2018 Won’t Go Away

What more can be said about 2018? It came with a bonus day, a leftover Monday that is fitting for a year that doesn’t seem to want to end.

It’s been a year of chaos and struggle, and probably a few corners are being turned in history. It may well be that historians will one day mark this as the year that the American Century, which started with World War I, finally came to a close.

Whatever the case, it really can’t end quickly enough.

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Reacting vs Planning

Good decision making comes from experience, and experience comes from bad decision making. This has been one Hell of a year, but what did we learn?

If you are shivering and exhausted after being blasted by a firehose of news and information, you are far from alone. That’s the nature of our world, and generally you have two choices: do your best to take it all in and make sense of it, or unplug and have a good life.

But like Buddha’s choice between hedonism and asceticism, either choice has to leave you wondering: isn’t there a third, middle way? And there is. It’s about planning and learning, about enjoying the here and now without a lot of noise but staying on top, perhaps even above, the world.

If we have learned one thing from this year I would hope that it is that a series of reactions is never a substitute for an actual strategy.

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It’s a Bear Market

I hope everyone had a good Christmas. I’ve been slow to write about the stock market for two reasons. The first is that it would ruin the holiday cheer, and the secondly this is a long developing story that I have written about for a year now and will probably write about for the next year.

But we’ve reached an important threshold. It’s now down 20% off the peak, meaning that we are in a Bear Market. We haven’t been in one for a decade, and there hasn’t been a nasty one for at least two decades, so let’s run down what that means.

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Merry Christmas!

If you live in a developed nation, there’s a good chance you have Christmas Day off from work. In any nation with a Christian heritage, it’s the legacy of a religious holiday. In Japan, the day before is a holiday, simply because it happens to be the Emperor’s birthday. In China, it’s a major shopping day.

In years past I’ve gone into the pagan roots of this holiday, and how it’s hardly Christian at all. I’ve speculated about why Christianity took the various turns it did, and discussed the times when Christmas, the drinking holiday was banned.

None of this has anything to do with our present reality, however.

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The Meaning of Christmas?

it’s a time for reflection, a time for remembering. it’s a time for sleeping and wondering.

No matter what you might think of this time of the year, there is one constant around the world. Winter is a time of renewal for earth and body, in spirit and mind. The utter destruction and chaos as the news relates the daily collapse of the Trump world feels like an end, which it very much is. But in that ending there is the potential and maybe even promise of a better new world.

That is the real story of Christmas – no matter how you want to read it.

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Darkness Into Light

Winter arrives on Friday at 22:23 UTC.  From that time forward, the Northern Hemisphere will turn back towards the light.  It has been another warm Winter in Minnesota, painted in dull tones of brown and gray.  This piece from 2011 captures the feelings then and now as this time of light and reflection wobbles back through the grace of our tilting planet.

It is dark outside when the alarm goes off, not at all a time to wake up.  The usual 8 hours and 41 minutes of daylight we can expect on a Winter Solstice is never enough to keep us going, even on a relatively warm and sometimes even bright year like this.  The brown Winter of 2011 is just as dark as any other.

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FADS Marketing

You know who you are. At least you think you do, although a lot of marketers think they know you even better. And if you are willing to kid yourself or indulge a little, they have what you are looking for.

That’s the main premise of FADS Marketing: Food, Alcohol, Drugs, Sex, and the New Marketing World Order, a new book by Tony Harris. He’s an experienced marketing professional willing to sharing a few of the secrets of the industry in part because they clearly alarm him.

They should alarm you, too. And that’s what makes this relatively short but dense book a quick but incredible read.

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