• THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS: degree of overall expectation and surprise!  So concludes a recent neuroscience study involving MRI scanning of over 18,000 participants finding that (1) “Happiness depends on how reality pans out relative to expectation,” particularly when having pursued and reached one’s goal; and (2) “People are happier when satisfied unexpectedly… depending not on how well they’re doing in general, but rather if this is better or worse than expected.”  [WASHINGTON POST – Aug 8, 14] 
  • FOR NEARLY HALF THE JOBS IN TODAYS GLOBAL WORKFORCE, AUTOMATION IS INEVITABLE.  The only question is how soon open positions will state “Humans Need Not Apply.”  For a sobering look at what software ‘bots’ are rapidly replacing – including most white collar jobs and professions – check out:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU . While this is evolving, however, U.S. workers are clocking an average of 150 hours a month and “highest workers regularly brag about putting in 60 to 80 hours a week (compared to 27 for Germans)… With the growing irresistibility of the smartphone and the ubiquity of cloud collaboration, evening work for many has become standard.” Part of the problem is lost productivity due to obsessive immediate response to texts & email all day. But also, “modern workplaces make it so difficult to do actual work when employees spend an average of 4 hours/week in meetings… 28% of time managing their inbox… and 70% of offices now have open floor plans making deep thinking impossible.” A further problem is that working over 50 hours/week apparently causes people to “skip meals and report higher overall levels of depression.” Some tips to increase productivity: (1) Before leaving daily, especially the weekend, schedule time to complete mandatory projects for next day or week; (2) Make ‘social & brainstorming rounds while grabbing lunch, rather than on the way dashing out”; (3) Save daywork time for tasks which cannot be efficiently done at home; (4) Once home, “enforce a hard stop” – X minutes to work, or until X clocktime at least a half-hour before bed, when computer & smart-phone go absolutely off (optimally also the TV).  [BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK – Aug 11, 14]
  •  “TODAY’S PRESCRIPTION DRUG COST CRISIS IS LARGELY A FAÇADE. The underlying culprit is an antiquated regulatory structure that inflates costs beyond rational affordability… by picking & choosing which companies are allowed to make certain generics, allowing collusive behavior among drug makers that results in extortionist prices for off-patent medicines.”   Percentage markup is in the thousands — examples: Lipitor 4700%, Claritin 30,300%, Prozac 225,000% and Xanax 570,000 times the cost of its generic active ingredient.  [LIFE EXTENSION – Sep 14] 
  • TODAY’S GLOBAL ECONOMY IS BEING DRIVEN MORE BY PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS THAN BY FUNDAMENTALS. The 2008 crisis was “a complete meltdown of our financial system…and people are more cautious of today’s ‘bubble’ economy, standing on a tightrope, not wanting to do anything to make us lose our balance… The economy now hinges on stimulation through government borrowing & mass money printing, and manipulation through large federal purchases of bonds.” When inflation sets in – and few dispute that it soon will (one Federal Reserve Bank reports “90% correlation between printing money and inflation”) – this will “seriously hinder the government’s ability to maintain asset prices… the real problem will come when enough people get scared, enough to cause a major collapse in the stock market.”   [FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT – Aug 14] Meanwhile, within the decade before they turn 65, one in five Americans “have no money saved for retirement, and 45% say they intend to rely completely on Social Security to cover expenses after retirement,” according to a new study by the Federal Reserve. 
  • KILOBOTS – MOVING SWARMS OF OVER A THOUSAND ROBOTS – are now functional at Harvard University. “Rigid-legged tripods communicate with infrared light “to coordinate so they can measure distances between themselves and then vibrate movement to form shapes (such as letters of the alphabet or a star).” While of little immediate practical value, “the emergence of order from chaos is impressive” and more sophisticated swarms are on the near horizon.   [THE ECONOMIST – Aug 16, 14] 
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK:  Seniors are increasingly learning to ‘live in the moment’ – most because they can’t count on the future, and can’t remember the past.

            People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.” -Andrew Carnegie