Where the world is going, today.

If you are an expert in your field you have a good idea of what is going on in that area.  That’s how you make a living.  Most of us express views about news and events that are outside our area of expertise especially if we think that they might effect us in some way, like politics and economics.  The Presidency of the United States of America is one of those things.

Everyone will be talking about the new US administration in America today.  Some will be earnest, some dismissive, some joyful, some sad or angry.  Irrespective of your emotions or political leanings, its impact will affect you. Continue reading Where the world is going, today.

The Silk Roads: Two and a half millennia telling us to stop fighting.

Book review:

The Silk Roads

A New History of the World
by Peter Frankopan

Yes please!

The title and the book’s intention, to offer a global perspective, were intriguing to me.  Though not a history fan, it is increasingly clear that it is no help to see history from your own perspective because it is blinkered, full of self-serving interpretation and fails to expose the reality of the past.  This book offers a big picture perspective.

Continue reading The Silk Roads: Two and a half millennia telling us to stop fighting.

The Cycle of Life, and Death.

This time of year has had special significance for millennia.

Why?

Because it is the end of the annual spiral to darkness and nature’s rebirth.  Solstice is a time of rejoicing because it means winter darkness is lifting, warmth will return,  and food will become available again.

New GrangeImagine you live 10,000 years ago, somewhere above latitude 45 or so, you would notice the lengthening of the days a couple of weeks after December solstice.  That meant you might survive.

Even 5,000 years ago communities had invested so much in understanding the solar cycle that farmers in the Boyne Valley, Ireland built New Grange, an 85 metre diameter stone  tomb, which has a light box which  illuminates a 19 metre long passage and chamber as the sun rises on solstice morning!  The solar bounce was important to their livelihoods.

No, this is not a morbid view.  It’s reality.  Facing reality gives truth to our lives. Continue reading The Cycle of Life, and Death.

Imperialism – the starting point of system change.

The people who run the world, you know people like you and me who live in the “First World”, have a particular view of the world.  Even if we can see the scale of inequality in society and the collapse of nature, we do not connect ourselves, our behaviour or our community to those uncomfortable facts.  We’d rather blame some one else – a politician perhaps.  We’re “good” people, doing the best we can and the problems are a result of the system about which we can do nothing.advanceofspecieskal20150418

It’s past due time to wake from that comfy dream.  The system at the top of which we sit is perpetuated by ourselves and it doesn’t have to be that way.  Each of us makes a difference and the small changes in what we say and do can make the system better, quickly.

Continue reading Imperialism – the starting point of system change.

It’s not about one man. Trump’s election calls for system change.

It’s not about one man.

reallytrumpReeling from the long predicted “surprise”, many are emotional but uncertain.  The victor is magnanimous, the process continues. The winners are joyous, but realising next steps have not been planned or prioritised.  The losers are distraught and fearful that regression will be prioritised over progress.

In this breathing period some signals are clear.

People voted.  A lot of people.  People who rarely vote, voted.  They voted for change.  They voted against a system that seems to keep them down and voted for a symbol of change, a voice of change.  The result came about because of many people voting, not just one man.  On the world stage this is the second time this year.   The emotional voice of Brexit has been amplified in the vote for President of the United States of America.  This is a popular cry for change.

Continue reading It’s not about one man. Trump’s election calls for system change.

The Waterfall and The Rain

The waterfall is heard before you see it.  The thunderous torrent crashing on the rocks resounds about the valley.

niagra03As you approach, the mist becomes visible, as vapour bubbles up from the torrent.  The spray blows far and wide so that when you come close you are soon soaked.  From close up you can barely see the path of the waterfall as the clouds of mist and spray obscure its fall.  Yet you can feel the reverberation through the ground.

The waterfall is mighty! People come from far and wide to see the waterfall. It is celebrity.  People want to be like the waterfall, strong, impressive, powerful.

But strangely the waterfall does little more than make noise and spit before the water passes on calmly through the valley. Continue reading The Waterfall and The Rain

Snack Food Slavery: We’re all enjoying it.

What?  Not me.  No way!  Slavery is bad.

Yeah, but … you’re still part of the problem.  We all are.

Here’s a piece of the big picture puzzle:

Soda and chips … sugars and fats … vegetable oil … palm oil … slaves and rain forest exploitation.palmoilslave

That food chain is run by big companies, big banks and rich owners.  (You might be one without even realising it!)

It’s fuelled by people buying foods made with industrially grown vegetable oils.  That means most products on the supermarket shelves, including all the big brands owned by companies like Nestle, Unilever, Pepsico, Heinz, Cargill, CocaCola, Kraft, P&G, …  And the food chain is financed with money from big banks like Citi, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered, Mizuho, Rabobank, …

Continue reading Snack Food Slavery: We’re all enjoying it.

Investing your portfolio: Where are the customers’ yachts?

The wife of a successful entrepreneur once remarked to me that she had pointed out to her husband that there will always be someone else with a bigger yacht in the marina.  She was hinting that it’s fine to work, but there’s a point at which you ought to stop and spend a bit of time with your family and friends.  She’s since divorced (for him it’s the second time!).

livingoffthepeopleAnother boating analogy was shared by The Economist recently in a comment about the asset management industry entitled Living off the people.  As an asset manager, investing other people’s money, it was pertinent to my profession.  The article offers a synopsis of the fund management industry and the challenges it faces today, the principal one being “Is there any use for fund manager’s at all?”  The evidence has been around for decades, and now is being more actively referenced, that paying someone to beat the index is a fool’s game.

You can’t consistently beat the index, and if you have to pay someone to try, that’s going to cost you even more, so don’t even try.  Just invest in a low fee index fund, like one offered by Vanguard.  The article points out that a quarter of American billionaires work in finance and investment and concludes with a quote from a pre-war Wall Street mogul “Where are all the customers’ yachts?”  Instead pay a computer pennies to put yo u on the efficient frontier.

Continue reading Investing your portfolio: Where are the customers’ yachts?

You can’t outrun a poor diet: Calories Matter

About 70% of calorie consumption is accounted for by metabolism though the absolute number varies little for people of different metabolic rates. So, if you’re an average male whose calorie burn is 2,000 a day (can be 1,500 – 2,500 depending on height), about 1,400 are consumed just being you (brain, breathing etc). For females whose calorie burn rate is 1,600, that would be 1,200 calories. Another 400 (320 for females) or so are consumed by digestion (can be 100-800). And then there’s movin’ and shakin’ aka exercise.

The shape of things to come (already here).Standing instead of sitting can burn an extra 50 calories an hour (10-80). So if you stand instead of sit at the desk you’ll burn maybe an extra 300 calories a day. Jogging for an hour can burn 700 calories. And running burns about twice te calories per minute of walking. Simply fidgeting will raise your metabolic rate and make a difference. If you have a physically demanding day, like cleaning, digging, building etc, you’ll be burning more calories than a desk-worker, but that doesn’t mean a bit of a workout isn’t going to help the parts of your body the daily routine doesn’t reach, like your tummy! And it’s good to breathe.

Continue reading You can’t outrun a poor diet: Calories Matter

Global perspectives: Technology, Growth, Money, Politics and what to invest in

The Long Termworld-300px

We’re talking 20 years or so here.

In 20  years we’ll be facing Big Stuff.  Climate change, weather volatility, species loss, clean air, clean water, … that whole environment thing will be getting much more serious and everyone will be dealing with it in some way or another.  I’m hoping it’ll make Ireland a bit more like the south of France, and it might, but whatever else, it’s going to make the simple things in life more difficult.  For most of humanity that will include feeding themselves and getting clean water.

So that will make food and land more important.

In 20 years we may well have passed “The Singularity“.  That’s a term coined by futurists, often with a trans-humanist bent, which denotes the inevitable point at which technology development starts happening “by itself”.  This occurs as humanity’s understanding of physics and biology enable the creation of thinking machines (computers) that emulate the brain, and then androids and cyborgs begin to be used in place of people.

Certainly in 20 years technology will have changed our world even more than in the past 20.   Do not imagine The Singularity to be fantasy.  We are close already.  The mobile phone/computer in your pocket is old technology compared with neuro-computers being tested in laboratories.  Robots are already becoming remarkably similar to C-3PO in looks and mobility at least.  Today the consequences are being felt in most professions as AI (artificial intelligence) takes jobs away from humans.  This is what we all wanted – automatic checkout, automatic cashier, automatic accountant, automatic lawyer, automatic vehicle … The challenge now being solved is automatic creativity.

Continue reading Global perspectives: Technology, Growth, Money, Politics and what to invest in

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