• OUR ‘TASTE’ IS SWAYED BY SOCIAL MEDIA. “We all want to believe our taste is a reflection of individuality… but our predilections are strongly influenced by social affiliation and the ubiquity of social media only makes us sway in the wind even more, according to the insights of modern day scientists… Personal taste remains a complex and erratic phenomenon that’s endlessly shifting according to environmental, physical and social pressures… generating preferences riddled with unconscious biases, easily swayed by contextual and social influences… and an extremely relative phenomenon currently swerving through an age of extreme relativity.” [BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK – May 5, 16]
  • I.R.S. OVEREACH: ‘CLOUD’ PRIVACY IS FAR FROM ASSURED. Transition to Cloud computing has allowed the federal government to expand its “secret investigation powers” under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to demand information directly from Cloud providers while barring disclosure to the taxpayer of a search warrant or other legal process. After more than 2,500 demands for info, Microsoft has opted to sue for privacy of its Cloud customers, on the premise that “in the pre-digital age, the government could not avoid providing notice when it sought documents in file cabinets or local computers, and Cloud transition does not alter that fundamental constitutional requirement.” Obviously I.R.S. disagrees, siting ECPA provision to “prevent disclosure when reason to believe it would hinder investigation.” [CFO MAGAZINE – May 16]
  • OUR SYSTEM OF MARKET CAPITALISM IS FAST MORPHING TO FUBAR, “a zero sum game between financial wealth holders and the rest of America… as bank functions have shifted from lending to trading.” The majority of what banks did until a few decades ago was ‘business’ focused – about funneling excess money (i.e. savings) into “productive enterprises: creating new jobs, wealth and, ultimately, economic growth.” Today, while the financial sector takes a quarter of all corporate profits, traditional banking comprises only 15% of activity, with even “most money in that system used for lending against existing assets (such as housing, stocks & bonds)… Financialization now encompasses and permeates: shareholder value as the sole model for corporate governance; proliferation of risky, selfish thinking in both private & public sectors; increasing political power of financiers and the CEOs they enrich; with a ‘market knows best’ ideology that has broad, disconcerting implications… Finance is supposed to be a helpmeet to business… but banks are more interested in making profits by trading… while executives who receive as much as 82% of their compensation in stock naturally make shorter-term decisions that might undermine growth in their companies while raising the value of their own options.” [TIME – May 23, 16]
  • EATING FISH MAY REDUCE ALZHEIMER’S RISK. Fish do contain mercury, and around 300 deceased research participants who ate whole seafood once a week had high mercury levels in their autopsied brain. However, a Rush University Medical Center study found “evidence that increased mercury exposure is not correlated with increased brain pathologies associated with dementia.” And further, that “highly purified EPA/DHA extracted from molecularly distilled fish oils has no detectable levels of mercury or other heavy metals.” [LIFE EXTENSION – May 16]
  • SOME $25 BILLION WAS ‘REMITTED’ TO MEXICO LAST YEAR BY ILLEGAL U.S. WORKERS, cash flow which Mr. Trump has suggested be ‘impounded’ to pay for a border security wall. Mexico’s government – which benefits from this flow (now exceeding annual oil revenue) and which conveniently ignores assistance in stemming the flow of illegal people traffic – last month, in hypocritical fashion, complained that an impounding policy would unfairly “force smuggling cash through illegal networks used by cartels, enriching the gangs and complicating efforts to seize drug money.”  [THE WEEK – May 27, 16]
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: One of the president’s deputy national security advisers, Ben Rhodes, acknowledged “how he and his aides boasted of using social media, a ‘largely manufactured narrative’ which, combined with a pliant press, in essence duped the country into supporting the Iran nuclear deal,” according to New York Times Magazine.

       And big surprise: Russia cheated on its way to 33 medals at the 2014 Olympics. The former Director of Russia’s anti-doping agency (now fled to the U.S.) says that officials “clandestinely carried out a doping program… feeding Russian athletes steroids to boost strength & endurance, and later swapped their tainted urine samples for clean ones passing bottles through a small hole in the wall,” reports the Washington Post.