Aug 162014

This is a selfish smartphone — it will not take pictures of me. The selfish cell phone only takes selfies of itself, ad nauseam

The Selfish Selfie photo: ragan, 2014 (c)

Oct 272011

The impetus behind the Occupy Wall Street movement – a vague sense that the rich are getting ever richer while everyone else suffers – was confirmed by a recent report from the Social Security Administration showing that while total employment and average wages remained stagnant, the number of people earning $1 million or more grew by 18% from 2009 to 2010.  Those figures give real substance to the “We are the 99%” slogan, yet Republicans continue to insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that if anything those “job creators” deserve an even greater share of our national income.  The Tea Party, meanwhile, has launched its own “53%” movement, inexplicably rallying the working class to the defense of the wealthy.  The one group rarely heard from in this rancorous debate is the 1%, whose incomes and taxes are its focus.  I am one of them, and here is my perspective, which may surprise you.

Read more of this article –>  Daily Kos: A Voice From the 1%.

Oct 172011

The Rise of the Regressive Right and the Reawakening of America

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A fundamental war has been waged in this nation since its founding, between progressive forces pushing us forward and regressive forces pulling us backward.

We are going to battle once again.

Progressives believe in openness, equal opportunity, and tolerance. Progressives assume we’re all in it together: We all benefit from public investments in schools and health care and infrastructure. And we all do better with strong safety nets, reasonable constraints on Wall Street and big business, and a truly progressive tax system. Progressives worry when the rich and privileged become powerful enough to undermine democracy.

Regressives take the opposite positions.

Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and the other tribunes of today’s Republican right aren’t really conservatives. Their goal isn’t to conserve what we have. It’s to take us backwards.

They’d like to return to the 1920s — before Social Security, unemployment insurance, labor laws, the minimum wage, Medicare and Medicaid, worker safety laws, the Environmental Protection Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, the Securities and Exchange Act, and the Voting Rights Act.

In the 1920s Wall Street was unfettered, the rich grew far richer and everyone else went deep into debt, and the nation closed its doors to immigrants.

Rather than conserve the economy, these regressives want to resurrect the classical economics of the 1920s — the view that economic downturns are best addressed by doing nothing until the “rot” is purged out of the system (as Andrew Mellon, Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, so decorously put it).

In truth, if they had their way we’d be back in the late nineteenth century — before the federal income tax, antitrust laws, the pure food and drug act, and the Federal Reserve. A time when robber barons — railroad, financial, and oil titans — ran the country. A time of wrenching squalor for the many and mind-numbing wealth for the few.

Listen carefully to today’s Republican right and you hear the same Social Darwinism Americans were fed more than a century ago to justify the brazen inequality of the Gilded Age:  Survival of the fittest. Don’t help the poor or unemployed or anyone who’s fallen on bad times, they say, because this only encourages laziness. America will be strong only if we reward the rich and punish the needy.

The regressive right has slowly consolidated power over the last three decades as income and wealth have concentrated at the top. In the late 1970s the richest 1 percent of Americans received 9 percent of total income and held 18 percent of the nation’s wealth; by 2007, they had more than 23 percent of total income and 35 percent of America’s wealth. CEOs of the 1970s were paid 40 times the average worker’s wage; now CEOs receive 300 times the typical workers’ wage.

This concentration of income and wealth has generated the political heft to deregulate Wall Street and halve top tax rates. It has bankrolled the so-called Tea Party movement, and captured the House of Representatives and many state governments. Through a sequence of presidential appointments it has also overtaken the Supreme Court.

Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts (and, all too often, Kennedy) claim they’re conservative jurists. But they’re judicial activists bent on overturning seventy-five years of jurisprudence by resurrecting states’ rights, treating the 2nd Amendment as if America still relied on  local militias, narrowing the Commerce Clause, and calling money speech and corporations people.

Yet the great arc of American history reveals an unmistakable pattern. Whenever privilege and power conspire to pull us backward, the nation eventually rallies and moves forward. Sometimes it takes an economic shock like the bursting of a giant speculative bubble; sometimes we just reach a tipping point where the frustrations of average Americans turn into action.

Look at the Progressive reforms between 1900 and 1916; the New Deal of the 1930s; the Civil Rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s; the widening opportunities for women, minorities, people with disabilities, and gays; and the environmental reforms of the 1970s.

In each of these eras, regressive forces reignited the progressive ideals on which America is built. The result was fundamental reform.

Perhaps this is what’s beginning to happen again across America.

Read more from –> Robert Reich

Sep 182011

Now, more than ever before, the world needs creativity

Focus on creativity
By Eric Frank, Executive Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi, Sri Lanka
When I was at school I spent much of my time in class totally immersed in drawing pictures in my books. No margin, introductory page or fly-leaf was spared and when it finally came down to confronting my exam results; I discovered that the time spent on llustrating my fantasies was directly related to my poor marks in subjects that actually didn’t interest me.During that time function and logic were the passwords to a successful future and the concept of creativity (the stuff behind my drawings) was considered part of the arts; the exclusive domain of painters, inventors, writers, and other weird people.

Sir Richard Branson ( pictured here as a schoolboy).

There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would forever be repeating the same patterns – Edward de Bono
Fortunately things must change. With the world facing multiple crises, it is now imperative that leaders and business encourage creativity at every level. Because, creativity is the mother of innovation and both are critical to the future of our planet.

What defines creativity? Creativity is a mental and social process that is stimulated by insight-conscious and unconscious.

It powers ideas, concepts and associations. Innovation, in turn is the successful exploitation of new ideas – it’s the profitable outcome of the creative process involved in generating and supplying new products and services that are viable, desirable and necessary.

Creators and innovators may rarely have the same perspectives or attributes but more often than not they are equally motivated and committed to their goals. Their ability to excel in finding solutions to the challenges they face is what makes them such inspiring people.

The key question isn’t “what fosters creativity?” but it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But, why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anyone created anything – Abraham Maslow.

Who is Creative? If like many, you believe that only a select few are born creative, you’re wrong. The creative geniuses we look up to are just like you and I. Except when it comes to expressing our creativity we are paralysed by fear of failure and ridicule.

Perhaps we’ve been brainwashed by education or our upbringing has led us to believe that thinking differently is wrong. But, believe it or not, failure is essential to creativity. Without creative failure we wouldn’t have computers, light-bulbs, telephones or the humble post-it-note.

The three components of creativity.

1.Expertise is basically knowledge in all its facets.
2.Creative-thinking skills are determined by how imaginative and flexible you approach problems.
3. Motivation is your passion to solve problems in an innovative and refreshing manner.

Leveraging our creativity: Just like our creative heroes, we also have brains and lots of ideas spinning around in our heads. The only difference between us and them is that they act. They have the courage and self-belief to make their ideas happen.

Take Sir Richard Branson ( pictured here as a schoolboy). While suffering from dyslexia and delivering less than stellar academic performance, Branson discovered he had an ability to connect with people. Focusing upon what he was passionate about, he pursued his own creativity with no fear of failure and in a few short years changed the face of business world-wide.

After he failed to successfully grow and sell Christmas trees, Branson was barely 18 when he launched a magazine, “The Student”, from a crypt in a church near his home. Shortly after that he used it to market his own record company, Virgin Records. In no time both enterprises were thriving successes. Two years later, at the age of 20, he opened the first Virgin Music Store in Oxford Street.

In subsequent years he went on to reinvent the entire music industry and develop his Virgin empire into one of the world’s biggest and most valuable brands. “For me business is not about wearing suits, or keeping stockholders pleased. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” – Sir Richard Branson

We need more Bransons’ and we need to encourage and inspire as many people as we can to step forward and apply their massive creative potential to discover alternative fuel sources, ways to combat climate change, disease and famine. We urgently need to do anything rather than nothing. The secret to the future is in our creative power.

via Now, more than ever before, the world needs creativity.

Sep 152011

The repeal of provisions of the Glass–Seagall Act of 1933 by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act effectively removed the separation that previously existed between investment banking which issued securities and commercial banks which accepted deposits. The deregulation also removed conflict of interest prohibitions between investment bankers serving as officers of commercial banks. Most economists believe this repeal directly contributed to the severity of the Financial crisis of 2007–2011 by allowing Wall Street investment banking firms to gamble with their depositors’ money that was held in commercial banks owned or created by the investment firms.

via Glass–Steagall Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Sep 102011

Planet Earth Doesn’t Know How To Make It Any Clearer It Wants Everyone To Leave | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.

June 1, 2011 | ISSUE 47•22

The Earth says events like this should have made it “pretty obvious” what it’s been driving at.

EARTH—According to a statement released to the press Tuesday, the planet Earth has “just about run out of ways” to let its roughly 6.9 billion human inhabitants know it wants them all to leave.

Following a recent series of disastrous floods along the Mississippi River and destructive tornadoes across much of the United States—as well as a year of even deadlier natural catastrophes all over the world—the Earth said its options for strongly implying that it no longer wants human beings living on it have basically been exhausted.

“At this point, I think I’ve stated my wishes quite loudly and clearly,” the Earth’s statement to all of humanity read in part. “I haven’t exactly been subtle about it, you realize. I have literally tried to drown you, crush you, starve you, dehydrate you, pump you full of diseases, and suck your homes and families into swirling vortices of death. Honestly, what more is it going to take for you people to get the message?”

“Do I have to spell it out for you?” the statement continued. “Get the fuck out of here. I want you to leave now.”

The Earth says all it can do at this point is keep manufacturing disasters and hope humanity finally “wises up.”

The statement went on to list thousands of incidents in 2011 alone that the Earth claimed were “solely and unmistakably” designed to inform the human race that it might be time to move on, including the devastating tsunami that caused thousands of deaths in Japan, an earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed an estimated 181 people, and historic rainstorms in Colombia that destroyed entire communities with deadly landslides.

The planet Earth also singled out an ongoing drought in China that has left more than 2.3 million people with a shortage of fresh water as “a pretty big goddamned tip-off, wouldn’t you say?”

While the Earth had hoped the human race might finally “get the picture” following one of the harshest winter storm years in recorded history, it instead found that people simply went on with their lives, occasionally making reference to disaster victims in their thoughts and prayers but showing no intention whatsoever of preparing themselves for a long trip through the far reaches of space to find a new home.

“I know your species has developed the technology to leave me, I’ve seen you use it before, so I’m asking you now, please, just take the hint already,” read another excerpt from the Earth’s statement, which added that it would really be best for all concerned if humanity were to “trundle off to some other biosphere for a while.” “You can’t possibly be enjoying this, can you? Honestly, you would have to be completely deranged or masochistic to continue staying here.”

Immediately after delivering the statement, the Earth ignited a series of wildfires throughout the world’s arid regions.

Though some scientists have responded to Earth’s message with theories as to precisely what the planet might be trying to communicate, most firmly acknowledged that further study would be required before any definitive evidence could be gleaned from the “fascinating” statement.

“Certainly these utterances from the Earth are strongly worded, but at this point it is difficult to say whether they speak to a larger trend or are simply a bio-geological anomaly,” Dr. Roger Summons of MIT said. “While there seems to be an implication that the Earth wants us to go away and never come back, I, for one, can’t say conclusively from either a geochemical or a meteorological standpoint whether this is in fact the case.”

In a sharp rebuke to both the planet and the mainstream scientific community, Republican leaders in Congress responded this week with a scathing critique of what they deemed to be the Earth’s “pathetic and extremist viewpoints.”

“What we’re seeing here is the same old scientific mumbo jumbo and partisan rhetoric that the Earth has been spewing out for millennia,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said. “We’re not going to be bullied by a celestial body that has time and again failed to deliver on its promise to glorify and reward mankind with its bounty.”

Immediately following these statements from the human race, the Earth emitted a loud sigh, which shifted multiple tectonic plates and caused massive earthquakes on five continents.

Aug 152011

Billionaire Warren Buffett Tells Congress To Raise Taxes On Wealthy – ABC News.

Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the country, wants to pay more taxes and thinks his super-rich friends should too.

Buffett, who is estimated to be worth more than $47 billion, called on Congress to commit to “shared sacrifice” and raise taxes on people earning more than $1 million. Buffett said the rich are “coddled” by Congress “as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species.”

“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks,” Buffett wrote in a Sunday New York Times Op-ed.