For my family and I, having had health issues over the past eleven weeks, I’m not too sure I really want to know the future.  I just might freak out.  Someone might have to talk me off the ledge.  We all would love to know the future until we know it.  That’s when problems arise.  I got to thinking about this coming back from the Post Office this morning.  One major road in the Brainerd area of Chattanooga is Brainerd Road.  Sitting right there, next door to McDonalds is “Psychic Readings by Ms. Taylor”.   That “establishment” has been there for over forty years.  Never been in—never will go in but I do wonder what type of guarantee, if any, is given after a reading.  Who knows?

Now, the population of greater Chattanooga according to the 2104 census is 173,778 people. Not too small, not too big.  Just right in my opinion.  Do you know how many psychic readers there are in Chatta-boogie?  Take a look at the list below.

  • Psychic Center of Chattanooga
  • Psychic Readings by Ms. Taylor
  • Psychic Readings by Ms. Evette
  • Psychic Readings by Cecelia
  • Psychic Isabella
  • Psychic Readings by Gianna
  • Jackie Bradshaw Psychic Reader & Love Reuniting Expert
  • Keen – Psychics
  • Diane love specialist
  • Psychic Readings by Donna
  • Psychic Center
  • Medium
  • America’s #1 Love Psychic Jacqueline
  • Readings by Mrs. Fatima
  • AskNow
  • Psychic Source
  • psychic readings by Eva
  • Psychic Readings by Phone Call Now

That’s  one (1) psychic reader for every 9,654 people.  One good thing—not much waiting and most are open twenty-four (24) hours per day.  OK, with that being the case, I have copied the “list of services” one reader can give a client.  Please take a look, as follows:

Top 3 requested readings: Love/Relationship Reading (addresses all love matters questions/concerns), Psychic Reading (addresses the here and now, unfolding the future), Spiritual Reading (Connect with your spirit guides for an overall healing of the mind, body and spirit). SPECIALIST in relationship crisis, and reuniting lovers. Superior accuracy with 35 years’ experience. Any reading your choice $55.00. Born a naturally gifted psychic spiritualist, Psychic Cecelia offers readings on love, business, marriage, love affairs, relationship crisis, court matters and family discord. Any reading you choose to do will amaze you with the most accurate details of information, that will end your skepticism. Call now and allow my spirit guides to address all of your questions and concerns. You’ll find there is a better way to solve the matters that keep you awake at night. Are you struggling to find a path to inner peace, success or career choice? Do you have a love problem you cannot solve alone? With a wealth of experience and knowledge my psychic vibes allow me to touch base with my callers, and furthermore telepathically communicate with their spirit, and their particular situation. If you’re interested in an accurate psychic reading, then call today. All readings guaranteed private and confidential. Call now and receive the most in depth accurate reading on love, marriage, and business.

This is BIG—really big and with being the case, just imagine the aid Ms. Cecelia could give in addressing the following problems:

  • Peace in the Middle-East
  • Appointing a new FBI Director
  • National Debt
  • Student Loan Defaults
  • North Korea Mad Man Kim Jong-un
  • Trade Deficit
  • Overwhelming Drug Use in the United States
  • Environmental Issues; i.e. Global Warming

You get the picture.  Just think of what we are missing by NOT allowing Ms. Cecelia in on the solution to these burdensome problems.  Just blows my mind as to why the “FED” has not come to this conclusion before.  Then again, maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way.  As always, I welcome your comments.

NATIONAL TELEPHONE DAY

April 25, 2017


OK, are you ready for a bit of ridiculous trivia?  Today, 25 April 2017, is National Telephone Day.  I do not think there will be any denial that the telephone has revolutionized communication the world over.

It was February 14, 1876, when Marcellus Bailey, one of Alexander Graham Bell’s attorneys rushed into the US Patent office in Boston to file for what would later be called the telephone. Later that same day, Elisha Gray filed a patent caveat for a similar device. A caveat is an intent to file for a patent. There is also a third contender, Antonio Meucci.  Mr. Meucci filed a caveat in November of 1871 for a talking telegraph but failed to renew the caveat due to hardships. Because Bell’s patent was submitted first, it was awarded to him on March 7, 1876. Gray contested this decision in court, but without success.

Born March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Bell was an instructor at a boys’ boarding school. The sounds of speech were an integral part of his life. His father developed a “Visible Speech” system for deaf students to communicate. Bell would later become friend and benefactor of Helen Keller. Three days after his patent was approved, Bell spoke the first words by telephone to his assistant. “Mr. Watson, come here! I want to see you!”  By May of the same year, Bell and his team were ready for a public demonstration, and there would be no better place than the World’s Fair in Philadelphia. On May 10, 1876, in a crowded Machinery Hall a man’s voice was transmitted from a small horn and carried out through a speaker to the audience. One year later, the White House installed its first phone. The telephone revolution began. Bell Telephone Company was founded on July 9, 1877, and the first public telephone lines were installed from Boston to Sommerville, Massachusetts the same year.  By the end of the decade, there were nearly 50,000 phones in the United States.  In May of 1967, the 1 millionth telephone was installed.

Growing up in in the 50’s, I remember the rotary telephone shown by the digital picture below.  We were on a three-party line.  As I recall, ours was a two-ring phone call.  Of course, there was snooping.  Big time snooping by the other two families on our line.

Let’s take a quick look at how the cell phone has literally taken over this communication method.

  • The number of mobile devices rose nine (9) percent in the first six months of 2011, to 327.6 million — more than the 315 million people living in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Wireless network data traffic rose 111 percent, to 341.2 billion megabytes, during the same period.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world. Sixty-four percent( 64) ofAmerican adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from thirty-five percent (35%) in the spring of 2011. Smartphone ownership is especially high among younger Americans, as well as those with relatively high income and education levels.
  • Ten percent (10%) of Americans own a smartphone but do not have any other form of high-speed internet access at home beyond their phone’s data plan.
  • Using a broader measure of the access options available to them, fifteen percent (15% of Americans own a smartphone but say that they have a limited number of ways to get online other than their cell phone.
  • Younger adults — Fifteen percent (15%) of Americans ages 18-29 are heavily dependent on a smartphone for online access.
  • Those with low household incomes and levels of educational attainment — Some thirteen percent (13%) of Americans with an annual household income of less than $30,000 per year are smartphone-dependent. Just one percent (1%) of Americans from households earning more than $75,000 per year rely on their smartphones to a similar degree for online access.
  • Non-whites — Twelve percent (12%) of African Americans and thirteen percent (13%) of Latinos are smartphone-dependent, compared with four percent (4%) of whites
  • Sixty-two percent (62%) of smartphone owners have used their phone in the past year to look up information about a health condition
  • Fifty-seven percent (57%) have used their phone to do online banking.
  • Forty-four percent (44%) have used their phone to look up real estate listings or other information about a place to live.
  • Forty-three percent (43%) to look up information about a job.
  • Forty percent (40%) to look up government services or information.
  • Thirty percent (30%) to take a class or get educational content
  • Eighteen percent (18%) to submit a job application.
  • Sixty-eight percent (68%) of smartphone owners use their phone at least occasionally to follow along with breaking news events, with thirty-three percent (33%) saying that they do this “frequently.”
  • Sixty-seven percent (67%) use their phone to share pictures, videos, or commentary about events happening in their community, with 35% doing so frequently.
  • Fifty-six percent (56%) use their phone at least occasionally to learn about community events or activities, with eighteen percent (18%) doing this “frequently.”

OK, by now you get the picture.  The graphic below will basically summarize the cell phone phenomenon relative to other digital devices including desktop and laptop computers. By the way, laptop and desktop computer purchases have somewhat declined due to the increased usage of cell phones for communication purposes.

The number of smart phone users in the United States from 2012 to a projected 2021 in millions is given below.

CONCLUSION: “Big Al” (Mr. Bell that is.) probably knew he was on to something.  At any rate, the trend will continue towards infinity over the next few decades.

 

DIGITAL READINESS GAPS

April 23, 2017


This post uses as one reference the “Digital Readiness Gaps” report by the Pew Center.  This report explores, as we will now, attitudes and behaviors that underpin individual preparedness and comfort in using digital tools for learning.

HOW DO ADULTS LEARN?  Good question. I suppose there are many ways but I can certainly tell you that adults my age, over seventy, learn in a manner much different than my grandchildren, under twenty.  I think of “book learning” first and digital as a backup.  They head straight for their i-pad or i-phone.  GOOGLE is a verb and not a company name as far as they are concerned.  (I’m actually getting there with the digital search methods and now start with GOOGLE but reference multiple sources before being satisfied with only one reference. For some reason, I still trust book as opposed to digital.)

According to Mr. Malcom Knowles, who was a pioneer in adult learning, there are six (6) main characteristics of adult learners, as follows:

  • Adult learning is self-directed/autonomous
    Adult learners are actively involved in the learning process such that they make choices relevant to their learning objectives.
  • Adult learning utilizes knowledge & life experiences
    Under this approach educators encourage learners to connect their past experiences with their current knowledge-base and activities.
  • Adult learning is goal-oriented
    The motivation to learn is increased when the relevance of the “lesson” through real-life situations is clear, particularly in relation to the specific concerns of the learner.
  • Adult learning is relevancy-oriented
    One of the best ways for adults to learn is by relating the assigned tasks to their own learning goals. If it is clear that the activities they are engaged into, directly contribute to achieving their personal learning objectives, then they will be inspired and motivated to engage in projects and successfully complete them.
  • Adult learning highlights practicality
    Placement is a means of helping students to apply the theoretical concepts learned inside the classroom into real-life situations.
  • Adult learning encourages collaboration
    Adult learners thrive in collaborative relationships with their educators. When learners are considered by their instructors as colleagues, they become more productive. When their contributions are acknowledged, then they are willing to put out their best work.

One very important note: these six characteristics encompass the “digital world” and conventional methods; i.e. books, magazines, newspapers, etc.

As mentioned above, a recent Pew Research Center report shows that adoption of technology for adult learning in both personal and job-related activities varies by people’s socio-economic status, their race and ethnicity, and their level of access to home broadband and smartphones. Another report showed that some users are unable to make the internet and mobile devices function adequately for key activities such as looking for jobs.

Specifically, the Pew report made their assessment relative to American adults according to five main factors:

  • Their confidence in using computers,
  • Their facility with getting new technology to work
  • Their use of digital tools for learning
  • Their ability to determine the trustworthiness of online information,
  • Their familiarity with contemporary “education tech” terms.

It is important to note; the report addresses only the adult proclivity relative to digital learning and not learning by any other means; just the available of digital devices to facilitate learning. If we look at the “conglomerate” from PIAA Fact Sheet, we see the following:

The Pew analysis details several distinct groups of Americans who fall along a spectrum of digital readiness from relatively more prepared to relatively hesitant. Those who tend to be hesitant about embracing technology in learning are below average on the measures of readiness, such as needing help with new electronic gadgets or having difficulty determining whether online information is trustworthy. Those whose profiles indicate a higher level of preparedness for using tech in learning are collectively above average on measures of digital readiness.  The chart below will indicate their classifications.

The breakdown is as follows:

Relatively Hesitant – 52% of adults in three distinct groups. This overall cohort is made up of three different clusters of people who are less likely to use digital tools in their learning. This has to do, in part, with the fact that these groups have generally lower levels of involvement with personal learning activities. It is also tied to their professed lower level of digital skills and trust in the online environment.

  • A group of 14% of adults make up The Unprepared. This group has bothlow levels of digital skills and limited trust in online information. The Unprepared rank at the bottom of those who use the internet to pursue learning, and they are the least digitally ready of all the groups.
  • We call one small group Traditional Learners,and they make up of 5% of Americans. They are active learners, but use traditional means to pursue their interests. They are less likely to fully engage with digital tools, because they have concerns about the trustworthiness of online information.
  • A larger group, The Reluctant,make up 33% of all adults. They have higher levels of digital skills than The Unprepared, but very low levels of awareness of new “education tech” concepts and relatively lower levels of performing personal learning activities of any kind. This is correlated with their general lack of use of the internet in learning.

Relatively more prepared – 48% of adults in two distinct groups. This cohort is made up of two groups who are above average in their likeliness to use online tools for learning.

  • A group we call Cautious Clickerscomprises 31% of adults. They have tech resources at their disposal, trust and confidence in using the internet, and the educational underpinnings to put digital resources to use for their learning pursuits. But they have not waded into e-learning to the extent the Digitally Ready have and are not as likely to have used the internet for some or all of their learning.
  • Finally, there are the Digitally Ready. They make up 17% of adults, and they are active learners and confident in their ability to use digital tools to pursue learning. They are aware of the latest “ed tech” tools and are, relative to others, more likely to use them in the course of their personal learning. The Digitally Ready, in other words, have high demand for learning and use a range of tools to pursue it – including, to an extent significantly greater than the rest of the population, digital outlets such as online courses or extensive online research.

CONCLUSIONS:

To me, one of the greatest lessons from my university days—NEVER STOP LEARNING.  I had one professor, Dr. Bob Maxwell, who told us the half-life of a graduate engineer is approximately five (5) years.  If you stop learning, the information you receive will become obsolete in five years.  At the pace of technology today, that may be five months.  You never stop learning AND you embrace existent technology.  In other words—do digital. Digital is your friend.  GOOGLE, no matter how flawed, can give you answers much quicker than other sources and its readily available and just plain handy.  At least, start there then, trust but verify.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

April 13, 2017


Each year the Brainerd Baptist Church of Chattanooga sponsors a “Spring Garden Party”.  As you might expect, this event determines Spring is not only here but winter will NOT come again for several months.  It is a marvelous event for their church and serves to get everyone together celebrating the beginning of the season.  Anyone living in Chattanooga can only look at the pollen count to know that bushes, shrubs, flowers, trees, etc. are in full bloom.  One great thing about the event is the marvelous creativity shown by table settings individually “constructed” for each table.  Brainerd Baptist facility is called the BX, and houses two basketball floors, weight room, in-door track, meeting rooms, and small diner.  It really is the meeting place for not only members of the Brainerd Baptists Church but the neighborhood in general.  We are going to take a pictorial look at several striking examples of the creativity demonstrated for each table. Not much narrative with this post—only digital photographs.  One thing I’m going to ask—please notice the great variety in table settings themselves.  Plates, utensils, napkins, etc.  They are unique for each table and definitely complement the overall theme for each table. I’m going to apologize up front for the photographic quality of several JPEGs.  I used the camera in my phone. Sometimes a hit and sometimes a miss.  Let’s take a look.

Above the stage was a three-panel sign announcing the event and welcoming the participants.

As you can see, the floor is immense and obviously large enough to accommodate approximately fifty (50) tables seating eight (8) individuals.  The efforts expended by the church members occurs over an entire week.  Each table is numbered with occupants of each table being asked by the host of that table to join the event.  A roster of table numbers and names if provided at the entry.

The Table 6 host has place settings that look like cabbage leaves.  Please note the purple cabbage leaves wrapped around the glasses.  Really unique.

You might have to look, but there are three (3) crosses displayed in the planter for this table arrangement. Notice the intricate design on the plates.

We all love popcorn.  This table represents an afternoon at the movies.

Table 21 is the jelly bean table.  The colors do not show up that much but there are beans in each jar.

Table 20

Table 13 is decorated with typical spring flowers called forsythia found in the Southeastern portion of our country.

The host for this table has gone international.  Beautiful centerpiece representing clothes worn in other countries.

The center piece displays white tulips.  I have no idea as to where the host found these beautiful flowers. Please note the napkins and utensils.

Table 4 shows a lamb as the centerpiece. Definitely a religions theme. Again, please note the salad plates showing a picture of a lamb.

We all love Easter bunnies.  The eggs are real hard-boiled eggs.

Table 17—Tea Cups

This table setting was by far the tallest with sunflowers or daisies gracing the centerpiece. You cannot really tell from this JPEG but each individual plate has the name of the person that will be sitting in that position. Really creative.

While walking the indoor track, I took a picture of tallest center piece from above.

This table featured the plate shown above at each of the eight positions. The color of the place mats varied from chair to chair.

Table 36 shows hot air balloons floating away.

The photo of Table 35 is a bit washed out but the colors were striking with this one.

Table 38 shows a vase with coffee beans as the center piece.  Really creative and colors were contrasting which gave a distinctive appearance.  If you look very carefully, you will notice individual Frappuccino “offerings” as favors.

You cannot imagine the beautiful spring flowers created by the host of table 30.

I certainly hope you enjoyed the tour.  Not much text—just beautiful and creative displays.


BIOGRAPHY:

Born in Louisiana in 1925, Elmore Leonard was inspired by Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. Leonard’s determination to be a writer stayed with him through a stint in the U.S. Navy and a job in advertising. His early credits include mostly Westerns, including 3:10 to Yuma. When that genre became less popular, Leonard turned to crime novels set in Detroit, Michigan, including Get ShortyJackie Brown and Out of Sight. The prolific writer died in Detroit on August 20, 2013, at age 87.

Famed Western/crime novelist Elmore John Leonard Jr. was born on October 11, 1925, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The early part of Leonard’s youth was largely defined by his family’s constant moves, which were the result of his father’s job as a site locator for General Motors. Not long after his 9th birthday, however, Leonard’s family found a permanent home in Detroit, Michigan.

It was in Detroit that Leonard got hooked on a serialization of the Erich Maria Remarque novel All Quite on the Western Front in the Detroit Times. The book became an inspiration for Leonard, who decided he wanted to try fiction writing as well. He wrote his first play that same year, when he was in fifth grade, and would go on to write for his high school paper.

After graduating from high school in 1943 and serving three subsequent years in the U.S. Navy, Leonard returned home and enrolled at the University of Detroit. As a college student, he pushed himself to write more, and graduated in 1950 with a dual degree in English and philosophy. Still an unknown, however, Leonard didn’t have the means to strike out on his own as a writer. Instead, he found work with an advertising agency, using his off time to draft stories—many of them Westerns.

When the popular demand for Westerns waned in the 1960s, Leonard focused on a new genre: crime. With stories often set against the gritty background of his native Detroit, Leonard’s crime novels, complete with rich dialogue and flawed central characters, earned the writer a group of dedicated readers. It wasn’t until the 1980s, however, that Leonard truly became a star. The man who never got enough publicity buzz, according to his fans, was suddenly appearing everywhere. In 1984, he landed on the cover of Newsweek under the label the “Dickens of Detroit.” Hollywood came calling shortly after, and many of Leonard’s novels were adapted into movies, including the crime smashes Get Shorty and Jackie Brown.

THE HOT KID:

That’s where we come in.  The title “HOT KID” refers to young Deputy U.S. Marshal Carl Webster, a quick-drawing, incredibly slick young man who wants to become the most famous lawman west of the Mississippi, and does little to hide his vanity. At fifteen (15) years of age, Webster witnessed the vicious Emmet Long shooting an officer in a drugstore robbery, but what rankled him the most is that Long snatched away Webster’s peach ice-cream cone and called him a “greaser.” Webster gets his revenge six years later by making Long the first in what will become an impressive list of vanquished outlaws, and he seals his fame with a cool catchphrase: “If I have to pull my weapon, I’ll shoot to kill.” (Funny how often he “has” to pull it.) Webster’s chief rival is Jack Belmont, the black-hearted son of an oil millionaire who’s out to show up his dad by knocking off more banks than Pretty Boy Floyd. Both stand to gain from the purple pen of Tony Antonelli, a True Detective magazine writer who follows the story as it develops, and plans to stretch his two-cents-a-word bounty to the limit.

In the “The Hot Kid” , bank robbers have become so common that “thief” seems close to a legitimate occupation, right alongside gun moll, bootlegger, and prostitute. Set over thirteen (13) years in ’20s and ’30s Oklahoma and Kansas City, the book is populated by characters looking to make names for themselves, joining legends like Bonnie and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, and John Dillinger in headlines and crime magazines across the country. In this world, notoriety means more than money, and that counts for figures on both sides of the law, who engage in a game of one-upmanship that has little to do with the usual interests of crime or justice. Though Leonard doesn’t sketch them as broadly as the colorful hoods found in his contemporary crime novels, the ambitions of these larger-than-life characters take on infectiously comical dimensions.

READER COMMENTS:

I certainly enjoyed the book and must admit it was my first Elmore Lenord read.  I do NOT know why I have not stumbled upon his works before since he has written eighty-seven books.  I think his is an acquired taste.  There is absolutely no doubt, at least in my mind, about his writing ability.  The very fact he has remained a “top read” over the years is a testament to his style being accepted by most avid readers.  He is concise and brief with rhetoric. He knows how to paint a story and keep the reader interesting.  This is not one of those books you cannot put down, but it is one you definitely want to finish.  In changing from Westerns to Crime, he maintains your interest to the point you really must find out how the darn thing ends.  I can definitely recommend “The Hot Kid” to you. It’s fairly short and will involve a couple of days on and off or your time.  READ IT.

I like to include reviews of others who have read this book.  I do this frequently. Remember, there is not much difference between a lump of coal and a diamond.  Everyone has their own perspective and that’s what I like to do with the comments below.

DAVID:   FOUR STAR:  My first Elmore Leonard novel. He’s a terse, pacey author, and The Hot Kid is pretty much Hollywood in a book, but a nicely-filmed Hollywood with engaging if not terribly deep characters.

ANDREW P:   FOUR STAR:  This book came to my attention in an unusual way. I just listened to the audible version of NOS4A2 by Joe Hill and at the end the author gives some recommendations on audio books. ‘The Hot Kid’ was one that he praised so I used my next audible credit on it.

EVA SMITH:  FIVE STAR:   In one of life’s little coincidences, I was sorting through books and came across two by Elmore Leonard. I’d read them so long ago that I’d forgotten most of the plot points and the writing was so good that I gave both of them a re-read. Mr. Leonard picked that week to die so I saw it as a sign that I should seek out more of his books. Just finished “The Hot Kid.” Excellent.

BENJAMIN THOMAS:  FIVE STAR:  Elmore Leonard is a writer after my own heart. He started with westerns and then turned to crime fiction, becoming one of the best-selling crime fiction writers of all time. When I saw the audio book, “The Hot Kid” on the library shelves this time, I just couldn’t pass it up because I knew I’d be in for a treat. I also needed a relatively short book this time so I could complete it before the end of the year.

JEFF DICKSON:  FIVE STAR:  A really, really good tale by Leonard. Story is of a hot shot U.S. Marchall (sp) in Oklahoma and Kansas City area during the depression years and one particular inept criminal he goes after. Highly recommended.

STEVE:  TWO STAR:  This might be my last Leonard novel. Starts out strong, but then the conversations begin sounding familiar. This is probably a good beach book for some, but I found that the writing was a bit too breezy, the dialogue a bit too hip. At this point in his career, I’m tempted to say Leonard can write these in his sleep, but there’s some nice historical details that shows he’s not on auto-pilot. For those who like Leonard, and his period pieces, check out a lesser known title, The Moonshine War.

As always, I welcome your comments.


My wife and I love going to the movies.  Notice I say “going to the movies”.  Not so much downloading a film and watching from the couch.  We usually combine our movie watching with dinner afterward; discussing the film over a hot plate of “something”.  Something usually fattening. With that being the case, have you noticed lately the number of movies dedicated to designated heroes “saving the day” and the number of Sci-Fi movies that have been and will be released in the 2017 calendar year?

Let’s take a quick look at what we have coming down the pike for 2017.

  • POWER RANGERS—24 Marcy 2017
  • WONDER WOMAN—2 June 2017
  • SPIDERMAN HOMECOMING—July 7, 2017
  • RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER—January 27, 2017
  • GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOLUME 2—May 5, 2017
  • THOR: RAGNAROK—November 3, 2017
  • TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT—June 23,2017
  • OKJA—June 27, 2017
  • DARK TOWER—July 28, 2017
  • STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI—December 17, 2017

Let’s take a look at releases for 2018.

If we take a look at history, we find the top ten (10) grossing movies are as follows:

  • Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones (2002) –$311 Million
·         9. Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith (2005) –$380 Million
·         8. Independence Day (1996) –$306 Million
·         7. Back to the Future (1985) –$211 Million
·         6. Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999) –$475 Million
·         5. Return of the Jedi (1983) –$309 Million
·         4. The Empire Strikes Back (1980) –$290 Million
·         3. Avatar (2009) –$761 Million
·         2. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) –$435 Million
·         1. Star Wars (1977) –$461 Million

The box office amounts represent numbers earned during the year of release.  If you associate 2017 numbers the amounts become much greater from a relative perspective.

Notice a trend?  Six (6) of the top ten grossing movies involve the Star Wars series.  We absolutely love seeing the “good guys” win.  Good against evil.  We go to these “flicks” hoping beyond hope the heroes will save the day, the good guys will get the girl, civilizations will win, all live happily ever after.  I love to see the computerized graphics and how the script unfolds using the graphics to illustrate and define the story.  These days, spectacular computer generated effects sequences are commonplace in everything from big-budget films to television, games, and even commercial advertising. But that wasn’t always the case—before 3D computer graphics became the norm, the world was a slightly duller place. Aliens were made of plastic instead of pixels. Superman needed wires in order to fly. Animations were created with pencils and paintbrushes.   Blockbusters look better than ever thanks to a talented army of 3D modelers, animators, render technicians, and warehouses full of the computers that do all the math.

Computer animations make the “hero-type” movies but still the questions must be asked—Why do we need heroes? Let’s take a look.

  1. We’re born to have heroes— More than a half-century ago, Carl Jung proposed the idea that all humans have collectively inherited unconscious images, ideas, or thoughts, which he called archetypes.  These archetypes reflect common experiences that all humans (and their ancestors) have shared over millions of years of evolution, and the main purpose of these archetypes is to prepare us for these common experiences.  Two such archetypes, according to Jung, are heroes and demons.  Current research appears to support Jung – scientists have found that newborn babies are equipped with a readiness for language, for numbers, for their parents’ faces — and even a preference for people who are moral.  Humans appear to be innately prepared for certain people and tasks, and we believe this may include encounters with heroes.
  2. Heroes nurture us when we’re young— Research has shown that when people are asked to name their own personal heroes, the first individuals who often come to mind are parents and caretakers.  All of us owe whatever success we’ve had in life to the people who were there for us when we were young, vulnerable, and developing.  When we recognize the great sacrifices that these nurturers and caretakers have made for us, we’re likely to call them our heroes.
  3. Heroes reveal our missing qualities— Heroes educate us about right and wrong.  Most fairytales and children’s stories serve this didactic purpose, showing kids the kinds of behaviors that are needed to succeed in life, to better society, and to overcome villainy.  It is during our youth that we most need good, healthy adult role models who demonstrate exemplary behavior.  But adults need heroic models as well.  Heroes reveal to us the kinds of qualities we need to be in communion with others.
  4. Heroes save us when we’re in trouble— This principle explains the powerful appeal of comic book superheroes.  People seemingly can’t get enough of Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, and many others. We are moved by stories of magical beings with superhuman powers who can instantly remove danger and make everything right.  This principle also explains our extreme admiration for society’s true heroic protectors – law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, and military personnel.
  5. Heroes pick us up when we’re down— Life inevitably hands us personal setbacks and failings.  Failed relationships, failed businesses, and health problems are common life experiences for us.  Our research has shown that it is during these phases of great personal challenge in our lives that heroes are most likely inspire us to overcome whatever adversity we’re facing.  Heroes lift us up when we’re personally in danger of falling down emotionally, physically, or spiritually.  I think this is one reason we all love the movies.  We can become winners through the actions of our heroes.
  6. Heroes validate our preferred moral worldview — One fascinating theory in psychology is called terror management theory, which proposes that people’s fear of death strengthens their allegiance to cultural values. Just the simple act of reminding people of their mortality leads them to exaggerate whatever moral tendencies they already have.  For example, studies have shown that reminders of death lead people to reward do-gooders and punish bad-doers more than they normally would.  Just thinking about the fragility of life can lead us to need and to value heroes.
  7. Heroes provide dramatic, entertaining stories— Psychologists have long been aware of the power of a good, juicy narrative.  Stories of heroes and heroic myth have entertained humans since the dawn of recorded history.  Joseph Campbell documented recurring patterns in these hero stories in his seminal book, and virtually all hero stories feature these time-honored patterns.  Today’s media are all-too aware of our hunger for hero stories and take great delight in building celebrity heroes up and then tearing them down.  People have always been drawn to human drama and they always will be. Admit it—we all love a great story.
  8. Heroes solve problems— Research has shown that people’s heroes are not just paragons of morality. They also show superb competencies directed toward the goal of solving society’s most vexing problems.  Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine.  George Washington Carver introduced crop rotation into agriculture. Stephanie Kwolek invented the material in bullet-proof vests that have saved the lives of countless law enforcement officers.  Heroes give us wisdom and save lives with their brains, not just with their brawn.  We do NOT get much problem solving from Congress now days so just maybe we substitute that inability with guys who really do things.
  9. Heroes deliver justice — People from all cultures possess a strong desire for justice.  After members of the Boston police captured the Boston Marathon bomber, crowds of citizens lined the streets to applaud their heroes.  Research has shown that we need to believe that we live in a just world where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.  The preamble to the 1950s Superman television show spoke of superman’s never-ending quest for “truth, justice, and the American way”.  Heroes quench our thirst for fairness and lawfulness.
  10.  Heroes give us hope — Independent of our own personal well-being, we cannot help but recognize that the world is generally a troubled place rife with warfare, poverty, famine, and unrest.  Heroes are beacons of light amidst this vast darkness. Heroes prove to us that no matter how much suffering there is in the world, there are supremely good people around whom we can count on to do the right thing, even when most other people are not. Heroes bring light into a dark world.

Hope you enjoy this one as always—I would love to receive your comments.

JOBS JOBS JOBS

April 5, 2017


I think we all hope meaningful employment for everyone wishing to work and physically able to work.

According to CNBC, we have the following statement:

“Companies added 263,000 jobs for the month, ADP and Moody’s Analytics said. That was well above the 185,000 expected from economists surveyed by Reuters and also better than the 245,000 reported for February.

The February number was revised significantly lower, however, from the originally reported 298,000.

In addition to the big gain on the headline number, the month also continued a trend away from services-oriented positions dominating job creation. Goods-producing firms contributed 82,000 to the total, as construction led the way with 49,000 new jobs.

Professional and business services was the leading sector, with 57,000, while leisure and hospitality added 55,000 and health care was up 46,000. Manufacturing payrolls grew by 30,000 and trade, transportation and utilities rose by 34,000.

In terms of company size, fewer than 50 employees represented the greatest growth area, with 118,000. Firms that employ 50 to 499 workers added 100,000.”

“The report comes amid hopes that President Donald Trump can deliver on his pro-growth agenda of lower taxes, less regulation and more infrastructure spending. Economic data points have been mixed lately, with sentiment surveys outpacing actual hard data of activity.”

The bar graph below indicates private sector job growth, or lack thereof for the last several months.  I do not think anyone would argue with the statement we are facing a growing economy but that growth is not robust by any stretch of the imagination.

Another very good sign our economy just might be on the mend:

“The U.S. trade deficit shrank by nearly 10 percent in February, hinting that the economy may be growing at a faster pace than many economists expect.

The deficit fell to a seasonally adjusted $43.6 billion, lower than the $44.6 billion economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had expected. Exports rose 0.2 percent to $192.9 billion in February while imports declined 1.8 percent to $236.4 billion, the Department of Commerce said Tuesday.”

 

The chart below indicates that drop.  We still are running a trade deficit but with the push for more “on-shoring” that deficit may continue to shrink.  This will undoubtedly improve the job market “state-side” and provide added employment.

The bar charts below will show Annual GDP growth rates, corporate profits, and single family home process.   I think each chart indicates recovery is still very incremental and some would say sluggish.  Our politicians in Washington indicate the following:

  • The repeal and replacement of the Affordable Healthcare Act will greatly reduce healthcare costs for the individual consumer.
  • The reduction of “red tape” and regulations for business owners will provide incentives for investment in companies and individual businesses.
  • Rework of the Federal Tax Code and subsequent reduction in corporate and individual tax rates will provide for much greater growth in GDP and corporate profits.
  • Increased trade with other nations will reduce the trade deficit and promote job growth
  • Significant increases in infrastructure spending will definitely improve job growth and job outlook.
  • “Leveling the playing field” relative to NAFTA and other global trade agreements can greatly improve job growth in the United States.

CONCLUSIONS:

All of these things can and possibly will improve job growth and aid our economy.  The big questions is—can Congress get together and pass legislation to get things moving again and in the proper fashion?  This week Congress is going home for Ester vacation.  Another vacation.   What if they remained in Washington, worked through Easter, stayed on the job, and provided their constituents with value-added?

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