After I finish the book I’m working on, which should occupy a major chunk of the fall and perhaps into the winter, I’m going to undertake another project. I‘d like to squeeze in some serious landscape photography with my Canon and I may do a wee bit next week (see above), but that’s not the project I’m talking about.
What I’m talking about is a variant on having a “bucket list”; I think everyone knows what a “bucket list” is. I’m not sure if that term translates well across the many languages and dialects of the world, so a simple explanation is that a bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. Before you die.
I’m pretty close to kicking the bucket, so such a list might be important to me, but it’s not; I’m broke, and not in the best of health, so accomplishing things like jumping out of airplanes, or driving the Nurburging, or touring exotic places, is not going to happen.
So I’m going to go it one better.
When we die, we get re-incarnated, at least according to some belief systems. I think it’s pretty clear: people have been writing about it for millennia. This is not going to be a debate about or an exploration of reincarnation, though that might make a good blog entry. There are countless theories and approaches.
I think the formula E=mcsquared encapsulates it pretty well.
But the problem is that when we get reincarnated, we forget everything we learned on this go-around.
I don’t know about you, but some of my learning has come at a large and/or painful price, so I’d like to retain it.
So I’m going to be working on a system that will enable us to miniaturize a package that we take with us on that journey into the next cycle.
Think of it like a 128 gigabyte thumb drive buried deep in your soul, one that’s filled with learnings but also with yearnings, or things you learned about yourself, your seats of excellence, your passions, what enchants you, those things that complete you, those things you were unable to get to do this time around. Here I’m not talking about mundane things but those things of great meaning and power, ways of serving people, nuances of love, nuggets of understanding, insights which you will further evolve and build on.
When you get to your new destination (after you unpack, figure out who’s in charge, where your meals are coming from, and what the first phase of your development is going to be), you can plug in your thumb drive. You will have to ask for help. Undoubtedly, there’ll be a whole new operating system and programming language and there will be lots of things to learn.
You will have to dust off the cobwebs (someone wiped off the placental fluid), and you will probably have a wide-eyed gaze of awe and incomprehension for some time, and it’s my understanding that there is but a short window of only a few years in which you can recall things you brought with you on your thumb drive.
For me, such things would include the desire to learn to play a musical instrument. I came close this time; if I had had an earlier start… I had a fascination with architecture that never went anywhere. I could have been a restaurateur, or learned more about healing. I’d do a top-flight jazz brunch where people could convene. It’s all about presentation to the senses of your guest and your Beloved.
I’d get someone who was proficient with psychological testing and multiple intelligences to befriend my parents. I’d get them a copy of Summon The Magic (the revamped and updated edition).
I’d make sure I had a lot of opportunity for physical exercise, free play, outdoor exploration, hiking, etc.
I’d make sure my parents arranged for my education in interpersonal communication, long-term enrollment in aikido, and more.
The techniques for accomplishing this feat of metempsychotic legerdemain have yet to be worked out. I’d start with a list, of course, but that’s only the start (and would need to be revised and flexible). The process would almost certainly involve some very intense meditation, repeated visualization, mental telepathy, remote viewing, astral projection and more. There are people in the world who practice and teach such things, and there are people in the world who are working on teleportation and time travel.
Is it possible? Who knows? I’m still agnostic about extra-terrestrials.
Those whose goal is a totalitarian police state insist on pushing these boundaries.
Shouldn’t people who love life do the same?
This isn’t about learning how to talk to the dead.
“… If the individual can be led to believe he must … see his future as a battening down of all hatches and inner resources, as a boarding up of all his windows of perception, as a shrinking back into a cellar of waiting and bare survival, then he evacuates his position of strength….”
The hoodie provides slash-resistance for the major arteries in your body – the cartoid, brachial and abdmonial arteries – as well as the upper portion of the femoral arteries, and the jugular vein. So wearing it will help you survive a knife attack.
One of the fascinating questions someone should ask is about the extent to which modeling and simulation programs have been run for the issues of the evacuation of Florida.
I’ve had a long-standing interest in simulation and its application to problems of emergency management; it started in 1973 when, as an ambulance company dispatcher, I said “no” to the fellow who’d asked me to “send everything” to the site of an airplane crash 90 miles away. Playing tabletop war games depicting the Battle of the Bulge gave me a lucid introduction to time/space movement and logistics.
In the 80’s, while going back to grad school in communications to learn more about what they then called “interactive videodisc”, I wrote my first proposals for a simulation game system to teach the principles of mass casualty incident management and shipped copies to anyone whose name and address I could glean; I’d read about the simulation for armored warfare at an Army base in Texas and got a call from someone at the CIA wondering where I had gained access to that information and precisely what I knew. I gave him the precise citation; the book was on my desk. (I was naive back then, what you might call ‘a turnip who fell off the truck’.) I was challenged by an editor at a national publication in the field of emergency medical services and the “Rescue” article here in pdf format was the result. [insert “Rescue” article]
Some of the people who received that proposal (or its revamped brother) included staffers and elected officials at the White House, at the National League of Cities, at the International Association of Fire Chiefs (whose executive director was a professional colleague of mine), Howard Champion, M.D. (who had appeared at a trauma conference I ran for an society of emergency physicians and whose trauma scale formed the patient scoring engine for my simulation proposal), the Baltimore Shock-Trauma Institute, and others.
Mrs. Dan Quayle wrote back to say ‘thanks, but FEMA had everything well in hand’.
Dick Cheney got a copy of the second proposal in which I cautioned that any simulation could be turned on its head and used by people who wanted to conduct evil acts. He was already waay ahead of me.
Eventually, a copy was given to a young staffer who’d interned with the Bush 43 White House and who’d won a gig with the Office of Emergency Preparedness at the US Department of Justice. [Perhaps you can answer why the DOJ was interested in the state-of-the-art in national emergency preparedness; they developed extensive data bases for all the software programs then in use.Somehow, BreakAway games got a copy of the proposal and came up withhttp://www.breakawaygames.com/incident-commander/. That company would not let me play the game, and would not talk to me, despite the fact that their product was a kludge because a critical explanation of the “game engine” was purposefully left out of the proposal.
Is there a program that can simulate the evacuation of the state of Florida? They exist for many, many other applications, including large buildings, skyscrapers, etc. [Remember 9/11?]
Most people can’t afford to escape via plane. Anyone who has been to South Florida in a car, and those can read a map or watch the news, understands that the highway net out of South Florida is severely limited and that, being a peninsula, there is not a lot of space for lateral movement. Irma and Harvey, as was Katrina before it, can be seen as an attack on people at the poverty line, which has a racial and perhaps even a eugenics aura. The meme about their being too many people survives, and many of the elite are known Malthusian eugenicists.
So when Irma was approaching the Leeward Islands, those who could have gotten out should have left then. Much has been said about the conversation between “government” and the people about evacuation. Evacuation won’t work unless you left a day or two before you should have.
Emergency preparedness information has been widely circulated by many; government agencies, preppers, et al. I wrote of this recently and followed my own advice; my wife and I discussed the issues in our household, talked about the most likely kinds of events or incidents we’d encounter, read two solid but basic articles on the topic of evacuation, and came up with a plan. We know where we’ll go, who we will meet when we get there, what resources are already at that location (including the all-important physical vitalities, as well as the mental capacities for configuring, engineering, problem-solving, etc.), and are busy configuring the rest of the plan.
That plan will include: 1) pharmaceuticals, medical data, first aid and trauma care; 2) pet care; 3) the laptop computer and cell phones; 4) a bag filled with chargers, and the hand-cranked SW and weather radio with which devices can be charged; 5) a three-ring binder with our life’s info, phone numbers, account numbers, etc., in a lock box, and as much cash as we can gather; 6) luggage with three changes of clothes, plus two-season, two-thickness outerwear, and secure and sturdy footwear.
Everyone should have done some thinking and communication and had a family discussion about those issues by now, had a packed bag or “go kit”, and know enough to go out and fill the gas tank and buy the water when the hurricane starts gaining strength in the Atlantic.
The brain behind the further development of this unique tool served as Chairman of DARPA’s Information Science and Technology advisory group. He envisioned “a three-dimensional, holographic, electronic sand table”; for some reason, he did not include the dimension of time. He envisoned “real-time dress rehearsals”, during which people could train in groups with the immediacy of real-time outcomes without severe consequences (the only wounds would be those to senior command ego). Said Colonel Jack Thorpe, such a system would allow the practice and learning of things you could not encounter, and in conditions you could not encounter, until you were faced with the reality of an extra-ordinary moment.
Thorpe and DARPA came up withSIMNET, described by Jacobsen [p. 257] as “an affordable, large-scale, free-play, force-on-force worldwide networked” “realization of cyberspace”, the world’s first massively multiplayer online role-playing game” [MMORPG].
“One of the most popular MMO’s is World of Warcraft” with ten millionactive users. “… in 2008, the CIA, NSA and DARPA launched a covert data-mining effort, called Project Reynard” to determine how they play and interact. [p. 258] Said Thorpe, “The behavior in a virtual world is the same behavior as the behavior in the real world.
When an article about local area developers for this approach appeared in the Boston Globe, I practiced my best short telephone ‘elevator speech’ and called the first company listed in the article. The receptionist said “oh, you want to talk to our CEO; he’s standing right here” and within two weeks I was a subject matter consultant on the development of a civilian emergency management training system with a pathogenic animal disease scenario. The focus was sharpened to an outbreak of avian influenza in Georgia’s poultry industry; when I did some telephonic research, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took notice and called the project manager at MAK Technologies and told them to tell me to ‘quit it’.
He was the company’s developer of new business and a reserve Navy pilot to whom I introduced Boyd’s OODA loop. Later, he introduced me to one of his buddies who was involved in training a special elite military unit tasked with the response to Federal and State facilities in the event of an RBC event. We also talked about Summon The Magic, because we met at a ballgame where my daughter was playing, and he was impressed when I gave him my “poster on teamwork”.
The other sub-contractors on this DARPA Terrorist Studies Working Group project were the Georgisa Tech Research Institute and the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; they were in charge of the development of the print and classroom curriculum; our job (following their successful roll-out of MAGTF, the training game for Marine amphibious assault) was to develop the game.
Working with two software engineers, we developed and condensed a scenario and timeline that had five players, each playing five separate roles, responding to a two-week long event compressed into two hours of game time. The group’s task was to identify the source of the contagion and shut it down; if unable to do so, the disease would spread rapidly. 36 hours of virtual time was the red line; much beyond 14 minutes of real-time game itneraction would metastasize into health and economic failure.
The game engine, which I devised, came out of discussions with a British game developer in Montreal, having been a beta player of an e-mail game on organizational development designed with the input of a world-class game designer by the name of Thiagi, and several months of on-and-off immersion in the scenario.
The project was eventually cancelled despite our briefing the key people from TSWG and the USDA inside the Crystal Palace in Arlington; I was told it was because of financial improprieties at GTRI or UGA, but I suspect they found out I’d co-written the position paper by The Physicians for Social Responsibility on the civilian-military contingency hospital system, the Reagan-era plan for importing victims of a battlefield nuclear exchange in the Fulda Gap to East Coast Hopsitals; you can get a sense of that debate by reading the two New York Times letters below. The CMCHS was the twin sister for their Crisis Relocation Planning brainstorm that they could have the people in cities targeted by Russia get in their cars and drive to a twin city. (The new business pilot at MAK was, I sense, terminated for his failure to have vetted me properly. They finally heard from someone at Raytheon.)
Since the Bolt, Beranek and Newman TRADOC effort to train for the Battle of 73 Easting, major strides have been made in DARPA’s partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the ability to survey, observe and scrutinze populations and their living spaces (page 269) (“born classified”). the use of surveillance and micro-sensing devices mounted on infrastructure to monitor motor vehicle and pedestrian streams, “to track everything that moves” (page 370), “using techniques similar to those for Google maps” (used for example on Main Supply Route Tampa out of Baghdad), the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project and other micro-UAV’s, and the collection of data from human terrain mapping programs (p. 394) all pumped through massive computers with “predictive modeling capabilities” (page 372) at a cost that clearly measures in the billions of dollars, we do not yet have an evacuation simulation program, or a game or a training system, but we do have Palantir and data-based “predictive” tools, https://boingboing.net/2017/09/08/weaponized-empiricism.html and now we have “an app” https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/10/zello-tops-us-app-store-as-the-walkie-talkie-for-hurricane-volunteers/.
This suggests to me that our system of elite governance, influenced by Wall Street and foreign countries, is more interested in spending its resources on war than on serving and protecting its own population during natural disasters.
15 Books remain to be annotated (1 book has one sentence noted)
3 Books need to be read and annotated
10 Books have not been read and may not be of value
1 Book dropped from list: it did not include a certain specific word and thus proves itself to not telling the whole truth
“… Wu wei has been practiced both within and outside of existing social and political structures. In the Daode Jing, Laozi introduces us to his ideal of the “enlightened leader” who, by embodying the principles of wu wei, is able to rule in a way that creates happiness and prosperity for all of a country’s inhabitants…..”
Hell is a large banquet hall filled to overflowing with the most sumptuous foods on the face of the earth, but everyone’s arms are splinted in extra-long splints that prevent bending of the elbows; no one can pick up any of the food.
Heaven is that same banquet hall with the people wearing the same splints but, instead of starving, they simply learned how to feed each other.
We live in a world that delivers increasing violence against women and children, and others who are vulnerable. Consider the concepts of “self-defense, escape, atemi and awareness for children, women and elders”. Each of the links below, especially the first three, offer valuable information, tips, advice, insights, books, videos and DVDs.
Use the phrase “self-defense, escape, atemi and awareness for children, women and elders” to search YouTube for videos and your local ccommunityfor classes.
I recommend simple class attendance with some practice component over self-teaching and watching videos. This is apart from any formal enrollment in a martial arts class of any genre, and apart from owning a firearm.
The first component in preparedness is to hone your own skills in self-awareness, mindfulness and situation awareness.
I consider mastery of these mandatory before the acquisition and use of a firearm.
Beyond that, make sure you have an outstanding flashlight (my family is outfitted with rechargeable BlazeRay LED), a loud whistle, and other small, legal and portable items kept on or near your person.
Atemi is a Japanese word that, in Japanese martial arts including aikido, uses techniques including percussive body strikes, often simply soft blows, that are often used “to briefly break an opponent’s balance (see kuzushi) or resolve”; with such a “blow to an area such as the eyes, face, or some vulnerable part of the abdomen… the opponent can be distracted, and may instinctively contort their body (e.g., jerking their head back from a face strike) in such a way that they lose their balance”, allowing the individual under attack that prolonged but brief moment in which to regain their own footing, balance, and wherewithal to escape and call for help.
If you or your child can be brought to a visceral understanding of learning how to remain calm in the face of a sudden storm of terror…
“… The Essential Phone ships September 1, starting at $699. You can buy it subsidized from Sprint, or unlocked from Amazon and elsewhere. (You should buy it unlocked.) It is the first in a line of products that Essential believes will bring innovation back to the smartphone market and give people a brand to love in the same way millions love Apple.
In some ways, the Essential Phone appears genuinely exciting and new. In most, it just feels like a really good smartphone. And in a few frustrating ways, it’s not yet good enough…..”
“… Technology is going faster and faster and ethical and moral debates aren’t occurring at the same rhythm. We need to be ready for a speed of innovation that we can’t control. I’m concerned, and you should be too. Should we, as a social being, force ourselves to slow down? Is that even possible?….
Brilliant and Exciting but Scary Technologies
BEST, for short (I’ve always wanted to invent an acronym). What could be so brilliant and exciting that also makes it pretty freaking scary? There are several technologies that many people can’t stop speaking about saying they are “the next big thing”:
Brain Computer Interface
They do sound pretty cool, but in case you’re not convinced, let me tell you what’s going on with each one of them and where they’re heading…..”
Last week, the household experienced a traumatic event, albeit a natural one. A blue heron found our koi pond. The greater regional area is dappled with small ponds, streams, swampland and, naturally, it all becomes a habitat for them.
The local koi supply and pond industry says such events cannot be avoided, only minimized; they suggest the use of decoys, and nets.
We didn’t have the net in place, but one friend had given us a decoy statuette of a pelican.
After the blue heron was spotted for the first time, my wife ran out and bought an expensive heron decoy. The blue heron returned, flew in to stand next to the decoy, and tapped it with its beak.
“Yes, I thought you were rather immobile; these people must think I’m stupid.”
People and dogs shooed the heron away but the game was on; it circled the neighborhood and sampled from several koi ponds in the area. The surving koi hid under the rocks in deep water and did not come out for days; even now they are reticent, but they do get hungry once a week.
The neighbor with the other koi pond brought out his BB rifle (useless), his pellet pistol (somewhat effective at letting the bird know there was a predator nearby), and his paintball gun.
When last seen, the heron had matching bright orange spots on his wings.
46 Books have been completely re-annotated
26 Books have not been annotated
3 Books need to be read and annotated
6 Books have not been read and may not be of value
The timeline has yet to be developed, and it needs to be integrated with that of my life.
The remaining 26 books will be easily and quickly annotated, and then the real deep fun begins: building the timeline, developing the order and outline, and writing.
And then editing.
For the past several weeks, the household has been engaged in nurturing a new furry “son”; a young neutered male of six months was rescued from a local shelter who had received it from a designer hybrid puppy mill in a state that does not require neutering.
He’s a Labrador retriever/American foxhound who will be a big boy and with whom we are deeply-engaged in obedience school.
We named him Remy, after the Red Sox broadcaster (RemDawg) currently on medical leave for his fifth battle with lung cancer. It’s essentially my wife’s dog, and my wife is a huge Red Sox fan and won two bouts with cancer herself.
MLB is currently tinkering with the game of baseball to make it more attractive, a disastrous interference in my opinion, and perhaps Jerry’s; he’s has already been verbally spanked for his comment about banning translators from mound visits; he’s the author of an outstanding book on how to watch the game.
We’ve been watching the game on TV and live (both of our kids were stars on the diamond) for decades.
Now we are learning to translate dog barks. And the four-legged RemDawg is now showing his hound sounds too. He chews through his harnesses and leashs, our bone and biscuit budget is waaay up, and he has an annoying habit of nipping at the hands and legs of Mrs. Blogger. The “coins in the can” trick and running the vaccum cleaner stops the incessant barking. We’re learning too…
“… People have been trying to parse how dogs and people communicate with each other for a long time. Obviously they do—but hypothetically the form and content go way beyond sit and stay—and say something broader about language and animal cognition…..”
[I haven’t watched these but I am a big believer in getting people to learn as much as possible about taking care of their bodies and each other that I believe you can select out (or in) those elements and items that will work for you where ever you are.
I was an EMT and EMT instructor a very long time ago and, during that process, the best decision I ever made was to marry a trauma nurse.
She became a certified case manager who’s been managing my case for a long time now, with time out for having and raising two kids who are now professionals raising their own kids. She spent hours today training our new Labrador retriever/hound puppy who, at age six months, stands 30 inches high. He is already proven to be a good watch, alert & protect dog.]
From page 1: “We can all perceive disintegration of our nations in terms of day to day, personal experiences…. [The] moral, material, cultural and intellectual decay that we are witnessing helplessly every day across the globe is not accidental …. but a deliberately-induced social crisis….”
Then there are the sections on television and cybernetics… deeply-depressing stuff, but enough to get folks away from the screens, enjoying and celebrating friends, family, pets, and life.
Ed.: Progress, albeit slow, is being made on the book. Two new sources have been added, one of which is being read now, and slowly I am annotating stuff I’ve read before, stuff I bought and set aside for reading, and more.
39 Books have been fully annotated and re-shelved
31 Books have not been annotated
3 Books need to be read and annotated
6 Books have not been read and may not be of value
1 book has not yet arrived
1 book has not yet been ordered
I’ve done enough highlighting that I had to go out and buy two more of the yellow things today.
[Would some one please package them in a square tube format so they won’t roll off tables when you put them down?]
And I think I just discovered the tool and technique that will allow me to boil all that down into a detailed and focused read for an audience that could stretch out and last across decades and generations.
There is a five-part condensation of performance psychology which you can adapt to anything that is in your future, and it goes like this.
First, set your goals. This is a choice as to whether you will focus on outcome goals, or process goals. Everyone wants the best outcome, of course, but the way to the best outcome over the long haul is to focus on your process goals, in other words, those things that you will want or have to do to achieve the outcome you want. Surely you can practice more, work harder, etc etc., but presumably you have been doing those things all along. Your goals should be immediate, short-term, positive, achievable (but challenging), time-limited, measurable, flexible and adaptable. The ancient Chinese wisdom about moving mountains a few rocks at a time still applies. Crisp and renewed clarity of intent is critical.
Relaxation is a major element. For athletic or movement-related items (these can include dance, music etc.), use progressive muscle relaxation (active and passive). Stretch; stay loose. Relaxation techniques can also include some for of autogenic training, meditative-based approaches, body scanning, mindfulness and breathing. Knowing how to maintain a consistent approach to deep and relaxing breathing as you go through your event is a key.
Self-talk is critical, using affirmations, cue words, reframing your thoughts, and using the STOP technique when you find your thoughts straying away in the wrong direction. If you tell your sub-conscious “I am the ____”, soon enough you will be the ____.
Imagery, especially when combined with self-talk, is equally critical. Used in learning and skill acquistion, for mental preparation and rehearsal, for reinforcement and correction, the use of imagery involves vividness, duration, ease, control and can also include auditory cues.
Lastly, concentration on the task at hand is the tip of your performance psychology spear.
“In this article, we argue that non-rigorous patenting standards and ineffectual policing of both fraudulent marketing and anticompetitive actions played an important role in launching and prolonging the opioid epidemic. We further show that these regulatory issues are not unique to prescription opioids but rather are reflective of the wider pharmaceutical market.”
Thefreethoughtproject.com reports: Researchers follow with a primer on the rise of opioid prescriptions and how pain became “the fifth vital sign.” By the 1990s, doctors realized that chronic pain was often ignored, and pain management became a hot topic. Physicians were urged to make greater use of opioids, with experts in the field downplaying the potential for misuse and addiction – a view largely based on experience with morphine.
But this was before OxyContin came along.
Purdue Pharma, recognizing that this newfound view of the medical establishment could be exploited, worked to develop an improved synthetic opioid. Their golden ticket was found with the extended-release oxycodone pill known as OxyContin, patented and approved by the FDA in 1995.
However, Purdue’s exclusive patent was based on corporate fraud and government ignorance.
“Purdue was able to patent extended-release oxycodone in the United States despite the fact that its constituent elements—the active ingredient oxycodone and the controlled-release system Contin—had been developed decades earlier…Oxycodone was used in clinical practice in Germany as early as 1917, and was first introduced in the United States in 1939.”
Purdue’s angle was to develop a controlled-release version of oxycodone, banking on its success with the patented MS Contin for morphine. Here’s where the feds stepped in to help.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) initially rejected Purdue’s patent request for extended-release oxycodone, citing the combination as “obvious.” But Purdue responded with a statistical falsehood – which the company knew was false – and the patent office made an about-face, granting the 20 year patent for OxyContin.
As the Harvard study notes, “low patenting standards” and “a history of tepid enforcement” provided incentive for Purdue to embark on a massive, fraudulent marketing campaign. With the guarantee of no competition provided by government, Purdue spent obscene amounts of money getting American hooked on their newly-patented product.
“Between 1996 and 2000, the company more than doubled its U.S. marketing team…In 2001, Purdue paid forty million dollars in bonuses tied to extended-release oxycodone…Purdue also invested heavily in analytics, developing a database to identify high-volume prescribers and pharmacies to help focus their marketing resources…Patients were offered starter coupons for a free initial supply of extended-release oxycodone, 34,000 of which were redeemed by 2001…Finally, Purdue hosted forty all-expenses-paid pain management and speaker training conferences at lavish resorts. Over five thousand clinicians attended, receiving toys, fishing hats, and compact discs while listening to sales representatives tout the alleged benefits of extended-release oxycodone…Purdue elevated the stakes, spending an estimated six to twelve times more promoting extended-release oxycodone than its competitor Janssen spent marketing a rival opioid…
Purdue’s efforts paid off. Between 1996 and 2001, extended-release oxycodone generated $2.8 billion in sales. From 2008 to 2014, annual sales exceeded $2 billion.”
It gets even worse.
As the patent expiration for OxyContin approached, Purdue developed an “abuse-deterrent formulation” of the drug, for which FDA granted a patent in 2010. Not satisfied with a simple new patent, Purdue filed a “citizen petition asking the FDA to refuse to accept generic versions of the original extended-release oxycodone formulation on safety grounds.” Incredibly, FDA also granted this to Purdue, “effectively preventing the marketing of low-cost, therapeutically equivalent products that might undercut Purdue’s incentive to continue to widely promote its new abuse-deterrent formulation.”
While thousands of Americans die under a campaign of deception and greed, official Washington pretends to care with the occasional fine levied against pharma companies, including for false marketing by Purdue.
But no one ever goes to jail; no one in top management is ever held to account. The persons in “personhood” conveniently disappear when corporations get in trouble. And the fines? Mere pocket change compared to the revenues already made from the drugs involved.
“Rather than deterring fraudulent marketing, the penalties simply became a cost of doing business.”
The Harvard study provides much more insight into the fraudulent marketing practices of Big Pharma, the patent schemes enabled by federal government, how generic drugs are routinely stifled, and possible ways to address the injustice.
Some of the more sinister effects of the system include “hard switches” which force patients to go from one costly patented drug to another instead of generics. The use of “citizen petitions” by pharma corporations to slow generic drugs and keep prices high is a particularly insidious scheme.
The study notes that today, “Over four million Americans misuse opioids each month” at a societal cost of $80 billion annually. 300 million prescriptions were written in 2015 in the U.S., which has a population of 323 million. This is reflected in the fact that 80 percent of the world’s opioids are consumed in the U.S., which has 5 percent of the world’s population.
The misuse of opioids is a not a simple issue, and personal choice is of course involved. But the above numbers point to something much bigger going on.
As the Harvard study confirms, Big Pharma has exploited the enormous addiction potential of opioids to prey upon the American populace for decades — made possible by a federal government with blatant disregard for the well-being of citizens.
The Pennsylvania Dutch, in whose bosom I nested from infancy until age nine, have an expression “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get”.
The actual source is debatable, it being attributed to Satchel Paige, Lewis Carroll’s white rabbit and who knows who.
I was already behind from the beginning. I’m now way behind and priority tasks are still stacking up.
I’ve taken to asking friends and family to e-mail me some more time.
On top of that, Mrs. Blogger finally broke down and “rescued” a six-month Labrador-beagle male, we had a grandchild sleep-over, and today finally a long list of chores needing daughter’s assistance in doing were finally done. Eight-year-old grandchild #2 recorded a video on how to throw a four-seam fastball, nine-year-old grandchild #1 just came back from a diamond mine richer than I am, and seven-year-old grandchild #3 is going through dental woes.
But the tavern sign is now mounted, the dog goes for his well-puppy visit tomorrow and I passed muster with my primary nurse-practitioner.
Stacking up on my reading/study side-table are the following:
Professor Ashton Nichol’s 12-disc CD course on Emerson, Thoreau and the transcendentalist movement;
a 346-page grandmaster’s textbook on chess so I can teach those grandkids a game to which they’ve taken;
three small puzzle books that teach three kinds of thinking (logical, quick and creative);
“The Art and Science of Staff Fighting: A Complete Instructional Guide” by Joe Varady…
I have the staff, my six-foot walking stick cut with proper indigenous sanctity and respect from a New England rock maple, the bark removed, dried, sanded, shellacked and varnished; I have the gi, along with videos of the related aikido kata; I have the dojo (a partially-shaded stone and grass patio with fire pit, waterfall, shower, and surrounding garden;
an audio course of eight 45-minutes lectures on jazz, its history and more by Bill Messenger, who “studied musical composition, on scholarship, at The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University under Louis Cheslock. He attended a master’s class in 1963 with Nadia Boulanger, the teacher of Roy Harris, Virgil Thompson, and Aaron Copland. Professor Messenger has two master’s degrees, both from Johns Hopkins University. He has done additional graduate work in musicology at the University of Maryland.
Professor Messenger has taught composition, music history, and music theory at Goucher College in Baltimore and a number of community colleges. He regularly lectures on American music at The Peabody Institute and Towson State University Elderhostels.
Professor Messenger is the author of several books, including The Power of Music: A Complete Music Activities Program for Older Adults, which has been called “a landmark in music activities.”
His musical career includes studio work on many early rock ‘n’ roll recordings. He has accompanied many nationally known performers during his years in the music business, including Lou Rawls and Cass Elliot, and he worked as an opener for Bill Haley and the Comets. He was also a pianist with the acrobatic rock’n’roll group, The Rockin’ Maniacs. As a jazz pianist, he has played in ragtime ensembles, swing bands, Dixieland bands, and modern jazz groups. In 1983 he was voted Baltimore’s best piano player by Baltimore magazine.”
Not forgotten and essentially still on the front burner, simmering, is the book I will be writing. I’ve brought to paper the points I will take from 37 out of 69 selected books, though I keep finding books and ordering them; three are on my “to do” list. Many of these books I need to re-read again; I’m finding what I annotated when I first read them is not necessarily what I want to pull out of them for this project. They are interesting to read, having learned a lot as I have moved on. I have much work to do before I will actually do the writing.
Much of the material will gravitate out to a blog rather than go into the book (be patient). One example I found is interesting to say the least.
Along with that and the latest Occurences, I’ll leave you with this:
JUNE 2, 2017, 8:49 AM| Award-winning author Michael Ruhlman has been writing about food for 20 years. [Got food?] He’s collaborated with professional chefs on cookbooks and written about the basics of cooking. Ruhlman joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss his new book, “Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America” and how our relationship with food has evolved.
Chain grocery retailing was a phenomenon that took off around the beginning of the twentieth century, with the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (established 1859) and other small, regional players. Grocery stores of this era tended to be small (generally less than a thousand square feet) and also focused on only one aspect of food retailing. Grocers (and most of the chains fell into this camp) sold what is known as “dry grocery” items, or canned goods and other non-perishable staples. Butchers and greengrocers (produce vendors) were completely separate entities, although they tended to cluster together for convenience’s sake.
Clarence Saunders’ Piggly Wiggly stores, established in Memphis in 1916, are widely credited with introducing America to self-service shopping, although other stores (notably Alpha Beta in Southern California) around the country were experimenting with the idea at about the same time. Self-service stores came to be known as “groceterias” due to the fact that they were reminiscent of the cafeteria-style eateries that were gaining popularity at the time.
The Chain Store Explosion (1920s):
It was not until the 1920s that chain stores started to become a really dominant force in American food (and other) retailing. Small regional chains such as Kroger, American Stores, National Tea, and others began covering more and more territory, and A&P began moving toward a more national profile, operating over 10,000 of its “economy stores” by the end of the decade. Most of these stores remained small, counter service stores, often staffed by only two or three employees, with no meat nor produce departments. Some still offered delivery and charge accounts, although most chain stores had abandoned these practices.
In 1926, Charles Merrill, of Merrill Lynch set in motion a series of transactions that led to the creation of Safeway Stores, when he arranged the merger of Skaggs Cash Stores, a chain with operations in Northern California and the northwestern United States, with Los Angeles-based Sam Seelig Stores. In 1928, the new chain bought most of the west coast’s Piggly Wiggly stores, and later acquired Sanitary Stores in the Washington DC area as well as MacMarr Stores, another chain that Charles Merrill had assembled. Growth by merger became common in the late 1920s and 1930s, and led to numerous antitrust actions and attempts to tax the chain stores out of existence.
The Supermarket (1930s and 1940s):
As early at the 1920s, some chain grocers were experimenting with consolidated (albeit still rather small) stores that featured at least a small selection of fresh meats and produce along with the dry grocery items. In Southern California, Ralphs Grocery Company was expanding into much larger stores than had been seen before in most of the country. Los Angeles was also seeing the beginning of the “drive-in market” phenomenon, where several complimentary food retailers (a butcher, a baker, a grocer, and a produce vendor, for example) would locate within the same small shopping center surrounding a parking lot. These centers were often perceived by customers as a single entity, despite being under separate ownership.
In 1930, Michael Cullen, a former executive of both Kroger and A&P, opened his first King Kullen store, widely cited as America’s first supermarket, although others have some legitimate claim to that title as well. King Kullen was located in a warehouse on the fringes of New York City, and offered ample free parking and additional concessions in a bazaar-like atmosphere. Merchandise was sold out of packing cartons and little attention was paid to décor. The emphasis was on volume, with this one store projected to do the volume of up to one hundred conventional chain stores. The volume and the no frills approach resulted in considerably lower prices.
The supermarket, as it came to be known, was initially a phenomenon of independents and small, regional chains. Eventually, the large chains caught on as well, and they refined the concept, adding a level of sophistication that had been lacking from the spartan stores of the early 1930s. In the late 1930s, A&P began consolidating its thousands of small service stores into larger supermarkets, often replacing as many as five or six stores with one large, new one. By 1940, A&P’s store count had been reduced by half, but its sales were up. Similar transformations occurred among all the “majors”; in fact, most national chains of the time saw their store counts peak around 1935 and then decline sharply through consolidation. Most chains operated both supermarkets and some old-style stores simultaneously for the next decade or so, either under the same name (like Safeway, A&P, and Kroger) , or under different banners (such as the Big Star stores operated by the David Pender Grocery Company in the southeast).
Suburbs and Shopping Centers (1950s and 1960s):
By the 1950s, the transition to supermarkets was largely complete, and the migration to suburban locations was beginning. Some chains were more aggressive with this move than others. A&P, for example, was very hesitant to expend the necessary capital and move outward, retaining smaller, outdated, urban locations for perhaps longer than was prudent. While the company tried to catch up in the 1960s, its momentum had vanished, and the once dominant chain eventually became something of an “also-ran.”
The 1950s and 1960s were seen my many as the golden age of the supermarket, with bright new stores opening on a regular basis, generating excited and glowing newspaper reports, and serving a marketplace that was increasingly affluent. Standardized designs, in use since the 1930s and 1940s, were refined and modernized, creating instantly recognizable and iconic buildings such as A&P’s colonial-themed stores; the glass arch-shaped designs of Safeway, Penn Fruit, and others; and the towering pylon signs of Food Fair and Lucky Stores.
Discounters and Warehouse Stores (1970s):
As changing tastes and zoning boards forced exteriors to become more “subdued” in the late 1960s, interiors began to compensate, with colorful designs evoking New Orleans or the “Gay 90s” or old farmhouses replacing the stark whites common to many stores of the 1950s. Other new touches included carpeting, specialty departments, and more. Kroger’s new “superstore” prototype, introduced in 1972, was perhaps the peak of this trend, with its specialty departments and its orange, gold, and green color palette.
Many shoppers, however, wondered what the costs of these amenities might be, and something of a backlash developed. This backlash was answered in the late 1960s with a new trend known as “discounting.”
Numerous stores around the country embarked on discounting programs at about the same time, most of which centered around the elimination of trading stamps, reduction in operating hours, and an emphasis on cost-cutting. Lucky Stores of California simply re-imaged their current stores and kept using the same name, while others opted for a hybrid format, with some stores operating traditionally and others (such as Colonial’s Big Star stores and Harris Teeter’s More Value in the southeast) open as discounters under different names.
A&P, as was its custom at the time, arrived somewhat late and unprepared for this party. It attempt at discounting, WEO (Warehouse Economy Outlet) was something of a disaster, plagued by distribution issues and by the fact that its numerous smaller and older stores were not capable of producing the volume required to make discounting work (but were converted anyway). This was one of several factors that preceded A&P’s major meltdown of the mid-1970s.
Upscale Stores, Warehouses, and Mergers (1980s and 1990s):
The market segmentation we see today grew out of the discounting movement as amplified in the 1980s. The middle range began to disappear, albeit slowly, as mainline stores went more “upscale” and low end stores moved more toward a warehouse model, evocative of the early supermarkets of the 1930s. Many chains operated at both ends of the spectrum, often under different names (Edwards and Finast was an example, as were the many A&P brands, from “Futurestore” to “Sav-a-Center”). Others eliminated one end of the market completely, like Harris Teeter in North Carolina, which abandoned discounting entirely.
The re-emergence of superstores, featuring general merchandise and groceries under one roof accelerated this trend. Many such stores had opened in the early 1960s, some of them operated by chain grocers themselves. Only a few survived, Fred Meyer in Oregon being a noteworthy example, and “one stop shopping” seemed a relatively new and fresh idea when Kmart and Walmart tried it again, with considerably more success, starting around 1990.
The other big trend during this time was toward mergers and leveraged buyouts. This affected almost all the major chains. A&P was sold to German interests. Safeway took itself private in 1987 to avoid a hostile takeover, and lost half its geographical reach in the process. Kroger slimmed down somewhat in 1988 for the same reasons, while Lucky was acquired by American Stores the same year. Another round of mergers in the 1990s placed American Stores in the hands of Albertsons, reunited Safeway with much of its former territory, and greatly increased the west coast presence of Kroger, making these three chains the dominant players in the industry, along with Walmart.
All of which brings us to the present, which is not what this site is about, so I’ll leave any further mention of big box retailers, new players like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, and subsequent mergers to future historians, and invite you to continue exploring the past at Groceteria.com.
In Shanghai, a prototype of a new 24-hour convenience store has no staff, no registers, and the whole thing is on wheels, designed to eventually drive itself to a warehouse to restock, or to a customer to make a delivery.
The startup behind it believes that it’s the model for the grocery store of the future–and because it’s both mobile and far cheaper to build and operate than a typical store, it could also help bring better access to groceries to food deserts and rural areas.
“The biggest costs to have a store are the place itself to rent in a central city.” [Photo: courtesy Wheelys]
For consumers, it’s designed to be an easier way to shop. To use the store, called Moby, you download an app and use your phone to open the door. A hologram-like AI greets you, and, as you shop, you scan what you want to buy or place it in a smart basket that tracks your purchases. Then you walk out the door; instead of waiting in line, the store automatically charges your card when you leave (Amazon is testing a similar system). The tiny shop will stock fresh food and other daily supplies, and if you want something else you can order it using the store’s artificial intelligence. The packages will be waiting when you return to shop the next time. When autonomous vehicles are allowed on roads, the store could also show up at your home, and the company is also testing a set of drones to make small deliveries.
In a dense urban neighborhood with high rents, the low-cost system could make it possible for a group of neighbors to launch their own local grocery. “The biggest costs to have a store are the place itself to rent in a central city–it’s ultra-expensive–and then staff is really expensive, and we’re removing both of these at the same time,” says Tomas Mazetti, one of the founders of Wheelys, the Sweden-based startup that is developing the store along with China’s Hefei University and Himalayafy, an offshoot of Wheelys focused on the technology inside the store.
Wheelys already makes small mobile coffee carts designed to help young entrepreneurs compete with chains like Starbucks when they don’t have the funds to rent space for a standard cafe. It envisions that its new mobile markets could similarly be purchased and used by almost anyone, anywhere. The company also plans to mass-produce the stores, making them cheaper to build than traditional local construction (the company expects that it may be possible to build a store for $30,000; on top of any markup, store franchisees would also pay a small “community fee” to get support from the company on logistics). Solar panels on top of the store are designed to power the vehicle’s electric motor and all of the equipment and lighting inside.
“Now a village can team up and buy one of these stores. If the village is really small, [the store] can move around to different villages.” [Photo: courtesy Wheelys]
For the startup, the new product seemed like a logical step. Cafe customers were already beginning to ask for larger stores. “Apart from the size, the basic construction is not that much more complex than our biggest mobile cafes,” says Mazetti. “The university provides us with access and a technical edge in some areas such as self-driving tech.” In 2016, the company acquired Näraffär, a Swedish startup with technology for a staff-less store, and a staff-less (but not mobile) store operated in Sweden until the company began the project in Shanghai.
In rural areas and small towns, the design could replace main street stores that have disappeared. “I grew up in the countryside in Northern Sweden,” he says. “The last store closed there in the 1980s sometime, and after that, everyone just commuted into the city, but that takes an hour. A little piece of the village died. Now, suddenly, in a place like that, the village can team up and buy one of these stores. If the village is really small, [the store] can move around to different villages.”
When autonomous vehicles are allowed on roads, the store could also show up at your home. [Photo: courtesy Wheelys]
The system is also designed to restock itself automatically. In a city, one Moby could self-drive to a warehouse to replenish itself while another takes its place (the current model can be controlled remotely or driven by a human; the designers are still finalizing the autonomous technology, and it’s not yet legal for it to drive itself on Chinese roads). Stores could also help replenish each other, avoiding longer trips. “It’s common in stores that one store has run out of milk, another has run out of eggs, but both of them need to have a truck go back and forth to a warehouse,” he says. “We can ship these products in between, so we don’t need to go back and forth these long distances to rural areas to do this.”
While the store has a limited selection, focused on day-to-day needs, the designers think that it represents what’s coming in retail. “I think 7-11 is the store of the future, combined with online retail,” says Mazetti. “There’s no point in the things in between. Because if you need a printer, or a spare part for your vacuum cleaner, or even a turkey, it makes more sense to have that delivered.”
In the beta tests, the company will continue to test the app and staff-less tech in the store, along with online ordering, how consumers merge in-person shopping with digital orders, and other aspects of the shopping experience, such as the fact that only three or four people can fit inside the tiny store at once. It will also test the store’s ability to restock itself (it will be driven to a nearby warehouse; in the future, it will be able to drive itself farther away). The company plans to quickly add more features. “Of course there are many actors on the market with deeper pockets than us, but deep pockets can weigh you down,” says Mazetti says. “We are nimble and fast and have been able to stay ahead in this field for a year. Regardless, someone needs to lead the way, and we’re convinced that this, or a similar system, is the future of retail.”
After the beta tests in Shanghai–a city chosen because it’s a world leader in mobile payments, because Wheelys has an assembly plant ready there, and for its Bladerunner-like futurism–the company will continue to tweak the design. “It feels like we’re building the first car in the world and that it still looks a little like a horse cart,” he says. “I think we need to calibrate stuff, and get some things right, like how many people can be in a store at the same time. And what exactly we should sell–we don’t know that yet. We need to test it more.”
By 2018, Wheelys expects to be ready to produce and sell the stores, and help franchisees compete with other coming retail outlets like Amazon’s new brick-and-mortar stores. “I want these to be bought by families or groups of people, so that it’s not one person that owns every store in the world,” says Mazetti. “Instead of working at a warehouse for Amazon, you can own your own little store.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world’s largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley. More
b) Pressure re: their performance (negative store comps and negative trending sales per square foot) and lagging stock price from Private Equity and other shareholders
and market disappears.
c) John Mackey remains as CEO (for now).
d) The only national retailer of organic, natural and specialty (and arguably most well-known and respected brand) just joined forces with the most innovative, disruptive and respected international brand in online retailing – and arguably
retailing in general – not to mention one of the preeminent providers of web services and masters of fulfillment.
e) WF can now operate under the consolidated statement of Amazon (if Amazon chooses to do so) rather than having to report as a separate company and thus escape scrutiny from market and competitors re: financial performance and
f) Expansion of market share overnight by plugging into Amazon Fresh customer base.
g) Able to leverage Amazon expertise as the leader in logistics and fulfillment and one of the most significant players in data services, analytics, online technology and customer interface.
How the deal helps Amazon:
a) Early on I had conversations with Tesco N. American leadership re: their Fresh and Easy concept, which was having trouble almost from the get go. They made a number of critical mistakes (which I tried to point out) with one of the major ones being that they tried to introduce a new retail brand and launch a new concept at the same time in a fairly big way (a concept that to make matters worse was not perceived as either Fresh or Easy by the consumer). They would have been much better off to have acquired a conventional chain with a respected brand and with an
established and viable store base, learned about the differences in doing the supermarket business in the U.S. vs. other places in the world and about the U.S. consumer while leveraging their experience and prominence as conventional supermarket operators, and then used that base from which to develop and launch a new, fresh-convenience concept.
Amazon has been in the beginning stages of developing their grocery business, after a number of years of prototyping. That development has moved slower than they would have liked. Amazon came to understand that the fastest way to become a
major player in the food business was through partnerships and acquisitions – not by building that business internally and incrementally. Amazon has the ability to dominate entire retailing segments by leveraging their brand and IT, customer interface, data analytics and logistics infrastructure. Speed pays dividends – as reflected in their stock price after the WF acquisition – by which they created a larger increase in their valuation than the price they paid for Whole Foods. This shows how the market views the power and potential of this alliance and the leverage it will now bring to Amazon. Conversely, the rest of the industry lost about $40 Billion in market valuation. Equally telling.
b) Wal-Mart became the largest grocer in N. America within a decade of when it made the decision to get involved in groceries. Why did they go after groceries? Because food represents increased shopping frequency over hard and soft goods.
They doubled the frequency of shop at their superstores when they added food. Aldi showed meteoric growth in the UK market when they added fresh and specialty food to their stores. Costco recently surpassed WF to become the largest purveyor
of organic groceries in North America. Amazon believed that by being able to offer food to their customers that it could
increase frequency as well. But just as importantly, food is a critical component in their drive to become the primary shop and first “stop” for every household – for everything!!! They now will enhance their ability to become Wal-Mart before Wal- Mart can become Amazon.
c) Amazon has been prototyping various approaches in their drive to develop their own food retailing channel – predominantly under the “Amazon Fresh” subsidiary – which has gone through several iterations as well. It now has the opportunity to develop a more coherent and comprehensive strategy, offering and branding around food, and unify, clarify and synchronize the food retailing initiatives represented by Amazon fresh, go, pickup, pantry, prime and prime now.
d) When I was working with Morrisons in the UK, I tried to convince them not to try to develop their own home delivery infrastructure to compete with the offerings of
Tesco and Sainsbury that were well established, but to partner with Amazon, who was just entering the non-grocery retail market and was also looking for a quick pathway into groceries as well. After spending substantial time and money trying to
develop a home delivery IT and logistics capability themselves, Morrisons decided to partner with Ocado, who was also supplying delivery services for a competitor (Waitrose). Morrisons paid big money for the privilege as well and missed at the time what was a natural partnership that could have made Morrisons money from the get go with Amazon in charge of home delivery fulfillment and Morrisons as Amazon’s grocery and fresh food supplier – especially since Morrisons, unlike other UK retailers, had an extensive, proprietary food manufacturing and processing
infrastructure of its own, which it maintains today. Several years later, Amazon has become the major force in retailing in the country, and a major factor in food retailing; with Morrisons as a primary supplier . In North America, with the acquisition of Whole Foods, that primary supply partnership has been defined for the future. Perhaps in the UK as well.
e) Whole Foods has about 464 locations (about 5% of which were outside the USA in Canada and UK) with some 90 in development (1/10th of Wal-Mart’s store base).
They also have 11 distribution facilities and 3 seafood processing and distribution facilities and one facility dedicated to specialty coffee. Amazon has over 60 DC’s, undoubtedly more effective than those operated by WF for the distribution of nonperishables
by the piece. Amazon is paying just under $30M per store – most of which are leased by the way, and about 17x WF’s free cash flow. Not unreasonable just as an acquisition price per se – without the strategic considerations.
f) Amazon generates about what it is paying for WF in free cash each year. If it pays cash, it will use about 50% of the value of its current cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities for the purchase. So this represents a significant investment. They are serious about becoming a major player in the food business, fast!
g) Amazon will get an insiders view of UNFI and Instacart – with whom WF currently has strategic and contractual partnerships. It is interesting to contemplate the effect on the industry if Amazon also acquired these organizations.
h) I have often told retailers I have worked with that Google, Facebook and Amazon have much more comprehensive data about their customers than they do. What these players don’t have is the in-store POS transaction data to close the loop. I have
suggested to a number of retailers that they would be much better off partnering with these players than trying to develop their own card-based loyalty program, – players who would be anxious to do so I believe for a look at their transaction data,
if nothing else. We are about to see what happens when one of the premier players in the virtual and data world gets transparency of the transactional data of one of the premier players in the retail food bricks and mortar world.
The WF shopper demographic is highly skewed to urban, higher income and higher education – naturally synergistic with Amazon’s Prime and Prime variants present and aspiring customer base.
j) Amazon just added 460+ pickup locations overnight.
k) As reported by Becky Shilling re: the recent United Fresh convention in Chicago:
The future of fresh isn’t Amazon. That was the overwhelming sentiment during a panel of Gen Z Chicagoans at United Fresh’s Fresh MKT…. The idea of ordering fresh grocery
food from Amazon did not appeal to these customers, who said they felt food ordered from Amazon Fresh would be “too handled,” “not ripe,” “not the best quality” or “might
The key factor to building a vibrant Fresh business is building trust. Few organizations are regarded more highly by customers than Amazon – but this is mainly around selection, speed and accuracy of delivery, and price. Fresh is a different story. So as much as customers trust Amazon to provide what they want, when, how and where they want it at a price they can afford (often the best in the marketplace), that doesn’t mean they will trust them to be their merchants for Fresh. Whole Foods has had challenges over time with trust factors and vendor relations as
well. But if you can merge the value and fulfillment proposition offered by Amazon with the food credentials of Whole Foods, and make yourself worthy of people’s trust around Fresh (customers and vendors), you can dominate the world of food
retailing. And I think that is the plan – and also the opportunity this merger represents.
And a special comment for Solari subscribers that you probably won’t seeelsewhere: It is my personal belief that the major telecom, entertainment andinternet powerhouses would not be thriving unless they cooperated with theintelligence agencies as requested and in turn by default, with the Deep State. TheAmazon and WF deal represents the first merging of one of the primary providers ofIT and data infrastructure for the Deep State and the most highly regarded Fresh,Organic, Natural and Specialty Food retailers of national scope. Gives new meaningto the need to go local, support your local farmer and perhaps grow your own.
All sorts of cards can be played from the bottom of the deck.”
When Amazon boss and billionaire Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013, he also had an ongoing $600 million contract to provide cloud computing services to the CIA. That meant the Washington Post, which already had a long history of cooperation with the CIA, renewed their wedding vows with the Agency and doubled down on the alliance.
By any reasonable standard of journalism, the Post should preface every article about the CIA, or article sourced from the CIA, with a conflict of interest admission: TAKE THIS PIECE WITH A FEW GIANT GRAINS OF SALT, BECAUSE OUR NEWSPAPER IS OWNED BY A MAN WHO HAS A HUGE CONTRACT TO PROVIDE SERVICES TO THE CIA.
Now Bezos and his company, Amazon, have bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Whole Foods is the premier retailer of “natural” foods in America.
The degree of profiling of Whole Foods customers will increase by a major factor. Amazon/CIA will be able to deploy far more sophisticated algorithms in that regard.
It’s no secret that many Whole Foods customers show disdain for government policies on agribusiness, health, medicine, and the environment. Well, that demographic is of great interest to the Deep State, for obvious reasons. And the Deep State will now be able to analyze these customers in finer detail.
At the same time, the Amazon retail powerhouse will exercise considerable control over the food supply, since it will be selling huge numbers of food products to the public. Amazon will have new relationships with all the farmers Whole Foods has been using as suppliers.
Perhaps this disclaimer posted on every Whole Foods item is now in order: KEEP IN MIND THE FACT THAT THE OWNER OF WHOLE FOODS, AMAZON, HAS A VERY TIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CIA. USE YOUR IMAGINATION.
Then there is this. The CIA has its own private company, called In-Q-Tel, which was founded in 1999 to pour investment money into tech outfits that could develop new ways to facilitate “data collection,” and service other CIA needs. In-Q-Tel, Jeff Bezos, and Amazon are connected. For example, here is a 2012 article from technologyreview.com:
“Inside a blocky building in a Vancouver suburb, across the street from a dowdy McDonald’s, is a place chilled colder than anywhere in the known universe. Inside that is a computer processor that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the CIA’s investment arm, In-Q-Tel, believe can tap the quirks of quantum mechanics to unleash more computing power than any conventional computer chip. Bezos and In-Q-Tel are in a group of investors who are betting $30 million on this prospect…”
Nextgov.com described the deal this way: “Canadian company D-Wave Systems raised $30 million to develop quantum computing systems. Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and CIA venture capital arm In-Q-Tel participated in the latest funding round, the firm announced. The company’s quantum computing technology seeks to speed up data-crunching. If successful, the technology could aid automated intelligence gathering and analysis.”
Yes, automated intelligence gathering and analysis are exactly what outfits like Amazon and the CIA need for profiling the public. Other companies who have purchased products from D-Wave Systems? Goldman Sachs and Lockheed Martin. Let’s see: Amazon, CIA, Goldman, Lockheed—a formidable collection of Deep State players.
“Buy your food from the purest natural retailer in the world, the CIA.
I’m 75 pages into the book, and I paused to give you a taste of this gem so I won’t give away the the deeper gemstones in it or the conclusion. You can use the link above to find a version that works for you. You can also use it as an impetus to diving back into my e-book, which I’ve considered updating and upgrading. We know a whole lot more about the human brain now than when I started it (or finished it) or finally got around to getting into shape so it could be shared.
I had to chuckle with delight as the first two pages are focused on the architecture of deep work; Newport talks about Jung’s Bollingen Tower and other examples of how people configured their space and their tools for their own deep work. I am about to enter the second year here in this little bungalow on the edge of a small river and a forest, close to the roadways and locations necessary to the rest of life. My workspace has three locations (one primary with two desks and three tools, and three secondary seats, each wide side chairs and tables). Oh, and blank paper, lots of pens and two computers. The main one is on the lower floor in my office corner; the second is in an open space kitchen/living area with laptop or out on the deck overlooking the garden or even on the patio in the garden.
Let me now race through some excerpts from the book so you can decide whether it has application in your world and your life. I’d like my son to get into this book; he dropped away from athletic pursuit (save on the golf course… he came in third in his club championship last year), and into his professional career, now two decades old. He built the flagship for a regional golf equipment retail chain and drove its sales through the roof, then left for the wholesale side of the game. He’s now a regional sales manager for a golf apparel company in a company in which his people are currently ranked 1, 2 and 3 in their salesman of the year contest.
Deep work, says Newport on page 3, are “the professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes cognitive capabilities to their limit in a hard-to-replicate manner, thereby creating new value and improved skill. “We now know from decades of research in both psychology and neuroscience that the state of mental strain that accompanies deep work is necessary for improvement in cognitively demanding fields.”
I’ve seen it at work on those times when my daughter would retire into her internal mental space and emerge to perform at levels that won her national ranking despite her apparently small size; the coach from one major recruiting school got back in her car and drove off when she saw my child from a distance of ten feet and then read about her selection as the All-Region Player of the Year four years later. The coach from a California powerhouse university whose performance consultant was a nationally-recognized expert in peak performance asked her counterpart from the Northeast snowbound school who that little girl was who’d hit the two 3-run home runs and just exactly where on earth did she come from?
Cal Newport isn’t focused on fastpitch softball, though; he is focused on the world of software, networking, social media and digital communications when he talks about missing out on massive opportunity when he says to his readers that “you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things”, that “to succeed, you have to produce the absolute best stuff you’re capable of producing” and that that output will be valuable in a world where someone with a better product that can be found easily and which is now being readied for the marketplace. Deep work is both scarce and valuable and is a key currency in a world that can also easily produce a lot of something else to distract you. Who is having your lunch today?
Newport talks of “fierce concentration”, minimizing in your daily life and space that which is shallow and increasing, with greater intensity, those times of uninterrupted and carefully-directed concentration.
If you want to thrive, you have to learn how to master hard things, and you have to produce, in terms of both quality and speed, at an elite level. You have to master the foundational skills — think of my e-book “Summon The Magic: How To Use Your Mind …” as your elementary school.
On pages 33-36, Newport again mentions the new field of performance psychology and mentions K. Anders Ericsson (whom I first heard about during a presentation by Leonard Zaichkowsky, Ph.D.: see the attached pdf Becoming a Champion in Sport and Life), who says in Deep Work on page 34,
“… the differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.”
The concept of deliberate practice is addressed in the sections on mindfulness in my e-book and especially within the books written by Ellen Langer.
The core components of deliberate practice are defined as follows:
your attention is focused tightly on a specific skill you’re trying to improve (or an objective you’re trying to achieve) or an idea you’re trying to master; and
you receive feedback so you can correct your approach and keep your attention exactly where it’s needed or will be most productive.
The first is central to Newport’s book. I regard the second as also of vital importance; it’s simply “the other side of the coin”. Feedback comes from competition, or at least scrimmage and free play, and perhaps from simulation and/or dialogue.
The footnote on page 34 describes how Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea of deliberate practice in his book Outliers which generated attempts to poke holes in Ericcson’s theory, answered by Ericcson in his article “Why Expert Performance is Special and Cannot Be Extrapolated from Studies of Performance in the General Population: A Response to Criticisms” [ http://www.progressfocused.com/2013/12/anders-ericsson-responds-to-criticisms.html ].
Focused attention requires deliberate practice.
“Let your mind becomes a lens, thanks to the converging rays of attention; let your soul be all intent on whatever it is that is established in your mind as a dominant, wholly absorbing idea”, said Antonin-Dalmace Sertillanges, a Dominican friar and professor of moral philosophy in “The Intellectual Life” .
The new “science of performance argues that you get better at a skill as you develop more myelin around the relevant neurons, allowing the corresponding circuit [ of neurons ] to fire more effortlessly and effectively. To be great at something is to be well myelinated…. The repetitive use of a specific circuit triggers cells called oligodendrocytes to begin wrapping layers of myelin around the neurons in the circuit, effectively cementing the skill.”
“.. the type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work. If you’re not comfortable going deep for extended periods of time, it’ll be difficult to get your performance to the peak levels of quality and quantity increasingly necessary to thrive professionally. Unless your talent and skills already dwarf those of your competition, the deep workers among them will outproduce you.”
What type of work that you do requires you to go deep?
Buy the book. Get busy. The world needs your best work.
I’ve been keeping notes and files since I was on the ‘net twelve years ago (my current desktop machine has a terabyte of memory and it isn’t full yet). Last week I started collating my previous annotations from 52 books (and re-reading them as I go). Boiling that all down will be like making a fine whiskey.
Previously, I’d assembled a small clutch of about 25 books on how to write, including media programs from two top-level college programs; one of the most recent books is entitled “The Craft of Research (4th edition)”. Another is an old edition of “The Mansion of History”. Stephen Pressfield’s works enjoy their slots on the bookshelf, as does “Tempo” by Venkatesh Rao. At the top of the list is “A Way of Working”, edited by Dorothea Dooling; I paid 99 cents for that one, but it’s priceless.
My wife bought me two large pegboards so I can play the Post-It Note and push-pin game. [$2.50 at the consignment shop.]
I bought a 32gb encryptable jump drive so I can use either my desktop in the basement or the laptop on the deck. There is nothing secret here; it’s all open source. But nobody reads books anymore; most people are caught up in TV, social media and the chase for income. There are few people who’ve heard of most of these books, and even fewer who’ve read them. I’m going to cull out “the juicy bits”.
I’ve only just begun. I wouldn’t even venture a draft thesis at this point. I think I know what I have, but I have to verify it and update it.
The internal codeword for the project when I started it a decade ago was “mega”. That had to do with the concept of overview, not size.
The current code phrase has to do with understanding what is hidden and obscure.
My high school yearbook noted that a goal was to write a book. I might get there before my 55th reunion.
I want to get this right. I can’t even yet see how big the thing will be. It will be a hard-core history synthesized from multiple sources, about which I must still labor to maintain research and writing integrity, along with personal credibility and personal responsibility for what I say. My intent is thorough references with extensive footnoting with maximized flow and ease of reading. Hopefully, its abrasive edges will be sanded, hand-rubbed, stained and polished. The process will involve at least three waves of editing and re-write.
I’ve set a lofty goal. Pray for me, and cheer me on. This is my personal answer to the five questions I’ve previously noted about peak performance, especially this one:
What is it that I, and only I, can do which, when it is done well, will make a real difference?
I will try to provide progress reports that don’t include spoilers.