Archive for August, 2011

What men can learn from women about leadership in the 21st century

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

A new Northwestern University meta-analysis, an integration of a large number of studies addressing the same question, shows that leadership continues to be viewed as culturally masculine. The studies found that women experience two primary forms of prejudice: They are viewed as less qualified or natural than men in most leadership roles, and when women do adopt culturally masculine behaviors often required by these roles, they may be viewed as inappropriate or presumptuous.

When generalizing about any population segment, especially such large and diverse segments as male and female leaders, there is bound to be a degree of inaccuracy and stereotyping. Still, research finds that predominantly communal qualities, such as being nice or compassionate, are more associated with women; and predominantly agentic qualities, such as being assertive or competitive, are more associated with men.

For a long time, these agentic qualities have been culturally associated with successful leadership. But the 21st century is seeing the combination of new employees, new technologies and new global business realities add up to one word: collaboration. New workers are demanding it, advances in technology are enabling it, and the borderless organization of the future is dictating that future productivity gains can only be achieved by creating teams that are networked to span corporate and national boundaries.

These new business realities usher in the need for a new leadership model, one that replaces command and control with transparency and inclusion. This will increasingly highlight the value of a more feminine approach. Where in the past communal behaviors naturally favored by women may have been obstacles to leadership success, in a collaborative future they may well become an edge.

Women employ a more participative leadership style, are more likely to share information and power, and have strong relational skills that make them seem empathic to their staffs. In both laboratory studies and observations of real leaders, the opposite was often found with men. Male leaders tend to be more transactional in their business dealings, favor a more hierarchical and directive approach, and appear more typically to convey formal authority.

– More…


The U.S. Budget simplified…

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

– I don’t know if this is really accurate – but I enjoyed it.

– dennis

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The U.S. Congress sets a federal budget every year in the trillions of dollars.  Few people know how much money that is so here is a breakdown of federal spending in simple terms.

 Let’s put the 2011 federal budget into perspective:

    U.S. Income:                   $  2,170,000,000,000

    Federal budget:            $  3,820,000,000,000

    New debt:                         $  1,650,000,000,000

    National debt:              $14,271,000,000,000

    Recent budget cut:   $38,500,000,000 (about 1 percent of the budget)

 It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can understand.  

Therefore, let’s remove eight zeros from these numbers and pretend this is the household budget for the “Jones” family:

    Total annual income for the Jones family:         $ 21,700

    Amount of money the Jones family spent:         $ 38,200 

    Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $ 16,500 

    Outstanding balance on the credit card:              $142,710

    Amount cut from the budget:                                      $ 385

Yep, that about sums it up.

– research thanks to Van

India corruption: Hazare heaps pressure on government

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

– This post is for, and in honor of, my friend Mangala Gouri in India.   She’s engaged on a hunger strike in solidarity with so many others there who want to see corruption eliminated.

– I applaud her and all of those like her who want to see changes in India.

– It’s been my opinion that graft and corruption suck the energy out of an economy.  

– Imagine, if everyone who wanted a bit of your gasoline could attach a small hose to the pipe in your car that carries gasoline to the engine.  After awhile, the engine would get weak and the car might stop.  Graft and corruption are like that.   But the car they are stopping is the economy that belongs to all the people.   The economy that builds the wealth of the nation.   Wealth that is used for roads and schools – among other things.

– Graft and corruption are just a way of stealing from all of us for the benefit of the few.

– Bravo, Gouri !   Bravo.

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Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare has called on the government to pass a new anti-graft law or quit.

He has been on a public hunger strike since last Tuesday. An aide said he had lost 5kg, but was in good health.

Thousands of supporters are gathered at the vast Ram Lila Maidan grounds in the capital, Delhi, where Mr Hazare is conducting his fast.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the government is open to talks with the 74-year-old activist.

Mr Hazare wants to force the government to strengthen an anti-corruption bill, which he regards as too weak.

He was released from Tihar jail on Friday after his arrest last Tuesday sparked mass protests across India.

On Thursday, he agreed to a police offer permitting him to go on hunger strike for 15 days.

He had previously vowed to remain in custody unless he was permitted to resume the protest which triggered his arrest. His campaign against graft has struck a chord with many Indians.

– More…  

About this site and its recent slowness to load

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

– Sorry about that!

– An external site that I was grabbing stock quotes from changed the rules on me and while nothing obvious broke, things did get a lot slower.   It was taking as much s 20 seconds to load up the opening page.

– Hopefully, all is back in order now.

– Dennis

IBM produces first ‘brain chips’

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

IBM has developed a microprocessor which it claims comes closer than ever to replicating the human brain.

The system is capable of “rewiring” its connections as it encounters new information, similar to the way biological synapses work.

Researchers believe that by replicating that feature, the technology could start to learn.

Cognitive computers may eventually be used for understanding human behaviour as well as environmental monitoring.

Dharmendra Modha, IBM’s project leader, explained that they were trying to recreate aspects of the mind such as emotion, perception, sensation and cognition by “reverse engineering the brain.”

The SyNAPSE system uses two prototype “neurosynaptic computing chips”. Both have 256 computational cores, which the scientists described as the electronic equivalent of neurons.

One chip has 262,144 programmable synapses, while the other contains 65,536 learning synapses.

– More…


Watching the Protein Tango

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

A new technique helps researchers visualize molecules moving in close to real time.

A new microscope has allowed researchers to watch molecules move within a cell on a millisecond-by-millisecond time scale for the first time. The novel method, which combines two preëxisting microscopic techniques, opens a window onto cellular processes that had previously been undetectable, unveiling molecular activity within a cell at a much finer level than ever before possible.

“This allows us to look at interactions of molecules, and their mobility,” says Malte Wachsmuth, a cell biophysicist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, who helped develop the new microscope. Current microscopy techniques can home in on a single spot within a cell, but they can miss vital information when the focus moves from one spot to another. “A typical protein might spend one to two milliseconds in such a spot,” Wachsmuth says. “Molecules are quite mobile, diffusing all around, and it’s a very fast process. A lot can happen in a few tens of milliseconds.”

The technique developed by Wachsmuth and his colleagues allows them to analyze proteins and other molecules inside an entire cell, all at once, as they move about. It combines light-sheet microscopy, which illuminates just a thin plane of an object, and single-molecule spectroscopy, which can track movements of individual molecules. The result offers both high sensitivity and fast processing time.

– More…


What Are We Capable Of – THIS IS ANONYMOUS!

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011




– The other day, I posted what Truthout is all about.  I liked what they identified as the problems we’re facing.

Anonymous is another favorite of mine.   I’m not sure if they can carry off their aims but the truth is that I’ve become pretty discouraged that anyone else is going to rise up and try to put things right.   Big Pharma’s not going to give up their obscene profits, nor are the multinationals that profit from war.   The U.S. government is not going to turn the clock back to the Jimmy Stewart and “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” period.   It just isn’t going to happen.   The powerful rarely, if ever, give up their power and privileges voluntarily.

– But we still need something to change desperately.   We’re gambling our ecology away, we’re gambling away the futures of our children, we’re allowing vast numbers of people to live in systems where the good of profits trumps the good of people – and that’s simply not right.

– Maybe Anonymous has a way forward.  I’m willing to take a look.

– Check out this video.   There’s a lot more like it on YouTube.

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Click –> here <–

– Also, check this out, while it’s still on-line…

– Research thanks to Mike S.


Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

– From the New York Times – an Op-Ed by Warren Buffett.

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OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

– Research thanks to Rolf A.


Monday, August 15th, 2011

– I like what Truthout is about.  Sometimes, they deluge me with so much stuff I just have to step away for a bit but I always find what they’ve got to say interesting and closely aligned to my own view of the world.

– This morning, I made a donation to their organization because they sent me a message summarizing what they are about and what the big issues are, globally, and I found I really resonated with what they had to say.

– Below , is the text of their  message:

– dennis

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We’re deep in the battle over the fate of the United States. Will we solidify our government as a plutocracy – a late-stage empire that can serve only the interests of the super-rich? Will we continue to pursue policies around the globe that destroy the environment in pursuit of profits? Or will we retrench, and work to heal our bleeding political system before it’s too late?

The rest of the world is rising up against the cult of unrestrained free-market capitalism and money-power. From Tunisia to Egypt to Spain to Portugal to France to Germany to Greece to Israel to Chile to the UK, anti-austerity movements are on the rise, and the fight is playing out in chaotic, unpredictable and often tragic ways.

Everyone is asking why such a revolt isn’t happening here in the US.

One answer is simple – the US has invested billions of dollars in institutions that promote and protect consumerism-as-culture, both here and abroad. But activists around the country – whose hopes for change were dismantled over the past three years – are reuniting. The fight is coming here; it’s just a matter of time.

Our country is the epicenter of backwards, self-destructive, consumption-driven thinking. But it’s also the birthplace of amazing transformative struggles that have changed the world. Which side are you on?

– If you want to donate…

Day of truth for the markets

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

– I suppose it is simply ego, but it gives me a perverse pleasure to read things I’ve been thinking and saying for years when I read them in publications like the one below.

“…it is becoming clear that to create jobs and rising wages and living standards, the United States will have to resume producing tradable goods and providing tradable services that will reduce its chronic trade deficits.”

– Exactly.

– Dennis

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Today is the day the truth of the global economy has finally come out, and the markets are facing up to it with terror and trembling.

At first, a better than expected U.S. jobs report appeared to be reversing some of the week’s negative market sentiment as the Dow headed north, but that quickly proved to be just a head fake. In the first place, the numbers were only good by comparison with the really horrible ones of last week, and in the second place, the jobs numbers don’t tell you as much about the U.S. economy as the numbers for the long-term unemployed and for the proportion of the working age work force that is actually working. Those numbers are among the worst for the United States since the 1930s.

Perhaps even more important than that has been the dawning recognition that the agonizing last-minute agreement to raise the U.S. debt limit has not resolved and may actually have added to U.S. economic woes. The rush of investors into yen, Swiss francs, Canadian dollars, Israelis shekels (anything but U.S. dollars) over the past two days has been a dramatic signal that investors see the U.S. outlook as bleak and that no one believes U.S. leaders have a clue about how to run the economy or where they want America to go more generally. The debt limit debate demonstrated the rot of government dysfunction to be far more advanced that any had imagined.

Equally dysfunctional have been the leaders of the European Union whose serial announcements of one inadequate bailout agreement after another have only served to exacerbate rather than resolve doubts about the future of the euro and, indeed, of the EU itself.

A third element has been the recognition that Japan is unlikely to become a driver of growth and that a world burdened by slow growth in Japan, the EU, and the United States is unlikely to be a very dynamic place, no matter how rapid the growth in China and India. There may have been some degree of decoupling over the past decade, but not that much.

All of this is forcing a facing of realities. For nearly thirty years, the conventional story has been that the U.S. economy is flexible, dynamic, moving from strength to strength in high-tech and sophisticated global services. But now the truth is dawning that two decades of first the bubble and then the real estate and financial bubbles were simply a Potemkin village masking the chronic erosion of U.S. industrial and technological leadership and of the standard of living of the middle class. It is now becoming clear that the United States is not going to recover anytime soon and that it is in for a long battle to revitalize its restore its former economic dynamism.

In particular, it is becoming clear that to create jobs and rising wages and living standards, the United States will have to resume producing tradable goods and providing tradable services that will reduce its chronic trade deficits. This, of course, will mean a weaker dollar and a decline of U.S. consumption as a percent of the world’s total consumption. And, this, in turn will mean a wrenching readjustment of the global supply chain and of the long accepted patterns of globalization.

By the same token, Europe has reached a crossroads. If the euro and perhaps the EU as well are to survive, there must be a truly European finance system as well as a central bank. It will no longer work to have the Germans running trade surpluses while everyone else runs trade deficits in the absence of an effective system of funds transfers from surplus to deficit areas. Europe must become truly Europe, or no Europe at all.

It seems that after decades of undervaluing its currency to foster its export-led growth strategy, Japan will now finally be forced to reorient its economy toward domestic consumption by the tightening noose of the ever strengthening yen. Truly, it has been said that “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”

This is a lesson that China might do well to learn now rather than much later as in the case of Japan.

– To the original…