Thursday, February 25, 2021

Throwback Thursday: A Tiger Woods Reflection

When I saw the first Tweet that Tiger Woods was seriously injured in a one car accident, this blog post I'd written a few years ago came to mind. 

Originally published July 2015

While I was growing up my dad and Mr. Brown next door were big fans of the PGA, their heroes being Arnold Palmer (dad) and Jack Nicklaus. I myself liked the South African Gary Player, probably because he always wore black. Grandpa had been a fan of Sam Snead and upon retirement went and played golf about four times a week, loving the challenges of the game and the green expanse beneath open skies.

Today's fans of the game may not know Hank Haney, but you don't need more than a marginal relationship to golf to know who Tiger Woods is. Woods has been to golf what Michael Jordan was to basketball, Babe Ruth to baseball and Picasso to art: a transcendent, bigger-than-life public figure.

To get a sense of Tiger Woods' abilities you can begin by reading through this list of his achievements. For an even more incredible glimpse Google >Tiger Woods Ten Greatest Shots<.

The author Hank Haney, who was Tiger Woods' golf coach for six years, is considered by some to ge the world's best golf teacher. It was no accident Tiger invited him to be his coach. They had been crossing paths for years anyways, but there was a mutual respect here and the young superstar believed the veteran teacher could improve his already stellar swing.

The book then becomes the story of their relationship against the backdrop of the PGA. The stories reveal a complex superstar who has the weight of his fame to contend with as well as the challenges of trying to determine who he is and who he wants to me.

He has always been the greatest golfer at every level he ever played at. But what happens when all this fame starts to bore you? What if you have other interests? Tiger did have other interests. He loved war games and ultimately took steps toward being a Navy SEAL. And then there were his extramarital scandals.

In one story Haney shares how the National Enquirer acquired a compromising photo of the star, but rather than expose him "persuaded" him to do a cover story for one of its sister publications. Tiger was an exceedingly private person and would never have said yes to such a thing had he been requested to do so under normal circumstances. Haney was more than a little surprised when Tiger showed up on the cover of this publication.

The stories reveal as much about Haney as they do about Tiger. He shares his journey from player to pro to coach, how teaching eventually became his life.

One can't help the book was written in part to explain his side of the story why Tiger hasn't lived up to the greatness expected of him. If you return to the link above at the beginning of this blog post you'll see that Tiger hasn't won a major tournament since 2008. This is a significant lapse because up till then everyone who follows the game fully expected him to surpass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 wins in major tournaments. The longer Tiger continues without such a notch the less likely he will ever achieve this feat.

The book may not be for everyone as it goes into acute detail regarding the mechanics of golf and the game. I myself listened to the audio version and have also been a hack golfer for fifty years (a couple rounds a year for most years and a little more than that as a teen) so I connected with the story and the painstaking details about the game.

Whether books like this should be written is another question. How public should we be about others' private lives? In some ways, however, I got the impression that Haney wrote the book as a man still trying to guide his pupil so that the champion could achieve the impossible mountaintop that lay ahead, and perhaps also as a love letter to someone he cared about immensely.

It's all part of the game.

* * *

Get well soon, Tiger. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

What Is Financial Literacy and Why Does It Matter?

Here's a Tweet I saw recently. Seeking Alpha is an online community offering research tools, investment analysis  and forums for investors. 

Nathaniel E Baker
a senior editor at Seeking Alpha

Stocks trim losses as traders realize lawmakers aren’t mentally equipped to do anything about any of this stuff anyway 

Seriously, we talk about teaching financial literacy in school. Maybe we should start by teaching it in Congress?

* * *

What is Financial Literacy?

According to Investopedia, financial literacy is the ability to understand and effectively use various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting and investing. The lack of these skills is called financial illiteracy. 

* * *

Having Money Doesn't Solve All Problems

Why? Consider these numbers, from another article by Tim Parker at Investopedia: "Why Athletes Go Broke." (See link below)

According to Sports Illustrated, 78% of NFL players who are retired for only two years file for bankruptcy, and after five years of retirement, 60% of NBA players suffer the same fate. According to a study in the  National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) as well, close to 16% of the NFL players in the study that were drafted between 1996 to 2003 also filed for bankruptcy within just 12 years of retirement. 

If you know anything about NFL salaries, they really aren't all roses. The median salary is still under a million dollars a year, and you can bet they work hard for it. The average NBA salary is 7 million though. Hard to believe that 60% of these guys are flat broke in five years, except that (a) they never learned basics of handling money or (b) who they could trust with their finances. Kudos to the survivors. 

If you won a million dollars in a lottery, who would you turn to to help you figure out taxes and what to do with the rest?

Sooner or later this is a skill you must learn to master.
Don't wait till it's too late, or you could have financial disaster.

Learning to live within your means and setting aside for the morrow,
Is better than the alternative future of having to beg, steal or borrow.

* * * *

Check out my poem, Futures and Other Investment Ideas 

Related Link

Why Athletes Go Broke

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Online Advertising: Was Facebook Caught with Its Pants Down?

For nearly a decade Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian, has been beating the drum that digital advertising is a shady region awash with fraud. Even so, like a shiny new toy businesses have poured billions of dollars into the coffers of its advocates (ad agencies) and platforms, especially Facebook, YouTube and their ilk. 

So it came as no surprise (for me) to read this story a friend sent by Natasha Lomax on MarketWatch titled Facebook knew for years ad reach estimates were based on ‘wrong data’ but blocked fixes over revenue impact, per court filing.

Evidently, internal emails were unsealed in a recent court case that COO Sheryl Sandberg knew in 2017 that there were problems with a free ad planning tool that Facebook provided for marketers. And the more you look the more you may not want to see. The Lomax article goes on to say, "The filing also reveals that a Facebook product manager for the “potential reach” tool warned the company was making revenue it 'should never have' off of 'wrong data'."

According to Lomax, "The unsealed documents pertain to a U.S. class action lawsuit, filed in 2018, which alleges that Facebook deceived advertisers by knowingly including fake and duplicate accounts in a 'potential reach' metric." 

The point here is not to suggest online marketing is a waste of time and money. It's practically a marketing maxim that you put your storefront where the people are. ("Location, Location, Location.") On the other hand, I built my career from another rule of thumb: You can't manage what your don't measure. And a lot of what is being sold simply doesn't measure up. 

This is why I wrote this article about Data Analytics: The Three Most Important People in the Room

In that article I cited an article an opinion piece in The Drum, in which Chris Kelly argues that although digital ad spending grew by 20% year-over-year again, analyzing the impact of this spending has not matured enough to justify the growth in spending. I concur.

The three people you need in the room, therefore, are the Cheerleader, the Skeptic and the Judge. All too often the Cheerleader will do everything possible to keep the Skeptic out of the room because the case they're making is a snowjob. 

On my shelf here is a book whose title I really love: How to Lie with Numbers. It happens every day, in Washington, on Wall Street and in board rooms across the country. And yes, it even happens at Facebook. 

In my first Marketing Matters column for Business North (2018) I wrote a story titled Internet Marketing: Five Considerations. One of these five considerations was the matter of auditing. Both radio and television have third party auditors that collect data to assist advertisers in understanding the reach of what viewers are watching and listeners are tuning in to. If you are a business, who is doing this in the digital realm? 

At that time I wrote: This is the dark side that has Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman, an ex-ad agency CEO, up in arms. On his blog he makes a point to skewer the lack of policing that takes place in online machinations. In his book BadMen Hoffman writes, “Online advertising has two very compelling advantages for agencies: it is lucrative and largely incomprehensible.”  

Hoffman believed the ad fraud problem was estimated to be $60 billion, though I would have no real clue as to how to even guess, any more than how much gambling there is in Las Vegas or jelly beans in a Mason Jar at the fair.

At the time, Hoffman wrote, Procter & Gamble became so disillusioned about the effectiveness of their own online spend that last year they cut their digital advertising by 200 million dollars, with no visible negative side effects. In fact, a Wall Street Journal headline declared, “P&G Contends Too Much Digital Advertising Is a Waste.” The March 1, 2018 Adweek headline that same day read, “When Procter & Gamble Cut $200 Million in Digital Ad Spend, It Increased Its Reach 10%.” Something’s happening here, but it ain’t quite exactly clear.

As the saying goes, Buyer Beware.

Related Links

Facebook Really Doesn't Want You To Read These Emails

Data Analytics: The Three Most Important People in the Room

Bob Hoffman's Ad Contrarian Blog

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Psychology Behind Mass Movements: For Many It Is a Search for Meaning

"When people are ripe for a mass movement, they are usually ripe for any effective movement, and not solely for one with a particular doctrine or program." ~ Eric Hoffer


When I was really young, my brother and I used to make up games like the following, which probably a lot of kids did. For example, when we were at our grandparents house, we'd try to get all around the living room without touching the floor. The floor, we'd pretend, was molten lava or some other deadly thing. In other words, to amplify the intensity of the game, there was a heavy price to be paid if you lost. It was a life or death game and we'd really get into it.

A second game was keeping a balloon or a ball in the air, or many balloons, by tapping them upward. Gravity would bring them earthward. The stakes were high. In this game if the balloon touched the ground, the whole world would be destroyed.

These memories were triggered by a discussion between two brothers in V.S. Naipaul's Magic Seeds. The one brother's life feels empty. He has no "cause." He wishes he had something to fight for. The second brother tells him to open his eyes. "There are causes all around you."

This is the idea behind Eric Hoffer's statement above. People who feel their lives are small, who feel their lives are petty and meaningless, long for meaning. The childhood games we played as kids worked when we were kids, but as adults we know that the world will not blow up if the balloon touches the carpet.

What's especially intriguing is that both Naipaul and Hoffer seem to be saying that it hardly matters what the mass movement is. When conditions are right in peoples' hearts, there are a whole range of causes to fight, or even die, for.

Hoffer devotes a portion of his book, The True Believer, to the makeup of these people types. They are the disaffected, the poor, the misfits, the outcasts, minorities, adolescent youth, those in the grip of some vice or obsession, the bored and the sinners. They want to be free from feelings of isolation. They want to belong to something bigger than themselves. They want to give meaning to their lives. And many, if not most of us, have been in this psychological space at one time or another in our lives.

Interestingly enough, three thousand years ago King David's first army was assembled from the disenfranchised in Israel. When Saul, Israel's first king, attempted to solidify power by eliminating his potential replacement, David finally had to flee to the hills. He was joined there by others who were on the outs. In the book of Chronicles it says that, "Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great and mighty army." I used to think they followed David because he represented "right." Perhaps to some extent he was simply a galvanizing force that attracted the outcasts because many needed to belong to something. This is not to say that David was simply another mass movement, but that the Bible account corresponds with the way we'd expect people to behave based on what we know today about the sociology of mass movements.

In the world today, there are millions seeking causes, seeking meaning for their lives, and dignity. To the degree that we are unable to integrate the poor, the lower classes into society, to give them hope of a better life by contributing to the community and society at large, to this very degree they are susceptible to alternative causes. Suicide bombers don't emerge out of nowhere. They come from the disenfranchised.

This is but a starting point for a much larger discussion than there's time or space for here. Recommended reading: The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Open your eyes!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Idea of Sending Humans to Mars Is Ridiculous, Former Astronaut Says

Imaginary model of space station on Mars, courtesy NASA
In 2018, Bill Anders, lunar module pilot for Apollo 8, which was the first human spacecraft to leave Earth's orbit, was interviewed on BBC Radio Live. Because of the renewed interest by NASA and others in sending humans to Mars, he was asked his opinion. He wasn't afraid to share his thoughts, calling the idea "almost ridiculous" and "stupid."

I know there are a lot of romantic notions about space travel out there, in part because of Star Trek and Star Wars, which makes our explorations of the Universe seem inevitable. It just seems such a leap to me, and many of the practical issues seldom get discussed. 

I can't recall the book I read that first persuaded me that a Mars voyage would easily become a nightmare for the humans who had to endure it. The whole matter of boring food, dealing with pee and excrement, occasional backaches, vomiting inside the cabin and the like just strikes me as a highly unappetizing experience. And then you have the problem of people with their idiosyncratic personalities scraping against each other over a prolonged journey in tight quarters... No thank you.

While trying to find the book I'd read I came across this story about Bill Anders on BBC Radio, Christmas eve 2018. The occasion for this interview was the 50th anniversary of that first flight around the moon. The title of the story was Sending astronauts to Mars would be stupid, astronaut says. 

Anders in outer space, 1968.
Yes, NASA is currently planning new human missions to the Moon, but what will come of it? 

Being an astronaut sounds glamorous, but it involves a lot of indignity. I can't even imagine what it would smell like or feel like. How often would you get to bathe? How often could you change your underwear? The water you drink is recycled urine.... for more than a year. ("Does this water taste funny to you?")

Those are the kinds of things that I think about when people talk about space travel, in part because I've read enough to know it's not a walk in the park. 

Here' an article that is worth reading if you are a young person dreaming of a vacation to the Red planet: How Astronauts Pee and Poop In Space

There are some who argue that we haven't even landed on the moon yet. Maybe someone will lay out the case for that in the comments. 

As for me, I do believe we've been there, but so what? 

Meantime... What are your thoughts about missions to Mars? Why is it important to send people if we can learn just as much using robotics? 

Most people who have followed this story know that Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, has been quite vocal about taking this "next step" in space exploration. It's evident that not all astronauts are reading from the same script. The BBC story included this paragraph that reveals Frank Borman's views on this matter. 

Frank Borman is not as critical of space exploration as Anders, still thinks that dreams of colonizing the red planet are silly. "I do think there's a lot of hype about Mars that is nonsense. Musk and Bezos, they're talking about putting colonies on Mars, that's nonsense."

I personally believe there are other places where the money could be better spent.  

Related Link

Did Man Really Walk on the Moon?

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Goodness! This Brave New World Is Getting Pretty Scary -- Ice Storms, Hacking and More

So, the iced roads and freezing temps are now in day five down in Texas. For a decade we have been moving toward a greater interconnectedness of all our systems. The famed Internet of Things (IoT) was going to bring significant blessings and efficiencies to our lives. The current power outages in Texas are revealing some of the issues that will need to be hurdled if we are to enter the future with greater confidnce.

I've been worrying about practical matters with EVs for quite some time. Like, how do you recharge when the power is out? If we don't upgrade the power grid as fast as we force people into EVs, what then? We all know that ideas can be legislated faster than they can be implemented. Executive orders can be signed in a minute, with practical implementations half-baked and nowhere near ready. 

My personal big fear with EVs and automated cars has to do with tech. What happens when you have a problem? The history of the automobile includes a history of recalls. Recalls are not an isolated phenomenon. The industry is awash in them. In 2016 there were nearly 53 million recalls. I didn't even know they sold that many cars in 2016. (This was an unusual year because of the Takata airbag problem that drove the company into bankruptcy.)

The Texas power grid collapse, however, should be a wakeup call. If we are going to have an electric car future, let's make sure we have backup power grids and systems in place.  

* * * *

Another disturbing news item this month is the hacking that's been going on, and our inability to stop it. In Florida, somebody hacked the water supply of a city near Tampa and released 100-fold a chemical that is normally used to treat water, but now turned it harmful if not deadly.

A much more disturbing hack involved the breach of a number of federal agencies in 2020. There's a Wikipedia page on the cyberattack that penetrated thousands of organizations globally. The scary thing is that our government purportedly has the best cybersecurity protecting its assets, yet the cyberattacks went undetected for months.

The U.S. Senate intelligence committee is meeting next week to determine what happened and how. I mean no disrespect but how do these elected officials make decisions on these bleeding edge issues when they were essentially trained as lawyers, not IT experts. So they bring in experts, but how do they know which experts to listen to? It reminds me of Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth having to make decisions while being given contradictory counsel. 

I suppose this is not really a new phenomenon with regards to kings and presidents. This is, in part, what prompted me to write this piece titled Who Are Your Experts?  I originally addressed this to leaders on a much smaller scale, but the main point applies to all.

* * * 

And then we have the new strains of Covid with multiple experts weighing in until a single voice gets approved and the rest get cancelled. Times have changed. Are we no longer permitted to question conventional wisdom?

I grew up in the generation whose motto was Question Authority. Now that we/they are in authority, we're NOT allowed to question authority? 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Flashback Friday: 4 Lessons for Writers from The Rise and Fall of F. Scott Fitzgerald

His first achievement.
This past week I listened again to Professor Elliot Engel's lecture called The Rise and Fall of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Actually, I enjoyed it so much I listened to it twice in a row, even though I'd also heard it and wrote about it in 2008. It is insightful as regards the life of a major American writer, but it is also instructive for those who feel impelled to write today.

There were many takeaway's for me personally during this more recent listen. Here are a few of them.

1. Highest paid short story writer
I knew he was the highest paid short story writer of his era, but I didn't know why. Two factors came into play that caused this to happen. First, he wrote about the Roaring 20's in such a way that teenage girls read the stories to learn how to dress and act and all the rest. Second, two major publishers of short fiction got into a bidding war for his manuscripts. He went from being a no-name writer of little worth to a $4,000 a week writer whose name on the cover guaranteed sales. Lesson: The odds of this latter event ever occurring again are slim. The odds of this happening to most of us who write stories are nil. You're more likely to get struck by an asteroid.

Great book but weak sales.
2. Despite its fame today, Gatsby sales were a flop
Fitzgerald and his eccentric wife Zelda loved the high life. The problem was that once the cash-spigot got turned off, they never learned how to save or live frugal. And as famous as he had become, for some reason the book didn't sell well. Professor Engel stated that The Great Gatsby is the most popular novel today among high school students, but in its time sales were a flop, in part due to critical reviews. Lesson: If you are a writer hoping to sell lots of books, keep your expectations realistic.

3. Timing is everything
Fitzgerald wrote about the Jazz Age. He even coined the word jazzy which did not exist before. Unfortunately, when his follow up to Gatsby was published America was in the throes of a great depression. Tender Is the Night was another big fail. Lesson: To quote the Beach Boys, "Catch a wave and you're sittin' on top of the world." Fitzgerald's wave had passed. The sun had set on the jazz age and he was left floating in the middle of an empty copper sea.

4. What you say can hurt you
Even though his latest didn't sell and Fitzgerald was struggling to make ends meet, he still managed to get a little cashflow by selling stories. This all came to an abrupt end when he agreed to a three-part series that was published in Esquire called "The Crack-Up". He never published another story again. He was too hot to handle. Lesson: We live in an era where authenticity is valued highly, but complete candor isn't as welcome as the pundits would have you believe. It's wise to be circumspect. 

Here's the opening paragraph of Fitzgerald's The Crack-Up.

Of course all life is a process of breaking down, but the blows that do the dramatic side of the work -- the big sudden blows that come, or seem to come, from outside -- the ones you remember and blame things on and, in moments of weakness, tell your friends about, don't show their effect all at once. There is another sort of blow that comes from within -- that you don't feel until it's too late to do anything about it, until you realize with finality that in some regard you will never be as good a man again. The first sort of breakage seems to happen quick -- the second kind happens almost without your knowing it but is realized suddenly indeed.

You can read the rest here.

Download the entire lecture here.

Trivia: When Fitzgerald died his total net worth was $700.

Question: What was your favorite book that you read in high school English class? 

* * * 
Originally published in August 2014

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Climate Change Crises? What's Really Going On"

1970 – Kenneth Field “The world is cooling and global temperatures could drop by up to 11ºC  that would freeze the North Atlantic for 4- months of the year within 20-years …”

* * *
Photo: Gary Firstenberg
Someone shared with me The Australian Climate Sceptics Blog with me this past weekend. It was an eye-opening reminder of how topsy-turvy things are. In 1970 the climate watchers were not fearful of warming, but of freezing. Only later did the big buzzword change to Global Warming.  Since then it has switched to Climate Change. And when you roll your eyes and question things, you are evil for not "trusting the science." 

It's one thing when people speculate about what the future will be like. It's quite another when speculation is asserted as fact to such an extent that no one is even permitted to question it.

For example, ever since I was in college I heard them say, "We will be out of oil in 10 years." That is five decades and misinformed people still say it. 

The population problem was similarly written about. Starvation was imminent because the population growth was unsustainable. The truth is that technology and financial incentives for developing more efficient ways to produce food have all contributed to producing enough food to feed an expanding population. Plus, as peoples become educated, they produce fewer babies. Global growth has already begun to slow.

There was also a New Ice Age scare that got more ink than anyone remembers because later they changed their tune to Global Warming, which now has evolved to Climate Change, which is convenient because then no matter what happens we can be assured that they predicted it.

Check out these headlines from the early 70s. This is not a comprehensive list. You can find it at the Climate Change Dispatch.  Newsweek, Time, Washington Post... they were all beating the drum. One is titled, Are We Doomed? 
News articles:

1970 – Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age – Scientists See Ice Age In the Future (The Washington Post, January 11, 1970)
1970 – Is Mankind Manufacturing a New Ice Age for Itself? (L.A. Times, January 15, 1970)
1970 – New Ice Age May Descend On Man (Sumter Daily Item, January 26, 1970)
1970 – Pollution Prospect A Chilling One (Owosso Argus-Press, January 26, 1970)
1970 – Pollution’s 2-way ‘Freeze’ On Society (Middlesboro Daily News, January 28, 1970)
1970 – Cold Facts About Pollution (The Southeast Missourian, January 29, 1970)
1970 – Pollution Could Cause Ice Age, Agency Reports (St. Petersburg Times, March 4, 1970)
1970 – Pollution Called Ice Age Threat (St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 1970)
1970 – Dirt Will .Bring New Ice Age (The Sydney Morning Herald, October 19, 1970)
1971 – Ice Age Refugee Dies Underground (The Montreal Gazette, February 17, 1971)
1971 – U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming (The Washington Post, July 9, 1971)
1971 – Ice Age Around the Corner (Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1971)
1971 – New Ice Age Coming – It’s Already Getting Colder (L.A. Times, October 24, 1971)
1971 – Another Ice Age? Pollution Blocking Sunlight (The Day, November 1, 1971)
1971 – Air Pollution Could Bring An Ice Age (Harlan Daily Enterprise, November 4, 1971)
1972 – Air pollution may cause ice age (Free-Lance Star, February 3, 1972)
1972 – Scientist Says New ice Age Coming (The Ledger, February 13, 1972)
1972 – Scientist predicts new ice age (Free-Lance Star, September 11, 1972)
1972 – British expert on Climate Change says Says New Ice Age Creeping Over Northern Hemisphere (Lewiston Evening Journal, September 11, 1972)
1972 – Climate Seen Cooling For Return Of Ice Age (Portsmouth Times, September 11, 1972)
1972 – New Ice Age Slipping Over North (Press-Courier, September 11, 1972)
1972 – Ice Age Begins A New Assault In North (The Age, September 12, 1972)
1972 – Weather To Get Colder (Montreal Gazette, September 12, 1972)
1972 – British climate expert predicts new Ice Age (The Christian Science Monitor, September 23, 1972)
1972 – Scientist Sees Chilling Signs of New Ice Age (L.A. Times, September 24, 1972)
1972 – Science: Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, November 13, 1972)
1973 – The Ice Age Cometh (The Saturday Review, March 24, 1973)
1973 – Weather-watchers think another ice age may be on the way (The Christian Science Monitor, December 11, 1973)
1974 – New evidence indicates ice age here (Eugene Register-Guard, May 29, 1974)
1974 – Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, June 24, 1974)
1974 – 2 Scientists Think ‘Little’ Ice Age Near (The Hartford Courant, August 11, 1974)
1974 – Ice Age, worse food crisis seen (The Chicago Tribune, October 30, 1974)
1974 – Believes Pollution Could Bring On Ice Age (Ludington Daily News, December 4, 1974)
1974 – Pollution Could Spur Ice Age, Nasa Says (Beaver Country Times, December 4, 1974)
1974 – Air Pollution May Trigger Ice Age, Scientists Feel (The Telegraph, December 5, 1974)
1974 – More Air Pollution Could Trigger Ice Age Disaster (Daily Sentinel – December 5, 1974)
1974 – Scientists Fear Smog Could Cause Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 5, 1974)
1975 – Climate Changes Called Ominous (The New York Times, January 19, 1975)
1975 – Climate Change: Chilling Possibilities (Science News, March 1, 1975)
1975 – B-r-r-r-r: New Ice Age on way soon? (The Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1975)
1975 – Cooling Trends Arouse Fear That New Ice Age Coming (Eugene Register-Guard, March 2, 1975)
1975 – Is Another Ice Age Due? Arctic Ice Expands In Last Decade (Youngstown Vindicator – March 2, 1975)
1975 – Is Earth Headed For Another Ice Age? (Reading Eagle, March 2, 1975)
1975 – New Ice Age Dawning? Significant Shift In Climate Seen (Times Daily, March 2, 1975)
1975 – There’s Troublesome Weather Ahead (Tri City Herald, March 2, 1975)
1975 – Is Earth Doomed To Live Through Another Ice Age? (The Robesonian, March 3, 1975)
1975 – The Ice Age cometh: the system that controls our climate (The Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1975)
1975 – The Cooling World (Newsweek, April 28, 1975)
1975 – Scientists Ask Why World Climate Is Changing; Major Cooling May Be Ahead (PDF) (The New York Times, May 21, 1975)
1975 – In the Grip of a New Ice Age? (International Wildlife, July-August, 1975)
1975 – Oil Spill Could Cause New Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 11, 1975)
1976 – The Cooling: Has the Next Ice Age Already Begun? [Book] (Lowell Ponte, 1976)
1977 – Blizzard – What Happens if it Doesn’t Stop? [Book] (George Stone, 1977)
1977 – The Weather Conspiracy: The Coming of the New Ice Age [Book] (The Impact Team, 1977)
1976 – Worrisome CIA Report; Even U.S. Farms May be Hit by Cooling Trend (U.S. News & World Report, May 31, 1976)
1977 – The Big Freeze (Time Magazine, January 31, 1977)
1977 – We Will Freeze in the Dark (Capital Cities Communications Documentary, Host: Nancy Dickerson, April 12, 1977)
1978 – The New Ice Age [Book] (Henry Gilfond, 1978)
1978 – Little Ice Age: Severe winters and cool summers ahead (Calgary Herald, January 10, 1978)
1978 – Winters Will Get Colder, ‘we’re Entering Little Ice Age’ (Ellensburg Daily Record, January 10, 1978)
1978 – Geologist Says Winters Getting Colder (Middlesboro Daily News, January 16, 1978)
1978 – It’s Going To Get Colder (Boca Raton News, January 17, 1978)
1978 – Believe new ice age is coming (The Bryan Times, March 31, 1978)
1978 – The Coming Ice Age (In Search Of TV Show, Season 2, Episode 23, Host: Leonard Nimoy, May 1978)
1978 – An Ice Age Is Coming Weather Expert Fears (Milwaukee Sentinel, November 17, 1978)
1979 – A Choice of Catastrophes – The Disasters That Threaten Our World [Book] (Isaac Asimov, 1979)
1979 – Get Ready to Freeze (Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 12, 1979)
1979 – New ice age almost upon us? (The Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 1979)

* * * 

The proof that Climate Change is less crisis--and more religion than science--is demonstrated in the stance its proponents themselves take toward their theories (convictions). You are expected to believe, not question. Kneel and kiss the ring.

By way of contrast, Bertrand Russell, in his Free Thought and Official Propaganda, states that real scientists are always ready to consider newer evidence regarding past theories. This is why scientists were open to Einstein's theory of relativity. In his lecture, published afterwards, he stated:

Every man of science whose outlook is truly scientific is ready to admit that what passes for scientific knowledge at the moment is sure to require correction with the progress of discovery; nevertheless, it is near enough to the truth to serve for most practical purposes, though not for all. In science, where alone something approximating to genuine knowledge is to be found, men’s attitude is tentative and full of doubt.

In religion and politics, on the contrary, though there is as yet nothing approaching scientific knowledge, everybody considers it de rigueur to have a dogmatic opinion, to be backed up by inflicting starvation, prison, and war, and to be carefully guarded from argumentative competition with any different opinion.

No doubt many of today's problems are the result of their having been co-opted by politicians. The Dems loved the Old New Deal so much that it seemed a wonderful add-on to strengthen it with the word Green and capture votes from all those young people raised to believe it's the end of the world if we don't hurry up and do something.

Never mind that we've been doing much since the 70s to address pollution and emissions.

In the right hand margin there are three quotes at The Australian Climate Sceptics Blog.

1. All Scientists are Sceptics
~Professor Bob Carter

2. Whenever someone asserts that a scientific question is “settled,” they tell me immediately that they don’t understand the first thing about science. Science is never settled.
~Dr David De

3. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the science of climate change is the lack of any real substance in attempts to justify the hypothesis.
~Professor Stewart Franks

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Related Links

Michael Shellenberger: Fighting the Good Fight

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Cate Blanchett As Elizabeth Gives Us Much to Think About and Appreciate

This is not really a review of Elizabeth: The Golden Age, but more or less a few observations and an excuse to share a few photos of the costumes Cate Blanchett wore in this film. Purportedly it is a historical biography, but according to the critics, it's more historical fiction. Though it failed to obtain the viewer acclaim of its predecessor (Elizabeth, also starring Cate Blanchett) it does have some elements of note.

When Cate Blanchett's star began to rise in the East, it seemed the heir to Queen Meryl's throne had appeared. Streep has unquestionably been one of the standouts of her generation of actresses. He range seems to know no bounds. Similarly, Cate Blanchett has tackled a similar variety of challenges and seems to excel at them all. (Bonus points for having been Bob Dylan.)

The significance of the film may be that it zeroes in on two of history's major turning points, the destruction of Spain's dominance of the high seas and the birth of what would become a 300 year global empire, and the establishment of Protestantism and the ouster of Catholicism. 

I can't say the film moved me to my innards, but will note that the cinematography was stunning at times and Cate Blanchett's costumes were fit for a queen.

The film did raise questions for me. Did queens also have to dress so extravagantly? Do they ever get to wear "comfortable clothes"?  How many hours a day did Ms. Blanchett have to spend getting ready for each day's shooting?

These were the days when it was still believed the kings and queens were divine, which was at odds with what the Reformers were saying. Elizabeth herself questions the notion.

The conflict between Catholics and Protestants had begun to rage in many parts of Europe. The Huguenot Wars were taking place in France, and the Inquisition had been continuing in Spain. Against this backdrop, many of Elizabeth's advisors wanted her to take action against the Catholics in England. Elizabeth, in her wisdom, sees no advantage in creating more conflict by "forcing" the people to be "politically correct", Anglican and not Catholic. (Sadly this did become the law of the land.)  Elizabeth is adamant and takes a stand for freedom of thought and belief. She is opposed to any kind of inquisition-like response to weed out Catholics. "Fear creates fear. I am not ignorant of the dangers, sir. But I will not punish my people for their beliefs. Only for their deeds. I am assured that the people of England love their Queen. My constant endeavor is to earn that love."  (Great lines. If only all leaders would do likewise.)

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Related Link

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

South African Artist Peter Pharoah Began His Career in Advertising

In the early years of the Internet I found myself exploring what artists were doing in other parts of the world. In the first years of this decade I was invited to be part of a Ning community that shared their art online, with artists from countries all over the world. When I started blogging in 2007 I continued this practice of sharing other artists' work from elsewhere until Bob Boone of The Reader asked if I'd focus on our local arts community. As it turns out, this. was exceedingly rewarding. 

A few years ago I had a chance to do a few stories on a young artist from Uganda who was here in the States for a season. Steveboyyi had an amazing story, having grown up in an orphanage, eventually having to. survive on the streets once that facility closed when he was 17. Art was his escape and he is an exceptionally talented young man. 

While exploring websites of other artists in Africa I came across Peter Pharoah's work. What impressed me most was how his faces brought to mind paintings by Moira Villiard, a local artist who befriended Steveboyyi and helped assemble a show to sell his work at the American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) while he was here. (You can find that story here.)

Peter Pharoah's path was very different, but not entirely absent of challenges. Interestingly, both artists--Steveboyyi and Mr. Pharoah--have been attracted to similar sources for inspiration.

EN: How did you come to take an interest in art as a career and what has been your path from that moment till now?

Masai Memories
Peter Pharoah: I grew up in a family of pilots and pioneering aviators, so flying was in my blood and I dreamed of a career in the aviation industry, but as I wore glasses my parents felt that this wasn’t an option for me particularly since, at that time, there were restrictions around hiring pilots who did not have 20/20 vision without glasses. 

My mother had studied fine art but never pursued it as a career and believed that because I’d shown a natural talent for art from early on, that it would be a good start to focus on forging my path in the advertising arena. In those days chasing the dream of an illustrious fine art career was not considered a viable option, the term ‘struggling artist’ epitomised the general consensus for your chances of success by most at that time.  So once I completed school and compulsory 2 years of military service, I studied graphic design in Johannesburg then went on to work at Young & Rubicam in the ad industry as an art director.

While working at the agency, I met many commercial artists and illustrators and realised that what they did inspired me and I felt that this career path suited me far better. I enjoyed the flexibility of the working hours rather than 9-5 in the same office day in and day out. I also enjoyed the diversity of projects that came my way and another plus was that I could choose the projects I wanted to work on. 

I became fluent in many mediums from acrylics to gouache, watercolour, magic markers, pencil and airbrush and produced artworks for a wide range of subjects from cartoons to exploded views of mechanical systems, realistic representations of people and everyday objects as well as posters for movies and television shows.  I designed logos and painted murals in restaurants and bars and came up with wraparound artworks for vehicles.

It was an exciting and rewarding time for me and I have happy memories of those early days that taught me so much while still giving me the time to pursue other interests such as hang gliding (I never did lose the flying bug) and escaping to the mountains and incredible African bushveld. 

My career was in advertising. How long were you with Young & Rubicam? What did you learn from being inside the advertising scene? 

I spent the first 3 years of my career at Young & Rubicam honing my skills and learning valuable lessons that helped me on my journey as a freelance commercial artist and illustrator and then even later as a fine artist. 

Some of the most important lessons I learned whilst at Y&R was how incredibly important discipline and the willingness to embrace working hard are… especially if you choose to pursue a freelance career. Another huge life lesson was learning to understand and implement the brief, otherwise you just have to go back and do it again. In the days before computer graphics this meant starting over so making sure that you know exactly what the client wants was a golden rule, especially if you want to get paid at the end of the job. 

Going the extra mile and being willing to do whatever it takes to help them realise that vision, sometimes working through the night to meet crazy deadlines was a lesson embedded into my work ethic from early on… although you definitely won’t catch me doing that now! 

EN: You clearly love working with color. Have you always painted with such brilliance?

Sundowners (Fundraiser for Rhino Conservation)
Peter Pharoah: Once again, my love of colour can be traced back to Y&R where one particular art director insisted that everything I produced was infused with a warm, yellow glow. Probably that was where the penny initially dropped and stuck to me ever since. 

When I first started out as a fine artist, I produced a series of paintings inspired by the warm yellows and orange hues that form so much a part of the African landscape, this series of paintings was hugely successful and I received many requests for commissioned pieces in those colours until eventually it no longer felt fresh and exciting for me and I yearned to break out of that genre but was nervous to try something new when this style was popular and a ‘sure thing’. 

By this stage of my career, I had my own gallery and the internet was playing a big role with orders coming from around the world so I didn’t want to jeopardise my earning potential on something new and completely different. 

Soon after I started feeling this way, my gallery was destroyed in a fire, all the paintings, prints and artworks that were there were destroyed and even the building had to be demolished. 

Excerpt from a press article: 

22 June 2010
Excitement was at fever pitch - our home team, 'Bafana Bafana' was playing France in a nail biting game during the World Cup Soccer hosted by South Africa.

The country came to a grinding halt as we cheered our national team... Little did we know how, on a personal level, this moment in our country's history was going to change our lives in ways we could not possibly imagine...

We lost everything that night but we learned a valuable lesson, that we CAN and would endure...

That evening we were alerted by local residents that smoke was seen coming from our Gallery. Peter rushed to the gallery but it was already too late - the historic thatch building was engulfed in flames and nothing could be saved.

"My new direction was perhaps inspired by the fire that tragically destroyed our gallery. Initially it was very difficult to come to terms with the loss of all the artworks, our print collection and computer back-ups. But ultimately it resulted in a rebirth, a renewal of spirit," said Peter.

"I was more courageous in my approach and set to work with a sense of freedom and abandon that was both liberating and invigorating. I now see my career as an artist in a new light, embracing colour even more than before – using it to draw attention to the patterns and textures that are a hallmark of my style. Emphasising the manner in which these interact within the artwork and with the subject - revitalising my approach to enhance and reawaken the spirit that drives the creative force within..." he added.

So this collection of works will forever have their place in the timeline of my career, a point of rediscovery, a rebirth and a new direction..."


It was at this point that I realised that evolving as an artist is imperative, otherwise you just end up ‘copying’ yourself – reproducing a formula and you lose the passion and richness that comes with experimentation. 

Colour alone is not enough. You have to use it as a vehicle to tell the story, to enhance the image, to provide contrast or to complement what is there. There has to be balance…

Excerpt from a 2020 update on the 10th anniversary of the fire:

- 22 June 2020

No one could have predicted that 10 years later, the entire world would just STOP due to Covid-19 and the lessons learned a decade earlier would help sustain us through the dark and uncertain days that lay ahead.

Since then, we have survived another fire that threatened our home and destroyed all our neighbours' homes but we also experienced new places and embarked on adventures, encountering people and moments that have been stored to be brought to life later in the studio.

Perhaps our 'post-Covid' life will inspire another new direction. Being older and hopefully wiser, I have come to accept that with adversity we are not given the choice to ignore the opportunity to grow in a new direction.

"Being courageous in my approach and going into my studio each day gives me a renewed sense of purpose that is both liberating and invigorating. I am honoured to share my passion for Africa, its wildlife, people and even the magical colours and subtle nuances of the sunset, the textures in the rocks and trees.

Each memory encourages me to embrace originality in my subject, my brushstrokes, composition and colour choices... a reawakening of the spirit that drives the creative force within..."


EN: My art blog is titled The Many Faces of Ennyman. I find faces endlessly fascinating and have been drawing them since pre-school. When did your fascination with faces begin and why do you enjoy painting them today?

Thamani (A young Masai girl in traditional dress)
Peter Pharoah: For as long as I can remember, I have been intrigued by faces and loved to draw and paint them as I explored different mediums. I think it initially began as a challenge to paint a face that was recognisable as a particular individual. During my time studying graphic design, one of our assignments was to paint a realistic portrait from a photograph, which taught me to really look for the subtle nuances that make each person unique as well as how the light plays on the face drawing out certain features and concealing others. 

I think the fire allowed me to become more carefree in my approach to my work; I became less concerned about controlling everything. The fire made me realise that anything can happen and if you are to survive, your only choice is to pick up the pieces and move forward. Wallowing in misery will not change what happened and by accepting this and focussing on the path ahead brings closure and a sense of liberation. Key to that transformation process was casting aside the safety of the ‘known’ and venture into the unknown with a boldness that encouraged a more experimental approach and a willingness to go places that I would not have gone before…

Nowadays, I love painting portraits in rich vibrant colours that help to define the character and essence of the person, humans are programmed to recognise the features of a face so you’re able to play with abstraction more than with any other subject and hint at the features that don’t need to be defined in order to be recognisable as a human face. 

EN: The natural beauty of the African wilderness also appears in much of your work.
Do people there take it for granted after a while or is it something that always produces awe?

The Fifth Element (115 x 115 cm)
Peter Pharoah: My passion for Africa will always compel me to experiment with new methods to convey the intensity of the African experience. Africa speaks to me on a deeper level and I travel to many remote corners in search of inspiration and the earthy ‘oneness’ I feel for the land. 

The artworks that result are more a memory of that experience than just a representation of a specific photograph or scene. Immersing yourself in the African experience is life changing – walking amongst the rhino, lion and elephant or wild dogs. Watching them, smelling them and experiencing their lives up close is awe inspiring and I have found that, as an artist, it is vital to constantly challenge oneself in life and in art – introducing elements in the form of texture, colour or subject that I have never done before… this keeps my works fresh and my approach new each time… 

Simply put… I love what I do and am honoured to share my African visions with the world.

EN: Where can people purchase your work? 

Peter Pharoah: I have a gallery in Wilderness, where I live on the southern cape coast of South Africa as well as at Kunjani, a wine farm in Stellenbosch.

EN: Do you sell through Jumia? 

Peter Pharoah: Not at the moment, it is difficult to manage stock of the originals as there is quite a demand for my work so I find it simpler to just work through our gallery in Wilderness or online through my website at 

EN: Do you have transcontinental outlets?

Peter Pharoah: There are galleries and agents in the UK and USA that occasionally have my artworks in their collection but most people visit my website and buy direct from our online offerings or alternatively commission pieces for their collection. 

The website is called An African Canvas, the fine art of Peter Pharoah.

To learn more visit:


Contact Tracey @ Paroah Art Gallery

Phone numbers are on the website.

Or to contact by email: