Pay Them. Fail. The Recipe. Macron’s Warning. Cinco de Mayo. Pure Talent.

Unjust Pay. A Shaky Portfolio. It Tastes Like Chicken! Can You Say Tequila? How Vulnerable is Europe? Gregg Allman.

  • Quote of the Day: ‘Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.’ –John Steinbeck

Teaching, in a nutshell, is the profession that teaches all the other professions. If you agree with that statement, as well as the quote from John Steinbeck, we must wonder why teaching is not a well-compensated profession. If grade school children are spending a good part of their day under the tutelage of one or more teachers, how can we not recognize the contributions teachers make to our society with educating youngsters?

The chart below is insulting to the teaching profession. As a Florida resident, I am appalled with the pay rate for teachers. How can we expect our students to thrive and contribute to an ever-changing world dominated by technology? According to the World Population Review, the U.S., despite ranking high in educational system surveys, falls behind in math and science scores compared to many other countries. How can the United States not turn the teaching profession into a prestigious position that is well-compensated? To be clear, I feel the same with any position relating to first responders including police, fire, emergency management, and healthcare personnel. If we want the best teachers to help our children, make the position prestigious, sought-after, and well-compensated.

starting w/bachelors w/Masters top Masters top salary

Dist. of Columbia$63,373$100,488$67,958$123,994$131,003
The Pay Scale for Teachers.

  • HR departments coined the phrase “quiet quitting”, so the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) must be calling this “quiet closing.” A little over a year ago, there was tremendous fanfare over the closing of Silicon Valley Bank – a 40-year-old banking institution that catered to the tech industry. Last week, with little media exposure, the FDIC closed Republic First Bank, which operated in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. Similar to the closing of Silicon Valley Bank, another banking institution stepped up to assume all of Republic First Bank’s deposits and buy its assets.

Reality: even in a strong economy four to five banks close each year. Before last week’s closing, the last FDIC-insured bank to fail was six months ago in November of 2023.

The bad news: many banks are now facing financial difficulties due to rising interest rates and falling commercial real estate values, specifically for office buildings enduring surging vacancy rates post-pandemic. Many regional banks have significant exposure to commercial real estate loans. These loans are tied to properties such as office buildings, retail centers, and hotels. If the commercial real estate market continues to experience a downturn or if borrowers default on their loans, it can lead to massive losses for these banks.

Hundreds of small and regional banks across the United States are stressed. Consulting firm Klaros Group analyzed over 4,000 U.S. banks and found that “282 banks face the threat of commercial real estate loans and potential losses tied to higher interest rates.” For individuals, the consequences depend on your level of deposit(s) at an individual bank. Remember, the FDIC covers deposits up to $250,000. If a failing bank is insured by the FDIC, all depositors will be paid “up to at least $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank, per ownership category.” Let’s hope that none of us have to deal with a failing bank scenario. At least these Stooges have their loans figured out.

The Ponzi Scheme at Work.

  • Occasionally I get a hankering for a dish that my mom, Aunt Kay, and daughter perfected – this one being corn flake chicken. The chicken breasts encapsulated by the corn flakes provide a delicious combination of a ‘crunch coating’ with moist chicken. It could also be the baked corn flakes that stick to the pan – that in itself is a delicacy. With all due respect to today being Cinco de Mayo, I am leaning towards this simple recipe for tonight’s Sunday meal. Try it, you will like it.


5 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
½ cup milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper (ground)
2 cups crushed cornflakes cereal
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
In a shallow bowl, combine milk, egg, flour, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
Dredge each chicken breast in the milk mixture, then roll in crushed cornflakes to coat.
Transfer the coated chicken to a baking sheet or dish.
Bake until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear (about 45 minutes).

  • I read an interesting and uncomfortable article in The Economist last week. While that may be surprising in itself, the piece was labeled “A Region in Mortal Danger” – an excellent and open interview with French President Emmanuel Macron regarding his thoughts on Europe. In summary, here are six noteworthy takeaways from President Maron:
  • Europe faces an imminent danger, and he declared that things could fall apart quickly.
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a red alert for all of the world. If Russia wins in Ukraine, European security will lie in ruins.
  • He feels strongly that Europe should put troops Ukraine.
  • Regarding the Russians, he feels Europe: “Has been too hesitant by defining the limits of our action to someone who no longer has any limits and who is the aggressor.”
  • There is now a big industrial gap as Europe has fallen way behind the United States and China.
  • Macron’s most alarming diatribe: He is willing to discuss extending the protection afforded by France’s nuclear weapons.

Macron is bold, very political, and has a good bit of courage to ‘look history in the eye.’ We all better pray that history does not repeat itself in Europe.

  • Today is not Mexico’s Independence Day. Mexico celebrates that day later this year on September 16. Today is Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates Mexico’s victory over France in the Second Battle of Puebla sometime back in 1862. That victory, and subsequently the French finally expelled from Mexico, led to an annual May 5 celebration. Though not widely celebrated in Mexico, the party is usually on in the United States, with another excuse to get out and have a few Modelo’s or Herradura Silver Tequila’s. Sunday Funday and Cinco de Mayo together again – what a concept! 🙂 Sebastian Maniscalco’s take on one Mexican restaurant – well, I have no words.
Oh, Sebastian.

  • We go old school for this week’s Pure Talent. Melissa (sometimes called “Sweet Melissa”) is a song by the Allman Brothers, released in August 1972 as the second single from the group’s massive album, Eat a Peach. The song was written by vocalist Gregg Allman in 1967, well before the founding of the group. This is a solo performance before a studio audience on the David Letterman Show. Go to the 9:00 minute mark of the video. Gregg Allman was Pure Talent.
Gregg Allman with Melissa.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Sunday Funday Cinco de Mayo!

Ego. AI. Random Thoughts. Women and Sports. Pure Talent.

A Sense of Self. Caution To the Wind? We Head into May. Serena “Nets It Out.” The Nicolas Brothers.

  • Quote of the Week: “To have ego means to believe in your own strength.” – Barbra Streisand

I do believe that having an ego is motivating, stimulating, and allows you to value yourself and your contributions. Ego is all about creating and maintaining a level of self-esteem. I am not very spiritual, but from that perspective, ego provides a sense of ‘self’ that can emphasize individuality and help shape your individual identity.

Unfortunately, the general impression from many is that ego can do more harm than good. That thinking may come from self-serving politicians, who in my opinion lead the way with their excessive need for admiration, lack of empathy, narcissism, sense of entitlement, and tendency to point their finger at others for their mistakes. No, I did not say ALL politicians, but there are a few who give the word ego a bad name. Have you had someone’s inflated ego impact a relationship, your overall well-being, or your career? Have you witnessed big egos leading to poor decision-making, as their self-serving nature makes some people believe, under any circumstance, they are always, right?

To me, the key word and action to check your ego is mindfulness. Whether that is paying attention to the moment with non-judgment, or listening to another’s opinion, being mindful is especially important. Hopefully, no matter your level of ego, you can slow your roll with excessive self-promotion, stop blaming others for your mistakes or failures, increase your empathy, and for sure stop trying to dominate every conversation. Is there a distinct difference between ego, attitude, and confidence?

Here is an interesting take on how to deal with a moronic narcissist:

“Chop Chop”

  • Previous posts have discussed artificial intelligence (AI) and the dire need for regulation. To me, the upside of AI is the massive quantity of information and processing speed AI offers, especially in the fields of healthcare, science, and education. Unfortunately, the threats posed by AI are not fully understood and sometimes underestimated by scientists, politicians, and the media. If you benchmark AI as a robust optimization system, can AI subsequently generate unintended consequences in the forms of miscommunication and manipulation? How crucial for those continuing to develop AI is a responsible and transparent approach, considering not only the benefits but also the potential risks and ethical implications? If many people cannot tell when they are being manipulated by social media, what chance do they (we) have with the continued development of AI? The video below tells an interesting story, to say the least.
Command and Control? Regulation?

Five Thoughts for the Last Sunday of April 2024

  • Florida’s Brightline rail system is ahead of planned passenger revenue and now Brightline has announced plans for high-speed rail between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Great news for U.S. transit but Europeans must wonder why the U.S. is so far behind the development of high-speed rail.
  • Boeing’s systemic issues are now wreaking havoc with Southwest Airlines and other carriers. The Federal Aviation Administration set a cap on how many 737 Max planes Boeing can produce in the wake of an emergency landing by an Alaska Airlines flight after a panel in its fuselage blew out during its ascent on Jan. 5. Not good.
  • This Saturday is the 150th edition of the Run for the Roses, a.k.a. The Kentucky Derby. Post time is 6:57 PM. Mint juleps, ornate hat-wearing, and the big party that takes place in the track’s infield. Good fun for all.
  • Cher, Mary J. Blige, Dave Matthews Band, Ozzy, Peter Frampton, Foreigner, Kool and the Gang, and A Tribe Called Quest. I cannot wait for October’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Will Ozzy perform?
  • From the think tank The Institute for National Security Studies: “…the regional and international coalition that participated in intercepting launches from Iran toward Israel demonstrates the potential of establishing a regional alliance against Iran.” How a think tank, or anyone for that matter, have any grasp of what is going on in the Middle East? Does that think tank’s statement fail to understand the complexity of challenges in that region of the world? An alliance of Middle East countries suppressing the Iranians? Doubtful.

  • The promotion, exposure, and success of women’s sports has never been greater. The professional women’s soccer league’s attendance is up 30% year-over-year, the WNBA’s media exposure is bar none, and Caitlan Clark’s historic performance at the University of Iowa was one of the greatest basketball performances of all time, woman, or man. I am a big supporter of women’s sports, from track and field to tennis to the soccer pitch. I do not benchmark women against men – I look to watch competitive athletes no matter their gender.

A few of my friends, one in particular, do not care for women’s sports. The words “too slow” comes up often but I feel that assessment alone is unfair. I watched a good bit of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament and the run up to the Final included great games and great performances. Great passing, sharp shooting (a.k.a. Caitlan Clark), and over-the-top hustle and desire were constants in most of the games I watched.

I have played a lot of tennis, including to my partner’s disdain, many mixed doubles matches. 🙂 Women tennis players, from teenagers to older women, sometimes destroyed me, not with their speed or pace, but with their tennis skills, fitness, and desire. I do agree that at the professional level, whether the sport be tennis, basketball, or soccer, there are many discernible differences between women and men, mostly aligning with physicality.

Serena Williams is the greatest women’s tennis player. That of course is my opinion, and many might disagree and reference Margaret Court, Steffi Graff, Chris Evert, and Martina Navratilova, who won fifty-nine major titles. As a point of clarity and explanation, I also give Serena Williams credit for clearly defining the differences between men’s and women’s tennis. Her statement takes nothing away from the awesomeness of women and their athletic abilities – she simply tells David Letterman the truth.

Kudos to Serena Williams.

  • For this week’s take regarding Pure Talent, we go back to 1935. The Nicolas Brothers, Fayard and Harold, were an entertainment act who obviously excelled at a variety of dance techniques. They performed between the 1930s and 1950s, with many calling the brothers’ acrobatic, artistic, and daring moves some of the greatest dancing of all time. Their level of performance and incredible athleticism more importantly opened doors that had been previously closed to African Americans. Fred Astaire, widely regarded as the greatest music dancer of all time, coined the Nicolas Brothers’ routine in the film Stormy Weather the best he had ever seen. Three minutes of Pure Talent.
I Have No Words Other Than Amazing.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Sunday Funday!

Build It Safe. Caitlan. Humor. Las Vegas. Guitar At Its Best.

Really, Boeing? Will Clark Tear Up the WNBA? Deadpan and Funny. Amazing LED. RIP Dickey Betts.

  • Quote of the Week: A hundred years ago, it could take you the better part of a year to get from New York to California, whereas today, because of equipment problems at O’Hare, you can’t get there at all. – Dave Barry

After fighting through the downturn in both business and personal travel for the better part of two years, the top performing airlines have enjoyed passenger revenue that has reached pre-pandemic levels. Credit where credit is due as airlines pivoted quickly to scale their customer service and support systems quickly as people returned to air travel. Though there have been some IT infrastructure issues with an airline here and there, their efforts have been rewarded with record revenue and profits (specifically Delta Air Lines).

Unfortunately, one of the two major passenger jet providers, due to manufacturing and safety issues, has again put a damper on air travel. First it was Boeing’s 787 Max planes, with software issues resulting in two plane crashes. Then in February of this year, a door ‘plug’ fell off a Boeing jet midair, thankfully without injuries. Then in March, an engine cowling on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 fell off during takeoff and struck the wing flap. Most airlines are at the mercy of Boeing and Airbus and expect these manufacturers to provide a superior and safe product. An obvious business proposition but one that is increasing coming under scrutiny. Will Boeing change their manufacturing processes and protocols to ensure these issues never happen again? I do not know, and neither do you, so until then, I would follow this three-year-old’s pre-flight routine of actually reading the safety information card. Just saying.

  • Former Iowa women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark is off to the WNBA, as the NCAA’s all-time scoring leader was selected No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever in Monday’s WNBA draft. There has been a great deal of talk about what many call Clark’s paltry four-year contract, at an average of $80,000 a year. Comparatively speaking, the top NBA pick will make a $10.5 million salary — 137 times more than Clark. I am not going to get into the revenue streams with the WNBA and the NBA, most of that data is obvious. What I will say is that Clark is one of the purest shooters ever, and Nike has stepped up offering her a signature shoe deal worth $20 million. Good for you Caitlan Clark, now go get in done in the WNBA!

  • How do you define comedy? What type of humor makes you laugh? Slapstick, standup, bathroom, self-deprecating, and topical humor come to mind, but everyone is hopefully touched by one kind of humor or another. Humor is subjective and what strikes one person as funny may not resonate with another. I first watched Steven Wright on the Johnny Carson show. His humor is a combination of deadpan, improvisational, and one-liners. So many comedians make me laugh, including Eddie Murphy, Sebastian Maniscalco, the late Don Rickles, Richard Pryor, and Rodney Dangerfield. All with different types of humor and delivery, with all of them putting a smile on my face. Steven Wright’s humor is so different, so witty, and in a way a bit strange. Deadpan delivery to a max. Nine minutes of Steven Wright. Not a bad way to start off the day.
I used to work in a Helium Gas production factory. The boss there still speaks very highly of me.

  • I just returned from Las Vegas. I would like to tell you I was there for blackjack, golf, and a show or two, but it was many long days at the National Association of Broadcasters conference. Enough about that. Though I have been in the city of Las Vegas too many times to count, I am still ‘amazed at the amount of amazing.’ From the new hotels (the Fontainebleau for one), to the fantastic restaurants, and of course the incredible amount of digital signage. The Sphere, months into its opening, has become an icon of Las Vegas, with its sheer size and luminance. I did not take in a show at the Sphere on this trip but hope to in the near future.

* Size: 366 feet high and 516 feet wide, spanning a total of 875,000 square feet
* Capacity: Seats 18,600 people
* Sound: Over 167,000 individually amplified loudspeakers
* Cost: $2.3 billion
* Time: The Sphere took 5 years to construct, opening September 2023

The video below is interesting but in no way shows how dynamic the Sphere illuminates Las Vegas.

The Sphere in Las Vegas, Nevada

  • This week’s recognition of Pure Talent: We have lost another great guitarist. Dickey Betts was responsible for the Allman Brothers’ biggest hit, 1973’s “Ramblin’ Man,” as well as some of their most recognizable songs: the moody instrumental “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” the jubilant “Jessica,” and their late-period comeback hit “Crazy Love.” Sometimes overshadowed by Duane and Gregg Allman, the brothers who gave the band its name, Dickey Betts gave the band a remarkable dual guitar sound, one that was the platform for the genre called southern rock. Betts passed away last week at the age of eighty. There was no doubt that he was Pure Talent.
Dickey Betts Amazing Guitar Work on the song Jessica – circa 1984.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

Courage. Fact or Fiction? The Eclipse. Pure Talent.

What Really is Courage? It Cannot Be True. The Earth, the Moon and the Sun. She Rocks Her Violin.

  • Quote of the Week: “Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” -Maya Angelou

Most of the time I equate courage to something physical. Action by first responders or the armed forces facing hostiles come to mind. Reality says that courage can mean many things other than physical bravery, including self-sacrifice for the greater good. Courage also refers to people who are afraid but act anyway, take financial risks, and those who speak out against injustice. Here are ways to define courage – some of them relevant, some not so much.

  1. Being afraid and choosing to act anyway. I have a few examples of my own, and I am assuming you do as well.
  2. Passion and following your heart. This can get us in trouble at the personal and professional level, but passion also can help us do extraordinary things.
  3. Taking a stand for what you believe is right. None of us have an issue with speaking our mind, but when we are angry can we move the emotion to a level of courage and positive action?
  4. Letting Go of the Status Quo. It takes courage to step away from the ordinary and the usual.
  5. Maintaining a level of dignity and respect in tough periods of your life. This is easier said than done as all of us look to make the best of uncomfortable circumstances.

Everyone defines courage differently. Throughout history, there have been individuals who have shown us tremendous courage, some whose legacies continue to inspire us. Here are a few I can think of: Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Thomas Jefferson, Mother Teresa, Ameila Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Winston Churchill, all people of the armed forces, first responders, test pilots, and astronauts. Who comes to mind when you think about courage? Our most powerful weapon is the determination to fulfill our dreams. Success is not final; failure is not fatal – it is the courage to continue that counts.

Do You Have the Courage?

It Cannot Be True:

  • Gold was selling over $2,300 an ounce last week. Manufacturing barometers show an uptick for the first time in many months. The March jobs report beat expectations. A possible Fed rate cut in June. When does the recession start for 2024?
  • An earthquake in the New York/New Jersey area. A massive snowstorm from Wisconsin to Maine in April. Greenland’s massive ice sheet is shedding 20% more than previously estimated. Is this normal activity or is something different happening with the planet? Anyone? Bueller?
  • The 60 Minutes segment on the ‘Havana Syndrome’ – with people around the world being affected by anomalous health incidents including non-lethal acoustic weapons. Disturbing to say the least.
  • Cannabis clubs in Germany? Legalized possession by adults, who are allowed to purchase up to 25 grams per day, or 50 grams per month. Who would have thought that Germany would relax their cannabis laws?
  • The West African nation of Senegal will have a new president who will attend the inauguration with both of his wives on his arms. What a concept.
  • After sixty-seven years, one of the last remaining Las Vegas hotels of yesteryear closed last week. The Tropicana property will be cleared for the new construction of the baseball stadium to house the relocating Oakland Athletics.
  • The 2024 Masters starts with the Par-3 Contest on Wednesday. How fast has a year gone by? Spain’s Jon Rahm definitely has great memories of the Masters.
Just Another Day of Practice at the Masters.

  • A total eclipse will pass over some of North America tomorrow. Unfortunately for many, the total eclipse will only be seen from parts of Mexico, fifteen U.S. states, and eastern Canada. The alignment of the sun, moon, and Earth happens around 2:00 PM in the central areas of the U.S. and will last about four minutes. Other areas of the U.S. will experience a partial eclipse, some as much as 60%. If you miss this solar eclipse, the next one to cross the U.S. coast-to-coast is right around the corner… in the year 2045. 🙂

  • For this week’s version of Pure Talent, we go to a version of Kashmir, one of Led Zepplin’s greatest songs. This performance, on a massive stage at last year’s Lollapalooza Paris, is from Lindsey Stirling, who performs a variety of music styles from pop, rock, classical, and electronic dance. A Pure Talent.
Lindsey Stirling on the Violin Covering Led Zepplin’s Kashmir.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Sunday Funday!

Hate. Thinking. Gratuities. Pure Talent.

“No One Is Born Hating…” Thoughts On the Last Day of March. Tip On the Entire Amount? “From the Beginning.”

  • Quote of the Week: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Racism is a refuge for the ignorant.” – Nelson Mandela

I have had enough. I have again been reminded that yesteryear’s imperialism, capitalism, and slave trade remain instigators of worldwide racism. While we are aware of the current racial divide among our friends and foes, the past tells us that segregation of race was exemplified by apartheid in South Africa, genocides such as the Holocaust, and the racial atrocities we have witnessed in Rwanda, Armenia, and many other countries including the United States. Unfortunately, as years have gone by, sanctions leveled with racist entities have had little to no effect – even the United Nations chimed in with their 1978 Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice, stating “All human beings belong to a single species and are descended from a common stock. They are born equal in dignity and rights, and all form an integral part of humanity.”

I recognize and admire the efforts from leaders who have made a stance with racism. While people including Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Thurgood Marshall, Abraham Heschel, and many more helped pave the way for a better level of racial equality, their efforts have been overridden by the vast amount of people instilled with pure hate. It is year 2024, and the level of worldwide racism continues to raise its ugly head, witnessed by incidents at festivals, sporting events, and other public gatherings. Recent racial incidents at the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, with students in Bulgaria, and at various international soccer matches present modern-day examples of racial rage and anger – with no end in sight.

Vinicius Junior, at twenty-three years old, is regarded as one of the biggest talents in world football. The Brazilian striker, who plays for the massive Real Madrid club in Spain, as well as Brazil’s national team, has been a target of racial abuse from fans of rival clubs. This disgusting behavior towards Vinicius Junior and other black players has been happening for years, exemplified by chants of “monkey” and other awful racial abuse. The “NFL” of Spanish Football is La Liga, which from what I have read has done little to stop the systemic barrage of racial abuse directed towards players of color, especially Vinicius Junior. In the video below, he broke down in tears when asked about the repeated barrage of abuse directed at him. Again, it is 2024, and with all due respect to the efforts of the many to stop the flow of racism, this is another sad state of affairs not only in Spain, but worldwide. As the Mandela quote states, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin…” I was so sad and disgusted watching this video.

Vinicius Junior At a Recent Press Conference.

  • Things I Am Thinking on the Last Day of March:

Beyonce Covering the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”

  • The battle of gratuity. I have been going back and forth with this question with a friend for months. The scenario: there is a restaurant that both of us enjoy once a month or so. Great food and drink, and excellent service whether dining at a table or at the bar. The bill for the four of us, including wine, comes out to a round number of $600.00. Of the $600.00, the two bottles of wine total $200.00. I say you tip on the total of $600.00. My friend argues with me that restaurant owners have told him that you tip on the $400.00 food portion. There is some gray area with the scenario due to the restaurant wine being offered and poured by a sommelier, or your table’s server.

If you have a party of ten, and the total bill is $3,000.00, with $700.00 of that total being wine, do you tip on the $3000.00 (x 20 percent = $600.00) …or do you tip on the food portion of $2,300.00 (x 20 percent = $460.000)? Come on, chime in with your take on this sleep-depriving dilemma.

With all that said, if you are a moron acting like you know how to taste wine, you have no choice but to tip on the entire bill. Right?

Her Expression is Priceless!!

  • As always, I try to provide my take on Pure Talent. While I realize I go ‘old school’ on many of my Pure Talent takes, it is not easy for me to benchmark the talent of today versus yesteryear. Sure, the take above with Beyonce demonstrates her vast talent, but it has occurred to me, after seeing both the Eagles and War in the last three weeks, that songwriting and the ability to perform are better reflected from the past. Remember, it is JUST MY TAKE, and as always, I welcome yours.

This band and this artist came to prominence after performing at the Isle of Wight Festival in the summer of 1970. The Isle of Wight is a small island of England, sitting off the coast in the English Channel. With a population in 1970 of less than 100,000 people, the festival, which included Jimi Hendrix, Chicago, Moody Blues, Miles Davis, Joan Boaz, Jethro Tull, Sly and the Family Stone, and Emerson Lake & Palmer, drew 700,000 people. Emerson, Lake, & Palmer’s album, “Brain Salad Surgery” launched their stardom, becoming one of the most commercially successful rock groups of the 1970’s.

Greg Lake was an English musician, singer, and songwriter who helped shape the progressive rock genre in the 1970s. He founded King Crimson and then formed Emerson, Lake, & Palmer. This solo of the song “From the Beginning” shows off Lake’s awesome voice and guitar skills. This timeless classic brings us a sense of nostalgia and relationships, with an opening line “There might have been things I missed, but don’t be unkind,” -I assume reflecting through past regrets and mistakes. This song, if released today, by an artist like Chris Stapleton, Sam Smith, The Weekend, Keith Urban, Adele, or Teddy Swims, would easily hit the top of the charts. Listen to the words – this is Pure Talent.

Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and Have a Great Easter Sunday!

Trust. Gen Z. Broadcast Talent. Thoughts. Women v. Men. Challenge Met.

Judgement, Commitment, Sincerity. Bruh. Ask The Dog A Question! Top Of Mind. “Park The Car.” Heartwarming Inspiration.

  • Quote of the Day: “It’s not the honors and prizes of life which ultimately nourish our souls. It’s the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our very being is good stuff.” – Mister Rogers

Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Rogers, was a television host, author, producer, and minister best known for his long-running preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999, he received more than forty honorary degrees and several awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1997 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. I did not watch his show, but I am sure it was entertaining for children of all ages.

With all due respect to Fred Rogers, I wonder what his basis and foundation was when quoted? Did he have foresight into the world of money grabbing, the name, image, and likeness (NIL) debacle turning college sports upside down or was Fred Rogers fraught with disgust with people who ‘live up to the Joneses.’ Or was he just fed up with people that he simply did not trust?

Everyone defines trust in different ways. Obviously different on the personal and professional level, trust can be a fluid word depending on the circumstance. I have always put ‘trust’ into three buckets of equal weight, though the weight can be altered based on the circumstance.

  • Keeping the relationship sincere and positive.
  • Having solid communication and judgement.
  • Walking your talk/ Keeping commitments.

I doubt that Mr. Rogers tied these buckets to his quote, but one would think that he put a great deal of emphasis on positivity, judgement, and commitment. Simon Sinek is an author and inspirational speaker on leadership. This short video provides us with a different view and emphasis on trust. Do you agree?

An Interesting Way to Measure Performance and Trust.

  • Generation Z (Gen Z) is the name given to the group of people born between 1997 and 2012. This group gets a bad rap from some people -unwarranted criticism as every generational group is different. For the most part we are different from our parents, and our parents were way different than our grandparents. Gen Z, good, bad, or ugly, are the future and will lead us for years to come. authored this Gen Z survey and some of the findings will make you cringe…but remember, we did many things that our parents could not understand as well.
  • 40% have made a career decision based on advice from TikTok.
  • 53% advocated for themselves in the workplace.
  • 50% put in less time and effort at work.
  • 23% quit their jobs in the last two years, based on advice from TikTok.
  • 10% say they trust TikTok more than their parents for career advice.
  • 33% have pursued a side hustle to help cover expenses.

We can eyeroll at Gen Zs all we want, but this group is growing up in a technology-based world, which helps them provide and cope with constant change. They have also grown up relatively pragmatic, have a strong sense of mental health, and most of them emphasize some level of sustainability, including environmental issues and climate change. There is also the lighter side of Gen Z.

“Where Do You Live?”

  • Speaking of bad raps. Television broadcast talent sometimes gets a bad rap. Their jobs are challenging, especially with the advent of high-definition broadcasting and digital and streaming platforms. The ‘talent,’ are over-scrutinized by their producers and viewers alike. It is always great to see that broadcast talent, no matter the market they work in, are just plain people who sometimes just lose it live, on-air. The dog was the star of this segment, just awaiting the news anchor to ask another question.

Things I Am Thinking

  • The possible outcomes to the real estate commission ruling are numerous. My take: not every real estate transaction needs an ‘A+’ agent. With that said, an A+ real estate agent, for many transactions, are very much worth what they are paid in commissions. Will the flat fee commission scenario be the go-forward? I do not think so.
  • I went to a small performance theatre the other night to take in the band, War. Another reminder that many bands of yesteryear consist of real musicians. Seven members playing a variety of percussion, strings, and keyboard. What a concept.
  • Female entrepreneurs secured a record-high 27.8% of the total venture capital deal value in 2023. This is definitely a transformative period for female business founders and investors…and a welcomed one.
  • Months ago, Los Angeles Dodger superstar Shohei Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million contract. Last week, his interpreter and long-time friend Ippei Mizuhara was fired by the Dodgers for illegally wiring Ohtani’s funds, in the amount of $4.5 million dollars, to an illegal bookmaking operation. Did Ohtani not have a stopgap in place where he or his CPA had to authorize wire transfers?
  • McDonald’s is the world’s largest restaurant chain. Guess what chain is #2? (It is not Subway).
  • I mention leadership in my first take above. I do enjoy strong leadership, especially leaders who in no uncertain terms, can look at their audience or into a camera and provide a clear and concise message. The movie is Any Given Sunday and this coach, played by Al Pacino, offers up passion and leadership to his team. Yes, only a movie but the message of trust and team delivered by a strong leader can be motivating in all walks of life. Warning: foul language in the video.
“Either we heal now as a team, or we will die as individuals.”

  • Most of us have been involved with this situation. I am not slamming women – I am just pointing out that there are different reactions between men and women when it comes to driving directions and parking. I have been barked at as I sometimes passed by an open parking spot looking for ‘rockstar parking’…or questioned why I drive a certain route to a destination, and more importantly, when I have made the wrong turn. Sinbad cuts to the chase explaining this dilemma. Ladies: is Sinbad wrong? 🙂
“Just Take Me Home”

  • Autism is clinically regarded as a spectrum disorder, affecting people in many different ways. Some are non-speaking, some have difficulties with social interactions, and many others are hypersensitive or hyperactive. While many people and their families are dealing with the downside of autism, there are many stories of autistic people progressing through life at some level of normalcy. This is one story, from a few years back, that exemplifies the abilities of autistic people. A feel-good story, yes, and another example of achievement and what I call Pure Talent. Kudos to the coach for giving his team manager the opportunity to play in a game. You better have a tissue on hand.
20 Points from (6) 3-Pointers in Four Minutes. Wow!!

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Sunday Funday!

Irish. Rumors. Focker Rules. Random Takes. Soul + Opera.

St. Patrick’s Day. Go Away, Fake News. Gaylord Goes Off. Top of Mind Topics. Pure Talent.

Quote of the Day:

Saint Patrick was a gentleman
Who through strategy and stealth
Drove all the snakes from Ireland
Here’s a drinkee to his health!
But not too many drinkees
Lest we lose ourselves and then…
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see them snakes again!
-Unknown Author

Has there been a better excuse to celebrate than St. Patrick’s Day? No matter your race or religion or your politics, the celebration involves parades, festivals, music, green attire, and usually a bit of drinking. Officially, the day commemorates Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and the day celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish people. Here are a few tidbits concerning St. Patrick’s Day:

  • The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland but in America on March 17, 1601 in a Spanish colony now referred to as St. Augustine, Florida.
  • New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the world’s largest parade with approximately 155,000 participants.
  • Classic Irish dishes include corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, Shepard’s Pie, and creamy mashed potatoes called Colcannon.
  • When toasting, the Irish do not say ‘cheers.’ They say ‘Slainte.’
  • Savannah, Georgia, San Antonio, Texas, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois embrace St. Patty’s Day by dyeing their rivers green.

The Chicago River on Saturday afternoon, March 17, 2024

If you have not been to Ireland, go. While Dublin can be too jampacked with tourists, the coastal areas, the small towns, and their pubs are fantastic. While most of us enjoy March 17th every year, there are some with a difference of opinion: 🙂

Get That Man a Beer!!!

  • We do not have time for rumors, gossip, or false news. Rumors have a broad reach, with viral talk that has no reliable source to back it up. While some rumors can relate to positive things (an award or promotion), they often lead to gossip when the rumors, which are unconfirmed pieces of information, are passed along to others, then becoming fake news. All of this usually riles up emotion which sometimes can be long-lasting. A St. Patrick’s Day toast for rumors, gossip, and fake news to disappear from our everyday lives.

“Never repeat a rumor before you have verified it. And if it is true, hold your tongue all the more.” – Selma Lagerlöf, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

  • There is a cliche: ‘You can’t have it both ways.’ Airlines are cracking down on carry-on bags as they continue to find ways to grow their top-line revenue, especially after the downturn in air travel due to Covid-19 and its variants. One of those revenue streams is derived from checked bag fees, with many airlines increasing those fees over the last year. Obviously, this leads to many passengers using carry-on bags to forego the cost of checking bags. As recently as two weeks ago, Delta Air Lines, following in the footsteps of their competitors, raised their fee for checked bags by 17%. Delta Air Lines takes in more than $1 billion annually in checked-bag fees, with only American and United taking in more. If airlines continue to raise their baggage fees, they will need to deal with more people carrying on their bags and other items. Note: Delta reported a 2023 profit of $4.6 billion. There must be a way to find a happy medium with customers.
Poor Gaylord.

A few takeaways for Mid-March 2024:

  • We end this week with a ‘Pure Talent’ take. The King of Opera and the Godfather of Soul embracing one another in a masterful performance. Two legends combining soul and passion. Who would have thought?
American Soul + European Opera = Magic

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a fun St. Patrick’s Day!

The First Amendment. Why Haiti? Questions. DST. The Eagles.

Social Media and Kids. Terror and Devastation. Sunshine. Joe Walsh and Vince Gill Steal the Show.

Quote of the Week: Direct and easy communications — freedom of speech in all forms and in its broadest sense — has become vital to the very survival of a civilized humanity. – Walt Disney

  • The increase in overall phone screen time obviously surged due to the pandemic, with the challenges that families faced with school, childcare, and general social interaction. Today is no different, with people of all ages engaged with social media for several reasons, not always with the best intention and outcome.

As I try to leave politics aside, there is a hard push to limit children under the age of sixteen to engage with social media. Many psychologists have pointed to many potential risks with children using social media. These include body image concerns, cyberbullying, biased information, privacy and safety concerns, sleep disruption, and distraction. I cannot argue with these potential risks, but in this fast-paced digital world, is it not important for kids to stay connected with their friends and family? Does social media not help kids learn about cultures and different perspectives? How do you draw the line with the many social media platforms, some of which help families with kids manage their schedules, homework, and extracurricular activities? Are TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram all harmful to children with no redeeming value? That is a question, not a statement.

This conversation between the good and evil with kids and social media now intertwines with the First Amendment, one amendment of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. As defined, the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Last Wednesday the Florida House passed a bill that Governor Ron DeSantis will sign, seeking to keep children off of social media. The bill would prevent children under age 16 from opening social-media accounts — though it would allow parents to give consent for 14- and 15-year-olds to have accounts. Children under fourteen could not open accounts. Florida’s House Speaker even went as far as to state that social media use harms children’s mental health and can lead to sexual predators communicating with minors. How a government official is qualified to make that statement is beyond me.

Are the tech industry and free speech groups raising hell? Of course they are, screaming that the bill is destined to face a First Amendment court challenge. Their outrage relates back to the kids prohibited from sharing and engaging in constitutionally protected free speech, challenging how the state of Florida can impose on Floridians’ constitutional rights. Ask me one more time why I run away from anything political? 🙂

For me, some of the systemic problems with children and social media link back to parents. I do understand that many kids do not have parental oversight and guidance, which leads to many kids spending way too much time looking down at their phones or tablets. I remember sitting in an Atlanta restaurant watching a family of four at their table. The parents were on their phones, and their kids were on their tablets, with not one word of conversation between them until their food was served. Does the overuse of social media by children have them missing out on normal verbal communication and social cues?

I definitely do not agree with all of what Ricky Gervais says in this video, but he certainly makes you think about the use of social media.

“Let’s Stop Asking the Average Person What They Think”

  • Why Haiti? Nestled on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea, I have often wondered why the country of Haiti is always in some level of despair. Haiti now finds itself ensnared in a complex web of gang violence, a crisis that has escalated since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021. I went on a bit of a deep dive looking back at the turmoil and devastation this island has endured. Here is what I found:
  • January 2010: A devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, claiming around 220,000 lives and plunging the nation into a severe humanitarian crisis.
  • July 2021: Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home by foreign mercenaries, an event that captured global attention. This tragedy marked the beginning of a downward spiral into gang violence.
  • January 2023: Haiti’s government failed to hold elections due to unprecedented gang violence, resulting in the removal of its last democratically elected officials. Critics argue that this exacerbated democratic decay, effectively turning the country into a de facto “dictatorship.”
  • February 29, 2024: Haitian gangs orchestrated coordinated attacks across the capital, Port-au-Prince, resulting in the deaths of at least four police officers. The powerful gang leader Jimmy Chérizier, also known as Barbecue, claimed responsibility for these attacks. Chérizier aimed to capture police and government officials and prevent the return of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who was advocating for a United Nations-backed international police force to combat gangs in Haiti.
  • March 1: Prime Minister Ariel Henry signed an agreement with Kenya to deploy 1,000 police officers to Haiti for combating gang violence. However, this deployment faced legal challenges due to constitutional concerns.
  • March 2: Gangs stormed two of Haiti’s major prisons, freeing over 4,000 inmates, further straining security forces.
  • March 3: Haiti’s government declared a state of emergency and implemented a nighttime curfew in an attempt to control the escalating violence.
  • March 4: Heavily armed gangs attempted to seize control of Haiti’s main international airport, disrupting flights and fueling chaos. Prime Minister Ariel Henry remained out of the country following his trip to Kenya.
  • March 5: Prime Minister Henry landed in Puerto Rico after gang leader Chérizier effectively declared war on him.

The situation remains dire, with over eighty percent of Port-au-Prince under gang control. A very sad and alarming situation with Haiti, who won independence from France in 1804, making it the second country in the Americas, after the United States, to free itself from colonial rule. The country sits only 700 miles southeast of Florida but is unfortunately worlds beyond what most of us have experienced. I would like to see leadership from around the world quickly form a joint task force of GIGN, Green Berets, Kenya SOF, Joint Task Force 2, SAS, EKO Cobra and GSG9. These are the special forces units of France, the United States, Kenya, Canada, United Kingdom, Austria, and Germany. It would not take long for a brigade of special forces (usually between 3,500 to 6,000) to eliminate the gangs controlling Haiti.

This Caribbean nation is on the brink and the gangs, and their terror, must be stopped once and for all. Yes, there are many other rudimentary problems with Haiti, including their banking and financial infrastructure but nothing will change with gangs running the country.

A Coalition of Many Countries Must Step Up.

I Have Questions

  • Did the addition of Sweden to NATO send a clear message to Vladimir Putin?
  • What happened with the Miami Seaquarium? At one time, a must-see attraction in Miami.
  • With the craft beer market oversaturated, are smaller, local breweries in trouble? Nine breweries closed in Austin, Texas in the last half of 2023.
  • Did you ever think that a hormone would be a catch phrase for weight loss? The GLP-1 or glucagon-like peptide is what I am referring to and we could only wish we were well-vested in the pharmaceutical giant, Novo Nordisk.
  • Steve Kerr, Ray Allen, Steph Curry, Mike Glenn, Larry Bird, Klay Thompson, Pete Maravich, Steve Nash. These are just some of the greatest shooters of the basketball. With all due respect to these players as well as the others, is Caitlin Clark the best pure shooter of the basketball ever?
  • How many banks will fail due to their exposure to the commercial real estate sector?

  • It reduces the number of traffic accidents and crime by providing more light in the evening hours. It decreases electricity consumption by reducing the need for lights and lamps in the evening. It hopefully motivates people to get out of their house to enjoy outdoor recreation, including a cocktail while grilling out. Yes, I am referring to daylight saving time (no ‘s’ at the end of saving). One of my favorite days of the year!
One More Hour!

  • Last Monday I was at KIA Center in Orlando to see Steely Dan and the Eagles. I went with reasonable expectations as these two bands have been around forever. Long story short, both bands were outstanding, with the Eagles two-hour performance absolutely fantastic. The Eagles, led by co-founder Don Henley, included Grammy Award winner Vince Gill, Glenn Frey’s son, Deacon, the incredible Timothy Schmitt on bass, and the one and only Joe Walsh. I think Joe Walsh carried the entire two-hour show, with his interesting voice and remarkable ability on the guitar. The video below does not do this show justice, but as I always say: pure talent.
The One and Only Joe Walsh.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Sunday Funday!

Failure Is Not an Option. Lunar Landing. Badass. Policing. Confirming Sora. Pure Talent.

“The Worst Thing You Can Do is Nothing.” Fly Me to the Moon. Angelina Jolie. Hit Him Again. Tyler Perry Has His Say. Into The Night.

Quote of the Week: “In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” —Theodore Roosevelt

  • A few posts ago, I mentioned analysis paralysis. The act of not acting by hesitating to make a decision due to overthinking. I guess Theodore Roosevelt’s quote can be problematic, as we usually do not think that ‘the next best thing is the wrong thing’ as none of us want to make a decision that does not work out.

One of my pet peeves – people who do not act on a situation, thinking that if they wait and do not make a decision or act, the situation will just go away. As most of us have experienced, waiting and doing nothing usually makes the situation worse, putting your family, friends, and associates into a situation where they cannot act due to your indecisiveness and indecision.

Most of us remember Apollo 13, and the heroism of the crew and the decision-making of mission control. They acted quickly to save the crew, and most likely went through the same decision-making process we deal with in our everyday lives.

  • Identify the issue or problem that must be acted on and solved.
  • Quickly gather relevant information to weigh your options.
  • Consider the pros and cons (the + and the -) of your options and the possible ramifications, outcomes, and results.
  • Once you have determined the best option, MAKE your decision.
  • Evaluate your decision, understand the outcome, and garner feedback from others.

Ed Harris played flight control commander Gene Kranz in the docudrama Apollo 13. In a matter of minutes, Kranz and his team identified the problem, gathered information, considered the pros and cons, and made a decision that ultimately delivered the Apollo 13 crew home alive. As Roosevelt said, “the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

“Failure is Not an Option.”

  • I have discussed, ad nauseum, how the commercialization of space has made launches from Kennedy Space Center an almost everyday occurrence. The days are long gone when a launch was so unique and amazing, we all stopped working, classrooms stopped teaching, and all of us turned on the television to watch a launch, mostly from launch complex 39 at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Last Thursday, a spacecraft attempted the first U.S. moon landing in over fifty years. Though the descent and landing on the moon’s surface was precarious, slightly delayed, and fraught with communication issues, the first commercial vehicle did land on the moon, with NASA confirming that it may now be on its side. The payload included about $120M in NASA materials meant in part to lay the groundwork for a human visit in 2026 as part of the Artemis program. After 50 years, another outstanding achievement for the space program, another part of a much broader project to eventually send humans back to the moon’s surface for the first time since the 1970s.

Many just shrug the shoulders and ask ‘so what’ to NASA and their commercial space partners’ efforts to explore space. Many consider NASA’s 2024 budget of $27.2 billion to be a waste of money. I feel exactly the opposite as space exploration and advancing U. S. leadership in technology innovation in aviation and space will be key with enabling multiple commercial partners to build a robust space economy. The budget and NASA’s efforts allow a further build out of the Earth System Observatory, “allowing open access to actionable data and information on climate change and natural hazards for scientists, decision-makers, and the public.

The First U.S. Moon Landing in Over Fifty Years.

  • A random take for the last Sunday of February 2024.

The badass. Often adored by people around the world, the badass persona has usually been aligned with the tough and rough characters portrayed, for the most part, by men. Think about movies including John Wick, Crank, Pulp Fiction, Scarface, Django Unchained, Taken, Kill Bill, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Most of these movies bring us adrenaline-pumping action, witty characters, inventive storytelling, and most importantly escape, reflection, insights, and revelations. For me, my vote goes to the first of the John Wick series, with Keanu Reeves seeking revenge after his beloved dog is killed by a group of thugs. Yes, it is incredibly violent, but it is two hours of complete unapologetic action cinema, with expertly choreographed fights and stunning cinematography. The plot? Who really cares about the plot? 🙂

Last week I needed to leave the sports-watching world and found the 2010 movie, Salt. Speaking of badass characters, Angelina Jolie was bar none in these two hours of fun. There are so many explosive scenes, a great cast, and a storyline we can all engage with as Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, who is accused of being a Russian sleeper agent and goes on the run to try to clear her name. You can talk Liam Neeson, Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood, and Keanu Reeves, but for my money, my vote goes to Angelina Jolie in the movie Salt. You only understand who Evelyn Salt really is when the great actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, scrolls through Salt’s C.V. on his phone. A simple but eye-opening scene.

An RPG from a desk chair and a fire extinguisher.

  • The countdown, and we are so close. Two weeks to daylight savings time!

  • Police – in the United States, a most difficult and complex job. Heightened awareness, the ‘woke’ movement, and cameras everywhere do not make the job easier, especially when it comes to dealing with family disputes. I am not going to bore any of you with my take on parents and their relationship with their children. What I am going to say it that our children are a product of their environment, and that starts with their parents. Do not misunderstand what I am saying, I am not downplaying the cause and effect of children in a broken home, or even worse, without parents. What I am saying is that the police work shown in this video is a great balance of decision-making by that officer. He listened, evaluated, and took action. Police officers have a very difficult job. Maybe this scene should be made into a public service announcement.
A Great Scene from the show Southland.

  • A number of readers responded to last week’s take on the effect of OpenAI’s new text-to-video model called Sora. I tried to explain that this new AI model may cause havoc with movie and television production houses, as the technology could possibly take the place of studio production staff. Last Thursday, Atlanta filmmaker Tyler Perry had his say with the possible effect of Sora:

Tyler Perry has put the kibosh on a planned $800 million expansion at his 330-acre studio in Atlanta over fears that rapid advances in video-related artificial intelligence could reduce demand for traditional filmmaking.
Last week, OpenAI unveiled its new text-to-video model Sora with sample AI-generated videos that impressed and alarmed many observers.
“Being told that it can do all of these things is one thing, but actually seeing the capabilities, it was mind blowing,” Perry said Thursday in an extensive interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He said filmmakers may not need to do location shoots or even build out certain sets if the technology keeps improving.
Perry’s apparent pullback is notable because the prolific filmmaker not only shoots his own projects at Tyler Perry Studios at the former Fort McPherson, one of the largest filming campuses in the country, but he also reaps substantial revenue renting soundstages and backlot operations to other major studios.
Because as I was looking at it, I immediately started thinking of everyone in the industry who would be affected by this, including actors and grip and electric and transportation and sound and editors, and looking at this, I’m thinking this will touch every corner of our industry.”

Will AI and models like Sora change most aspects of creative thinking and development? You are damn straight it will.

  • I try to close my weekly post with what I call pure talent. I remember the song, Into the Night, circa 1980, but I never knew much about Benny Mardones. To all you young musicians…. this is a live performance in 1980, with 1/100th of the technical integration now used by live-performing bands. No auto-tune, no lip-sync, no ear-prompting. His band actually worked hard on the backing vocals. The song, Into the Night, is just pure talent.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Sunday Funday.

Hip-Hop. What is Sora? Thoughts. Harry & Rugby.

Usher is Pure Talent. Text-To-Video Mid-February Already. Only 18 Weeks?

Quote of the Week: “I think it’s important for us to believe in one another’s capabilities. If I didn’t have someone to believe in me, I wouldn’t be the individual I am today. Neither would I strive for new territory or new direction or to believe in myself.” – Usher

  • Last Sunday’s Super Bowl inspired me. Yes, the second half and overtime were great to watch, but what I am referring to is the halftime show. The twenty-minute halftime featured an artist who has sold 150 million records worldwide and earned 8 Grammy Awards, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He has influenced contemporary R&B, pop, and hip-hop music as well as any other artist, and along with many business ventures, he founded a non-profit charity that aims to provide young people with a new look on life through education and real-world experiences.

I am referring to Usher, who at last Sunday’s halftime showed the world his wealth of talent including his profound mastery of soul, R&B, and hip-hop. Recognized by Billboard as number six on the “Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years,” Usher continues to exemplify what I always refer to as ‘pure talent.’

The father of hip hop was Clive Campbell, a.k.a. DJ Kool Herc. He was one of the first DJs to isolate the instrumental portion of a record, emphasizing the drumbeat, or the “break.” Using two turntables and two copies of the same record, DJ Kool Herc was able to elongate the break or what DJs back then called “breakbeat.” This breakbeat music, using funky drum solos, formed the basis of hip-hop music, and the rest his history. In November of last year, Clive Campbell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Pure talent.

The Story Behind the Birth of Hip-Hop.

  • Video generators, using some semblance of artificial intelligence (AI), have been around for a few years. Two years ago, Meta released a video generator and just a month ago Google released a text-to-video (T2V) model that was very impressive. Now OpenAI, the so-called research organization who creates AI “to benefit all humanity,” has created a T2V generator that can create detailed and realistic videos from text prompts.

OpenAI’s model, called Sora, “is able to generate complex scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion, and accurate details of the subject and background,” OpenAI said. “The model understands not only what the user has asked for in the prompt, but also how those things exist in the physical world.” Why are alarms going off with this type of AI technology? Sora cannot only create video from text prompts, it can create video from still images or existing video, to extend the content or fill in ‘missing’ frames. This means it can alter old/historical footage, create cheap content, and provide an uncomfortable level of propaganda and disinformation (false video = false news). Here is a quote from one technology scientist: “Technology like Sora holds the potential to not just disrupt industries like art and cinema, but completely obliterate them. No longer will production companies need to rely on actors, camera operators, gaffers, and the hundreds of other people who create the movies and TV shows we love. Instead, they can just type a few words into a prompt and get a full video.

Yes, I know this scenario seems far-fetched, but if you are a producer or studio executive, are you not always looking for less expensive ways to make your movie? Displacing actors, camera operators, gaffers, and hundreds of other support people are eye-opening enough, but how will nation states, terrorist organizations, and political campaigns weaponize these types of AI models to create havoc, with the dangers and risks never-ending.

I do really enjoy new technology, but similar to previous posts, Congress and worldwide organizations better start wrapping some standards around all of AI’s far-reaching models. This video provides a great explanation and examples of what the Sora tool is capable of – alarming or not.

Technology at its Finest, or at its Worst?

Things I Think – February 18, 2024

  • Prince Harry hinting that he is considering becoming a U.S. citizen. Oh, how the Royals must be eye-rolling.
  • Consumer spending habits are forgoing discretionary purchases, some of them being expensive sneakers and athletic wear. Nike announced 2% of its workforce, or 1,700 employees, will get caught up in a reduction in force. I have the same question I have asked with other big corporate layoffs: What were those 1,700 employees doing where Nike can just lay them off?
  • Annoyance alert. Resorts are trying to figure out the ongoing dilemma of their guests, early every morning, placing towels on pool and beach chairs so that sometime during the day a chair is available for them. Such despair for the other guests who come to the pool and beach only to find out there are no available chairs. Drama.
  • In less than three seconds, what is Presidents’ Day officially called? Three seconds are up.
  • The Taylor Swift effect. The NFL estimates that five million more female viewers watched last Sunday’s Super Bowl. It is all about the Taylor Swift Chiefs. On a serious note, TS donated $100,000 to a victim’s family from last week’s shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade. Talented and a good human.
  • Last Thursday, SpaceX launched twenty-two more of its Starlink internet satellites, their third mission in less than 24 hours. This type of launch activity, even three years ago, seemed implausible.
  • Professional golf is definitely at the crossroads, for more reasons than just the PGA and LIV tours. Pay for play, team concepts, and more are coming fast.
  • This is exactly how I feel about one of my least favorite topics:

  • Speaking of Prince Harry. It is not often that the National Football League (NFL) has the Duke of Sussex present an award. There is no doubt that Prince Harry took full advantage of his time on stage to take a dig at American football, especially as compared to rugby. At the forty second mark of this video, Prince Harry gets very funny.
Nicely done, Prince Harry!

  • My first take discusses Usher’s pure talent. Way before Usher came into prominence, we smiled at the incredible talent of the Bee Gees, and the high-octane voice of Barry Gibb. This 25-year-old, listening to the Bee Gees for the first time, obviously had no clue of their pure talent. Listen to her comments at the end of the video. 🙂 (Yes, I know I am a hair-band guy, but if you do not like the Bee Gees, you need to get checked).
Pure Talent from the Bee Gees.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Sunday Funday!