Category Archives: Smile

Light hearted stuff!

10 Insane Things People On Wall Street Believe

Downtown Josh Brown | Fevruary 21 2017 | Ritholtz

To outsiders, Wall Street is a manic, dangerous and ridiculous republic unto itself – a sort of bizarro world where nothing adds up and common sense is virtually inapplicable.

Consider the following insane things that we believe on Wall Street, that make no sense whatsoever in the real world:

1. Falling gas and home heating prices are a bad thing

2. Layoffs are great news, the more the better

3. Billionaires from Greenwich, CT can understand the customers of JC Penney, Olive Garden, K-Mart and Sears

4. A company is plagued by the fact that it holds over $100 billion in cash

5. Some companies have to earn a specific profit – to the penny – every quarter but others shouldn’t dare even think about profits

6. Wars, weather, fashion trends and elections can be reliably predicted

7. It’s reasonable for the value of a business to fluctuate by 5 to 10 percent within every eight hour period

8. It’s possible to guess the amount of people who will get or lose a job each month in a nation of 300 million

9. The person who leads a company is worth 400 times more than the average person who works there

10. A company selling 10 million cars a year is worth $50 billion, but another company selling 40,000 cars a year is worth $30 billion because its growing faster
Away from Wall Street, no one believes in any of this stuff. It’s inconceivable. On Wall Street, these are core tenets of our collective philosophy.

No wonder everyone else thinks we’re insane.

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Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture

Chantal Panozzo | February 1, 2016 | Vox

I was halfway through a job interview when I realized I was wrinkling my nose. I couldn’t help myself. A full-time freelance position with a long commute, no benefits, and a quarter of my old pay was the best they could do? I couldn’t hide how I felt about that, and the 25-year-old conducting the interview noticed.

“Are you interested in permanent jobs instead?” she asked.

“I could consider a permanent job if it was part-time,” I said.

She looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language and went right back to her pitch: long commute, full-time, no benefits. No way, I thought. Who would want to do that? And then it hit me: Either I had become a completely privileged jerk or my own country was not as amazing as I had once thought it to be. This wasn’t an unusually bad offer: It was just American Reality.

Now that I’m back, I’m angry that my own country isn’t providing more for its people

Before I moved to Switzerland for almost a decade, American Reality was all I knew. I was living in a two-bedroom apartment making $30,000 a year in a job where I worked almost seven days a week with no overtime pay and received 10 days of paid time off a year.

In other words, for the hours worked, I was making minimum wage, if that. The glamour of this job was supposed to make up for the hours, but in reality, working every weekend is a ticket to burnout — not success.

My husband and I were so accustomed to American Reality that when he was offered an opportunity to work in Switzerland, we both thought about travel and adventure — not about improving our quality of life. It hadn’t occurred to us that we could improve our quality of life simply by moving.

But without realizing it, or even asking for it, a better life quality came to us. And this is why, now that I’m back, I’m angry that my own country isn’t providing more for its people. I will never regret living abroad. It taught me to understand another culture. And it taught me to see my own. But it also taught me something else — to lose touch with the American version of reality.

Here are seven ways living abroad made it hard to return to American life.

1) I had work-life balance

The Swiss work hard, but they have a strong work-life balance. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average Swiss worker earned the equivalent of $91,574 a year in 2013, while the average American worker earned only $55,708. But the real story is that the average American had to work 219 hours more per year for this lesser salary.

Which brings us to lunch. In Switzerland, you don’t arrive to a meeting late, but you also don’t leave for your lunch break a second past noon. If it’s summer, jumping into the lake to swim with the swans is an acceptable way to spend your lunch hour. If you eat a sandwich at your desk, people will scold you. I learned this the hard way.

“Ugh,” said Tom, a Swiss art director I shared an office with at a Zurich ad agency. “It smells like someone ate their lunch in here.” He threw open the windows and fanned the air.

“They did. I ate a sandwich here,” I said.

Tom looked at me like I was crazy.

“No. Tomorrow you’re having a proper lunch. With me,” he said.

The next day, exactly at noon, we rode the funicular to a restaurant where we dined al fresco above Zurich. After lunch, we strolled down the hill. I felt guilty for being gone for an hour and a half. But no one had missed us at the office.

Lunchtime is sacred time in Switzerland. When I was on maternity leave, my husband came home for lunch to help me care for our daughter. This strengthened our marriage. Many families still reunite during weekdays over the lunch hour.

Weekends in Switzerland encourage leisure time, too. On Sundays, you can’t even shop — most stores are closed. You are semi-required to hike in the Alps with your family. It’s just what you do.

he author and her daughter in Urnaesch, Switzerland, watching the cows come home. (Brian Opyd)

2) I had time and money

The Swiss have a culture of professional part-time work, and as a result, part-time jobs include every benefit of a full-time job, including vacation time and payment into two Swiss pension systems. Salaries for part-time work are set as a percentage of a professional full-time salary­ because unlike in the United States, part-time jobs are not viewed as necessarily unskilled jobs with their attendant lower pay.

During my Swiss career, I was employed by various companies from 25 percent to 100 percent. When I worked 60 percent, for example, I worked three days a week. A job that is 50 percent could mean the employee works five mornings a week or, as I once did, two and a half days a week. The freedom to choose the amount of work that was right for me at varying points of my life was wonderful and kept me engaged and happy.

When I took only 10 days for a trip to Spain, my colleagues chastised me for taking so little time off

Often, jobs in Switzerland are advertised with the percentage of work that is expected. Other times, you can negotiate what percentage you would like to work or request to go from working five days a week to four days a week, for example. There is normally little risk involved in asking.

Continue reading Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture

Who Wants To Live Forever? The Rich, Of Course!

Motherboard | May 07 2013

Russian Billionaire Dmitry Itskov Plans on Becoming Immortal by 2045

Dmitry Itskov wants to live forever. The 32-year-old Russian billionaire and media mogul thinks he can do this by building himself (and everyone) an android body by the year 2045.

There are a few flaws to Itskov’s idea, but that hasn’t stopped more than 20,000 people from publicly supporting the site outlining his plan of using android bodies for immortality. Dubbed the 2045 Initiative, Itskov is selling his idea as the “next step” in human evolution, or “neo-humanity,” as he refers to it.

It doesn’t stop with android bodies, either. The 2045 folks are also calling for a new religion and set of ethics because they don’t believe any of the current ones can handle the societal implications of living forever—as most of the current ones have you dying first in order to achieve immortality.

Itskov has also gone ahead and registered his own political party in Russia called “Evolution 2045.”

But let’s back up a second. How exactly does Itskov plan to become immortal?

Continue reading Who Wants To Live Forever? The Rich, Of Course!

Woman chooses death over voting for Trump or Clinton

Richmond Times Dispatch, May 17 2016

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NOLAND, Mary Anne Alfriend.

Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the age of 68. Born in Danville, Va., Mary Anne was a graduate of Douglas Freeman High School (1966) and the University of Virginia School of Nursing (1970). A faithful child of God, Mary Anne devoted her life to sharing the love she received from Christ with all whose lives she touched as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend and nurse. Mary Anne was predeceased by her father, Kyle T. Alfriend Jr. and Esther G. Alfriend of Richmond. She is survived by her husband, Jim; sister, Esther; and brothers, Terry (Bonnie) and Mac (Carole). She was a mother to three sons, Jake (Stormy), Josh (Amy) and David (Katie); and she was “Grammy” to 10 beloved grandchildren. A visitation will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 903 Forest Ave., in Henrico. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, May 18, 1 p.m., with a reception to follow, also at Trinity UMC. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to CARITAS, P.O. Box 25790, Richmond, Va. 23260 (www.caritasva.org).

Pathfinder Health Innovations: Kansas Isn’t Home Anymore

Pathfinder | June 13 2016

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“I can’t, in good conscience, continue to give our tax money to a government that actively works against the needs of its citizens; a state that is systematically targeting the citizens in most need, denying them critical care and reducing their cost of life as if they’re simply a tax burden that should be ignored.” – Jeff Blackwood, CEO of Pathfinder Health Innovations

I’ve made the decision. As of July, I have decided that Pathfinder Health Innovations will be moving our corporate office from Kansas to Missouri.

dickhead-300x201There are a lot of things that factor into this decision. For one, the company has outgrown our current space. There are no seats left, and we have new employees coming on every month. The state of Missouri is also helping us with some tax incentives, but these are minor considerations.

More importantly, there’s a motivation of conscience that factors into it, too. It’s not so much that I’m moving the company to Missouri as I’m moving it away from Kansas.

Please note – this is a personal blog post, reflecting my views on the performance of the Kansas government, and specifically Governor Brownback. It should not be interpreted as the views of the company, our investors or employees other than me.

In recent years, Kansas has become a battleground for conservative ideals. Traditionally, Kansas was a moderate state, with the governorship switching every other election between Democratic and Republican governors. But the election of hyper-conservative Sam Brownback as governor heralded a new age of far right wing ideology.

It wasn’t just that Brownback was conservative; it was that he is seen as a tool of the Koch brothers and ALEC, a conservative think tank and lobbying organization. Brownback used his influence and funding to eliminate “moderate” republicans from the Kansas legislature and install his hand-picked conservative cronies.  He couldn’t do the same with the Kansas Supreme Court, which has ruled a number of the conservative legislature’s laws as unconstitutional, so Brownback’s administration decided to threaten to cut off funding to the court system and is actively pursuing legislation to impeach the Supreme Court.

Kansas has become a test center of “trickle down” economics, espoused by economist Arthur Laffer during the Reagan years. Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations… and nowhere has there been as dramatic a failure of government.

Continue reading Pathfinder Health Innovations: Kansas Isn’t Home Anymore

Corrupt Societies Encourage Lying

By Laurel Hamers | Mar. 9, 2016 | Science Magazine

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How likely are you to tell a lie? A new study links individual cheating with institutionalized rule-breaking.

When do we decide it’s OK to tell a lie? Perhaps when we see people in positions of power doing the same. A new study finds that individuals are more likely to lie if they live in a country with high levels of institutional corruption and fraud—suggesting that poorly run institutions hurt society in more ways than previously suspected.

Past research has shown that people are more likely to break the rules if those around them are also doing so. For instance, people surrounded by graffiti and litter are more likely to drop trash themselves. “But what we really don’t know is to what extent societal norms like political fraud, corruption, and tax evasion trickle down—and to what extent such societal norms corrupt individuals,” says Shaul Shalvi, a behavioral scientist at the University of Amsterdam who was not involved in the work.

Continue reading Corrupt Societies Encourage Lying

22 WITTY QUOTES ABOUT ELECTIONS

published August 15, 2015 at WhoWhatWhy

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Election quotes so witty Theodore Roosevelt would laugh; so true, he would cry. Photo Credit: Library of Congress / Wikimedia, manipulated by WhoWhatWhy

1. The problem with political jokes is they get elected. —Henry Cate, VII

2. I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them. —Adlai Stevenson

3. Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you. —Author Unknown

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“George Washington is the only president who didn’t blame the previous administration.” Photo Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Gilbert Stuart Painting / Wikimedia / Manipulated by WhoWhatWhy

4. George Washington is the only president who didn’t blame the previous administration for his troubles. —Author Unknown

Continue reading 22 WITTY QUOTES ABOUT ELECTIONS

An Appreciation of James Garner; actor changed what a hero could be like

by Mary McNamara, LA Times, Published July 20, 2014

tumblr_n90vkdbhLj1rrdbgjo1_1280I secretly always wanted to marry James Garner, and was foiled only by the fact that, as humorist Jean Kerr once wrote of her designs on George S. Kaufman, he was already married and I never met him.

I cannot imagine I was alone in this desire — in her introduction to Garner’s 2011 memoir, Julie Andrews revealed a similar devotion and for pretty much the same reasons I had: Garner, who died at home Saturday at age 86, effortlessly combined strength and humility, humor and capability, frankness and empathy to create an ideal Alpha-male, of the sort that hadn’t existed before, at least not in drama. He constructed a new kind of hero, one who would much rather be playing cards or going fishing. But all right, if no one else was going to save the girl, or solve the case, or prevent the crime, well, then — here, hold this for a second — he’d do it.

When he brought this persona to life in “Maverick” and then again in “The Rockford Files,” he all but rebuilt an archetype. Before Garner, heroes were heroes, which meant, nine times out of 10, they were boring. After Garner, they could be funny, irritating, lazy, fearful and complicated. Without James Garner there would be no Indiana Jones, no Starsky and Hutch, no Gregory House, no Patrick Jane, certainly no Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes. Without James Garner, adventure heroes would be no fun at all.

Continue reading An Appreciation of James Garner; actor changed what a hero could be like