• THE ‘BIG MAC INDEX’ is an annual gauge of foreign purchasing-power-parity – a measure of whether currency exchange rates are realistic – based on the price of a comparable item everywhere: the Big Macburger which last month averaged $4.62 across America. In U.S. dollars, Norway and Sweden currency is most overvalued, where a Big Mac now costs $7.80 and $7.14 respectively. India is most undervalued at $1.54, then South Africa at $2.16; Russia/China/Japan are all a bit under $3.00. And world travelers may be interested in knowing that Vietnam will soon also be selling Big Macs as the “first new country to welcome the Golden Arches in fifteen years.”  [THE ECONOMIST – Jan 25, 14]
  • ‘SMOKED-IN’ HOMES CAN ESSENTIALLY BE A “WALL-TO-WALL ASHTRAY” according to research at Lawrence Berkeley Nat’l Lab which found that “third-hand smoke – the residue that lingers on surfaces – can damage DNA.”  Cancer and other health risks have led several major cities to adopt ‘smoke-free’ ordinances (including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland), but many cities are still “pack-a-day towns… mostly from political opposition to raising tobacco taxes or funding smoking-cessation programs.” And worse, cigar sales have nearly tripled in the last fifteen years with an estimated 17% of teen boys having “lit up a stogie in the past month… despite newest research showing that chemicals in cigar smoke can also be a catalyst for a heart attack by potentially triggering the clotting system.”  [MENS HEALTH – Mar 14]
  • OVER A THOUSAND NEW GTLDs (generic top-level domain names) began launching this month – joining .com/.net/.org/.biz/ .xxx and nearly 300 other domains including country-specific ones (.uk/.ru/.au, etc.). The non-profit controlling organization which assigns names believes this “will boost competition and innovation,” along with generating fees of $185,000 per application and $25,000 yearly licensing per domain. Watch for big company domains like Apple and Ford, product marketers like .clothing/.photo/.sexy, plus non-English scripts such as Chinese, Russian and Arabic. “This avalanche of new domains may confuse web users who get to destinations via search engines versus typing web addresses.” [THE ECONOMIST – Feb 8, 14]
  • NEWEST SMARTPHONE PLUG-IN: THE ‘SMELL DONGLE’ – which “delivers notifications by scents rather than ringtones… Enough fragrant liquid for 100 sprays in strawberry, rose, lavender, or coffee… Branded Scentee, the unit can also deliver a puff on timed intervals” coordinating with alarms like “waking up to smelling coffee.”  [THE WEEK – Feb 14, 14]
  • WHOOPEE – CONGRESS FINALLY PASSED SOMETHING: A trillion dollars of pork, including $150 million yearly to farmers in Brazil, from ‘bi-partisan’ legislators, ten of whom received over $225K in political contributions last year.


  • ANOTHER SIGN OF LOS ANGELES COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE RECOVERY: The Ass’n of Foreign Real Estate annual survey of “foreign investor sentiment” ranked LA among the top five global cities (with London, New York, San Francisco and Houston). Also, America was ranked as “most stable and secure country, by a margin of more than 50 percentage points over second place Germany.” [REAL ESTATE FORUM MAGAZINE – Jan 14]
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK:    “The simpler it looks, the more problems it hides… It is a mistake to allow any mechanical object to realize that you are in a hurry… If you put something together the first time, there is certainly some step you missed… and if you mess with a thing long enough, it will break.” 14-08image005


 Incredible Technology combining art, robotics, video, film and the most advanced lighting design – http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lX6JcybgDFo