Genius Trivia: Just In Case It Matters To You

by Dennis Duitch

  • OVER ONE-HALF OF AMERICAN EMPLOYEES ARE SEARCHING FOR NEW JOBS THIS YEAR and, according to numerous surveys, the priority for over a third of is about getting (1) Health insurance benefits, and (2) “appreciation for their work” – probably correlated to why most job searches on the internet and job-sites peak on Mondays before 11:am. Meanwhile, employers are instead focusing more on utilizing artificial intelligence to assess “soft skills.” Notwithstanding the number of workers still unemployed (and no longer part of the statistical labor-rate count), it appears that “with workers getting scarce, the fight for talent will dominate 2018.”  [CFO MAGAZINE]
  • “DEMOCRACY HAS ITS FLAWS.” Only a quarter of American adults could name all three branches of government, and one third couldn’t name any, according to a Univ. of Pennsylvania survey last year. The result, as so readily evident in election results, is that “voters apathetic or disengaged from public policy debates make poor electoral choices.” While the right to vote is generally denied to children and those judged mentally incompetent, arguments have been advanced for a more selective process, one being ‘weighted voting’ – in which “a ballot counts more or less depending on a voter’s qualifications, determined by a civics test or maybe by one’s profession or education…implicitly equating knowledge with good judgment, which experience tells us isn’t a sound equation… Democracy does have its flaws, but elitism isn’t the way to cure them… Conservative writer William F. Buckley once said: I’d rather entrust the U.S. government to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”  [BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK]
  • IT’S ESTIMATED THAT UP TO TWO-THIRDS OF BOTTLED WATERS ARE JUST TAP WATER, but costing two-thousand times greater. Calling water ‘purified’ simply means that some process (filtration, distillation, or reverse osmosis) has removed contaminants from the tap or spring. ‘Ionized’ means the water has also been exposed to an electrical current, which is one way to create ‘alkaline’ water with a PH level above neutral. ‘Vapor distilled’ is another label which means the water was boiled into steam then condensed back. Beyond the fact that some four billion pounds of plastic are used annually in packaging bottled water (requiring energy input equivalent to some 45 million barrels of oil), it turns out that tap water “comes with more safeguards, since the federal government requires more rigorous safety monitoring of municipal taps.”  [ECOWATCH.COM]
  • PLASTIC HAS BECOME THE LASTEST DIRECT HEALTH DANGER. Researchers at State University of New York studied water bottles from the U.S. and eight other countries to find that “93% were contaminated with microplastics – tiny pieces of plastic which get ingested” when we drink bottled water. Eleven different brands (including Aquafina, Dasani, Evian & Pelligrino) averaged ten plastic particles per liter which can accumulate in the body.  [BBC.COM and THE WEEK]
  • 89% OF AMERICANS STILL “BELIEVE IN GOD as a concept or being that is arguably more existentially important to individual human beings, and historically more momentous, than any other single word,” according to a Gallup poll.  [LBNElert.com]
  • THE MOST EFFECTIVE LEADERS CONSISTENTLY CONNECT WITH THEIR EMPLOYEES OR TEAM by positive actions which influence behavior to motivate performance. “Being a leader in people-centric work cultures differs drastically from managers in toxic workplaces who bark out demands and use century-old tactics like fear and negative reinforcement… In close teams and interpersonal interactions that build trust, authenticity wins out every time.” The most effective strategies have proven to be:  (1) Asking for and listening to advice from employees. Studies at Harvard & Wharton found that subordinates perceive those who do so as ‘more competent; (2) Acknowledging mistakes. Putting ego aside and admitting errors in judgement increases trust since people are generally turned off by others who seem ‘too perfect’; (3) Acknowledging others contributions. Recognizing deserved efforts & achievements “sends ripples of trust across the organization, when recognized as a cultural trait”; (4) Manifesting positive confidence. Top leaders let it be known that they are confident in team abilities and never thwart the possibility for accomplishment of challenges.  [INC MAGAZINE]
  • SIX HOURS OF DAILY STANDING BURNS ENOUGH CALORIES to lose 5½ pounds after one year and 22 pounds after three years, according to multiple Mayo Clinic studies with over 1,000 people. “Spending more time on your feet (perhaps at a standing desk) is also healthier than the well-established harmful effects of prolonged sitting.”  [THE WEEK]
  • THE POPULARITY OF FORTUNE TELLERS & TAROT CARD READERS has opened the door to ‘Demonic Activity’ and tripled the demand for Exorcism” by some 500,000 Italians each year. The Vatican has responded by offering additional courses for Priests enabling them to “purge people of the devil and possession.”  [LEVINE BRIEFING NOTES]
  • THE GLOBAL DRONE INDUSTRY IS EXPECTED TO GROW BY A FACTOR OF TEN OVER THE NEXT 5 YEARS. According to the FAA, some 420,000 commercial drones will require as many remote pilots, while smaller hobbyist drones multiply to 3.5 million. Beyond delivery of online retail and possible U.S. Postal improvement, PricewaterhouseCoopers projects that “agricultural drones which assist farmers with crop surveillance & fertilizer application could be worth more than $32 billion; could save the insurance industry up to $7 billion by reducing costs related to data allocation, risk evaluation and battling fraud; and could spark the global infrastructure market in land surveys & asset inspections by as high as $45 billion.  [IMPACTLAB.NET]
  • ‘SERVICE ANIMALS’ ARE NECESSARY FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, but in the past few years there has been “a surge of animals brought on planes by passengers insisting they couldn’t fly without them – including pigs, monkeys, turkeys, snakes and untrained dogs. Delta alone flew 250,000 Service and ‘Emotional Support’ animals last year, “many unfit to sit in a passenger seat and which have disrupted flights by urinating & defecating, barking, biting, and fighting other support animals… People are abusing the accommodation to bring their pets aboard regardless of the discomfort to other passengers. What happened to decency? ...The credo of today’s culture fetishizes individual preference and expression over communal well-being – simply and shamelessly: I am the center of the universe. What I want is what I need, and who cares how it affects you?”  [THE WEEK]
  • THE “FUTURE OF ARTIFICAL INTELLIGENCE IS AUGMENTING HUMANS,” according to global government leaders who met this month with experts & innovators at the World Government Summit in Dubai. Top execs from organizations like World Bank, Int’l Monetary Fund, World Trade, World Health, UNESCO, World Economic Forum, & Human Longevity met managers from Microsoft, Amazon, IBM Watson, Facebook, etc. to discuss “the most immediate way that A.I. should be used to benefit humanity; the consensus was ‘augmenting humans.” Beyond brain implants that take humans to the next phase of evolution, wearable earpieces to translate language in real time, smart contact lenses to monitor glucose levels, an algorithm for predicting death, and the like, the objective is also for systems to “deliver humans from the seeming mundane systems of the present, to free us from hours of drudgery and allow us to truly spend our time on tasks we deem worthwhile.” Nice.  [FUTURISM.COM]
  • SAVING PASSWORDS ON YOUR COMPUTER BROWSER IS CONVENIENT BUT DANGEROUS. A new study from cyber-security experts at Princeton University found that ‘Password Management’ tools (on Safari and Google Chrome) which store and autofill website login data have security loopholes which both (1) enable hacker access to passwords which can be exploited; and (2) allow advertising firms to “steal information which is used to track user activity from website to website, gathering browsing habits in order to target advertisements.”    [DAILYMAIL.CO.UK]
  • SILICON VALLEY IS NO LONGER THE TOP TECHNOLOGY HUB IN THE WORLD. San Francisco now ranks third, behind Beijing and Berlin, based on “average software engineer salaries, how long it takes to get a business up & running, cost of living, growth index and startup output… The study shows how fast-moving and internationally-competitive the tech industry is.” Combined with Shanghai’s hub (which ranked sixth in the Expert Market study), Beijing’s fast consumer adoption rate and rapid business timelines, helped along by the government’s injection of $1.5 billion last year, have made China “home to leading tech companies including Google & Intel… playing a leading role in supercomputers and market influence in security products, messaging apps, ride-sharing services, electric cars and e-commerce… with an industrial incubation plan to improve its innovation ability in artificial intelligence.” [CHINADAILY.COM.CN]
  • AS AMERICAN CULTURE EVOLVES, SEXUAL ‘HARASSMENT’ IS A FAIRLY NEW PHENOMENON. It effectively began in 1980, when federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated that “unwelcome sexual advances which affected an individual’s work were grounds for a complaint.” Since then, according to EEOC, a “range of 25% to 85% of women have faced harassment at some point in their working lives,” and a recent YouGov poll supports culture change with statistics that young men 18 - 30 were double the percentage of men over age 64 who considered the following behavior (absent a “romantic partner” relationship) to be unacceptable: “Commenting on attractiveness; Placing a hand on her lower back; or Looking at breasts.” Expect the 24/7 headlines ‘outing’ abusers (by today’s standards) to be the ‘new norm’ and just tip of an iceberg. [THE ECONOMIST]
  • IMPOSTER SCAM CALLS INCREASE DAILY – on mobile as much as on landlines. Latest examples include claims of being from the IRS: “you owe back taxes and a warrant for your arrest will be issued if you don’t settle by this afternoon.” / POLICE: “We’re raising money for officers injured in the line of duty; how much will you be donating today?” / JURY DUTY CLERK: “I’m calling from the XYZ courthouse; you missed jury duty and unless we collect the $300 penalty today, a warrant will be automatically issued for your arrest” / BANK: We’ve uncovered a major data problem with your checking account; Please verify this info so we can confirm you haven’t been hacked.” / GENEOLOGY WEBSITE: “Our site has identified 14 matches in your family history; we can confirm and provide this info to you with just a few more pieces of info.” / MILITARY REP: “I’m from the VA to finalize the supplemental pay approved for your service group; we just need your bank for direct deposit.” [COACHELLA VALLEY WEEKLY]
  • ANY MOBILE PHONE CAN NOW BE BUGGED, TRACKED & HACKED from anywhere in the world. Your mobile device is essentially an open pocketbook & file cabinet to your life. How it’s done is the outgrowth of real world espionage and “potentially the weapon of our own destruction.” A 20-minute documentary shows how calls, texts & email data is being captured by commercial spies, crime rings and local hackers via the Electronic Signaling System SS7 – which covers 7 billion smartphones across 800 telephone companies – with an inexpensive piece of technology. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4tUx1W3zLc
  • MUSIC IS CONSIDERED BY MANY TO BE A UNIVERSAL LINK which provides “communication of simple ideas between people even when they have no language in common.” A recent Harvard University study played dozens of musical excerpts (under 15 seconds each) to 750 online volunteers from sixty countries who neither understood the lyrics nor were familiar with the music, but ranked the music by what they “thought the song’s function was” and how confident they were. Options were Dancing, Healing, Expressing Love, Storytelling, Soothing a Baby, or Mourning the Dead. Results were that “perceptions of a song’s function were generally in good agreement with its actual function.” It turns out that Hans Christian Andersen was right in the 18th century, that music indeed transcends cultural boundaries, with his poetic phrase “Where words fail, music speaks.” [THE ECONOMIST]
  • IF/WHEN STROKE VICTIMS CAN GET MEDICAL HELP WITHIN 3 HOURS, severe brain damage can usually be mitigated. An easy way to identify STRoke is by just asking the person three questions: S- smile or stick out your tongue; T- talk; R- raise both arms. If they have trouble with any one of these (particularly a non-crooked tongue), call emergency immediately.
  • FOR THE BITCOIN MANIA: “Very possibly an unprecedentedly dumb bubble built on ludicrous speculation… outpacing almost all the great bubbles of the past (except for the Dutch tulip mania of the 1630s).”  Along with lesser-branded competitors, Bitcoin is an ‘electric cryptocurrency’ which is ‘created’ by ‘miners’ all over the world who ‘verify’ and ‘approve’ transactions simultaneously on their computers, based on purportedly secure encryption, utilizing blockchain technology. In theory, cryptocurrency is a type of “digital gold which could be used as a hedge against inflation or trouble in the global economy,” as well as for privacy from regulatory and taxing authorities (once the domain predominantly of drug dealers and other criminal enterprises). “For now, the rise in Bitcoin seems divorced from any fundamental rationale.” [THE WEEK]
  • FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE:  AI will increasingly continue to transform the essence of human culture, with major adverse impact on jobs – replacing professionals, bankers, insurance agents & adjusters, researchers, taxi & truck drivers, instructors, designers & creative professionals to the point where intelligence and advanced training will no longer protect job stability. Robot-to-worker ratios (now 1.6 to 1 in America) will continue to rise, and robots will very soon be creeping into many other areas of our lives – serving meals, providing health care, policing, national defense, education, and even sexual services.  When computers can easily outthink and outperform us, a sort of learned helplessness is also likely to set in and the concept of ‘working’ altogether will continue losing relevance for more people.
  • TIME PRESSURE IS THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF STRESS which, besides impacting the efficiency and effectiveness of business productivity & profitability, can lead to anxiety disorders, headaches, upset stomachs, insomnia, high blood pressure, and behaviors (like drinking & smoking) that increase risks of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. DCG offers clients and contacts a courtesy lunchtime workshop in Time Management Techniques (“Work Smarter not Harder”) to help owners & employees alleviate stress and minimize these impacts.  Winter/Spring scheduling is now available.
  • INCREASING TEENAGE ANGST IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO “SMARTPHONE AND SOCIAL MEDIA OVERLOAD,” according to a longitudinal study of more than a million young Americans. Psychologists found that “playing games, using social media, texting and video-chatting were all associated with less happiness than adolescents who invested more time in real world, not-screen activities – such as playing sports, reading newspapers and face-t-face social interaction.”  [LEVINE BRIEFING NEWS]
  • COMING SOON: A CAR THAT WILL READ YOUR BRAIN WAVES was unveiled this month at the Consumer Electronics Show. The driver “wears a skullcap with electrodes that transmit brain-wave activity to influence the steering, acceleration and breaking systems. While the driver still turns the wheel or hits the gas pedal, the ‘brain-to-vehicle technology’ anticipates those movements and begins these actions up to ½ seconds sooner… The skullcap also can distinguish driver preferences & discomfort, so the car can adjust accordingly and switch back to manual.”   [THE WEEK]

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“Genius Trivia: Just in Case it Matters to You” is the work product of Dennis Duitch, author, poet, sculptor and musician. Presented by: www.duitchconsulting.com

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