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31 Life Lessons After 30 Years – The Good Men Project (blog)

Posted: February 22, 2017 at 4:06 am

Ive learned a few things along this journey called life. Following are in no order the 31 thoughts about life after three decades breath.

#1 Consistency matters.

Today, we have access to more information than we can handle. On one hand, this luxury can provide convenience. However, it can also send us into paralyzation.Since we can learn how to do pretty much anything with a click of a blue link, we get overwhelmed. The result is that we end up doing nothing.

This cuts us off from the lifeblood of incremental progress consistency. With so much info at our disposal, its creepily easy to consume without action.

Consistency matters, we need to act like it.

#2 Happiness isnt a place we arrive.

The pursuit of happiness seems to be a chase run by many. But lets pretend for second that we get there then what?

We set up outposts that temporarily serve as happiness destinations the new car, the promotion, the house, the fancy but the novelty of these collections or achievements soon wear off.Unless intervened, this cycle will run its course till our last breath. Im not one to tell you how to live, but for me, I have to believe there is another way.

I think happiness is cultivated daily by the way we think and act instead of something we arrive at via accolades and achievements.

#3 We are all artists.

Growing up as kids, we all made stuff.But as we entered the walls of academia and soon thereafter sampled wage slavery, our spirit to create things slowly disappeared like the receding ocean tide.

Our crayons get replaced with scantrons. Our imaginations are dulled with deadlines. Our aims become linear.The book we dream of writing never gets written. The car never gets restored. The garden never gets tended.

You walk by an art boutique and always think, I believe my work can be in there, but you instead youre suffocated by the life others have defined for you keeping you from working on your stuff.

Were all artists whether you get paid for your art is another story.

#4 The ability to focus on demanding tasks is priceless.

Our ability to focus on important tasks is becoming more valuable and more rare at the same time. A lot of my work on this blog is aimed at this very concept.

Over the last few years, Ive had to teach myself how to focus as a writer. However, the principles of focus expand beyond the medium of writing. In any vocation, your ability to focus is appreciating in value. Learn how to do it and youll not only be more valuable but youll get your work done in less time too.

Sounds like a win-win right?

#5 You cultivate passion.

Following your passion assumes it already exists it doesnt.

#6 Everyone doesnt have to like you.

This is far easier said than done (at least for me). But, this doesnt mean you make enemies intentionally. Just be unapologetically you and youll have enough of them.

#7 Sometimes you gotta walk through the storm.

While in Miami Beach, I walked out from the gym to a sudden thunderstorm. On my way there, it wasnt raining. When I got out the neighborhood was flooded the water was up to my knees.At first, I had a mild panic come over me. I thought what about my Nike fly knits or iphone?

I wasnt going to take an Uber to go 0.8 miles.

So, after looking straight into the flood zone in pouring rain acting like I could outrun or outwit the storm, I decided to walk nearly a mile in knee-high water (my fly knits are fine and my phone still works).

Sometimes, you gotta walk through the storm in life. Inconvenient? Yes. Uncomfortable? Probably? Life-threatening? Rarely.

#8 Doing hard things is good for us.

The hack nation has claimed its real estate in our lives today. Im all for doing less for the same result. However, this doesnt mean that we dont challenge ourselves with difficult tasks, projects or dreams.

Do you tell stories about the times you accomplished things that didnt require you to stretch or persevere?

Probably not.

Everyone should attempt to get a boat over a mountain at least once in their lifetime.

#9 We all worship something.

The only malleability is found in the choice of what we worship.

#10 Time management is a joke.

Managing time implies we control it. But you and I both know thats impossible. Whether were tirelessly working to finish the project or were binging on Bloodline over the weekend, time takes its course.

We can only manage energy.

#11 Staying in the game is undervalued.

Because life is a test of endurance. There will be times when the academic advice or kosher recommendations will not provide enough horsepower to keep your head above water.During these times do what you must in order to stay in the game. Its something like a lion who is surrounded by a pack of hyenas.

The lion is going to do what it needs to do to survive.

#12 Youre one fifthof the equation.

If youve read any type of self-edification book, blog or resource, youve heard this saying:

You become the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with.

Theres some validity in the statement to be sure. However, you cant forget that youre one fifthof that equation.Part of being able to surround yourself with people that add value to your life is your capacity to add to theirs.

Reading books is the most practical way to invest in yourself so that you can at the very least bring a substantive conversation to the table.

#13 You (and me) dont have to be Instagram famous to have influence.

I really like Instagram (and Facebook and Twitter for that matter) but I find myself getting caught up in the wrong metrics at times. Follower count, retweets and likes cloud my vision and I get off track. I lose sight of the influence I can or could have and worry over metrics that I have little control over.

Its a constant fight for me: Keeping my energy channeled towards creating my best work to influence the people right in front of me instead of looking past them and concerning myself with potential influence.

The irony is that when Im focused on the right stuff, my influence goes deeper. When I get caught up with the wrong metric my influence seems to be shallow, fabricated, and non-penetrating.

Maybe you can relate?

The reality is that you and I both have influence and our lives matter right where we lie. In fact, we probably have more influence on others than we think. Always remember that.

#14 Getting comfortable in the waiting room makes our lives easier.

You can do everything right to get to the doctors office on time, but if they ask you to wait you have no choice but to do that wait.

Life wears a similar coat.

Sometimes well do everything right and yet, our desired timing and reality dont match. The default response is akin to a child who is toldno.But this invisible skill, the ability to wait patiently is painfully overlooked.

If you find a way to wait, the doctor will eventually see you.

#15 Goals are overrated.

Behaviors and systems are way better.

#16 You arent the logo.

Advertisements have come a long way. We often dont even notice that we are being exposed to them. The swoosh on your shoes. The apple on your laptop. The letters on your sweatshirt.

After a while, the family of logos you support becomes your communitya place where you identify. For some, the logos become their identity.

The reality is that you dont need shoes with a swoosh to be a better basketball player. You dont need a recycled shopping bag to buy healthier groceries. You dont need the little red badge on your jeans to dress well.

But what if you had a life of no logos?

Youd have to brand yourself from scratch. Write your own story per se.

Logos arent malicious. But they can invade your well-being and consume the real estate that is yours brand YOU. Youre great how you are, even without the logos.

#17 Value experiences over stuff.

The value of an experience transcends a momentary shot of satisfaction thatstuffcan provide.

For my 32ndbirthday, Charlie (my wife) planned a dinner at The Bazaar a tapas style restaurant located in the SLS Hotel in Miami Beach, FL.

The meal was incredible.But the story and experience is something well never forget.

The place is admittedly a little bougie, so we got dressed up. After we got suited and booted, we took an Uber to the restaurant.The driver had some trouble finding the place and ended up dropping us off at the back of the restaurant. Meaning we had to walk about 100 yards to get to the front. This normally wouldnt have been a big deal. However, on the night of January the 28th, 2017, it was a slight hiccup.

Within 20 seconds of getting out of the car, a downpour of rain blasted us so hard that by the time we ran up to the entrance, we looked like drowned rats.Completely soaked, we walked up to the front desk while the whole place gazed at us with empathy.

The night didnt start off the way we had planned but it ended up being a great night. And, we have story that well never forget.

Experiences carry their value long after they are over.

#18 Embedding intermittent recovery is crucial.

Athletes do this well.

Everyone else seems to be searching for the magic pill that allows them to run through walls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Building rest into your plan on a daily, weekly and monthly basis allows you to do better work more consistently.

Rest is the ironic ingredient to doing more.

#19 Habits make your life.

I like what Gretchen Rubin says:

What you do everyday is more important than what you do once in a while.

#20 Walking is good.

Long walks are painfully undervalued. Friedrich Nietzsche has an opinion about walking that I agree with:

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.

#21 Health needs to be a part of the success equation.

Over the next 10 to 20 years were going to see the largest shift in knowledge and responsibility. The baby boomers will be passing the baton to the millennials.Our health is the vehicle that will allow us to take this journey. Without it, we show up emotionally flatlined.

I dont know about you, but I dont want the next generation of leaders to be operating in a constant state of brain fog and fatigue.

Without your health everything else suffers. This is more than six pack abs this is the quality of your career, relationships, spirituality and everyone else around.

Were depending on you to be healthy we expect you to thrive so you can put your best foot forward and contribute in a way that matters to you.

#22 Be mindful of your settlements.

A settlement is a resolution between disputing parties about a legal case that is agreed upon typically before court action begins.

In other words, you settled for less because you didnt think you could win the case.

We do this in life too.

We have friction between where we are now and where we would like to be. When it feels to difficult or overwhelming, we settle for the easier route.The dangerous part about this situation is that it happens internally. Usually, only you know if youve settled or not. So you can pretend, and nobody will ever know.

In what areas have you settled, but deep down know you shouldnt have done so? The good news is that unlike a legal cases, you can go back and undo your settlements with your personal aims.

#23 Doing less allows you to do more.

Instead of going wide, aim to go deep. This can be applied in your work, art, relationships and edification.

#24 Behavior and environment design offers an advantage.

Distraction isnt the problem.

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31 Life Lessons After 30 Years – The Good Men Project (blog)

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Jerome Tuccille, Author of It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand and More, RIP – Reason (blog)

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:45 am

Dan Hayes, ReasonI’m saddened to announce the death of Jerome Tuccille, the best-selling biographer of Donald Trump (among others) and author of the single-best political memoir in existence, It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand. He was 80 years old.

Jerry’s son, J.D. Tuccille, is a columnist for Reason and we extend our deepest condolences to him and his family. The libertarian movement has lost one of its greats with his passing, a phenomenal writer and thinker whose intellectual curiosity was only outmatched by his energy and honesty.

Jerry’s professional home page is here and his Amazon page is here. An investment manager by day, he wrote more than 30 books over the course of his career, on topics ranging such as his quixotic run for governor of New York on the Libertarian Party ticket; biographies of Donald Trump, Alan Greenspan, Barry Diller, and Rupert Murdoch; and histories of the Gallo wine empire and black “buffalo soliders” who fought with distinction in the Spanish-American War even as they faced institutional racism in the Army. There were also novels such as Gallery of Fools (about inept art-heist criminals inspired by shady family members), analyses of “radical libertarianism” and futurism, investment-strategy books, and important contributions to the critical literature on Ernest Hemingway.

At Reason, we were lucky and honored to interview Jerry many times over the past decade. Here’s our interview with him about The Roughest Riders: The Untold Story of the Black Soldiers in the Spanish-American War, a book which showcases his talent for finding lost pockets of history that never should have been forgotten.

Jerry was also the first person to publish a biography on Donald Trump, doing so back in the mid-1980s as the future president was beginning to make his mark on the New York real estate scene. We talked with him in the fall of 2015, as the billionaire’s bid for the GOP nomination moved from comic sideshow to serious business. This interview is a reminder of one of the great things about Jerry: If you had a sharp insight, you can be pretty sure he had beaten you to it by a couple of decades.

Other interviews with him include a discussion of Gallo Be Thy Name, his history of the world’s greatest wine-making empire, and the reissue of 1972’s It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand.

Jerry wrote for Reason magazine over the years (read his archive) and here’s an excerpt of his bracingly caustic 1983 takedown of books by Alvin Toffler and Isaac Asimov. From “Spare Us These High-Tech Utopias!”:

Asimov seems totally oblivious to economic principles… He blames just about everything, including inflation, on overpopulation: too many people means too much demand and, hence, rising prices. He overlooks all the inflationary evils of big government, including the fact that we actually pay farmers not to produce food in this country. If too many people cause inflation and economic depression, why is Hong Kong, literally teeming with people, so prosperous while socialistic, underpopulated countries stagnate?

Asimov makes an eloquent case for getting government off the back of science. He believes in free, unregulated scientific research, unhampered by governmental restriction. His field he would decontrol, while imposing Draconian controls over just about everything else.

What arrogance! What a pity he didn’t extend his case for freedom to the whole arena of economic and social relationships. Alas, when reading Asimov, it pays to be discriminating. The man is witty, and he’s a charmer. The Roving Mind is chock-full of stimulating, well-stated ideas. It’s just that some of the ideas happen to be dangerous.

Farewell, Jerome Tuccille. You made the world a better and more interesting place and you left everyone you touched through your writings smarter and excited to change the world.

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Jerome Tuccille, Author of It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand and More, RIP – Reason (blog)

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John Howard backs Liberal preference deal with One Nation in WA – The Guardian

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:45 am

John Howard confronted by One Nation supporters on a visit to the NSW central coast in 2001. The then PM responded to the threat of One Nation to the Liberal partys electoral fortunes by refusing to preference them Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP

The Western Australian Liberal deal with Pauline Hansons One Nation has been given the blessing of the former prime minister John Howard, despite his 2001 edict it must be placed last on his partys how-to-vote cards.

Adding star power to the Liberal election campaign in Perth on Thursday, the nations second-longest-serving prime minister said the WA division made a very sensible, pragmatic decision to cut a deal with the rightwing party.

I fully understand why the WA Liberal party has taken the decision, he told reporters at a shopping centre in the seat of Southern River on Thursday, when he received almost entirely positive responses from voters and children.

Howard said One Nation had morphed into a different beast since his 2001 instructions, although he still didnt agree with everything it espoused.

Everyone changes in 16 years, he said. Trying to understand that decision and decisions that were taken by various iterations of the Liberal party 15 or 16 years ago is ridiculous.

Everyone changes in 16 years … I think its entirely sensible

This is a different set of circumstances. I think its entirely sensible that the party has done whats its done.

The Greens were the only ones who hadnt changed, he said, and advocating dismantling the US alliance illustrated the partys continuing extremism.

The idea that people would see the current One Nation party as more extreme than the Greens is ridiculous, Howard said. And whos playing footsie with the Greens the Australian Labor party.

His comments came after the WA premier, Colin Barnett, refused to be drawn on whether the Liberals were morally wrong to seal the deal, snubbing alliance partners the Nationals, which retaliated with its preferences.

Barnett admitted some of the headline-grabbing views of candidates were abhorrent but said it was a numbers game and he had an election to win.

The latest comments from One Nation hopefuls dogging the party reportedly came from the now-deactivated Twitter account of Richard Eldridge, who is contesting an upper house seat in Perths South Metropolitan region.

In the posts, Eldridge, a real estate agent, advocated killing Indonesian journalists and also attacked the gay community, black people and Muslims.

Old social media posts are also haunting Michelle Myers, who was nominated for the newly-created seat of Bateman.

On Facebook last year, she said the gay community used Nazi-style mind control to get people to support same-sex marriage and has recently been protesting against abortion outside a reproductive health clinic in Midland, where women also get fertility treatment.

In absolutely no way do I endorse the policies or candidates of One Nation, Barnett told reporters. I find some of those comments absolutely abhorrent.

Im not going to be defending One Nation go and talk to Pauline.

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President Donald Trump is a TV addict – MyDaytonDailyNews

Posted: at 1:18 am

There’s a case building that television more than wealth or family or real estate, certainly more than politics – is what President Donald Trump loves most.

The evidence was there all along. A camera in the room is the only thing that seems to truly animate him, for it brings with it the promise of big (or easily inflatable) ratings. A television show is the only thing that ever offered Trump, briefly, a unanimous and undisputed success. Absent the camera, he is an even bigger fan of watching TV, much like his fellow Americans who harbor a hard addiction to watching cable-news shows morning, noon and night.

There have been reports (usually anonymously sourced) that some of Trump’s staff members wish he didn’t watch so much, but why would he stop? The long-offered promise of truly interactive TV has arrived for at least one American: him. Cable news hangs on his every word, while he returns the favor by mimicking some of its worst talking points, often within enough minutes to create an unsettling semblance of harmony.

Sad! As HBO’s John Oliver showed in a clip Sunday night on the long-awaited return of his satirical politics show, “Last Week Tonight,” Trump is so addicted to cable news that the cabin of Air Force One now echoes with the cheapo commercials that accompany his all-day diet of noise, including the Empire flooring jingle (“Eight-hundred, five-eight-eight …”) Our president, Oliver joked, is like the septuagenarian who has collapsed and died alone in a house with the TV blaring; it takes neighbors days to notice anything amiss.

Thus, Oliver concluded, the only way to get a factual argument across to the president is to make a set of catheter ads to air during cable news, featuring a folksy ol’ cowboy who subliminally explains such necessary concepts as the nuclear triad. Oliver’s ads began airing in the Washington, D.C., market on Monday morning on Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Maybe just maybe Trump noticed.

Meanwhile, a fomenting Trump resistance movement has seen that televised mockery might be effective in creating the sort of tiny cracks that eventually cause meaningful collapse. The mockery required for this job is not the kind of whip-smart, fact-based, ironic criticism inherited from Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” and still practiced with dedicated verve by TBS’ Samantha Bee, NBC’s Seth Meyers, CBS’ Stephen Colbert and Oliver (who spent 24 minutes Sunday night on a segment devoted to the preservation of the concept of “facts.”)

Rather it’s the plain, old fashioned, over-the-top mockery that shows a White House hopelessly out of control, compromised, flaccid from the get-go and comically inept. This was best displayed by none other than Melissa McCarthy, a comedic film and TV star recruited by her pals at NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” to lampoon White House press secretary Sean Spicer on the show’s Feb. 4 episode and again a week later.

The sketches were so brutally effective – starting from their obvious top layer of derision for Spicer’s bellicose, combative style, all the way down to the more ingeniously subliminal dig of having women portray the innumerable men who surround and advise the president – that they set off a wave of excitement on the left: Can it really be as easy as dishing up the most basic form of insult humor and then broadcasting it far and wide? Does electoral revenge reside in a barrage of unsophisticated, easy-to-write, tiny-hands jokes (or, in a supercut from Oliver’s show, the insultingly spot-on “Donald Trump doesn’t know how to shake hands”), rather than a clever, humorously but laboriously spun counterpoint of wonky facts?

Perhaps. In anticipation of “SNL’s” Feb. 11 episode, hosted for the 17th time by actor Alec Baldwin, who has found some always-needed career rejuvenation as the show’s go-to Trump impersonator since last fall’s campaign, America’s TV addicts and critics (who now include most of the political press corps) rubbed their hands together in anticipatory glee: Would the episode be just mildly devastating or completely annihilating?

That the episode was found a tad wanting is nothing new to lifetime “SNL” watchers. The show is nothing if not a decades-long study in demand-resistance, causing its viewers to always desire more than it actually delivers. Lorne Michaels, who now controls far more of the TV comedy realm than a mere 90 minutes on Saturday nights, wisely avoids taking requests from his audience, because we tend, as a voting bloc, to suggest the easiest and least original premises and jokes.

Yet, sensing the desires of the internet zeitgeist, “SNL” featured a short, melancholy film in which cast member Leslie Jones floated the idea that she, not Baldwin, should step into the role of Trump. Her fellow cast members interrogated her intent as Jones sat in a makeup chair acquiring an orange comb-over, wondering whether there’s a workable shtick here: Could having a black woman play Trump be an effective weapon against the watcher-in-chief? The ultimate insult, as it were?

This assumes that Trump still watches “SNL.” He may profess not to – but honestly, come on. It’s hard to believe that he’d be able to resist looking at anything that’s about him, or even, perhaps, taking credit for the show’s impressive jump in ratings. “SNL” is now enjoying its highest-rated season in 22 years, according to Variety.

Lest anyone forget, many viewers of “SNL” still hold the show culpable in providing some of the crucial hot air that floated Trump to his many victories, by allowing him to host while he was a serious contender for the presidential race. The time for truly effective mockery came and went while “SNL” and the rest of the comedy world dilly-dallied with Trump.

All presidents have watched more than their share of TV. One thinks of LBJ’s custom array of TV sets in the Oval Office to track all three networks in breaking-news situations, or the Reagans enjoying a night in front of the tube with their TV dinner tray tables. Even the Obamas made sure to get on the inside track with HBO, having “Game of Thrones” screeners delivered before they aired.

As we continue to ask ourselves what Trump watches, and how or if it shapes his decisions, it’s probably worth noting that there’s a lot he doesn’t watch – or at least, we’ve never been told of anything remotely interesting in his DVR queue.

If insider accounts are to be believed, it’s all news, all the time – and perhaps still looking in on NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice,” the show that still credits him as an executive producer even though he goes out of his way to pooh-pooh its current iteration. (About this, he’s not wrong. The only reason left to watch “Celebrity Apprentice” might be if you’re in a Nielsen family and want to irritate the president.)

In other words, he’s missing so much – some of the greatest television ever made, much of it rich in instructive, metaphorical storytelling about power and moral consequence.

Even though Trump appears to lack the necessary attention span, I still find myself wishing that he had joined me and the 10 or so other Americans who were transfixed by HBO’s “The Young Pope,” a befuddlingly beautiful 10-episode series that just concluded. It’s about a new pope, Pius XIII (Jude Law), who is determined to drain the swamp that is Vatican City. He is steadfast in his conservative beliefs and unconcerned with alienating the church’s liberal side. He loathes the press. He won’t travel. He is consumed by a sort of divine narcissism and he can deliver a real scorcher of a sermon to his underlings.

Yet, not only did Pius win over the cardinals with his agenda, he also, finally, convinced the rest of us that his aim was true. In 10 hours, he went from a horrifying firebrand to a persuasive messenger, maybe even a pope for the ages.

In this way, TV always has something to tell us, even when we’re the president. And the president might seem more human if he would very publicly pick up a few, well-made scripted shows and tell us what he thought about them. The first step is learning how to change the channel and break some bad viewing habits.

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Lynn Hummel column: Always something to panic about – Detroit Lakes Online

Posted: at 1:10 am

As a result, the computers controlling our banking systems, our hospitals, and our air control system would fail at midnight on December 31, 1999, and our bank accounts would be wiped out, our life support systems would come to a halt and patients would die on the operating table and airliners flying at midnight would crash because air controllers would be unable to communicate with pilots.

Those inclined to panic built shelters where they brought generators, huge quantities of water, a supply of food that would last for years, gold and silver and enough guns and ammo to protect themselves from neighbors who wanted to break in and share in the sanctuary.

Well, computer programmers worked out the conversion from 1999 to 2000 and January 1, 2000, began a happy new year without complications. I wonder if those who had prepared for the worst still have those generators, AK47s, ammo and pork and beans.

There is always something to panic about for people who are inclined to panic. The result is called “survivalism,” which is making of preparations for an expected long-term or complete breakdown of society, also known as THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT (TEOTWAWKI) or WHEN THE S_ _ _ HITS THE FAN (WTSHTS).

Those who do it seem to have two things in common: extreme paranoia and extreme wealth. It’s been going on for generations and it’s still going on today. Some call themselves “preps” (as in preparation).

One solution is former ICBM silos. There is a broker who sells old missile silos. The preps who buy them worry about events developing and if something like the Russian Revolution a total takeover of the government and takeover of private wealth. Some of them have outfitted themselves with private planes and helicopters.

One of the silos is found north of Wichita, Kansas. It is protected by a large steel gate with a guard dressed in camouflage and carrying an automatic rifle. Inside is a condo survival project, a 15-story luxury apartment complex. The silo cost the developer $300,000 and the construction was completed in December, 2012, at a cost of $20 million. The units are selling for $3 million each.

Other preppers believe that survival depends on getting as far away from America as possible. The destination of preference for these doomsayers seems to be New Zealand. There is a real estate broker in Auckland, New Zealand, who specializes in high net-worth clients looking for sanctuary in times of world crises. One client, a U.S. hedge-fund manager defends his interest “this is no longer about a handful of freaks worried about the world ending unless I’m one of those freaks.”

There is no limit to the possible disasters people worry about: The Bubonic Plague in Europe during the middle ages, the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, the Great Depression, the Global AIDS crisis, the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa, a nuclear war started by North Korea, a race war in America, another great flood (one group is building an arc), the U.S. government coming to confiscate our guns, a deliberate move by our Congress to dumb America down, or U.N. black helicopters occupying America to enforce a New World Order. You can think of other examples and so can I.

You can be a survivalist or a prepper if you are sufficiently panicky about real or imagined threats or disasters, but can you afford it? I can’t, so I’m hunkering down right here in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota with fresh flashlight batteries, pork and beans, chicken noodle soup, a can opener and lots of good books.

(NOTE: Order Lynn Hummel’s new book, The Last Word (171 articles, 310 pages) by sending $15.00 plus $3.00 postage ($10.00 plus postage for additional books) to Pony Express Books, 721 N. Shore Dr., Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, or order at: bevlyn@arvig.net.)

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Virtual reality industry ‘in need of a jump-start,’ Imax CEO says at new VR center – Los Angeles Times

Posted: February 15, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Richard Gelfond, chief executive of big-screen company Imax Corp.,unveiled his new virtual reality center Tuesday with a bullish plan to turn the nascent VR industry into a mainstream art form just like movies and video games.

It wont be easy. The VR business, Gelfond said, remains stuck in its early stages for now and badlyneeds a jump-start.

Though Hollywood and Silicon Valley have been touting virtual reality as the next big thing for several years, there are huge hurdles to its adoption in the entertainment industry. A major one is that the headsets and computing equipment the games require can cost thousands of dollars. Another problem: There arentenough compelling games to make VR worth the price.

Whether its the lack of content orconsumer access to headsets, the industry has been in a holding pattern, slow to go mainstream, Gelfond told reportersat Imaxs VR Experience Centre in Los Angeles.Its a complex ecosystem thats in need of a jump-start, and were here to start to provide the spark.

Gelfond and Imax are hoping to help fix those problems by makingbig bets on VR. The companyplans to open six pilot centers this year, including the Los Angeles location, which opened to the public last month.

The idea is to give people a place to play around with virtual reality games without having to pay that massive upfront cost of a full-on at-home setup.Customers pay $7 to $10 for a virtual reality experience, including games based on movies such as Lionsgates John Wick and TriStars The Walk, which allows daring customers to step on the virtual tightrope between the Twin Towers just like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the Robert Zemeckis film.

While VR may not be entirely ready for prime time at this moment, were excited about the opportunity, Gelfond said.Someone needs to shake things up.

Imax has made deals to build pilot centers in multiplexeswith AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group to test whether such attractions will help bring young people back to movie theaters. Each center costs Imax $250,000 to $400,000 to create, not counting real estate spending, Gelfond said. Imax has additional centers planned for Britain and China and is eyeing projects in Japan, the Middle East and Western Europe.

Imax has also made moves to fix the industrys content shortage. The company recently started afund with companies including Acer and CAA to finance new games for virtual reality headsets, totaling $50 million. In addition, Imax is working with Google to develop a newcinema-quality virtual reality camera.Hollywood has shown a lot of interest in virtual reality, but not for full-length movies made for headsets. Virtual reality experiences are meant to last up to 15minutes at the Imax center.

The company on Tuesday announced deals with David Ellisons production company Skydance Media and game publishing giant Ubisoft to provide content to the new centers. Skydances upcoming games include ascience-fiction first-person shooter called Archangel and Life VR, an experience tied to the companys upcoming space station thriller Life.Similar to the movie industry, Imax will share ticketing revenue with the gaming studios.

While the games will be available for at-home headsets, Ellison said locations such as the Imax centers are necessary to get the industry off the ground, much like arcadeswere in the early days of the video gaming industry.

The place most people are going to experience VR for the first time is going to be in places like Imax, Ellison told The Times.We very much want to be a first-mover and we hope to establish a brand with what were doing here.

The flagshipImax VR Centre, located across the street from the Grove shopping center, opened with a soft launchJan. 6. Gelfond said it has so far attracted 5,000 customers, and sales have steadily grown. But, he admits, the companys involvement with VR is still in very experimental stages.

These pilots are really going to be the testing ground, Gelfond told The Times.I look at this as a very flexible platform that is intended to be Imaxs flag in the ground and will evolve as we go along.

ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

@rfaughnder

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It took the power of Batman and PlayStation VR to turn a skeptic in an almost-believer

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Virtual reality industry ‘in need of a jump-start,’ Imax CEO says at new VR center – Los Angeles Times

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Letter: Worcester’s emergence in growing bioscience industry – Worcester Telegram

Posted: February 13, 2017 at 8:49 am

There are several prime reasons why Worcester could have significant bioscience industry growth. A main one certainly is the Downtown Grid District housing and new walkable city market. Also consider the increasing reliance of the nearby medical industry on biochemical solutions. This would be an attraction for Alexandria Partners, developers of real estate for biotech lab construction.

The main partners in growth will be the universities and hospitals as game makers. Worcester is the center of a rail and interstate network and the regional bioscience industry is showing vitality with mergers and acquisitions. Worcester is motivated to welcome this growth as a comeback city.

Here is certainly the attractive approach of Alexandria Partners with a huge presence in East Cambridge and Silicon Valley. They are a true leader of the nationwide bioscience surge of lab construction. Consider the rewards, that all this life science research is improving human longevity and happiness to benefit all.

Let’s celebrate Worcester as a new science product generation center of Massachusetts because of the startup real estate prices. They certainly should attract Alexandria Partners and other developers of bioscience labs.

Robert O’Neil

Framingham

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Why this analyst is warning investors to steer clear of virtual reality in 2017 – L.A. Biz

Posted: February 12, 2017 at 7:18 am

Outside of trade shows, there is limited consumer interest in VR, according to Windsor. Among several reasons for the pushback on VR devices, foremost among is cost, he said. VR headsets can run several hundreds of dollars, they also require an expensive personal computer to function.

The devices tend to be large, clunky and uncomfortable to wear,” Windsor wrote, and “in many cases they also make the user feel foolish when wearing one.

VR in cuts the user off from almost all sensory inputs from his immediate environment severely limiting the situations in which the user would feel comfortable using one, Windsor said. Several VR devices also require an HDMI cable, which prevents the user from moving freely and increases the risk of a fall.

Windsor pointed out that many users describe feelings of nausea associated with VRs imperfect replication of the real world compared to what the brain is expecting.

In some stores entire days have gone by without a single demo being given, Windsor said of Oculus. Best Buy will continue to range the Oculus Rift but the real estate given up will be re-used for products that produce better sales per square foot.

While VR may have a limited future with consumers, Windsor believes that augmented reality (AR) holds massive appeal for enterprise customers. Unlike virtual reality, which is total immersion in a computer generated world, AR is the blending of virtual reality and the real world, allowing users to add virtual overlays to glasses conjuring about something like the visuals in the sci-fi movies Minority Report or Iron Man.

Augmented reality has uses in areas like e-commerce, browsing, streaming, advertising, consumer apps, games and theme park rides. Companies to watch in the space include ODG, Microsoft HoloLens, Meta, Atheer Labs and Magic Leap, according to Windsors report.

The AR user experience is still miles from where it needs to be but critically it does offer productivity improvements that have led to many companies trialling it particularly for employees in the field, Windsor wrote. Hence AR in the enterprise should see both unit shipment growth as well as good growth in revenues from software and services in 2017.

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Why this analyst is warning investors to steer clear of virtual reality in 2017 – L.A. Biz

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What’s the Difference Between Blockchains, Cryptocurrency, Audit … – Electronic Design

Posted: February 11, 2017 at 7:54 am

Blockchains are nothing more signed, peer-to-peer, distributed ledger databases. Okay, were all done here.

No?

Alright, blockchains are a bit more complicated than thatand more useful than they might sound. Most will know blockchains from BitCoin, one of the many cryptocurrencies based on them. But cryptocurrencies are only one use for blockchains. Before getting into applications, lets take a look at what a blockchain system looks like and how it operates.

To start, you need to know about public key encryption and digital signatures, because the blocks in a blockchain are digitally signed and the blockchain nodes are authenticated to each other (Fig. 1). This allows them to maintain their copy of the blockchain and determine whether information from other nodes is accurate. Those providing nodes to the blockchain must also have their own encryption keys so they can sign their blocks.

A blockchain is actually a logical entity maintained by a blockchain node. It is designed to be a mostly read-only database that grows over time as blocks are added (Fig. 2). Block payloads are accepted by a node and distributed to its peers. There is an acceptance process and verification of digital signatures, but eventually a block will be validated by enough nodes for the block to be permanently added to the blockchain.

At this point, the added block will be replicated in a majority of nodes, and the rest will eventually catch up. This means that all nodes will have a moving high water mark that the collection of nodes agrees with, but the databases will probably not be identical across all the nodes at any point in time.

The idea is that the payload of a block can be accessed by an external entity and used to generate a subsequent block that will get incorporated into the blockchain. A typical example is where a block contains a logical value that is split in half and assigned to two new blocks. The signatures for these new blocks can be used to allow one of the new blocks to contain this new value. Incorporating the new blocks into the blockchain will mark the original block as used and the two new blocks as active.

The system is robust because the blockchain database is replicated. All nodes can accept new blocks and all nodes do not have to be active or accessible all the time although a quorum is needed to activate new blocks.

The challenge for blockchain systems is to maintain performance and scalability as the system grows. A lot depends upon the frequency of updates and the number of systems involved overall in addition to the network. Many blockchain systems operate on the internet, but that isnt a requirement. They can be used in closed networks as well.

So, back to cryptocurrencies.

A cryptocurrency is a digital asset that can be an exchange medium. These days, cyptocurrencies tend to be implemented using a blockchain. This allows transactions using the cryptocurrency to occur in a decentralized, distributed fashion. Cryptocurrencies are relatively new (the aforementioned Bitcoin started in 2009).

The payload of a block indicates the amount of money involved in a transaction. How these values are created and manipulated depend upon the system being employed and the players involved in the system. Most cryptocurrencies use a timestamping scheme so a trusted third party does not need to be involved in the system.

Most cryptocurrency systems use a proof-of-work scheme to create a new block or BitCoin. BitCoin uses proof-of-work schemes are based on SHA-256. It is also used by LiteCoin. It is also possible to use proof-of-stake schemes as well.

BitCoins are created by mining. This uses the hashcash proof-of-work function that is designed to take a lot of computational cycles but not much else. Specialized hardware has been developed to create BitCoins. The amount of time needed to generate just one BitCoin varies significantly depending upon the hardware used.

Just about any application that requires a registered ledger is a candidate for blockchain support. Many embedded applications simply need a single database, but if there is a need for a more robust solution, blockchains might make sense.

Blockchains have been touted as solutions for all sorts of applications. For example, there are a number of efforts to use them in educational environments. In this instance, the various records, testing, and certifications a person earns are tracked using blocks. This approach allows for the distribution of this information. The blocks normally do not contain all the information, but rather, links to digitally signed packages.

Blockchains can also be used for conventional ledger-based applications. These applications include backend clearing and settlement. They could be used in real estate transactions, for tracking music or other multimedia content, or even for handling contracts.

Blockchain use is still in its infancy. Security remains a key component and it should not be overlooked when considering or using this technology. Incorrect implementations can cause significant security problems. Developers also need to consider the scope of implementation, frequency of updates, and hardware and storage requirements.

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What’s the Difference Between Blockchains, Cryptocurrency, Audit … – Electronic Design

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Liberal land – Richfield Reaper

Posted: February 9, 2017 at 6:42 am

Stan Ivie likens Donald Trump to a Pied Piper, leading we mesmerized villagers into an alternative reality. Lets look at the reality of what I call Liberal Land.

In Liberal Land, so-called feminists march in protest, dressed like womens privates, screaming obscenities that would make sailors blush, allowing their children to carry vulgarity-laced signs.

Madonna announces she thinks about blowing up the White House. Ashley Judd likens Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

Another featured speaker Donna Hylton, convicted in 1985 of the murder of a New York real estate broker. Before he died, Hylton and others tortured the victim in ways so gruesome this newspaper would not print them. Their mantra abortion on demand. Great role models all.

No boys or girls in Liberal Land. Teachers refer to kids in gender-neutral terms such as purple penguins. Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn, the first man to be voted woman of the year.

If youre male, but feel female, its OK to use the womens restroom. The term expectant mother banned in Britain, because it might offend somebody.

Heroes are snubbed (Chris Kyle), thugs iconized (Michael Brown), victims dismissed (Kate Steinle), traitors excused (Bowe Bergdahl).

Patriotism is racist; individualism, taboo; globalism, supreme; national sovereignty, an abomination; killing the unborn, glorified.

Its open season on cops. Black on black murder, ignored. Block the freeway if you feel oppressed. Burning, looting and destroying other peoples property is condoned.

Denizens of Liberal Land hail themselves as pro-feminist, pro-gay/lesbian/transgender and defenders of children, yet laud Islam and Sharia law, which views women as property, supports female mutilation, pedophilia, child marriage, barbaric execution of dissidents, and the murder of gays tossing them alive from building tops.

In Liberal Land, you can marry anyone or anything you want. Same sex marriage is OK. If gender doesnt matter, neither does age. Soon, adults will be allowed to marry children. Marry your dog, your car, a rhinoceros. Whatever you want. Beware the horn.

Free speech? Tolerated so long as its liberal speech. Colleges, historically bastions of the open exchange of ideas, are now little more than dispensaries of liberal propaganda. Conservative speakers are banned from campuses, or forced to flee because of leftist riots.

Those who libs disagree with are given derogatory labels monikers such as racist, fascist, bigot, narrow-minded, misogynist, xenophobe, islamophobe, homophobe and, a Stan Ivie classic, mesmerized villagers.

Ill take the Pied Piper, thank you.

Kevin Jones

Annabella

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Liberal land – Richfield Reaper

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