Thursday, June 21, 2012

Desiderata (Desired Things)

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Author: Max Ehrmann (1872–1945)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Do You Want To Get Rich?

Here's how...and it is NOT what you think.

As of 2009, the IRS did a study on how the 400 highest income earners made their money (if you want to go to the source, you can review it here: 400 Individual Tax Returns Reporting the Largest Adjusted Gross Incomes, an annual report issued by the IRS). 

To give you the Reader's Digest version, in 2009 $77.4 million got you in the club; but the average earnings were $202.4 million, a lot of money but well down from the $334.8 million average in 2007.  In interesting thing is WHERE they made their money:
  • Wages and salaries:  8.6%
  • Interest: 6.6%
  • Dividends: 13%
  • Partnerships and corporations:  19.9%
  • Capital gains: 45.8%
Yep, almost 50% was made in capital gains...investing in theirs or others companies. Diving deeper there can be seen obvious conclusions:
  • Working for a salary won't make you rich.
  • Neither will making only safe "income" investments.
  • Neither will investing only in large companies.
  • Owning a business or businesses, whether in part or partnership, could not only build a solid wealth foundation but could someday...
  • Generate a huge financial windfall.
The data clearly supports the last two points. Clearly, getting rich--in monetary terms--is the result of investing in yourself and others, taking risks, doing a lot of small things right, and hopefully doing one big thing really, really right, and of course...being lucky never hurts!  Hopefully you can achieve some other lofty goals along the way--because then, even if you do not end up rich, you will still be wealthy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Coyote Problem: Perspective

Here is a contrast of cultures: one that spends money wastefully, on a problem that has an easy remedy, and the other, well that does not. What is your business like? Paralyzed by procedure, or free to make quick, market drive decisions?

California ...

The Governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks the Governor's dog, then bites the Governor.
  1. The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie "Bambi" and then realizes he should stop because the coyote is only doing what is natural.
  2. He calls animal control. Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.
  3. He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases.
  4. The Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and on getting his bite wound bandaged.
  5. The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish & Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is now free of dangerous animals.
  6. The Governor spends $50,000 in state funds implementing a "coyote awareness program" for residents of the area.
  7. The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.
  8. The Governor's security agent is fired for not stopping the attack. The State spends $150,000 to hire and train a new agent with additional special training... Re: The Nature Of Coyotes !!!
  9. PETA protests the coyote's relocation and files a $5 million suit against the State.
Texas ...

The Governor of Texas is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A Coyote jumps out and attacks his dog.
  1. The Governor shoots the coyote with his State-issued pistol and keeps jogging. The Governor has spent $0.50 on a .45 ACP hollow point cartridge.
  2. The Buzzards eat the dead coyote. And that, my friends, is why California is broke and Texas is not!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chance and the Cosmos

What if we are alone?  With the recent breathtaking Venus in Transit pictures happening yesterday, I was amazed at the size and scope of this cosmic happening. What struck me was how everyone was talking about how rare an event this was, and it got me thinking about space, and probabilities, and are we alone?

I remember as a kid hearing Carl Sagan talk about the billion upon billion of stars in the universe and the probability that somewhere out there, there has to be life around one of those other stars. According to the European Space Agency’s scientists, there are 1 times 10 to the 12 (a 1 with 12 zeros trailing) stars in our galaxy, and perhaps 1 times 10 to the 11 or 12 galaxies in the universe.  That means there are 1 times 10 to the 23 or 24 (1 with 24 zeros trailing) stars in our universe. That is a vast amount of places that could have a planet like ours.  But now we have to think small, like in chance and probabilities, and this got me postulating.

Earth is pretty rare and the conditions for making life on Earth are even rarer as coincidence after long shot coincidence happened to make Earth the perfect place for life.  So, I did a little estimating and came to the possibility that the conditions that made Earth are rare enough that we MIGHT be all alone.  Here are my estimates:

Everyone now knows how the Earth and moon were formed, but not everyone talks about the probabilities of the results happening just right.  Here are my estimates and remember, as you multiply probabilities together, it becomes more difficult to do.  So say you have a 1 in 5 chance of something happening, but when you are doing two things that have a 1 in 5 chance of happening, you now have a 1 in 25 chance of that thing happening together.  

Here is my list of probabilities on Life on Earth Occurring:
  • Chance of Asteroid Becoming a Moon after collision: 1 in 1,000,000
  • Chance of  collision tilting the Earth exactly 7 degrees: 1 in 40,000
  • Chance of Sun Being the right size / giving right about of energy: 1 in 5,000
  • Chance of amino acids hitting earth to begin life: 1 in 1,000
  • Chance of enough water forming on earth for life to begin: 1 in 400
  • Chance of Earth having enough iron to create a magnetic field to protect us from radiation: 1 in 50
  • Chance of Earth being the right distance from the sun: 1 in 25
  • Change of Earth being the correct size for life to form as it did: 1 in 10

Individually, all of these do not look too farfetched from what we are discovering about other worlds and stars, but taken together, the probability of life forming on Earth is EXACTLY 1 in 10 times to the 24th! The same number of stars there are in the universe, so if you multiply both numbers together, you get 1. I am NOT saying there cannot be life elsewhere, just that an Earth-like planet might be a lot rarer than we think.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Edge Cases and Why we Seemed Smarter Long Ago

Fifty-five years is a long time: 3 generations, and a lot has happened since 1956 . Lots of good stuff, civil rights, walking on the moon, the computer, etc. These are great things to be sure, but along the way, something happened. Some "misbehavior" that on the surface would be an "edge case," meaning it happens so infrequently and in such small numbers that NO ONE should notice, began to take over our common sense and ability to judge. For an example, I will use what it was like in high school in 1956 versus today, and you will get my point.

HIGH SCHOOL -- 1956 vs. 2012

Scenario 1:
Jack goes quail hunting before school then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck's gun rack.
1956 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2012 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2:
Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.
1956 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2012 - Police called and SWAT team arrives -- they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They are both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3:
Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.
1956 - Jeffrey sent to the Principal's office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2012 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The family gets extra money (SSI) from the government because Jeffrey has a disability. 

Scenario 4:
Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1956 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.
2012 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse, Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario 5:
Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1956 - Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.
2012 - The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6:
Pedro fails high school English.
1956 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.
2012 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English is then banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English. 

Scenario 7:
Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.
1956 - Ants die.
2012 - ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents - and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny's dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8:
Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him. 1956 – In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2012 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.


I am not saying everything was better in 1956, it was not!!! But, it seemed we still have the ability to think for ourselves at least! And when rule and laws take over our ability to think and work things out, our actions are then dictated primarily by fear.  Oh, guess what, that is exactly what has happened!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thomas Jefferson - Freedom & Choice

Thomas Jefferson was a very remarkable man who started learning very early in life and never stopped. He learned from some of the greatest people of all time, was a scientist, scholar, and truly understood the benefits and vices of government. Below is a brief rendition of his history and contribution of being the father of Freedom and Choice...

At 5, began studying under his cousin's tutor.
At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.
At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.
At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.
At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.
At 23, started his own law practice.
At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
At 31, wrote the widely circulated "Summary View of the Rights of British America” and retired from his law practice.
At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence.
At 33, took three years to revise Virginia's legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.
At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia, succeeding Patrick Henry.
At 40, served in Congress for two years.
At 41, was the American minister to France, and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.
At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.
At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions, and became the active head of Republican Party.
At 57, was elected the third president of the United States.
At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the nation's size.
At 61, was elected to a second term as President.
At 65, retired to Monticello.
At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.
At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia, and served as its first president.
At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, along with John Adams

Thomas Jefferson knew because he himself studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, his laws and the nature of man. That happens to be way more than what most understand today. Jefferson really knew his stuff. A voice from the past to lead us in the future:

John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: "This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe." -- Thomas Jefferson

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." -- Thomas Jefferson

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world." -- Thomas Jefferson

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." -- Thomas Jefferson

"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government." -- Thomas Jefferson

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." -- Thomas Jefferson

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." -- Thomas Jefferson

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson

"To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." -- Thomas Jefferson

These words still echo through the ages, and too bad most politicians, from sides of the isle, still pay no heed to them.

Friday, June 1, 2012

What if We Lead a Dog's Life?

OK, I have been asked what would the world be like it we lead a dog's life, so I cobbled together a list..

* Always run to greet loved ones when they come home.
* Never pass the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
* Recognize the ecstasy of fresh air and wind in your face.
* Take naps and stretch before rising.
* Run, romp and play daily.
* Thrive on attention and love
* Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
* On warm days, lie on your back in the grass. On hot days, drink lots of water and find the shade.
* When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
* Enjoy long walks.
* Be loyal.
* Never pretend to be something you're not.
* If what you want is buried, dig deep until you find it.
* And, when someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Seems pretty complete to me! How much better would your life be if you could follow this?

Perspective

Some people do not understand why they become entrepreneurs and go blindly into an endeavor thinking that becoming rich is the only thing that is important. Here is a tale of perspective that all should read:
________________________________________________-
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.

Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."

The American then asked, "Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more fish?"

The Mexican said, "With this I have more than enough to support my family's needs."

The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you will run your ever-expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15 to 20 years."

"But what then?" asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions?...Then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."