“They Are Different”

There is a highly visible investment company out there whose media ads are plainly misleading, and border on being just plain false.  Maybe you will recognize their claims… They present themselves as “different” from other investment firms and advisors.

“We are different” as our advisor compensation is linked to investor success, “We earn more when you earn more”. That is not a differentiator as many firms follow the Assets Under Management compensation method for their investment advisors.

“We are different” as we do not put investors in “cookie cutter” investment plans, our plans are individually tailored to investor’s needs. More BS… most certainly the company takes investors through the typical… risk tolerance – goal – objective – age scenarios and alternative mixes of investments and options. That methodology is used by many investment firms and advisors.

“We are different” as our advisors are fiduciaries and must act in the best interest of clients…  not different, many/most investment advisors are registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a state securities regulator and must act as fiduciaries.

I suppose “they” could make the argument that “they” are different from SOME… however that would probably be a small minority of investment firms and advisors.

“Just saying”….

***** S&E *****

The True Cost…

This entry is based on information from https://www.thebalance.com. It is listed under Success as it is good to understand what our government is doing with our money. Just to get readers interested, below are some highlights from an article on the USA’s Military Budget. The link at the end of this entry is the full article. “US Military Budget, Its Components, Challenges, and Growth”.

Apparently, despite closing hundreds of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad—from giant “Little Americas” to small radar facilities. Britain, France and Russia, by contrast, have about 30 foreign bases combined.

The true cost ???

Congress won’t allow DOD to close bases. The Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2013 blocked future military base closings. Few elected officials are willing to risk losing local jobs caused by base closures in their states. Blog comment: Another great example of vision and leadership! It’s about elected officials’ jobs, not the country!

Since 2010 the military spending will be about $10 Trillion.

Some perspective: In 2018, US military spending was about three times more than China’s military budget of $250 billion and 10 times bigger than Russia’s budget of just $61.4 billion.

The Defense Department knows it needs to become more efficient. It now spends a third of its budget on personnel and maintenance. That will rise to 100% by 2024, thanks to retirement and medical costs.

Ironically, the DOD base budget does not include the cost of wars. That falls under Overseas Contingency Operations.


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“Root Cause”

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, updated 3:17 PM ET, Thu March 11, 2021

The following blog opinion comments on a CNN Politics article entitled “What the immigration ‘crisis’ debate is missing”, from CNN’s “5 Things”, 3.15.21. Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, updated 3:17 PM ET, Thu March 11, 2021

Excerpt from the article: “One effort that was discussed at a White House press briefing this week is an effort to address the “root causes” of immigration (these are the push factors I mentioned earlier). Ambassador Roberta Jacobson, special assistant to the president and coordinator for the southern border, said the administration wants to spend $4 billion over four years to do this (one big question to keep in mind about this: We’ve heard other administrations say they’re going to do this before, too — and they’ve tried. What could the Biden administration do differently this time?”

And it is not about border guards.

From the blog: I can tell Biden what the “root cause” of the immigration mess is on the Mexican border for far less than a $4 billion dollar, 4 year study. The root causes”, there’s more than one, are simple. It is all about seeking a better life. People are hoping for better living conditions, improved health, education, and medical care. And look for opportunity, and relief from inept governments, poverty, crime, and corruption that exist in in Mexico and Central American Countries. The root causes. Are there criminals among those seeking entry, sure. Probably some. But good processes might eliminate most.

Spend the $4 billion on finishing the wall and to hire some talented executives to put in place a process to manage immigration that can be applied at any border. Clearly, the USA has yet to find the talent to do that. And I can’t imagine the size of the government payroll that is tasked with immigration management and that supports the inability to solve the problem.

Government !

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You just wouldn’t think it should take the WTO…

 CNN. “”5 Things” 3.10.2021.  Around the world, richer nations are administering about one vaccine dose every single second, but most of the poorest ones have yet to get a single shot, a global vaccine alliance says. These same rich nations are blocking efforts by developing countries to waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines so others can get the vaccines they need. A World Trade Organization (WTO) committee will meet today to discuss waiving these rights in the interest of public health.

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The Importance of Staying Creative

One of the things I miss about working in a global business is the energy, motivation, and enthusiasm that is shared by engaged professionals across the company. It helps with spawning creativity and innovation. 

Even when you have hung up your full – time working life… It is important to stay motivated and innovate in a way that keeps you fresh and prevents you from appearing to others like an innate lump.

From Fast Company (1/24/2021) ….  working or retired, one can avoid being an innate anything!
From fastcompany.com … do-these-5-things-and-youll-never-run-out-of-new-ideas

***** S&E *****

Log Entry No. 103: Did you really sign that Rental Agreement!

When you take that long awaited vacation to the beach, rent a 8 bedroom, 8 bathroom house, and take the extended family, you never, never, never should be the one to sign the rental agreement. Why? When something goes wrong… the owners and/or authorities are looking for you!

As usual, a great house… game room, hot tub, bars, home theater, and of course the ocean beach across the street. The week was filled with games, pranks, and mucho foolery. The group — parents, teens, and some smaller ones. It was not the group’s first rodeo, so they were warmed up before the week started, arriving in full-on mode!

Launch headquarters

Clearly without a lot of thought and bordering on bad judgment, someone packed a 200 yard water balloon launcher / slingshot for the beach trip. The launcher had many applications. The preferred location that offered the greatest strategic position was from the second story deck on the house. Very popular was harassing people returning from the beach on the public beach accesses. It was not popular with everyone, at time resulting in a variety of easily recognized hand motions and signs.

A target rich environment!

The family was three days into the beach week. It was late evening after 11 pm, still up were the under 30’s, teens, and a few others who were thought to be in bed. Three of them were on the upper deck in control of the launcher, with other onlookers. Across he street was ocean front row. The launch team could see, through a side window, two houses down, on ocean front row, an adult watching TV. Having fine-tuned their skill by this time in the week, they hit the window dead center on the first volley; the adult came straight up out of his chair. The window didn’t break. Of course they lost it, rolling around on the deck in a spasm of laughter, according to the onlookers. They did it again and missed. Not satisfied, they took aim at the house directly across the street and put a missile through the breakfast room picture window.

It is now 1 am, I am out cold, and there is a knock on my bedroom door, the message, “No one is hurt. The police would like to talk to you. They are on the front porch”. Just perfect! Why me? …because my name is on the rental agreement. Down two flights of stairs, I pass the three fools responsible for this in the entryway, ranging in age from 30 to 15. As I pass I promise, “I will find out who is responsible for this”. I join the cops outside, third shift professionals, carrying bullets in their shirt pocket. “No officers, I was sound asleep, I know nothing about slingshots or water balloons.” One of them holds up a spent missile, the other, using his flashlight, points out a disgusting collection, in various colors, of more spent balloons littering the walk, front yard, and street. It was over. The cops confiscated the launcher.

The “perps”: front row, last three on the left.

The next morning I sent the perps over to fess up, apologize, and offer to pay for the window. They returned later, said the people, also renters, were really nice, and offered them juice, coffee and donuts. What? The people said their kids were running around until all hours. They thought their kids did it.

Don’t sign the rental agreement, get some sleep!

***** S&E *****


The majority of the Republicans that voted to acquit Trump are hours later speaking out about Trump’s lack of morality and how there should be further inquiries and possible legal actions regarding his violations of his office. Some say he should not be able to hold public office.

That is some fairly disgusting public evidence of cowardice, hypocrisy, and political party over all else by those who are charged with representing us. You want to see cowardice … there it is, in person!


If courage is a competency of leadership… there are few leaders in Congress… and an overwhelming amount of fear.

Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles. Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” – From Martin Luther King Jr.’s autobiography.

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Windows of Time…

Time does fly. That recently dawned on me when I lost my sister-in-law and was writing a note about all the good times we spent at her house 6 hours away in Asheville NC.  I made a list of all those great moments, holidays, and visits and sent it to her siblings and my sons.  The list probably covered 12 years so there were many to recall.  

It also dawned on me that those 12 years, not an insignificant time period, represented a window of time that has now passed, closed forever.  And for the remaining family, we all yet have a window of time to enjoy.  Like many families, we are dispersed across the USA… CA, MD, TX, NC, CO, and PA.  And, our window of time remains open!  

It may be difficult, inconvenient, hard to schedule, can take some effort, can be expensive for some to get together… but those windows of time WILL  close… !

***** S&E *****

Changes at Amazon

From Fast Company  2/2/2021

By Harry McCracken*

(Note:  I believe this is good stuff! That is, as long as it does not become micro  management leadership.  And based on what I have read about Andy Jassy, Amazon’s next CEO,  I very much doubt that that is his style.

“In 2017, Jassy told me that groups within AWS have plenty of independence. But he also stressed that effective management is in part about knowing what’s going on at every level of the organization. “One of the mistakes that leaders make sometimes is that they get too far away from the details of the business,” he told me. “And the reality is that every business is always going to have things that work and things that are not working. And that’s okay. You can fix the things that aren’t working, as long as you have visibility to them. And you can course-correct relatively quickly. But if you get so far away from the details and you don’t have the right mechanisms to inspect what’s happening, finding out about issues that are 6 to 12 months in the making makes it much harder to correct them, because the hole is deeper.”

Andy Jassy, 6 Things to know

*Harry McCracken is the technology editor for Fast Company, based in San Francisco. In past lives, he was editor at large for Time magazine, founder and editor of Technologizer, and editor of PC World.

***** S&E *****


After years of questions about his experience in Viet Nam, my friend wrote a single-spaced, four-page letter to his wife and two daughters. It, as one might imagine, documented his awful, horrifying, mind-numbing experience during his tour of duty in VN.

His wife shared his letter with me. Here’s is my response to her:

What more can I say except that it was an awful waste of human life, many people in the country didn’t support the cause and therefore the troops upon return.  As you know my brother was in the infantry in VN, came back damaged in many ways, wouldn’t take any professional help, drug and anger problems, and finally offed his wife and himself.  I was in Korea when he was in VN.

Today the government is quick to send troops into war despite the fact that most of those countries don’t give a damn about the USA.   So back come body bags and badly injured (physically, mentally) kids/young men.  Then, it takes private organizations, like the “Wounded Warrior Project”, to help them through all their challenges, as the government does not. But there is endless money for wars! Something is radically wrong with that picture!

I think when Congress and the Pentagon decide to send troops into war or war zones, those losers from Congress and the Pentagon should be sent first. 

What the hell have we gotten out of decades of war in the middle east.  They are still fighting, they hate each other, and organizations of terrorists yet have footholds.  Had we not stuck our nose into their business there may not have been a 9/11.

And I don’t think the president should, unilaterally, have the power to commit the country and troops to war.  If Congress had to approve, they’d never agree and we would never have to go to war.

(to my friend’s wife) Sorry for going on like this… sure do miss my good friend… thanks for sharing…

For the record, in the early 2000,s I travelled to, worked and lived in the Asia Pacific Region. Work and vacation took me to many Asian countries. Viet Nam was one.

Viet Nam is a growing, fascinating country, with friendly, welcoming people, and an awesome culture.

***** S&E *****