12/31/2014

Goal Management Done The Right Way

 I've been a proponent of goal-setting for a long time. At least 20 years ago, I read the late Zig Ziglar's work on goals, and I intuitively knew that he got it right. So I've been using his basic goal - setting strategy for a long time. 

Up until now, what with technology, the only thing missing from the equation was some sort of app specifically designed to track it all, provide reminders, and so on. And I think I've found it. I don't normally endorse products or services, but in this case I make an exception. The app is called "Lifetick" and it works on the web or in your iOS or Android phone:

Lifetick has features that closely mirror Zig Ziglar's system, making it a snap for me to decide to use it. I'm not talking about New Year's resolutions here, I don't make any because I have a goal system that works daily and is in almost constant revision.

You have Core Values that represent areas of your life, then individual Goals within those core values, and the Steps to reach them. You get reports, reminders, and much more. Exactly what I was missing and now I can access it from anywhere.

Here's their site: LifeTick

12/28/2014

Was 2014 the Year of Propaganda?


A level of propaganda I don’t recognize, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. 2014 has been the year of utter nonsense. It just finished in fine form with a 5% US GDP growth number, just to name one example. Really, guys? 5%? Really? With all the numbers presented lately, the negative Thanksgiving sales data – minus 11% -, the so-so at best Christmas store numbers to date, shrinking durable goods in November and all? Plus 5%?

The FBI says that it was North Korea that did the Sony hack. Propaganda. Pull apart all the stuff the FBI has been saying - it doesn't compute.

Same with the ridiculous 97 percent "consensus" on global warming. Horseshit! 31,000 scientists signed the Oregon Petition stating they don't believe that manmade greenhouse gases are making the earth heat up. The satellite data shows that there hasn't been any warming in over 17 years. But hey - consensus, right?

It really doesn’t matter what I say, does it? You have enough people believing ridiculous numbers to make it worth your while. After all, that’s all that counts. It’s a democracy, isn’t it? If a majority believes something, it becomes true. If you can get more than 50% of people to believe whatever you say, that’s case closed.

12/22/2014

Why I prefer French Wines


Upon returning from Israel where I lived and worked on Kibbutz Na'an, I chose to spend several weeks in France, both in Paris and surrounding smaller cities including the countryside in Bordeaux. What I found is that once one gets out of Paris, where Parisians are not particularly fond of Americans, the people are extremely friendly and appreciative of Americans. My aunt Ruth is French, and so my cousins all were exposed to the language at an early age. I grew into French peripherally, and speak enough to get along.

There are ten major wine growing regions in France, plus a number of smaller areas. There is commercial wine production in every region of France, except for the five regions bordering on France's north coast.

The appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), which translates as "controlled designation of origin", is the French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products, all under the auspices of the government bureau Institut national des appellations d'origine, now called Institut national de l'origine et de la qualité (INAO). The INAO guarantees that all AOC products will hold to a rigorous set of clearly defined standards. The organization stresses that AOC products will be produced in a consistent and traditional manner with ingredients from specifically classified producers in designated geographical areas. The products must further be aged at least partially in the respective designated area.

You do not see these kinds of stringent controls on wine production from almost any other country. You may produce an excellent sparkling wine, but unless it comes from the Champagne region of France, you cannot call it "Champagne".

The other reason I prefer France is because of the incredible depth of art and culture that has emanated from it for centuries.

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, American writers, musicians, and artists have chosen to reside in Paris, France, for a variety of economic and artistic reasons. Beginning with Gertrude Stein in the first decade of the century and reaching its apex during the era between the two World Wars, American writers expatriated to Paris seeking to take advantage of the city's inexpensive cost of living, as well as European openness to less socially restrictive lifestyles and more experimental literature.

Active duty in World War I introduced Paris to many American writers, musicians, and artists, including Ernest Hemingway and e. e. cummings, who returned to France after the war. The following two decades found such writers as Archibald MacLeish, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Carlos Williams, John Dos Passos, Hart Crane, Sinclair Lewis, and Henry Miller living in Paris. Artists, musicians, and writers from other countries also helped make Paris a cultural Mecca. Such writers as Ford Madox Ford, Wyndham Lewis, H. D., D. H. Lawrence, Samuel Beckett, and James Joyce; visual artists Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Salvador Dali, and Luis Bueñuel; and music composers George Antheil and Virgil Thompson relocated to Paris during this period, influencing and helping to advance such literary movements as modernism, Vorticism, surrealism, and Dadaism.

There are certainly some excellent wines from California and other countries. But I'll stick with French wine whenever possible. You can often buy a very drinkable bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau for ten dollars. My current favorite is Margaux. if you like good wine, please try some before you die. You'll thank me.

12/11/2014

Love and Friendship

Friendship is something that is much underrated in our society. Friendship is actually a form of love (here I'm not talking about erotic love). It's not a lesser form of love than erotic love, only a different form of love. In fact, the ancient Greeks had a word, "phileos", more or less equating to fraternal/brotherly love (friendship). Without such a form of love as friendship our societies would be unbearably dull and alienated from one another. One can love their friends as well as their "significant other", just not in the same way.


Friendships are not monogamous by necessity. Two people in a friendship don't need to exclude other people from their relationship. A friendship can best be thought of as two people side by side looking forward toward a common goal. It's an odd form of love in which people develop a relationship without relationship as a goal. Scientific achievements have come out of tight-knit friendships, as have works of literary genius, as well as victories in wars (due to the tight camaraderie and mutual trust of soldiers).

Our earliest friendships are coed, then imprecisely homoerotic, as we reach the age at which tribal peoples form cadres of hunter-warriors to protect and feed the clan, then homophobic for the sake of family life, and at last relaxed and coed again.

We often mistake infatuation, passion or limerence for love, but real love cannot exist without a firm basis in friendship. Popular culture has done us a great disservice in our understanding of romantic love. From a young age, we watch movies and read books that form the scripts of our adult relationships. But popular culture usually gets it wrong, often in the name of entertainment, and ends up confusing love with limerence, which is precisely what most of us do.

According to psychologist Robert Sternberg, who has invested some $20 million in research grants studying the subjects of love and hate, there are actually three stages to love: Passionate or romantic love (limerence), Companionate love, and finally, Committed love. Without the progression to the last two stages, a relationship based on infatuation, passion or limerence is subject to disappear very suddenly. And the last two stages must include an intimate friendship.

12/09/2014

Six Facts About Racially Oriented Homicides by Police

Fact 1: The racial percentage of those killed by police hasn't changed. In other words, police are not more (or less) likely to shoot and kill blacks than they were 15 years ago. (In more academic terms, there is no correlation between year and race, from 1998 to 2012, selecting for whites and blacks).

Fact 2: Blacks are more likely than whites to be shot and killed by police, but probably less so than you'd suspect. 34 percent of those killed by police are African American. But put another way, 62 percent of those killed by police are white.

Fact 3: UCR data on justified police-homicides are notorious incomplete. These numbers are an undercount. But given the data we have, as reported (or not) to the DOJ by local police departments, police kill at least one person a day (426 in 2012, to be exact, 30 percent were black, 63 percent were white).
In 2012, police killed a total of 426 people. Of those:
white men: 267
black men: 128
white women: 6
black women: 4
"Asian or Pacific Islanders": 9
"American Indian or Alaskan Native": 5

Fact 4: Police-involved killings are going up. This one surprised me. Because police-involved shootings are generally correlated with overall homicides. But homicides are more or less steady right now, and down 10,000 since 1998 (14,000 in 1998, 13,000 in 2012).

Fact 5: Black officers are disproportionately more likely than white police to kill black people. But this should not come as a surprise since black officers are much more likely to work in black areas and in cities where there are more blacks. Again, without a good denominator, this doesn't mean much. 73.5 percent of those killed by black police are black. For white police the percentage is 27.6 percent.

Fact 6: Black police officers do kill white people. Black officers (about 1 in 7 of all police) kill about 27 blacks and 9.4 whites per year. White police (of whom there are many more) kill an average of 81 blacks and 200 whites each year (both for the past 15 years).

All data comes from FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports and studies by Peter Moskos, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the Department of Law, Police Science, and Criminal Justice Administration. Moskos is a former Baltimore City police officer and Harvard and Princeton trained sociologist.