• DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS HAVE CREATED “INABILITY TO FOCUS for longer than a minute,” impacting job performance and productivity. Combined with social network conversation, the web’s perpetual news cycle and feeds (which are “algorithmically structured to keep users scrolling and sharing, for fear of missing important information”) – now have smartphone users touching their devise between every 30 seconds to every seven minutes. Studies show that (1) “conducting tasks while receiving emails and phone calls reduces a worker’s IQ by about ten points relative to working in uninterrupted quiet – equivalent to losing a night’s sleep and twice as debilitating as using marijuana… (2) that constant interruptions accustom workers to distraction, teaching them, in effect, to lose focus, seek diversions, and (3) also become less empathetic, a serious side-effect in an economy where human connections with customers are cast as a defense against automation.” DCG is helping smart companies try to balance productivity-sapping workplace intrusions with the expectations & demands of today’s workers. [THE ECONOMIST – Dec 9,17]
  • ‘NEXT GENERATION TV’ TECHNOLOGY has just been approved by the FCC, allowing broadcasters to now target home and mobile ads to specific viewers tastes, based on TV set-top box data combined with their online browsing history plus viewing habits on phones, tablets & computers. Currently, commercials are only based on broad demographics like ‘males aged 18 – 40.’ Since Next Gen TV will broadcast in UHF (Ultra High Frequency) and require purchase of new TV sets, simulcasts are required for five years, after which “it will chip away at consumer privacy and be costly.” [MANATT ADVERTISING LAW – Dec 7, 17]
  • A RELATIVELY SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF ‘BLOCKCHAIN’ TECHNOLOGY: the end product is a verifiable, very highly-secured record of transaction which can only be “changed by consensus, so that no record can be altered.” How it works is sticky by not elaborate. “Instead of relying on a central & trusted 3rd party to validate transactions, validation is spread through multiple record holders… such that all computers on the network have the same data at the same time.” By mitigating uncertainty regarding the validity and security of data, blockchain systems effectively “confirm that each unit of value was transferred only once, and can thus assign property rights.” The technology has gained credibility through driving the current ‘cryptocurrency’ mania, but is spreading to a variety of transactions. “Whether the hype over security is matched in reality and how it might change corporate governance & business practices” is yet to be proven, but so far it’s a viable contender. [CYBERSECURITY.JMBM.COM – Dec 5, 17]
  • THE CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES HAVE ALREADY DESTROYED MORE ACREAGE than the size of New York City and Boston combined including over half the marijuana growing in the northern part of the state – evaporating not just mega-millions of inventory, but also literally mega-millions of dollars of cash. Since cannabis remains an illegal substance under Federal law, banks are precluded from handling accounts, which requires growers & dealers to operate almost exclusively in cash – and “many pot farmers fled the fires without their banknotes… One burnt cabinet had held $250K; of about twenty stashes buried by a group of neighbors, only one was deep enough to survive, but the gold & silver she had interred melted into a dirt-infused blob.” Future risk may be minimized to some degree by cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin) making assets “safer from cops, crooks and combustion.” (PerksCoin is one digital currency that will soon be accepting payment by smartphone from some 5,000 dispensaries in America and Canada).  [THE ECONOMIST – Dec 9, 17]
  • IF/WHEN STROKE VICTIMS CAN GET MEDICAL HELP WITHIN 3 HOURS, severe brain damage can usually be mitigated. An easy way to identify STRoke is by just asking the person three questions: S- smile or stick out your tongue; T- talk; R- raise both arms. If they have trouble with any one of these (particularly a non-crooked tongue), call emergency immediately.

      Based on ‘median household income’ measured by the Census Bureau, six of the ten wealthiest U.S. counties are all suburbs of Washington D.C.  Three San Francisco suburbs made it into the next group of ten: Santa Clara, San Mateo and Marin. 

     Over 6,200 Washington tax lobbyists have reported working on tax issues last year on behalf of their clients – that’s more than 11 lobbyists trying to influence tax legislation for every member of congress.