murray global blog

09/03/2014

Big Gov + Big Data = Big Wahala for Americans

Filed under: Murray Personal, People, Politics — Tags: , , — murrayglobal @ 1:03 pm

This blog is mostly a way for me to vent whimsical thoughts. Internet banter, with a few of my pals, from around the world. I don’t take it too seriously, and I don’t want to rant about all the stinky political issues that are streamed 7 x 24 x non-stop everywhere else.

But there is one issue that puts chills down my spine. Armed with Big Data technologies, the US Government, is conducting its affairs with a bias against people/organizations which are not aligned with the political leadership’s agendas. In the current case, it is the Internal Revenue Service potentially denying citizens of their legal right to participate in the political process.

Lois Learner

Yesterday the Journal reported that former IRS official Lois Lerner has been interviewed about the targeting by the Justice Department even as she continues to cite her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to testify before Congress.

This issue, at the surface, may appear to be just another Dem vs. Repub battle. But there is much more lurking below the surface.

The Executive branch (in this case, the IRS), implements laws that the Legislative branch creates. They must allow their actions to be reviewed by the Legislative branch. If serious differences in interpretation arise, the Judicial branch will step in to settle the score. (please note: obviously I’m not a constitutional lawyer – many details have been omitted or misstated).

But what really SHOCKS ME is how compliant most of the US media (formerly described as Journalists) have been on this issue. IMHO, Nixon’s Watergate scandal was child’s play compared to what is going in here.

For a serious discussion on this topic, coming from taxation experts, give this a read:

Mar. 7, 2014 08:45 AM EST
More Arrogance and Secrecy From the IRS
by Christopher Bergin

The IRS will go to great lengths not to be scrutinized. And that breeds an atmosphere of no accountability — which leads to arrogance. We have seen that arrogance consistently throughout the congressional investigations of several IRS officials. And where will it lead us? Not to a good place, especially for those of us getting ready to file our yearly income tax returns. A tax collector that treats its “customers” as guilty until proven innocent is a tax collector out of control. That is precisely what the national taxpayer advocate has been warning about. If IRS officials don’t believe they are accountable to Congress, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.

http://www.taxanalysts.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/UBEN-9GY2C6?OpenDocument

If you’re a left-leaning politico, you should be very nervous about what happens when those evil right wing repubs get their hands on the controls. What do you think Sarah Palin would do with this much power? LOL!

And if you’re an independent-minded American citizen, you should be very nervous about how Big Gov will take advantage of the mountains of personal data they will have when (if?) the Affordable Healthcare Act kicks in. Big IRS + Big Health will have voracious appetites, with questionable missions.

It seems to me that Big Gov is out to take care of Big Gov first. It’s not clear that they’re out to take care of me and my interests. Makes me wonder what Governance is intended to accomplish?

Is Global Climate Change Really a Joke?

Filed under: Energy / Electricity, Humor, People, Professional Life — Tags: , , , , , — murrayglobal @ 12:06 pm
climate-vs-weather

Stopping climate change, a metaphysical joke

I ran into Robert Buxbaum’s blog while doing some research into hydrogen power generation economics. Turns out old Bob is a homey, living in my ancestral hometown of Detroit. From his writings, I detect a keen independent thinker, with an eccentric sense of humour. Nothing wrong with this me thinks. His latest posting is both funny and insightful.

To read to complete posting: http://www.rebresearch.com/blog/2014/03/

REB Research Blog

Random thoughts about hydrogen, engineering, business and life by Dr. Robert E. Buxbaum

With global warming and climate change, I see the same humor in this year’s uncommonly cold weather. Where we are we’ve matched our record cold, and  had as much snow as 1904. Still, we find a certain comfort it the knowledge of global warming. We like to think it’s behind the latest hurricane, and we like to think that stupid people in cars are causing the global warming. Our leaders make new laws and point to the shrinking of the Himalayan glaciers, shrinking polar ice, and the lack of snow on Kilimanjaro — all justifications for the need for the individual to sacrifice for the world. And we feel good when we do it, and good that we know what we’re talking about. And then God turns the tables: we have a very cold winter; the snows return to Kilimanjaro, the glaciers return to the Himalayas; the ice caps return and the antarctic ice swells to record size. Or he sends a year with no major hurricanes. An adult might laugh and say it’s God’ sense of humor, or might say the change has stopped. But the President of The US, and the Prince of England can not laugh. They must defend their honor, and show they are in control. Like the stuffed shirts in a comedy, they roar that the shane is a fluke, or not there, and that the skeptics and deniers are “headless chickens” and “pawns of the lobbyists.” But it’s good to start with observation, not theorychange is a constant, and when looking for permanence, it’s rarely clear where to start.

08/03/2014

The Camera Never Lies

Filed under: Lifestyle, People, Places, Technology — murrayglobal @ 8:07 pm

“Hey, I think my neighbor’s house is being burgled” blurted Chris, last week…….

We were all sitting around our desks, in the early afternoon, beavering away on urgent work matters. We all stopped for a moment to ask what the heck he was talking about. Me, being a fan of “Cops: Filmed on Location”, was especially interested.

“I’ve got a motion detecting video camera in my garden (read: for the Americans, backyard), and it’s just sent me a text that something is moving around out in the garden.”

bad boys, bad boys - wot ya' gonna do wen dey com for u?

bad boys, bad boys – wot ya’ gonna do wen dey com for u?

After getting the text, Chris logged into his home server via his iPhone, and saw 2 guys going over his fence, into his neighbor’s garden. We huddled around his phone and watched the video of the guys in his garden. According to our official representative of all things UK youth (Phil), these guys looked like neighborhood creeps, not workmen.

“I’m going to call my neighbor and see what’s going on.”

Not surprisingly, the neighbor wasn’t home, so Chris called the local police to report the suspicious activity.

A few minutes later, his phone rings and the neighbor’s on the line. He’d just gone out to the local shop moments earlier, and when he returned, somebody had busted into his place, and stole a few items. Amazing, as he’d only been out of the house for about 15 mins! Dirt bags don’t waste time……

A few mins later, the police are on the scene. They had noticed some suspicious dudes in the area, and stopped them. Found some things with them, that looked ‘hot’. Called the neighbor, and sure enough, it was his stuff.

Cops caught the guys red handed, and they’ll be going to court soon, and are expected to be found guilty. No doubt, Chris’ video + prompt response dealt these dirt bags a one way trip to a jail cell.

Well done Chris!

Motown Diaspora

Filed under: Humor, Lifestyle, Murray Personal, People, Places, Professional Life — Tags: , , , , — murrayglobal @ 7:19 pm

detroit-future-city

Under the category of the continuing theme of “it’s a small world”, check out a recent exchange between me and Sesha, an Indian colleague, who is living/working in Detroit.

Sesha starts the conversation:

John,
Slowly but steadily digging out of Michigan snow.  Just when we thought it is all over (it is 40F today) ,I understand there is another storm heading our way next week. I wanted to follow up about your travel plans to India. Please keep me posted on your travel dates. I am planning my next trip to India and if possible would like to be there when you visit our office.Thanks Regards…Sesha
My response:

Greetings Sesha,

40f!!!? You’re wearing shorts of course….My travel is a bit unsettled at the moment. I’m slipping back to mi next week to whisk my wife and 4-legged daughter back to the uk with me. So earliest I could get back to India will be early April.   Will certainly keep you posted as things shape up.

John

Sesha then responded:

Thanks John. I  am sure you will be busy in MI but if your calendar permits would like to meet you over lunch or dinner.  (out of town on 14th , any other day should work). Regards..Sesha

And my Motown Diaspora reponse: :

Hey Sesha,

Normally, I’d jump on this type of invitation. As a member of the Motown diaspora, I secretly long to spend time in my homeland, blowing on entrepreneurial embers which hopefully will ignite into a vibrant Motown economic revival. This would allow me the opportunity to come back to Detroit, buy a city block (maybe 2?) and begin to build my monumental estate……..

Some of the above is true. But my wife, a Traverse City native, doesn’t think the Detroit River is as desirable as Grand Traverse Bay, wouldn’t support my fantasy. She would accuse me of trying to re-live my Lagos Nigeria days. No sense of adventure in that woman!

This trip is a bit tricky. I’m flying into ORD, picking up a HUGE SUV, and driving to Traverse City. When I get there, we’ll do some last minute packing (including an 80lb dawg), then drive back to ORD, to catch a plane back to LHR. My wife and 4 legged daughter are making the migration to live with me in Mud Island (aka – The UK).

So the trip will be especially jammed packed with serious domestic duties. Will certainly try to catch you next time I’m in MI, but suspect the next time we meet will be in Hyderabad, next month. And I’m looking forward to it.

 Regards,

John

Oga John gonna start his agri-biz when he buys a chunk of prime Detroit real estate, along banks of the Detroit River

Oga John gonna start his agri-biz when he buys a chunk of prime Detroit real estate, along banks of the Detroit River

03/03/2014

Speed Demon goes to School

Filed under: Humor, Lifestyle, Murray Personal, People, Places — Tags: , , , — murrayglobal @ 6:44 pm
Thanks Tony and Christine for this mesmerizing bedtime read!

Thanks Tony and Christine for this mesmerizing bedtime read!

Last week, while touring Nigeria, one of my old pals (Damola) asked me how my UK driving was going. I thought he was joking, as it was quite the giggle to my Nigerian peeps when they talked about my driving myself through Lagos. Then he dropped the clue: he read about my speeding proclivity on the blog!

The first thing I did when I returned from my Nigeria visit was attend my “Speed Awareness” course. I won’t bore you (again!) with a rant about why I thought my persecution was stoopid. But part of my penitence  was to attend a half day course on UK driving methods. To save me the 3 points on my driving record, I opted to take the course.

True Confessions: I am really glad I took the time to take this course!

The class was taught by 2 instructors – Tony, a recently retired Police Officer (if he’s a day over 45, he didn’t look/act it!) and Christine (very knowledgeable and easy on the eyes too!).

Everytime I I use this pen I'll remember to keep the pedal not so close to the metal!

Every time I use this pen I’ll remember to keep the pedal not so close to the metal!

Together, they ran the class of 20 ‘violators’ through the technical reason why excessive speed cause problems. Some of the problems are obvious (i.e., more stopping distance required at speed) but others are more subtle (i.e., more speed = more damage to bodies if you hit someone, even if not at fault!).

The class flowed well, with plenty of student participation. I learned a ton about basic UK road regulations, signs, common behaviors, etc…..if I’m being honest (I try occasionally!), this is a course I probably should have taken, even without the prompting of the speeding violation!

And while I’m on a roll, I don’t think it would be too out-of-line for all drivers to take a course like this, every 10 years or so.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the quality of the roads here in the UK. The signs and organization of roads and road works is very high. And I believe the skill level of the average UK driver is better than the average US driver. Maybe even better than the average Nigerian driver?

Simon is a devoted car nut - like most of us from Motown. Toyota is his fav marque

Oga Simon gets my vote for best driver in the world!

But after my recent trip to Lagos, I was reminded that the best driver in the world remains my faithful and loyal driving companion, Simon!

UPDATE:

I sent insturctor Tony the blog link. Here’s his response:

John. Thank you very much for your kind words. I shall pass your blog on to Christine when I see her.
It is always satisfying when a client finds the information useful, yours was a nice group of people, with a positive attitude and if we can help change a little bit of behavior and keep drivers safe then that’s job done.
Thanks again. Safe driving. Shiny side up, greasy side down!

Sent from my iPhone

 

 

UKIP Seeks Immigrant to Help Tell Their Story?

Filed under: Humor, Lifestyle, Murray Personal, People, Places, Politics, Professional Life — Tags: , , , , — murrayglobal @ 6:10 pm
Found this in my postal box last week

Found this in my post box last week – are they really wanting a foreigner like me to get involved with their movement?

One of the growing political movements here in the UK is the United Kingdom Independent Party – UKIP. Just like in The US, many people are getting frustrated with the large, incumbent parties – Labour (Left Centre) and Conservative (Right Centre).

Those on the harder Left (mostly devoted socialists and trade unionists) believe Labour has gone soft. But most of their angst is vented within the Labour party, and there isn’t really a viable hard Left political party siphoning votes away from the Labour Party.

On the Right side of political things, there is a more vocal and organised political movement afoot. UKIP, formerly seen as a fringe hard Right party of nutters, has moved a bit closer to the centre. They’ve cleaned up their messaging, and have a very credible communicator (Nigel Farage). UKIP have been winning local elections lately, especially in the North. They are expected to perform very well in the upcoming European Union elections later this spring. If they can take EU seats this spring, they will be position to sway the next UK national elections, likely to be in 2015.

No one expects that UKIP could win a national election outright, but they would be in perfect position to take prominent seat in a coalition government, giving UKIP the ability to truly influence policies in a significant way.

Clear messaging and a gift for organising his troops - Nigel Farage is leading UKIP

Clear messaging and a gift for organising his troops – Nigel Farage is leading UKIP

UKIP could be compared the The Tea Party in the US. The biggest difference is that they have moved beyond gadflies, and have formed an actual political party. Should the conservative Tea Baggers in the US follow their model?

One of the topics that UKIP uses to arouse political attention is their strong belief in ‘controlling the UK borders’, and setting strict limits on immigration. Sound familiar, Yanks?

I get a kick out of this, when I think about the flyer they pushed through my post box. Do they really think Johnny Yank (a foreigner!) would be useful to their cause?

The world according to UKIP. Note that Americans are considered BFFs!!

The world according to UKIP. Note that Americans are considered BFFs!! (click to enlarge)

Thanks to my work pal Andy for sending me this map – and explaining to me what BFF meant.

02/03/2014

Naija People Can Thrive!

Filed under: Murray Personal, Nigerian Culture, People — murrayglobal @ 12:37 pm
Niaja Peeps will make this place plenty plenty busy!

The Naija Peeps will make this place plenty plenty busy o!

The Murray Experiment:

My plan is to give 500 Nigerians, 5 year living visas, to relocate to Detroit. They would be electronically tethered to the 313 (Detroit metro area), and allowed to creatively pursue their entrepreneurial desires. The objective is to show the Detroit indigenous population (99.5% black) that a ‘go get it’ attitude, could create much more health and happiness that a life begging for favors from the state.

If, at the end of 5 years, the Nigerians had not violated any laws, they would be granted US permanent citizenship.

But at the core of this note is the question: Why can’t Nigerians thrive, individually or collectively, in their own country???

Recently, 2 notes came my way, coincidently, reminding me of my clever idea

Note 1) This note comes from my friend F, a Nigerian friend, who recently asked if I could help her promote a professional opportunity:

Good morning John,

I thank you sincerely for helping out. I know it’s a long shot, but I couldn’t find a good enough reason not to try.
I started reading your blog at WordPress yesterday by the way, insightfull and really engaging. I always love to explore what extended family members like yourself think and say about us chocolate people.
How did you find time off what must be a really tight shedule to write? I’m still struggling with my blogging muse. You might want to read my scribbles if you have time, at greyedoutzone.blogpot.com.
I remember you told me when we met that you’d love to move a group of Nigerians to your country as an experiment in a bid to infuse some “go-get-ittude” into your people. How did that turn out? Lol!
Have a fantastic day, and thank you sincerely.
F

Note 2) was passed to me by Dr. Mike, (I assume independent of F’s above email)

Have you seen this interesting article in The Week? Nigeria

At home, we’re broken. In the US, we blossom

Daily Trust

(Abuja)

Nigerians are flourishing, says Murtala Opoola – or at least the ones in the US are. Of all the immigrant groups in the US, they’ve been among the most successful, producing a disproportionate number of business leaders, scientists and Ivy League academics. Indeed, in parts of New Jersey, nearly two-thirds of doctors are Nigerians. In The Triple Package, the new book by Amy Chua, of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother fame, Nigerians are held up as one of the elite US cultural groups, possessed of what she believes are the three crucial traits for success: notions of exceptionalism, insecurity and a willingness to delay gratification. This praise makes a welcome corrective to the “odious” image we Nigerians tend to have elsewhere in the world, as a nation of “loathsome scammers and fraudsters”. And yet, the negative image still rings true where it matters most: at home in Nigeria. Why do Nigerians who go abroad do so well, “while the ones who stay at home struggle without end against odds, and eventually succumb to deviant behaviours”? It’s obviously not our genes, so it must be our failed governance. A Nigerian raised in the US will blossom, while the same man raised here will end up “stunted and broken – just like the system in which he grew up”.

http://cdn.app.theweek.co.uk/editions/uk.co.dennis.theweek.single.issue960/data/37004_925b2295a5f1988e1e6cb2f257185d4f/web.html

 

Nigerian Brazilian Buzz

Filed under: Murray Personal, Nigerian Culture, People, Places — Tags: , , — murrayglobal @ 9:27 am

I found this interesting morning stimulation powder at my local health food store (Elf, in Loughborough). The key ingredient in this is guarana, a Brazilian herbal stimulant.

My New Weekend Wake-Up Powder

My New Weekend Wake-Up Powder

I first learned of this herb back in 2011 while taking wine at Oti’s place, in Lagos. Oti (my Nigerian Brother) is a wine importer. He found some guys in Germany who had blended guarana with chardonnay wine, to produce a most enjoyable warm weather drink. I think it is called Catumba, but I can’t seem to find a reference to it anywhere.

Fill a tumbler full of ice cubes, then pour a generous amount of Catumba wine and enjoy. It would produce a nice mellow buzz from the wine + a mild stimulant from the guarana. Great conversations were sure to follow…….

Tried this new UK powder this morning. Pretty nice – 2 large teaspoons, a little honey and milk. Very nice change of pace from my ususally doppio espresso. This stuff is made in Italy and sent all over Europe.

14/02/2014

She’s a Bitch?

Filed under: People, Professional Life — Tags: , , , , , , — murrayglobal @ 12:37 pm

Bossy BabeGood one on Managing vs. Leadership, with a gender twist…….good one!

Bossiness Is Not a Leadership Trait, No Matter What Sheryl Sandberg Says

If we want little girls to grow up into leaders, let’s stop praising bossy behavior.

“I want every little girl who someone says ‘they’re bossy’ to be told instead, ‘you have leadership skills,’” said Sheryl Sandberg. The COO of Facebook says she was told this, and look at her now! This quote keeps showing up on my Facebook feed, and while I love my friends, this quote is driving me nuts.

Bossy is not leadership. In fact, bossy is the opposite of leadership. Being bossy is a skill that every 2-year- old has mastered. Bossy is “shut up and do it my way; I know best!” Leadership is the opposite.

Bossy girls are sometimes queen bees–with their little minions following after them. This mimics leadership, but it’s not. Queen bees attain their positions of power by tearing other girls down, by instilling fear, and by being the prettiest, or the one with the best clothes. These girls are masters of manipulation and persuade the adults that they are just that–leaders. But anyone who has ever been a victim of one of these “bossy” little girls knows that it isn’t leadership.

What’s more, bossy women like to keep other women down.

So what is leadership?

  • Leadership is inclusive, not exclusive. Bossy thrives on keeping people out of the inner circle.
  • Leadership listens. Bossy says “listen to me.”
  • Leadership hands out praise to others for success. Bossy takes all the credit when things go well.
  • Leadership takes responsibility for failure. Bossy blames others for failure. It is never a bossy person’s “fault.”
  • Leadership lifts others up. Bossy wants to keep others down, because otherwise someone might take over the top role.
  • Leadership prepares for a future when there is a new leader. Bossy wants to ensure there is never a new leader.
  • Leadership makes sacrifices for the good of the team. Bossy wants the team to sacrifice for her.
  • Leadership is humble. Bossy is prideful.

Now, what I hope Sandberg meant is that when adults see bossy characteristics in little girls, that they work with the girls to channel their natural talents toward leadership and away from being bossy. And not that they pat these girls on the head and say, “keep doing what you’re doing, honey!” Because bossy is not leadership. Period.

http://www.inc.com/suzanne-lucas/bossiness-is-not-a-leadership-trait-no-matter-what-sheryl-sandberg-says.html

08/02/2014

Wine Snob

Filed under: Humor, Lifestyle, People, Places — Tags: , , — murrayglobal @ 6:02 pm

Found at my local Quorn convenience shop……

Only a wine snob would purchase a bottle based on the label......

Only a wine snob would purchase wine based on the label……

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