Weekend Digest: The ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ Edition

by Larry Brannan (ltbrannan@aol.com) 9 views 

For our weekend business and political readers:

Forbes says there are nine, from the expected CEO role to others like a mayor or pastor, or even a football coach. But how are they ranked and what is the toughest? You might be very surprised at #1, then again, maybe you won’t.

Click on this link to find out.

Ever heard that expression? It’s demeaning to the core and yet is simple really all that bad? Forbes has a most enlightening take about keeping it simple that sums it up with this quote.

“Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.” – C.W Ceran

Do yourself a favor and go to this link for one of the best communication lessons ever.

The New York Times reports that “authorities around the world are grappling with how to regulate virtual currency in the wake of the implosion of Mt. Gox, a prominent trading platform for Bitcoin.”

In Tokyo, where Mt. Gox is based, Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said on Wednesday that agencies including Financial Services Agency, the Finance Ministry and the police were collecting information on the Bitcoin trade in Japan, with an eye toward regulatory action.

“Once we assess the situation, we will respond as necessary,” Mr. Suga told a news conference. At the moment we are still in the information-gathering stage.”

So what exactly is Mt. Gox and what caused this “implosion”?  What actually is a Bitcoin and what are they worth? Finally, what are some other countries doing in the wake of Mt. Gox?  For your virtual economics lesson, go to this link.

According to Harvard Business Review, “The Hispanic market will represent $1.5 trillion in purchasing power by 2015 and 30% of the U.S. population by 2050.”

So do you need to speak Spanish to steer your business successfully in this direction? It depends.

Business leaders who are contemplating how to reach such an enormous market segment, especially through their digital presence, often ask me the same question: “Do we really need Spanish, or can we get by with just English?”

A study from the Pew Hispanic Center shows that 82% of Latino adults in the U.S. speak Spanish, and 95% believe it’s important for future generations to continue to do so. Likewise, the National Hispanic Consumer Study, found that advertising in Spanish can boost both advertising effectiveness and customer loyalty.

But wait a minute. Another study has quite a contrasting opinion. So what does that study say and is there a solution? To find out how to best market to the Hispanic culture, the Review suggests four very good strategies at this link.

That’s the tag line for keeping files secret at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, but what sort of files?

For example, in 2011, the library withheld as confidential advice portions or all of 785 pages of health-care-reform-related records from the first lady’s staff. The papers were removed from a large set of files released in response to a lawsuit from conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch.

Also withheld under the now-expired confidential advice provision were a series of documents pertaining to Clinton-era scandals such as Whitewater and the death of White House aide Vince Foster. The records held back include legal memos on such subjects from figures like Clinton personal attorney David Kendall and White House Counsel’s Office lawyer Elena Kagan, who became a Supreme Court justice in 2010.

POLITICO says, “The expiration of the 12-year restrictions on the Clinton files is also a key test for an executive order Obama signed on his first full day in office, promising to overhaul the presidential records process and remove obstacles he said were put in place by his predecessor, President George W. Bush.”

Over the years other presidential papers have been caught up in this maze of secrecy and withheld as confidential advice. After the 12-year restriction, what happened to those papers and will President Obama’s executive order make any difference in this secretive process?  And in another development, the Clinton Library did release some of the papers on Friday and promises more to come.  Go to this link and this link for the full stories.

The Washington Post says that a proposal this past Wednesday by the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is a “bold but politically hazardous overhaul of the nation’s tax laws that could jettison hundreds of popular tax breaks of a simpler code with a lower rate.”

The plan drafted by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) would significantly reduce rates for individuals and corporations, pushing the top corporate rate down to 25 percent, from 35 percent, and the top individual rate down to 35 percent, from 39.6 percent.

Tax-filing season also would be much easier for most households under the proposal, with an estimated 95 percent of filers likely to claim a new, expanded standard deduction and call it a day.

But The Post says all that simplicity would come at the loss of hundreds of standard deductions like child care and for medical bills.

For full analysis on this extreme overhaul and how it would affect such things as mortgages and and investment income, click on this link.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed this past week a bill that would have denied services to gays and lesbians from the state’s businesses, if those business owners felt serving them would violate their religious beliefs.

Gay rights advocates had denounced the legislation, labeling it a form of legalized discrimination, and Arizona’s two GOP senators and leading Republican candidates for governor had urged Brewer to veto the bill. Several GOP state legislators who had voted for the measure have said since then it was not the right thing to do.

Calling it not part of her “agenda,” Brewer said the bill “does not address a specific or pressing concern.”

For more on the story from The Washington Post, you can go to this link.

Colorado residents have submitted language “that would make local control over oil-and-gas operations the law throughout the state,” reports the Colorado Independent.

“Not withstanding any other provision of law, local governments in Colorado may place restrictions on the time, place, or method of oil and gas development, including but not limited to the use of hydraulic fracturing, that are intended to protect their communities and citizens,” reads the ballot initiative.

“Any such restrictions placed by local governments on oil and gas development are deemed not to be in conflict with the state’s interests.”

What is the coalition behind the initiative and how many valid signatures must be collected by August? Click on this link for complete details.

His name is Hunter Franks and through his art he is attempting to get people “to talk to one another,” posts Fast Company.

Icebreakers. They’re widely considered to be the worst. But is there a way to make the scourge of corporate getaways not contrived and terrible? More importantly, could the right kind of icebreaker forge meaningful connections on city streets?

That’s the question that San Francisco-based artist Hunter Franks will be asking himself as he travels to four American cities over the next several months. With $55,000 from the Knight Foundation, Franks will travel to Philadelphia, Detroit, Macon, Georgia and Akron, Ohio to stage a series of three-week long “creative interventions.”

Okay, so what is a creative intervention and what activities are involved to get people to rub shoulders, and you know, talk to one another. Click here to find out.

“If the Dalai Lama wants to go to the ski basin, we go to the ski basin.”

And so they did, and not to spoil it, that was the climax of a visit by the Dalai Lama to Santa Fe, N.M. in 1989 chronicled by the official press secretary for the Dalai Lama’s week long visit.

Although he was a broke, fledgling writer with no experience at such a thing, Douglas Preston writes for Slate about his remarkable week, and “what he learned in the slush from His Holiness.”

The limo made a U-turn, and we all drove back through town and headed into the mountains. Forty minutes later we found ourselves at the ski basin. It was the tail end of the ski season but the mountain was still open. We pulled up below the main lodge.

The monks piled out of the limo. “Wait here while I get somebody,” Rutherford said. He disappeared in the direction of the lodge and returned five minutes later with Benny Abruzzo, whose family owned the ski area.

Abruzzo was astonished to find the Dalai Lama and his monks milling about in the snow, dressed only in their robes.

For a fine weekend read, and to find out what happened next, ski over to this link.