Provocative Thoughts At Year-End

  • Will we finally ignore the Chicken Little alarmists who insist that everything from Ebola to dandelions are a global threat, and we’re all doomed?
  • No one should be allowed to critique treatment of terrorist prisoners without acknowledging that ISIS beheads innocent civilians.
  • Restoring ties with Cuba is long overdue and capitalism will undermine the Castro revolution as long last. This is probably the single act of Obama’s in six years I can fully support.
  • Anyone who insists their child not be vaccinated should be required to home school the child to prevent harm to others (and then be investigated for child abuse for this level of ignorance). People on the media like talk show host Don Imus’s wife, Deidre Imus, who has raved about the “dangers” of vaccines, should be banned from the media by the FCC.
  • I turn off the devices in a car that automatically slow it down when the computer is unhappy about distance, and I would no more get in a “driverless” car than I would dine at a “flavorless” restaurant.
  • I’ve flown a WW II bomber, two small planes, and the Goodyear Blimp without a pilot’s license. When will people create experiences where I can sign 12 waivers and work with guides to use fire engines and put out fires, or drive tanks and shoot at targets, or use earth movers to change the landscape? When do we get away from the video games and back to reality?
  • Those who take offense at any criticism about their religion, beliefs, profession, or values (or, worse, retaliate with violence) are hugely insecure and overcompensating for that lack of self-confidence.
  • If you believe that the reality show you’re watching is unscripted and unchoreographed, then you probably believe Bernie Madoff was falsely accused.
  • The people I’ve met who don’t believe in God are intelligent and interesting people, and I understand their position, as I hope they’d understand mine as a person of faith. But anyone who has a conniption because they see a religious symbol in public, or a prayer on a wall, or hears “God Bless You” after a sneeze, needs some help.
  • Facebook and its social media brethren will change significantly as the population ages, and instead of being “hip” the platforms will be a lifeline for people who would otherwise be lonely and isolated. In fact, you can see it now.
  • “Retirement” is no longer a useful construct, with longer lives, more ways to contribute using technology, a need for income beyond social safety nets, and the appeal of remaining active. I’ve seen people who “retire” and simply sit at home waiting to die. They certainly don’t seem to be having as good a time as when they were “working.”
  • The continuing growth of oil reserves and decline of gas prices at the pump mean that electric cars will at best be a third vehicle for some and remain peripheral for a long time to come. That’s not where I’d invest.
  • People who spend all their time trying to upgrade remind me of hamsters in a wheel. People who spend their time trying to provide value and improve their business so they can afford to fly first class remind me of star athletes.
  • Vladimir Putin will not be in the same position he’s in today on January 1, 2016. He’s playing a massive Ponzi Scheme, and he’s running out of chips.
  • Seth Meyers and Conan O’Brien are two of the unfunniest people I’ve ever seen, and here they are with million dollar deals on television with dozens of writers who can’t make them funny. It’s like the shortstop hitting .248 who gets the $12 million contract. What do these guys have, compromising photos of the boss?
  • The US cigar industry is about $7 billion. Want to talk about disruption? That’s without allowing Cuban cigars to be legally sold here. That will change things mightily.
  • In the 1960s it was thought that the chances of a similar planet to earth around a similar sun somewhere in the universe were so attractive that SETI was launched and funded (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). But we now know that the factors necessary for life as we know it are far more complex and far less likely. We seem to be a rare, almost unfathomable accident adrift in space.
  • The Netflix drama House of Cards engendered “binge watching” of television, with all episodes released at one time. Platforms such as Pandora create “binge listening” to favorite music. I can see “binge experiences,” where people spend days guided through constant exposures, e.g., spelunking, scuba, mountain climbing, skiing, paragliding, etc. I would invest in that.
  • While people who either make their living as doom-and-gloomers or sate their pessimism are insisting that the glass is half-empty, don’t argue, just let them keep whining and take the glass away with you.
  • California red wines are as good as any in the world, but the whites are not nearly as good as the French.
  • The concept of “college,” being four years while students are housed, clothed, fed, parked, and (one hopes) educated while assuming six figures of debt, will come crashing down soon. An easing of demand for formal degrees (replaced by competency and behavioral tests), the increasing use of home schooling and remote learning, and a rebellion at antiquated tenure systems and bureaucratic overhead will final bring down the house of cards. (Did you see where a “leading” business school, Thunderbird, went “out of business” and had to be purchased by the University of Arizona because of its debt? If you can’t do it, teach it….)
  • It’s not the weakness in making resolutions that kills them. It’s the failure to accept accountability.


© Alan Weiss 2014

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