Archive for 2010
Pizza and a business plan
Here is a wonderful story of craftsmanship in the modern age and its interaction with business expectations. There is a very small, but reportedly excellent, pizza place in Chicago called “Great Lake”; and I learnt about it when a friend referred me to an article about its culture, its success and the consequences published by the New York Times.
The effect of extremely good reviews has been that they have been overwhelmed by demand and some customers have reacted unfavourably as a result. I think that they should stick to their guns and not compromise their principles and standards. However, this does not mean that they could not be doing some other things too!
There also seems to be an interesting systems story here! Read the rest of this entry »
US politics and health care
The latest political spin in the U.S. is that the Democrats lost the seat that was held by the late Senator Edward Kennedy in Massachusetts because the people “just don’t understand the health care legislation.” It is not, so they say, that the legislation is bad or that it will raise taxes or result in rationing. No, it is not the legislation at all. It is that the White House has failed to communicate the key elements of the health care legislation clearly.
I beg to disagree. I think that we, the electorate, understand the legislation, but we do not like it, and do not want it. We do not want it shoved down our throats; we do not want our tax dollars used to blatantly buy off votes for the legislation; we do not want our voices to be ignored.
And the White House knows that the public has turned against this legislation because it now knows more about the bill, not less. Why else would they endorse the secretive, closed-door sessions to draft the language of the bill? Why else would they want to hide the legislation from the light of day, from the scrutiny of the press and the public? Because the less we know, the more likely it is that this shameful legislation will slither through and become law.
So, spare us, White House. The reason people do not like the health care legislation is not because you haven’t communicated it clearly enough. It’s because we understand it all too well.
By Sherry Jarrell
A sad story just becomes …. well, sadder.
Only the most discerning of news-followers will have picked up the fact that the British government has recently abandoned a long-held position on Tibet and now fully recognizes China’s direct rule over the country.
A recent article in the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, explains all this far better than I could, but what intrigues me is WHY this has been done now and WHAT concessions have been made by China.
In truth, the Chinese Communist Party is not renowned for making concessions, so one suspects that the Tibetans have simply been sold down the river to gain general political kudos with the Chinese government, even though the former have an extremely good case in their claim for autonomy within China (independence having been abandoned in the cause of realism). Of course, Britain, France, the US and other western states are the world champions of freedom, democracy and the right to self-determination, aren’t they? Well, perhaps not …..
As far as Learning from Dogs is concerned, the main question is that of integrity. Should we simply change our political policies for convenience? Labour government ministers and indeed even Chris Patten, former Conservative Governor of Hong Kong, have referred to the previous view on Tibetan independence as “a quaint eccentricity”. However, I very much doubt whether the Tibetans – who after all live there and form the majority (or at least DID until they were ethnically-swamped by the Han Chinese) – would consider as an eccentricity the overnight and unheralded abandonment of yet one more hope in their fight for justice.
If the previous position was right for nearly 100 years then why is it suddenly wrong? What happened? Were we wrong all that time and have suddenly seen the light? That couldn’t be for reasons of expediency, could it?
And what HAVE the British gained? Apparently, there was no attempt to gain anything, since “The Chinese were not pushing for this.” Well, if they weren’t, then why give it? As it happens, the rather pathetic Dalai Lama is engaged in yet more “negotiations” with the CPP. I can just imagine the smirks on the Chinese side. The Tibetans didn’t have many cards to start with; now their only Ace has been well and truly trumped.
By Chris Snuggs
That precious start-of-the-day time.
Most mornings I surface between 6 and 7 am and like to take the dogs out for an early walk. I cut across the green and into the forest, following a short route which takes me back round past the cricket pitch, which at this time of the year has some protective poles round the wicket area.
Every day is different and the colour in the trees that fringe the common is always changing. Each tree is a different type and it is the shape on the horizon that I like to watch, picked out in silhouette form as the sun comes up from behind.
As I walk round at this quiet time my mind seems to have a clarity which enables me to focus on what I should be doing during the day.
Occasionally there will be a squirrel or bird high in the tress.
But for the last five years I have normally seen a buzzard, England’s largest bird. The colour of this bird make it hard to pick out against the background but it seems that his habit at this time of the day is to fly from post to post round the cricket pitch, and when I finally come near he will fly off into the trees.
Perhaps illogically but I have been somewhat concerned that this bird should always be on its own. Recently, though, I have heard it calling, a noise I never heard before. So you can imagine how pleased I was yesterday actually to see two birds. My buzzard has finally found a mate.
Then for me it is back home, shower, make a tray of tea for the family who are now with Mum in bed for ten minutes before they too get dressed and get ready for school.
What are we? Lucky people!
By Bob Derham
Here’s a surprise!
The engine of world economic growth is sputtering. The most clear evidence of this is the lack of new business formation in developed nations across the globe. Over the last year, the number of entrepreneurs starting new businesses in the wealthiest of nations dropped 10% from the 2006-07 level; in the U.S., that number fell by 24%.
The contaminants in the fuel line are oppressive government policies that increase the cost of doing business, increase unemployment, and raise the risks to the current labor force of quitting their jobs to try to start new businesses.
At a time when government should be encouraging venture capitalists and the formation of new business, it is instead putting on the brakes to this source of economic growth in the form of cap and trade, compensation regulations, fees on banks, and myriad other explicit and implicit new taxes. In 2009, nearly half of U.S. employment was generated by small businesses; U.S. companies started through venture capital employed more than 12 million people, or 11 percent of private sector employment, and generated $2.9 trillion in revenues, or 21 percent of U.S. GDP.
Fully 100% of economic growth is created in private industry. Government simply redistributes that wealth, destroying some portion of it in the process. Never have we needed non-interventionist government policies more.
By Sherry Jarrell
Learning from Dogs big time!
This Blog came about because of a conversation with fellow Blog founder, Jon Lavin. Jon was talking about integrity and how it applies to us in the sense of Truth and Falsehood: that leading truthful and integrous lives is much more than the rather warm and patronising way that the phrase might come over.
Indeed, understanding the power that comes from leading truthful lives and how an individual’s power and level of consciousness can be enhanced through greater integrity, understanding, and compassion could be the most remarkable discovery that any one person could make. Dr David Hawkins, who has written extensively on this subject, has said;
A science of consciousness developed which revealed that degrees of truth reflect concordant calibratable levels of consciousness on a scale of 1 to 1,000. When this verifiable test of truth was applied to multiple aspects of society (movies, art, politics, music, sociology, religion, scientific theories, spirituality, philosophy, everyday Americana, and all the countries of the world), the results were startling.
Returning to that conversation with Jon, it was pointed out that dogs have been calibrated as having a level of consciousness of 210. As a score of 200 is the boundary between truth and falsehood, according to Hawkins, this made dogs integrous, hence the inspiration for starting this Blog. My German Shepherd, Pharaoh, sleeping on the floor close to Jon and me, made the point. Despite being a difficult dog at times, he had always demonstrated a consistency of integrity that was impressive.
Anyway, to the point of this Post – a dog called Faith.
Capitalising on people’s fears
I often feel that a situation is manipulated by fear. The word is regularly used on television and in the newspapers, and once the thought is planted it is easy to influence the masses!
I was not surprised to read that the Head of Health at the Council of Europe, Dr. Wolfgang Wodard, had said flu drug
makers had influenced the World Health Organisation to declare Swine flu as a pandemic so they could rake in millions.
Earlier virus outbreaks of Bird Flu, SARS, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and West Nile virus all had major news coverage lasting weeks, but despite the scare mongering, only six deaths, for example, were attributed to Bird Flu. 1.5 million chickens were slaughtered!
The initial “breaking news” regarding Swine flu warned of 65,000 possible deaths, however the campaign of panic provided a golden opportunity for representatives from the drugs companies to lay the golden egg.
To date only 251 deaths have been attributed to the N1H1 bug, and Dr Wodarg, who made the accusation, said it was just a normal flu. The swine flu scare was faked by greedy drug companies, he claimed.
I wonder how, as if by magic, the research, testing and the availability of millions of injections could be there ready for this unexpected outbreak.
In America a few years ago, the news about Anthrax being sent through the post to a government office lasted weeks. Cheap news, Scare mongering, Fear.
Have we moved on to a situation where we create commercial business at the expense of ourselves.
Big business? We wait now for the emergency debate on the issue at the end of the month.
By Bob Derham
First, here’s the story that has been fairly widely reported. While I am quoting from a BBC News website, the story has appeared in other journals.
A Bangladeshi taxi driver in New York City has gone out of his way to track down the person who left thousands of dollars in cash in the back of his cab.
Mukul Asadujjaman, a medical student, drove nearly 80kms (50 miles) to an address he found with the money.
He left his phone number when he found no one at home. The money belonged to an Italian grandmother visiting the US.
Mr Asadujjaman was offered a reward, but he turned it down saying that as a devout Muslim he could not accept it.
Felicia Lettieri, of Pompeii, Italy, and six relatives had taken two cabs on Christmas Eve, Newsday newspaper reported.
Mrs Lettieri, 72, left her purse behind, with more than $21,000 of the group’s travelling money, jewellery worth thousands more, and some of their passports.
Her sister, Francesca Lettieri, 79, of Long Island, said the honest driver had saved her family’s vacation.
“We really love what he did,” she said.
A gracious Asadujjaman was quoted by the newspaper as saying that he may be broke, but he was also honest.
“My mother is my inspiration. She always said to be honest and work hard.”
Mr Asadujjaman called a friend with a car and drove some 80km to a Long Island address in the purse.
No one was at home, so he left his phone number and a note, the report said.
His phone rang a short time later and he drove back to return the bag.
“They were so, so, so happy,” Mr Asadujjaman told the paper.
Asked if he was tempted to keep the cash, Mr Asadujjaman said the money would have allowed him more time to study, “but my heart said this is not good”.
He also turned down a reward, saying he could not accept it as a devout Muslim, Newsday reported.
“I’m needy, but I’m not greedy,” he said. “It’s better to be honest.”
Mr Asadujjaman is not the first honest American-Bangladeshi cabbie to hit the headlines for noble behaviour.
In 2007, driver Osman Chowdhury returned a lost bag containing diamond rings worth $500,000 to the rightful owner.