JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 256 : 9 October 2008

Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

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My 'bucket-list' trip

Have you seen the movie, "Bucket List"? If you haven't, see it.

Two old guys (played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who have cancer meet in hospital, and are given a few months to live. One of them makes making a "bucket list" - things he wants to do before he, as the saying goes, "kicks the bucket". The other adds his own ideas and they decide to do everything on the list.

The list includes the Taj Mahal, the pyramids, jumping out of a parachute, driving race cars on the Indianapolis 500 track, laugh-till-you-cry, and "kissing the most beautiful girl in the world". Well, they do everything on the list before one of them dies. Before he dies, he arranges for his friend to kiss the most beautiful girl in the world - his granddaughter.

Well, I've been doing several speaking engagements recently, which I enjoy greatly. My next speeches are taking me to England (mid-October) and then S. Africa (mid-November), and then India in December. The dates includes a few weeks in between. So my son David asked, "Why not go on a 'bucket list' trip?" And you know what - that's what I'm doing. And, because I'm in good health, this will be the first of many future bucket-lists.

So, just to let you know, I'll be leaving this weekend, headed for England. With my brother Paul, I'll visit Paris via the channel tunnel, 2 1/2 hours from Kings Cross Station in London. And then we'll go see Stonehenge and Scotland (to look for the Loch Ness monster). And I'll dwell a while, visiting my many friends in Britain and Europe.

In mid-November, I'm flying to Johannesburg to make a keynote speech at the MMP '08 conference (see links below). My hosts have kindly offered to take me to see the African Big-5 (Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Rhino and Cape-Buffalo) - something which is certainly worth this bucket-list trip.

Then I fly non-stop to Mumbai, India, where I'll visit my brother Jude and his wife, and then travel by train (I love trains in India!) to Pune, with my sisters Dora and Joan, to visit my brother Peter and his family. After a few bucket-list visits in the area, we'll fly to Bangalore, my home town, to celebrate my 71st. birthday along with my brother John who will be 75. Along the way, I've been invited to talk about global instrumentation futures, sponsored by the local ISA sections.

Then I'll go on some bucket-list trips, perhaps the Taj Mahal, and Dharmasala to look for the Dalai Lama, and who knows where else in India. After spending Christmas and New Years' with my family, and attending my niece's wedding (everyone, and I mean everyone, will be at this wedding) I'll return to San Diego in early January.

You know what, this will (I hope) be just the first of many bucket list trips for me. I still have to visit the pyramids in Egypt, and the Holy Land, and Ayer's Rock in Australia, and Machu Picchu in Peru, and....

So, my JimPinto.com eNews may really be "irregular and irreverent" for the next couple of months. I'll do my best to send updates on my bucket-list travels from wherever I am - if I can find an Internet connection that allows me to send 7,000 emails. But, I'll manage.

All you eNews aficionados, no worries - I'll be in e-touch.

Click Bucket-List - Movie Trailer (Youtube)

Click Buy Bucket-List DVD on Amazon.com

Click JimPinto Speaking engagements

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Bailout Blues

The current financial crisis arrived just days after being told, by the President, the Fed Chairman and the Treasury Secretary, that "the fundamentals are sound". Once respected financial giants - Lehman, AIG, Fannie & Freddie were bailed out. And then we were threatened with dire consequences if the proposed $700M bailout package was not approved. Newsweek's cover showed Henry Paulson as "King Henry". Well, not for long.

Well, the bailout bill bombed in Congress. Then went to the Senate where they unashamedly included "sweeteners" - $180 BILLION of "pork", which no one seemed to notice, and few mentioned. But, oblivious to the gigantic "bailout", the stock market plunged.

Then the bill (including pork) went back to Congress and passed. And again the stock market plunged. And it continues to decline almost inexorably, ignoring the "bailout". The reasons for the continued stock decline are simple: no one knows how low the market will go, and everyone is looking for an exit.

Since all advanced countries are closely linked, the crisis is spreading. If you thought the $700B bailout was big, on Wednesday the British announced a 500 billion ($870 billion) plan for the UK. And the Fed cut US interest-rates. But the stock market still dived.

The pundits proclaim that this is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. No one can predict when the storm will subside. One thing is sure - the world will never be quite the same, ever again.

Here are comments from Joseph Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001:

    "America has been living on borrowed money and borrowed time. At the center of blame must be the financial institutions themselves. They - and even more their executives - had incentives that were not well aligned with the needs of our economy and our society. They were amply rewarded, presumably for managing risk and allocating capital, which was supposed to improve the efficiency of the economy so much that it justified their generous compensation. But they misallocated capital; they mismanaged risk - they created risk. There is a pattern here, one that suggests deep systemic problems."
The political alliances that have formed in response to the bailout show that the central philosophical debate is shifting. It is no longer about the size of government; there will be more government in the years to come. The question is: Who will benefit?

Right now, the CEOs have already exited with golden parachutes, the banks will be bailed out, and the middle-class will be left dangling slowly in the wind.

Click Joseph Stiglitz - How to prevent the next Wall Street crisis

Click Bailout Nation

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American Energy Independence

My good friend Ron Bengston has just completed a comprehensive update of the American Energy Independence website. Take a look.

America stands at a crossroad, a choice between two very different futures. One choice leads to increased dependence on foreign oil, with the future dominated by terrorism and war. The other leads to American energy independence and a world economy that is no longer desperate for oil.

Today, the world consumes over 80 million barrels of oil every day (over 30 billion barrels per year); the USA alone consumes over 20 million barrels per day (over 7 billion barrels per year). At $100 per barrel, the global petroleum industry is a three trillion dollar a year business. Development of alternative energy to free the global economy from dependence on oil will create a seismic shift within the economic foundation of the world.

Oil is a natural source of energy, but it is not the only source. America can lead the development of new energy technology that will free the USA and the entire world from oil dependency. This will cut-off the flow of oil money to the Middle East and put an end to the financial support of militant Islam.

Tom Friedman, the New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign affairs columnist writes:

    "No matter what happens in Iraq, we cannot dry up the swamps of authoritarianism and violent Islamism in the Middle East without also drying up our consumption of oil-thereby bringing down the price of crude. A democratization policy in the Middle East without a different energy policy at home is a waste of time, money and, most important, the lives of our young people."
So, while America and the world is preoccupied with bankruptcy, will we continue to compound the problem by using more and more oil?

Click American Energy Independence

Click Energy Independence Now

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Robots in war

Experts have already issued warnings over the threat posed to humanity by new robot weapons. Consider this moral problem: In the future, will countries boast about killing thousands of enemy combatants without any casualties of their own?

The US Defense Dept. continues to invest heavily in robotic technology that will take the place of human soldiers in battle. Unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have already flooded the battlefield.

There are about 6,000 robots in use by the Army and Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by October 2006 unmanned aircraft had flown 400,000 flight hours.

Currently there is always a human in the loop to decide on the use of lethal force. However, this will change; autonomous weapons are being developed, that will decide where, when and who to kill. It may not be long before robots become a standard terrorist weapon to replace suicide bombers.

This is the start of an international robot arms race. Many countries are working to develop robotic weapons, with the US having the biggest budget, expecting to spend an estimated $4 billion by 2010.

Other countries too are working on robot weapons programs - Europe, Canada, South Korea, South Africa, Singapore and Israel. China, Russia and India are also working on development of unmanned aerial combat vehicle. Where is this robot-race leading?

The optimists say that Defense spending always leads to advances that bring technology to other areas. Who doesn't long for help with household chores? After almost 5 years, I'm still using my Roomba vacuum cleaning robot. Affordable service robots will soon be able to do heavy, dirty, monotonous or irksome tasks. Watch robot-guru Rodney Brooks' interesting video (link below).

Click Killer Military Robots Pose Latest Threat To Humanity

Click America's Robot Army: Are Unmanned Fighters Ready for Combat?

Click TED video - Rodney Brooks - How robots will invade our lives

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Book - Daniel Pink: A Whole New Mind

My recent (9 May 2008) JimPinto.com eNews discussion on varying left/right brain dominance brought suggestions that I should read a book by Daniel Pink, "A Whole New Mind". I must tell you - I loved this book! I couldn't put it down! It resonated with lots of life-changing ideas and practical suggestions.

Daniel Pink points out that, during the past couple of decades, knowledge work surpassed physical labor in economic importance. And now the workplace is changing yet again. In the age of "Abundance, Asia, and Automation" power is shifting from logical, left-brain thinking (done easily by computers and trained lower-paid global workers) to people who have strong right brain qualities. To emphasize the importance of this change, Pink compares the coming "Conceptual Age" to past periods of intense change, such as the Industrial Revolution and the Renaissance.

Pink shows how certain skill sets can be harnessed effectively in the "Conceptual Age." The keys to success in the new economy are six senses: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

There is a lot of practical advice on how to cultivate right-brain skills. Daniel Pink warns that people who don't nurture their right brains will suffer in the economy of tomorrow.

Click Review and Buy "A whole new Mind" on Amazon.com

Click Are You Left-Brained or Right-Brained? Take the test

Click JimPinto.com eNews - Left or right brain dominance

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David Laurence [david.laurence@btinternet.com] sent these comments on my recent article, "Cracking the Wireless Growth Conundrum":
    "I agree with your assertion that, when it comes to wireless applications, 'You don't know what they are and you can't think them up'. I compare it to some previous innovations where no one could have predicted the final outcome :

    • IBM PC - originally came with two floppy drives - who'd need a hard drive?
    • Web - originally a way to share files at CERN
    • Text messaging - apparently an afterthought when first offered, and now a curse on society.

    "Of course wireless is having an impact in a number of markets and the standards efforts in process industries don't necessarily mean a great deal to users in other sectors, e.g. building automation.

    "One sector where we are seeing progress is wireless energy monitoring in data centers where the culture clash between IT and facilities people are as big an issue as any technical matters."

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Jim Johnson [JamesRoss.Johnson@KansasCity.Swagelok.com] on higher education in America:

    "My opinion is that higher education, at least in the US, has become more of a numbers game than quality of product. At the University level my opinion is: how can a school keep growing in numbers?

    "I attended the University of Kansas in the 70's. Enrollment at that time was around 12,500, the largest school in Kansas, by a good bit. Today that enrollment would not make it one of the five largest schools in Kansas. Its enrollment today is 25,000, double what it was 30 years ago.

    "Add into that the increased enrollment at other Kansas schools and university enrollment in Kansas has more than doubled in 30 years. (Our population in Kansas remains about the same as in 1975.)

    "I believe that the inflation in available college bachelor degreed students is the main cause of wage stagnation. A bachelor's degree today has become the high school diploma of 1960. I believe any effective measurement of the quality of the graduate of 1970 versus the graduate of today, especially in the liberal arts and non technical degrees, would show the reason for wage stagnation. Grammar, basic math skills and writing skills are weak.

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Sallyanne Offer [inix_associates@yahoo.com] comments on China "targeting the Achilles' Heel of Capitalism":

    "In light of the debacle in real estate finance this past 10 months, one would hope that investors, their fund managers and bankers would rethink their abandonment of making things in this country.

    "Certainly, Peter Drucker's conclusions in his 'Managing in the Next Society' were not helpful for those of us who believe that there is a place for US production and seek capital for manufacturing companies, including I&C firms.

    "I note that you did not address the issue of IP bleeding in those regions of highest growth, such as China, Korea and other regions directed toward export and ignoring patents, trade secrets and copyrights in their mercantilism efforts.

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