Monthly Archives: December 2019

WELCOME TO A HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR

As we approach the beginning of a New Year, I am reminded of the good deeds performed by anonymous people on my behalf during the last year. It reinforces for me the kindness and generosity of people who have taken the time and initiative to help me.

I only remember their deeds, not their names. They came into my life for a few minutes, helped me out of a jam and moved on to fulfill their own needs.

Just a few weeks ago I was riding my 4-wheel electric scooter from physical therapy anxious to get home for lunch.

About a half-mile from home my scooter died. It was fully charged but that didn’t stop it. Trying to alternately push the 175-lb machine and move forward when the power engaged briefly was a task.

From men and women at various points in the tedious journey, recognized my plight, stopped their cars and asked if they could help…and help they did.

It was a great gesture of needed assistance in a time of real need. The 12-minute trip took over 45 minutes but boy was I relieved and grateful.

It reminded me of a time a few years back when I moved into my current condo and the elderly couple I sold my condo to called to ask if I left some money in the desk I gave them with their unit.

Both episodes convinced me of how humanity exists in this overburdened world and how much we need to celebrate this humanity.

So let’s say a fond adieu to the joys and good feelings about 2019 and welcome the New Year with great expectation and humanity.

Happy New Year

H appiness depends upon your outlook on life. Find the good in all situations.
A ttitude is just as important as ability. Keep your attitude positive.
P assion, find yours this year! Do what you love and you will never work.
P ositive thoughts make everything easier. Stay focused and stay positive.
Y ou are unique, with special gifts, use them. Never forget you have talent.

N ew beginnings with a new year.
E nthusiasm, a true secret of success.
W ishes, may they turn into goals.

Y ears go by too quickly, enjoy them. Wisdom from your elders, listen.
E nergy, may you have lots of it. Take care of yourself.
A ppreciation of life, don’t take it for granted. Live each day.
R elax, take the time to relax in this coming year. Keep a balance in your life.

WELCOME TO A HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

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OBSERVATIONS & THOUGHTS ABOUT 2019

I’m not a Republican or a Democrat, I’m an Independent albeit probably a conservative Independent. I have a problem identifying with the orthodoxy or either party.

The Democrats are turning more toward social programs funded by the government and I’m not at all sure where the Republicans are turning.

In 2019, I changed my mind about a few things:

1. I no longer support doing away with the Electoral College. The popular vote allows too much influence for the big major cities—once again the founding fathers were right.
2. I firmly believe in climate change, I just am not sure how much is contributed by men nor am I confident all the large countries will do their part in making necessary changes.
3. The concept of “privacy” has been exaggerated to an extreme which has worked against the majority of law-abiding citizens.
4. I recognize some of the failings of capitalism but it is still the greatest and best economic system in the world and has helped more people advance than any other system.

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I’m going to count to 3—the frustrated call of all parents trying to raise a mischievous kid. I’m going to count to 3 and you better… It’s really an age-old cry for help. I’m going to count to 3 and you better stop doing that, better come home, better eat your…

With all our technology, you’d think we’d have found a better way.

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Ranking U.S. Companies by the Priorities of Americans

Just Capital and Forbes have rated U.S. firms based on factors that matter most to the American public, like fair pay, ethical leadership, customer privacy, environmental impact and job creation.

Here are the top most “just” U.S. companies according to their analysis: Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Salesforce, Alphabet, PayPal and P&G.

Microsoft’s top spot is a result of its “particularly strong track record on how it serves its workers, communities, and the environment,” according to Just Capital.

Compared with averages for the Russell 1000, the 100 companies in the listing pay their median workers 31 percent more, give 8.4 times as much to charitable causes, have 25 percent more women on their board, and are 32 percent more likely to have established environmental policies. They also score a higher return on equity, by six percentage points.

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A Social Civil War is in Progress

A new poll says 70 percent of Americans believe we are on the verge of civil war. They are wrong. There’s no verge. A social civil war is in progress.

Two primary reasons why: Never before was it acceptable to call your country racist or to demand taxpayers pick up the tab for the health care expenses of illegal aliens.

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How accurate is the Horowitz Report?

Last week, the Inspector General of the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz, issued a more than 400-page, long-delayed report written over an eight-month period. In this report, Horowitz basically said just two things: first, that the FBI was dishonest in seeking surveillance warrants on the Trump campaign; and, second, that no political bias was in play.

Upon hearing that, fair-minded people all over the country said…really?

So Michael Horowitz is convinced that the most sophisticated law enforcement agency in the world is incapable of properly requesting a tap on a presidential campaign, perhaps the most important investigation the FBI has had since the 9-11 attack.

This is incredibly hard to believe and Horowitz’s boss, Attorney General William Barr, does not believe it either.

He essentially told the nation that Michael Horowitz is full of it and hinted that criminal indictments against some FBI people will be forthcoming.

I guess it takes longer to write a whitewash than straight facts.

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If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

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Impeachment is as distant as world peace.

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To Satisfy our Future:

• We have to stop sanctuary cities and open borders. They both lead to anarchy.
• Everyone should have a photo ID card to vote.
• The House of Representatives should have 4-year terms and be limited to 4 years.
• Raise the cap on Social Security tax to $250,000 along with the median age to 70.

So, all in all, what kind of year was it?

The economy remained strong and the increasing talk of a possible downturn or recession got tabled. Trump’s trade wars didn’t hurt the storekeepers all that much; on the contrary, his trade wars seem to be having some success.

The Democrats, in desperation, elected a few nutty reps and are trying to turn the party to the social domestic agenda of Western Europe, in spite of their lack of success, and have focused all their attention and energy on responsible governing and fighting Trump with endless investigations instead of countering his annoying behavior with programs that will defeat his re-election.

If Trump would shut his annoying mouth, he would have had a pretty good year. Nobody likes him except at least half the country.

• The economy is strong
• Unemployment is way down and employment is way up
• His aggressive trade negotiations are beginning to work
• He has appointed a record number of judges
• He’s survived an endless stream of investigations

With the stock market jumping up and down, the craziness of the politics in both parties, and the general sanguine in the country, it was a pretty good year.

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DO YOU NEED TO TAKE 10,000 STEPS/DAY TO KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY?

Do you find yourself running in place at the end of the day to get the step count on your activity tracker up to 10,000? While gratifying to hit your goal, you’ll be glad to know that many steps may not be necessary. Results of a recent study on fitness show you can cut that number by more than half and still achieve positive health results. Of course, you can still strive towards your personal goals, but don’t stress if you don’t reach that magical number on your Fitbit every day.

There is no scientific basis that 10,000 steps are the ultimate goal for maximum impact on your heart health. The number stems from a Japanese marketing campaign for a pedometer, not solid scientific evidence, according to the study.

U.S. Fitness Guidelines recommend you get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week to gain maximum benefits. Walking is an excellent way to increase your activity level—even if it’s just doing a couple of extra laps around the yard when you take out the trash. It all counts.

Small amounts of walking—as little as five or 10 minutes at a time—done regularly throughout your day provides positive results. Every step you take counts towards your goal but some steps are more beneficial than others.

A leisurely stroll is fine, but a brisk walk is even better when it comes to improving your heart health. If you’re counting steps, 80 steps a minute is considered a slow pace; 100 steps a minute indicates a pace that’s brisk to moderate; and a fast pace is 120 steps a minute, according to Harvard Health.

Once you’re up and moving, how many steps do you really need? According to the study, the number is less than you may expect.

Researchers looked at a group of nearly 17,000 women with an average age of 72. The women all wore trackers to count their steps and the pace of their activity as they went about their usual day. Participants were divided into groups based on the average number of steps they reports: 2,700, 4,400, 5,900, and 8,500. During the 4.3-year follow up period, here’s what researchers found:

• The women with the least amount of activity averaged about 2,700 steps a day. They were found to have the highest risk of death.
• Women who completed 4,400 steps a day were around 40 percent less likely to die during the follow-up period than the women walking 2,700 steps or less a day.
• Risk of dying for women in the 5,900-step group fell by 46 percent compared to the less active participants.
• Women in the 8,500-step group experienced 58 percent lower risk of dying but that benefit seemed to taper off at an average 7,500 steps a day. There was no added longevity when extra additional steps were completed.
• The intensity level and speed of the steps had no effect on the results. Slow, steady walking offered similar results to a more aggressive pace.

What do the results mean?

Despite the lower steps needed to gain results, researchers stress that the study’s results are not justification to do less. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease and improves brain function as well as circulation, weight control and blood pressure.

However, for women who struggle with adding exercise to their day, the study shows that their journey to improved health may take fewer steps to complete than they originally thought. And that’s good news for everyone.

Find a doctor

Whether you’re just beginning to add steps to your day or regularly maxing out your pedometer, the team of experts at your local hospital can help you reach your heart-health goals safely. If you are looking for a primary care doctor, you can search for one that’s right for you from a local hospital. Or you can find one using a regional directory.

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THE SURGE OF BOLLYWOOD, K-POP AND TURKISH TV

Adeel Hassan of the N.Y. Times reported on an interview with a Middle East journalist who explains how the biggest migration in human history is helping to fuel the erosion of American cultural dominance.

“The Bold and the Beautiful,” a staple of American daytime television for more than 30 years, peaked in its worldwide viewership at 26.2 million in 2008. A few years later, “Magnificent Century,” a Turkish drama, was broadcast to 200 million people. That wide gulf in audience is one of the focuses of the book “New Kings of the World,” about how American soft power is being eclipsed around the globe.

The author, Fatima Bhutto, was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, raised in Damascus, Syria, and educated in New York and London. She now works as a novelist and journalist in Karachi, Pakistan. Ms. Bhutto racked up tens of thousands of frequent-flier miles while exploring popular culture emerging from the East.
During a recent visit to the New York Times newsroom, she gave us a different perspective on race and culture. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Share with us what tour cultural diet was like.

Growing up in Damascus in the 1980s, my father would get James Bond films on VHS, we’d have Motown music playing in the car, and I’d watch half an hour of nonverbal cartoons that state TV would show in the evenings.

I am very much a child of American culture but at the same time, I also had access to plenty of non-American culture products. As a teenager in Pakistan, I listened to Snoop Dogg and American hip-hop, but also to the Pakistani bands Junoon and Strings, as well as Rai music from Algeria and Egyptian pop.

American culture was always the glitziest, but it wasn’t always the most thoughtful.

The lure of American soft power—Coca-Cola, jazz, jeans, rock ‘n’ roll and, of course, Hollywood—has historically been strong and backed by the government. How did American military supremacy help export this cultural power?

The American military is the most widely deployed in history, and it maintains a massive infrastructure outside its borders with bases across all continents and an enormous machinery to support its presence.

At its height, in 1968, more than one million American troops were deployed in 54 countries. They brought their cultures with them, their films, their music, their tastes and their products. And they also were a huge presence that required entertainment, so they became places where musicians and artists would find welcome ground.

Today, just under 20,000 personnel are overseas, marking the lowest American troop deployment in six decades. One might argue that as troop numbers decrease, so too does American culture dominance.

When did the pivot away from Hollywood begin to occur? Why was there a backlash?

There isn’t one moment we can point to, rather it’s a perfect storm of factors including plummeting American prestige, the belated rediscovery that local cultures are valuable in and of themselves, and the rise of classes with different tastes and backgrounds emerging out of the turbulence of globalization, migration and urbanization.

Describe the effect of those trends.

In 2015, over one billion people left their homes in search of a better life. Only a small percentage, 244 million, migrated abroad. The majority, some 763 million, moved from rural to urban areas within their own countries. Between 1.5 million and 3 million people move to cities every week. The psychological disorientation caused by these shifts is profound.

People leaving their families and villages are unmoored in the big, soulless city. It is a geography without anchors, full of sexual and material deprivations, injustices and inequalities. Add to that the betrayal of globalization’s promise: that the world would be lifted on a tide of wealth, opportunity and access.

But hundreds of millions of people who uprooted their life in order to become captains of this new world have found no wealth, no opportunity and no access. Rather, the opposite.

How does Hollywood speak to the world’s unmoored and displaced? What does “Hustlers” say to a woman who has left her family’s village in El Salvador to move to the turbulent, violent city? What does “Avengers: Endgame” say to Afghan refugees, fighting to survive, in this new world? Nothing. It doesn’t speak to them at all.

What makes an Indian film, a Turkish television drama or a Korean pop song have more universal appeal than a piece of American work?

They look modern and appealing in the same way that American film, TV or music looks. But uniquely, these are all cultural products set firmly in the realm of values. They are not concerned with which billionaire son inherits his father’s empire, but rather focus on ordinary people struggling to live lives of dignity with the force of the world against them.

They are concerned with principles, with how one defeats temptation, greed, and avoids dishonor. So for the most part, there is less violence; there’s no nudity; romantic relations are portrayed very chastely; and there’s no swearing.

You can listen to a K-pop song with your grandmother in the room, no lyrics have to be beeped out. You can watch a Turkish drama, or dizi as they’re called, with your entire family.

Are all these cultural movements tied to their government and plays at soft power as well?

These industries have been producing culture for decades and, yes, they are all weapons of soft power, some more than others. K-pop is born out of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. South Korea was badly hit, and couldn’t rebuild their economy by relying on the heavy industries of Samsung and Hyundai as they had done in the past. President Kim Dae-jung decided to focus on pop culture. It required no organizational infrastructure—only talent, time, and training.

K-pop is a $5 billion-dollar-a-year industry. In 2016, K-pop music videos were watched 24 billion times on YouTube, with 80 percent of the views coming from outside South Korea. In YouTube’s top ten list of videos with the largest number of views in 24 hours, six belong to K-pop bands. YouTube didn’t even know videos could be watched over one billion times until Psy’s “Gangman Style” famously broke their counter.

What is the glocalization you write about?

“Glocalization” is the ultimate bait and switch. It’s the secret sauce of K-pop, which relies on taking established Western pop music and tempos and then “localizing” it by speeding it up. That elevated speed is what makes K-pop music do dance-y and so infectious. K-pop is an industry with its eye finely tuned to the market. It’s not concerned with authenticity. But what it does is take an established pop formula and do something frantic and innovative with it that is distinctly Korean.

You went to see where all this culture was produced, and also where it was consumed around the world. What are the most surprising places these movements have conquered?

By far, the most surprising discovery was to find an entire subculture of Bollywood fans in Peru. They are all indigenous Peruvians, people who migrated into Lima from the highlands, and they don’t speak English but know all the Hindu/Urbu lyrics to Bollywood songs and are immersed in the culture of the films.

Campo de Marte is a park in downtown Lima that is filled with people every Sunday dancing to Bollywood music. Women turn shawls into saris and stick sequins on their foreheads as bindis. It’s a cinema that makes them feel seen; they see their struggles and their dreams mirrored in the story lines.

You’ve spent hundreds of hours on “research.” Give those of us who know little about these genres your best recommendations.

It’d had to say “Cukur” is definitely the dizi to watch; it’s “The Godfather,” but set in an Istanbul ghetto. “Gully Boy” is the best Bollywood film I’ve seen in years because it recalls the best of old Bollywood—turning the gaze to those on the periphery of society. I have a K-pop playlist of top hits I created, which I’m happy to share but probably shouldn’t.

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