Category Archives: life

American Election 2016: Caveat Emptor

Let The Buyer Beware. The buyer assumes the risk that a product may fail to meet expectations, or have defects.

“If I built what customers wanted, I’d make a faster horse” – attributed to Henry Ford

The 2016 US Election has left many shocked and surprised; many, including Trump, were gearing messaging that the election was rigged and yet when it came to the final tally, the result wasn’t the one the pundits were predicting. What happened and what does this mean?

Neither Candidate Was Top-Shelf

There’s enough paper trail on both candidates to show neither have a clean sheet. If it wasn’t the DNC email leaks showing the intent to remove Saunders regardless of what the Democratic voters wanted, it was the lying, misogynistic and undiplomatic comments from Trump that had even his own Republicans turning their backs on him. The American public was asked to choose “Puke or Poop?”. The credibility and statesman-like demeanor of prior candidates on both sides were set aside for what we saw in the candidates. This is somewhat uncharted territory.

The American Public Is Fed-Up

A President from one party and a Congress lead by the other party leads to an impasse that leads to outcomes not based on what was good for the country. This lead to inaction, blame, and frustration. Intents of greatness were compromised to get something moving forward which lead to less-than-great outcomes.

With years of this being forced on the American public, the frustration has boiled over.

The American Public Has Yet Accepted Itself

They are you, your neighbor, your colleague. They may be black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, atheist, Jew, Muslim, and they are your fellow countryman. It’s a melting pot of people with diverse thoughts, beliefs, needs that require that the Land of the Free let them be free.

Just because some people don’t understand an arranged marriage doesn’t mean to say it should be outlawed. Because a rape victim becomes pregnant from her rapist doesn’t mean to say someone else’s pro-life beliefs should be enforced on them, should they decide to abort. Because a same sexed couple wants to express their love for each other by getting married doesn’t mean someone else’s religious beliefs should dictate whether this happens or not.

America has still yet to understand and accept this and itself.

Some of America Is Still Fighting Not Being A Christian Nation

America’s somewhat turbulent history has seen a division between north and south, slavery, and open racism – and during that time the predominant populous was white and Christian. Over time, diversity in race and attitude has changed the face of the nation. The Founding Fathers did a pretty good job through the Constitution in trying to look ahead at an infant nation and predict how it would grow up. They were able to understand that there were fundamental principles that transcended the current state of the nation.

  • Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that the country is a Christian Nation. In fact, the First Amendment bars all laws “respecting an establishment of religion” and protects “the free exercise thereof.” – that’s ANY religion (or none). This is the separation of Church and State you hear of.
  • The US Government has documented NOT being a Christian Nation. The Treaty of Tripoli states (in Article 11) “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli)
  • The Pledge of Allegiance was only recently changed to include “Under God”. Originating in 1887, amended in 1892 and adopted as the Pledge of Allegiance in 1945, it was changed finally in 1954 to how you know it today.

My point here is that America is a nation of many – many races and beliefs. While there are many Christians, there are also many other denominations, atheists, and agnostics. None of them through their religious beliefs should dictate how life should be for the others. Those who can’t accept that are stopping the progress of the country.

American Has Yet To Unify

Many people wish Obamacare had never happened. Many are glad to finally be able to get cover on pre-existing conditions. When it was introduced, my more left-aligned friends welcomes the additional means of millions to access healthcare, whereas my right-aligned friends were bemoaning having more deductions from their salary and supporting the hangers-on.

When I heard the bemoaning my response was “If a loved one of yours became severely ill, even with your medical insurance, you would find yourself committed in a significant financial way that could find you facing a decision based on cost – it’s then you wish you lived in a country with universal health”.

This is not a statement on health care per se, but the attitude I believe is still pervasive: “it’s not my problem… unless it becomes my problem”. Whilst no-one can deny there are those that will try to abuse the system to profit from financial support mechanisms, we cannot let the worse case dictate the policy for the majority. Once you care for your fellow countryman, you remove the barriers and walls that may have existed, for they will also care for you. Only then will unification become more pervasive.

No matter which party you voted for, this is a time to take stock at what the country has said through the voting ballot; The old school way of politics is not fit for today’s America – America is asking for change.

America is a living, breathing nation that still looks to reinvent and challenge itself. There growing pains and lessons to learn, but acting as one worldly nation is the path where the most success will come. Greed and selfishness are enemies of the nation.

 

 

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Don’t be fooled – The Race for Mobile Dominance

When the US elections were taking place, there were a number of topics which caused the US public to either get really annoyed, or behind in support, however some of these topics were perceived as smokescreens to get people to invest their time in one matter, whilst the offending party was forging ahead with their real agenda.

Much the same can be said about the state of today’s mobile phone market. The announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is anticipated mid-March 2013 and there is debate about the next iPhone (iPhone 5S). In either case, much conversation has focused in on the hardware specs and screen size.

What’s really important

Whilst having a processor that’s capable of handling function, storage memory sufficient to accommodate photos, videos, apps and music and form that allows the phone to be both of a quality build, handled comfortably and screen size appropriate to needs there are a couple of really important things to consider:

The Operating System

Given that we as consumers appreciate and are more critical of the User Experience (and User Interface), having an operating system that looks and feels intuitive and can be adaptable to your own use of the device is essential. Neither Android nor IOS are yet there, with IOS being somewhat now overdue a UI/UX refresh and Android being plagued by layers of OEM fluff (e.g. MotoBlur, HTC Touch) to confuse the user experience.

Another example of this shortcoming is being able to share to your preferred social network should just be an option, regardless of network. Typically being able to share content from an IOS device to Google+ is more difficult than Facebook – but why is that? I as a user prefer to be able to define my social networks, not be constrained.

[UPDATE: Andy Parry brings the Ubuntu mobile OS to my attention – see this – this is exactly what i’m talking about how the UX should be more like]

The Phone

I’ve mentioned this before; the mobile phone needs to be revamped totally in the experience; not only a good sensor, but also the ability to create more useful metadata such as learning different faces so that it would be possible to then retrieve all the photos of Uncle Dave (person metadata), taken in Chicago (GPS metadata) last Autumn (time/date metadata), near Sears Tower (GPS metadata).

Also the actual holding and storage of a phone needs to be considered; I like the iPhone 4/4S for its compact size, yet it still manages to deliver a solid feel and also very view able screen.

The battery life

It’s all well and good having a powerful phone with an amazing screen, but it’s totally negated if you don’t have the battery life. I feel almost certain that the maximum brightness on phones, whilst very appealing, is hardly used by many due to the battery consumption – effectively rendering it a sales medium. When we start to have efficient batteries and components that consume them, then we have a truly adoptable phone.

Conclusion

Of course, this is skimming the surface, but the point is, don’t be fooled by the processor power etc. Think about the application of the phone to you. Would having a Galaxy S3 vs. S4 make a difference  Maybe, if you’re an avid photograper. However if you’re just browsing facebook, youtube, etc. it may not be of discernible difference (depending on the battery life)… case in point I have an iPhone 4 – initially a temporary phone until the iPhone 5 came out, but after due consideration, cost and features were not quite enough to upgrade for upgrades sake, based off my use.

One7teen pieces of “worldly” advice for my kids

I discovered this post in my drafts, written before the birth of my first child in 2009. I keep coming back to it as the advice holds true. I’m sure over time this list will change but I think it speaks to how we need to respect ourselves and others – and how sometimes we forget about that.

  1. Be true to yourself and others – except the one’s that are two-faced. Their comeuppance will happen.
  2. Aim to treat others as you expect to be treated. It’s not always easy and sometimes virtually impossible.
  3. Never say never – because you’ll probably end up doing it anyway and that’ll just annoy you even more.
  4. At times you may feel closer to a friend than someone in your own family; don’t feel guilty. It’s perfectly normal.
  5. A persons eyes can give away what’s they’re thinking – but also check what they’re doing with their hands and feet.
  6. Sounds corny, but sometimes you’re going to have to lose a battle to win the war.
  7. Although some others might ignore them or treat them with irrelevance, always be nice to folks whose job is either security guards, waiters, waitresses, nurses, cleaners and folks sometimes overlooked – give them the respect they deserve – believe me, they deserve it.
  8. Don’t have fair-weather friends – or be one.
  9. When it’s time, “the one” will find you. You don’t necessarily need to go looking for them, although there’s no harm in window shopping in the meantime.
  10. Admitting being wrong can get you more respect than trying to avoid the fact.
  11. Life goes in cycles – you’re going to have ups and downs. But remember when you’re at the bottom, there’s usually always an up to follow.
  12. Choose the career that makes you excited, happy or gives you passion. You might change careers several times in your working life though.
  13. There’s always someone better off than you – but there’s also someone not so well off.
  14. Money is not the source of all happiness. It is a source of much happiness. Don’t flaunt it.
  15. Treat other drivers on the road as if they don’t know what they’re doing – there are more out there than you think.
  16. Once in a while, stop and take a look at your life and review where you’re at – plan to make any changes you feel need to be changed (and have a 3 year plan that you review every year).
  17. Remember to tell those you love how you feel/care about them – many people forget until it’s too late.

Movies everyone (of my children) must see

Weeks to go (?) before the birth of number one child and I have been thinking  “What movies would I want my children to see?” – Think of it as an education of sort. So here’s my list of “Movies Everyone Must See: Version 2009” in no particular order:

  1. Star Wars 1-6 (question – should I start them at episode 4?)
  2. Airplane
  3. Top Gun
  4. Blazing Saddles
  5. Leon – The world’sbest car chase sequence
  6. It’s a Wonderful Life
  7. Life Is Beautiful
  8. Blade Runner
  9. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949 version)
  10. The Man with Two Brains
  11. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
  12. White Christmas (but only once)
  13. Pulp Fiction
  14. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  15. The Breakfast Club
  16. Unforgiven – Eastwood is the only actor that makes Westerns enjoyable
  17. Dirty Harry
  18. Where Eagles Dare
  19. A Fistful of Dollars
  20. For a Few Dollars More
  21. Great Expectations (1946)
  22. The Ladykillers (1955)
  23. Our Man in Havana
  24. The Dam busters (1955)
  25. Battle of Britain (1969)
  26. Highlander
  27. Zulu – Great acting by Michael Cain
  28. Alfie – Cain again (1966)
  29. The Italian Job (1969)
  30. The Eagle Has Landed
  31. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
  32. Clue
  33. Trains, Planes and Automobiles
  34. Austin Powers I, II & III
  35. Wayne’s World
  36. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  37. The Great Escape
  38. Sound of Music
  39. Ghostbusters
  40. Scrooged
  41. Caddyshack
  42. National Lampoon’s Vacation
  43. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  44. Heat – Pacino and De Niro rock
  45. The Shawshank Redemption
  46. 300
  47. Beverly Hills Cop
  48. Ocean’s Eleven / Twelve / Thirteen
  49. Bourne Supremacy / Identity / Ultimatum
  50. The Departed
  51. Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back
  52. Men In Black
  53. Die Hard 1-4
  54. The Fith Element
  55. Leathal Weapon 1-3
  56. Braveheart
  57. Spaceballs
  58. Batman – The Dark Knight
  59. Fight Club
  60. The Usual Suspects
  61. The Matrix Series
  62. North by Northwest
  63. American Beauty
  64. Amelie
  65. Forrest Gump
  66. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  67. Apocalypse Now
  68. The Big Lebowski

Some of you may say “Goodfellas”, “Godfather part XIXX” or “Scarface” – Classic films maybe, but not “must watches” IMHO. Other than that, I’m sure I missed some!

Why I’ve always avoided the Flu shot…

When you consider this list of ingredients in every flu shot….

  • Mercury: Two-thirds of the vaccines made for the 2008–09 flu season contain full-dose thimerosal, an organomercury compound, 49% mercury by weight. It is used to disinfect the vaccine. Each of these flu shots contain 25 micrograms of mercury, a mercury content of 50,000 part per billion, 250 times more than the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety limit. Mercury is a neurotoxin, with a toxicity level 1,000 times that of lead.
  • Formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing agent is used to inactivate the virus.
  • Aluminum, added to promote an antibody response,is a neurotoxin that may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Other additives in the flu vaccine include:
    • Triton X-100 (a detergent)
    • Polysorbate 80
    • carbolic acid
    • ethylene glycol (antifreeze)
    • gelatin
    • various antibiotics such as neomycin, streptomycin, and gentamicin that can cause allergic reactions

Here’s the article

More negative press for Chicago

It seems that Chicago has been deemed the most stressfull city in the USA… not from where I’m siting (which is near Sears Tower). Sure we’ve had a few knocks, like the increase in gang shootings and some neighbourhoods having increase in crime but I don’t know it’s necessarily true that we’re the MOST stressful…

Chicago has a 7.3% unemployment rate, the eighth most polluted air in our ranking and in city where everybody drives to get around, a gallon of gas costs a nickel under $4 dollars.

Here’s the article

btw Who’s lucky enough to get petrol for less that $4 a gallon? Especially downtown!

Chicago Shootings in 2008

Despite being an awesome city, Chicago has not had its’ shortfall of issues – one particular one has been the number of shootings taken place this year – apx 125 people have been shot (or rather, 125 people have been reported as shot – there’s probably more).

Click here to view the map

If you’ve taken a look you’ll notice many take place on the South side … no surprises to the Chi-town inhabitants. You would therefore think that Chicago is a scary place to hang out in. For us “north-siders” (or ex-north siders), we’ve been lucky that things have kept out that part of the city (Lincoln Park, Lakeview, etc).

Many of the shootings were also gang related – something that seems to be getting worse… Here’s hoping it doesn’t affect our 2016 Olympic bid.

Chicago Pride

Living in the US I see far more patriotism that ever experienced in the UK – it’s a wonderful thing to see, but also can be blinding to those that subscribe to it. I’ve also eulogised about how Chicago is a wonderful city to be in and around – and this is why I moved here.

Now let me preface that I’ve been to some pretty stunning places in the world – Edinburgh, Vancouver and Sydney immediately spring to mind – and they’ve been places I’ve considered living in the past, but for some reason I am drawn to Chicago and feel it very much home.. which is weird to see written down.

Part of this Chi-town patriotism has been brought out by hearing a song by Kanye West  – the video features a lot of Chicago – every time I hear this song it makes me feel proud that I’ve had chance to live in Chicago and be part of it.

Here’s the video – enjoy