Facebook Unfollow Stats

You all have facebook friends you don’t follow in order to keep your facebook stream positive, fresh, and in line with your objectives of use. It’s a good thing. I’ve just run the stats on the percentage of facebook friends that I’ve unfollowed and it’s small but relevant. Here are criteria I use in order to determine if I unfollow someone:

  1. Is the platform being primarily used for commercial promotion or is there a surreptitious agenda?
  2. Do people actually sincerely share about themselves? Is it personal?
  3. Are the numbers of posts excessive and sometimes overly trivial?
  4. Can I learn something through the feed which is interesting which I wouldn’t necessarily find elsewhere?
  5. Is vanity a theme?
  6. Is there a concentration toward political topics?
  7. Is the post original, a repost, or a re-circulated quote. If not original, is there context or has it been freshened with a personal addition?

Furthermore, people have the capacity for change and I’m still very interested in the lives of those few in which I’ve unfollowed of whom I may very well refollow. In fact, I’ve unfollowed one very good friend (LOL).

I suspect that most intuitively have similar criteria. Social media is evolving and frankly I’m fascinated by what I sometimes see. One friend here (you know who you are) was onto the social media bandwagon at its outset. In spite of facebook having security issues, people are resilient and continue to hang here which speaks to the power of the internet as a viable way of interpersonal connection.

Martin Armstrong’s Take On European Bonds

The thing I like about Martin is his dispassionate analysis of economic events possibly learned through experience documented in the movie, “The Forecaster”. Although he provides a political backdrop in identifying the climate inherent to his analysis of international capital flows, he does so with an emotional indifference even tinged with sarcasm suggesting a deeper sense of abomination for the mismanagement of global monetary policy.

In contrast to other contemporaries of Austrian economic theory, Armstrong does not foresee an imminent collapse in the equity markets, nor a short term devaluation of the U.S. dollar.  Armstrong sees the rising interest rate environment and cracks in the European bond markets as potential sources of support for the U.S. dollar over the short term given that big money will have few places other than U.S. equities to turn.

Armstrong also differs from his peers in referencing a direct correlation between rising rates and rising equities in the current environment. He cites problems with European bond yields as reason to flee for quality in U.S. equities.

Over the long term however, Armstrong sees the monetary system start to unravel come 2021 once emerging markets come to the realization that debt repayment in lofty valued U.S. dollars will become untenable. Alas, Armstrong falls in line with others espousing ultimate trouble for markets of all sorts other that real estate, precious metals and other tangible assets.

On the contrary, P.H.D. of statistics Jim Willie, suggests that contagion associated with European banking default could become the prime driver of economic chaos. My sense is that Willie’s time frame is shorter than that of Armstrong’s.  Both gentlemen see problems such as hyper inflation, unemployment, and corruption in under developed nations masked from media view as seeds adjunct for the culmination an economic reset.

 

Do Public Debts and Deficits Matter?

Yes they do. Are there consequences to never ending increases in government debt? Yes there are. Do we care like we should? No, we don’t? The Olympics are coming and the Canadian Press has indicated that governments will be on hook for three billion dollars associated with the endeavour. Your governments mean you. 

Gary Mason from the Globe and Mail has pointed out that when the Notley government took control, the Alberta debt was a manageable $11.9 billion. Given the unwillingness of this government to shave expenses during the collapse of oil royalty revenue, the debt is now projected to balloon to $71 billion dollars by 2020. Think about that for a minute….11.9 versus 71. Yup, it’s a 6 fold increase and the mayor of Calgary is worried about who leaked a report regarding Olympics planning. 

Greece in 2015 came to learn about what it means to spend beyond its means. Banks went on holidays and bank machines got turned off.  The health care system in Greece went on hiatus and austerity measures went into full effect. If creditors to a governmental jurisdiction come to learn that their investment is in jeopardy, terms will change to the detriment of debtors. You are your government.  Your government will ask you to come to their aid in the event of hardship in making payments. 

Your country also continues to spend like drunken sailors. Politicians love to match debt to GDP as if they can rationalize their continued increases in spending. The fact is that your country’s debt increases at a rate of $50 million per day. The taxes you send to Ottawa help cover the interest on this ever increasing debt.  Take $660 billion in federal debt while compounding a daily growth of 50 million per day and then factor in an increasing interest rate environment. Now, think again if the Olympics are worth the risk to you the taxpayer.     

Message For Aspiring Guitarists

As a preface, I write this not as an “accomplished guitarist” worthy of offering tips, but one who has embarked on a learning journey over the past 20 months. Hopefully, the following will aid anyone in taking up the instrument. 

You know someone who knows someone that simply picks up an instrument and they can play naturally “by ear”. I say “good for them” and this is certainly not I and will not be the majority of aspiring players. In fact, even for those who are gifted with musical intuition, there will be short cuts they will encounter in orchestrating melody, resolving a phrase, or identifying an appropriate chord should they obtain some kind of training. 

The sixth and fifth strings as bass notes, interval distances between notes and between strings, higher and lower octave notes as designed on the fret board through pattern, the CAGED system utilization as a means of deploying different chord voicings, basic open chords, barred chord structures, and scales up and down the neck are all guitar elements that very few will be able deploy without becoming versant through some training.

I suggest that the most enjoyment will come from applying mechanical fret board principles with some music theory and one’s inner sense of discovery. However; relying on the inner sense alone will simply lead to unnecessary barriers given the intricacies of the instrument. 

The good news is that the task is not ominous. There will be some memorization which is absolutely tenable. There will be some frustration in getting the fingers to go where they need to go. However; with practice, the neural system establishes the pathways. There will be a question regarding the time commitment to improve. You’ll conclude that part of your spiritual sustenance flows from a pursuit distinct from family and career. You’ll be wondering where to turn for your next nugget of fret board magic culminating in the arrival of new like-minded friends. You’ll also become fascinated by the equipment and accessories which produce varying sounds from the same notes. 

The biggest take away….you’ll learn humility if to date it’s been elusive!

Zombie State Accentuated in Canada October 17th

I’m highly suspect that the legalization of cannabis will become a net positive for Canada. In fact, I believe it will accentuate the zombie state. You see, already there are vast numbers of people in our society who have difficulty functioning at a high level because of a poor education system, a poor work ethic, poorly engrained values, an entitlement mentality, a daily hangover, and sleep deprivation.

In recent times, you don’t have to travel far to identify an indifferent customer service representative, a dispassionate reservation clerk, a vacant politician, a selfish tailgater, a stupefied crosswalk texter, or an ambivalent professional. Have these lower functioning souls been aberrated by mind altering substances, lesser cognitive acuity, or are they simply subjects of traits akin to the aforementioned? Could they be tempted away from ambition by the neural effects of cannabis ingestion? Could their ingestion of cannabis improve their productivity? I’m guessing you’re thinking, no.

You’ve seen the new urban train platforms with the big wide yellow bubble strips at the cusp of the train’s alley. You may think they’re there to aid the disabled, but perhaps they’re there in anticipation of the new cannabis legislation? Although I kid, not about the degree of smarts that your government awards you credit. Perhaps, your government would actually like to see you become more docile as a citizen through the cannabis habit so that you’ll become less abrasive in your opposition to their liberal agenda?

Your country, Canada, is a first world nation largely in part because of a value system which included the purity of a cerebral mind implemented in order to build and industrialize. In fact, the Canadian government prohibited alcohol when the seriousness of World War I became apparent. Times though have changed. A new industry has blossomed (pun obviously intended) and capitalists can now take pride in selling a product which has not historically been aligned with the freshness of mind synonymous with the capitalist ideal.

There will be those who will genuinely benefit from taking marijuana in order to alleviate symptoms of physiology. Unfortunately, there will be many who will wrongly look to it instead of within for answers pertinent to their homeostatic well being.

Nike’s “Believe In Something”

I agree. Believe in something and while doing it, undertake the process for change available to every other citizen in your country rather than grand standing at the sidelines of a sports venue.  Western democracies are endowed with the right of speech freedom. This right empowers citizens irrespective of race, sex, or religious affiliation to express themselves in the public domain. What is the public domain? Well, you can write a letter. You can recite your beliefs on a street corner. You can visit a government official. You can attend a political rally.  You can start a political party. You can espouse your beliefs in conversation. You can light up the twitter sphere with one liners. You can form an organization as a form of lobby. As you can see, the opportunity to freely express oneself has many outlets.

Colin Kaepernick had chosen a method of expression convenient to him in an apolitical domain – the football arena in a football uniform employed by a football franchise in the spotlight broadcast around North America via television. He chose an outlet reserved for an occasion other than politics and it was his right. The interesting thing about his behaviour is that his employer has the right to sanction him accordingly for behaviour not in accordance with his duty.  His behaviour will obviously impact the perceptions of other potential employers.  Some citizens loyal to his cause may empathize with his plight and even lavish him with praise of courage. However; it would be misplaced. I view Colin Kaepernick as a career martyr deserving of his plight. I consider him lazy for not pursuing the outlets of expression available to him with the same vigour in parallel to the apparent passion he brings to a cause.  

As for Nike’s endorsement of him, I’ve been avoiding Nike in stores for decades.

One Proud Sportsman Dismayed

I grew up on the sport field playing baseball. My dad taught me sportsmanship and he coached his fifth son part time whenever he was home early enough from the mine. The lesson was always simple….do your best, play by the rules, and bestow respect to your opponent and elders. In spite of your best, you will lose. Losses will inspire you to improve. 

Oftentimes, I reference a simple decision to terminate my cable television. This act has become so metaphoric in more ways than one. Thankfully, I did not witness the unfortunate turn of events at the women’s final of the U.S. Open today. The award ceremony and write up was enough.  The charade unfortunately reminds me of the unfortunate past of John McEnroe and his childishness of yesteryear. 

Elite athletes train throughout their youth to reach the pinnacle of their sport. Today, a new champion emerged but the euphoric sentiment of her biggest sporting achievement ever was simply hijacked from her today in the face of unsportsmanlike conduct of Serena Williams and the classless behaviour of New York spectators. To add insult to injury, Williams decided to become the protagonist in defeat by placating the crowd having sensed the void of joy in the hapless victor Naomi Osaka.

U.S. Open officials just couldn’t hold back by releasing a statement in the conclusion of the match referencing racquet smashing insult wielding Williams with the remarks “Serena at all times plays with class and makes us proud”.

Unfortunately, when the athletic arena is represented by narcissistic whining brats in addition to society’s other classless acts from which we’ve grown accustomed (I know who you’re thinking of), it’s disheartening. You simply hope to find virtue in sport. 

  

Cognitive Dissonance and The Markets

Okay. It’s not my term (cognitive dissonance) but I like it. Dr. Jim Willie has used it in reference to what he believes to be malaise and the failure of 90 per cent of us who are failing to connect the dots in respect of the current shift underway pertaining to the economic “reset”. In his August 4th interview with X22 Report Spotlight, Jim metaphorically and substantially and endearingly refers to dialogue with his father as being someone as part of the 90 per cent group. As a music hobbyist, I’m familiar with dissonance as being a sound which clashes within a key and I relate to its contextual use. Jim displays noticeable frustration by those who have difficulty seeing the implications of events simply as they are with perhaps the luxury of not having lived through the great depression. One particular example of dissonance is official government statistics of inflation compared to your neighbours street feel assessment of inflation. 

At every turn in the news right now we are inundated with the political bizarre and I can’t help but wonder if folks have become so distracted with the Washington drama that they’ve been numbed by potential underlying distress of the financial system.  Consider this. Is it possible that there is actual good work going on in Washington unbeknownst to you and withheld from you because of the larger implication of crisis which could unfold should you be notified? Have you been prepared by your system of education to understand risks inherent to the financial system? If the system is in fact at risk and the risk has grown, what do you know about how to protect yourself? What about 2015 Greece, 1923 Germany, 2002 Argentina, 2018 Venezuela? What did their citizens believe regarding their economies prior to dramatic negative economic events. 

I’m writing about this because it’s not that difficult to create a hedge against something bad happening. Remember what your investment advisor said when your portfolio collapsed 30 per cent back in 2008? Don’t worry, it’ll come back. Well it may have taken 10 years so I guess they were right. Have you ever heard an investment advisor talk about the opportunity cost of 10 years of lost compounding?

   

Nazareth in Calgary Aug 18, 2018

The only member left from the original member is bassist Pete Agnew but this group plays cohesively led by front man Carl Sentance. In fact it was remarkable to hear how easily Carl hits the high pitches typical of Nazareth’s hit tracks from the seventies. Original vocalist Dan McCafferty’s voice was raspier but I actually prefer the tonality of Sentance.

The band surprisingly brought “This Flight Tonight” and “Razamanaz” early in the set. Lead guitarist Jimmy Murrison made good use of his slide in “This flight” and Sentance got the place hummin’ with the quick tempo of “Raz”. The vast experience of Agnew on bass in concert with son Lee kept exquisite rhythm throughout the evening.

Although, never a big fan of classic “Hair of The Dog”, its signature guitar riff was unmistakable and had the audience standing at attention. “Love Hurts” was beautifully played and coloured the evening with a melancholy calm. 

“Shanghai’d in Shanghai” was one of my favourites of the evening along with an unidentifiable transcending rock rhythm piece.

Sentance donned an acoustic electric guitar for one song titled “Sunshine”. It was probably the one pronounced track of the evening which would have been better presented in studio.  Ironically it was this part of the evening where stage lighting encountered technical difficulty.

My sense was that Murrison may not have been at his best on this night having missed a particular guitar piece but it’s hard to criticize his chops. 

Certainly, many throughout the Grey Eagle Resort’s event centre were ill prepared with no ear protection. Smaller venues with big bands mean big sounds and the requisite for ear protection in lieu of no apparent decibel regulations. Thankfully, I was equipped and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.       

 

Staying Inspired

How are you staying inspired? Who has the best staying power? It’s those who complement their training with influences of those who have achieved. It takes a continual dose and then an expanded repertoire of sources. You know why? It’s because you’ll get stuck. You’ll hit a plateau. Your mind will wander off. Hence; if you’re committed to continual improvement, you can schedule in your exposure to influence. You can make it a priority. 

I had no clue what I was getting into upon stepping into a musical journey with the purchase of an electric guitar having experienced an introduction to music theory through piano. I sensed that those rock icons were high school dropouts with some finger dexterity learned through rudimentary practice.  Well, I was delightfully short sighted.  It’s true that rock guitarists may spend much of their soloing time in the pentatonic scale with fundamental chords derived from the Circle of Fifths. However; many other accomplished guitarists are in fact versed in music theory with ear training to facilitate improvisation. The instrument itself has the potential to extend into all genres of music.

Then there’s the concept of “what to practice.” There’s a propensity toward practicing what you know instead of building, switching, alternating, completing, stretching, expanding, and redirecting.  I’m thinking that my guitar journey’s pathway to development is no different than any other pursuit in developing competence leading to mastery. What if we document practice sessions for planned later date reinforcement? What if we engage interpersonally with those who can supplement ideas? What if we intertwine the learning experience from our hobbyist pursuit with other facets of existence? Staying inspired inherently means not only the act of interpreting a production which compels but also looking deeper into the person behind the piece.    

First of all, are you spending the time? Secondly, are you spending it the right way? Thirdly, are you manifesting enjoyment of your pursuit through applied education? If you don’t have the time now, will you be sufficiently inspired at ground zero with the onset of retirement?