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Airline Fees in Excess of $31 BILLION Make Customers Feel Like Helpless Cattle

June 2, 2015 by  

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While I’m not a 100,000 mile gal, I spend a lot of time on planes throughout the course of a year.  When it comes to flying these days, I think we can all agree — it’s a far cry from fun. Barely tolerable is what comes to mind. Photo credit: Outsidethebeltway.com. The saddening reality is that airlines worldwide brought in $31.5 billion in non-ticket revenue in 2013 – including passenger fees – which is MORE than 11 times their non-ticket revenue six years prior, adjusted for inflation according to CNN Money. Unfortunately, there’s little that we can do about it. There’s no plea here and our voices go unnoticed….otherwise, the price increases wouldn’t continue to soar year after year, not to mention new fees being added for incredulous things. Photo credit: Dave Granlund.com. Customer feedback no longer matters since it’s become an industry that treats people more like helpless cattle in tow than worthful customers they care about “serving.” Truth be told, I haven’t had a memorable and rewarding experience flying coach in about 8 or 9 years and it’s getting worse. The smile comes on the video screen…

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Legalizing Marijuana

December 21, 2014 by  

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It was one of those sneaky additions to the “Cromnibus” budget bill passed by U.S. Congress. No it was not the provision that that protects big banks, quite the contrary. This particular amendment protects something far more eclectic, the marijuana industry.
Clearly, “The Times They Are A-Changin,” as Bob Dylan famously sings. Inside that 1,603-page budget bill was a little-noticed measure that prevents the federal government from interfering with states that have legalized medical marijuana or allow use of the drug entirely. In another sign that the times have changed, congress has strictly prohibited federal agents from raiding marijuana retail operations. It’s a telling development that caps a 40-year trend that began when Oregon became the first state to decriminalize cannabis in 1973. But it wasn’t until 1996, some 23 years later, that the legalization of marijuana received its first major lift when California legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes. As the chart below shows the medical marijuana trend has accelerated notably since then:
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If you have any doubt that marijuana is here to stay,…

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Your Digital Devices or Travel? Some Startling Statistics

December 9, 2014 by  

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Here’s a startling statistic: 49% of Americans have reduced spending on travel, food and healthcare in order to afford their technology. Welcome to the Digital Lifestyle Ubertrend — the marriage of man and machine.
As technology become more tightly interwoven with the fabric of life, humankind is rapidly evolving along with it. The computer is becoming us and we’re becoming the computer. Unconvinced? When we get tired, we “crash.” We now multitask by necessity. And we tend to forget more, so we are in urgent need of “memory protection.” Those are three core attributes of microprocessors, or the brains of computers. That our digital lifestyle is shaking up society is overwhelmingly evident:
  • Digital natives – Today’s kids, appropriately named “Digital Natives,” are more proficient with technology than any generation before. The British communication authority Ofcom found that six-year-olds understand digital technology better than adults. Another example of their proficiency: 69% of children aged 2-5 can operate a computer mouse, but only 11% can tie their own shoelaces.

Fisher Price Fisher Price has introduced the “Apptivity Seat for iPad” to keep our digital offspring…

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Aspen Ideas Festival 2014: Challenging Limitations

July 10, 2014 by  

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The 10th anniversary Aspen Ideas Festival, produced by the Aspen Institute in collaboration with The Atlantic magazine, continues to trumpet optimism over the future, as the event has from its inception a decade ago. Yet this year’s theme of “Imagine 2014″ – looking a decade ahead rather than at the decade past – felt tempered also over concerns about the limitations of progress yet to be won, ranging from the perception of Congressional gridlock and Supreme Court setbacks to deficiencies of funding and civil liberties quandaries resulting from medical and scientific advances, to name a few. A theme running across many of the talks and conversations engaging luminaries in the audience as well as on stage was how to address issues of scarce resources in the face of vulnerable infrastructures, underperforming education institutions, opportunities to conduct hugely promising research and  the challenges of war, human suffering and environmental degradation. But before proceeding, let me describe the IdeasFestival a bit more. Begun in 2004, the event seeks to bring together hundreds of leaders in fields of business, government and scientific endeavor, as well as social entrepreneurs, into a weeklong series of talks and conversations. The festive conference…

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Switzerland May Give All $33K a Year Without Working a Single Day

November 13, 2013 by  

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Imagine receiving $2,750 a month every month, from the government, irrespective to your current income and employment. At that rate, an individual could rake in $33,000 a year while not working a single day. According to Public Radio International, this may soon be a reality for all Swiss nationals. Because of a petition passed around by a grassroots organization, Switzerland must now vote on whether or not to provide all adults with a generous base income. No strings attached. In Switzerland, any public petition that receives 100,000 or more signatures must be voted on and in a culture known for following the rules — this one is no exception. This “base income” (2,500 Swiss Francs, monthly) has a different purpose than what’s typically called welfare, and according to Georgetown University professor, Karl Widerquist, “it isn’t as kooky as it sounds”. Switzerland is a prosperous economy with a relatively small population of less than eight million people. It’s not unusual for the tiny nation to find itself with a budget surplus at the end of a year while many nations often come up short. In this case, what better way to stimulate the economy than…

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The Aftermath of the Tragic Bangladesh Factory Building Collapse

May 9, 2013 by  

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Many may have read about the tragic collapse of a garment factory complex in Bangladesh this past month. According to HuffPo, “A Benetton Chief executive said Benetton bought shirts from a company called New Wave Style, which operated one of the several garment factories inside the Rana Plaza building. The collapse of the building in an industrial suburb of Dhaka in late April took the lives of more than 800 people. One of Benetton’s suppliers in India had issues fulfilling orders, and offered the option to relocate a portion of its work to several manufacturers located in Bangladesh.” Above, a girl cries for her missing mother at the site of the garment building factory that collapsed Wednesday in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, April 27, 2013. Police in Bangladesh took five people into custody in connection with the collapse of a shoddily-constructed building this week, as rescue workers pulled 19 survivors out of the rubble on Saturday and vowed to continue as long as necessary to find others despite fading hopes. Photo credit: Associated Press Photo/Wong Maye-E


This Year’s HSBC Expat Explorer Survey

May 7, 2013 by  

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HSBC Expat today announces the opening of its sixth annual Expat Explorer Survey and is encouraging expats from across the globe to take part by sharing their experiences of living and working abroad. Expats have the opportunity to be part of the world’s largest global survey of its kind. The results are used to create Expat Explorer Interactive – an award-winning online resource that paints a comprehensive picture of expat life and shows how it differs from country to country. The annual survey gives expats a voice on aspects of life overseas including economic outlook, lifestyle and raising a family abroad. In 2012, more than 5,300 expats from over 100 countries took part in the Expat Explorer survey, making it the largest sample to date. This year HSBC Expat is hoping to reach even more expats from a wider variety of countries to take part and share their experiences. “Expat Explorer is well established within the expat community and we’ve seen how they have been enthusiastic to share their experiences by taking part in the survey each year. Now in our sixth year, we want Expat Explorer to deliver even…

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Converse Affect: Comparing Sweden and the US

April 26, 2013 by  

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“How ugly we can become when we obsess over our beauty, and how beautiful we can be when we don’t.” A wise insight, and it got me thinking about a recent article I read in The Atlantic regarding cultural variance in the way parents view their children. “Researchers compiled a list of the attributes that 60 families in six different countries used to describe their children,” and what they found between Italy, Australia, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands is that the parents of these nations emphasized the happiness and ease of their child’s temperament. In the US, however, parents overwhelmingly described their children as “intelligent,” “alert” and “especially bright”. Of the top 6 or 7 phrases that the researchers charted for each nation, those one or two words that parents most often used to describe their children, happiness, didn’t even make the US list. Looking at this through the intercultural lens, the value Americans place on competition, education and hard-work shines through this data pretty clearly. In contrast, Europeans are more cognizant of their babies’ emotional state in addition…

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