Save Money

Advertising Con

It amazes me that people can be so hoodwinked by trivial advertising. So many ads regurgitate the same lines, about saving money. Buy 10 and save £5.  Buy 20 and save £10.

Huh? How does that work? 'Inverse psychology or what?'

If you repeat your message enough times, people believe. The commonly line is: 'spend and save' I'm no mathematician, but if you want to save money, you dump it into an a savings account, you don't spend it.

If you spend money, its out your pocket or wallet. Out of your bank or savings account and into someone else's.

You spend £10 on an item, how has that saved you money? Your account is £10 down. Your now £10 or less. How has that saved you money? Saving is about increasing your bank balance, not shrinking it. Before the transaction you had £20.  After the transaction you have £10. How have you saved money? Your £10 down. Is that saving money?

To save money, increase deposits. Spending does NOT increase deposits. Spending decreases deposits. Inverse psychology fools some people into buying. Believing if they spend money, they will somehow save. How can that work?

There is one exception. And only one. When you decide to buy a new TV, Stereo, Car, DVD recorder or similar item. You have decided you are going to buy it. You have accepted the fact you will spend £200 to £300. Then find the same item for less.  That's the only occasion you have SAVED money. All other times, you have been spending money.

How good is that?

Done!

England Blues

Three Lions

England football team proudly sport a predominantly white kit. At this years Euro 2012 competition, in the Ukraine and Poland, they will wear blue. I'm not talking about the colour of the shirts, shorts or sox. I'm talking about their demeanor.

In Group D, England face France, Sweden and hosts Ukraine. France will thrash England, Sweden are a very good side and seem to come good at each Euro competition. Ukraine as hosts will have home support. England have close to zero chance of progressing through the group stage.

England recently appointed Roy Hodgeson as England coach, a poor second choice to Harry Rednapp of Spurs. Rednapp is street-wise, with good tactical nous and the ability to unite a team and bring the best out of his players. He builds strong rapport and bonds with them. Rednapp has taken Spurs from nowhere to a top 4 finish with a chance of Champions League football next season.

The 'FA', English football's management team and governing body, that sit anonymously behind closed doors and mis-manage its operations. They recently announced to the amazement of the footballing world, that Roy Hodgeson, (who?) was to be the next England Manager.

The 'FA' have repeated the reprehensible mistake of '96, by NOT appointing the best man for the job. In 1996, Terry Venables took charge and orchestrated England to play some great football during the Euro '96 tournament. England beat Holland 5 - 1. Hard to believe that score line, but they did. And they did it playing great football. England were knocked out in the semi-final against Germany and lost in a penalty shoot out. Gareth Southgate missing a penalty for which he will never be forgiven or forgotten.

After the tournament, the eunuchs sitting at the 'FA', once again played their ace card and didn't hand a contract to one of the best coaches to ever manage an England side. Venables was replaced by the laughable efforts of Glenn Hoddle. Instead of securing Venables services, the 'FA' insisted on a 'beauty parade' of which Venables would have no part. Either they give me the job or they find someone else. I'm taking no part in a beauty parade.

Hoddle went on to prove how incapable he was when the England team were dumped out out of the competition.


Woy of the Wovers is now England Manager. (Hodgeson has a speech impediment and cannot pronounce R').

Its May right now, but come July 2nd when the competition ends, the English tabloid press will be baying for Hodgeson's blood. The 'FA' will realise they have screwed up again, but there will be no public admission. English football will continue to suffer at the hands of the incapable on the field and just as importantly off the field.

Liverpool Exit

Dalglish Sacked


Occasionally I post my views on the team I follow, Liverpool FC. Liverpool lost in the FA cup final to Chelsea, in a dire inept display. I didn't blog on their efforts in the final, as it would have been more of the same. Dalglish took them to the Carling Cup Final and managed... just to beat a lower division side on penalties. Can you believe that? On penalties? Huh. That's an achievement? After spending £110 Million on new players? NOT.

The highlight of Dalglish's season was winning a lowly competition derided by many other clubs. When he was manager first time round - 20 years ago, the Carling Cup was worthy of effort. Second only to the F.A. Cup in English Cup competitions.

Things have changed in the 20 years since Dalglish was a Liverpool manager. The primary competition is now the Champions League. Second best is the Premier League. Next in cup competition is the F.A. Cup. Finally, scratching round for scrap ends is the Carling Cup. (Formally known as the League Cup)

What has gone wrong at Liverpool? Try plenty. Liverpool were disastrous in mid-season. I resisted the strong temptation to blog on their dire performance, when they were beaten by or could not outplay such lowly clubs such as wigan, fulham, bolton, stoke, wolves, blackburn, west brom and newly promoted clubs swansea and norwich.

Liverpool finished their lowest position since promotion to the top division. They finished below their local rivals Everton, who spent almost nothing by comparison with Liverpool's spending on players.

A major bone of contention has to be the players Dalglish bought. Carroll has under-performed spectacularly since his move from Newcastle.

Stuart Downing has been an abysmal failure on the left wing. He has not scored this season.

Jordan Henderson has been consistently inconsistent.Aside from his goal in the last home game at Anfield.

Enrigue lost possession that embarrassingly led to goals on too many occasions to dismiss as one-offs. He is a liability. He should not wear a Liverpool shirt.

Charlie Adam is a good player, hit by injury. In the late part of the season he lost confidence and his passing skills became erratic.

Bellamy was a gift. A total gift. He lifted the team in many games, but his knees are shot. At 33, he's seeing out his last year. 30 mins as a second half sub is about the strength of his game before he retires.

I wrote earlier in the year, I just knew Dalglish was the wrong man for the job.

Why? You cannot go backwards to recapture the past. The past is dead. Its history. I can and will expand on this at another time.

How? Dalglish was a man born of the glory days of Liverpool club and he embraced a certain ethos. That ethos is not wrong, but the world has changed. The world has moved on. The modern world of football is not the same as that of 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

I have to ask. How can the mental framework set 20 years ago work in today's environment?

Answer: It can't.

That's why Dalglish was wrong for the job.

If we expand the argument a little, it will also explain why Arsene Wenger is no longer the right man for the job at Arsenal. Wenger did an amazing job in North London, but he now lags behind. His ideas and methodolgy, slowly grow outdated. I can state openly that Arsenal will achieve little under Arsene Wenger. Its not that he's a bad coach. He's not. But the cycle has moved beyond him.

Its kinda like David Bowie trying to play rap. It just won't fit. He hit his musical peak in the 80s or 90s. Now rap is on the scene, he has been by-passed by musical evolution.

This is known as evolution or churn.

Its not just football managers or music stars that suffer, major corporations also suffer. I wrote a while back about Kodak, the worlds biggest photo company, the went into bankruptcy.

How can that happen?

Why does it happen?

There is a constant decay, an ageing of any system. All systems become outmoded, eventually replaced by new systems that are more streamlined, more efficient, more effective, or simply break through to a new methodology. This has happened countless times in warfare, in manufacturing, in art, in technology, in politics, and in sport.

Ya know its gonna happen (Well some do. The others bury their head in the sand. Is that an ostrich I see before me?). The toughest part is being aware of the changes as they happen and riding on the crest of the wave.

It was a bad move for Livepool FC management to cling to the past. To claim the future, you must employ the visionaries of the future. Looking backwards, you only go backwards.

The future is created by the vision, energy and capacities of the young.

Why cant people see that?

Emacs Minibuffer

Cycle

Using Emacs you sometimes find the focus jumps to the minibuffer. If you want to jump back to the window you were in without using a mouse (keeping your hands on the keyboard), try this key combo:

Ctrl-x o

That's oh not zero.

The key combo allows you to cycle through any open windows and the minibuffer.

Done.

America's Decline

Fall Of Empire

There can be no denying the 20th century was, the American century. America came of age, showed her cultural, industrial and fiscal might, fought several wars, and was the engine driving the world economy for decades. America was all powerful, the last remaining superpower after the collapse of communism and the USSR.

Its a fact of reality that everything must go into decline. No matter how great, how powerful, how big. Sometimes the decline is blatantly evident. Other times, not so apparent.

A while back, I read an article predicting that China would match or pass the U.S. GDP by 2050. China was the superpower in waiting. Sitting quietly biding her time. Building her infrastructure. Building wealth. Building industrial strength. Building technological might.

I recall from my last trip to the U.S. a few years back, I was surprised by how much product was made in China. T-shirts, pants, training shoes, baseball caps, sunglasses, toys, electrical equipment, cameras, binoculars, equipment, tools, lights, furniture, vacuum cleaners, wash machines, dryers. The list seems endless. Wandering around Wal-Mart or Gap and checking product origin, it seemed near everything came from China. I recall thinking how the low cost of labour and materials, created a competitive and price advantage for Chinese goods, and driving up profits for manufacturers and retailers alike.

I recently read a New York Times article that clearly shows the disparity between China's workforce, her industrial capacity, China's economy and that of America. The article entitled "How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work". The article goes on to explain how six weeks before the launch of the iPhone, Steve Jobs, head of Apple, raised a prototype iPhone above his head and showed to the executes sitting before him, the scratches on the face of the iPhone. He explained the keys he carried in his pocket had scratched the plastic face on the new phone. Jobs insisted that before the launch, the iPhone plastic face had to be replaced with a glass scratch-resistant surface.

Engineers took the next plane to Shenzhen, China. The factory working on assembling the iPhone was updated with specific instructions on the changes that needed to be made before the launch, just six weeks away. The Foxconn assembly plant, rustled up 10,000 engineers to oversee the changes and implementation to the iPhone.

An Apple employee explained; to execute the same task in the U.S. would have been impossible. He went on, it would take around 9 months to recruit 10,000 U.S. engineers, aside from the fact that there was no factory in the U.S. capable of undertaking the mammoth task of changing the faces on the phones already assembled.

While I was on The New York Times website, I followed a link to another story, entitled "This column 100% Made In America". This calls on more Americans to buy American made products, to create American jobs.

It seems strange that the all powerful American Industrial Machine is begging consumer to buy Made In America badged products to save or create American jobs.

Britain was once a global power that ruled a vast empire. Canada, Africa, India, China, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. Britain went into decline around the time of the First World War. By the end of the Second World War, Britain was bankrupt. Through the 1950s and the decades that followed, its industries remained uncompetitive and fell into terminal decline.

No matter what policies or initiatives the UK Government followed, it could not stop the rot. Japan over took the UK in GDP and industrial capacity. In the 1960s, a campaign was started to try and get the UK population to buy UK made products. It was called "I'm Backing Britain". It was an effort to stem Britain's industrial decline.

The initiative was a spectacular failure. Government cannot entice consumers to buy shoddy made goods, inferior or expensive products with calls to patriotism. Consumers are attracted by perception, quality, features, build, price, status, and sexiness of products. Britain's manufacturing capacity continued to decline right through the 80s and 90s. In early 2002, "British Made For Quality" was another initiative that again tried to tempt British consumers to buy British made goods. It failed, and the decline continued.

It was the discovery of oil in the North Sea that allowed Britain to sustain its economic activity. As a crude oil exporter, it brought in much needed foreign currency to shore up the ailing British economy.

The tail end of last year, the British Governement once again tried to boost manufacturing by launching yet another initiative. Britain's manufacturing capacity now stands at an historic low at 12% of GDP.

It now appears that America is heading down the same road of inevitable decline. All empires eventually fall. Last year General Motors, the world largest car manufacturer for over sixty years, was overtaken by Toyota of Japan. Toyota now ranks as the worlds number one car manufacturer. These all point to the inherent and inevitable decline of the American Empire.

What's strange, is that American Corporations, by seeking higher profits, shipped out jobs and technologies to poorer countries such as China, India, etc.

This allowed some countries with-in certain industries to build on the influx of American dollars, American know-how, education and training. Those countries built competitive industries, on the back of American industrial production, know-how and profits. 

The corporate search for lower costs and higher profits, resulted in exporting jobs, dollars and allowing competitor countries to build their economies on the back of Americas exported industrial production, which had previously been done in-house.

The horse has bolted. Too late to close the stable doors.

Done!

Gifted

Pencil And Paper

Some people are gifted. Truly gifted from birth. They have (God) given talent. A natural ability. An inherent talent expressed through the medium that best suits them.

For some its poetry, or paint, for some its film, photography or sculpture. There are those for whom pencil and paper are the means of expression.

These are not photographs. These are pencil sketches. Hand drawn. Referred to as hyper-realism.

The artist's name is Paul Cadden. Check out his website. He is among a small cadre of artist in the hyper-realism movement.

Truly stunning work.

















Blogger's Annoying Line Breaks

Kill Break

If you use blogger great though it is, you'll know that when your in 'Compose' mode, blogger kindly reformats the page layout for you by inserting a line break at each paragraph, even if none are needed. This can throw your hard work and carefully crafted design out of sync.

To over come this flaw, switch to 'HTML' mode and manually delete the unneeded additional line breaks and save your work. You must save it in 'HTML' mode. If you switch back to 'Compose' mode and save, blogger will kindly re-instate the line breaks you just deleted.

Its the only way to stop Blogger over-riding your design-layout.

Done!

Lose Or Loose?

Gone Or Slack?

I was reading an online article today and noticed in the comments the mis-use of the word 'loose'. I've noticed it before, particularly among Americans. Not wishing to join the grammar police, but here are a couple of pointers.

The two words though close have quite different meanings. Its easy to see how they could be confused.

Loose means unrestrained, unbound, slack or not tight.

Lose means to lose possession, to be deprived or to be without.

Think of the word 'loser', it has a single 'o' in the word. Lop off the 'r' at the end and you have 'lose'.

Here's the dictionary meaning of each:



Self explanatory I guess.

Done!

How To Buy Happiness - NOT

Delusion

I came across this article today and had to laugh at the article's premise, which is totally misconceived. The article starts by explaining that we're buying happiness in the wrong things and with a slight adjustment, buying the right things will bring us the correct level of happiness.

Ya know. Ya buy your iPhone or iPad and get some ephemeral short lived feeling of joyfullness. Your uplifted, happy and a few weeks later, its just another object among your many possessions. Useful but not blissful. Go out and buy something else for that deep contented feeling of sheer bliss.

Although the article author may be heading in the right direction, he is on the wrong road. Happiness does not reside in people or in things. If it did, once you bought something that made ya happy, the happiness would not evaporate. But, that's not the case. Ya buy a new suit, dress, TV, camera, house or car, and a few weeks later all that joy associated with it, has drained away. How come?

Err.

Happiness does not reside in people or things.

Happiness resides in your own heart. All you need do is search for it and find it. 

The above mentioned article on happiness, outlines six points, listed below:

Spend money on doing stuff, rather than buying stuff
Go on safari, that will provide lasting happiness... NOT

Measure your pleasure in many small doses
Shag frequently, that will provide lasting happiness... NOT

Thinking about what's not on your mind is important
Try to think about what's not on you mind... Err what? WTF? NOT

Be charitable with your money and feel the benefit
Give money. Then you will find lasting happiness... NOT

Enjoy the anticipation, rather than the past
Being hungry is better than eating? WTF? ... NOT

Comparison-Shopping sites are best avoided
Must be avoided at all costs. They lead to terminal depression and suicide? NOT

External objects, whether its an iPhone, iPad, Bachelor Pad, Ferrari, or whatever else that makes ya sing, all these things, only bring temporary happiness. The source of lasting happiness, (bliss) is buried deep within you. Go find it.

Then, unlike the dog chasing the car, you won't need to run after things for your happiness.

You already have it. 

Done!

Update - 22 Jan 2013

I came across this article today, on Psychologytoday.com

How to Spend Your Way to Happiness

It pretty much confirms what I blogged and some more.

Go take a look.

Stress

What is it?

Most people don't understand stress. The medical profession has a hard time describing it.

The stress.org website dedicated to stress, has a hard time wrapping a label around it. The following extract is taken directly from their website:

Stress is difficult for scientists to define because it is a subjective sensation associated with varied symptoms that differ for each of us. In addition, stress is not always a synonym for distress. Situations like a steep roller coaster ride that cause fear and anxiety for some can prove highly pleasurable for others. Winning a race or election may be more stressful than losing but this is good stress. 

Increased stress increases productivity – up to a point, after which things rapidly deteriorate, and that level also differs for each of us. It’s much like the stress or tension on a violin string. Not enough produces a dull raspy sound and too much an irritating screech or snaps the string – but just the correct degree of stress creates a beautiful tone. 

Similarly, we all have to find the right amount of stress that permits us to make pleasant music in our daily lives. You can learn how to utilize and transform stress so that it will make you more productive and less self-destructive. 

-Paul J. Rosch, M.D., F.A.C.P.
President, The American Institute of Stress Clinical Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, New York Medical College Honorary Vice-President, International Stress Management Association

I've encountered stress a few times in life. At first I didn't know what it was. Just something happening to me. Later I began to understand, and with that insight, I was fooled no more. Suddenly I understood stress, what it was, how it affected me, and my reactions to it.

I read an article on Lifehacker about stress. The post was entitled:


I cant believe the crap they are offering as a reason for bad moods. It seems we have a cup full of willpower, once that's used up, your outta luck. Watch out, cos he's gonna blow!!! Only problem? They don't back it up with any science, though they do make reference to a number of studies.

A second article on Lifehacker, again on stress, entitled:


Here's another resource on stress:


And one on Cortisol which is associated with stress:


So here we have many varied views on stress, its causes, its effects and its cures. Yet few can say with any certainty what stress is.

How come?

I know what stress is. I know how to describe it. Worse, I know how to cure it. WTF?

How can that be? And I'm not even a doctor.

Holy Men

Self Help


In the East, and particularly in India, there has been a long-standing tradition of spiritual self-development. Holy Men would leave home, become ascetics and mendicants, living a life of physical and spiritual austerity, in the ongoing struggle for spiritual liberation, self-improvement and enlightenment.

Sometimes these Holy Men lived on the streets, in forests or caves. They would undertake extended periods of fasting, meditation, chanting or prayer. Enduring long stints in meditative contemplation in the search for life's most profound questions. Enduring the burning heat of the summer sun and the frosts of cold winters. Living on the generosity of others. Enduring what the physical world can throw at them, and the psychological / spiritual pain that follows. The Holy Men live beg for food, clothing, accepting the generosity of others as their only source of food or income, and accepting what life throws at them


In the West, we too have Holy Men and although our traditions are not as old as in the East, its good we can finally say we have some home grown product. Our Holy Men take a slightly different approach to self-help, self-development, and spiritual growth. They stand in pulpits, on stage and TV to preach to others. Extolling the virtues of the religious life. Guiding and advising others how to live. They wear fine suits, hand-made shoes, gold rings, expensive watches. They pretend to heal the sick. Soliciting donations from the poor, the unwary, the ignorant or even the rich. From thousands of TV viewers on the shows broadcast to the ill-educated. Do as I say and not as I do. Paying lip-service to the religious life.

Living on generous donations. Enduring all the luxuries that modern Western life can throw at them, and enduring the physical and psychological pleasures that it entails. They live in big mansions with swimming pools, fly in private jets. Indulge in sex with partners other than their marriage partners.

There are many similarities between the two disparate sets of Holy Men. I guess what differentiates them is this:

Eastern holy men seek spiritual liberation through spiritual excess.
Western holy men seek spiritual liberation through physical excess.

Its easy to see the difference between the two positions and the ultimate goals.

If you don't truly seek spiritual liberation, its easy to pay lip service. You can do pretty much as you please. Live life as you see fit, with no recourse and little remorse. Though, you may not get to heaven... if it exists.


If you do seek spiritual liberation, sacrifice is the order of the day. It may not necessarily mean giving up your home, your car, or other material possessions. But it will entail some kind of sacrifice.

It seems the Western Holy Men have it figured out. Get all the cash and booty ya like and still go to heaven. Or maybe not.

Done!