The World & Beyond

The writings of a global transient.

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 5)

Site died: Reconstructing it

So during a period of not really posting, I made the mistake of not paying for my site as for some reason GoDaddy emails were being forward to spam.  For the next few weeks I will be reconstructing it.  Bare with me.

The Best Heath Care In The World

Donald Trump has further angered the establishment right by saying that part of the problem with Republicans is opposition to National Health Care.

Trump Can Win“That’s part of the problem with the Republicans, somehow they got fed into this horrible position,” Trump said. “We’re going to take care of people.”

Im not writing to take sides on this issue one way or the other, but rather to at least make sure that people arent debating the issue under a false premise, as I used to when I listen to right-wing talk radio.

In the US there has been for the last 20 years a wide ranging argument over healthcare. The debate is completely warped by roughly half of the country believing that the US has The best health care in the world even if there are some issues, and perhaps costs are high.

I used to believe this in the 90s when I listened to Rush Limbaugh every day and read National Review.  Why? I had never rush_limbaugh
been to another country outside of first class vacations with my parents or once when I went to Montreal with my French class in 8th grade. I had no basis for believing this whatsoever, and yet I believed it. I wasnt alone.  Tens of million of Americans believe this without any evidence whatsoever.

For the record: It is not true. Its a massive, monstrous lie. I have used medical services in: Italy, Albania, Poland, Latvia, Kenya, Tanzania and Panama. It was better than the US everywhere except Albania where I had to bribe the nurse 100 dollars the night my daughter was born.

Kenya Doctors

In Kenya if you get sick you walk to the Pharmacy. Whos in the Pharmacy? A doctor. An African doctor? Yup. And guess what? Hes great. Hes spent the last 10 years treating sick people and had to do his first years out in the bush treating people 18 hours a day with horrific diseases. He exists to treat people who are sick, not to build a practice around convincing people to get back surgeries they dont need and over 50% of the time dont work so that he can bill their insurance 100K.

You walk in, you talk to him. He knows what you have. He treats sick people all day, 6 days a week, 12 hours a day or more. You dont fill out any paperwork or listen to the person in front of you complain that her copay is 25 when she thinks it should only be 20.

He gives you pills, you give him 10 dollars. Transaction complete.

And its not just for minor things. I had Malaria in Tanzania and the medical care was excellent.

In Latvia I cracked some ribs after riding a bike out to the Rumbula forest where 25,000 jews were massacred over a few days. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumbula_massacre).

I was in bad shape when I woke up the next day. So, I went to the doctor. Now, it turns out there isnt much you can do for cracked ribs anyway, but this is how the process went: I checked in. The lady behind the desk asked me what was wrong. I told her. I filled out one very small form. She told me it would be about an hour. I asked if I could go to lunch and come back. She said sure, take your time, you wont lose your place. So i went and had lunch and a couple of beers. I went back and walked right into the doctor. 40 euros.

In Italy once my Italian friend took me to the doctor. I didnt wait at all. After figuring out quickly that I needed antibiotics my friend and he discussed payment a bit before the doctor said Eh, dont worry about it.

I have become so disgusted with US healthcare that I worry about getting sick in the US. Last year on my way to Panama I started to feel sick and thought good thing Im leaving the US.

In the US how often do you listen to people worry about their health insurance? Its nearly constant. Yet I have never once NOT ONCE.. heard my friends overseas worry about their health care ever. Either they have national health insurance, or, there is a free market in health care and they can get health care at a reasonable price.

Yet, tens of millions of Americans believe this monstrous lie? Why? it fits in with the American exceptionalism that has been drilled into their heads.  Something I will be writing about more in another post.

Getting rid of your phone

A lot has been written about people becoming slaves to their Smartphones.  That was (and perhaps still is) the case with me. Previously I saw the phone as a liberator because the phone and the computer allowed me to do what I do, which has included vastly simplifying my life in all regards but still being able to run my business.

Well, having simplified almost everything else, my main problem was this damn phone I am checking every 30 seconds.

I had started trying to set limits for myself around 3 months ago. Limit 1 was simply not to use it in the car whatsoever. Limit 2 was turning it off at 9pm and not turning it on in the morning until I showered and made my coffee.

iphone-iphone5-colors

 

Some of these things caused issues because people were used to me answering them promptly, but people started getting used to it.

Prior to the current month-long trip to Panama, Anguilla, and then back to Panama that i am on, my I-phone was on the fritz and I figured it didnt have too long to live. I mentioned this to my ex-wife a month ago and she said she has a near brand-new I-Phone 5 that she got when her step-dad died and I could have it.

Its a big process getting an I-Phone unattached from an apple account, including having the executor of the state prove his credentials, etc.

So, I left off to Panama with my I-Phone and this backup Iphone that still wasnt usable.

On the first week of my trip my I-Phone went dead for good. I was in Panama City at the time.  My first thought was f*ck, I am going to have to buy a phone tomorrow.  My second thought was Eh, I will wait until I am in St. Martin on Sunday, they will be cheaper there, then on the plane I thought Eh, I will just do nothing about it for now, and call Apple on monday.

Its now been two weeks and I still dont have a working phone.  It turns out that Apple really, really wants you to buy a new I-phone, as I am still getting the run around even though I, and the executor of the estate have both jumped through all of the hoops that Apple has asked us to jump through.

A big part of me, however, doesnt really want to get a new phone.  I am perfectly happy without one.

The first day in Panama without a phone went like this:

I was making plans with friends. Most people outside the US communicate on whatsapp, which now I didnt have.

So, I just emailed one guy in the group and said just email me back when and where to be, I dont care what we do really.

I got a response back an hour later and that was the extent of my planning

instead of the usual messaging between 3-4 different people and the endless Im here, where are you?  messages.

On Sunday my plane to St. Martin was late, so I missed my ferry to Anguilla and had no way of telling the lady who was going to pick me up at the ferry (the free wifi at the SXM airport never works). I also didnt have any minutes on my Anguilla phone (just a cheap piece of junk).

At first I panicked a bit.  Suddenly I had a problem because I did not have a phone, but in the end I just walked 100 yards to a place with wifi and sent her a skype message.

In any event, I have been totally happy without a phone.   I do have a google voice number so I can make and receive calls over my laptop.  Also, anyone who really needs to get in touch with me can do so by skype, email, or Facebook.  However, it sure feels great not being distracted by constant text and whatsapp messages.

I will of course have to get another cell phone.  I would prefer if Apple would just unlock this perfectly good one that I have, but I have a feeling that they wont.  In that case, I am certainly not going to buy an I-Phone, just so I dont reward Apples behavior.

I have a client who has never owned a smartphone.  When I first met him 2.5 years ago I was incredulous that this tech-savvy guy didnt have one, but I am starting to come around to his way of thinking and perhaps I will go that route.

I want you to turn off cellphone

If I do eventually get this I-Phone activated I will learn how to implement the features that only allow calls and texts from select numbers for much of the day.  Maybe Ill allow an hour of texts in the morning, and another in the afternoon.

 

Otherwise, I am enjoying the peace and quiet and the increase in my productivity from not having a phone.

I highly suggest that everyone try turning their phones off Friday afternoon and not turning them back on until Monday morning.  I guarantee that you will enjoy it.

In Defense of An Asshole, the Case of Martin Shkreli

(I understand that Shkreli has announced that he will reduce the price but has not said what the new price will be. Thus is no matter. This analysis stands whether the price is $100 or $750 per pill)

The vilification of Martin Shkreli, who the Internet has dubbed “The World’s Biggest Asshole”, raises a number of interesting issues.

Questions:

  1. What is the proper price for the drug Daraprim?
  2. Why was it selling for far less very recently?
  3. Is Shkreli, in fact, an asshole?
  4. Who is more moral, Shkreli or the Internet Masses?

Answers:

  1. Roughly $750 per pill.
  2. Because the previous owners were more concerned about their reputations than Shkreli is.
  3. Yes, he is, that is why he was able to realize the revenue maximizing price.
  4. Shkreli

 

Martin Shkreli

Let’s examine the issue:

 

Daraprim (despite being called an HIV drug in the media) is a drug that treats toxoplasmosis, which is caused by a T. Gondii infection. Some of these patients are sickened because their immune system is weak from HIV.

 

Gondii hospitalizes approximately 9,000 people in the U.S. per year. It kills about 700 of those 9,000. It is preventable as long as you wash your hands after exposure to cat excrement. It is also important to properly prepare your food.

Congenital Toxoplasmosis effects about 3 per 100,000 live births.

Turing (Shkrelis Company)  has stated that at $13.50 per pill revenues are about $5 million per year. $5 million/ $13.50 = ~370,000 pills produced per year. At roughly 9,000 patients hospitalized per year, that equals 41 pills per patient.

What’s the right price for these pills?

cat poop

For many years Glaxo sold them for $1 per pill. Glaxo sold the rights to Core Pharma in 2010. Core Pharma over a few years raised the price up to $13.50. Core than sold to Turing, which raised the price to $750 per pill.

 

So, in a relatively short period the price went from $1 per pill to $750 per pill.

 

Why is that?

 

From the drug marketer’s point of view, there is a pricing sweet spot that maximizes revenue. The payors (mostly insurance companies, and various government programs) do a cost benefit analysis on treatments to decide which treatments they are going to cover. The analysis can be complicated, but for the purposes of this article it comes down to “is it cheaper for us to pay for this treatment, or to pay for an alternate treatment and/or the side effects of not treating at all?”

Ideally a drug marketer would price his drug at the perfect price where it is just high enough that the payors are willing to cover that price.

What is the ideal price point for Turing? I sure don’t know, but I do know this: Shkreli has done this before, and backed with $90 million of venture capital money has surely done the most in-depth analysis of the matter, considering all the many variable involved.

So, in answer to question 1, the revenue-maximizing price is $750. From the standpoint of the business owner, that is what the price “should” be.

gsk logo

If that is the case, why didn’t Glaxo or Core raise the price that high? Were Glaxo analyst’s idiots who could not figure out that the sweet spot was well over $1 per pill?

Were Core Pharmaceuticals analysts slightly better than Glaxo analysts, raising prices from $1 to $13.50 but not realizing that it could have been raised to $750?

When analyzing the price to sell Daraprim at that analysis must take into

account not just the potential revenues but also the liabilities. As this case has proven there is a downside to sharply raising drug prices, namely, the wrath of the public and politicians.

In this case it is not a surprise that the price that the three companies were willing to sell Daraprim at is inversely proportional to their size.  Glaxo is a massive company that carefully navigates public opinion and the halls of Washington to maximize its profits, which includes doing things that make it look bad to the public for little or not gain. Core Pharma is a smaller company.  I cant find the financials at the moment (appears to be private), but it is far smaller than Glaxo, although it has a few big drugs such as Adderall.  Core was willing to take some reputational risk as an expanding company that needed the revenues, but again not wanting to bring the wrath of Washington or the public down upon it.

So just who exactly could wring the last cent of value out of Daraprim?  Why, none other than the internets Asshole of the Year, Martin Shkreli, who has shown over the years that he is not concerned in the least about his reputation.  And besides, for a company his size the money to be made here is such that even if forced out of business after a few years he would retire a very wealthy man.

So, in essence, (and in answer to question 3) all of this happened because Martin Shkreli is an asshole, and doesnt care if the public hates him.

Having settled that Shkreli is an asshole, does that make him more or less moral than the Internet masses?

Let’s examine this for a moment.

We have already determined that the best guess for the revenue-maximizing price for the drug is $750 per pill. The Internet masses insist that the drug should be sold for $13.50. That is, society wants Turing to bear a loss of 736.50 per pill.

There are three groups of people who can possibly bear this cost.

  1. The payors (most of them huge insurance companies or government medical care).
  2. The marketing, Shkreli
  3. Society at large.

Morality is of course subjective, but I see no reason why it is more moral for society to demand that Shkreli bear this cost while not demanding that the payors bear some of it, and, more importantly, for outraged individuals not being willing to bear some of it themselves.

Further, let’s not forget that Core Pharmaceuticals could very well have kept marketing this drug at 13.50 per pill as a sleepy little operation, but decided to cash in instead, knowing full well what Turing was going to do. The same goes for Glaxo when it decided to sell to Core.

I for one could not have done what Shkreli did, but I am also not demanding that anyone else pay to alleviate my outrage.

Solutions: This entire episode is already grist for more government regulation. However, if society is as outraged as it claims then there are some fairly easy free-market solutions.

CoreRx-Pharmaceuticals1

There is no reason why the insurance companies, perhaps with the assistance of large charities, can’t band together to buy the marketing rights to out-of-patent rare drugs and market them at a more “normal” profit margin. The outraged of the Internet could also chip in as well, as could companies like Glaxo and Core.   Ehen they want to get rid of marketing an old drug such as this instead of selling out they could simply contribute it for free or at a reasonable price to such an organization.

 

Instead, expect to see the Pharmaceutical companies engage and rent seeking and look for government subsidies in order not to raise the prices on these drugs too much.

Turning a Liability into Authenticity: Why Trump Can Win

I think Trump can win.

Trump Can Win

Dont laugh.  Yes, a lot of  people think hes  a loudmouth and a jackass.   (Fun Fact:  I was his paperboy at his Greenwich mansion when I was 13-15).  However, I think Trump is shrewd and that he knows precisely what he is doing:

He is figuring out how to turn his biggest liability into an asset and he will emerge as the only candidate on the Republican side who is viewed as having any authenticity.

The common wisdom is that Trumps popularity is fleeting, and that he is simply tapping into the frustration that many voters have with a Washington that seems out of touch with the mainstream and is appearing more and more corrupt to the average American.

This is clearly showing up in the polls:

 

Trump Change Washington

 

However, the conventional wisdom is that Trump is not a serious candidate and that ultimately is just a distraction to the actual campaign.

I think that the conventional wisdom is wrong.  I believe that Trump is a serious candidate and even has a decent shot at winning.

First, lets discuss the political landscape that he is looking at:

What the people believe no longer matters and they are starting to wake up to that.    A recent academic study by two professors using over 20 years of data shows that Congress literally DOES NOT CARE what the people think.

They key quotes from the study:

 

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

 

“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

 

Simply put:  Your opinion doesnt matter.

 

Lets say you want to change that.  You think you are going to have the ability to pick among 10+ Republican candidates for President and therefore have an impact.  There is just one problem:  They all believe the same things.  As Mark Cuban recently pointed out:

 

The Republican Party requires that all their presidential candidates conform to consensus, If you dont agree with every platform of the party, not only are you called a RINO, a Republican in Name Only. You are considered unelectable in primaries and become a source of scorn on Fox News. Thats a problem.

 

There is literally almost no difference between the candidates (excluding Trump) on almost any issue.  This is despite the fact that Republicans have widely divergent views on things such as immigration and the warfare state.  Whereas Rand Paul was thought to be a potential candidate who was against endless U.S military aggression, he has since largely sold out to the warfare state and thus also jettisoned his credibility as someone who might significantly reduce the size of government. The only ideological difference that I can see between any of the other candidates is that Chris Christie is the most ardent supporter of warrantless spying while Paul is its strongest critic.

In this backdrop a significant portion of the electorate has been looking dimly at the prospect of a Bush V. Clinton matchup.  With no clear front-runner on the Republican side many have joined the race, but I have yet to see any explanation about why a Walker V. Clinton or Rubio V. Clinton is a substantially different race than Bush V. Clinton, and the voters seem to agree with me.

To an outsider this smells like opportunity.  On the Democratic side Bernie Sanders jumped into the race and is polling far higher than the Washington Insiders could have ever thought possible.

On the Republican side we have Trump.

Lets say you are Trump and you want to tap into voter frustration and ride it all the way to the White House, but everyone thinks you are a jackass.

What do you do?

Do you start listing your policy preferences and hope that the electorate likes your policies better than any of the other 10+ candidates, while annoying ?  Of course not.  What if a new-to-the-campaign Trump led his campaign on a tax simplification platform?  Would anyone believe him any more than any of the other candidates? Of course not.  Almost every candidate on both sides of the aisle have talked about tax simplification since  Forbes ran in 1996.  It is a popular idea, yet nobody believes that politicians are serious about it any more and thus nobody thinks it is anything more than another campaign promise.

So what has Trump decided to do?

A.  Hes staked out one big issue (illegal immigration) the he knew would give him an immediate decent-sized base in the Republican Party.

B.  Hes tapped into the frustrations of the electorate with, among other things, his brilliant display pointing out how corrupt the current system is.  As reported in this article from firstlook.org:

 

“I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them, and they are there for me.” He added, “And that’s a broken system.”

Repeatedly asked what he got in return for his donations, Trump said: “With Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding. You know why? She didn’t have a choice because I gave. I gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good.”

The author of the article goes on to say Though it surely wasn’t his intention, Trump was illustrating the key problem with the current campaign finance system.  Except I believe that the author was wrong.  I think it was precisely Trumps intention to point out that everyone else up on the stage was in the business of essentially taking bribes while he of course was not.

A more normal candidate, having established himself as an outsider, might then go on to listing his policy preferences.  However, Trump instead went with:

C.  Amp up the dramatic jackassery to a whole new level.  Why did he do this?  Simply put, for authenticity.  He is, after all, viewed by many as a loud mouthed jackass and a loose cannon.  Instead of trying to deny that and going on the defensive about it he has instead used it as the center piece of his campaign.  Hes Trump.  Hes his own man.  If you vote for him you know what you are getting and nobody owns him.  Do you want to know what his real view is on a certain political issue?  Just ask him. Why would it be anything other than what he says it is?

Now, having established his authenticity, he will go on to step D and start laying out his policy proposals.

What will they be?  In addition to anti-illegal immigration, we already have some idea.

We know that he was against the Iraq War and the Drug War before holding those views was cool.  He further commented in a relatively un-noticed interview with British media that the Crimea was Europes Problem.

As quoted by a blogger from The Hill:

But why isnt Germany leading this one? Trump added. You know Germany is a very rich, very powerful nation. Why arent they dealing on it moreso? Everything’s the United States — were like the policeman of the world.

Indeed.  Why is this the United Statess problem?

As I hinted at earlier, it looks like Trump is going to make tax simplification a big part of his campaign.

No doubt all of the Republican candidates are for tax simplification.  However, if all of them get up on stage and say that it is a hallmark of their campaign, which will you believe?

Indeed, which would you believe on almost any issue?

Just Trump.

Trump also has another thing going for him.   He has made himself immune to gaffes.  When a normal candidate misspeaks during a debate or says something off-color by mistake, it drives the campaign reporting for days or weeks.  Not Trump.  Every time Trump says something offensive the public cares less and less.  After all, thats just who he is.

Time will tell if I am correct.  Perhaps it is a bad idea to bet against a Bush or a Clinton, but If I had to put money on someone else being the next President Id put it on Trump.

Stay tuned.  Ill be updating this thesis as the campaign continues.

Taki in good form

One of my favorite writers is Taki Theodoracopulous.  If you dont know his illustrious career as a columnist you can check in with reading some of his books.

Currently he writes for his own website, Takimag.

Takimag is a collection of eclectic writers.  Some are interesting, some are boring, all generally speak their mind in controversial ways.

I have neglected outing myself as a Taki fan due to some of his more controversial quotes.  However, he recently wrote the following:

I suppose there are some Albanians who are not criminals, but as yet I have not met any.

As my wife and daughter are both Albanian, I can now officially say that I (or my loved ones) have been targeted, giving my cover to out myself as a Taki fan.T

UK Election Investment Implications

Like most countries, if you are resident in the UK, you will be subject to the UK on your worldwide income.

However, if you are resident in the UK but you are not domiciled in the UK, you can claim the ‘remittance’ basis of taxation.  This means the UK will tax you only on money you bring into the UK.  The remittance basis is essentially free for a certain number of years, then you have to start paying for the privilege, like GBP 30,000 per year or GBP 70,000 per year or something like that

So if you are am American and you are resident in the UK but not domiciled there because you are there temporarily then on the portion of your income paid from the US side of your firm to you US checking account you are not paying UK tax.

So you can be a Russian billionaire, buy a huge home in London, live in London and not pay any UK tax on all your assets which are in Switzerland or the Channel Islands or Russia or wherever.

Many people think that this is part of the reason that London property prices are so high and a lot of people are resentful that foreigners come in and drive up property prices.  So the Labour party is saying it wants to do away with the non-dom regime so that if you are resident in the UK, then regardless of your domicile status you must pay UK tax on your worldwide income. But, basically, with the non-dom regime, the UK is one of the world’s greatest tax havens.

If labour wins then potentially this should be negative for London real estate pries and the pound as well.

Senegal Enters War In Yemen, Will Pay The Price

I have written before of the tragedy of my beloved Kenya’s entry into the world of endless U.S. sponsored warfare.  Now Senegal is about to do the same thing.

Recent news states that Senegal has pledge 2,100 soldiers as part of the Saudi led coalition against the “Houthi” rebels In Yemen.   The Saudi war in Yemen is US planned and coordinated.

So what’s the issue?

Like most of the world, you probably never heard of the  Houthis until recently.

The propaganda states that the Houthis are an Iranian armed and financed Shia rebel movement and that their impending victory in Yemen is part of an Iranian proxy war being waged for supremacy in the middle east.
houthisFirst of all, it is not clear why that would be such a bad thing and why the U.S. or Senegal should care.  After all, it is hard to argue that increased Iranian influence in the world is somehow worse than an increase Saudi influence in the world.  After all, it is not the Iranians funding Wahhabism all over the world or funding the 9/11 hijackers.  While Iran is not exactly a free country, women have considerably more freedom in Iran than they do in Saudi Arabia as well.

More importantly, however, the argument is largely untrue to begin with.

Here are some excerpts from a  cable from the US Embassy in Sana’a from 2009 about the Houthis:

Little is clear about the Houthi leadership, aside from the fact that Abdulmalik al-Houthi is the rebel group’s current leader. Houthi field commanders do not seem to agree on key ideological and religious principles. The Houthis’ numbers range from the hundreds to the thousands, though it is difficult to determine how many of these adhere to Houthi ideology and how many are tribesmen who have joined the Houthis’ fight for other reasons.

So, for starters, it’s not even clear who the Houthis are or what they want.  Let’s go on:

(S/NF) Contrary to ROYG claims that Iran is arming the Houthis, most local political analysts report that the Houthis obtain their weapons from the Yemeni black market and even from the ROYG military itself. According to a British diplomat, there are numerous credible reports that ROYG military commanders were selling weapons to the Houthis in the run-up to the Sixth War. An ICG report on the Sa’ada conflict from May 2009 quoted NSB director Ali Mohammed al-Ansi saying, “Iranians are not arming the Houthis. The weapons they use are Yemeni. Most actually come from fighters who fought against the socialists during the 1994 war and then sold them.” Mohammed Azzan, presidential advisor for Sa’ada affairs, told PolOff on August 16 that the Houthis easily obtain weapons inside Yemen, either from battlefield captures or by buying them from corrupt military commanders and soldiers. Azzan said that the military “covers up its failure” by saying the weapons come from Iran. According to Jamal Abdullah al-Shami of the Democracy School, there is little external oversight of the military’s large and increasing budget, so it is easy for members of the military to illegally sell weapons.

And there you have it.  At least as of 2009 Iran was likely not arming the Houthis, and instead the Houthis were probably getting some of their arms from the corrupt Yemeni government, that was itself getting its arms from the US and it’s allies.

Now, that was 2009.  How about now?  Well, as the Houthis bear down on the Capital, the Huffington Post reports that Iran Warned the Houthis Against A Yemen Takeover.

Am I the only one saying this?  Not quite:

Saudi Arabian film maker Safa al-Ahmad has spent a lot of time in Yemen and said the following recently in The Atlantic:

The one that drives me insane is the one when they say “Houthi Shia militia” or simply “Shia militia.” That line just makes me cringe, because the Houthis are first and foremost a political group. Their sect is Zaidi. And when you say “Shia militia,” it’s actually misinformative. They are traditionally part and parcel of the Shia sect, but they hold very different beliefs than, say, Shia in Iran. When you say “Shia militia,” automatically you have a connection with Iran, right? In fact, that misleads you to thinking that they have religious motivations in their control over Sanaa and their spread across Yemen. That is political. They’re very pragmatic. They have alliances and affiliations with a whole bunch of other groups that don’t believe in their core beliefs as Zaidi.

And are they fighting a proxy war for Iran?

If we’re talking about a proxy war, Saudi Arabia has played a much bigger role when it comes to Yemen than Iran ever [did]. The control, the money, the influence that Saudi Arabia has had for decades over the Yemeni government and the tribes inside Yemen do not compare at all to the impact that is alleged of Iran. Iran does have a relationship with the Houthis, but [it’s] not that strong. They can’t pick up the phone and tell the Houthis, “Go do this, go do that.” It’s not that type at all. The Houthis are very much a local group that was borne from local conflict inside Yemen. The outside regional conflict has exacerbated something that was local. But predominantly the Houthis are very much a local group with local grievances.

So now as the Houthis have captured Sana’a and are moving on Aden, what is the U.S. and  its Saudi Allies doing?

The answer:  Horrific things.  According to the U.N.:

Also on Thursday, the U.N.’s World Food Program warned that a blockade of the country’s ports had created “a severe fuel shortage” that “is threatening the delivery of lifesaving assistance to Yemeni civilians.” It said its delivery of emergency food rations to 700,000 people in seven of Yemen’s governorates was in danger of halting completely.

In case you didn’t know:  The Houthis don’t have a Navy.

Meanwhile, the Saudis bombed the runway in Sana’a in order to prevent Iranian planes from bringing vital aid to Yemen’s beleaguered citizens.
All of this is helping our enemies Al Qaeda and ISIS, who the Houthis are actively fighting.

So what is the point of all this?  We are we complicit in worsening the situation on the ground for civilians and bombing those who are fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda?

The answer is the same as the answer to the question “Why are we just hearing about the Houthis now?”.

The answer is:  The Saudi’s, Israelis, and our own neocons are desperately want war with Iran.  They thought they were going to get it but were shocked when Obama announced the nuclear deal with Iran.  Suddenly, (literally within 2 or 3 days) we started to hear about the Houthis and Iran’s proxy war in Yemen, which as I have already pointed out is basically a lie.

The Saudi’s have always wanted ware with Iran since 1979 and pushed Saddam into the Iran-Iraq war and helped to finance it.  The Israeli’s always want the US to attack anyone they perceive as a possible threat, and the neocon’s, too, have had their eyes on war with Iran for decades.  The military contractors want it, and the military itself wants it for fear that our military budget (greater than all other military budgets combined) might be cut if we can’t find another poor country to attack.

If you don’t know, however, the Iran deal is a good deal.  Don’t listen to the propagandists, listen to the actual experts:

So now, back to the original title:  Why is Senegal getting involved?  What possible interest to the people of Senegal have in the outcome of the war in Yemen?  The answer:  absolutely none whatsoever.

So why are they going?  Direct cash payments:

“The most obvious potential benefit of a Senegalese military engagement alongside Saudi Arabia would be in the form of closer political and economic ties between the two, and almost certainly direct cash payments from Saudi Arabia to Senegal,” says Andrew Lebovich, a security and political analyst focused on West Africa

The Government of Senegal has sold its people out for cash, and if you know anything about government in Africa, most of it will end up in the pockets of the politicians.

The people of Senegal will regret the day that they became involved in the killing  of people thousands of miles away.  Doing such has sucked the United States into endless war and the loss of liberties at home.  Even serving US interests in neighboring countries has cost Kenya dearly.  It will only end poorly for Senegal.

Apple Watch Will Fail Because Nobody Want Another Device In Their Lives

I haven’t posted for a month and a half and thus didn’t have time to make my Apple Watch prediction before it’s release.  Since the jury is still out, however, I predict it will be an overall failure.

Simply put:

The great success of the smart phone owes to it’s eliminating the number of devices that one needs to carry, keep track of, and/or charge.

Whereas once upon a time one needed a phone, a watch, a calculator, a notepad, and perhaps a street map in one’s life, now all one needs is a smartphone.

Take a look around at the kids today… they don’t wear watches.  I myself stopped wearing my watches last year.  I’ve never been a fancy watch guy.  However I have  a number of great watches from Mistura.  I love my Mistura watches.  However, prior to my six month trip to Panama that started last September all of the batteries were dead.  I had “get new watch batteries” on my to-do list as I was preparing for the long journey, but finally decided “screw it, what do I need a watch for”?

mistura

We can see the desire of people to eliminate the number of devices in their lives by the evolution of the I-Phone as well as the successful introduction of the smart-looking Galaxy 6 Edge.

After the introduction of the I-Pad, people started to realize that with a large enough screen and enough capabilities in their phone  they didn’t have to carry their laptops around with them as much.  Still, however, the I-Pad itself was an additional device to be gotten rid of it possible.

The desire by consumers to carry as few devices as possible is so great that after literally decades of phone sizes shrinking they are now actually getting larger so that consumer can cut I-Pads and similar devices out of their lives.

Now comes along the Apple telling us that we need a new device for, well, no apparent reason.  Yes there is some cool functionality for some specific applications, but remember:  cell phones got relentlessly smaller year after year after year until consumers realized that by making them bigger they could eliminate another device from their lives.

Apple Watch is now telling them to add another device to their lives.

It’s not going to fly.

Getting Things Done: The Importance of a System

Most of us suffer at one point or other with procrastination and putting things off.  It is a terrible trap to fall into, as a days worth of hard work allows for a week of mental relaxation while a day of slacking leads to a week of mental anguish.

The proper response to that is to have a system.  You can’t trust your gut.  Pilots and Surgeons use check lists for a good reason, and so should you.

A good place to start with this way of thinking is David Allen’s Getting Things Done:

When it comes to personal hygiene I seriously doubt that many of us have problems, even if we suffer occasional procrastination problems in other areas.

Why? Because we have a system.  We wake up, shower, brush teeth, put on deodorant, brush hair, (in my case apply Rogaine), etc.

We don’t even think about it.

Well here at the surf camp I broke the system.  I arrived at the camp last Saturday afternoon.  Sunday morning I woke up about to start my “system”.  I balked at the shower because I was about to go surfing anyway,and continued with the rest of my system.  As I was in and out of the ocean my whole stay I didn’t actually shower until the night before the 7 hour bus trip back to Panama City.

Playa Venao

As I was in and out of the ocean I don’t think I smelled bad.  To the extent that I did smell bad nobody would notice because everyone was doing the same thing,

Here is what is interesting:

You know when you are procrastinating surfing the web or whatever? You know what you have to do… but it’s just a chore to do it?

Well once I broke my daily hygiene system I suddenly would realize that I didn’t brush my teeth this morning or didn’t apply Rogaine, etc.

Once I realized that I didn’t do something, I went and did it, but it felt like a chore.  It was something I needed to do but I had to think about it and then get up and actually do it, and the whole time it felt like a burden.

Those of you who know me know I don’t have personal hygiene problems.

I don’t even think about it.  I have a system. Normally I wake up, brush teeth, shower, etc.

This idea of a system where you simply do what you need to do every day can also be applied to work.  To be productive you need a method of operating where you do what you have to do without even really thinking about it.

Then it won’t seem like a chore.

On a side note, my skin has never been better. (I occasionally suffer from mild eczema) though that could be a result of the relaxation instead of the multiple days of not showering.

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