Category Archives: Reading

“Like me on Facebook”..

Join my network on Linkedin, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat……

Social media has become the new personal ad agency for millions. They no longer use social media to stay in touch with distant or lost friends, but now it has become an exercise in absolute hype, with certain people adding everyone they meet, and everywhere they go, and everything they hear about to make themselves appear more ‘hip’ and popular.

We hear more and more about “ Click Agencies” where you pay a fee to have incremental ‘clicks’ or ‘likes’ in order to appear more popular or even more fabulous, and some are paying even more to be selected to go to the top of Google Searches through Google Analytics.

For some individuals, life has become nothing more than an endless stream of shallowness, photos taken trying on fabulous clothes, shoes or handbags in high end shops that are never purchased, which is grotesquely cruel to the shop clerk working on commission, and spending their time on someone who has neither the money nor intention to actually purchase the goods, but simply wasting their time trying to look fabulous for the 15 seconds required to take a selfie and post it on social media.

Photos of cocktails in posh clubs, dinner plates in fabulous restaurants, in doorways of private clubs…all to enhance one’s perceived fabulousness….all fake, all shallow, all over in 15 seconds, but with a photo which lives on forever….

So, are they really trying to impress us or themselves? Certainly, I have asked numerous people about some of their so-called ‘friends’, and have been repeatedly told that they have no idea who the individual is, however as they were asked to be ‘friends’ they added them to increase their public footprint and media presence…….seriously???!!??

I receive an endless stream of invitations to add people on Linkedin due to my International network, when I invariably email those I know personally to advise that I do not participate, it is fascinating to see how few actually reach out to say hello. Most never reply. So it is painfully obvious that they were fishing for my contacts and were caught……..one or two inadvertently admitted it………

There is a dark side to this behaviour, these people have shown their true colours, and I know truly they are, and they will be avoided.

The latest buzzwords are ‘Transparency” and “ Authenticity” ….but the reality is that the large majority of people blasting these concepts around are anything but.

Like most things in life, there has to be a balance, if one is a student of human behaviour, which clearly I am, I tend to monitor trends, behaviour, speech patterns, body language, and actions over words. Invariably people get found out. …

“Thou doest protest too much…..” if someone has to post endlessly about their “ Authenticity” , fabulousness, or brag about their sheer volume of followers, there is something fundamentally wrong…..

Life is to be lived, with real live humans, for more than 15 second installments, and ideally in private….

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The Collapse of Newsprint

Over the last several months we have read repeatedly about the impending collapse of newsprint, however, other than blaming the explosion of digital media, no one has taken a step back to look at the bigger picture.

From my perspective, I see a much larger and more frightening issue, and that is the utter failure of our educators to instill the interest or ability to read.

Students arrive in classrooms with mobile phones, laptops, and iPads, and are constantly distracted by the never ending streams of nothingness on their phones. There appears to be no attempt to silence the noise, to insist that phones not only be turned off, but placed where they cannot be seen during class.

In the past, students were taught history, literature, English composition and current events. Reading newspapers was actually part of the curriculum, as well as the ability to communicate with others. Everyone of a certain age and education remembers the horrors of being obliged to stand in front of the class and make a presentation. From early days in school, no matter how shy or insecure the student, everyone was forced to stand in front of the class and speak.

If later on one read Law, then Moot Court ensured that everyone was able to defend themselves verbally, and the weakest did not survive.

Today one wonders if any social skills are taught either in homes or educational facilities, and more importantly, the ability to write or interest to read. If no one teaches current affaires as an adjunct to history, being that it is history in the making, how are the youth to be even remotely interested in reading a newspaper or magazine??

If life is lived in nanoseconds through Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook, surely there is more to life than seeing some pretend celebrity taking selfie’s in a posh Hotel lobby or trying on expensive shoes in a high end shop……life experienced in microseconds and then it is over……..
It is neither real nor news, nor even remotely important, yet the ability to quote the fabulously ‘famous’ seems to imply their own ‘fabulousness’.
Even more frightening, is the ability to purchase ‘followers’ to make oneself appear more important or popular, which sends a frightening example to an impressionable youth.

But to know what is actually happening in the real world is of little interest unless there are multiple deaths and breath taking explosions, at which point their so called ‘friends’ are reposting the images, in which case they instantly jump on the band wagon and post something, anything, to feel they are part of the crowd, and their word is heard. Image is everything, as well as being perceived as cool, hip and aware. Otherwise, real world news is of little interest or consequence in their sad little lives.

When life is lived through the eyes of others, and the perceived acceptance of others, whether or not they actually know who you are, it is a very sad existence.

Actually looking someone in the eyes and having a REAL conversation, where both parties are allowed the freedom to speak and express themselves is less frequent than walking around the streets watching a 3 inch screen.

So until people learn to read, write and actually communicate with others, and more importantly, actually LISTEN to what they say, the written word will quietly disappear, except for those few who actually choose to educate themselves both from an educational and personal improvement point of view.

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How to read the newspaper

As with many things, my comments and observations have been twisted beyond recognition, so for those who have heard a mis-interpretation of my actual words, I am publishing this article on my blog for all the world to see. There are a couple of people out there who will certainly recognize themselves out there, and a few who will certainly remember a couple of lively evenings ! Unfortunately vocabulary and personal attitudes can easily blind one from the ability to open one’s mind and enjoy the musings of others.

Arrogance comes in all shapes and sizes.

As of today’s date, we have been in a global financial recession for the last 4 years. Every day you open the newspaper and are virtually attacked by a variety of headlines, some researched, but many unfortunately, paid for. As newspapers are a business, they tend to conveniently omit to mention that many of the ‘articles’ or ‘headlines’ are in fact paid articles.   Disturbingly, many publishers don’t realize that they are contradicting themselves sometimes within the same section on the same day of the same newspaper.

“ABC Company’ closes an important deal in Illinois for $386 million, creating 1000 new jobs. Sounds absolutely wonderful doesn’t it??    However, several pages later in a thumbprint size notice, is a mention that the same company is laying off 1500 people. WHAT?  The reality is that for every ‘new job’ they create, they receive 37.5% of the first year’s salary from the Quebec Government, for ‘job creation’ . Net gain, minus 500 jobs. Appearance in the press, awesome. …. And as with many things, first appearances tend to sway those who aren’t really listening or paying attention, but are naïve enough to believe everything they either read or are told.

“XYZ Bank” just declares a loss of $650 million…..sounds horrible…….but buried on page 4 is a summary of their most recent acquisitions and write-downs. In fact, if one was to put the two articles together it was actually brilliant business……but unfortunately making a headline was more important for the junior reporter than doing his homework.

“Office space being hammered by the recession’ …yet once again, a few pages later, we read that premium office space is fully leased……so are we describing prime space, B space,  what exactly?   Hard to know…as the two  articles are totally contradictory.

I am not pinpointing any city, any newspaper in this commentary, as I happen to regularly purchase newspapers from London, New York, Toronto and Montreal not to mention no end of business and fashion magazines from around the world.  My observations are extremely broad, and what essentially I am saying, is that before you quote a fact gleaned from a newspaper, reference the source and the facts. Things are not always as they appear.

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Credit Card Hoax= Buyer Beware

Over the years I have spoken to people endlessly about the abuses of privacy and credit, and the incredible damage which can be done  which is practically impossible to un-do.

Privacy, and the abuse of personal information, credit card and identity theft are running so high the banks and credit card companies are seeking any excuse to put the blame on the innocent victims.

A couple of months ago, there was a contest which looked like it was from a particular bank, so a young lady (20) filled in the information online and then never heard anything again. A couple of weeks ago, she received a telephone call informing her that she had won a trip to Florida and a tour of the Universal Studios….as you can imagine, she was thrilled, and, when they gave her the last 4 digits of her credit card number, she was more than happy to provide the balance of the numbers, as well as the security code. Her limit being too low, she quickly offered up another credit card to cover the balance of the deposit which was required. She called the office to speak to her father, and upon hearing the details of the trip, as well as the way in which the credit card information was taken from her, I quickly told her that she had been scammed, and that she should cancel both credit cards as fast as she could. By the time she called the 2 credit card companies, the amounts had been put through, and she was in fact, over her limit on one of the cards. We quickly brought her to the police station to fill in the appropriate forms, hopeful that her money would be returned by the 2 credit card companies.

NOT THE CASE.

As she had willingly provided the security codes, the companies said that there was nothing they either would or could do. It was now firmly on HER shoulders, and although she reported the incident instantly as well as going to the police, she was at fault. She is 20. How can an honest, hard=working student hope to pay this money back?

Through no fault of her own, she now risks bad credit to pay back a fraud.

Something wrong with this picture.

Last autumn, I was also the recipient of a similar telephone call. The timing was interesting, as I had recently spoken to a group about the very subject, and not a week later I received a call telling me that I had won a cruise!   As I rarely enter contests, it sounded a bit strange. The fact that there was no name on the telephone under call display as well as a strange telephone number on the display, made me doubt the caller. It also sounded like a telephone call center in the background, too many voices, too animated, but, WOW! Was the caller smooth. He identified himself as ‘Jason” and told me I had won a cruise, and required a valid credit card number to process my trip. I told him that I don’t have one. He then proceeded to argue with me saying that he knew I had an ‘emergency’ credit card number, and that he had it on file, so would I confirm it. I laughed and told him that he should tell me which credit card number he had, as it had been 15 years since I had a credit card. He was amazingly smooth on the telephone and laughed me off, saying that he knew I had a ‘secret’ credit card for travel and we both knew about it. I kept asking him what credit card it was and he kept changing the subject. He was incredibly well trained at the art of turning a conversation around. He kept insisting that I had a  secret credit card ,and that he needed it as a security deposit incase I had a ‘rock star moment’ on the cruise and trashed my room, so that they were covered. I finally told him that as far as I was concerned, the call was a hoax, there was no cruise, I had not entered any contests, and he was not getting a non-existent credit card number, and he hung up the telephone.

Two nights later I was at an event, and one of the participants came running up to me to thank me for my constant discussions of fraud and credit card abuses, she is a retired woman in her 80’s who lives alone, and she had received the same telephone call, they had been equally charming with her on the telephone and she went along with the call ….until she hung up the receiver and realized she had been scammed. She immediately rang up the credit card company and cancelled her card, and thanked me profusely for discussing the issue relentlessly. She actually got to the credit card company before the charge was put through, and was saved. Unfortunately, in the case of our pretty 20 year old, she lost her money and the credit card company told her that because she willingly gave out her codes, they wouldn’t do anything about it, she would have to pay the money. Even though it is fraud, and she has a police report.

Be careful out there folks, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone calls you saying you won a contest and requests your

Credit card information, do the smart thing, ask for their name, company name and telephone number and check them out. Chances are, they will either hang up on you, or give you a number which is not ever answered,, and that will be your proof of fraud. Report them to the police regularly, that is the only way this illicit behaviour will stop.

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Learn to Read the News paper

“The sky is falling in, Chicken Little”……

“The world is coming to an end”……

“The economy is in a more desperate state than the 1929 depression”..

“200 killed in avalanche”…….

Have you ever noticed that there is never any good news on the cover pages of your local newspaper? It is always relegated to a tiny thumbnail article buried somewhere In the depths of incredible negativity.

A lot of the journalists and pundits create more of the messes we live than the actual events themselves by self-fulfilling prophecy. If you say it enough, it will come to pass.

Over the last few months, we have been bombarded with bad news, bank failures, bankruptcy filings by huge billion dollar multi-nationals, war, doom and gloom.

I, on the other hand, have been entertaining my friend’s by showing them how to actually read the newspapers. Page one of the business section is doom and gloom.

The thumbnail’s on pages 3 and 5 however, tend to paint a very different scenario.

A $41 billion corporate merger, another with share prices up 62% over last year, another company showing record profits with 31% over last year, bank dividends over 17% for the period, military deals in the hundred’s of millions, airplane sales for $600 million, and more.

“Job losses hit 129,000 in January of this year”…..8% unemployed………”

Now, lets look at that. It’s always about how you look at the numbers. If 8% are unemployed, that must mean that 92% are employed.

If one follows the stock market and the real estate market over a long period of time, one will notice that when the market is out of control, it will be corrected, then return to more normal growth.

Real estate is exactly the same. We have huge boom markets when everyone is investing heavily in real estate. When the charlatans come out of the woodwork and are selling their methodology to make a fortune in real estate, then you know it is the time to get out.

We had the crash of the Savings and Loans in the United States where many lost their homes and their shirts….what followed was a boom in real estate for another many years.

If one looks at real estate deeds of sale over a 100 year period, it is always up. They aren’t making any more land.

Technology stocks were the same……then we had the ‘dot. com bomb’  and prices dropped drastically. Similar to tulip futures !

So, take the high road, invest in good stocks or property and stay in the long haul.

Don’t listen to the experts. Listen to common sense. 

 

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