Monthly Archives: July 2018

THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING

  • Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
  • Just think: Airplanes will have a crew of two…a pilot and a dog.  The pilot is there to feed the dog; the dog is there to bite the pilot if he tries to touch anything.
  • Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world.
  • Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world.  This year, a computer beat the best Go-player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.
  • In the U.S., young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM’s Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans.  So if you study law, stop immediately.  There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.
  • Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.
  • Autonomous cars: This year, the first self-driving cars appeared for the public.  Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore.  You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination.  You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving.
  • Kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car.
  • 2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 60,000 miles; with autonomous driving, that will drop to one accident in six million miles.  That will save a million lives each year.
  • Most car companies will probably become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.  Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi are completely terrified of Tesla.
  • Insurance companies will have massive trouble, because without accidents, the insurance will become 100 times cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.
  • Real estate will change, because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a nicer neighborhood.
  • Electric cars will become mainstream in about 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run on electricity.
  • Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can now see the burgeoning impact.  Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil.  Energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations, but that can’t last.  Technology will take care of that strategy.
  • With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination of salt water now only needs 2k per cubic meter (@ 0.25 cents).  We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water.  Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.
  • 3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years.  In the same time, it became 100 times faster.  All major shoe companies have already started 3D printing shoes.
  • Some spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminated the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past.
  • At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D-scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home.
  • In China, they already 3D printed and built a complete 6-story office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.
  • Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, first ask yourself:  “In the future, do I think we will have that?  And if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner?
  • Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years.  There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a short time.  This will require a rethink on wealth distribution.
  • Aeroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal, is now available, and will be cheaper than veal in 2020.  Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows.  Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore.

REMEMBER:  Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

WATERY WONDERS OF THE WORLD

Traveling offers lots of opportunities to learn, to enjoy, to be awed and to welcome unexpected surprises.  One of the aspects of traveling that touches on almost all of the above reactions are wondrous bodies of water around the world that produce outstanding memories.  Here are some of the best of these watery wonders.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Zambia

When the calm flowing water of the Zembezi River enters the Victoria Falls gorge, it abruptly plunges 328 feet to the bottom. The impact generates soaring mists and thunderous sounds that can be seen and heard for miles. During the rainy season—mid-November through late April—the falls virtually disappear behind a thick wall of mist; at other times, the water volume noticeably eases.

Canals of Venice, Italy

Best enjoyed outside the heat of summer, the Venetian canals and their gondolas provide one of the world’s most romantic experiences: gliding slowly down narrow palazzo-lined canals on a moonlit night. Venice is a city built on water. The canals—some 150 of them—link nearly 700 tiny islands to make what seems a floating city. Visitors and natives alike must travel by foot or boat. The nearly two-mile-long Grand Canal, the main water thoroughfare, is lined by luxurious, centuries-old palazzos with ornate Renaissance-style facades and is spanned by the elaborately designed Rialto Bridge. When the distance is far, the swift vaporettos (water taxis) are handy.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef stretches 1,243 miles through the Coral Sea along Australia’s northeastern coast. The reef, which in actuality is a collection of thousands of distinct coral reefs, has been designated a World Heritage site for its sheer beauty and uniquely complex and delicate ecosystem. More than 1,500 types of fish and 200 kinds of birds live on the reef’s atolls, and islands. The beauty of this waterscape annually draws hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to see the spectacle by diving, snorkeling, and glass-bottom boating. Conservationists fear that the large influx of visitors and their collateral effect on pollution are damaging this natural wonder.

Li River, China

The 52-mile stretch of the Li River west of Guilin has inspired artists for thousands of years. Here the Li River snakes through a fairy-tale landscape of conical limestone peaks, its smooth waters exquisitely mirroring the magical scenery. The vistas are particularly enchanting when flowing mists weave themselves around the peaks, hiding then exposing them in moments of surprise. The cone-shaped mountains are vestiges of ancient eroded seabeds that support graceful bamboo groves and terraced rice paddies. Each bend of the river reveals something new and interesting, from lumbering water buffalo pulling carts or cooling off in the river to fishermen gliding on narrow bamboo rafts.

Suez Canal, Egypt

An idea born of the British Empire’s colonial interests, the 100-mile-long Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. Thousands of men labored ten years to build this shortcut. Without it, a cargo ship sailing from Italy to Singapore had to go around the southern tip of Africa, doubling the time and distance. Today, an endless parade of supertankers, container ships, and other large oceangoing vessels stream along this blue ribbon that cuts through barren desert.

Lake Como, Italy

Thousands of years ago, glaciers carved the peaks and valleys of the Alps. Those same glaciers formed the pre-Alpine lakes of the Lombard region some 30 miles north of Milan. Scenic Lake Como, with its deep blue waters, has long been known as “the looking glass of Venus.” Vistas of the lake reveal a serene scene surrounded by palatial villas, tree-clad mountains, and quaint villages. Lake Como covers 56 square miles and reaches a depth of 1,358 feet.

Nile River, Egypt

The storied past of the longest river in the world entices many people to cruise its length as it winds through Egypt. “Floating hotels” glide smoothly past timeless Egyptian life unfolding along the date-palm-tree-dotted riverbanks, as well as the unbelievable historic temples.

Bora-Bora, South Pacific

The Polynesian island of Bora-Bora in the South Pacific is widely suggested as the world’s most beautiful island. A tropical blue lagoon ringed by coral reefs encircles the island, which is crowned by a rugged 2,385-feet-high volcano core draped with tropical foliage. Snorkelers and skin divers love Bora-Bora for its warm waters and plentiful sea fauna. Sunbathers delight in the white-sand beaches.

Dead Sea, Israel

The Dead Sea, shared by Israel and Jordan, is the lowest spot on Earth. Its shoreline is about 1,312 feet below sea level. As the world’s saltiest large body of water, averaging a salt content six times higher than that of the ocean, it supports no life. With no outlet, the water that flows into the Dead Sea evaporates in the hot, humid air, leaving the minerals. The Jordan River is the chief source of the incoming water, but since the 1960s much of its water has been diverted for irrigation. Its length has already shrunk by more than a third, and, while the sea will never entirely disappear, because evaporation slows down as surface area decreases and saltiness increases, the Dead Sea as we know it could become a thing of the past.

…and there’s so much more.

Iguazu Falls

A spectacular waterfall in Argentina and even more so on the Brazil side.  It’s wide and deep and offers many opportunities to feel immersed in its power, its spray and strength.

Inle Lake, Burma

A whole different kind of place where people live and work on the lake.  There’s some large tomato farms and men who paddle boats with one foot.

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

It’s big and cold and a beautiful setting with all the water activities available for all ages.

Inside Passage, Alaska

What a great trip with spectacular scenery, wild life on land and water, and the not-t0-be-forgotten Glacier Bay, dotted with towns of yesterday still thriving today.

Colorado River, Grand Canyon

WOW!  A fabulous rafting trip of 3-7-10 days exposes all the thrills of a raging river with exciting rapids, splendid scenery, old Indian trails, and a few warm blue tributary streams.

Lake Titicaca, Peru and Bolivia

An unusual water providence of people living in villages and boats made of shaped bamboo-like palm prawns.  You can’t believe all the wondrous sights.

Mekong River Delta, Southeast Asia

2,700 miles meandering from China through Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma and Thailand, the river is a major trade route for six countries before it reaches the South China Sea.  Almost 20 million people live, work and sustain themselves on or adjacent to the river.

And last but not least

The Mighty Mississippi

It flows 2,300 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico passing through 10 states.  It touches on Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Lousiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; St. Paul and Minneapolis, and offers a wealth of American history, culture and southern charm.

Lots to see and enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

THE TIPPING ECONOMY

Here’s an interesting take on a subject I’m sure we all probably have some mixed feelings about.  The author is Rodney Johnson, a principal in Dent Research, an investment advisory firm.

“In this, my 50th year on the planet, I’m officially becoming a cranky old man.

“As I sat in the Atlanta airport recently on a layover, I decided to grab a bite at Jersey Mike’s Subs shop.  When I swiped my card, the first screen asked if I’d like to add a tip to the total.

“A tip?  For what?

“The young men and women behind the sneeze-guard glass were pleasant, but as far as I could tell they’d done nothing more than perform the service for which they were paid.

“I ordered a sandwich.  They made it.  That was it.

“The more I thought about it, I couldn’t think of a way that they might ever earn a tip.  The goal of the place is to make sandwiches quickly and accurately.  Making that happen is their job.

“How could they go above and beyond?  Maybe if I choked while eating and one of them leapt over the counter to perform the Heimlich maneuver, then I’d consider tipping (I’m not that cranky).  But that’s not exactly the normal course of business.

“This led me to a few other thoughts, and this writing.

“Why are there tip jars at Starbucks?  Don’t they get paid?  And why are tips a percentage of the bill?  Does it take more effort to pour a $200 bottle of wine than a $40 bottle?  Why should I tip $30 on the first one, but only $6 on the second?  Better yet, why am I tipping on that at all?

“I recognize that many restaurants and bars pay employees a tipping wage.  This includes a complicated formula for ensuring that employees make at least the minimum wage.

“But there are thousands of other service jobs where tipping is becoming common.  I don’t know why this is.

“Are their employers a bunch of Scrooges who don’t pay enough and it’s up to generous-hearted patrons to make up the difference?  Are we paying so that we get some level of service that other people won’t get?

“As far as I can tell (and social experiments back this up), we tip because…everyone else does.

“Bellmen, doormen, valets, the barista at Starbucks and the guy in the moving crew all are paid to do their jobs, and yet we typically feel compelled to supplement their income simply because other people do.

“What’s worse, as employment law and workplace regulations improve to protect workers against abuse, we’ve steadily increased our tipping, not reduced it.

“And this is completely on us as Americans.  Even though the practice can be traced to Continental Europe in the 1800s, by and large other societies have phased it out over time.

“But here we are, nudged by society—and the workers themselves—to add on a gratuity that feels more like an obligation.

“At some level, I’d love to do away with the entire practice, and apparently some people agree.

“Several restaurateurs in New York are experimenting with tip-free dining, although I think they are missing the point.  The owner of Fedora, a trendy West Village spot, and several others did away with tips.  But they also raised their prices 20%.

“The idea was to keep server income the same.  The restaurateurs were surprised when patrons reacted by ordering less expensive items, keeping their bills in line with their previous bills, before the tip was added.

“It comes down to, ‘Who keeps the money’?

“I don’t think the idea is that we should save diners and Starbucks drinkers the hassle of doing math.  Instead, we should rethink the notion of paying people on a variable scale for a known amount of work (back to the two bottles of wine for different prices, or two different meals).

“I wouldn’t pay people that way in my business, so why would I expect, and encourage, my customers to pay for things that way?

“Whatever my cranky-old-man thoughts are on the subject, as a nation we’d better figure this one out.

“We have the largest generation retiring en masse, modestly rising incomes, and a lot of new jobs created in the hospitality sector.

“We’re quickly morphing into a nation of service workers looking to retirees for a tip.  In a sense, it’s income redistribution through social protocol, instead of payment for services rendered..

“That doesn’t sound American at all.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog

YOU COULD HAVE HEARD A PIN DROP

It’s the 4th of July!  Let’s celebrate our independence and good fortune.

At a time when some people tend to apologize for America’s prior actions, here’s a refresher on how some of our officials and patriots adroitly handled negative comments about our country.

**********

JFK’s Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60’s when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO.  DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded, “Does that include those who are buried here?”

DeGaulle did not respond.  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American.  During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying, “Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done?  He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims.  What does he intend to do, bomb them?”

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly:  “Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day; they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day; and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck.  We have eleven such ships.  How many does France have?”  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

A U.S. Navy admiral was attending a naval conference that included admirals from the U.S., England, Canada, Australia and France navies.  At a cocktail reception,  he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries.  Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.  He then asked, “Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?”

Without hesitating, the American admiral replied, “Maybe it’s because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.”  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.  At French customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

“You have been to France before, monsieur?”

Sarcastically, Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”

The American said, “The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.”

“Impossible…Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France!”

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look.  Then he quietly explained, “Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchman to show a passport to.”  You could have heard a pin drop.

**********

When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of ‘empire building’ by George Bush.

He answered by saying, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders.  The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”  You could have heard a pin drop.

Not everyone has always been grateful for what the U.S. has done to contribute to the world’s problems.

Our thanks to old friend Ralph Edwards for this blog.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog