• SINCE ONLY 1/10TH OF 1% OF PEOPLE RESPOND TO UNSOLICITED EMAIL ADVERTISING, and under 3% to physical junk mail, most of the $170 billion spent yearly by direct marketers simply “annoys people, creates landfill and clutters spam filters.” But marketers never give up; latest IBM research is now focused on social media ‘tweets’ which indicate what people will purchase based on their dimension of personality: “extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, or openness to experience.” Software which analyzes as few as fifty Twitters can now “reasonably well” correlate specific words with a sender’s Personality (e.g. bar, restaurant, crowd reflecting an extrovert, or awful, lazy, depressing for a neurotic) – which then presumes to indicate their Values (“things deemed good, beneficial and important – such as loyalty, accuracy self-enhancement”) and Needs (“things they feel they can’t live without such as excitement, control or acceptance”). Next-level intrusion will soon be even beyond today’s ‘filter bubbles’ which already respond to anyone’s personal internet ‘search’ differently than to the exact same search wording from another person. Check out. http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html [THE ECONOMIST – May 25,13]

    FOR THOSE OBNOXIOUS PRE-RECORDED CALLS & TEXT MESSAGES, at least one level of help is supposedly coming next fall. The new Telephone Consumer Act, effective October, is supposed to levy $500 fines (and treble in class actions) for every violation – doing it without first obtaining the receiver’s “express written consent.” Also, these new standards will now apply to banks, insurance companies and airlines. It’s about time! [MANATT BULLETIN – May 13, 13]

  • ‘PRODUCTIVITY’ – THE FUNDAMENTAL DRIVER OF BUSINESS PROFIT & VALUATION – is dependent on growth fostered by “long-term change in the way an economy functions, and how efficiently it produces goods & services over time… Even modest changes in the rate of productivity growth can have far reaching effects; in the U.S., just 2% increases can double per-capita income in 30 years.” Technology is a factor, so are resources, but productivity comes from building a more efficient business or economy, and our current problem is that most of our economic and market growth is being driven by “asset bubbles, debt, investor psychology and government stimulus,” rather than fundamental efficiency. While manufacturing impacts 10% of the economy, the much greater ‘service’ sector is being supported by government borrowing and money printing – rather than true productivity growth from change in the way education, healthcare or public services are delivered. [FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT – May 2013]
  • AND GOVERNMENT HANDOUTS GALORE CONTINUE. Since 1999, the Dep’t of Agriculture has been paying $50,000 per claim to settle a class-action lawsuit that loans were routinely denied to black farmers. “Since the USDA had destroyed records, claimants were allowed to file for compensation with no evidence of discrimination or even proof that they’d ever worked the land.” So, big surprise, the program became a “magnet for fraud” which continues today. Moneys have been paid to claimants as young as four years old; in 16 Southern zip codes, the number of claims exceeded the total number of farms owned by people of any race; one family collected $500,000. And President Obama then sweetened the pot “to win minority votes… by expanding this program of ‘reparations,’ authorizing Hispanic, Native American and Women farmers to also file claims – now approaching a $4.4 billion price tag. [THE WEEK – May 10, 13]
  • HEALTH ISSUES FYI: (1) Caffeine side effects account for over 20,000 emergency room visits yearly and FDA advises that more than 400mg per day “can increase anxiety and blood pressure.” A standard can of Coke has only 35 mg, but energy drinks like Monster contain 160mg and one large Starbucks coffee has over 320mg. [THE ECONOMIST – May 18, 13] (2) Foods marketed for ‘Fitness’ “can trick you into overeating.” A German study found that fitness-related packaging results in “subconscious assumption that food suits our goals, and we can eat all we want” and people will eat up to 50% more than when given the same product without that ‘fitness’ label. [MENS’ HEALTH – June 13] (3) Deficiency in Vitamin D has been clearly linked to a 71% increased risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular or respiratory disease, by another German study of 9,600 men/women aged 50-74 over nearly ten years. [LIFE EXTENSION – June 13]
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose” – Bill Gates “Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed with overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison