the response on the part of the know-nothing is one of disdain or contempt for the speaker. I once saw a man attempting to unscrew a radiator cap off his overheating car. I ran over and yelled, “Stop! Don’t do that! You’ll be seriously burned!” He looked at me and said, “Right. Like you know anything about cars.” (For some reason, I’ve had multiple incidents of this nature. Guess I must look like somebody who knows nothing about cars.)

I wonder if being scalded taught him anything.

In a white supremacist culture, racism becomes a habitual behavior. As commenters to the other thread noted, there is often a knee-jerk response that is learned behavior. These types of responses often lack any kind of critical thinking at all.

In response to Miley Cyrus’ “slant-eye” gesture, many white people were quick to deny its racism. However, their responses were grounded in “I don’t think it’s racism, that’s why,” rather than any critical thought. The racism behind the “slant-eye” gesture is obvious and blatant: It is racist because it is used to mock people for their physical attributes. And yet defenders are not only incapable of grasping that rather simple concept, they additionally offer ludicrous responses in defense of their original position. (Post on dictionary defense to come.)

In addition, white people often use ad hominem defenses to avoid addressing the issue at hand. There are several common ways in which these defenses present. The first is when others are accused of being “oversensitive” or “having chips on their shoulders” or being “overly PC.” These characterizations do nothing to address the issue. Rather, they are used to delegitimize the other party.

The second, more subtle ad hominem defense is use of statements such as, “Well, I guess I’m just the sort of person who gives people the benefit of the doubt,” or “I guess I’m just not as quick to label other people racist.”

This method allows the white person to position him or herself as the person of reason, the unemotional, unjudgmental thinker and all-around wonderful human being. It additionally is a slam at the other person. You can see what type of individual they are: Unable to give others the benefit of the doubt! Quick to label others racist!

Both of these forms of ad hominem defense are intellectually lazy. They are not addressing why we might take care in our speech and actions, nor do they present a good argument for being less thoughtful. But often these sorts of empty slams are used to end the conversation. They are based on the faulty assumption that discrediting a speaker discredits his or her argument. To use one of these defenses is an understood code among white people. It is the final word. Why? Because a white person said so.

If you ever want to confound and upset somebody, ask them to explain the reasoning behind the argument. And don’t let go.

I’ve used some examples here that have to do with discussions of racism. But white supremacy runs deep throughout our lives.

When people are not regularly exposed to alternative viewpoints, and when other viewpoints are not carefully considered but instead immediately discounted, the end result is a people who lack the ability to think critically. Because they never learned to consider all the evidence. They learned only who they need to listen to.

The cross-race effect describes the phenomenon wherein people of one race can more easily distinguish between people of their own race than people of other races. A recent study in Psychological Science suggests that this might have more to do with social affiliations than racial categories.

Researchers at Miami University used MU college students in an experiment that tested facial recognition. The students were shown pictures of white people who were identified as either MU college students or students at a rival university. However, the photographs shown were not students of either university. The researchers found that the MU students had better recognition of individuals identified as fellow MU students.

The abstract for the article is here. I haven’t had a chance to pull it yet, but I wonder about the race of the students used in the experiment. Additionally, I wonder if this effect would hold up if the photographs were of people of color. Isn’t it possible that it is simply more important for people to recognize white people? I would assume that for safety and other reasons, people of color need to pay attention to whites.

Originally posted on Resist racism:

Another way that racism harms white people is by denying them the ability to develop their critical thinking. This is due in part to the constant, regular reinforcement that white is right. White people are raised in an environment in which they are regularly assured of their superiority. Their experts are white, like them. And they often live in segregation, thus denying them the opportunity to be exposed to other viewpoints.

What happens in a culture of white supremacy? White people assume that they are the experts. Even in the absence of any history, education or knowledge.

The most blatant example of this is when a white person (typically a white man) is pontificating about a subject and is challenged when a person of color expresses an opinion.  The white person will assume that the person of color knows nothing about the subject and will strive to “correct” him or…

View original 911 more words

The cost of racism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 5:38 pm

Mr. Craig:

Another way that racism harms white people is by denying them the ability to develop their critical thinking. This is due in part to the constant, regular reinforcement that white is right. White people are raised in an environment in which they are regularly assured of their superiority. Their experts are white, like them. And they often live in segregation, thus denying them the opportunity to be exposed to other viewpoints.

What happens in a culture of white supremacy? White people assume that they are the experts. Even in the absence of any history, education or knowledge.

The most blatant example of this is when a white person (typically a white man) is pontificating about a subject and is challenged when a person of color expresses an opinion. The white person will assume that the person of color knows nothing about the subject and will strive to “correct” him or her. I’ve had this happen when a white person who was not in my field was speaking with authority about something in my field. They never assume that you might actually be knowledgeable on the subject, nor do they assume that you might have professional credentials. (I’d also note that this is a very common experience on the part of people of color. And I recently heard an anecdote about this happening to a writer of color with a white man who was discussing her book. Only he didn’t know she had written it.)

It does not cross their minds. This is racism.

Instead, the assumption is just that you’re wrong. They aren’t listening to what is actually said. They are making an assessment based on their racist assumptions about the speaker. These assumptions prevent them from learning.

We learn early on who is “right” and who is “wrong.” We don’t necessarily learn to judge for ourselves.

Often the response on the part of the know-nothing is one of disdain or contempt for the speaker. I once saw a man attempting to unscrew a radiator cap off his overheating car. I ran over and yelled, “Stop! Don’t do that! You’ll be seriously burned!” He looked at me and said, “Right. Like you know anything about cars.” (For some reason, I’ve had multiple incidents of this nature. Guess I must look like somebody who knows nothing about cars.)

I wonder if being scalded taught him anything.

In a white supremacist culture, racism becomes a habitual behavior. As commenters to the other thread noted, there is often a knee-jerk response that is learned behavior. These types of responses often lack any kind of critical thinking at all.

In response to Miley Cyrus’ “slant-eye” gesture, many white people were quick to deny its racism. However, their responses were grounded in “I don’t think it’s racism, that’s why,” rather than any critical thought. The racism behind the “slant-eye” gesture is obvious and blatant: It is racist because it is used to mock people for their physical attributes. And yet defenders are not only incapable of grasping that rather simple concept, they additionally offer ludicrous responses in defense of their original position. (Post on dictionary defense to come.)

In addition, white people often use ad hominem defenses to avoid addressing the issue at hand. There are several common ways in which these defenses present. The first is when others are accused of being “oversensitive” or “having chips on their shoulders” or being “overly PC.” These characterizations do nothing to address the issue. Rather, they are used to delegitimize the other party.

The second, more subtle ad hominem defense is use of statements such as, “Well, I guess I’m just the sort of person who gives people the benefit of the doubt,” or “I guess I’m just not as quick to label other people racist.”

This method allows the white person to position him or herself as the person of reason, the unemotional, unjudgmental thinker and all-around wonderful human being. It additionally is a slam at the other person. You can see what type of individual they are: Unable to give others the benefit of the doubt! Quick to label others racist!

Both of these forms of ad hominem defense are intellectually lazy. They are not addressing why we might take care in our speech and actions, nor do they present a good argument for being less thoughtful. But often these sorts of empty slams are used to end the conversation. They are based on the faulty assumption that discrediting a speaker discredits his or her argument. To use one of these defenses is an understood code among white people. It is the final word. Why? Because a white person said so.

If you ever want to confound and upset somebody, ask them to explain the reasoning behind the argument. And don’t let go.

I’ve used some examples here that have to do with discussions of racism. But white supremacy runs deep throughout our lives.

When people are not regularly exposed to alternative viewpoints, and when other viewpoints are not carefully considered but instead immediately discounted, the end result is a people who lack the ability to think critically. Because they never learned to consider all the evidence. They learned only who they need to listen to.

Originally posted on Resist racism:

Another way that racism harms white people is by denying them the ability to develop their critical thinking. This is due in part to the constant, regular reinforcement that white is right. White people are raised in an environment in which they are regularly assured of their superiority. Their experts are white, like them. And they often live in segregation, thus denying them the opportunity to be exposed to other viewpoints.

What happens in a culture of white supremacy? White people assume that they are the experts. Even in the absence of any history, education or knowledge.

View original 774 more words

The cost of racism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 5:36 pm

Mr. Craig:

I often think that one way racism does serious damage to white people is by stripping them of their empathy. Privilege has long taught them that white is right. White people are given constant, regular reinforcement that their opinions are superior. They receive validation for their viewpoints. And they typically live in environments in which they do not have to pay any attention to people of color.

Subsequently, when people of color talk about racism, white people are quick to issue denials. Not only do they deny that the opinions or feelings of other people are valid, but they deny even the right to have those opinions. Look at some of the comments people made after Miley Cyrus’ racist “slant-eye” gesture. Remember the one about the rabbits?

What about kids who hold up their fingers and do bunny ears in photos? Should rabbits start holding town meetings to cry racism??

Translation: Asian Americans complaining about racism is as ridiculous as if rabbits began to talk. In other words, Asian Americans are not fully equal. They are being equated with rabbits. And who would imagine that rabbits might dare to bring up racism?

So the Organization of Chinese Americans and the Japanese American Citizens League might issue statements decrying the open acceptance of racism in Miley Cyrus’ actions and the public reaction. But civil rights organizations don’t know anything about racism. Neither do Asian Americans.

They’re whiners. They’re complainers. They see racism in everything. Because white is right.

If you don’t even see the Asian American viewpoint as being fully equal, maybe it’s because you don’t view Asian Americans as being equal. And that is the probably the single biggest example of loss of empathy.

One of the exercises I have done in the past involves asking people to think about something that hurt them deeply. They are not required to share it. They are just asked to keep it firmly in mind and then to imagine that they have told somebody about it in great detail.

Here is the response, “Why are you being so oversensitive?”

“I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“I don’t find that offensive at all.”

Any of these responses sound vaguely familiar?

In addition, the original hurt is replicated by other people. Over and over again. And they don’t seem to understand why it bothers you. Nobody understands how you feel. They tell you to get a thicker skin. To stop walking around with a chip on your shoulder. To let it roll off your back.

In reality, this exercise can’t replicate what people of color experience. Because racism is not only about these types of actions and denial of your reality, it’s about a system that is fed by these actions. And the system responds by saying that you’re inferior. You’re not equal. Your treatment often reflects the belief that you are lesser-than.

Racism harms white people by stripping them of their ability to feel. Instead of hearing the hurt, the pain and the anger expressed by those who suffer from racism, they choose instead to deny the humanity of others. In so doing, they deny the humanity of themselves.

Originally posted on Resist racism:

I often think that one way racism does serious damage to white people is by stripping them of their empathy.  Privilege has long taught them that white is right.  White people are given constant, regular reinforcement that their opinions are superior.  They receive validation for their viewpoints.  And they typically live in environments in which they do not have to pay any attention to people of color.

Subsequently, when people of color talk about racism, white people are quick to issue denials.  Not only do they deny that the opinions or feelings of other people are valid, but they deny even the right to have those opinions.  Look at some of the comments people made after Miley Cyrus’ racist “slant-eye” gesture.  Remember the one about the rabbits

View original 401 more words

November 30, 2014

WHAT HAPPENS TO A DREAM DEFERRED? Langston Hughes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 9:22 pm

WHAT HAPPENS TO A DREAM DEFERRED?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?”

Langston Hughes

Go for your dream while you can. Be it a new business, an education, a career change. Whatever your dream don’t wait too long. 

November 25, 2014

Why Effecting a Paradigm Shift In An Antiquated Management System Is So Problematic

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 11:12 am

In 1539, Copernicus overturned more than a thousand years of doctrine that the sun revolves around the earth with his theory that the earth is one of a number of planets revolving around the sun. No amount of tweaking the old theory led to progress. Scientists had to look at the problem in a totally different way to solve the problem.

In 1865, Gregor Mendel presented a paper in Moravia that eventually jettisoned decades of scientific work in genetics. The prevailing theory was that all genetic characteristics were passed from parents to the next generation in an average fashion. Mendel’s work in pea plants showed that genetics works over multiple generations with hybrid, dominant and recessive genes. No amount of tweaking the old theory led to progress. Scientists had to look at the problem in a completely different way to solve the problem.

In 1982, scientists knew that stomach ulcers were caused by stress, spicy foods, and stomach acid. So they ignored Barry Marshall, an Australian physician, when he presented evidence that peptic ulcers are caused by a bacterium living in the stomach. They knew that no bacterium could possibly live in the human stomach, given the presence of acid as strong as that found in a car battery. The breakthrough that won for Marshall the Nobel Prize for Medicine didn’t come by improving the conventional theory of stomach ulcers. He had to look at the problem in a totally different way to solve the problem.

Paradigm shifts are discontinuous

Paradigm shifts are discontinuous. Working ever more diligently within the existing paradigm leads to frustration, not progress. Instead, scientists have to look at the problem in a fundamentally different way to solve the problem.

Now, whether the business schools or managers want it or not, a discontinuous paradigm shift in management is happening. It’s a shift from a firm-centric view of the world in which the firm’s purpose is to make money for its shareholders to a customer-centric view of the world in which the purpose of the firm is to add value for customers.

Among many factors driving the shift is the realization that the new paradigm not only makes more money for the firm than shareholder capitalism: when correctly executed, it makes tons more money, as one can see from the results of firms when they implement the new paradigm, like Apple [AAPL], Amazon [AMZN], Salesforce [CRM], Costco [COST] or Zara [BMAD:ITX]. The fact that it’s also better for those doing the work and for those for whom the work is done will also help accelerate the transition.

The paradigm shift is as fundamental as the shift from a geocentric to a heliocentric view of the heavens, the realization that genes work over multiple generations, or the discovery that stomach ulcers are caused by a bacterium.

The shift in management is a shift from shareholder capitalism in which the firm revolves around the manager to a customer capitalism in which the firm revolves around the customer. No amount of tweaking the shareholder model of capitalism can fix it, because the goal of making money for shareholder entails a set of management practices—hierarchical bureaucracy—that are inherently incompatible with the goal of delighting customers: each tweak entails a new set of problems, that sooner or later lead the firm to regress back to the norm of hierarchical bureaucracy.

The experience of paradigm shifts in science can teach us a good deal about the ongoing paradigm shift in management, about which I wrote recently:Don’t Diss The Paradigm Shift In Management: It’s Happening!

Common sense is commonly wrong

One problem that paradigm shifts in science encounter is that the shifts appear to fly in the face of common sense. Copernicus’s theory of a heliocentric world ran flat smack into this problem. It was “obvious” that the sun and the stars revolve around the earth. Use your eyes! Half the stars are above the horizon and half are below the horizon at any given time. Can’t you see? The idea that the solid ground on which we are standing is whizzing through space at 60,000 miles an hour? Preposterous!

Before Barry Marshall, every scientist knew that no bacterium could live in the human stomach, as the stomach produced acid as strong as that found in a car battery. A bacterium in the stomach causing ulcers? Ridiculous!

To many managers today, the idea that the purpose of a firm is to make money for its shareholders is equally obvious. The shareholders created the firm. They own it. They control it. Why would they be doing all this if it wasn’t to make money for themselves? It’s common sense. Everyone knows that.

Everyone, that is, except anyone who has actually set foot into a marketplace and tried to operate on that basis. The commercial reality is that in a marketplace, people won’t part with their money unless they believe that we are offering something to them. They may do business with us once, but if they find out that we are simply out to make money for ourselves at their expense, they will stop doing business with us as soon as they can.

The only vaIid definition of business purpose

This social reality is expressed in Peter Drucker’s dictum of 1973: “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer… It is the customer who determines what a business is. It is the customer alone whose willingness to pay for a good or for a service converts economic resources into wealth…The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence.”

However, the idea that a firm is in business to make money for its shareholders wasn’t invented by people who had spent time in the marketplace and asked customers to part with their money. It was invented by money men trying to figure out how to get rich from a pre-existing franchise and by academics in back-rooms aiding and abetting their cause. They didn’t notice that if firms devoted themselves to making money, the firm would soon start doing things that got in the way of making money, like making money from bad profits, like seeking quick wins that destroyed the firm’s sustainability, like shying away from innovation as too risky or like encouraging the C-suite to feather its own nests.

“The current paradigm used to work”

Another interesting facet of paradigm shifts in science is that the older paradigm is difficult to displace precisely because it has been shown to work in solving problems in the past. Thus in astronomy, the geocentric system, espoused by the Hellenistic astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus in the 2nd century AD, was accepted for over a thousand years as the correct cosmological model by European and Islamic astronomers. It offered accurate predictions of celestial events, such as planetary positions. So why replace it?

Copernicus’s heliocentric model did no better than predicting celestial events than the Ptolemaic system. All the Copernicus’s model could offer was the nebulous promise of better, simpler, solutions to other problems, that might be developed at some point in the future.

Fifty years ago, when a few big firms could dictate terms to the marketplace, the idea that the firm could simply focus on making money worked. But as globalization and the Internet steadily shifted the balance of power from the seller to the buyer, firms that simply focused on making money found it steadily more difficult to achieve profitability.

Now what used to be common sense is obsolete. If you want to make money, focus on delivering value to customers. Making money is the result of the firm’s activities, not the goal.

The social cost of replacing paradigms

Copernicus’s theory was a better theory, but the social and political cost of accepting it was horrendous: it risked undermining the entire religious basis of medieval society, along with the authority of the Pope. It wasn’t until several centuries later that the Roman Catholic Church finally capitulated and accepted they theory.

Similarly the shift from a firm-centric view of the world to a customer-centric view of the world has horrendous psychological costs for managers who have perceived themselves as being in control of the workplace and the marketplace. To accept the new paradigm they would have to accept that the customer is the boss. Unthinkable!

Criteria for assessing competing paradigms

Thomas Kuhn suggested criteria to help determine whether a shift in paradigm is warranted. The criteria are:

  1. Accurate – empirically adequate with experimentation and observation
  2. Consistent – internally consistent, but also externally consistent with other theories
  3. Simple – the simplest explanation, principally similar to Occam’s Razor
  4. Broad Scope – a theory’s consequences should extend beyond that which it was initially designed to explain
  5. Fruitful – a theory should disclose new phenomena or new relationships among phenomena

What is fruitful?

Both the geocentric and the heliocentric views of the world were accurate, consistent and simple. Where they differed was in “broad scope” and “fruitfulness”. The geocentric theory offered no explanation why the planets were revolving in these circles and offered no plausible picture of the universe as a whole. The heliocentric theory answered these questions and suggested a whole range of useful hypotheses about the rest of the universe. As a result, it triumphed, despite the social cost to earthly authority.

Similarly the firm-centric view of the world and customer-centric view of the world are both simple and internally consistent. Where they differ most is in terms of accuracy and fruitfulness.

In terms of accuracy, the firm-centric view of the world offers no explanation why the rates of return on assets and on invested capital have been in decline for more than four decades and no suggests no way forward in an economy where there is low demand for the foreseeable future.

In terms of “fruitfulness” of management, the dimensions are whether the shift is (1) good for the firm and its shareholders, (2) good for those doing the work, (3) good for those for whom the work is done and (4) good for other stakeholders in the community and society in which the firm operates.

Much of the writing about reforming management over the last century has focused either on (2) what is good for those doing the work, or (3) what is good for those for whom the work is done  or (4) what is good for the society in which the firm operates.

However the decisive advantage for the customer-focused view of the firm is that it is better for the firm itself i.e. makes more money for the firm and its shareholders. The other elements of fruitfulness are nice. What makes the paradigm shift inexorable is the fact that it makes more money.

Yes, I believe Firmly in Effecting Paradigm Shifts. I Wish More Understood Its Power

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 5:03 am

Is “paradigm shift” still a business buzzword?

As it happens, “paradigm shift” is a mere #90 in the pantheon of business buzzwords, with only 206 uses in recent press releases, compared to some 161,000 uses of the #1 business buzzword, “leader”.  Perhaps “paradigm shift” is so drastically out of fashion that it needs to be brought back?

In any event, let’s be clear. I didn’t just say, “paradigm shift”. I said “a paradigm shift in the strict sense as laid down by Thomas Kuhn: a different mental model of the world.” With this qualification, I distinguished myself from those business writers who apply the term “paradigm shift” to some minor tweak to the existing managerial canon, such as a shift to more evidence-based management.

As it happens, the parallelism of paradigm shifts in science to the paradigm shift that is now happening in management is exact. Let’s start by refreshing our memories of Thomas Kuhn’s path-breaking book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and remind ourselves: what is a paradigm shift in science?

What is a paradigm shift in science?

In 1962, Kuhn’s book challenged the prevailing view of progress in science. Until then, progress in science was seen primarily as the steady accretion of new facts and relationships, one on top of the other.

Kuhn suggested that in reality science experiences long periods of conceptual continuity and accretion. This is what he called “normal science”. However this is punctuated by periods of “revolutionary science” with abrupt discontinuities as the mental model changes in fundamental ways.

Normal science comprises puzzle-solving within the existing mental framework. As normal science proceeds, discoveries are made that advance understanding, along with the emergence of anomalies that don’t quite fit into the prevailing mental framework. Efforts are made to stretch or bend or adjust the framework to accommodate the anomalies, even though the fit is only partial.  A paradigm shift occurs when prevailing mental model has so many egregious anomalies that it “breaks” and a new mental model of the world is perceived to be a better explanation of how the world works.

The Copernican revolution

The classic example of a paradigm shift is the shift from the geocentric view that the sun revolves around the earth to the heliocentric view, put forward by Copernicus in 1539, that the earth revolves around the sun. Kuhn noted that the sun-centric view of the world did not offer more accurate predictions of celestial events, such as planetary positions, than the earth-centric mental model of the world. But the sun-centric appealed to scientists as a simpler and clearer way of understanding the universe, as well as pointing the way to more fruitful hypotheses to explore. In this sense, the sun-centric view of the world proved to be a “better” than the earth-centric view of the world, even though there was resistance from the powers that be for several centuries.

Thus in March 1616, the Roman Catholic Church issued a decree banning Copernicus’s book until it could be “corrected.” The same decree also prohibited any work that defended sun-centric view of the world or that attempted to reconcile this view with Scripture. In 1633 Galileo Galilei was convicted of heresy for supporting the position of Copernicus and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life. It wasn’t until 1835 that the Church’s prohibitions were finally removed.

How do paradigm shifts occur in science?

Kuhn argues that science evolves in a series of phases.

The first phase is the pre-paradigm phase, in which there is no consensus on any particular theory and there are several incompatible or incomplete theories.

The second phase occurs when a number of puzzles can be solved within a single mental framework or paradigm, which then becomes the dominant paradigm. Scientists gravitate to the new framework and normal sciencebegins. Thereafter scientists try to solve puzzles within the assumptions of the dominant paradigm. Most scientists spend most (if not all) of their careers, accepting the prevailing paradigm and proceeding in a puzzle-solving mode within its basic assumptions.

As time goes on, however, anomalies appear.  Despite the anomalies, puzzle-solving within the existing mental framework continues and is indeed pursued with even greater tenacity, because prior successes generated by the prevailing paradigm encourage the belief that a solution to resolving the anomalies must exist, even though it seems to be very hard to find. Anomalies thus accumulate and the existing paradigm is stretched and bent and adjusted in an increasingly desperate effort to accommodate them.

The third phase occurs when scientists finally accept that the significant efforts of normal science within the dominant paradigm fail to resolve the anomalies and revolutionary science begins. In this phase, some bold scientists realize that “the emperor is wearing no clothes” and start exploring alternatives to long-held, seemingly obvious, self-evident assumptions.

Eventually these bold spirits develop a new conceptual framework that is seen to present a better way of reconciling the known facts with the anomalies. At first, the new rival paradigm itself appears to be accompanied by various gaps and anomalies, in part because it is still new and often incomplete.

Initially, the new paradigm is typically greeted with strong resistance bothfrom the scientific community and even from other powers as in the case of the Copernican revolution. As a result, paradigm shifts in science do not occur easily.

There follows a period in which there are adherents of different paradigms pursue their different theories. The revolutionaries are attacked by the powers that be for being theoretically unsound, incomplete, irresponsible, and so on, while the revolutionaries attack the dominant paradigm pointing out the magnitude and grotesqueness of the anomalies. This period of conflict may last for decades, particularly if the new paradigm comes, not from some of the existing leaders of the current scientific establishment but rather from some unexpected and peripheral source, e.g. the dramatically different theory of genetics coming from Gregor Mendel in Moravia or a revolutionary theory of stomach ulcers from Barry Marshall in Perth, Australia.

In time, the gaps in the rival paradigm are filled and the theory is integrated and completed. As a result, scientists converge on it as a more productive way of looking at the world. Once most scientists agree that the rival theory should replace the old paradigm, a paradigm shift has occurred, even though some individual scientists may remain intransigent and continue to noisily defend the old paradigm.

The new paradigm changes the way scientists look at the world, as well as the direction of future scientific research in the field. New questions are asked of old data. In due course, the textbooks are rewritten and university courses are revised.

The parallels in management

The parallels to what is happening now in management are quite exact.

In the 19th Century, management was in a pre-paradigm phase, in which there was no consensus on any particular theory of management.

Management thinking entered a second phase with the work of Frederick Taylor and his “principles of scientific management” (1911), which began with the ominous, prescient declaration: “In the past, Man has been first. In future, the system must be first.”

The “system” that Taylor initiated has a number of underlying assumptions that are still “obvious”  to many managers and theorists. It begins with the idea that a firm is in business to make money for the shareholders. To this end, managers direct and control the workers. Work is coordinated by rules, plans and reports, i.e. bureaucracy. The overriding value is that of ever greater efficiency. Communications are top-down and aimed at maintaining control. Work revolves around “the boss”. The firm’s principal focus is internal. Its principal dynamic is control with the objective of ever greater efficiency.

For the next hundred years, these assumptions became the default mental model of management. As in science, managers and theorists sought to resolve the problems of management within these assumptions. Most managers and theorists have spent most (if not all) of their careers, accepting the prevailing paradigm and proceeding in a puzzle-solving mode within its assumptions.

Even today, speakers and participants at supposedly revolutionary management conferences, such as Agile, Scrum or Lean, can be heard reciting many of the assumptions of Taylor’s paradigm.

How anomalies were accommodated

Nevertheless, as in science, various anomalies to the basic mental model of management became apparent:

  • The need for more attention to the human dimension of work, particularly teams and collaboration.
  • The need for innovation, as opposed to exploiting the existing business.
  • The need for more attention to customers and marketing.
  • The importance of values such as trust, transparency and sustainability
  • The role of horizontal socially-based communications, as opposed to authority-infused vertical communications.
  • The need for more attention to the environmental and social impact of the firm’s operations.

These “anomalies” were accommodated by “grafting” them on to the prevailing mental model of management without basically changing it. Managers and theorists were to varying degrees aware that the adjustments were only partially compatible with the prevailing paradigm. As a result, in practice, managers tended to lurch backwards and forwards from paying more attention to the anomalies and then lurching back to the dominant mental model, particularly when it became apparent that attending to the anomalies endangered the firm’s efficiency or put in question the manager’s control.

The most obvious example of this “lurching back and forth” is the attention paid to the human factor in the form of teams and collaboration. This dimension has been successively discovered—and forgotten and then loudly rediscovered—by Mary Parker Follett in the 1920s, Elton Mayo and Chester Barnard in the 1930s, Abraham Maslow in the 1940s, Douglas McGregor in the 1960s, Peters and Waterman in the 1980s, Smith and Katzenbach in the 1990s and Richard Hackman in the 2000s. Throughout this period, managers would for a time embrace collaboration and teams, and then in a crisis, disband the teams and revert to the default model of managers: controlling individuals.

A perception of continuous progress in management

As in “normal science”, progress in management is perceived by journals such as Harvard Business Review primarily as the continuous accretion of knowledge, each discovery piled on the top of the other, without any fundamental review of the underlying assumptions. This is evident in HBR’s celebration of its 90-year history and the Management Century in itsNovember 2012 issue.

Management’s biggest anomaly: it doesn’t work

The most important anomaly in the traditional management paradigm is that good management doesn’t work anymore. As Alan Murray wrote in the Wall Street Journal  on August 20, 2010:

Clayton Christensen’s book, The Innovator’s Dilemma” … documents how market-leading companies have missed game-changing transformations in industry after industry—computers (mainframes to PCs), telephony (landline to mobile), photography (film to digital), stock markets (floor to online)—not because of “ bad” management, but because they followed the dictates of “good” management. They listened closely to their customers. They carefully studied market trends. They allocated capital to the innovations that promised the largest returns. And in the process, they missed disruptive innovations that opened up new customers and markets for lower-margin, blockbuster products.

This qualitative assessment is confirmed by the magisterial study of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge which shows that the rates of return on assets and on invested capital for 20,000 US firms from 1965 to 2011 have been steadily failing for the last half century.

The graphic shows that something has gone terribly wrong with the US private sector—the supposed engine of economic growth and the supposed creators of jobs. When the best firms have rates of return on assets or on invested capital of, on average, just over one percent, we have a management catastrophe on our hands. An ROA of just over one percent means that firms are dying faster and faster: the life expectancy of firms in the Fortune 500 is now less than fifteen years and declining rapidly.

Why management doesn’t work any more

The principal cause of the erosion in returns is the shift in power in the marketplace from seller to buyer. The gains in efficiency that firms made over the period have been more than consumed the erosion in margins. As a result of globalization and the Internet, customers and clients have more options and instant access to reliable information about those options.  Hence firms that revolve around the boss with a dynamic of control and a principal goal of ever greater efficiency have been finding it more and more difficult to make money.

Measures to make the firm more responsive to its environment by grafting components on to the existing paradigm haven’t worked very well. Increasingly desperate efforts to introduce teams and collaboration, encourage innovation, become more customer-centric and so on have made temporary improvements but they typically don’t endure, because they are at odds with the underlying assumptions of the default management model.

Yet as in science, despite the anomalies, puzzle-solving within the existing mental model has continued and is indeed pursued with ever great tenacity, because successes generated by the paradigm in the 20th Century has encouraged the belief that there must be a way of a resolving the anomalies within the existing paradigm, even though enduring solutions are devilishly hard to find.

At the same time, managers and writers find themselves also in a state of denial: the findings of the Shift Index are rarely cited  by senior managers and have not been highlighted by Harvard Business Review. Instead the managers and business journals continue to proclaim that, and act as if, management is a success, despite reliable quantitative evidence that this is not the case.

Meanwhile revolutionary management is emerging

Meanwhile, largely below the radar, revolutionary management has been emerging for some decades in a fashion akin to the third phase in the progress of science.

In this phase, as in science, some bold spirits, perceiving a conceptual crisis with the existing paradigm, have for several decades been exploring alternatives to the long-held, seemingly obvious, self-evident assumptions of the dominant mental model of management. They have re-examined the assumptions that goal of the firm is to make money for its shareholders, that managers control individuals, that work is coordinated by bureaucracy, that efficiency is the overriding value of the firm and that communication ions are top-down.

These revolutionaries have asked, “What if we reconsidered these basic assumptions? What would that kind of organization look like? Could it make money?”

The revolutionaries have examined the changes that are needed: changes in the goal of the organization (adding value to customers), the role of managers (nurturing self-organizing teams), the way work is coordinated (dynamic linking), the values of the firm (transparency, continuous improvement, sustainability) and the changes in communications (from vertical commands to horizontal conversations).  When fully articulated and integrated, the changes amount to more than a minor tweak to the prevailing paradigm. They amount to a different ecosystem of management.

I have described the elements of this different ecosystem elsewhere in this column. Firms implementing the new paradigm can be found in software, hardware, auto manufacture, clothing, industrial repairs, constructive houses and indeed in virtually every kind of business and organization. Prominent exemplars of the new paradigm include the Steve Jobs regime at Apple [AAPL],  Amazon [AMZN] and Salesforce [CRM], although even these firms do not fully implement all the principles of the new paradigm.

The change in the management paradigm has been long in the making. It is not some fad that was cooked up last night and that will evaporate tomorrow. It has been gathering momentum around the world for several decades. It has deep roots in Europe, in Asia, and in the Americas.   There is now a whole body of knowledge about how this works and why this works.

The shift entails a different way of treating people: a shift from a world in which people are manipulated as things (resources, eyeballs, demand) to a world in which people are interacted with as human beings.

But even more important is the fact that the emerging paradigm makes more money. Humanist management thinking has been around for ninety years and it hasn’t really entered the mainstream because it is perceived to cost more money. What will drive the change towards the new paradigm is the exponential growth in profitability.

The paradox of the new management paradigm is that although it doesn’t focus on making money, it ends up making a lot more money than those firms that do focus explicitly on making money. The new paradigm of management exemplifies the important principle of obliquity.

The establishment defends the status quo

Thus as in science, revolutionaries have developed this new conceptual framework of management that presents a way of reconciling the existing framework with the anomalies. As in science, the new rival paradigm initially had various gaps and anomalies of its own. The Agile Manifesto of 2001 thus can be seen as an example of an incomplete rival paradigm that needed further elaboration before it could become a viable alternative paradigm.

As in science, the new paradigm has been greeted with strong resistance from the management establishment. As in science, the paradigm shift does not occur easily, despite the overwhelming evidence of the need for it.

A tipping point for the management paradigm

As in science, we are now in the period when adherents of competing paradigms pursue their different mental models. How long the period of conflict will last is hard to say precisely.

On one hand, the fact that much of the work related to the new paradigm comes not from the prestigious leaders of the current management establishment but from some unexpected source, i.e. software engineers, is a constraint. On the other hand, the fact that the new paradigm is so much more profitable than the prevailing paradigm makes its triumph both inevitable and imminent. We may well be close to a tipping point.

The anomalies in the existing paradigm are now so grotesque that it is only a matter of time before there is a shift to the new paradigm as a more productive way of getting things done in the world.

Once most organizations, business journals and business schools agree that the new mental should replace the old paradigm, a paradigm shift will have occurred, even though some individual managers and writers will probably remain intransigent and continue to noisily defend the obsolete paradigm.

The new paradigm will change the way managers look at the world, as well as the direction of future improvements in management. New questions will be asked of old data. Old studies will be seen in a new light. In due course, the textbooks will be rewritten. Business school courses will be revised. The paradigm shift in management will then be complete.

November 24, 2014

Making Mass Market Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) Vehicles a Reality by Craig Eisele

I will apologize if I seem harsh and I may seem a bit confrontational in my initial assertions about the Automotive Industry in general in the way they handle innovation. But I can only speak from my personal experience and the long history of their inability to effect significant change. Yet there seems to be a real, albeit fruitless, attempt to make a change in recent months particularly in the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle Development. Unfortunately it seems to be heading in the same direction of the Electric “Leaf”. D.O.A. 

I regret to say their methodology seems terribly flawed and their attempt to change or shift the industry/Consumer/societal relationship is ineffectively designed at best.  I will attempt to outline the Technology adaption move from Gasoline to the Electric Vehicle, to what I believe is the future, a Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) Vehicle, and provide the reasons for the current failure to launch effectively, and then to propose a solution to those problems.

I have been frustrated in their inability to bring HFC Vehicles into the mass market and while I have tried to make my voice know I am met with indifference on a daily basis.  Hence I am forced to declare that the Automotive Industry in general is either naive’ or worse incompetent when it comes to transitioning from Liquid Hydrocarbon Based Fuels Vehicles (aka Gasoline and Diesel) to Alternative Fuels such as Electric, Natural Gas, or Hydrogen. I make this assertion because of the manner in which Automotive Companies have attempted to enter such markets.

This “Fuel” transformation has been a pet project of mine for the last dozen or so years. From Types of fuels to methods of distribution to Consumer behavior to capital investment all have been major obstacles in trying to develop and design an effective prototype for a successful implementation of this transformation.

Recent events have frustrated me in seeing the abject failure by Auto manufactures as well as the leading Fuel Cell manufacturer Ballard Power systems. Their actions show a unilateral non- system approach to this transformation boarding on incompetence.  While I should apologize in some way to those companies, I cannot in good conscious do so because I firmly believe they have failed IF in fact they are serious about making this transformation successful.

Strangely enough the ONE company that was interested in finding solutions and actually asked questions was GE… but their New design Hydrogen Generators are more designed for a Micro Grid implementation as opposed to Automotive use. (More about Micro Grids in the future)

Ballard Power Systems  never even returned a phone call let alone acknowledged an e-mail and the same with ALL the Automotive Companies. But who can blame them as I am NOT in their industries. Yet Harvard Biz Review today promoted an article called

” Sometimes the Best Ideas Come from Outside Your Industry

Hence I was motivated to bring this issue to bear in today’s post.

This is something I have advocated for years. It also Dove-tailed with a “Systems Approach to Management”.  As my favorite Mantra is: “If You Cannot Solve The Problem You Are Facing Than You Are Facing The Wrong Problem. Change the definition Of The Problem to Find A Suitable Solution” . Forbes Contributor Steve Denning  a few years ago unearthed a Charles Deming Philosophical concept  “Working within existing paradigm leads to frustration, not progress.Look at the problem in fundamentally different way to solve the problem.”

This seems to have been an “Industry Problem”  in the Automotive sector. An inability to see beyond its own self imposed confines and when it thinks it does it does so without seeing the consumer as the one needing to be served. While the demand it there for Alternative fuels, there is a certain comfort level that the Consumer feels that makes the current generation of Alt fuel Vehicles  a toy for early Adopters but unsuitable for the masses.

Electric Vehicles are enticing. This if nothing else this explains the sales of Tesla Vehicles. Elon Musk has broken many paradigms in his efforts to facilitate the Electric vehicle, and especially his own. I applaud this efforts but in this case it is a concept that had 2 flaws. The current actual market is extremely small. A) because of Consumer reluctance to something new hence its appeal was limited to early adopters and B) Because of the issues with the number of household able to “Plug-In”  The key then was to have ready rapid charging at multiple locations.

Unfortunately affordable battery storage and rapid (2-3 minutes) recharging technology has yet to raise to the occasion to make this a reality and there is still a certain level of discomfort with this “Newfangled””Horseless Carriage” consumer mentality, which is very complex, and no one really ever addressed that.

Efforts to make batteries interchangeable by Tesla are also not a practical way.. although the concept of battery swap is a major breakthrough.. it needs to be a battery that weighs less than 10 pounds and can be exchanged in 100’s of thousands of locations. like a Duracell. (Maybe Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffet can provide what I refer to in the future.)

Next comes CNG/ LNG but the heavy investment into things like Natural Gas Fueling stations are extremely expensive and the impracticable use of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) which has to be kept at temperatures extremely cold  for Specialized Tanker Transport to the “Fueling stations”  and than storage there and later pumped into vehicles that an passenger vehicle fueling every few days or more would lose too much of its mass to make it a reasonable alternative for the consumer. Simply it may be viable for Trucks that are always on the highway but as far as passenger vehicles it is not a realistic alternative to Gasoline.

Natural Gas was an ideal solution.. especially since it could be utilized for the creation of “On-Board” Hydrogen generation for the Fuel Cell Technology power trains .  It was under this premise I thought I had the ideal solution . One that would fit well into the Consumer behavior in its current form and slowly move people into other means of refueling.

Again I refer to the Consumer and having tens of thousands of locations for the CNG Vehicles to refuel. That is only being done by fleets currently but the investment into natural gas pumps at your local “Gas Station” is not something they will do unless there are more Vehicles and Consumers will not buy these vehicles unless there are many more Fueling locations.. hence the proverbial Chicken and Egg scenario.. who will blink first… currently  no one that I can tell.

The solution is so simple but not ONE Vehicle manufacture has wanted to even HEAR the solution let alone decide to do it or not.. WHY?? Because the solution is NOT in the Automotive Industry as the above referenced HBR Article suggests.  You cannot blame the Automotive industry. Since Henry Ford the ability to change or accept change fro  outside the industry has not been easy and the idea that a non-automotive person can hold the solution is the height of heresy to long standing Automotive insiders who have dedicated their lives to the industry.  That a kindergarten teacher could provide insight would seem ludicrous on its face. (for the record I am not a kindergarten teacher.. but yet sometimes outsides see the forest because those in the industry can only see the trees. )

That brings us to  Hydrogen. I admit I was a little disappointed that Natural Gas had not won out as I said above. My idea of a light weight canister that can hold as much as 25,000 PSI had already been through engineering review.  One may think this is simple but the canisters that were used prior had an aluminium bladder that under anything even close to the tolerance needed would sustain cracks. So by remembering a manufacturing technique from another client for a different produce I was able to find the solution to this “problem”.

Now Enters several Automotive companies. Hyundai, Kia, Audi, BMW, Mercedes etc. Each had developed their own version of the All Electric Tesla thinking they did not want to be left behind on the electric vehicle. Now each has introduced a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle .  Ballard  is the company I mentioned above with their own Fuel Cell engine design …. but withing the last couple of weeks Audi claims to have something even better.

Everyone wants the best engine.. yet until recently NO ONE had tried to solve the problem of fueling stations.  Then came The Mirai,  by Toyota. A few weeks ago their CEO of USA Operations announced not only this vehicle but a partnership with Air Liquide A French Company with limited operations in USA. The “partnership” though not fully disclosed on details, would have multiple fueling locations in the North East USA. It seems based on the T. Boone Pickens Company Clean Energy Fuels Corp  whose stations run along major highways and interstates to provide LNG to Truck Fleets that have converted to Natural Gas.

At 2 million dollars roughly (as per Elon Musk) these Hydrogen Fueling Stations are presumably not just pumps in some one else’s facility but will be free standing. Therefor they will not only extremely expensive by will not be seen in local markets for many years to come.  The profit margins have to be high to recover the investment but that makes the Hydrogen when production and transport and amortization of the actual stations  are included to make the cost no better than gasoline.

So while I applaud Toyota to be on the forefront of trying to break the Chicken or Egg Cycle I cannot see it coming to Fruition for 10-15 years, IF even then.

The Canister Solution and the 100,000+ locations will help in soothing Consumer fears, allow them to stay within a partially defined paradigm of how they refuel, will provide the solution to the chicken/Egg Conundrum, and bring together more stakeholders dedicated to the success of making Non-Gasoline Vehicles more prevalent than  ever before imagined in a much shorter time frame.

I Mentioned my light- weight canister design above. I successfully modified them to handle Hydrogen. Not only are they easy to handle but because of the multi-stage manufacturing process they are able to be tracked and maintained in great detail over their life-time. I was able to identify a distribution system roll out that can effectively have these canisters in 100,000+ locations in 24-30 months.  But to do that several things have to happen:

1/ Automotive Manufactures have to modify the Fuel Tanks for their HFC vehicles to accommodate these Fueling canisters.

2/ The number of canisters manufactured and distributed within the network identified and established has to be no less than 2 times the number of canisters utilized for all HFC vehicle promised to be manufactured on this roll out. Full joint planning of the roll out should be jointly planned

3/ A Strategic Partnership must be established with the Hydrogen producers, the designed distribution system and the auto manufactures who initially agree to this program. All other manufactures must wait 2-4 years before they will be able to access this system. This is not only an incentive for Manufactures who want to enter into this field but also to reward them with 2-4 years of exclusivity without competition from those who want to jump on after the difficult work has been accomplished.

4/ Contractual arrangements for the production of Hydrogen be established and guaranteed.

5/ Continuation of Tax incentives and possible expansion and the attempt to use excess renewable energy to create the hydrogen thereby easing the burden on utilities as well as satisfy those who are concerned as to the power used to generate said Hydrogen.

6/ The creation of a joint organization to promote the above in the USA and overseas where appropriate and or necessary.

These items should take less than 12 months after all parties come together for the expressed purpose of implementing this program allowing for the mass production of hundreds of thousands of HFC vehicles over 3-4 years.

I am but a simple person trying to facilitate what I personally believe to be the biggest change in Automotive Manufacturing history. Further the distribution system I refer to can be used to roll out charging stations for battery swaps as I described above in the Duracell fashion.

The future is here if anyone wants to work with me to make this happen. Unfortunately as a NON-Automotive person I an mot considered legitimate in the automotive circles. I hope my series of articles over the course of time can change that and that the bias that prevents the adoption of alternative theories of success can be abated.

What is The “Copernican Revolution” In Management… It Is A Paradigm Shift

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 9:33 pm

The Financial Times published a pair of important articles Last year that asked why leading business schools are still teaching one of the obsolete pillars of 20th Century management, namely, that the goal of a firm is to maximize short-term shareholder value:

“While there is growing consensus that focusing on short-term shareholder value is not only bad for society but also leads to poor business results, much MBA teaching remains shaped by the shareholder primacy model.”

The FT concludes that moving away from this model will be difficult “for reasons ranging from the tenure system to institutional inertia.”

However it’s not just the individual impediments that hold back change. The transition will be more disruptive. The shift is as fundamental in scope and implications as the Copernican Revolution in astronomy. It entails a different mental model of how the world works.

The Copernican Revolution in management

On the surface, the Copernican Revolution in astronomy was a paradigm shift from the view that the Sun revolves around the stationary “center of the universe”—the Earth—to the view that the Earth is one of several planets revolving around the Sun.

Similarly, the Copernican Revolution in management is a paradigm shift from the 20th Century view that customers revolve around the stationary “center of the universe”—the value chain of the organization—to the view that the organization is one of many organizations revolving around the customer. The organization survives and thrives only so long as it is agile enough to meet the customer’s shifting needs and desires.

The Revolution in astronomy: a social change

When it was first presented, Copernicus’s thesis seemed to be no more than a different mathematical model for astronomers and astrologers—a simpler way of calculating the paths of the planets.

Copernicus’ theory looked so innocuous that the powers-that-be initially didn’t resist it. In fact, they welcomed it. Thus when Pope Clement VII had the theory explained to him in 1533 by his own secretary, Johann Widmanstetter, he was so pleased with it that he offered him a valuable gift.

What Pope Clement didn’t grasp was that Copernicus’ theory wasn’t just a mathematical methodology for calculating the movements of the planets. Embedded within it was a different worldview that implicitly undermined the plausibility of established religion in general, the Roman Catholic Church in particular, and the Divine Right of Kings, on which most existing governments in Europe rested their claim to legitimacy.

The publication of Copernicus’s theory thus began an inexorable process of inquiry into the entire organization of society, including the rights and privileges of the individuals who happened to be in charge of the Roman Catholic Church and of the monarchies that asserted power through the Divine Right of Kings.

It became possible to ask what social value those presiding over these institutions were adding. While some of them might be genuinely wise men and courageous leaders, others were discovered to be petty tyrants, plodding bureaucrats, incompetent nincompoops or simply hangers-on. By stripping these organizations of their Divine Legitimacy, Copernicus’ theory enabled their true social worth to be examined. To be sure, kings and churches still continued to exist, but they occupied a steadily diminishing role in the structure of society.

Eventually, the Church grasped the seriousness of the threat. In March 1616, the Roman Catholic Church issued a decree, banning Copernicus’s book until it could be “corrected” and forbidding any similar book from being published. In 1633, Galileo Galilei was convicted of heresy for supporting the position of Copernicus and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.

But it was too late. The revolution was under way. Institutional resistance was futile, even though it continued for some time. It wasn’t until 1822 that the Church finally conceded defeat and lifted the prohibition on discussion of the revolution.

In this way, Copernicus’ theory had a vast social impact. It freed the human mind from the intellectual stranglehold that religion and the Divine Right of Kings had held over it for thousands of years.

As Thomas Kuhn writes in The Copernican Revolution: (*1957):

“To describe the innovation initiated by Copernicus as the simple interchange of the position of the earth and sun is to make a molehill out of a promontory in the development of human thought. If Copernicus’ proposal had had no consequences outside astronomy, it would have been neither so long delayed nor so strenuously resisted.”

The social implications for management

Similarly what makes the Copernican Revolution in management so significant is not its technical content, which appears to be merely a different methodology for guiding and measuring the effectiveness of organizations.

Embedded in the new way of managing is a different worldview, which threatens the hegemony of all the big hierarchical bureaucracies that systematically dispirit those doing the work, frustrate those for whom the work is done, repeatedly disappoint society and yield increasingly meager returns for investors.

It also begins an inquiry into the contribution of those leaders who currently preside over large organizations in both the public and private sectors. It shreds the assumption that they are by definition value-creating entrepreneurs, worthy of extraordinary compensation. It invites a re-examination of the duties, rights and privileges of all those who happen to be occupying managerial positions.

What we are seeing in the best management writing and exemplars is the emergence of a coherent and consistent set of management principles that, when implemented fully, enable organizations to achieve a level of performance that was impossible for the hierarchical bureaucracies of the 20thCentury.

This revolutionary new kind of organization is described in more than a score of recent books. It focuses on delighting customers profitably, enabling self-organizing teams and networks, coordinating work in iterative cycles and communicating interactively. The shifts in behavior, attitudes and skills needed to implement it are significant and will have effects as profound and revolutionary as the Copernican Revolution in astronomy.

Just as the Copernican Revolution in astronomy helped put in question social arrangements in which kings and priests and their retinues were in charge of society by Divine Right, so the Copernican Revolution in management is putting in question the social arrangements of the large bureaucracies that currently rule modern society. In the emerging organization, there is little need for “bosses” and “administrators of the status quo” and “paper shufflers”, along with a pressing need for managers who can inspire self-organizing teams, networks and ecosystems to respond to the shifting needs of customers.

The case for change in management

Just as the critics of Copernicus’ theory could argue that it offered no improvement in calculating the path of the planets while generating massive social disruption, so the critics of the Copernican Revolution in management can argue that there are no scientific long-term studies proving beyond all doubt that the new way of managing always gets better results than shareholder value. They also point out—correctly—that its replacement will involve significant social disruption.

In making such arguments, critics prefer to avert their gaze from the declining returns of US organizations over the last 45 years, the high societal cost of unemployment and underemployment, and the disengagement of most of the workforce.

They also fail to take into account ten years of research by Professor Ranjay Gulati, summarized in his wonderful book, Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business (2010):

“Those companies built around an inside-out mind-set—those pushing out products and services to the marketplace based on a narrow viewpoint of their customers that looks at them only through the narrow lens of their products—are less resilient in turbulent times than those organized around an outside-in mind-set that starts with the marketplace, then looks to deliver creatively on market opportunities. Outside-in orientation maximizes customer value—and produces more supple organizations.

“Embracing an outside-in perspective—focusing on creatively delivering something of value to customers instead of obsessing over pushing your product portfolio—builds an inherent flexibility into organizations. While this perspective is beneficial under all market conditions, its advantages become particularly acute in adverse and turbulent markets, making you inherently more responsive to market shifts, a competence that’s especially important in markets where firms must radically alter what they produce, what they sell, and how they sell it. Rallying around customer problems thus results in the resilience that protects businesses from economic storms.”

Our institutions have run out of gas

Today’s hierarchical bureaucracies are so out-of-step with the current marketplace in which power has shifted from seller to buyer that we cannot wait for the results of definitive long-term scientific studies. As Don Tapscott said in this column last week,

“The fundamental problem facing all our institutions today, including government, is not related to conjunctural economic changes. It’s not a business cycle that we are going through. It’s not a cyclical change. It’s a secular change. We are at a punctuation point in human history where the industrial age and institutions have finally come to their logical conclusion. They have essentially run out of gas.”

The shareholder value theory is thus only a small part of the problem. It is part of a web of obsolete management ideas that no longer fit the 21st Century marketplace. As noted below, other once-sacred truths in management are part of the same failing paradigm. Absorbing even a couple of these fundamental shifts will take time. Absorbing them all, and acquiring the skills and attitudes necessary to implement them, will not be easy or quick.

Nevertheless, despite these constraints, the Copernican Revolution in management is under way and is moving forward inexorably. Just as the combined efforts of the powers-that-be in the 16th and 17th Centuries were unable to halt the progress of Copernicus’ Revolution in astronomy, so also today’s big hierarchical bureaucracies, though seemingly all-powerful, will ultimately succumb to the power of a better idea for running organizations—better for customers, better for employees, better for managers, better for society, and better for the organizations and their investors.

Even seemingly impregnable institutions like business schools will in the end be unable to resist. The two articles in the Financial Times this week are thus welcome steps in the process, but they are simply the beginning. The outcome of the Copernican Revolution in management is not in doubt. The only question is how long it will take.

And read also:

1/ The origin of the world’s dumbest idea: Milton Friedman

2/ The dumbest idea in the world: maximizing shareholder value

3/ The management revolution that’s already happening

4/ Don’t Diss the Paradigm Shift in Management: It’s Happening

5/ The five surprises of radical management

Other aspects in the Copernican revolution in management 

  • The search for the holy grail of strategy—sustainable competitive advantage—is recognized by Professor Rita McGrath of Columbia Business School as futile: competitive advantage is at best transient and cannot be deduced from the structure of industry.
  • The “essence of strategy” seen as “coping with competition”, as argued by legendary guru Professor Michael Porter, is now obsolete: the essence of strategy is about adding value to customers.
  • It transpires that the raison d’être of a firm is not only, as Nobel Prize winner Ronald Coase argued, because it can reduce transaction costs, but also because it can add value for customers.
  • The uni-directional value chain—the very core of 20th Century management thinking developed by Professor Porter—is being replaced by the concept of multi-directional networks, in which interactions with customers play a key role.
  • The short-term gains of large-scale off-shoring of manufacturing are recognized to have caused massive loss of competitive capacity: new heuristics for outsourcing have emerged.
  • Supposed distinctions between leaders and managers, as argued by leadership guru Professor John Kotter, are dissolving: managers are leaders and leaders must be able and willing to get their hands dirty and manage.
  • As a result of a failure of many firms to recognize and respond to these changes, a study by Harvard Business School has concluded that the US has lost much of its capacity to compete.
  • Whereas the traditional management pursued an ethos of efficiency and control, a new paradigm is being pursued by many firms that thrives on the ethos of imagination, exploration, experiment, discovery, collaboration and self-organization.
  • Whereas traditional management often treated both employees and customers as inanimate “things” to be manipulated, the new management paradigm respects employees and customers as independent, thinking, feeling human beings.
  • The new management embraces the increased complexity inherent in the shift as an opportunity to be exploited, rather than a problem to be avoided.
  • The extraordinarily generous compensation afforded to senior executives is recognized in an HBR article by Professor Mihir Desai, the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School to be a giant “financial incentives bubble”, accompanied by an unjustified sense of entitlement.

Modern Economics Emphasis on Maximizing Short Term Shareholder Value is Worlds Dumbest Idea

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 3:43 pm

Sometime last year  the Financial Times published a pair of important articles asking why the goal of a firm is to maximize short-term shareholder value is still being taught in business schools.

“While there is growing consensus that focusing on short-term shareholder value is not only bad for society but also leads to poor business results, much MBA teaching remains shaped by the shareholder primacy model.”

The challenge is massive because shareholder value is now deeply embedded in the basic economics that is taught in business schools and economics faculties around the world. Moving on from the shareholder value theory, which even its foremost exemplar, Jack Welch, has called “the dumbest idea in the world”, will entail re-thinking and re-writing much of the basics of modern economics.

Two prime textbooks on managerial economics

To understand the depth of the problem, let’s look at a couple of the best-selling textbooks on managerial economics. One is Managerial Economics and Business Strategy, by Professor Michael Baye, the Bert Elwert Professor of Business Economics in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and Jeffrey T. Prince, Associate Professor of Business Economics & Public Policy also at the Kelley School of Business.

The other is Managerial Economics, by William Samuelson, Professor of Economics and Finance at Boston University School of Management and Stephen G. Marks, Associate Professor of Law, Boston University.

Their learning doesn’t come cheap. The latest edition of the Baye/Prince book (8th edition in 2013) will set you back $173.99 on Amazon. The latest edition of the Samuelson/Marks book (7th edition in 2012) is cheaper–a mere $161.12. Fortunately for the authors, sales of their books are not determined by the kind of free markets that they advocate in their books, which are required  reading in myriad college courses around the world.

One might have expected that books at such prices would come with the very latest in cutting-edge thinking. Sadly, both books are, like most mainstream economics textbooks when you look at them closely, imbued with, and indeed built on, the obsolete shareholder value theory and the idea that the whole job of the manager is to maximize profit for the company and its shareholders.

How managerial economics is built on shareholder value

Let’s start with the best-selling book from the distinguished professors, Baye and Prince. Here, we learn at the outset that the very foundation of managerial economics is, guess what: maximizing shareholder value. As the book amiably confesses at the outset, “much of this book assumes the manager’s task is to maximize the profits of the firm that employs the manager.”

“Assumes”?

The goal of maximizing profits is thus apparently not something to be justified or proved or demonstrated or even supported by any evidence as the appropriate goal. It is simply assumed to be a truth of the universe. That’s the way the world is. QED. Moreover, the underlying principles that follow from the assumption are said to be “valid for virtually any decision process.” (p. 3) According to the authors, “if you learn a few basic principles from managerial economics you will be poised to drive the inept managers out of their jobs!” (p.2)

Astonishingly, almost everything in the following 550 pages flows from this basic assumption. Almost all of the complex examples and problems, the dazzling mathematics, the esoteric charts and the apparently precise analyses, which millions of economics students and managers have been forced for decades to master, rest on this flawed assumption. The “right answer” to almost every problem is to apply “the dumbest idea in the world.”

Shareholder value: the master goal for organizations

As the book continues, the logic of short-term shareholder value is further reinforced. The goal of maximizing profits is thus “the overall goal” to which all other organizational sub-goals, such as the optimal price, the choice of technology, the choice of inputs, the responses to competitors, must be subordinated. (p.5).

The 4th Edition of the book (2003) gave a faint nod to “long-term value” with a box that includes a quote from Clifton Wharton in an article in Harvard Business Review (Dec 1991), to the effect that “managers must resist a narrow focus that looks only at short-term profits.”

In the 8th edition (2013), even this brief nod has been eliminated. All that remains in the box is the flat declaration: “ultimately the goal of a continuing company must be to maximize the [long-term] value of the firm.”

It is evident from what follows that one doesn’t need to worry too much about the long-term because of another convenient, but equally dubious, assumption that pops out of nowhere, without justification or proof or argument in its support: increasing short-term profits will increase long-term value. Thus, the goal of maximizing the value “often is achieved by trying to hit intermediate targets, such as minimizing costs, improving the production process, decreasing the time it takes to make decisions, and improving product quality.” (p.7)

Indeed, short-term profits constitute a beneficent message from society. There is little need to worry whether short-term profits lead to long-term value, because profits are inherently good. “Profits signal the owners of resources where the resources are most highly valued by society. By moving scarce resources toward the production of goods most valued by society, the total welfare of society is improved.” (p.7)

Short term profits equal long-term value?

The book enshrines these assumptions in formal “principles”. Thus: “Maximizing profits means maximizing the value of the firm, which is the present value of the current and future profits.” (p.18)

There is little if any sign in this book of the tension between the pursuit of short-term profits and long-term value.

1.     “Bad profits” kill future profits

In this book, all profits are good. The possibility of such a thing as “bad profits” is almost inconceivable. The books show no awareness of some thirty years of research done by Fred Reichheld and his colleagues summarized in The Ultimate Question 2.0, which shows that if the firm is making profits while leaving customers disgruntled, then the profits generating brand liabilities that will have to be repaid one day.

 ”Whenever a customer feels misled, mistreated, ignored or coerced, then profits from that customer are bad. Bad profits come from unfair or misleading pricing. Bad profits arise when companies save money by delivering a lousy customer experience. Bad profits are about extracting value from customers, not creating value. When sales reps push overpriced or inappropriate products onto trusting customers, the reps are generating bad profits. When complex pricing schemes dupe customers into paying more than necessary to meet their needs, those pricing schemes are contributing to bad profits.”

In a world in which power in the marketplace has shifted from seller to buyer, pursuing bad profits can have disastrous consequences for the firm. Such consequences are not even alluded to in this book. Example after example, analysis after high-powered analysis, graph after complex graph, reiterate the fundamental assumption: the basic job of a manager is to maximize short-term profits.

The notion that the only valid goal of a firm is to add value to customers—as articulated by Peter Drucker in 1973—is totally absent. The role of customers? They are there to be exploited for the good of the firm and its shareholders. The book even helps “identify a variety of strategies to raise the costs to consumers of ‘switching’ to would-be entrants, thereby lowering the threat that entrants will erode your profits.” (p.9)

2.     The opportunity cost of a focus on short-term profits

Even more amazingly, the words “disruption” or “disruptive innovation” do not appear in this book. There is no hint of the horrifying opportunity costs that flow from an undiluted pursuit of shareholder value. As Allen Murray noted in the Wall Street Journal,

“In today’s world, gale-like market forces—rapid globalization, accelerating innovation, relentless competition—have intensified what economist Joseph Schumpeter called the forces of ‘creative destruction.’ Decades-old institutions like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns now can disappear overnight, while new ones like Google and Twitter can spring up from nowhere….

“As explained Clayton Christensen classic book, The Innovator’s Dilemma in 1997… market-leading companies have missed game-changing transformations in industry after industry—computers (mainframes to PCs), telephony (landline to mobile), photography (film to digital), stock markets (floor to online)—not because of ‘bad’ management, but because they followed the dictates of ‘good’ management. They listened closely to their customers. They carefully studied market trends. They allocated capital to the innovations that promised the largest returns. And in the process, they missed disruptive innovations that opened up new customers and markets for lower-margin, blockbuster products.”

Apparently these “gale-force winds” have yet to reach the world inhabited by the distinguished professors. Instead they insist on the very principles that have caused these disasters as the basic modus operandi of a modern firm. Although the professors themselves are happily living in a parallel universe that has—so far—been safe from gale-force winds, surely there is some responsibility to teach economics students the disastrous practical consequences of acting on their doctrines?

3.     How short-term thinking has killed entire industries

Nor is there any mention of the fact that the pursuit of short-run profits has led to decades of foreign outsourcing that have destroyed not only individual businesses but also whole segments of the American economy, thereby undermining the capacity of American industry to invent the next generation of products and services. The words “outsourcing” or “offshoring” do not appear in the book.

As a result of pursuing a primary focus on maximizing short-term profits through efficiency gains achieved through offshoring, “the U.S. has lost or is on the verge of losing its ability to develop and manufacture a slew of high-tech products,” as explained by Gary Pisano and Willy Shih In “Restoring American Competitiveness” (Harvard Business Review, July-August 2009). Today, Amazon couldn’t make a Kindle in the U.S., even if it wanted to.

One would never guess from this book the frighteningly long list of industries of industries that were  “already lost” to the USA in 2009:

Fabless chips”; compact fluorescent lighting; LCDs for monitors, TVs and handheld devices like mobile phones; electrophoretic displays; lithium ion, lithium polymer and NiMH batteries; advanced rechargeable batteries for hybrid vehicles; crystalline and polycrystalline silicon solar cells, inverters and power semiconductors for solar panels; desktop, notebook and netbook PCs; low-end servers; hard-disk drives; consumer networking gear such as routers, access points, and home set-top boxes; advanced composite used in sporting goods and other consumer gear; advanced ceramics and integrated circuit packaging.

The list of industries “at risk” is even longer and more worrisome.

The learned professors see their book as “providing students with the tools… that they need to make sound managerial decisions.” The professors continue: “Sadly, billions of dollars are lost each year because many existing managers fail to use basic tools.” What they don’t point out is that many billions of dollars are lost each year precisely because they use the tools the professors recommend.

If the esteemed professors had addressed the issue of offshoring (which this book doesn’t), they would presumably have argued, like other traditional economists, that these losses represent the normal and beneficent process of the global economy working through national “comparative advantage”. The problem is that when you outsource manufacturing in a foreign country far away, you are not just losing jobs. You risk losing something more important: knowledge. And even more important than that: the capacity to innovate. When knowledge and innovation are involved, you’re not just relocating a business. You may be relocating your future. When all large businesses do it, based on the economics they have been taught at business schools, whole sectors of the economy disappear permanently.

The conventional economic thinking that we find in this book, as Pisano and Shih point out, “ignores the fact that new cutting-edge high-tech products often depend in some critical way on the commons of a mature industry. Lose that commons, and you lose the opportunity to be the home of the hot new businesses of tomorrow.”

4.     The national capacity to compete has been destroyed

Nor is there any indication in the book that the undiluted pursuit of short-term profits has endangered the very capability of the USA to compete in the international marketplace.

As detailed by a report, Competitiveness at the Crossroads, (2012) by three distinguished professors at Harvard Business School—Michael Porter, Jan Rivkin and Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the signs of the problem have been visible for some time. “Job creation had stalled around 2000. Wages had been stagnating for well over a decade ago.”

Even worse, “virtually all the net new jobs created over the last decade were inlocal businesses—government, healthcare, retailing—not exposed to international competition. That was a sign that the U.S. businesses were losing the ability compete internationally.”

How did this national tragedy happen? “The basic narrative of the report begins in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Through globalization, it became possible and attractive for firms to do business in, to, and from far more countries. Changes in corporate governance and compensation caused U.S. managers to adopt an approach to management that focused attention on the stock price and short-term performance.”

As a result, “firms invested less in shared resources such as pools of skilled labor, supplier networks, an educated populace, and the physical and technical infrastructure on which U.S. competitiveness ultimately depends.”

These management actions in turn gave rise to “serious social problems (loss of jobs, stagnating income, growing inequality) and eventually a decline of the public sector (an inability to fund health and pensions, or investments in ‘the commons’ such as infrastructure, training, education, and basic research, fields that the private sector had abandoned.)”

The root causes of the decline in competitiveness are thus the consequence of the focus on the short-term and the stock price—the very thinking that is still so insistently taught in this best-selling textbook by Professors Baye and Prince.

5.     The decline in the private sector has been quantified

These setbacks for traditional economic thinking are not simply opinions. They have been quantified by a comprehensive study of 20,000 US corporations from 1965 to 2011 in Deloitte’s Shift Index. We discover that the rates of return on assets and on invested capital has declined by three-quarters.

Given the love that economists have for numbers, one might have expected them to be thrilled to have these statistics and to relish exploring their implications. That hasn’t happened—so far—to any significant extent because the numbers put in question the basic narrative and tools of traditional economic thinking.

The Samuelson/Marks book

The book by the esteemed professors from Boston University, Professors Samuelson and Marks, is basically more of the same.

“In most private-sector decisions, profit is the principal among alternative courses of action, the manager will select the one that will maximize the profit of the firm. Attainment of maximum profit worldwide is the natural objective of the multinational carmaker, the drug company, and the management and shareholders of Barnes & Noble, Borders Group, BP, NBC, and CBS.” (p. 8).

By contrast to the Baye/Prince book, this book gives occasional hints at the outset of an awareness that there is another world out there beyond short-term shareholder value.

“In practice, profit maximization and benefit-cost analysis are not always unambiguous guides to decision making… Both private and public investments involve trade-offs between present and future benefits and costs. “Uncertainty poses a second difficulty…. the cost and date of completing a nuclear power plant are highly uncertain… At best, the utilities that share ownership of the plant may be able to estimate a range of cost outcomes and completion dates and assess probabilities for these possible outcomes.” (p.11)

But we are fairly soon back in the world of maximizing short-term profits.

“Value maximization is not the only model of managerial behavior. Nonetheless, the available evidence suggests that it offers the best description of a private firm’s ultimate objectives and actions.” (p.15)

“The central focus of managerial economics is the private firm and how it should go about maximizing its profit.”  (p.18)

After a brief nod to the possibility that long-term value might not always be aligned with short-term profits, the short-term profit maximization perspective takes over in an explicitly prescriptive fashion:

“The fundamental decision problem of the firm is to determine the profit-maximizing price and output for the good or service it sells.” (p.53)

“A manager who is in charge of a single product line is trying to determine the quantity of output to produce and sell to maximize the product’s profit.” (p. 62)

In almost all the examples and problems, the “right answer” is clear: maximize short-term profits

21st Century examples with 20th Century thinking

Most of the examples in the book are from the 20th Century with managers facing decisions on how to maximize profits from traditional commodities like petroleum or corn flakes. But when more recent examples appear, in an apparent effort to demonstrate the book’s relevance, they are approached with the same profit-seeking 20th Century mindset. For example, one of the problems given is the following:

“In November 2007, Amazon introduced the Kindle, the first successful reading device for electronic books. The price was a daunting $399. In 2009, the company dropped the Kindle’s price to $259 and in mid-2010 to $189. Let’s assume Amazon sold 1 million units at a price of  $259 and 3 million units at a price of $189. Find the output and price that maximize Kindle profits.” (p. 52)

Let’s think for a second about the way this problem is formulated. The venerable professors are saying: let’s assume Amazon’s goal is to maximize profits (it isn’t). Let’s assume that we know what the market response to each model of the Kindle will be at any particular point in time (we don’t). Let’s assume there are no competitors (there are). Let’s assume the production function is stable (it isn’t). Let’s assume that Kindles are a commodity and any Kindle is like any other Kindle (they aren’t). Let’s assume that customers are basing all their decisions on individual transactions rather than relationships (they aren’t).

If we are willing to make all those assumptions and do the fancy mathematics, we are able to conclude that Amazon could have maximized profits from the Kindle alone, by setting a price of $210 and selling 2.4 million units, while recognizing that it is also making additional profits from e-book sales.

What the book fails to note is not only that the elements of the problem are inconsistent with the real-world facts of Amazon and its market but also that the conclusion is only knowable in retrospect in the light of what happened. It was not available to Amazon when it was making its decisions. The analysis would have been little help to the manager actually making the decisions in real life.

Other decision-making models

To their credit, this book does note at the outset at least the possibility of other decision-making models:

“The model of satisficing behavior posits that the typical firm strives for a satisfactory level of performance rather than attempting to maximize its objective. Thus, a firm might aspire to a level of annual profit, say $40 million, and be satisfied with policies that achieve this benchmark.

“A second behavioral model posits that the firm attempts to maximize total sales subject to achieving an acceptable level of profit… Top management’s self-interest may lie as much in sales maximization as in value maximization.

“A third issue centers on the social responsibility of business….. The objective of value maximization implies that management’s primary responsibility is to the firm’s shareholders. But the firm has other stakeholders as well: its customers, its workers, even the local community to which it might pay taxes….

“Over the last 25 years, research in behavioral economics has shown that beyond economic motives, human actions are shaped by psychological factors, cognitive constraints, and altruistic and cooperative motives… (p.18)

But the alternative models, once mentioned, are quickly set aside, with the implicit suggestion that they are used by people who haven’t grasped the true tools of economics.  The rest of the book is devoted to pursuing shareholder value.

The world has changed and economics hasn’t

Back in the real world, however, even some true-believers in the shareholder value theory have seen the light, including its leading exemplar, Jack Welch. On March 12, 2009, he gave an interview with the Financial Times and said, “On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy… your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products. Managers and investors should not set share price increases as their overarching goal… Short-term profits should be allied with an increase in the long-term value of a company.”

Why haven’t these eminent professors in managerial economics cottoned on to Mr. Welch’s insight? The professors are as intelligent and educated and as analytically sharp as any human beings on the planet. And yet here they are, teaching principles that are consistently leading to business disaster for the firms pursuing them and catastrophe for society as a whole. Why?

One of the reasons is that they are teaching principles that used to work in a fashion. Much of this thinking dates from a period at least sixty years ago when the American economy enjoyed a period of global domination and oligopolies ruled the marketplace. It was a predictable world in which the production function was stable and products were mostly commodities. Competition was limited to a few big firms. The customer was simply demand that had to be managed through advertising. If you spent enough money, customers could be persuaded that identical products were different.

This was a world in which the economics taught in these books made sense to a certain extent. Managers could safely concentrate on maximizing short-term profits without fear of any immediate adverse consequences. This world also offered the opportunity to present a neat and tidy analytic model of how businesses do and should operate. The intellectual elegance of these analytic models is awesome.

The problem is that this world is rapidly vanishing and, along with it, the relevance of these elegant analytic models. With globalization, no single nation dominates the marketplace. The hegemony of the oligopolies has largely gone. The production function is no longer stable. Products are increasingly not only differentiated but personalized. The customer is no longer simply demand that can be manipulated through advertising. Customers have reliable information as to what is available and can communicate with each other: as a result, power in the marketplace has shifted from seller to buyer. The customer is now in charge.  Mature firms can be destroyed by unknown upstarts. Entire product lines and markets can be obliterated almost overnight as a result of “big bang disruption”. Disrupters can come out of nowhere and go global at once. Disruption can happen so quickly and on such a large scale that it is hard to predict or defend against. Competitive advantage is becoming increasingly transient. The only way to survive is to build relationships and delight customers by constant innovation and strategic adaptation to the changing scene.

This new world requires a radically different kind of economics that must be re-thought from first principles, beginning with the purpose of a firm.

The new economics

The purpose of the 21st Century firm is not to maximize shareholder value. Seeking profits in the short-term does not automatically lead to long-term value. As Peter Drucker wrote in his 1973 book, Management,

“There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. . . . It is the customer who determines what a business is. It is the customer alone whose willingness to pay for a good or for a service converts economic resources into wealth, things into goods. . . . The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence.”

The firm’s goal that should underlie 21st Century economics is: creating value for customers. By creating value for customers, one secures the basis for long-term prosperity. The shifts involved are significant.

Category

The economics of maximizing shareholder value

The economics of
radical management

 

Goals

The goal of a firm is to maximize shareholder value. The goal of a firm is to create a customer, as described by Peter Drucker in Management.  
The task of a manager is to maximize profits. The task of a manager is to continuously add value for customers while providing a reasonable return to the firm and its shareholders.  
Innovation is optional, depending on specific opportunities to secure profits. Continuous innovation is a requirement for survival  
Maximizing profits is the overall goal of the firm to which all other organizational sub-goals, such as the optimal price, the choice of technology, the choice of inputs, the responses to competitors, must be subordinated. Delighting customers is the overall goal of the firm to which all other organizational sub-goals, such as the maximizing profits, optimal price, the choice of technology, the choice of inputs, the responses to competitors, must be subordinated.  

Measures

The principal measure of progress towards the achievement of the firm’s goal is the amount of short-term profits. The principal measure of progress towards the achievement of the firm’s goal is the firm’s absolute Net Promoter Score, as described by Fred Reichheld in The Ultimate Question 2.0  
The progress of individuals and work units is measured by their contribution to the firm’s profits. The progress of individuals, teams and networks is measured by their contribution to the value that they add to customers.  

Prices

Most products and services are commodities in stable markets. Increasingly, products and services are differentiated or personalized in highly dynamic markets  
Most products and services have stable demand curves that can be readily ascertained and used for decision-making in Increasingly, products have unstable demand curves that are rapidly shifting and changing in shape  
Demand curves can be readily ascertained and used for decision-making Increasingly, demand curves cannot be easily ascertained or used for decision-making.  
Prices are set by finding and using stable demand curves. Increasingly, prices are set by rapid experimentation with real customers, as described by Eric Ries inThe Lean Startup.  

Profits and value

Short-term profits inevitably lead to long-term value for the firm and its shareholders. Short-term profits are not assumed to lead to long-term value for the firm and its shareholders.  
There is no such thing as “bad profits”. Bad profits must be searched for and rooted out of the organization.  

Offshoring

Offshoring is evaluated principally in terms of short-term profits based on elements such as the cost of labor or the ex-factory cost Offshoring is evaluated in terms of of the total cost and risk of extended international supply chains, including the risk of the loss of knowledge and the impact on future capacity to compete..  
Mission critical elements are routinely offshored if doing so lowers costs of production. Mission-critical components are not offshored.  
Contribution to society Firms only contribute to protecting the environment if it adds directly to the firm’s bottom line. Firms recognize a continuing responsibility as a corporate citizen to protect the environment.  
Firms only invest in pools of skilled labor, supplier networks, an educated populace, and physical and technical infrastructure, if it adds to the firm’s own bottom line. As corporate citizens, firms make reasonable investments in pools of skilled labor, supplier networks, an educated populace, and physical and technical infrastructure to the extent that it promotes long term competitiveness.  

A new age of capitalism is emerging, focused on delighting those for whom the work is done and inspiring those doing the work. The new way of managing is much more profitable than the old. Organizations that embrace the new paradigm are moving the production frontier of what is possible.

The rudiments of the new economics are known, although the detailed mathematics, the graphical representation and the implications of the shift in foundational assumptions have still to be worked out in detail. The task is large. Much work remains to be done.

Signs of alternative thinking in economics

Of course, some of it has already begun. Not every economist is mindlessly following the shareholder value mythology. Exciting developments are occurring for example in behavioral economics, in game theory, in neuro-economics and in individual efforts like Joe Stiglitz’s work on inequality.

But so far most of these developments are taking place within the analytic prison of profit maximization and shareholder value. Hardly any of it puts in question the fundamental focus on short-term profits and “wins” against competitors.

The idea that the entire intellectual edifice of modern economics no longer fits the world we live in has yet to enter the academic mainstream or to be accepted by the economic establishment. Those who do question the fundamental assumptions tend to be marginalized, so that the status quo can be maintained. This obviously has to change. The profession needs to get beyond further refinements of an increasingly irrelevant paradigm and instead reinvent the economics that we need for the new age.

The Copernican Revolution in managerial economics

The changes we are talking about are not minor. It is a revolution as profound as the Copernican Revolution in astronomy—the shift from the view that the Sun revolves around the stationary “center of the universe”—the Earth—to the view that the Earth is one of several planets revolving around the Sun.

As Joseph Bragdon wrote in Profit for Life (2006):

“You might say that we are in the midst of a “Copernican Revolution” in conventional business thinking. We are finally waking to the fact corporations are not the center of our economic universe, with people and Nature orbiting around them. In fact the opposite is true.”

The Copernican Revolution in managerial economics is a paradigm shift from the 20th Century view that customers are subservient to the stationary “center of the universe”—the value chain of the organization—to the view that the organization is one of many organizations revolving around the customer. The organization survives and thrives only so long as it is agile enough to meet the customer’s shifting needs and desires. The future of the firm depends on how much value is being added. The job of the manager is, not to maximize short-term profits, but rather to continuously add value to customers with a reasonable level of profit.

Just as it took astronomy many decades to figure out all the detailed mathematics of the new view of the universe, the detailed economics of Copernican Revolution in management will also take some time.

The good news for open-minded economists

In one sense, all this is bad news for economists. They will have to rethink how they analyze problems and how they teach with fundamentally different assumptions and new analytic tools. Textbooks will have to be rewritten. New examples and problems will have to be developed. New mathematics and graphics will have to be invented. There will be widespread resistance from many who cannot bring themselves to reinvent what they have spent so much of their lives refining and teaching.

But surely, this is also good news for economists as well as the rest of society.  In addition to economists becoming freshly relevant and helpful to business and society, economists can also do some good for themselves. Imagine if all the immense brain power currently devoted to developing further analytical refinements to the shareholder value model were devoted to spelling out the implications of the Copernican Revolution in managerial economics. A vast new path forward is opening up. The scope for winning many future Nobel Prizes in Economics is enormous!

Radical Management Makes Considerably MORE Money

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 2:15 pm

The bridge between radical management and humanist values

 

There is connection between the humanistic principles taught at Saybrook University and the principles laid out in Steve Denning’s  book and has crafted “a list of some rules of thumb to offer leaders to expand on (but not replace) Steven’s interlocking principles – bridging his concepts to humanistic studies, topics and approaches.”

1. “Focus the organization on delighting clients” (Steve Denning) which means “become more aware of the role of a collaboration culture in supporting the mission you joined to serve fellow human beings” (Dennis Rebelo).

2. “Work in self-organizing teams” (Steve Denning) meaning “focus on natural formation versus control and command styles of the carrot and stick era of management so that you can experience joy at work” (Dennis Rebelo).

3. “Operate in client driven iterations” (Steve Denning) or “engage in a dialogue in the Bohmian-spirit to suspend judgment en route to understanding others” (Dennis Rebelo).

4. “Deliver value to clients” (Steve Denning) in other words “work with honor as you promised you would to serve” (Dennis Rebelo).

5. “Foster radical transparency” (Steve Denning) which is to say “graciously accept the sharing and critical thinking that stems from diversity” (Dennis Rebelo).

6. “Nurture continuous self-improvement” (Steve Denning) because “people are naturally inquisitive and so let the human endeavor at work encourage learning” (Dennis Rebelo).

7. “Communicate interactively” (Steve Denning) which is to say “dialogue versus monologue because no collective wisdom comes from watering down the thoughts of another human” (Dennis Rebelo).

Dennis concludes: “To be human means to accept, honor and be able to work with ease and grace despite having differences in thoughts and feelings with other people… Perhaps being human to get a human back is not a radical concept after all. Let’s not let it be.”

The article is a useful reminder that some of the roots of radical management have been around for a very long time. Indeed much of the spirit of radical management is driven by a wish to transform organizations from places where employees and customers are treated as things to places where people are treated as people. As Dennis points out, that ought not be a radical thought.

Future historians and psychologists will undoubtedly look back on the 20th Century and scratch their heads, wondering why did hundreds of million people accept to go on, day in and day out, treating other people as things and allowing themselves to be treated as things. What illness of the human spirit could have afflicted so many people to act in such a strange way?

More than just the old humanist principles

Yet this line of thinking should not delude us into thinking that radical management is really no more than the general humanistic principles that have been around for centuries. There are at least five fundamental ways in which radical management goes beyond general humanistic principles.

1. A change in the goal of the organization

Fixing the goal of the organization on delighting customers (or stakeholders) involves a lot more than “becoming more aware of the role of a collaboration culture”.

It is a fundamental change in the goal of organizations from making money for the shareholders to delighting the customers or stakeholders. It is a change in the basic geometry of organizations. Top-down becomes outside-in.

By and large, the humanist school of management from Mary Parker Follett onwards tried to work within the existing framework of shareholder capitalism, without always realizing that the goal itself would inexorably undermine humanist values. Instead of working within the goals of shareholder capitalism, radical management changes the very goal of the organization. Radical management rejects the framework of assumptions of traditional management and offers a different framework.

2. Radical management makes much more money

Happily, when the organization changes its goal to delighting the customer, it ends up making more money for the shareholders, because the organization is now in sync with today’s marketplace, where the customer is in charge. Delighting the customer is not just profitable, it is hugely profitable, as one can see from the results of Apple [APPL], Amazon [AMZN] and Salesforce.com [CRM], particularly in comparison to companies still being run in the mode of shareholder capitalism, such as GE [GE], Walmart [WMT] and Intel [INTC].

Hence radical management doesn’t have to depend on persuading business people to treat people as people just because that’s the right thing to do (which it is). Happily the economics is inexorably driving the change, whether business people want it or not. Wall Street is already putting traditional, thing-driven firms out of business at an accelerating pace, as Deloitte’s Shift Indexconclusively demonstrates. In one sense, this phenomenon is a triumph of humanism. But we should not forget that there is a lot more than general humanist principles that is responsible for what is occurring.

3. Many of the practices are genuinely new

Many of the people-oriented vocabulary and practices would be unfamiliar to the humanist writers. That’s because these practices and this vocabulary are genuinely new:

  • At the organizational level, the goal of the firm to delight customers is measured by the Net Promoter Score. It enables the organization to measure whether it is delighting the customer by inviting the customer to imagine a story: “Would you recommend this product or service to a colleague or friend?”
  • At the level of the team, work is planned in the form of user stories—a special kind of story devised to formulate the goals of teams in terms of customer outcomes.
  • The user stories that are developed are then sized and prioritized using other methodologies called “story points” and “planning poker” to measure how much work is involved in making any of the user stories “come true.” In such work places, people routinely speak of “implementing stories.”
  • Value stream mapping is a tool that creates a story of the organization seen from the customer’s point of view, and helps identify any delays in delivering value to the customer. It enables the organization to manage the forgotten competitive weapon: time.
  • These story-based measures enable the firm to go further and—for the first time—calculate the productivity of a firm in terms of human outcomes rather than merely the production of things.

With radical management, we are thus in a world of NPS, user stories, story points, planning poker, team velocity and value stream mapping. This vocabulary and these methodologies represent an evolution of the innocent world of general humanist values. In effect, by using these discoveries, radical management is able to transform general humanist principles into actionable business processes. The humanist principles are sound. But by themselves, they are not enough to run an organization.

4. Doing all the changes together is new

Individually none of these seven principles is new. Each principle has been implemented by some organizations for many years:

• Finding ways to measure client delight and the consequent impact on firm growth has been systematically studied by Fred Reichheld and his colleagues at the consulting firm Bain & Company for over twenty-five years.

• Self-organizing teams have been the staple of new product development for several decades.

• Iterative work practices have been promoted since the 1930s by Walter Shewhart, a quality expert at Bell Labs.

• Reducing inventory and delivering value to clients each iteration lie at the heart of lean manufacturing, which was invented by Toyota some fifty years ago.

• Radical transparency has been a guiding principle of software development practices known as Scrum and Agile for several decades.

• Continuous self-improvement is a legacy from the total quality movement for more than half a century.

• Interactive communication—storytelling, questions, conversations—has a rapidly growing literature and practice in the past decade.

Individually, then, none of the seven principles is new. What is new is for organizations to break free from the interlocking assumptions of traditional management and put all the principles of radical management together as an integrated, mutually supporting whole. It’s the integrated implementation of all the pieces that gives the approach its full power. Each of the components adds an increment: when they are combined, the increment becomes exponential.

As I noted in my post yesterday, many companies have mistakenly approached radical management (and its forerunners: Scrum, Agile and Lean) as it if were just another business process to be bolted on to the existing business processes. The result is generally a failure. Radical management is a different way of thinking, speaking and acting in the workplace. It is only when firms realize this that they achieve the full benefits from implementing it.

5. An end to mere PR

Traditional managers have often professed to be devoted to delighting their customer and valuing employees as the organization’s most important asset. Yada, yada, yada. Everyone knew that the real bottom line was neither customer focus nor valuing employees: the real goal was making money for the shareholders. The other stuff was PR bullshit.

So if radical management were to be merely talking about becoming more aware of the role of a collaboration culture, there would be a serious risk that people would see it as more of the same traditional management PR bullshit. They would suspect that the real bottom line of radical management was really still what it always was: making money for shareholders. By being crystal clear that this is a shift in the real bottom line of the organization from making money for shareholders to delighting the customer, we get to the heart of the matter of what is really driving the organization. This is not just PR bullshit. This is a fundamental change in the way organizations are run. This is what makes this thinking radical.

November 23, 2014

Being successful. Models and Ideas and Encouragement

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 9:09 am

How many times has your success depended on knowing something that most people don’t? The survey research I did for my new book, Business Brilliant, uncovered just how frequently highly-successful people think and act differently from the great majority of people with identical levels of education and smarts.

There are certain elements of success that everyone agrees on–ambition, hard work, persistence, and a positive attitude. But my survey showed how some people have “business brilliance,” a distinctive take on getting ahead that is often at odds with the more pervasive mindset.

If you want to get an edge and separate yourself from the common herd, take some cues from the seven beliefs and habits of the most successful people:

1. An equity position is necessary to get wealthy. 

Ninety percent of the super-successful say this is true, versus fewer than half of the masses. More importantly, 80 percent of “business brilliant” people say they already have an equity stake in their work. Just 10 percent of the middle-class have an equity position of any kind, and the vast majority (70 percent) say they’re not even trying to get one.

2. I’m always looking to gain an advantage in my business dealings. 

About 90 percent of “business brilliant” individuals say they are always trying to grab an edge, compared with just about 40 percent of the middle-class. Gaining even small advantages in a series of deals can have a cumulative effect on your wealth, but since most people aren’t even looking for one, they’re that much more likely to end up on the disadvantaged side of every deal.

3. Doing things well is more important than doing new things.

Getting wealthy usually means you’ve taken an ordinary idea and executed it exceptionally well. That’s what 9 in 10 “business brilliant” people believe. Most other people, though, think that wealth requires a big, new idea. Unfortunately for them, big ideas are rare and risky. Too many people are waiting on the sidelines for the perfect big idea to come along, while the most successful people have jumped in the game, and busily honed their skills at execution.

4. I hire people who are smarter than I am.

Exceptional execution requires those who are business brilliant to focus on the two or three things they do very well. So they get their work done by building teams with complementary capabilities. Surveys show that most people, though, would rather learn to do tasks they’re bad at than get others to do them. The business brilliant know that you get to the top because of your strengths, not your weaknesses.

5. It’s essential I really understand my business associates’ motivations.

If you’re dependent on other talented employees, you’d best know what makes those talented people tick. That’s the belief of about seven in 10 people in my “business brilliant” cohort, compared with fewer than 20 percent of the middle-class. My survey suggests that your willingness and desire to really get to know and understand your business associates is a sure marker of success–and one that most people don’t have.

6. I can easily walk away from a deal if it’s not right.

The “business brilliant” know that bad deals, like bad marriages, can be painful–and costly. So if the deal on the table isn’t right, 71 percent say they have no problem cutting bait and moving on. Only about 22 percent of the middle-class say the same. Most people are willing to take their chances on deals that don’t seem right from the start, even though it’s less risky to walk away.

7. Setbacks and failures have taught me what I’m good at. 

Those who are “business brilliant” have, on average, more failures than members of the middle-class. But they use those failures to help them succeed on the next attempt. Just 17 percent of the middle-class say they learn from their failures in this way, which is really a shame. Everything worth trying contains an element of risk, after all. If you fall on your face, you might as well learn from the experience to help you succeed on your next try.

HOW to reach prosperity:

What’s the Clear Roadmap to Prosperity?

For more than half a century, Americans could confidently follow a path to wealth. In this book excerpt, the author of Business Brilliant explains that scenario is no longer viable.

In the coming pages, you will see how Business Brilliance has little to do with IQ or education. You will learn how Richard Branson became a billionaire because he can’t read a financial spreadsheet. You will discover how a high school educated circus clown used his Business Brilliance to become the billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil. You will find out why a Brooklyn entrepreneur needed to listen to his lowest-paid employees, and how a $100 million line of business was the result. You will see how the famously impulsive founder of JetBlue uses his Business Brilliance to build soaring successes atop his many crushing failures.

In the process you will witness the debunking of some very popular myths about success. You’ll see how Warren Buffett  started getting rich as soon as he stopped investing the “Warren Buffett Way.” How Suze Orman built her personal wealth by ignoring her own gospel of frugality. How Bill Gates made the business deal of the century not because he’s a computer genius or an “outlier” but because he executed doggedly on a simple three-step business strategy that anyone can learn. You will see how Steve Jobs stumbled into his greatest fortune by sheer accident—and then rewrote history so it looked like it had been his plan all along.

But most importantly, the seven Business Brilliant principles will help you learn about yourself. You’ll see why it’s just as important to follow the money as it is to follow your passion. Why a “big idea” won’t help you succeed, but the person in the cubicle next to you probably can. Why your network needs fewer people, not more. And why you’re better off doing only the very few things that you do exceptionally well. You’ll also learn about some behaviors that might be holding you back. Why you fail to ask for what you want at the very moments you’re most likely to get it. Why you feel bad when you win a negotiation. And why failure itself is a bad thing only if, like most people, you try to push it out of your mind by taking on something new.

I didn’t figure out these principles on my own. They are the products of years of original research, careful study, persistence through setbacks, and lots of help from other people. In fact, the book you are holding is the product of all seven of the Business Brilliant principles it explores.

The Trouble with What Everyone Knows

In the past six years, household net worth in the United States has fallen by trillions of dollars. The Census Bureau estimates that Americans lost more than one-third of their net worth between 2005 and 2010. White-collar unemployment, meanwhile, has lingered around 6 percent, a number not seen since the 1983 recession, 30 years ago. Standing behind these ranks of unemployed white-collar workers are millions employed workers who are worried about the stability of their jobs and wondering about the long-term viability of their professions and their chosen careers.

You’ve probably never heard of Umair Haque, but the Harvard Business Review ranks the young London-based consultant as one of the world’s 50 top management thinkers. In March 2012, Haque posted an unusual blog entry on the Harvard Business Review website. In it he wrote, “All around us, yesterday’s institutions are buckling and breaking, creaking and cracking (markets, governments, universities, corporations).” We count on institutions to provide us with social stability and rules to live by, but Haque says it’s obvious that the rules are all broken: “You know it and I know it. If you play by the rules today, you’re probably going to end up broke, lonely, miserable, exploited and empty.”

Which brings me to your motivation for reading this book.

Every chapter in this book explodes a commonly held myth about creating wealth and reveals success secrets of self-made millionaires and billionaires that they’re not always eager to discuss. Most founders of Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 500—their list of the fastest growing private companies in America—say that the ideas used in their businesses were more or less stolen from their previous employers, though you’ll never see a news release to that effect.

In the next chapter, I will take the saying “Do what you love and the money will follow” and stand it on its head. The chapter will show how the world’s richest clown, the world’s richest fine artist and Seinfeld’s most successful bit player have all achieved enormous wealth by doing what they love while always, always following the money. The following chapter will show why self-made millionaires ignore the scrimp-save-and-invest mantra of the financial services industry and why three-quarters of all the people reading this book are underpaid. Subsequent chapters will explore principles of Business Brilliance such as “Know-Who Is Better Than Know-How,” which reveals the virtues of taking a “heads I win, tails I don’t lose” approach to any project and “Imitate, Don’t Innovate,” which attempts to bury once and for all the myth that success requires a “big idea.”

In the final chapter, I’ll go out on a limb, offering my own four-point program for Business Brilliance, based on my interpretation of the best practices among self-made millionaires. I call this program LEAP, in part because following it requires a certain leap of faith in the Business Brilliant approach. It’s also called LEAP because I believe that if you take all four points to heart and then execute on each of the accompanying 17 steps, you will enjoy a quantum leap in your income. I can’t promise that I know how to mint new millionaires. That’s the stuff of late-night get-rich-quick infomercials. But I can promise that your outlook on making money will change fundamentally and your results will improve if you make the LEAP program a priority in your life.

I see an urgent need for this book. To me, the main issue for decades now has been risk. More and more financial risk has been heaped upon members of the educated middle class in the form of lost pension plans, reduced health-care coverage, skyrocketing tuition costs, and the housing bubble. Big corporations and other institutional employers used to shelter us from these risks in exchange for our diligence, conformity, and loyalty. But that deal, common 50 years ago, is dead. Now the riskiest thing you can do is try to hold up your end of that bargain and hope that your employer will reciprocate. In other words, we are all now free agents. We are all entrepreneurs, whether we want to be or not.

Credibility

Being a know-it-all is a great way to make people question your common sense.

When it comes to credibility-building, the three most powerful words in the English language are: “I don’t know.”

Many salespeople and most managers think that they’ll lose credibility if they admit ignorance, especially about something about which they “ought” to know. However, the exact opposite is the case.

Admitting ignorance makes everything else you say more credible. Admitting ignorance marks you as a person who’s not afraid to speak the truth, even when that truth might reflect poorly on you.

Needless to say, the “I don’t know” should be followed by a plan to discover the information that’s required, if the issue is truly important. And you WILL be judged on whether you deliver on that promise.

But here’s the thing: people dislike a know-it-all. They can often sense, at a gut level, when they’re being BSed. Even if they’re taken in, when they find out (as usually happens) that they’ve been BSed, they never trust the BSer again.

 

Rea

10 Things Extraordinary People Say Every Day

They’re small things, but each has the power to dramatically change someone’s day. Including yours.

Want to make a huge difference in someone’s life? Here are things you should say every day to your employees, colleagues, family members, friends, and everyone you care about:

“Here’s what I’m thinking.”

You’re in charge, but that doesn’t mean you’re smarter, savvier, or more insightful than everyone else. Back up your statements and decisions. Give reasons. Justify with logic, not with position or authority.

Though taking the time to explain your decisions opens those decisions up to discussion or criticism, it also opens up your decisions to improvement.

Authority can make you “right,” but collaboration makes everyone right–and makes everyone pull together.

“I was wrong.”

I once came up with what I thought was an awesome plan to improve overall productivity by moving a crew to a different shift on an open production line. The inconvenience to the crew was considerable, but the payoff seemed worth it. On paper, it was perfect.

In practice, it wasn’t.

So, a few weeks later, I met with the crew and said, “I know you didn’t think this would work, and you were right. I was wrong. Let’s move you back to your original shift.”

I felt terrible. I felt stupid. I was sure I’d lost any respect they had for me.

It turns out I was wrong about that, too. Later one employee said, “I didn’t really know you, but the fact you were willing to admit you were wrong told me everything I needed to know.”

When you’re wrong, say you’re wrong. You won’t lose respect–you’ll gain it.

“That was awesome.”

No one gets enough praise. No one. Pick someone–pick anyone–who does or did something well and say, “Wow, that was great how you…”

And feel free to go back in time. Saying “Earlier, I was thinking about how you handled that employee issue last month…” can make just as positive an impact today as it would have then. (It could even make a bigger impact, because it shows you still remember what happened last month, and you still think about it.)

Praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient. Start praising. The people around you will love you for it–and you’ll like yourself a little better, too.

“You’re welcome.”

Think about a time you gave a gift and the recipient seemed uncomfortable or awkward. Their reaction took away a little of the fun for you, right?

The same thing can happen when you are thanked or complimented or praised. Don’t spoil the moment or the fun for the other person. The spotlight may make you feel uneasy or insecure, but all you have to do is make eye contact and say, “Thank you.” Or make eye contact and say, “You’re welcome. I was glad to do it.”

Don’t let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Make it about the other person, too.

“Can you help me?”

When you need help, regardless of the type of help you need or the person you need it from, just say, sincerely and humbly, “Can you help me?”

I promise you’ll get help. And in the process you’ll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen–which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader.

And are all qualities of a great friend.

“I’m sorry.”

We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, show support…

Say you’re sorry.

But never follow an apology with a disclaimer like “But I was really mad, because…” or “But I did think you were…” or any statement that in any way places even the smallest amount of blame back on the other person.

Say you’re sorry, say why you’re sorry, and take all the blame. No less. No more.

Then you both get to make the freshest of fresh starts.

“Can you show me?”

Advice is temporary; knowledge is forever. Knowing what to do helps, but knowing how or why to do it means everything.

When you ask to be taught or shown, several things happen: You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice; you show you trust his or her experience, skill, and insight; and you get to better assess the value of the advice.

Don’t just ask for input. Ask to be taught or trained or shown.

Then you both win.

“Let me give you a hand.”

Many people see asking for help as a sign of weakness. So, many people hesitate to ask for help.

But everyone needs help.

Don’t just say, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Most people will give you a version of the reflexive “No, I’m just looking” reply to sales clerks and say, “No, I’m all right.”

Be specific. Find something you can help with. Say “I’ve got a few minutes. Can I help you finish that?” Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous. Model the behavior you want your employees to display.

Then actually roll up your sleeves and help.

“I love you.”

No, not at work, but everywhere you mean it–and every time you feel it.

Nothing.

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. If you’re upset, frustrated, or angry, stay quiet. You may think venting will make you feel better, but it never does.

That’s especially true where your employees are concerned. Results come and go, but feelings are forever. Criticize an employee in a group setting and it will seem like he eventually got over it, but inside, he never will.

Before you speak, spend more time considering how employees will think and feel than you do evaluating whether the decision makes objective sense. You can easily recover from a mistake made because of faulty data or inaccurate projections.

You’ll never recover from the damage you inflict on an employee’s self-esteem.

Be quiet until you know exactly what to say–and exactly what affect your words will have.

 

November 21, 2014

The Fallacy of Human Freedom: Primer For An Intellectual Discourse

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 7:54 pm

JEAN-JACQUES Rousseau famously lamented, “Man is born to be free—and is everywhere in chains!” To which Alexander Herzen, a nineteenth-century Russian journalist and thinker, replied, in a dialogue he concocted between a believer in human freedom and a skeptic, “Fish are born to fly—but everywhere they swim!” In Herzen’s dialogue, the skeptic offers plenty of evidence for his theory that fish are born to fly: fish skeletons, after all, show extremities with the potential to develop into legs and wings; and there are of course so-called flying fish, which proves a capacity to fly in certain circumstances. Having presented his evidence, the skeptic asks the believer why he doesn’t demand from Rousseau a similar justification for his statement that man must be free, given that he seems to be always in chains. “Why,” he asks, “does everything else exist as it ought to exist, whereas with man, it is the opposite?”

This intriguing exchange was pulled from Herzen’s writings by John Gray, the acclaimed British philosopher and academic, in his latest book, The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths. As the title suggests, Gray doesn’t hold with that dialogue’s earnest believer in freedom—though he has nothing against freedom. He casts his lot with the skeptic because he doesn’t believe freedom represents the culmination of mankind’s earthly journey. “The overthrow of the ancien régime in France, the Tsars in Russia, the Shah of Iran, Saddam in Iraq and Mubarak in Egypt may have produced benefits for many people,” writes Gray, “but increased freedom was not among them. Mass killing, attacks on minorities, torture on a larger scale, another kind of tyranny, often more cruel than the one that was overthrown—these have been the results. To think of humans as freedom-loving, you must be ready to view nearly all of history as a mistake.”

Such thinking puts Gray severely at odds with the predominant sentiment of modern Western man—indeed, essentially with the foundation of Western thought since at least the French Encyclopedists of the mid-eighteenth century, who paved the way for the transformation of France between 1715 and 1789. These romantics—Diderot, Baron d’Holbach, Helvétius and Voltaire, among others—harbored ultimate confidence that reason would triumph over prejudice, that knowledge would prevail over ignorance, that “progress” would lift mankind to ever-higher levels of consciousness and purity. In short, they foresaw an ongoing transformation of human nature for the good.

The noted British historian J. B. Bury (1861–1927) captured the power of this intellectual development when he wrote, “This doctrine of the possibility of indefinitely molding the characters of men by laws and institutions . . . laid a foundation on which the theory of the perfectibility of humanity could be raised. It marked, therefore, an important stage in the development of the doctrine of Progress.”

We must pause here over this doctrine of progress. It may be the most powerful idea ever conceived in Western thought—emphasizing Western thought because the idea has had little resonance in other cultures or civilizations. It is the thesis that mankind has advanced slowly but inexorably over the centuries from a state of cultural backwardness, blindness and folly to ever more elevated stages of enlightenment and civilization—and that this human progression will continue indefinitely into the future. “No single idea,” wrote the American intellectual Robert Nisbet in 1980, “has been more important than, perhaps as important as, the idea of progress in Western civilization.” The U.S. historian Charles A. Beard once wrote that the emergence of the progress idea constituted “a discovery as important as the human mind has ever made, with implications for mankind that almost transcend imagination.” And Bury, who wrote a book on the subject, called it “the great transforming conception, which enables history to define her scope.”

Gray rejects it utterly. In doing so, he rejects all of modern liberal humanism. “The evidence of science and history,” he writes, “is that humans are only ever partly and intermittently rational, but for modern humanists the solution is simple: human beings must in future be more reasonable. These enthusiasts for reason have not noticed that the idea that humans may one day be more rational requires a greater leap of faith than anything in religion.” In an earlier work, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, he was more blunt: “Outside of science, progress is simply a myth.”

GRAY’S REJECTION of progress has powerful implications, and his book is an attempt to grapple with many of them. We shall grapple with them as well here, but first a look at Gray himself is in order. He was born into a working-class family in 1948 in South Shields, England, and studied at Oxford. He gravitated early to an academic life, teaching eventually at Oxford and the London School of Economics. He retired from the LSE in 2008 after a long career there. Gray has produced more than twenty books demonstrating an expansive intellectual range, a penchant for controversy, acuity of analysis and a certain political clairvoyance.

He rejected, for example, Francis Fukuyama’s heralded “End of History” thesis—that Western liberal democracy represents the final form of human governance—when it appeared in this magazine in 1989. History, it turned out, lingered long enough to prove Gray right and Fukuyama wrong. Similarly, Gray’s 1998 book, False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, predicted that the global economic system, then lauded as a powerful new reality, would fracture under its own weight. The reviews were almost universally negative—until Russia defaulted on its debt, “and the phones started ringing,” as he recalled in a recent interview with writer John Preston. When many Western thinkers viewed post-Soviet Russia as inevitably moving toward Western-style democracy, Gray rejected that notion based on seventy years of Bolshevism and Russia’s pre-Soviet history. Again, events proved him correct.

Though often stark in his opinions, Gray is not an ideologue. He has shifted his views of contemporary politics in response to unfolding events and developments. As a young man, he was a Labour Party stalwart but gravitated to Margaret Thatcher’s politics after he concluded, in the late 1970s, that Labour had succumbed to “absurdest leftism.” In the late 1980s, disenchanted with the “hubristic triumphalism” of the Tories, he returned to Labour. But he resolutely opposed the Iraq invasion led by America’s George W. Bush and Britain’s Tony Blair, and today he pronounces himself to be a steadfast Euro-skeptic.

Though for decades his reputation was confined largely to intellectual circles, Gray’s public profile rose significantly with the 2002 publication of Straw Dogs, which sold impressively and brought him much wider acclaim than he had known before. The book was a concerted and extensive assault on the idea of progress and its philosophical offspring, secular humanism. The Silence of Animals is in many ways a sequel, plowing much the same philosophical ground but expanding the cultivation into contiguous territory mostly related to how mankind—and individual humans—might successfully grapple with the loss of both metaphysical religion of yesteryear and today’s secular humanism. The fundamentals of Gray’s critique of progress are firmly established in both books and can be enumerated in summary.

First, the idea of progress is merely a secular religion, and not a particularly meaningful one at that. “Today,” writes Gray in Straw Dogs, “liberal humanism has the pervasive power that was once possessed by revealed religion. Humanists like to think they have a rational view of the world; but their core belief in progress is a superstition, further from the truth about the human animal than any of the world’s religions.”

Second, the underlying problem with this humanist impulse is that it is based upon an entirely false view of human nature—which, contrary to the humanist insistence that it is malleable, is immutable and impervious to environmental forces. Indeed, it is the only constant in politics and history. Of course, progress in scientific inquiry and in resulting human comfort is a fact of life, worth recognition and applause. But it does not change the nature of man, any more than it changes the nature of dogs or birds. “Technical progress,” writes Gray, again in Straw Dogs, “leaves only one problem unsolved: the frailty of human nature. Unfortunately that problem is insoluble.”

That’s because, third, the underlying nature of humans is bred into the species, just as the traits of all other animals are. The most basic trait is the instinct for survival, which is placed on hold when humans are able to live under a veneer of civilization. But it is never far from the surface. In The Silence of Animals, Gray discusses the writings of Curzio Malaparte, a man of letters and action who found himself in Naples in 1944, shortly after the liberation. There he witnessed a struggle for life that was gruesome and searing. “It is a humiliating, horrible thing, a shameful necessity, a fight for life,” wrote Malaparte. “Only for life. Only to save one’s skin.” Gray elaborates:

Observing the struggle for life in the city, Malaparte watched as civilization gave way. The people the inhabitants had imagined themselves to be—shaped, however imperfectly, by ideas of right and wrong—disappeared. What were left were hungry animals, ready to do anything to go on living; but not animals of the kind that innocently kill and die in forests and jungles. Lacking a self-image of the sort humans cherish, other animals are content to be what they are. For human beings the struggle for survival is a struggle against themselves.

When civilization is stripped away, the raw animal emerges. “Darwin showed that humans are like other animals,” writes Gray in Straw Dogs, expressing in this instance only a partial truth. Humans are different in a crucial respect, captured by Gray himself when he notes that Homo sapiens inevitably struggle with themselves when forced to fight for survival. No other species does that, just as no other species has such a range of spirit, from nobility to degradation, or such a need to ponder the moral implications as it fluctuates from one to the other. But, whatever human nature is—with all of its capacity for folly, capriciousness and evil as well as virtue, magnanimity and high-mindedness—it is embedded in the species through evolution and not subject to manipulation by man-made institutions.

Fourth, the power of the progress idea stems in part from the fact that it derives from a fundamental Christian doctrine—the idea of providence, of redemption. Gray notes in The Silence of Animals that no other civilization conceived any such phenomenon as the end of time, a concept given to the world by Jesus and St. Paul. Classical thinking, as well as the thinking of the ancient Egyptians and later of Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Shintoism and early Judaism, saw humanity as reflecting the rest of the natural world—essentially unchanging but subject to cycles of improvement and deterioration, rather like the seasons.

“By creating the expectation of a radical alteration in human affairs,” writes Gray, “Christianity . . . founded the modern world.” But the modern world retained a powerful philosophical outlook from the classical world—the Socratic faith in reason, the idea that truth will make us free; or, as Gray puts it, the “myth that human beings can use their minds to lift themselves out of the natural world.” Thus did a fundamental change emerge in what was hoped of the future. And, as the power of Christian faith ebbed, along with its idea of providence, the idea of progress, tied to the Socratic myth, emerged to fill the gap. “Many transmutations were needed before the Christian story could renew itself as the myth of progress,” Gray explains. “But from being a succession of cycles like the seasons, history came to be seen as a story of redemption and salvation, and in modern times salvation became identified with the increase of knowledge and power.”

Thus, it isn’t surprising that today’s Western man should cling so tenaciously to his faith in progress as a secular version of redemption. As Gray writes, “Among contemporary atheists, disbelief in progress is a type of blasphemy. Pointing to the flaws of the human animal has become an act of sacrilege.” In one of his more brutal passages, he adds:

Humanists believe that humanity improves along with the growth of knowledge, but the belief that the increase of knowledge goes with advances in civilization is an act of faith. They see the realization of human potential as the goal of history, when rational inquiry shows history to have no goal. They exalt nature, while insisting that humankind—an accident of nature—can overcome the natural limits that shape the lives of other animals. Plainly absurd, this nonsense gives meaning to the lives of people who believe they have left all myths behind.

IN THE Silence of Animals, Gray explores all this through the works of various writers and thinkers. In the process, he employs history and literature to puncture the conceits of those who cling to the progress idea and the humanist view of human nature. Those conceits, it turns out, are easily punctured when subjected to Gray’s withering scrutiny.

Gray pulls from the past Stefan Zweig (1881–1942) and Joseph Roth (1894–1939), noted Austrian authors and journalists, both of Jewish origin, who wrote extensively about what Austria had been like under the Hapsburg crown. As Zweig described it in his memoir, The World of Yesterday, the vast Hapsburg Empire seemed to be a tower of permanence, where “nothing would change in the well-regulated order.” Zweig added, “No one thought of wars, of revolutions, or revolts. All that was radical, all violence, seemed impossible in an age of reason.” In Roth’s novella, The Emperor’s Tomb (1938), he describes the tidy uniformity of Austrian life. All provincial railway stations looked alike—small and painted yellow. The porter was the same everywhere, clothed in the same blue uniform. He saluted each incoming and outgoing train as “a kind of military blessing.” People knew where they stood in society and accepted it.

This little world was utterly destroyed with the fall of the Hapsburgs after World War I, and many heralded the departure of this obsolete system of royalist governance. After all, the polyglot empire was not a modern state, even during its final sixty years or so when Franz Joseph finally embraced new technology such as railroads and telegraphic communication. But the old system lacked some of the “ancient evils,” as Gray puts it, that more modern states later revived in pursuit of what they anticipated as a better world. Torture had been abolished under the Hapsburgs. Bigotry and hatred, while evident in society, were kept in check by an authoritarian monarchy that didn’t have to respond to mass movements spawned in the name of self-government. “Only with the struggle for national self-determination,” writes Gray, “did it come to be believed that every human being had to belong to a group defined in opposition to others.”

As Roth wrote in his short story “The Emperor’s Bust”:

All those people who had never been other than Austrians, in Tarnopol, in Sarajevo, in Vienna, in Brunn, in Prague, in Czernowitz, in Oderburg, in Troppau, never anything other than Austrians, they now began, in compliance with the “order of the day,” to call themselves part of the Polish, the Czech, the Ukrainian, the German, the Romanian, the Slovenian, the Croatian “nation”—and so on and so forth.

Roth could see that the declining devices of empire were being replaced “by modern emblems of blood and soil,” as Gray puts it. Thus, Roth’s progressive, future-gazing outlook soon gave way to a kind of reactionary nostalgia. Gray explains:

Along with the formation of nations there was the “problem of national minorities.” Ethnic cleansing—the forcible expulsion and migration of these minorities—was an integral part of building democracy in central and eastern Europe. Progressive thinkers viewed this process as a stage on the way to universal self-determination. Roth had no such illusions. He knew the end-result could only be mass murder. Writing to Zweig in 1933, he warned: “We are drifting towards great catastrophes . . . it all leads to a new war. I won’t bet a penny on our lives. They have established a reign of barbarity.”

Both Roth and Zweig died before they could see the full magnitude of this barbarity. But, whatever one may think of the Hapsburg Empire and what came after, it is difficult to see that train of events as representing human progress. Rather, it more accurately is seen as just another episode, among multitudes, of the haphazard human struggle upon the earth.

AND YET the myth of progress is so powerful in part because it gives meaning to modern Westerners struggling, in an irreligious era, to place themselves in a philosophical framework larger than just themselves. That is the lesson of Joseph Conrad’s An Outpost of Progress (1896), discussed by Gray as a reflection of man’s need to fight off despair and gloom. The story centers on two Belgian traders, Kayerts and Carlier, sent by their company to a remote part of the Congo, where a native interpreter lures them into a slave-trading transaction. Though initially shocked to be involved in such an activity, they later think better of themselves after receiving the valuable elephant tusks put up as trade for human chattel, as well as after reading old newspapers extolling “Our Colonial Expansion” and “the merits of those who went about bringing light, faith and commerce to the dark places of the earth.”

But the steamer they were expecting doesn’t arrive, and their languid outpost existence is darkened by the threat of starvation. In a fight over a few lumps of sugar, Carlier is killed. In desperation, Kayerts decides to kill himself. He’s hanging from a grave site cross when the steamer arrives shortly afterward. Conrad describes Kayerts’s disillusionment as he contemplates what he has done and his ultimate insignificance born of placing himself outside civilization: “His old thoughts, convictions, likes and dislikes, things he respected and things he abhorred, appeared in their true light at last! Appeared contemptible and childish, false and ridiculous.”

And yet he can’t quite give up his attachment to civilization or progress even as he ponders his predicament. “Progress was calling Kayerts from the river,” writes Conrad. “Progress and civilization and all the virtues. Society was calling to its accomplished child to come to be taken care of, to be instructed, to be judged, to be condemned; it called him to return from that rubbish heap from which he had wandered away, so that justice could be done”—justice administered by himself, in a final bow to the permanence of civilization and the myth of progress.

Gray notes that Conrad himself had traveled to the Congo in 1890 to take command of a river steamer. He arrived thinking he was a civilized human being but later thought differently: “Before the Congo, I was just a mere animal,” he wrote, referring to European humanity—which, as Gray notes, “caused the deaths of millions of human beings in the Congo.” Gray elaborates:

The idea that imperialism could be a force for human advance has long since fallen into disrepute. But the faith that was once attached to empire has not been renounced. Instead it has spread everywhere. Even those who nominally follow more traditional creeds rely on a belief in the future for their mental composure. History may be a succession of absurdities, tragedies and crimes; but—everyone insists—the future can still be better than anything in the past. To give up this hope would induce a state of despair like that which unhinged Kayerts.

This perception leads Gray to a long passage of praise for Sigmund Freud, who “reformulated one of the central insights of religion: humans are cracked vessels.” Freud, writes Gray, saw the obstacles to human fulfillment as not only external but also within the human psyche itself. Unlike earlier therapies and those that came after, however, Freud’s approach did not seek to heal the soul. As Gray explains, psychotherapy generally has viewed the normal conflicts of the mind as ailments in need of remedy. “For Freud, on the other hand,” writes Gray, “it is the hope of a life without conflict that ails us.” Most philosophies and religions have begun with the assumption that humans are sickly animals, and Freud didn’t depart from this perception. “Where he was original,” says Gray, “was in also accepting that the human sickness has no cure.” Thus, he advocated a life based on the acceptance of perpetual unrest, a prerequisite to human assertion against fate and avoidance of the inner turmoil that led to Kayerts’s suicide.

This insight emerges as the underlying thesis of Gray’s book. As he sums up, “Godless mysticism cannot escape the finality of tragedy, or make beauty eternal. It does not dissolve inner conflict into the false quietude of any oceanic calm. All it offers is mere being. There is no redemption from being human. But no redemption is needed.” In other words, we don’t need religion and we don’t need the idea of progress because we don’t need redemption, either divine or temporal. We simply need to accept our fate, as they did in the classical age, before the Socratic faith in knowledge and the Christian concept of redemption combined to form the modern idea of progress and the belief in the infinite malleability of human nature.

IN THE end, then, Gray’s message is largely for individual Westerners, adjudged by the author to be in need of a more stark and unblinking view of the realities of human existence. It’s a powerful message, and not without elements of profundity. And it is conveyed with eloquence of language and dignity of thought.

But this is a magazine about man as a political animal, about public policy and the ongoing drama of geopolitical force and competition. Thus, it would seem appropriate to seek to apply Gray’s view of progress and human nature to that external world. The idea of progress was a long time in gestation in Western thought, beginning perhaps with St. Augustine of Hippo, in the fifth century, who crystallized the concept of the unity of all mankind, a fundamental tenet of both Christian theology and the idea of progress. It drove Christianity toward its impulse of conversion and missionary zeal, which led later, in a more secular age, to impulses of humanitarianism and a desire to spread democracy around the world. And Gray is correct in suggesting that the theological idea of man’s immanent journey toward perfection and a golden age of happiness on earth would lead much later to Utopian dreams, revolutionary prescriptions, socialist formulas, racialist theories and democratic crusades.

But it wasn’t until René Descartes (1596–1650) that Western thought began its turn toward humanism. He posited two fundamental axioms—the supremacy of reason and the invariability of the laws of nature. And he insisted his analytic methods were available to any ordinary seeker of truth willing to follow his rules of inquiry. No longer was knowledge the exclusive preserve of scholars, scientists, archivists and librarians. This was revolutionary—man declaring his independence in pursuit of knowledge and mastery of the universe. It unleashed a spree of intellectual ferment in Europe, and soon the Cartesian method was applied to new realms of thinking. The idea of progress took on a new, expanded outlook—humanism, the idea that man is the measure of all things. As J. B. Bury notes in his book The Idea of Progress: An Inquiry into Its Growth and Origin (1920), psychology, morals and the structure of society now riveted the attention of new thinkers bent on going beyond the larger “supra-human” inquiries (astronomy and physics, for example) that had preoccupied Bacon, Newton, Leibniz and even Descartes.

And that led inevitably to those eighteenth-century French Encyclopedic and the emergence of their intellectual offspring, Rousseau, who twisted the idea of progress into a call for the use of civic force on behalf of a culminating paradise on earth that Rousseau called a “reign of virtue.” Shortly thereafter, his adherents and intellectual heirs pulled France into what became known as the Reign of Terror.

Much of the human folly cataloged by Gray in The Silence of Animals makes a mockery of the earnest idealism of those who later shaped and molded and proselytized humanist thinking into today’s predominant Western civic philosophy. But other Western philosophers, particularly in the realm of Anglo-Saxon thought, viewed the idea of progress in much more limited terms. They rejected the idea that institutions could reshape mankind and usher in a golden era of peace and happiness. As Bury writes, “The general tendency of British thought was to see salvation in the stability of existing institutions, and to regard change with suspicion.” With John Locke, these thinkers restricted the proper role of government to the need to preserve order, protect life and property, and maintain conditions in which men might pursue their own legitimate aims. No zeal here to refashion human nature or remake society.

A leading light in this category of thinking was Edmund Burke (1729–1797), the British statesman and philosopher who, writing in his famous Reflections on the Revolution in France, characterized the bloody events of the Terror as “the sad but instructive monuments of rash and ignorant counsel in time of profound peace.” He saw them, in other words, as reflecting an abstractionist outlook that lacked any true understanding of human nature. The same skepticism toward the French model was shared by many of the Founding Fathers, who believed with Burke that human nature isn’t malleable but rather potentially harmful to society. Hence, it needed to be checked. The central distinction between the American and French revolutions, in the view of conservative writer Russell Kirk, was that the Americans generally held a “biblical view of man and his bent toward sin,” whereas the French opted for “an optimistic doctrine of human goodness.” Thus, the American governing model emerged as a secular covenant “designed to restrain the human tendencies toward violence and fraud . . . [and] place checks upon will and appetite.”

Most of the American Founders rejected the French philosophies in favor of the thought and history of the Roman Republic, where there was no idea of progress akin to the current Western version. “Two thousand years later,” writes Kirk, “the reputation of the Roman constitution remained so high that the framers of the American constitution would emulate the Roman model as best they could.” They divided government powers among men and institutions and created various checks and balances. Even the American presidency was modeled generally on the Roman consular imperium, and the American Senate bears similarities to the Roman version. Thus did the American Founders deviate from the French abstractionists and craft governmental structures to fit humankind as it actually is—capable of great and noble acts, but also of slipping into vice and treachery when unchecked. That ultimately was the genius of the American system.

But, as the American success story unfolded, a new collection of Western intellectuals, theorists and Utopians—including many Americans—continued to toy with the idea of progress. And an interesting development occurred. After centuries of intellectual effort aimed at developing the idea of progress as an ongoing chain of improvement with no perceived end into the future, this new breed of “Progress as Power” thinkers began to declare their own visions as the final end point of this long progression.

Gray calls these intellectuals “ichthyophils,” which he defines as “devoted to their species as they think it ought to be, not as it actually is or as it truly wants to be.” He elaborates: “Ichthyologist come in many varieties—the Jacobin, Bolshevik and Maoist, terrorizing humankind in order to remake it on a new model; the neo-conservative, waging perpetual war as a means to universal democracy; liberal crusaders for human rights, who are convinced that all the world longs to become as they imagine themselves to be.” He includes also “the Romantics, who believe human individuality is everywhere repressed.”

Throughout American politics, as indeed throughout Western politics, a large proportion of major controversies ultimately are battles between the ichthyologist and the Burkeans, between the sensibility of the French Revolution and the sensibility of American Revolution, between adherents of the idea of progress and those skeptical of that potent concept. John Gray has provided a major service in probing with such clarity and acuity the impulses, thinking and aims of those on the ichthyophil side of that great divide. As he sums up, “Allowing the majority of humankind to imagine they are flying fish even as they pass their lives under the waves, liberal civilization rests on a dream.”

How to Kill an Economy and Destroy a Company

Readers of this column know that short-term shareholder value, which is still pervasive in large organizations, has a lot of accomplishments to its credit. It has led to “bad profits” that have destroyed customer loyalty. It is responsible for massive off-shoring of manufacturing, thereby destroying major segments of the US economy. And it has even undermined US capacity to compete in international markets.

Now the Financial Times reports that the short-term shareholder value theory has a new feather in its cap: it is responsible for killing the economic recovery that should have occurred after the financial meltdown of 2008.

Over the last month, the Financial Times has been doing a great job in cataloging the problems caused by the shareholder value theory. Now Robin Harding has terrific article pinpointing its role in undermining the US economic recovery.

In his article entitled “Corporate investment: A mysterious divergence” he explores a conundrum that has puzzled the world’s top economists: why is net investment at a measly 4 per cent of output when pre-tax corporate profits are now at record highs – more than 12 per cent of GDP?

In standard economic theory, this makes no sense. When profits go up, companies should be seizing investment opportunities to lay the groundwork for even more profits in future. In turn, that investment should create jobs, generate more capital goods and lead to higher wages. That’s how capitalism is meant to work. So why isn’t it happening? Mr. Harding explores systematically why all the leading scapegoats for what’s gone wrong—regulations, Obamacare, tax policy, fear of another financial crisis and so on—and shows why they don’t add up.

Then he comes up with the kind of thing that you rarely see in economics—a study that enables us to pinpoint the problem by offering “with” and “without” data.

A brilliant study by economists from the Stern School of Business and Harvard Business School, Alexander Ljungqvist, Joan Farre-Mensa, and John Asker, entitled “Corporate Investment and Stock Market Listing: A Puzzle?”compares the investment patterns of public companies and privately held firms. It turns out that the lag in investment is a phenomenon of the public companies more than the privately held firms.

“They find that, keeping company size and industry constant, private US companies invest nearly twice as much as those listed on the stock market: 6.8 per cent of total assets versus just 3.7 per cent.”

As Matthew Yglesias at Slate writes:

“On this account we are reaping the bitter fruits of the “shareholder value” revolution. Executives at publicly traded companies are paid to generate higher share prices, which is done by hitting quarterly earnings targets. This leads to under investment relative to the behavior of managers of privately held firms. Not because managers of private firms are indifferent to the interests of shareholders, but because there’s less need for creating the shareholder value link via a simplistic relationship between compensation, share price, and quarterly earnings.”

As Mr. Harding concludes, it is “time to stop thinking about corporate governance and executive pay as matters of equity and to regard them instead as a macroeconomic problem of the first rank.”

There is another way: the Creative Economy

There is of course another way to run organizations, as illustrated by Amazon [AMZN] and other companies that are pursuing the Creative Economy. Their objective is not short-term profits but value for customers. The financial returns from this different approach are extraordinary.

The argument offered by executives that “the stock market made us do it” has the same legitimacy as “the dog ate my homework”, when public companies like Amazon [AMZN], Whole Foods [WFM] and Costco [COST] have successfully pursued customer value, despite the pressures of Wall Street. So isn’t it about time we stop compensating corporate leaders for meeting their quarterly numbers and instead shift the focus of business to its true goal of adding value to customers?

Alternative Energy Lies My Mother Did Not Tell Me.

I don’t typically rely on Rolling Stone for energy policy analysis, but I couldn’t help scratching my head over a piece earlier this week decrying “Big Oil’s Lies About Alternative Energy.” The story attempts to show that even as President Obama is calling for more investment in alternative energy, the energy companies with the deepest pockets are paring their investments and focusing more on fossil fuels.

While that’s true, the article implies some nefarious purpose on the part of oil companies. Actually, the reason behind oil companies’ decision is obvious: profit. Like all companies, oil companies exist to make money. Many plowed millions of dollars into alternative energy programs during the past decade, but those investments have generated little, if any, return. Meanwhile, hydraulic fracturing has unleashed huge potential profits from oil fields in the U.S. — properties that come with far less risk than drilling in other parts of the world.

The Rolling Stone piece seems to imply that oil companies making money from oil is bad, yet it ignores the huge benefit that oil company profitability has brought to millions of Americans. I’m not just talking about the abundance of cheap energy, which has been a big driver of the economy, but also about the financial benefits for investors. I found myself wondering how many shares of, say,Exxon Mobil XOM +0.62% are held directly or indirectly by funds in the Rolling Stone 401(k) plan.

Certainly, as the Rolling Stone piece notes, investment in alternative fuels by large oil companies has been paltry relative to their other operations. As I pointed out in Drowning in Oil, my book on BP , the company’s “Beyond Petroleum” campaign was always more marketing hype than corporate commitment. That said, BP’s recentdecision to sell its U.S. wind energy business has more to do with raising money to pay the legal costs from the Deepwater Horizon disaster than it does with the company’s commitment to alternative fuel.

When former BP chief executive John Browne concocted “Beyond Petroleum,” he hoped the company could profit by leading the charge into alternative fuels while more obstinate rivals such as Exxon sat on the sidelines. Yet Browne and BP found what Exxon had already determined: alternative fuels didn’t generate enough return to justify the investment.

Big Oil hasn’t just hit a dead-end on alternative energy. For years, the energy giants have struggled to replace oil and gas reserves. In effect, they are moving a step closer to liquidating themselves with every barrel of oil they produce. Exxon’s purchase of XTO Energy was designed to reverse that trend, but as an investment, it’s been a disappointment so far. For more than a decade, Exxon has been buying back its own stock, an admission that it believes shareholders can get a better return putting their money somewhere else. Few seem to be plowing that cash into green energy companies.

If wind or solar were inherently profitable, big oil companies would have invested more heavily. Unfortunately, their testing of the market failed to find viability. That leaves smaller companies with less overhead and more tolerant shareholders to find a way to make alternative fuels economically viable. We need to continue that quest, in hopes of developing a more diverse energy portfolio for the country. But those pioneers will have to make money at some point, too.

In the meantime, beating up oil companies for doing what their investors expect of them doesn’t bring us any closer to a solution.

Start-Up Uses Plant Seeds for a Biofuel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 3:44 pm
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Start-Up Uses Plant Seeds for a Biofuel

In an unmarked greenhouse, leafy bushes carpet an acre of land here tucked into the suburban sprawl of Southern California. The seeds of the inedible, drought-resistant plants, called jatropha, produce a prize: high-quality oil that can be refined into low-carbon jet fuel or diesel fuel.

The mere existence of the bushes is an achievement.

Hailed about six years ago as the next big thing in biofuels, jatropha attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investments, only to fall from favor as the recession set in and as growers discovered that the wild bush yielded too few seeds to produce enough petroleum to be profitable.

But SGB, the biofuels company that planted the bushes, pressed on. Thanks to advances in molecular genetics and DNA sequencing technology, the San Diego start-up has, in a few years, succeeded in domesticating jatropha, a process that once took decades.

SGB is growing hybrid strains of the plant that produce biofuel in quantities that it says are competitive with petroleum priced at $99 a barrel. Oil is around $100 a barrel.

Call it, as SGB does, Jatropha 2.0.

The company has deals to plant 250,000 acres of jatropha in Brazil, India and other countries expected to eventually produce about 70 million gallons of fuel a year. That has attracted the interest of energy giants, airlines and other multinational companies seeking alternatives to fossil fuels. They see jatropha as a hedge against spikes in petroleum prices and as a way to comply with government mandates that require the use of low-carbon fuels.

“It is one of the few biofuels that I think has the potential to supply a large fraction of the aviation fuel currently used today,” said Jim Rekoske, vice president for renewable energy and chemicals at Honeywell, who has visited the company’s jatropha plantations in Central America.

Mr. Rekoske and biofuel analysts say SGB’s biggest challenge will be to replicate the yields it generates in the greenhouse on a commercial scale.

“Given that this crop has somewhat of a checkered past, ultimately getting growers to plant the crop is going to be the key hurdle,” says Michael Cox, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.

At the greenhouse, the fruits of SGB’s technology are apparent. A typical wild jatropha bush will produce a cluster of six to eight seed-bearing fruits, according to Robert Schmidt, a specialist in corn genetics who is SGB’s chief scientist. He picked up a grapefruit-size cluster growing on a hybrid jatropha plant and counted 37 fruits. “We have examples in Guatemala where we have 60 fruits in a cluster,” Dr. Schmidt said.

SGB’s success at improving jatropha seed yields by as much as 900 percent persuaded a consortium that includes Airbus, BP and the Inter-American Development Bank to sign a deal with the company to plant 75,000 acres of jatropha in Brazil. The consortium, called JetBio, aims to develop sources of biofuel for the airline industry as the European Union, Australia and other countries impose caps on aviation carbon emissions.

“The demand is huge — every single airline would like to be flying on biofuel today,” Rafael Davidsohn Abud, JetBio’s managing partner, said in an email.

Jatropha’s value as a cash crop, though, may pale compared with a potential genetic gold mine SGB has begun to discover, identifying traits, for instance, that make certain strains of the plant resistant to extreme heat or cold.

“If you figure out how to do heat tolerance for corn or soybeans, what is that trait worth as climate change accelerates?” asked Arama Kukutai, managing director at Finistere Ventures, a San Diego venture capital firm that has invested in SGB.

For now, SGB plans to license its technology to energy companies. But the company is securing patents on its hybridization process, creating a technology platform that can be deployed to discover genetic traits in other agricultural crops.

For instance, in November SGB signed a deal with the Yulex Corporation to use its molecular breeding technology to increase the yields of guayule, a wild plant harvested as a replacement for petroleum-based rubber.

The technology also could be used to domesticate wild fruits and vegetables, company scientists said. They said the technology has the potential to unleash a new green revolution for a world that will need to grow 70 percent more food by 2050, according to the United Nations, as agricultural productivity is slowing,

The seeds of Jatropha 2.0 were planted in fall of 2008. That year, early on Sept. 15, a Monday, Kirk Haney, SGB’s chief executive, went into the living room of his San Diego home to prepare for what was to be a watershed week for his year-old start-up. That Friday, SGB was set to close a $200 million round of financing from European investors.

“I turned on CNBC and Lehman Brothers had just failed and the Dow was plummeting,” said Mr. Haney, 42, a technology entrepreneur with the laid-back demeanor and looks of a longtime California surfer.

SGB intended to use its financial windfall to plant sprawling farms around the world. Two days after Lehman fell, though, the investors had pulled out, forcing Mr. Haney and a team of top plant geneticists he had recruited from the University of California at San Diego to devise a new strategy.

Dr. Schmidt, SGB’s chief scientist, had already concluded that jatropha showed little genetic diversity — a big roadblock to their plan because it would be difficult, if not impossible, to increase seed yields if all jatropha plants were essentially clones of one another.

Most jatropha bushes are descendants of plants grown on Cape Verde, an archipelago off Africa’s west coast. Cape Verde became the epicenter of jatropha farming 300 years ago, and a single strain of the plant, then valued as living fence to corral livestock, was exported to tropical regions around the globe.

As Dr. Schmidt combed the scientific literature on jatropha, he stumbled across a reference to an obscure 30-year-old paper by the botanist Bijan Dehgan.

Dr. Dehgan had devoted his career to studying jatropha. He traveled the world collecting and cataloging the 175 species of the plant, speculating that the species originated in Central America.

Following up on Dr. Dehgan’s thesis that Guatemala was a jatropha Eden, Dr. Schmidt went to Central America and began analyzing the genetic makeup of the plants there. “It was absolutely spectacular the amount of genetic variation that we collected from the center of origin,” he said.

That discovery coincided with a plunge in the cost of DNA sequencing that has allowed SGB scientists to rapidly identify the most genetically diverse and productive plants and crossbreed them. It also lets them pinpoint profitable individual traits and mutations, like heat or cold resistance.

It costs SGB $350 to genetically map a single jatropha line to look for valuable mutations, a price that will drop to $50 in 2014.

The price five years ago? About $150,000, according to Eric Mathur, SGB’s chief technologist. The machine that does the mapping cost $250,000 and is in SGB’s laboratory in a suburban San Diego office park.

About the size of a small microwave oven, it is called a semiconductor sequencer and can map 10 to 15 plant lines at a time. It automatically compares those sequences with a master jatropha genome, which SGB spent $250,000 to create, to identify genetic variations that might indicate desirable traits.

“You simply could not do this three years ago without a really high cash flow out the door,” Mr. Mathur said.

To domesticate a wild plant, scientists traditionally crossbred two promising lines and hoped for the best, waiting for them to flower to see if the hybrid proved viable. The process could last for years if not decades.

SGB’s technology allows its scientists to identify potentially productive hybrids in the laboratory at the molecular level before the plants are crossbred.

“This used to be a 10-year discovery process,” Mr. Mathur said. “It’s more like a 10-month process now.”

Much of the hard molecular biological work is done, Mr. Haney said, giving SGB a five-year head start over any agriculture giant that might try to replicate its success.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you have,” he said. “You can’t make cells divide quicker.”

October 28, 2014

The Greater the Wealth The Greater the Lack of Ethics??

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 6:45 am

At last, an explanation for Wall Street’s disgrace, Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and other high-society crimes and misdemeanors:  A  new study published in the Proceedings of that National Academy of Sciences found that wealthier people  were more apt to behave  unethically than those who had less money.

Scientists at  the University of California at Berkeley analyzed a person’s rank in society (measured by wealth, occupational prestige and education) and found that those who were richer were more likely to cheat, lie and break the law than those who were poorer.

“We found that it is much more prevalent for people in the higher ranks of society to see  greed and self-interest … as  good pursuits,” said Paul Piff, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Berkeley. “This resonates with a lot of current events these days.”

In the first of  two studies, researchers found that those who drove more expensive cars (an admittedly questionable indicator of economic worth) were more likely to cut off other cars and pedestrians at a busy San Francisco four-way intersection than those who drove older, less-expensive vehicles.

In other experiments,  wealthier study participants were more likely to admit they would behave unethically in a variety of situations and lie during negotiations. In another, researchers found wealthier people were more likely to cheat in an online game to win a $50 prize.

Greed is a “robust” determinant of unethical behavior, according to the study.

“This has some pretty clear implications,” said Piff. “Inequality is very much on Americans’ minds, and the potential effects of severe inequality on individual levels of behavior are major.”

Large sums of money may give people greater feelings of entitlement, causing those people to be the most averse to wealth distribution, Piff continued.  Poorer people may be less likely to cheat, because they are more dependent on their community at large, he said. In other words, they don’t want to rock the boat.

“People in power who are more inclined to behave unethically in the service of gains and self-interest can have great effects on society as a whole,” said Piff.

And it’s difficult to say whether richer people get to the top because of their unethical behavior or whether wealth causes people to become this way. “It seems like a vicious cycle,” he said.

Nevertheless, Piff said these results obviously don’t apply to all wealthy people. He noted that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were among the wealthiest people in the world and also the most philanthropic. He also pointed to high rates of violent crime in the poorest neighborhoods in the country that counteract the study’s findings.

Piff said he hoped to further his research by figuring out ways to curb these patterns of behavior among wealthier individuals.

“What it comes down to, really, is that money creates more of a self-focus, which may account for larger feelings of entitlement,” said Piff.  “We hope to further study how we can curb these patterns and how that will affect our social environment.”

Check this out: SEND CONGRESS MANURE

reblogged from SendThemManure.wordpress.com

every politician is the same speech

We have Launched our GoFundMe Campaign: gofundme.com/SendCongressManure

SEND CONGRESS MANURE

Sick and tired of Politicians in Congress spewing the same BS out of their mouths and never listening to  “We The People” Lets send them back what come out of their mouths.

“SEND THEM MANURE”

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baffle them wiuth BS

We have Launched our GoFundMe Campaign: gofundme.com/SendCongressManure

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 1:51 am

Mr. Craig:

We have Launched our GoFundMe Campaign: gofundme.com/SendCongressManure
SEND CONGRESS MANURE
Sick and tired of Politicians in Congress spewing the same BS out of their mouths and never listening to “We The People” Lets send them back what come out of their mouths.

“SEND THEM MANURE”

A five dollar gift to me will help me send 5 pounds of Manure to Congress 10 dollars for 10 pounds and so on up to whatever amount you are comfortable with giving.

My goal is ONE TON (2000 pounds) for Each of the 435 Members of the House of Representatives and 100 US Senators for 535 Tons of Manure. It will make a monumental statement to Congress of our collective frustration with their behavior and attitude.

This is like hiring your personal lobbyist to take your messages to Congress. Please leave a message even if it is anonymous for me to take to Congress with the Tractor Trailers full of Manure when they are delivered.

I know my Goal is HIGH… but it takes a real symbolic effort to make Your Voices heard in Washington.

Please join my cause with whatever you feel you can afford and know that no matter how much or how little YOUR VOICE will be heard and its odor will carry for miles.

SEND THEM MANURE.. the same thing that comes out of their mouth when they think we ar too weak to stand up.

Thank you

http://www.gofundme.com/SendCongressManure

Originally posted on Send Them Manure:

SEND CONGRESS MANURE

Sick and tired of Politicians in Congress spewing the same BS out of their mouths and never listening to  “We The People” Lets send them back what come out of their mouths.

“SEND THEM MANURE”

A five dollar gift to me will help me send 5 pounds of Manure to Congress 10 dollars for 10 pounds and so on up to whatever amount you are comfortable with giving.

My goal is ONE TON (2000 pounds) for Each of the 435 Members of the House of Representatives and 100 US Senators for 535 Tons of Manure. It will make a monumental statement to Congress of our collective frustration with their behavior and attitude.

This is like hiring your personal lobbyist to take your messages to Congress. Please leave a message even if it is anonymous for me to take to Congress with the Tractor Trailers full of Manure when…

View original 79 more words

October 26, 2014

Yes, We Really Are THAT Racist!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 8:00 am

How Racist Are We? Ask Google

By SETH STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ

Barack Obama won 52.9 percent of the popular vote in 2008 and 365 electoral votes, 95 more than he needed. Many naturally concluded that prejudice was not a major factor against a black presidential candidate in modern America. My research, a comparison of Americans’ Google searches and their voting patterns, found otherwise. If my results are correct, racial animus cost Mr. Obama many more votes than we may have realized.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Quantifying the effects of racial prejudice on voting is notoriously problematic. Few people admit bias in surveys. So I used a new tool, Google Insights, which tells researchers how often words are searched in different parts of the United States.

Can we really quantify racial prejudice in different parts of the country based solely on how often certain words are used on Google? Not perfectly, but remarkably well. Google, aggregating information from billions of searches, has an uncanny ability to reveal meaningful social patterns. “God” is Googled more often in the Bible Belt, “Lakers” in Los Angeles.

The conditions under which people use Google — online, most likely alone, not participating in an official survey — are ideal for capturing what they are really thinking and feeling. You may have typed things into Google that you would hesitate to admit in polite company. I certainly have. The majority of Americans have as well: we Google the word “porn” more often than the word “weather.”

And many Americans use Google to find racially charged material. I performed the somewhat unpleasant task of ranking states and media markets in the United States based on the proportion of their Google searches that included the word “nigger(s).” This word was included in roughly the same number of Google searches as terms like “Lakers,” “Daily Show,” “migraine” and “economist.”

A huge proportion of the searches I looked at were for jokes about African-Americans. (I did not include searches that included the word “nigga” because these searches were mostly for rap lyrics.) I used data from 2004 to 2007 because I wanted a measure not directly influenced by feelings toward Mr. Obama. From 2008 onward, “Obama” is a prevalent term in racially charged searches.

The state with the highest racially charged search rate in the country was West Virginia. Other areas with high percentages included western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, upstate New York and southern Mississippi.

Once I figured out which parts of the country had the highest racially charged search rates, I could test whether Mr. Obama underperformed in these areas. I predicted how many votes Mr. Obama should have received based on how many votes John Kerry received in 2004 plus the average gain achieved by other 2008 Democratic Congressional candidates. The results were striking: The higher the racially charged search rate in an area, the worse Mr. Obama did.

Consider two media markets, Denver and Wheeling (which is a market evenly split between Ohio and West Virginia). Mr. Kerry received roughly 50 percent of the votes in both markets. Based on the large gains for Democrats in 2008, Mr. Obama should have received about 57 percent of votes in both Denver and Wheeling. Denver and Wheeling, though, exhibit different racial attitudes. Denver had the fourth lowest racially charged search rate in the country. Mr. Obama won 57 percent of the vote there, just as predicted. Wheeling had the seventh highest racially charged search rate in the country. Mr. Obama won less than 48 percent of the Wheeling vote.

Add up the totals throughout the country, and racial animus cost Mr. Obama three to five percentage points of the popular vote. In other words, racial prejudice gave John McCain the equivalent of a home-state advantage nationally.

Yes, Mr. Obama also gained some votes because of his race. But in the general election this effect was comparatively minor. The vast majority of voters for whom Mr. Obama’s race was a positive were liberal, habitual voters who would have voted for any Democratic presidential candidate. Increased support and turnout from African-Americans added only about one percentage point to Mr. Obama’s totals.

If my findings are correct, race could very well prove decisive against Mr. Obama in 2012. Most modern presidential elections are close. Losing even two percentage points lowers the probability of a candidate’s winning the popular vote by a third. And prejudice could cost Mr. Obama crucial states like Ohio, Florida and even Pennsylvania.

There is the possibility, of course, that racial prejudice will play a smaller role in 2012 than it did in 2008, now that the country is familiar with a black president. Some recent events, though, suggest otherwise. I mentioned earlier that the rate of racially charged searches in West Virginia was No. 1 in the country and that the state showed a strong aversion to Mr. Obama in 2008. It recently held its Democratic presidential primary, in which Mr. Obama was challenged by a convicted felon. The felon, who is white, won 41 percent of the vote.

In 2008, Mr. Obama rode an unusually strong tail wind. The economy was collapsing. The Iraq war was unpopular. Republicans took most of the blame. He was able to overcome the major obstacle of continuing racial prejudice in the United States. In 2012, the tail wind is gone; the obstacle likely remains.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a doctoral candidate in economics at Harvard. 

October 25, 2014

The Polarization of America: Politics at Its Worst.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 2:47 am

MARCH 19, 2012, 1:35 AM

The Uses of Polarization

By T. B. EDSALL

A primary goal of a presidential campaign is to incrementally increase margins of support among volatile and persuadable demographic groups like single women angered by attempts to restrict access to contraception or voters with long commutes worried about gas prices.

A second goal is increase turnout among supportive voting blocs — conservative whites in the case of Republicans, African-Americans in the case of Democrats. This goal is accomplished most often with polarizing tactics like the exploitation of wedge issues.

The target constituencies can be huge — white men, Hispanics, seniors – or, with the emergence of sophisticated micro-technology, smaller slices of the electorate, ranging from laid-off manufacturing workers to women golfers.

This is not news, but how does such a strategy actually work? A source who was willing to be identified only as a Republican strategist with extensive experience in national campaigns described to me in an e-mail how he looks at an election in which there are no significant independent candidates:

  • White Independents. G.O.P. needs to win by double-digits.
  • Moderates. G.O.P. loses by 20 or less, you win, lose by 30 or more, you lose.
  • Latinos — what percent of the electorate do they represent? What’s the margin?  Nationally, if Latinos are 8 percent of the electorate, and the Democratic-Republican spread is within 25 points [37.5 Republican – 62.5 Democratic], that’s good. If in 2012, it’s Latinos are 10 percent of the electorate, and the Democratic-Republican spread is voting Democratic 35 points or more [32.5 R – 67.5 D], that’s serious trouble.
  • White women. Win by 5 to 9 percentage points, you win. Break even or lose, serious trouble. Overall, in 2012, we are looking at the G.O.P. having to win white voters by +19 points if Latino composition is unusually high.
  • That actually means white men over 60 have to be huge for Republicans — and you can’t let Dems make serious inroads among white women over 60.
  • Downscale whites — Obama approval has to be roughly in the mid-30s and he has to get whooped — while white college grad job approval cannot be higher than the low 40s.
  • Whites age 18-29 — you have to carry them. McCain lost by them 10 percentage points and he got totally swamped.

While the thinking of professional operatives may seem cynical or excessively calculating, it is a key element of election preparation by both Democrats and Republicans.

Democrats, for example, consistently seek to raise turnout among union members, urban voters, Hispanics and, since the emergence of the gender gap in the 1980 election between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, female voters.

In the 2004 election, the Bush-Cheney campaign explicitly sought to polarize voters to increase turnout among potential supporters.

Matthew Dowd, who ran polling and much of the planning for Bush, explained the 2004 Republican strategy to me just after the election. “Most voters looked at Bush in very black-and-white terms,” he said. “They either loved and respected him, or they didn’t like him.” In the face of this reality, “we systematically allocated all the main resources of the campaign to the twin goals of motivation and persuasion. The media, the voter targeting, the mail — all were based off that strategic decision.”

Politically, the 2004 strategy was a striking success. Four years earlier, in 2000, when Bush campaigned as a “compassionate conservative” with the goal of minimizing polarization, he had not been so fortunate, losing the popular vote by a margin of 500,000, and taking the ballots of voters calling themselves “independent” by only 2 points. He won the Electoral College by a slim 271-266 margin (or 5-4, as some liberals like to say).

In 2004, Bush did much better, losing independent voters by one point, but carrying the Electoral College by 286-251 and winning the popular vote by 3 million. In other words, polarizing tactics that divide the opposition party, pitting pro-gay-rights Democrats against anti-gay-rights Democrats, for example, may have contributed to Bush’s diminished support from independent voters. Those losses, however, were more than made up for by gains among voters already inclined to cast a ballot for Bush, but who needed stronger motivation to go out and do it.

“Those Americans whose attitudes and behavior most closely reflect the ideals of democratic citizenship are the most partisan and the most polarized.” 

— Alan Abramowitz

The Bush 2004 campaign and its allies made heavy use of wedge issues — from stem cell research to attacks on John Kerry’s Vietnam war record — to raise Republican turnout and depress Democratic voting.

The basic approach of building support among key demographics does not, however, always require divisive maneuvers. There are multiple ways to deal with diverse constituencies, including raising the numbers of ballots cast by members of reliable groups, suppressing turnout among hostile groups and keeping margins of defeat, where possible, to a minimum.

It is almost certain that President Obama will not carry a majority of white voters without college degrees, a basically Republican bloc. He can, however, try to keep his losses among these voters to, say, 42-58, instead of a more damaging 33-67 margin. The possibility of making gains with this group has been improved for Obama by the prospect of running against Mitt Romney, whose campaign has struggled in the primaries with this sector of the electorate.

The Obama campaign’s attempt to cut into the Republican advantage among white working-class voters was on display last Thursday when Vice President Biden appeared at a United Auto Workers rally in Toledo. “Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich — these guys have a fundamentally different economic philosophy than we do,” Biden told the cheering crowd. “In 2009, no one was lining up to lend General Motors or Chrysler any money or, for that matter, lend any money to anybody. That includes Bain Capital. They weren’t lining up to lend anybody money.”

Over the past decade, campaigns have been taking giant steps forward in their use of technological advances like micro-targeting, improved analytical and statistical models and other data-heavy mechanisms, which they use to identify and locate key supporters and persuadable voters. Micah Sifry, co-founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, argues that Obama’s aggressive development of predictive modeling, data mining, social networking and other fine-grained techniques may prove crucial. “If the 2012 election comes down to a battle of inches,” Sifry writes, “where a few percentage points change in turnout in a few key states, making all the difference, we may come to see Obama’s investment in predictive modelers and data scientists as the key to victory.”

The power of campaigns to create and motivate new swing voters dovetails with the political strategy of driving polarization. Information science has geometrically improved the ability of campaigns to accurately identify specific voters who are angry or threatened and most easily motivated by hard-edged, divisive messages, on such issues as race, taxes, welfare and other hot-button subjects.

The key is that this technological innovation is taking place within the larger context of increased ideological consistency across the two parties. “Since 1960, the two parties have evolved from miscellaneous coalitions of regional interests spanning the ideological spectrum into two unified and ideologically coherent political parties, on the European model,” Michael W. McConnell, a professor of law at Stanford University, writes. The Democratic Party was formerly made up of “two distinct and ideologically incompatible elements: a white, conservative, largely racist Southern Democratic Party, and a mixed-race, more progressive Northern Democratic Party,” McConnell points out. Motivated by the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the two parties began to reconstitute themselves as consistently left and right, a process that continues to this day.

Bitter social, moral and cultural conflict has driven up turnout: as voters become more ideological, they develop a stronger interest in the outcome of elections, and a greater likelihood of going to the polls on election day. “Those Americans whose attitudes and behavior most closely reflect the ideals of democratic citizenship are the most partisan and the most polarized. In contrast, it is among the uninterested, uninformed, and uninvolved that moderation and independence flourish,” Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, wrote in his recently published book, “The Polarized Public.”

At the same time, the percentage of the electorate that can accurately be described as independent — without partisan allegiance — has shrunk to about 7 percent, according to Ruy Teixeira of the Brookings Institution. While the importance of such voters has diminished, in a closely balanced contest these relatively uninvolved men and women have the power to determine the outcome: in the 12 presidential elections from 1964 to 2008, four – 1968, 1976, 2000 and 2004 – have been decided by 2.5 percentage points or less.

Perhaps the most important factor going into the 2012 general election will be the most difficult to gauge: the degree to which the candidates themselves motivate or turn off voters. A detailed analysis of the 2008 presidential turnout by Arthur Lupia, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, concluded that “when considering whether or not to support John McCain in 2008, a number of Bush voters decided, ‘No We Can’t.’ The number of 2004 Bush voters who decided to stay at home, or to support a Democrat, in 2008 did not grab the same kinds of headlines as new voter stories, but they were a sufficient condition for Obama’s Electoral College victory.”

Democratic voter enthusiasm has been running well below 2008 levels, indicating that this time around, Obama faces a substantial hurdle in replicating the surge in turnout that helped propel him into the White House four years ago – although there has been some improvement recently. Conversely, Mitt Romney, the odds-on favorite to win the Republican nomination, has so far demonstrated little ability to inspire Republican loyalists, showing weaknesses similar to those that characterized Bob Dole’s 1996 and McCain’s 2008 campaigns.

The strategic choices facing both Obama, who has moved to the left in recent months, and Romney, who is well to the right of where he was in 2008, are not easy. Every approach presents significant dangers.

In each of the 12 to 15 battleground states, from New Hampshire to Nevada, the campaigns will have to make a decision. If they choose to focus on the small fraction of independent or swing voters, then a more centrist strategy wins out; if they choose to galvanize the base, then a more ideological and polarizing strategy will dominate, putting their standing with independents at risk. But if they focus on their core voters, independents may be repulsed.

As the electorate itself becomes more and more polarized, the balancing act gets harder and harder. In this sense, as each candidate seeks to incrementally increase margins of support among key constituencies and to intensify participation not only among “pure” independents but also among loyal voting blocs, Obama and Romney face the same problem.

Thomas B. Edsall, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, is the author of the book “The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics,” which was published in January.

White Dad Wonders How to Raise His Biracial Kids

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 2:41 am

White Dad Wonders How to Raise His Biracial Kids

Race Manners: African-American culture will always be there for them. His job is to teach a healthy outlook.

My wife and I have been married one month (to the day) and been together for about four years before that, so naturally the subject of kids has come up. She is mostly black, and one-quarter Cherokee, while I’m as white as Wonderbread, with mostly Scottish and German ancestry.

 

We’re excited to introduce our future kids to things we love about my heritage, like the Scottish games and Oktoberfests (my wife has a fondness for bagpipes that confounds me), as well as the various science fiction and fantasy TV shows, books and games for which a mutual love was the introduction of our relationship.

But the part of me that nags at the back of my mind can’t shake the idea that it’s an unbalanced cultural education that ignores a fair portion of our kids’ ethnic history. And then the other half of my brain kicks and starts worrying I’m being racist for thinking I need to ‘raise my kids more black’—as opposed to just sharing the activities and culture my wife and I enjoy.

I’ve brought this up with my wife, who tells me I need to relax. I guess I’m just hoping for a matching second opinion.” —Worried by Whiteness

 

Yes, relax.

In fretting that you won’t be able to deliver a sufficient black “cultural education” to your future kids, I think you’re stressing yourself out by thinking too narrowly about what counts as African-American culture and who gets to access it.

So, exhale as you read this: Despite what Saturday Night Live tropes, McDonald’s Black History Month commercials and Tyler Perry films might have you believe, there’s not actually an agreed-upon, inflexible, checklist of “black” ways to behave, places to go, foods to eat or music to listen to.

Maybe you sort of know this already. After all, you say half of your brain is bothered by the very idea of going out of your way for more “black culture.” Perhaps that’s because in some way you sense that much of the information you have about what that means reflects an oversimplified and outdated caricature of real people.

That’s not to say there aren’t certain unique cultural touchstones that are totally homegrown by African Americans. There are. There’s the music and dance that everyone wants a piece of, leading to ongoing debates about appropriation. There’s the black church experience that can’t be re-created. There are the culinary traditions that came straight from slaves’ ingenuity and miraculously survived to become sentimental parts of many people’s upbringings. Which is why this happened on Twitter when I publicly confessed to a cultural blind spot — seeing sweet potato and pumpkin pie as pretty much interchangeable:

 But here’s the thing. We can joke about the markers of the black experience and black culture—who has them, who doesn’t, who should have to return a black card—because everyone gets that it’s complicated. Everyone understands that like many other parts of American life, this experience changes with time and geography and perspective. And that it expands to include people who claim it rather than rejecting the ones who missed out on a piece (or two or three).

Today’s black culture has room for a president who was raised by his white mom in Hawaii, for the children of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, for families who live a multicultural life in California or an Afrocentric one in Philly. It makes space for members who are Jewish, who are vegans, who are atheists, those who think blackness is defined by achievement and respectability and those who think it’s honored by pushing for broad social justice.

And guess what? I’m confident that some part of that culture will be accessible to your kids—who will welcome them, even—when and if they want it. Even if you do nothing at all to push them in that direction. That’s what one white father of adopted black children experienced when he realized they were “asserting their blackness in a black environment” for the first time and said he felt “a bit proud of their budding racial independence.” There’s a good chance your children—like these children, and like many Americans of all colors—will feel the draw of what Rebecca Walker called Black Cool in all its manifestations.

That’s why I’m not that worried that if you fail to balance your Oktoberfest celebrations with their black cultural equivalent, your children will be permanently deprived.

But here’s what I am worried about and where I think you shouldn’t relax at all.

First, even if you never get out the Kwanza candles, and even if you regularly shun soul food for German cuisine, make sure you don’t leave a void in your kids’ upbringing when it comes to how to make sense of being black. If you do, the world will be quick to fill it in for you. And, unless things change dramatically between now and when they’re conceived, it will say loud and clear that their race makes them unattractive, not smart, not worth protecting and inherently threatening. In other words, that it makes them problems.

You don’t want them to end up like the biracial girl who felt she had no choice but to change her name from Keisha, or the many adults who welcome the assurance that they’re “not like other black people” or go out of their way to be condescending to prove their difference.

How do you do this, as a “white as Wonderbread” dad? If music, food, religion, literature and traditions aren’t in your cultural wheelhouse or your wife’s, forget them. Here are the tools you must give your kids, though: media literacy and critical thinking to help them filter the messages they receive. Confidence that will make them brave enough to explore new atmospheres. Curiosity about how history informs the world we live in today. Cynicism to question everything from statistics to stereotypes. Whether or not you’re talking specifically about their African-American heritage, these should be everyday, ongoing lessons.

Second, when it comes to the activities that you and your wife love and plan to share with them, don’t make them feel unnecessarily like outsiders or interlopers because of their race.

Will they be among the few brownish faces at Oktoberfest celebrations? Probably, and that’s OK.

But when but when it comes to science fiction and fantasy, there’s no reason they should feel like they’re betraying or negating or ignoring their blackness by being interested. To get this across, maybe you need to rethink some of your own assumptions about what interests and activities are inherently nonblack.

There are people who are into all this stuff who look like your future kids, just like there are people who look like them in the formerly lily-white fields of tennis, golf, gymnastics and ballet. Check out the Black Science Fiction SocietyBlack Girl Nerds and Africomics, just for a start. Tapping into resources like these will be one good way to ensure that they don’t feel unnecessarily isolated in these worlds or conflicted about enjoying them.

It’s possible that this—an expanded, modern, flexible and evolving view of what constitutes black culture—might take some work and some reprogramming of your own thinking.

Luckily, the kids aren’t even here yet. So you have plenty of time.

The Root’s staff writer, Jenée Desmond-Harris, covers the intersection of race with news, politics and culture. She wants to talk about the complicated ways in which ethnicity, color and identity arise in your personal life — and provide perspective on the ethics and etiquette surrounding race in a changing America. Follow her on Twitter.

October 24, 2014

Issues of Biracial Children “Cross” By Langston Hughes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 4:59 pm

Issues of Biracial Children

“Cross”
By Langston Hughes

My old man’s a White old man,
And my old mother’s Black,
If I ever cursed my White old man,
I take my curses back.

If I ever cursed my Black old ma
And wished she were in hell,
I’m sorry for that evil wish,
And now I wish her well.

My old man died in a fine White house,
My ma died in a shack,
I wonder where I’m gonna die,
Being neither White nor Black.

Are We Afraid to Talk About Race Anymore?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 1:07 pm

JUNE 7, 2012, 12:24 AM

Not Afraid to Talk About Race

By CHARLES M. BLOW

Hey, I heard that: “Oh, no, the black columnist is writing about race, again.”

Yes, I am. Deal with it. The moment we allow ourselves to be browbeaten out of having important discussions about issues that persist, we cease to command the requisite conviction to wield the pen — or to peck on a keyboard, but you get my drift.

Varying political views among racial and ethnic groups are real.

They have always informed our politics, and no doubt they will continue to do so. The idea, naively held by many, that the election of the first black president would nullify racial grievances, bridge racial differences and erase racial animosities has quickly faded. We find ourselves once again trying to wrestle with the meaning and importance of race in our politics.

In fact, one could argue that examinations of racial attitudes in politics have become more fraught as racial motives, political objectives and accusations and denials of racism and reverse-racism serve as a kind of subterfuge hiding resentments and prejudices.

Either racial attitudes are naked, blatant and visible, this thinking goes, or they’re nonexistent, manufactured by race baiters and hucksters as devices of division. The middle ground, sprinkled with land mines made up of racial labels, is now a place where fair-minded people dare not tread.

That’s a shame.

But it’s not going to stop me. Strap on your lead boots and let’s go for a stroll.

Pew Research Center American values survey released this week offers fascinating insights into how racially divergent values and the changing racial compositions of political parties influence our politics.

Let’s look at the racial makeup of the two major parties: from 2000 to 2012 the percentage of Republicans who are white has remained relatively steady, about 87 percent. On the other hand, the percentage of Democrats who are white has dropped nine percentage points, from 64 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2012. If current trends persist, in a few years the Democratic Party will be a majority minority party. But the largest drop in the white percentage has been among Independents: they were 79 percent white in 2000, but they are only 67 percent white now.

The racial diversity among Democrats and the lack of it among Republicans means that the two bases bring differing sets of concerns to the national debate.

For instance, blacks and Hispanics are far more likely to believe that poverty is a result of circumstances beyond a person’s control than a result of lack of effort.

Blacks and Hispanics also look far more favorably on the role of government, particularly as it relates to guarding against poverty and evening a playing field that they feel is tilted. Seventy-eight percent of both blacks and Hispanics believed that government should guarantee everyone enough to eat and a place to sleep, while only 52 percent of whites agreed with that idea.

This is not to say that minorities who favor a stronger government want more government handouts. There was very little difference in the percentage of blacks, Hispanics and whites who believed that poor people have become too dependent on government assistance programs (it’s pretty high for all three groups, at 70, 69 and 72 percent, respectively).

They seem to want a chance, not a check.

To wit, 62 percent of blacks and 59 percent of Hispanics say that we should make every possible effort to improve the position of blacks and other minorities, even if it means giving them preferential treatment. Not surprisingly, only 22 percent of whites agreed with this idea. Only 12 percent of Republicans — almost all of whom are white — agreed. This percentage has been decreasing since 2007, while the percentage of white Democrats who agree has been increasing.

Now what does that mean for the presidential race?

A staggering 90 percent of Romney supporters are white. Only 4 percent are Hispanic, less than 1 percent are black and another 4 percent are another race.

Of Obama’s supporters, 57 percent are white, 23 percent are black, 12 percent are Hispanic and 7 percent are another race.

And what of the all-important swing voters (those who are undecided, who lean toward a candidate, or who say that they could change their mind)? Nearly three out of four are white. The rest are roughly 8 percent each blacks, Hispanics and another race.

That might explain why the Pew poll found that the swing voters lean more toward Obama voters on issues like civil liberties and the role of labor unions, but are closer to Romney voters on the role of social safety nets, immigration and minority-preference programs.

Put another way, Romney voters and swing voters — who are both overwhelming white — agree on the more racially charged issues.

Pointing out these correlations is not only valid, it is instructive and helpful. In large part this election will be about the role of government in our lives, and different racial and ethnic groups view that particular issue very differently.

The economy always looms large, but for those who feel left behind by the economy even when it’s roaring, but especially when it sputters, social safety nets and governmental activism can also have tremendous weight.

The trick will be to have a conversation about the direction of the country that takes that into account but lifts the language to a level where common goals can be seen from differing racial vantage points — to show a way to be merciful to those struggling while providing a path to financial independence and social equality. Contrary to what many Americans think, most people do in fact want a hand up and not a handout.

October 23, 2014

How Microgrids Could Change the Future of Our World

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 11:28 pm
Tags: , ,

How Microgrids  Could Change the Future of Our World

As the cost of solar energy has fallen, it has opened up new markets that were once unimaginable in energy. Five years ago, it seemed impossible that a million homes in the U.S. could be powered by solar energy, but that’s the goal of just one company — SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY ) — and it hopes to accomplish this goal by 2018.

As the cost of solar energy falls and new technologies like energy storage, smart meters, and demand response advance, new opportunities open up, like microgrids, which can create a self contained energy ecosystem. If designed right, microgrids can produce more renewable energy, cause less strain on the grid, and even provide technology that could change energy around the world.

What’s a microgrid?

A microgrid is an electric grid that is much smaller than a city, state, or national grid and contains both generating assets as well as energy demand sources.

It may contain distributed solar on rooftops, ground mounted wind and solar generation, smart meters, energy storage, and even demand response. The main electric grid would then feed into a central point that would control all points of the system and communicate with the main grid, which would still provide a feed of energy to the microgrid. Below is a graphic from Siemens, a large grid supplier, that shows what a microgrid may look like.

Microgrid components

From the grid’s perspective, microgrids could turn hundreds of points of demand (homes) into a single point of demand, simplifying operations and giving more control within the microgrid. In some locations, the microgrid could even operate independently of a central electric grid.

Solving the grid’s main problem with rooftop solar

One advantage is that microgrids would alleviate the major problem utilities say they have with rooftop or distributed solar’s intermittent supply to the grid. By dealing with one large point of contact, the microgrid could smooth out demand from the larger grid and even store excess energy produced within the microgrid for use during times when solar energy production may be high.

If designed correctly, the microgrid could actually improve a utility’s cost structure by reducing the amount of spinning reserves required to pick up when intermittent energy sources, like wind and solar, reduce generation.

It may soon be possible to invest in the solar system on your neighbor’s roof. Source: SolarCity.
So, how does this change the world?

The revolution of the microgrid will be noticed here in the U.S., but it could also transform impoverished nations with little access to energy worldwide. There are currently 1.3 billion people worldwide who lack power, and most of them live in locations far from a traditional energy plant or electric grid. It’s also often infeasible to build a fossil fuel plant or run transmission lines from the central grid to these locations. So, creating a microgrid with local energy sources is a logical solution.

It just so happens that many of these communities in Africa and India are also home to tremendous solar energy potential. If these communities had the ability to build their own grids, produce energy, and store energy, they could improve life immensely. It’s possible the improving economics of solar energy, energy storage, and microgrids could improve the lives of billions of people.

Who will play in this market?

So, who is going to be building microgrids and community energy assets?

The first two companies I think of are SolarCity and SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR ) . SolarCity is the largest distributed solar installer in the U.S. and has invested in Off-Grid Electric, a Tanzania-based company that provides solar lighting in Africa. It is also developing energy storage to store energy for emergencies within the home that could be transferred to microgrids both here and abroad.

SunPower is working with 7 of the top 10 homebuilders in the country and is testing energy storage systems that would be valuable for microgrids as well. It’s also building utility-scale projects in Africa and the Middle East, building out capabilities in places where solar energy potential is highest. Below is a short explanation of SunPower’s energy storage vision.

 

Sun Power plans to store energy at homes

No doubt companies like Siemens and General Electric would be in this market as well, but microgrids would be more line extensions than new growth markets.

The grid is changing

As distributed energy becomes more common, and utilities adapt to the new normal, where homeowners can own power-generating assets, we’ll see new opportunities emerge in energy. One concept I think communities will see as attractive is the microgrid. If built properly, they will put the power in the community’s hands and give consumers more control over their energy choices. If that happens, it will be a positive development for the world of energy.

Another energy transformation in the U.S.

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Socratic Methods of Living a Good Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 1:36 am

7 Practical Lessons From Socrates on Wisdom, Wealth, and the Good Life

Warren Buffett believes that temperament is more important than IQ when it comes to successful investing. He said recently that “you absolutely have to have the right temperament. Otherwise, something will snap you.”

When it comes to developing your temperament, who would be more helpful? The self-assured hedge fund manager talking his own book on CNBC or one of the wisest philosophers in human history?

The answer to that question is pretty obvious. Below are seven quotes from Socrates that might be helpful for those investors who aspire to self-mastery. The quotes were compiled from Bettany Hughes’ outstanding book The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life.

1. “Those who are already wise no longer love wisdom – whether they are gods or men. Similarly, those whose own ignorance has made them bad, rotten, evil, do not strive for wisdom either. For no evil or ignorant person ever strives for wisdom. What remains are those who suffer from ignorance, but still retain some sense and understanding. They are conscious of knowing what they don’t know.” Here, Socrates notes that many of us are aware of our intellectual limitations, even while we’re striving to acquire wisdom. This is a particularly important insight for investors who can benefit enormously by remaining committed to the pursuit of wisdom throughout their lives.

Buffett’s investing partner Charlie Munger has made a persuasive case, on numerous occasions, for the importance of lifelong learning, regardless of your level of expertise. He feels that if he and Buffett had stopped learning at some point, then the “record would have been much worse than it is.” The key to the game, according to Munger, is to keep learning about a wide variety of different disciplines. Clearly, Munger has been very successful at the game, having turned his love of reading into a billion-dollar fortune.

2. “Well I am certainly wiser than this man. It is only too likely that neither of us has any knowledge to boast of; but he thinks that he knows something which he does not know, whereas I am quite conscious of my ignorance. At any rate it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know.” Socrates is famous for knowing the limits of his knowledge. His simple insight can be very beneficial for investors.

Every day we witness Wall Street experts – with impressive credentials – who are extremely quick to weigh in on things they can never really know. Many of them, for example, have been predicting a stock market crash, year in and year out, since 2009. Listening to their advice could have cost you a lot of money.

Just like Socrates, truly wise investors are aware of their own ignorance. They can’t predict whether or not the market will go up or down in any given year. Rather, they make long-term bets on the ability of our economy and individual companies to grow over the next decade and beyond. Such wisdom represents a considerable edge for ordinary investors versus Wall Street pros.

3. “Oh my friend, why do you, who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? Are you not ashamed of this?” This is a simple plea by Socrates for all us to have more balance in our lives. Far too many executives in America today (particularly on Wall Street) focus too much on power and money, while neglecting ethics and sustainability. Steve Jobs made a similar point when he said, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”

4. “For I go about doing nothing else than urging you, young and old, not to care for your persons or your property more than for the perfection of your souls, or even so much; and I tell you that virtue does not come from money, but from virtue comes money and all other good things to man, both the individual and to the state.” I love this particular quote, though it’s not easy to decipher. He appears to be saying that all of us don’t spend enough time striving for moral perfection. If we did, then good things would result.

Of course, we all know people of poor character who are very successful in life, so clearly money can be gained without virtue. But I think Socrates is saying that virtue is the most important thing in life, and that money can’t buy it. And those who focus on pursuing virtue will be well-positioned to achieve all those things they desire in life. I’m not sure this is actually true, but I like to think that it’s true.

5. “Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and, yet, take so little care of your own children, to whom one day you must relinquish all.” This quote is particularly helpful to those of us who are parents. Many of us work tirelessly on behalf of our children, while ignoring them in the process. The time we spend with them today, however, may actually be more valuable than any material things we might leave them tomorrow.

6. “In truth, the fear of death is nothing but thinking you’re wise when you are not, for you think you know what you don’t. For no one knows whether death happens to be the greatest of all goods for humanity, but people fear it because they’re completely convinced it is the greatest of evils. And isn’t this ignorance, after all, the most shameful kind: thinking you know what you don’t.” When I first read in high school about the trial and death of Socrates, I was very impressed by his stoicism in the face of the ordeal. He wasn’t afraid because he had no idea what death would be like. Why do people just assume it’s bad, he wondered? He approached the mystery of death in a purely rational way.

Such an approach can be extremely powerful in other areas of life. When Charlie Munger was once asked what accounts for his enormous success, he replied, “I’m rational. That’s the answer. I’m rational.” In the emotional world of investing, that turned out to be a pretty effective edge.

7. “At the time, I made it clear once again, not by talk but by action, that I didn’t care at all about death – if I’m not being too blunt to say it – but it mattered everything that I do nothing unjust or impious, which matters very much to me. For though it had plenty of power, that government didn’t frighten me into doing anything that’s wrong.” To me, this quote is a simple, yet eloquent statement on moral leadership. Socrates is referring to a time when the Athenian government asked him to arrest a general who would then likely be murdered in cold blood. Fortunately, Socrates was able to avoid punishment, despite his refusal.

We all need to stand for something in life, and sometimes we’ll need to pay a price for our beliefs. For those of us who approach an investment as business owners, we may want to think hard about what types of companies we’d like to own and not own.

Living the good life
So, what was the good life for Socrates? I think it was spending his days striving for moral perfection, and teaching anyone who would listen what he had learned from his quest. Perhaps he realized along the way that he didn’t need a lot of material goods to pursue what he loved. That seems like another important lesson for all of us.

Can You Actually Predict a Business Failure Far in Advance

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 1:34 am

Playing With Fire: A Framework for Predicting Failure

How many times have you read or heard someone predict that such-and-such retail company is on the verge of bankruptcy? And how many times did that not actually happen? My guess is many. Maybe you’ve even thought or said something along these lines yourself. I certainly have.

During the last few years, one after another brick-and-mortar retailer has fallen victim to the e-commerce juggernaut Amazon.com. The first wave of failures, catalyzed by the financial crisis, claimed the lives of Borders, Circuit City, and Linens ‘n Things. Now, a second wave is gathering strength in the distance. In its path are Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and RadioShack. Indeed, even Wal-Mart’s domestic division seems stuck in a downward spiral of negative same-store sales.

If you’re an investor, this begs an important question: Is it possible to distinguish an existential crisis at a retail chain from one that’s serious, but temporary, and therefore survivable? If you can do so, not only could you sidestep a horrible investment, but you could also profit from an eventual drop or rebound in the underlying company’s stock.

Why it’s hard to forecast failure
One of the reasons it’s hard to predict if and when a company will go under is because bankruptcy isn’t simply a matter of solvency — that is, of having more assets than liabilities. If this were the case, even a novice investor would be able to forecast the downfall of the most complex publicly traded corporation. All it would take is a cursory glance at the shareholders’ equity portion of the balance sheet.

This doesn’t mean solvency isn’t important; because it is. But it’s nevertheless rarely the precipitating cause of failure. The downfall of former electronics giant Circuit City provides a textbook case. When it filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2008, it was the nation’s second-largest electronics retailer, with more than 700 superstores located in retail shopping centers across the country. And more to the point, its final balance sheet listed $3.4 billion in assets versus $2.3 billion in liabilities. Thus, not only was Circuit City solvent, its book value exceeded $1 billion.

 

circuit-citys-book-value-between-2004-and-2008_large

If solvency isn’t the issue, what is? The answer is liquidity. When a company is in its final throes, the most acute problem it faces is the inability to convert assets into cash, which can then be used to buy inventory and satisfy expenses like rent and wages. This happens when creditors lose faith in a company and stop accepting its assets as collateral for lines of credit. It’s this, in turn, which triggers the actual demise.

Take this announcement from Circuit City a week before it went bankrupt:

Following the company’s second-quarter results, the company’s liquidity position and the sharply worsened overall economic environment led some of Circuit City’s vendors to take restrictive actions with respect to payment terms and the credit they make available to the company…including in some cases not providing customary increases in credit lines for holiday purchases.
And the same was true at Linens ‘n Things, which was solvent to the tune of $323 million at the time of its failure in May 2008. Here’s what it said two weeks before doing so:

The rapidly increasing financial storm outside the company, together with our operating results, has accelerated credit and insurance problems for our vendors, causing them to recently begin imposing significantly more restrictive payment terms. These factors have had a dramatic effect on our liquidity outlook for the remainder of the year. We have made the decision to postpone today’s interest payment as we continue to work with our constituencies to explore a number of alternatives to strengthen our balance sheet and improve liquidity.

book-value-table_large.Finally, while former-bookseller Borders Group was technically insolvent when it sought bankruptcy protection at the beginning of 2011, it, too, acknowledged that illiquidity was the final straw:

.

During the third quarter, our borrowing capacity under our revolving credit facility was reduced as a result of a third party valuation that lowered the estimated liquidation value of our inventory. Due to this and other factors, including our lower than projected sales, we are taking several actions to improve our liquidity. At the present time, we are in detailed discussions with potential lenders for replacement financing that we believe will provide sufficient liquidity through at least the beginning of 2012.
It probably goes without saying that Borders was unsuccessful in its efforts to secure replacement financing. Two weeks later, it announced the decision to “delay payments to certain parties — vendors, landlords, and others.” And less than a month after that, it went kaput.

A framework for assessing liquidity
The fact that illiquidity is typically the cause of a retail company’s failure presents a problem for the average investor. This is because it’s far harder to compute than solvency.

The conventional approach is to compare a company’s current assets — such as cash, inventory, and accounts receivable — to current liabilities — namely, debts and obligations that will come due within a year. But this measure, known as the current ratio, can be misleading because it includes inventory and receivables, which often can’t be converted into cash at face value on sufficiently short notice, and because it ignores cash flow, which is the very essence of liquidity.

On top of this, there’s a subjective element to liquidity that can’t be captured in financial statements. This follows from the fact that a company’s liquidity depends on its creditors. And its creditors are less interested in shorthand measures of fiscal health like the current ratio, and much more concerned with beating competing creditors to the punch, thereby securing repayment before it’s too late.

It’s for these reasons that a retail company’s chances of suffering a fatal liquidity crisis can best be gauged with two questions. First, does the company have a history of sustained and accelerating quarterly losses? This matters because losses erode book value, which is a proxy for a company’s ability to borrow. And second, are the company’s operations burning through more cash than they’re generating? If so, then the company has a serious problem on its hands because its cash coffers aren’t being replenished — a fact that won’t go unnoticed by creditors.

.

radioshacks-quarterly-net-income_large.

The recent experience of RadioShack offers an instructive example. During the last few years, its net income has fallen precipitously, culminating in an ongoing streak of nine consecutive quarterly losses. This trend has wreaked havoc on RadioShack’s book value, reducing it by a staggering 91% during the last 12 quarters. Its latest estimate pegs the figure at a mere $73 million. Meanwhile, the electronic retailer’s free cash flow is also in a perilous state. In the last two quarters alone, its operations burned through $200 million more in cash than they generated. Things have gotten so bad recently that the New York Stock Exchange is threatening to delist RadioShack’s stock.

A similar story is unfolding at J.C. Penney — though the concern, while great, is not as acute as it is in RadioShack’s case. Following a bungled rebranding attempt initiated by a former CEO, the department store chain has lost a total of $2.9 billion during the last three years. This has driven its book value down by 42%, and leaves it with a net worth of only $2.8 billion. And even more disturbing than this is the speed at which J.C. Penney is burning through cash. At its current run rate, its operations are consuming an average of $307 million more in free cash flow each quarter than they generate.

By contrast, if you use this framework to assess the fiscal health of Walmart, it becomes clear that predictions of the discount retailer’s impending demise are greatly exaggerated. Despite an uncharacteristic and problematic series of negative same-store sales in its U.S. division, the Arkansas-based company continues to be both extremely profitable and liquid. It typically earns between $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion each quarter, and generates billions of dollars in free cash flow. The net result is that Wal-Mart’s book value continues to grow, albeit at a slower rate than it did during the first few decades of the retail giant’s existence.

The bottom line on predicting failure
The point here is that identifying companies on the verge of failure is both harder and easier than it’s often made out to be. It’s harder because the analysis calls for more than a simple assessment of solvency. But it’s easier because there are two alternative questions that investors can use to gauge whether a company is facing an existential crisis like RadioShack, or rather one that’s serious, but temporary, and survivable like Walmart.

This is an important lesson for investors looking to profit from stocks in companies that are flirting with disaster. If you guess right, the returns can be extraordinary. But if you guess wrong, then you could lose your entire investment. It’s for the latter reason, in turn, that speculating like this should only be undertaken by the most experienced and risk-averse investors.

 

WCW Wednesday October, 2014: KL

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 12:19 am

This is my very first WCW (Women Crush Wednesday) I have ever made. There are very very few women I would ever even think of making this designation to…. but the one I chose today…. my first…. is by far the best one I have knowledge of or about, and as such, she has the honor, albeit a possibly dubious honor, to not only be my first but the most important.

I chose K.L.

Who is KL? I won’t dare to embarrass her with a full revelation as to her identity but I want to share with you, my reader, why this woman was selected.

Those who know me and have come here over the last 8 or 9 years to read know I have traveled extensively around the world. The map on the side of this blog is a good indication of the extent of my travels. Over 70 countries so far and I have a lot more to go. Some months ago I tweeted to KL that in my opinion and of all the tens of thousands of women I have seen… she is one of the 5 most beautiful women in the world. That assessment was not BS or bluster or a pickup line as I have had no interaction with her since. BUT I have followed her on occasion and would like to share with you WHY she is so much more than a physical beauty, and because of these following “Other” things I find her worthy of any man OR woman’s crush.

KL is a West Indian woman. A particular culture I have intimate knowledge of. She is Jamaican and was raised in NYC for a time and Englewood, NJ. Up through that time I know of nothing remarkable.

However KL Joined the USAF (United States Air Force) apparently raised herself to a Noncom rank of Sergeant and served in the Military Police. Why does this matter. Well. First it makes her an honored veteran. Second it means she can handle herself. Not only with a weapon but also self defense. Some may think that subduing intoxicated service personnel is easy, but I assure you that is usually not the case. If one has occasion to see her FB Timeline or her Twitter feed you would know she still holds those she served with and those who have served in high regard and expresses concern in these turbulent times for their safety.

But do not think she is a chatter box on twitter or FB ~ she is not. She is reserved and eloquent (well mostly) in how she expresses herself. She is not afraid to call people out for their bad behavior. She has good high standards for herself and for others and is very selective for those she calls “Friend” (I know as I am not one of them…)

The articles she shares and those that she tweets shows a woman who is fully aware that there is a world she lives in that goes beyond her current employment and existence. She is without a doubt a worldly person.

Looks great in a bikini and especially in a “Charlie” by Matthew Zink (They advertize it as  a new swim lifestyle brand dedicated to the seduction of the perfect bikini,  but I think it reaches it apex when worn by KL) KL makes the brand pop

She is NOT dependent. She is very INDEPENDENT. She recently stated that she is not afraid to fight for any man in her life, but she will never fight OVER a man. She values LOYALTY in man. She is not so enamored with boys. She is not a money grubber and has stated she would rather a man in her life that was honest and loyal even more than his earnings. As she said she makes enough that no man has to take care of her. A REAL woman!!

She is not afraid to travel the world. Given that she served in NATO headquarters in Brussels I realized some of her qualities and her interest in other cultures. She is determined and brave as she has even traveled to other countries ALONE… I have HUGE respect for that as too many people make any excuse for not traveling and exploring the world. I read once that the one place she really wants to go and spend time in is Paris… and as a romantic myself I hope she goes with someone special and that it will have real significance for her.

She made some other references to other facets to her personality and interests.. Some very personal and intimate but I will not dare repeat as she is much too good a woman to ever embarrass and I have too much respect for her to do that as well. But I can say with impunity I have found NOTHING about this woman that is bad or a turnoff…

If anything she has been too trusting sometimes with some men and has been used by them, and I could never understand why they would do that to a woman so interesting and deserving of so much as KL. Maybe she is too good or to trusting of men she likes.
In any event I find it reprehensible that she should be played by any man, and have come to the conclusion that they just were not real men or worthy of such a woman as KL. (Enough of this…. I mean it but it sounds too…. umm…. Condescending)

She fights her own battles. Is not afraid to stand up for herself. She used to tweet that a well stoked freezer had strip steaks that she could cook up for breakfast. I was concerned that she was not culturally Jamaican. I had that notion dispelled in an instant but when she tweeted about one of my favorite foods. Not just curry~ but GOAT CURRY and Fried Plantains and rice and beans. Oh my! I had to go out and get some for myself the next day… YUMMY good… but if you think the sound of it is not so nice, than you have to understand why you would never make my top 5 list. I love ethnic foods from around the world.

I find it awesome when someone has eclectic tastes and a thirst for knowledge and cultural experiences. A person who does not travel and experience the world is like owning a book about the world and never opening the damn thing. KL won a lot of respect from me for these parts of her.

KL appears to relish education. Langston Hughes is a favorite author and she is currently planning her net career which she has indicated would be a choice between Medicine and Law. I look forward to catching a tweet or two and learning one day which sub specialties she has interest in for those professions that can help me glimmer another side to this fascinating woman.

A Few Adjectives that help describe KL: Intelligent, Beautiful, Sexy, Intelligent,  Articulate, Energetic, Insightful,  Aware, Fiscally Astute, Entrepreneurial Interests, Independent,  Self Sufficient, Educated, Internationally Aware and Interested, Worldly, West Indian/ Jamaican Cooks, works her proverbial butt off and is good at what she does (and trust me if you know what she does you have to also know it takes real dedication and tolerance to work that hard in that field and still be employed) ..… a real man would be hard pressed to find a single flaw in such a woman… but it will have to be a real man for only a real man can handle a strong woman, and KL is all woman .

Dang she even has great taste in Automobiles with her recent purchase of an Audi…

So I am proud today to tell her that she is my first choice for WCW Women Crush Wednesday. And KL, you really “all that” and so much more … I wish you the very best in your life as you have continued to earn it on your own every single day! It truly was wonderful to have followed you over the past year or two. You have ruined me for any other woman…. well almost..

Did I mention she is a Sagittarius? LOL

Says a lot about her independence and determination in life if you believe in all that…

SOO.. This is about it.. While there is a LOT more to say on why KL would be any Mans crush let alone mine…. well… this has to suffice before it looks as if I want to write her Biography…. but I guarantee you that what I have listed barely touches the surface of who she is.

One time she referenced a disabled Brother. Not sure if it was an analogy in a what if situation about a bus pass.. but I do know she loves her family….. and admires her mother a lot…. but the disabled reference has specific impact on my life so it meant a lot to see it referenced even if it was not her brother specifically… the insight was particularly poignant for me to see.

How I wish I had met her in person. I would have made sure I knew what actual shade and gender she wanted in the “Goldendoodle”Puppy….  and that she got it…. but I never would have put it in a Celine Bag…. . of that I am sure…  that would have had to be separate package…. 

October 10, 2014

New and Exciting Project Launching

There is a new project launching in the next week to 10 days. it will be called:

“Give It Back To Congress”

 

It should appear on several Crowd Funding Platforms.

Sales should be done on eBay and Amazon and payments  as low as 5 dollars and 1 dollar thereafter can be made.

Given the State of Our Nation I hope you will find it entertaining and compelling to participate in this project

August 30, 2014

Outline on being too smart sometimes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 1:59 pm

A Genius Learns To Start Working Hard

What is it like to have an extremely high IQ?

Pretty much everyone responding to this question on a popular thread agreed that it can be difficult, as geniuses and near-geniuses may have difficulty relating to other people and lack the motivation necessary to succeed.

One of the most interesting answers came from a former colleague , an innovation analyst at XYZCo, who explained how he struggled with having a high IQ before realizing he had to work hard.

His answer is published anonymously below:

I have what most would consider a high IQ. I test in the top 1% in almost all testing I’ve done throughout most of my life. I would assume for those who have used and engaged it, it has been rewarding. It has been my best friend AND  my worst enemy at alternating times in my life. I have, for the most part, done very little with mine, which has been a source of frustration, depression, and, at some points, marital strife.

Schooling

Academics were my first out, with a mediocre academic career that featured little work on my part, always perfect test scores, and an ongoing army of teachers who felt they were doing me a favor by passing me because I knew the material, rather than failing me for my work ethic. It helped that I attended a new school nearly every year due to my military upbringing, so teachers felt sorry for me rather than recognizing my self-destructive pattern of behavior.

Friendships

I will admit that my IQ isolated me quite a bit. I was too smart to fit with the “popular” kids, and my being the perpetual new kid didn’t help. I was also the least accomplished and laziest of my intellectual peers, so didn’t fit in that group either. Mostly, I ended up with the people who didn’t care…the stoners one year, skateboarders another, emo kids another year, and always a small group of friends to play D&D with. I never had a set group identity.

Oddly enough, be it friends or professional contacts, I have never found it too difficult to relate to other people strictly based on IQ. I’m much more likely to find issues with people who are married to specific ideologies. I have always ascribed to the Einstein quote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” My background in customer service helped, but I also realized that while I can, for instance, take apart your computer at a near circuit level, I can’t work on an engine, fly a plane, design a building, or paint the Mona Lisa. Everyone has talents, and IQ is just one of many that people can possess. It is certainly one of the most advantageous in modern society, but its not the only one that is worthwhile.

Work

After high school (I never went to college for more than half a semester until recently), I found I simply lacked motivation to excel. There was always a high-minded philosophical basis for my stagnation:  Buddhist ideas against the accumulation of material possessions, a smug sense of escaping from the consumerist ideology that consumed American culture, etc. As long as my job paid for my hobbies, I was content to maintain a job that offered and expected very little from me. With my love for technology, I ended up at multiple help desk jobs of varying positions for over 10 years.

At some point, before I began to understand my own culpability in the direction of my life, my intellect became poisonous. I started thinking about moving forward in my career, but never in terms of what *I* needed to do, but in the self-pitying belief that others simply failed to recognize my gifts and give me what I was DUE, either because they felt threatened or because they were unable to recognize and relate to my intelligence. Everyone always said the same thing, “You’re so smart/talented, I’m surprised you’re still doing this”, and so was I, though I shouldn’t have been. I believed my intelligence entitled me to opportunity, and it soured me on my professional relationships for a long time.

I’m not sure at what point I came to the realization that it is the outcome of the sum of your talents, and not the talents themselves, that define you as a person. Probably around the time I met my wife, and became a father. It wasn’t just about SUPPORTING my children, or accumulating money, because there are plenty of starving artists raising amazing children. But I have no gift for art or music. My intellect is really all I have, so I knew that if I was going to teach my children self-worth, to make the most of the talents and opportunity they had, I would have to stop making excuses and do it myself.

The last few years have paid off. My success has grown, in professional circles inside and outside my work. I’ve moved from doing things I *know* to doing things I *love*, paying my dues along the way, and not taking shortcuts. I hope that I’m showing my children that simply having a gift isn’t enough.

That being said…

Family

I wish I could say I’ve “fixed” everything about me that my high IQ has “broken”, but that isn’t the case. I spend a lot of time, far more than I should, inside my own head, or working on problems that interest me, time that should be spent with family. I let my children spend too much time steering their own destiny, with little or no limitation, and they mostly choose to spend it glued to a computer playing video games. It is difficult for me still to find balance between everything that needs to done at home, and the things that I feel I need to do for myself. I’m not getting any younger, and I wasted a great deal of the opportunity of my youth. However, my constant NEED to better myself combined with the fact that I still struggle against poor habits, easy distraction, and severe disorganization cause my wife no end of frustration as I pursue whatever the “next thing” that consumes me might be. She is an angel for putting up with it, but her grace doesn’t excuse me from my obligation to find a better balance.  At the same time, I have to work harder to make sure I don’t miss the opportunity of my sons’ youth as well. Children seldom care about your work ethic if you’re not around the rest of the time. It’s a work in progress, but never one you should give up on.

Aggressive and sometimes illegal debt collectors at their worst

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 12:57 am

What have we become?

It was almost 11 a.m. on a Tuesday in October when Jennifer Posey received the first voice mail.

“This is Jimmy Lee calling from CheckCare. Just letting you know we’re in full force,” he said. The man had a thick Southern accent that stretched the word “you” into a two-syllable accusation. “We’re going to have warrants out for your arrest in Columbus, Ga.,” the man threatened. “We know you have an apartment on the canal in Clearwater.”

It was when he mentioned her home in Florida that Posey began to feel anxious. “We’re hurting you,” he continued. “We’re hurting your family, your son’s family, your cousin’s family. Whatever we can do to get you to pay.”

Forty minutes later, her phone rang again. “What about that 12-, 13-year-old child you’re trying to raise?” the voice sneered.

That’s when Posey called the police.

“This is my 12-year-old child!” Posey says. Later that afternoon, she received a letter from the Warner Robbins, Ga., franchise of CheckCare, one of the nation’s largest networks of check guarantors.

The letter claimed that Posey owed $3,560.23, an allegation she refuses to discuss. The amount, she says, was beside the point. “I don’t care if it’s one dollar or 1 million. You don’t threaten to harm my child,” she says.

Posey’s experience, while extreme, is far from uncommon. As the effects of the Great Recession continue to fester in neighborhoods across the country, more Americans than ever report being abused, harassed and deceived by the notoriously unregulated debt-buying and -collecting industry. In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission received an unprecedented 180,000 complaints about these companies, nearly 13 times more complaints than were reported in 2000.

The debt collection industry is like the Luca Brasi of lenders, and there are big bucks to be made in enforcement, whether you’re working for Don Corleone or MasterCard.

The debt collection industry is like the Luca Brasi of lenders, and there are big bucks to be made in enforcement, whether you’re working for Don Corleone or MasterCard. Today, debt collection is a $12 billion business, with more than 4,500 companies and, according to the Better Business Bureau’s recent report, more ruthless tactics than ever. The abuse is part of the industry’s strategy to get people to pay up — a job that’s gotten even harder since Americans lost millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in wealth throughout the recession. According to John LaRosa, the research director of Marketdata Enterprises, which released a 2012 report on the industry, “Agencies have to work much harder to collect, making more calls, using more aggressive tactics.”

The only problem? A hell of a lot of these tactics are illegal, and a new government agency has resolved to fight back.

Fake sheriffs, phantom firms

Approximately 10 percent of all Americans, or 30 million people, are currently being pursued by debt collectors. Of these, more than 100,000 people report being subject to predatory or illegal tactics every year. Some are called incessantly, often well after 9 p.m., which is prohibited under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Others reported being threatened with arrest or felony charges by collectors, both of which are also prohibited.

Sometimes the behavior of debt collectors is egregious to the point of being ridiculous. In Erie, Pa., one company named Unicredit Debt Resolution Center hired employees to dress up as fake sheriff’s deputies so they could deliver fake subpoenas and even haul people into a fake courtroom where — you guessed it — a fake judge would coerce them into disclosing their bank account information and even handing over the titles to their cars. Other actions are downright scary. One California-based company threatened to shoot and eat people’s pets and even dig up the bodies of deceased family members, all in its efforts to intimidate them into paying.

In Erie, Pa., a fake judge would coerce people into disclosing their bank account information and even handing over the titles to their cars.

Often debt collectors harass people over debts that aren’t even owed. More than a third of the complaints released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) were from people being pursued for debts that weren’t theirs or that they had already paid. The latter problem plagued Maryland resident Edgar Moreno after his daughter was in a car accident in Arizona last fall. One of the first things he did was send her a prepaid card to cover her hospital charges. She was only 22; the last thing he wanted was for her to have to deal with bills and forms while she was convalescing.

In November he received a letter from the hospital saying that all his daughter’s medical bills were settled. But a slew of letters sent to her home by Professional Credit Services alleged the opposite. According to Moreno, the company — a third party hired by firms to collect debts — barraged her with so many threatening letters that Moreno finally had her mail forwarded to his home. He tried repeatedly to contact the company to inform it that his daughter’s bills had been paid, but he couldn’t get anyone on the phone.

“It’s like a phantom company,” he said. Finally, he took to the Web, writing indignant complaints on consumer sites like RipOffReport and the Better Business Bureau. “They’re taking advantage of people when they are most vulnerable, at the worst times of their lives,” he said. “She didn’t even owe anything.”

Neither Professional Credit Services nor any of the other agencies mentioned in this article responded to repeated requests for comment.

Reform and robo-signing

For decades, the business of debt collection operated with too little government scrutiny. The most comprehensive federal regulation, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, was written in 1977, back when the idea of the Internet was fiction and students taking out loans for $58,000 a year in tuition seemed as improbable as flying cars. Besides being outdated, the act is also restricted to regulating third-party debt collectors, meaning major banks like JPMorgan Chase or giant stores like Macy’s are exempt from the rules when trying to collect money they lent. The Federal Trade Commission has sued dozens of collectors over the years under the act, including Expert Global Solutions, the world’s largest collection company. But the agency lacks the authority to write new laws. As Chris Farrell, correspondent for the NPR show “Marketplace,” recently wrote in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the industry is essentially the “credit economy’s Wild West.”

But there’s a new sheriff in town, and it has vowed to clean up the business. Last year, the CFPB began overseeing large debt collectors under the Dodd-Frank Act, which gives the agency the right to regulate both large banks and non-bank financial service providers, such as payday lenders, mortgage services and debt collectors.

In July, the CFPB announced it was “put(ting) companies on notice.” By December, the agency had released thousands of complaints about debt collectors, sued one of the largest payday lenders and announced it was developing new rules to regulate the industry.

Of the more than 7,000 complaints the CFPB has published so far, more than 2,000 were from people who reported being pursued for a debt they didn’t owe.

Stopping debt collectors from pursuing the wrong people, as in the case of Moreno’s daughter, is one of the CFPB’s main areas of concern. Of the more than 7,000 complaints the agency has published so far, more than 2,000 were from people who reported being pursued for a debt they didn’t owe.

The information breakdown often occurs when people’s debt is shuffled around or purchased by debt buyers for about four cents on the dollar. When a buyer purchases debt from another company, what it’s really buying is a spreadsheet filled with names and phone numbers of the alleged debtors, from which the company then tries to collect the full amount owed.

These spreadsheets are frequently filled with mistakes or missing information, said Claudia Wilner, a senior staff attorney with the New Economy Project, a resource and advocacy center in New York City. Through the organization’s free legal hotline, she and the other attorneys have spoken to thousands of people who say they are being pursued by debt collectors based on faulty information.

“We have talked to many people who don’t owe these debts,” she said. “Or even if there’s some aspect of the debt they recognize, the amount has ballooned so much as to be completely unrecognizable.”

The debt collectors also use these spreadsheets to sue people in civil court. According to a class action lawsuit in New York, suing collection agencies often fail to serve people with the required notices of complaint to inform them of their court dates. Instead they simply robo-sign affidavits that claim the notices have been served. Then, when people don’t show up in court, the judge enters a default judgment against them, allowing the debt collection agencies to freeze bank accounts and garnish wages. Remember: All of this action is based on the error-ridden spreadsheets, leading to cases of people having bank accounts frozen over debts that weren’t even theirs in the first place.

Wilner, who is working on the class action suit, said she was “heartened” to see the CFPB recently fine the massive payday lender Cash America $3.2 million for similar shenanigans, including robo-signing court documents.

“I would really like to see the CFPB take similar actions,” she said.

 
 

Legal loopholes

Debt collection laws also vary from state to state, and there are issues that consumer advocates say the agency won’t be able to remedy, no matter how aggressive its new laws are. In Minnesota, for example, third-party debt collectors can initiate lawsuits against people without even filing documents in court. This legal quirk ended up confusing St. Cloud resident Tammy Wold into missing the 20-day window she had to contest a claim, which she said is at least $1,500 more than what she owes.

On a Saturday morning in October, a man from the Law Office of Joe Pezzuto, LLC, arrived at Wold’s door and handed her papers that he said were a legal summons and complaint. But when she examined the papers, she noticed there was no court number. Suspicious, she called the county clerk’s office, only to be told there was no record of a lawsuit there either.

“They call it a summons, but it’s not an actual summons,” she said.

When someone sees court papers without a court file on them, she assumes that they are bogus.

Peter Barry

Minneapolis consumer rights lawyer

That’s exactly what collectors want people to believe — but it’s not the truth, said Peter Barry, a consumer rights lawyer in Minneapolis: “The collection industry wants you to think it’s a fake lawsuit because then they’ll get a default.”

Barry, who does not represent Wold but has sued numerous other Minnesota law firms for debt collection abuses, said that this legal loophole is an example of how the collection industry seeks ways to confuse consumers.

“The fact that she believes that it’s a bogus lawsuit goes to the larger problem in Minnesota that the collection industry has intensely lobbied to get service rules that favor them,” he said. He speaks to a half-dozen people each week who believe, as Wold did, that the summonses they’ve received are false.

“When someone sees court papers without a court file on them, she assumes that they are bogus. Just like if I gave you a dollar bill without a serial number on it, you wouldn’t take it,” he said.

An underlying problem

These types of state-by-state loopholes will be nearly impossible for the CFPB to regulate. But the bigger problem, others argue, is that it will be impossible to reform the collection industry without recognizing the underlying issue: the debt itself.

To the increasing number of Americans who are forced to assume debt to pay for basic needs, cleaning up the collection business can sound a little like slapping a fresh coat of paint on the Titanic. It might be a nice touch, but we’re all still going under.

“I’m glad to see the CFPB exists, and that it seems to be taking a hard line with collectors,” said Ann Larson, a professor at the City University of New York and a participant in the group Strike Debt. But in the long term, she said, people are going to have to challenge an economic system that pushes them into debts that — with flat-lined wages and skyrocketing educational, medical and housing costs — fewer and fewer people can afford to pay back.

Recent headlines echo Larson’s words. On Dec. 9, Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, announced that the United States is in the midst of “the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has known,” while The New York Times reported that medical costs have ballooned to the point that a single stitch costs $500. Student debt, meanwhile, has topped $1 trillion, dragging down both a generation and the overall economy.

“I just don’t see how you could address one without the other,” Larson said.

August 22, 2014

Are Raising Minimum Wage and Social Security and Medicaid Expansion Enough to Run On for Democrats

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 8:56 am

The Democrats should make these three  issues central to the 2014 campaign:

1.  Raising the Minimum Wage.

2.  Protecting Social Security.

There are many reasons for raising the minimum wage, which provides an annual salary of $15,080 (more than $7,000 less than the poverty rate for a family of four of $22,283).
Besides the obvious goal of relieving these families from daily economic distress, raising it will decrease the outrageous transfer of wealth from taxpayers to minimum wage corporations such as those in the fast food industry and Walmart.  This is a blatant subsidy to those companies, which we provide in the form of food stamps and Medicaid  — funds that should be part of employees salaries.

In fact, raising the minimum wage is linked to deficit reduction, by shifting some of these costs from the taxpayers and the government to the minimum wage paying corporations.

But another beneficial effect actually connects a higher minimum wage to preserving social security.

The current social security cap on earnings is $113,730.  Most of us here believe that the preferable ways to provide additional solvency to social security include: (a) raising the cap, (b) raising the cap after a “doughnut hole” between the current cap and, e.g., $250,000, and/or (c) applying the tax to capital gains income.

The current House of Representations (and the less than 60 vote Dem majority in the Senate) makes any of these politically impossible.

However, raising the minimum wage may be less politically impossible than raising the cap.

Approximately [3,550,000 workers make the minimum wage or below (see http://www.pewresearch.org/… ) in the US.]  If the minimum wage is raised by $2.00 an hour for, say 3,000,000 people, they will make collectively an additional $12,480,000,000.  Applying the current payroll tax rate of 6.2% results in an additional $773,776,000 contribution per year to the social security trust fund.

I will leave it to the actuaries among us to figure out by how much that additional contribution would extend the current projected date of 2033 for depletion of the trust fund.

But it doesn’t seem insignificant.

With the uncertain fate of health care (at least as a 2014 issue), these two issue are a great opportunity to let people know what we are for and they are against.

Greg Sargent highlights a stunningly callous remark from Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell about his constituents who are finally getting health insurance for the first time, in large part from Medicaid.

“Well look, if I went out here on the street today [and said], ‘You guys want free health care?’ I expect you’d have a lot of signups,” he said. “People signing up for something that is free” is the only thing about Obamacare in Kentucky that could be considered successful.Asked more than once what parts of Obamacare, if any, were beneficial to the millions of people in the country without health care, McConnell had only one answer, stating repeatedly: “The law should be repealed.”

Sargent wonders whether Democrats can win running on Medicaid and against attitudes like McConnell’s, and the perception that the law mostly benefits poor people, but won’t help them.

Dems may well worry that if the Medicaid expansion gets framed solely as expanding a government program for the poor—the handout that McConnell describes—it could put them at risk. Dems will probably emphasize that the expansion is sound budgetary policy,arguing that it makes sense for states to accept huge amounts of federal money.

Medicaid expansion, though, is more than just budgetary policy and it’s more than just assistance to the poor. The number of community hospitals closing, particularly in rural areas in red states, shows dramatically that it’s not just about  the uninsured.  The hospitals are closing because they are losing Medicaid funding that Medicaid expansion was supposed to replace. When Republicans refuse to take the Medicaid expansion and don’t come up with any replacement funding, hospitals close.

Those hospitals don’t just close for poor people. They close for everybody. And health emergencies don’t just happen to poor people, they happen to everybody. The lack of health care access to entire communities because of stupid, stubborn Republican opposition to Obamacare is definitely something Democrats can run on.

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