Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Most Obsolete Word in the English Language

It appears that the most terrible thing that a politician anywhere in the world can do is to use the word compromise. Politicians have become more doctrinaire than ever, with discussions described as stand-offs and any comment from a member of a different party described as belligerent, uninformed, and adversarial. A certain amount of defense of your position is good posturing as part of the negotiation process (See my book: DECISION TIME! Better Decisions for a Better Life.), but frequently politicians aren't negotiating at all, but merely trying to score points and develop issues for the next election. Compromise should be the lubricant that makes governments work. Bombast only succeeds in minimizing the public's respect for their elected and appointed officials. In many conversations I hear citizen members of both parties agree that solutions to national problems aren't that difficult if the people in power would only use the second most obsolete term in the English language, common sense. In the field of law, the yardstick for evaluating an action is frequently: What would a reasonable person do? Why can't politicians and government leaders (most of whom are lawyers) ask themselves that same question, and act upon their answers to it?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Recovery in Japan - Where Is the Media?

How well is the recovery effort in Japan going? During the days and weeks immediately following the earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear power station problems, newspapers and television networks around the world informed the public with a constant stream of status reports. As time passed, these reports disappeared, to be replaced by new hot stories. The news media think the public requires novelty in the news. Ongoing situations do not receive the attention they deserve. Instead, we focus on the disaster, military action, or political scandal of the current day or week. That's also why good news is seldom reported. Good news tends to be ongoing and background information rather than a spectacular event (except for the occasional royal wedding). The other peculiar habit of the news media is that they highlight one to five major events on any particular day, when there are many more newsworthy events happening in the world. Perhaps this will be one of the nails in the coffins of newspapers and television news. They are limited by column space or scheduled time. Internet news is expandable without confines. A web page can either scroll indefinitely or reference links to cover every worthwhile story that is happening anywhere. Now if they paid appropriate royalties to all their copied sources, they'd have a truly superior news presentation system.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Half Full, NOT Half Empty

What the U.S., and for that matter the world, needs to realize going into the future is that the proverbial glass is half full. For all the complaints about slower-than-expected employment growth and too much indebtedness, we have all accomplished a lot on our way back from the economy's burst bubble due to unrealistic home ownership policies and other problems. Whether you are talking about personal career development, governmental projects, or international development, a pessimistic future outlook is dwarfed by an inventory taken to show what we have accomplished in the past. The strength of democracies and market-oriented businesses is that each manages to do one or two good things every day. When you look backward to see how far you have come, you will generally be amazed. The incremental things we do each day appear small because we like to talk about achievement of goals rather than maintenance of progress. Make a little progress every day, week, month, and year. As you continue making that progress, you will be able to look back and see that goals have, indeed, been achieved. The glass is at least half full.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Communication Stifled by Suspicion

I listened with interest to a telephone interview between National Public Radio and a Syrian woman. They were discussing the status of opposition to the Syrian government and its massive aggressive retaliation. The most interesting point in the interview for me came when the woman was asked about socialization in small gatherings during the course of this situation. Her response made me realize how uncomfortable one becomes when one is not sure of the political and doctrinal standing of the person with whom one is conversing. The conversation continues, but the content is watered down to inconsequential blather. Suspicion breeds lack of true communication and self-censorship. There is no true communication without the exchange of ideas and opinions. When one is afraid to declare one's position on any topic, the suppressive goal of the state or other controlling organization has already been achieved. Those of us who are removed from such a situation and enjoy the ability to speak freely with peers and at least cautiously evaluated strangers should realize how fortunate we are.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Secret Key to Weight Loss

Everyone knows that the information in the vast library targeting principles of weight reduction boils down to a few kernels: Eat less. Exercise more. Drink plenty of water. Get sufficient sleep. With regard to the eat less portion of this formula, I suggest that insofar as possible, you eat only foods that you don't like but that are good for you. If you are eating foods that you don't like, you automatically won't eat as much of them. If President George H. W. Bush had to eat broccoli all the time, he would be very likely to lose weight. If you are one of those unfortunates who likes all foods, select a nutritious daily menu, and eat it all the time so that you get bored with it. You'll have to become committed to these approaches. The more you continue to eat the same foods over and over again, especially if they are foods you don't like, the less interesting they will appear to you, and you will tend to eat smaller quantities of them. Follow these steps, and replace between-meals snacks with water to keep yourself from wanting to eat all the time. One caution: You won't succeed if you develop a passion for finding ways to prepare the foods you hate so that they taste better to you. The worse they taste, the more weight you will lose.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Secret Key to Bank Account Savings

If you want to accumulate long term savings in a bank account, follow this strategy. Every time you get paid or receive any miscellaneous income, deposit all of it into your savings or money market account at your bank. Then transfer only what you immediately need into your checking account. This has two benefits: (1) Because you are transferring from an account with an ongoing balance into your checking account, you get immediate access to your checking account balance. (If you had deposited your pay into checking, you would have had to wait for your deposit check to clear.) (2) By funneling your current pay through your savings account and transferring out only what you need, you will tend to leave some behind in savings for the future. There will be weeks when you need to transfer all of it back out, or perhaps even draw down your residual savings, but over time you will find that some money tends to accumulate in your savings account through this routine. It is much more likely to accumulate long term savings for you than depositing your pay into checking and transferring to savings only what is left after your cumulative spending for the period.