What the stock market is telling us

Well, the market is nearly reaching highs again. Surely the recession fears over the past months were unfounded. But, wait. What’s this?

“The stock market isn’t the economy. The economy is production and jobs, and there are shortfalls in virtually every sector of the economy,” Yellen said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Yellen… Yellen… oh, Janet Yellen, former Fed Chair. Yeah, she may be on to something.

So, where fiscally policy from Washington May be a while coming, there are those still suffering in this country. And where wealth may be accruing for those with substantial stock portfolios, the nearly 30 million people out of work (predominant low-wage workers) will just have to stick it out.

Taking it one step at a time

Sometimes we get into a habit of doing things a certain way. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m a huge proponent of routine. Yet, at times, it’s disrupted. Nothing we do or say will change that. So how do we deal with disruption?

I recommend taking it one step at a time. A huge response from you isn’t going to fix the problem. In fact, it may exacerbate it. Give it a chance to breathe. Explore the change, and lean in to the discomfort. You may find that the change really turned out to be a good thing.

Or, at the very least, it’s probably something that you can live with.

Upswings of downtime tech

The pandemic has a led to increases in the sales of all forms of technology. Computers, video games, streaming services, etc. How we’re spending time at home – or away from people – is a new type of American experience.

The burgeoning at-home entertainment market (at least electronic) is only a handful of decades old. And yet, here we are, spending time online, binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy (or so I’m told…), and delving into new distractions.

When we’ve reached the other side, how difficult will it be to pull ourselves away from all of the technology that we’ve become so reliant on? Or, will we continue to adapt, coexisting physically and digitally?

To mask or not to mask

I’m not sure what the question really is. I had to listen to someone while working the other day explaining that masks are just encouraging us to breathe in our own carbon dioxide, killing our brain cells.

Now, that’s a lot to deconstruct. First, masks really catch respiratory droplets.

One category of evidence comes from laboratory studies of respiratory droplets and the ability of various masks to block them. An experiment using high-speed video found that hundreds of droplets ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers were generated when saying a simple phrase, but that nearly all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered by a damp washcloth. Another study of people who had influenza or the common cold found that wearing a surgical mask significantly reduced the amount of these respiratory viruses emitted in droplets and aerosols.”

Second, will wearing a mask kill brain cells?

COVID-19 can kill. Now, according to a misguided Internet-fueled theory, masks can kill, too.

All it takes is a mask-wearer who inhales freshly exhaled carbon dioxide repeatedly until dizzy, unconscious or dead. That, no doubt, would be a shocking development. In the real world, the average mask user without preexisting respiratory illness has nothing to worry about — except COVID-19.

Only an airtight mask could possibly cause any breathing difficulty. That eliminates cloth masks, the preferred personal protective equipment in public. It actually eliminates N95 respirators, too, usually reserved for healthcare professionals. They fit tighter than a cloth mask but still not tight enough on the face to kill. Surgeons wear even more substantial face coverings all day without endangering their health.”

And finally, what does it mean for people to think that conspiracy theories are gospel truth? How can we fix that issue? How can we be more intelligent, more diligent about how we access truths in the world?

At the end of the day, it comes down to thinking – to using those self-same brain cells in an effective way.

A misinformation engine

“History is written by the victors.”

But the learning of history is something that must be more than reading the records of the victors. We don’t have the luxury of not understanding the past.

They say that to not learn history is to be doomed to repeat it. So it’s our duty to delve into history. Not just take the surface reporting, but to learn about an issue, and to form our own opinions.

And it is t geographically limited. Any person, any place, should take an interest in the steps taken to get where we are today. We stand on shoulders, so every now and again, we should look to see whose shoulders we’re standing on.

Tell yourself it’s okay

Telling yourself it’s okay, that everything is going according to plan, provides positive feedback that we all strive to receive. Not giving yourself that feedback is doing a disservice. Considering our time upon this earth is limited, and they’re only so many things a person can do, one must remember that moments are precious.

Just try your best, and be okay.

Recent Items 12

Some things of interest over the past week:

  • This item from MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality assumes a failed mission to the moon for Apollo 11. It’s called a deepfake, and the speech, while actually written for President Nixon to deliver in case of a disaster, is delivered by a sound-alike actor, and the footage is cut together from actual video footage of the then-president. It’s a warning against necessarily believing anything that may show up on the internet.
  • Nintendo’s strong earnings showing giving a glimpse into how shelter-in-place Millenials (and others…) are spending their time. I’ve got more than a few friends logging massive hours in video gaming during this pandemic.
  • Marketplace reporting on how families used pandemic relief to pay down credit card debt, and what that might look like now that added unemployment benefits have stopped.
  • 75 Years later, the impact of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • An animated feature out of Japan, Your NameMy brother turned me on to this, and it’s a beautifully put-together film. Pulls at the heartstrings as well. The US-optioned project has JJ Abrams attached, changing Tokyo to Chicago, and priestess-descended youth to Native American. I couldn’t find details on the production schedule for it, though.
  • And a project I’ve been working on, changing photographs to digital. Additionally, Google Photos can be used to back up your entire digital library to the cloud, assuming you’re not backing up raw video. Unlimited cloud storage for photos, with useful features – such as facial recognition and activity identification.

Cluttered thinking

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” – Lawrence J Peter

I’ve been fighting a battle against stuff for the better part of four years. It’s almost an endless fight. But this quote begs a question, one the Einstein thought was pertinent: What if clutter creates ideas?

True, time and space to think are very important for ideation. But without inputs, you’ve only got so much within you to pull from.

Resting on your laurels

When someone achieves something of value, it’s easy to accept that as the pinnacle of success. Why apply any creative output when the potential downfall outweighs the possibilities. If you’re already deemed a creative achiever, there’s no reason to opt to prove them wrong.

Well, so the thinking might go. But resting on one’s laurels isn’t a value proposition. It’s a “decline into laziness and a lack of application.”

Continuous output, attempting new things, pushing the envelope. Not resting. These are laurels we should strive to achieve. Not those placed upon us for past accomplishments.

What we do in the light

There isn’t much we keep hidden anymore. Nearly all of us, at least here in the US, have social media accounts, digital histories, and work/life balance issues. Jobs are different, homes are different, families are different, and privacy is different.

For the most part, none of that seems to matter. Hell, I try to write here daily, and over the past year have succeeded more often than not.

But I still keep things back. We all keep things back. Whether it’s the masks we wear (metaphorically speaking), or our desire to maintain a modicum of privacy in our personal lives, it’s almost always important to have a safe harbor to return to. 

We do so much in the light now. But, every once in awhile, it’s good to find shade.