Ben Franklin Preferred the Turkey as our National Symbol

Ben Franklin once wrote of his disappointment over the decision to choose the bald eagle as the symbol for our country.

Franklin preferred the turkey actually.

However from this small excerpt his description of the bald eagle may actually describe how our the country could be perceived today. On Wall Street? Our Tax system?

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.”

These days I feel a lot like a Fishing Hawk!

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Have a Coke and a Smile? Well maybe not.

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I read an interesting article in USAToday about the correlation between drinking soft drinks and violence. I could not believe the numbers but it is something to think about and perhaps after thinking about it make yourself a smoothie or something more healthy than a Coke.

Teens who drink lots of soda seem to be prone to violence, new research suggests. But the study authors concede that sodas are probably not the direct cause of the aggression.

While there’s a chance that the sugar and caffeine from carbonated drinks contributes to violent behavior, the study shows an association, not a cause-and-effect. Soda consumption, for example, may be a marker of heightened violent tendencies already present in the teen, or of poor parenting, the researchers said.

“Soda (could be) a red flag that is indicating something else is wrong,” said study co-author Sara Solnick, an associate professor of economics at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

The study is published in the Oct. 24 online issue of Injury Prevention.

The researchers asked high school students how many non-diet sodas they drank during the last week, as well as whether they carried a weapon or had been violent toward family members or peers.

Nearly 43% of teens who drank 14 or more cans of soda a week said they carried a weapon at some point, compared with 23% of teens who drank less than one can of soda a week.

The researchers also saw an association between soda and weapons even when kids drank less than 14 cans. About 33% of teens who drank two to four cans a week said they’d carried a knife or a gun at some point, as did 38% of teens who drank five to seven cans of soda.
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There was a similar “dose relationship” on other measures of violence. About 27% of teens who drank 14 or more cans of soda a week admitted to violence against a romantic partner, compared with 15% of those drinking less than one can a week.

And 59% of those drinking 14 or more cans a week had been violent toward peers, compared with 35% of those drinking one can or less. Teens who drank lots of soda were also more likely to be aggressive toward a sibling — 45% compared with 25% among teens who drank little soda.

The authors were able to control for a number of factors including gender, race and tobacco and alcohol use but not for some other important factors that could affect the likelihood of violence, such as quality of parenting and poverty.

Those who reported drinking lots of soda were also more likely to have also used alcohol or smoked cigarettes. Nearly 30% of the ninth- to 12th-graders said they drank more than five cans of soda a week.

It’s possible that the association is explained by the soda itself, researchers said. Teens who drink lots of soda could be missing important micro-nutrients found in healthier foods, according to background information in the study, or could be drinking soda to combat low blood sugar, which is linked to irritability or violence.

Soft drinks also contain sugar and caffeine, which might affect behavior.

But the studies on the effect of caffeine and sugar on behavior are inconclusive, said another expert. “There’s no definitive explanation that this explains how or if this might affect behavior,” said Alan Manevitz, a psychiatrist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Alternatively, “soda could be showing that this person is not having a healthy diet or they don’t have a great upbringing,” Solnick said. “Those things are connected to violence.”

In the study, the authors make mention of the infamous “Twinkie Defense” in which defendant Dan White was convicted only of voluntary manslaughter instead of homicide in the deaths of San Francisco city district supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone in 1979.
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White’s lawyers argued that the crime wasn’t premeditated because White was hyped up on junk food and Coca-Cola.

Since then, other studies have further probed possible effects of unhealthy food, with one study finding poor mental health among Norwegian teens who drank a lot of soft drinks. Another study found antisocial tendencies among U.S. college students who consumed a lot of soda.

Rock The Vote Goes Mobile Again

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Nonprofit Rock the Vote is increasing its focus on mobile for the upcoming primary season and into the 2012 presidential election as a way to deliver important content to hard-to-reach consumers and drive ongoing engagement. 

Rock the Vote, which focuses on empowering the young in the political process, began using mobile in 2008 with the sole goal of building a mobile opt-in database. However, as mobile use as grown in the past four years, the organization is now ramping up its efforts and using mobile polling, at live events and to drive voter registration and turnout.

“We use mobile in all of the registration and election Get Out the Vote pushes that we do,” said Chrissy Faesen, vice president of marketing and communications at Rock the Vote, Washington.

“It is very core to our program strategies and is integrated throughout out all of our work,” she said.

Mobile drives turnouts

Rock the Vote focuses on young people 18 to 29 years old, with a heavy concentration on young Hispanics, African-Americans, women and those who are underrepresented in the larger political process.

“Our ability to reach them at times is tough but they all have mobile phones,” Ms. Faesen said.

“Mobile is an easy way to communicate with them,” she said. “We can send a text message with a link to an app where they can register to vote.”

The results are promising in terms of mobile’s ability to drive voter turnout.

“Mobile is crucial to our turnout campaigns,” Ms. Faesen said.

“We’ve done testing at primaries and we can actually see a 2-4 percent increase in turnouts on election days if we send a text the day before,” she said.

Rock the Vote is also tapping its mobile database for opinion polls.
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The mobile opinion polls are a quick and easy way for Rock the Vote to generate content that can be used on its Web site and in its publications.

Starting in August, Rock The Vote worked with Mozes to power a coupon code campaign that gave its Facebook fans the chance to gain immediate access to Spotify without having to wait for an invite. The polling effort incorporated Mozes’ data capture abilities, asking participants to text their email address in order to receive their Spotify link and answer questions about issues, which were posted online.

“Rock the Vote is recognizing that if want to reach younger audiences, anything mobile is going to get a higher recognition,” said Dorrian Porter, CEO at Mozes.

Trial Marriage? In Mexico it could become a reality.

In the 60’s a couple would never even think of living together without first becoming married. Today more and more couples are choosing to have trial marriages by living together for a period of time before tying the knot-if ever.

Look at Prince William, even he currently lived with with Kate long before she became his princess, “legally”!
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The reasons for this change of heart seem to be are sadly financial and social. Many young couples balk at the traditions of their elders but more common is that the financial part of being married does not seem at first glance to lend itself to choosing marriage as a wise alternative to living together.

In pagan marriages, this was called “hand fasting” and was intended for a year and a day. If everything works out, they could “re-up” their commitments. 

If it doesn’t, they each could leave the relationship with whatever material possessions they came into it with, no harm, and no foul. This tradition of announcing couple-ship has been around much longer than traditional, legal, marriages where once you tie the knot, half of everything you own-including your debts-belong to the other person.

Now a legislator in Mexico City wants to give people “hand fasting” option.

Leonel Luna from the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution wants to make it easier for couples to divorce if things don’t work out the way they hoped in the first two years after tying the knot.

The bill is at the center of a controversy about family values and the definition of marriage in Mexico City. But Luna, who introduced the bill at Mexico City’s Legislative Assembly last week, says his measure is simply a reflection of reality.

“Almost 50% of couples in Mexico City end up in divorce,” Luna says. “What we’re trying to do is acknowledging reality and creating a mechanism that will allow couples to end their marriage without going through the additional pain and suffering of a legal battle.”

Under Luna’s bill, couples would sign a marriage contract that would last two years. Once that term was over, the couple would have the option to renew. The contract would specify if property is owned by both spouses or separately. It would also state who would get custody of the children, if any, and how benefits would be distributed.

The US statistics are similar…perhaps we should look into the bill…maybe in California at least.

Al Davis Dies

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One of the reasons I grew to love the NFL was Al Davis…before there were sports franchise owners like George Steinbrenner, Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban, there was Al Davis, outspoken and brash, who was a central figure in the merger of the upstart American Football League with the established N.F.L., paved the way for the extravaganza known as the Super Bowl, and managed to win championships while irritating the rest of pro football.

Davis was a coach, general manager and owner of the Raiders for nearly 50 years. He left briefly, in 1966, to become the commissioner of the A.F.L., vowing to battle the older N.F.L. for the best players available. That attitude helped lead the N.F.L. to agree to play the A.F.L. in an annual championship game, which became the Super Bowl. In 1970, the leagues played a united schedule, creating the modern N.F.L.

For his part, Mr. Davis vehemently opposed the merger. And he feuded for decades with the former N.F.L. commissioner Pete Rozelle and sued the league in the early 1980s so he could move the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles. Then, 13 years later, he moved them back.

Davis became the symbol of a franchise that garnered a reputation for outlaw personalities and a kind of counterculture sensibility. The Raiders were the first franchise in the modern era to have a Latino head coach (Tom Flores), a black head coach (Art Shell) and a female chief executive (Amy Trask).

He was also one of a dwindling number of N.F.L. owners whose riches came primarily from the business of football. There were no hedge funds or shipping companies in Davis’s background. He simply ran the Raiders — the team appeared in five Super Bowls under his ownership, winning three — and his business model could, for all intents and purposes, be summed up by the phrase that became his franchise’s motto: “Just win, baby!”

Mr. Davis generally inspired deep loyalty from his players, though he had an ugly battle with one of his stars, running back Marcus Allen, and when he got along with his head coaches (not a given) — most notably John Madden, who led the Raiders from 1969 to 1978, perhaps their most successful decade — they spoke warmly of him.

My American business hero died today…Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs the innovative co-founder of Apple who transformed personal use of technology as well as entire industries with products such as the iPod, iPad, iPhone, Macintosh computer and the iTunes music store, died today.

The iconic American CEO, whose impact many have compared to auto magnate Henry Ford and Walt Disney— whom Jobs openly admired — abruptly stepped down from his position as CEO of Apple in August because of health concerns. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, a former Apple board member, called Jobs the best CEO of the past 50 years — perhaps 100 years. I would agree…he has become almost a cult hero among all of us in the tech community.

A seminal business and technology leader, Jobs’ success flowed from a relentless focus on making products that were easy and intuitive for the average consumer to use. His products were characterized by groundbreaking design and style that, along with their technological usefulness, made them objects of intense desire by consumers around the world.

He was known as a demanding, mercurial boss and an almost mystical figure in technology circles as well as American popular culture. Author and business consultant Jim Collins once called Jobs the “Beethoven of business.” He was one of the figures who made Silicon Valley the capital of technological innovation and related venture capital fortunes.
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He revolutionized the computing business with Mac, he revolutionized the music business with iTunes and he turned the telephony business on its ear with the iPhone. He reinvented several businesses too, Pixar gave animation a whole new life. A fact that I just learned today as a retailer, Apple Stores are the most profitable per square foot retail spaces in the world.

And finally as a marketer…my former ad agency network produced the advertising for Apple and without a doubt created some of the most outstanding commercials in the industry for the Apple Brand. Who does remember the famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial or the iconic “think Different” campaign.
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Jobs’ work at Apple and other projects made him a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine in 2011 at $8.3 billion. He was No.110 on Forbes’ list of billionaires worldwide and No.34 in the United States, as of the magazine’s March 2011 estimates.

It will surely be missed and everyone has to wonder who will lead Apple not just in the Boardroom but in the “kitchen” where the ideas are created.