Thursday, January 29, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The opening line of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf reads, "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
NAFTA turned 15 this month.
What it is: The North American Free Trade Agreement between
The Pros: Despite controversy, NAFTA has done a measurable amount of good. Trade among the 3 nations has tripled to $893B in 2007.
The Cons: On the other hand, NAFTA still has a number of gaps. It does not include harmonized labor or environmental standards for goods made in
What are we missing?: Regardless, the debate about NAFTA diverts attention from something more important, "the giant sucking sound" of jobs going elsewhere, wherever. Despite the fact that
In fact, if jobs are going to go to lower cost countries, its better that the jobs go to a trading partner than to a nation who is not. Case in point:
Where have we used this strategy?: From the State.gov website "The U.S. has agreements in force with 14 countries: Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, and Singapore. Agreements with three countries--Costa Rica, Oman, and Peru--are pending implementation."
And what has the result been?: From the same website "In 2007, trade with countries that the U.S. has free trade agreements was significantly greater than their relative share of the global economy: although comprising 7.5% of global GDP (not including the U.S.), those countries accounted for over 42% of U.S. exports."
While a worthy cause, re-negotiating NAFTA should be the second priority. Negotiating free trade with the low cost countries to which the jobs are going should be first.
What do you think?
Monday, January 5, 2009
Okay, I'll try it. Fortunately, thanks to Soundview Executive Summaries, the summary was only 8 pages so I didn't have to endure too much criticism. It was easy to convert the 20 "bad" habits from problem to solution so rather than being doomed, I felt I could DO something about it.
Over the holidays I tried out 4 of the 20 recommended behaviors and noticed an immediate reduction in friction and boost in my relationships. I also noticed that when I didn't use the recommendation, things didn't go as smoothly.
Based on this small pilot, I'm committing to work on 4 behaviors in 09. Though the book recommends only selecting one, there's a lot of low hanging fruit here.
1. Make other people winners. Say "Great idea!" with no "buts" and no "I already knew that."
2. Treat every idea that comes my way from another person with complete neutrality. Say only "Thank you" or "Thanks, I hadn't considered that."
4. Share the wealth of credit by examining every time I think I've achieved something and asking myself who else might also deserve the credit.
WGYHWGYT concludes that the invisible foe is really our obsession with achieving a goal or pleasing the boss rather than being focused on people. This suggests that some more work might need to be done on the root itself.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
I am not unbiased in my appreciation as I collected armies of caterpillars, clusters of chrysalis and swarms of butterflies growing up. As an adult, this passion continues. I even named one of my projects at work "Chrysalis". So I was delighted to see butterflies used as a medium of expression.
What makes this art and not natural history? After all, butterflies are also arranged in insect display cases in the Natural History Museum and Conservatories of Flowers, but in rows and columns, not kaleidoscopes or swarms, in cabinets in public institutions, not in homes and living rooms, in cases edged in black stuffed with a pinning base, not seemingly uncontained by invisible edges, displayed with no attempt to teach, only inspire, selected for color and scale, not for familial relationship.
Can anyone do it? Is the brand defensible? On concept alone, no. It is imitatable, such as those by Rainbow Hill Farms which are just as artfully arranged. However, Marshall has a few extra things going for him that defend his brand. Collectors, such as Dame Maggie Smith and Sarah Jessica Parker, a New York City address in South Street Seaport, a storefront which indicates a certain level of success/ability to pay the rent, and critical acclaim: "The most famous artist in the world to workwith real butterflies and Lucite" -New York Magazine.
For those worried about sustainability, the butterflies used in the artwork were raised on farms which turns out to be a good thing. In the wild, only 7% of the eggs survive. In farms, the survival rate is 70-90%. Butterfly farming helps preserve the rainforest by offering an alternative source of income in renewable resources. (Thanks to Rainbow Hill Farms website for the education.)
Now all that remains is to decide which of the beauties to buy!