I have gone on record as stating that I would sacrifice a finger (possibly even a whole hand) for access to raw Google data. It is the closest to an omniscient, all-knowing creature there has ever been on the planet. Its data can pretty much predict all sorts of business and other developments. Facebook on the other hand has earned no such honor in terms of self-mutilation. It is a badly run platform with management closer to a hacker mentality than a global force for anything. However, as a social scientist, I would love to experiment with users like they do.
Whether or not horoscopes have the slightest truth to them is scientifically pretty clear. They do not. End of story. Except for the haggling little detail of the fact that most people on the planet, even scientists, actually believe the opposite. Some secretly read their charts, others try and explain it away, many openly follow them as “innocent fun” but probably well over half the global population in fact gives value to astrology.
Not that many scientists have bothered to discredit astrology simply because it is so obviously irrelevant. A few studies into the time of year of birth don’t really bear much relevance. NASA tried to point out that it could be 13 and not 12-star signs and of course they shouldn’t be neatly spaced out if we want to have any sort of astrological founding to this particular myth. All to no avail. So I call on Facebook to solve this once and for all!
Oh great schemer, hacker at heart, and lost unethical teenager, Mark Zuckerberg, this is your time to shine. Use that vast trove of data you so freely sell to everyone to help us understand. Most users have given you their actual birth date. And you can cross-reference with a zillion indicators of personality. Do Virgo’s post more often? Do Pisces upload more creative things? Are Scorpios really sex crazy in their online behavior? You have the data even for shy zodiac signs. Are all people born in August less likely to post stuff about themselves? Especially with lockdown and increased reliance on social media, it would be extremely easy to prove or disprove that certain birth dates correlate with certain online traits.
Except you won’t, will you Mark? Because all you care about is money and power. If you find any such data you will use it for a dating app or whatever else you can think of which will generate money and power for you. Congress doesn’t need to break apart technology companies. Just the selfish ones like Facebook.
It was just a Facebook ad for a ring. Contrary to doom and gloom tech naysayers, their algorithm is pretty bad. I very rarely even pay attention to Facebook ads. But this fitness monitoring ring had the endorsement of the NBA. That little familiar logo in combination with the indicator that it had hundreds of comments caught my eye. It was mainly Republicans expressing their hatred of the athletes that took a position against racism. I made the mistake of commenting and instantly received a lot of hate and ridicule. As a seasoned social media professional, for the good of my mental health, I just left it there and forgot about it.
This morning I woke at 4am. I had gone to bed early, I don’t need much sleep anymore. And…LeBron James. Normally I would roll over and sleep some more but I started to watch the game. A lot of people find the first half of a basketball match boring since any result can be overturned at the end. They don’t know LBJ. He was probing the court like Curiosity, the Mars rover from NASA. The man is the Marco Polo of exploration, he tries every opponent, every combination of moves with his team mates. He has a mind map of every individual’s playing styles, strengths, weaknesses, mental states and a plan about how to help them develop in the direction he needs them to. At half time I didn’t even care about the score. Almost everyone had played well. And they didn’t even know that LeBron was the one pulling the strings.
Most people are focused on short term results. Multinational behemoths suffer from this, quarter to quarter, keeping investors happy can ruin a company. It is pretty similar with elite athletes, millions of haters ready to demolish you at every turn. This is a sport which pioneered detailed data gathering, it was way ahead of the curve in terms of using all available information to improve. And LeBron is the Google of it all. He processes it and he uses it for good. Google may have dropped the slogan “do no evil” but LBJ lives by it. The Nuggets started increasing the pressure, chipping at the Lakers’ lead. LBJ continued to trust his teammates even though they were – as always – wasting many of his great assist passes, or not understanding how they need to move.
And then comes the dreaded finale. Jamal Murray is possibly the all time greatest if you look at his stats during the playoff fourth quarters. The man turns into a monster scoring machine with a phenomenal percentage of his shots going in from anywhere he chooses. He kicked into gear and for those in the know it was obvious that the Nuggets would win.
Except that LBJ was on the court.
It was the gentle, almost loving way that he did it. If only political rivalries were so sweet and tender. He made a slight hand signal to Rajon Rondo to indicate that he would defend against Murray. And that was the end of that. The next 3-4 times the rising star attempted to score he was met with the defensive genius of LBJ. He missed them all. All those basketball experts who had previously understood that the Nuggets would win, instantly knew that they would now lose. One man turned the match around yet most people wouldn’t even notice. Because in an equally gentle way, he then stepped away.
Especially in politics or business we are always asking our leaders to be forceful. We don’t like it when they are uncertain even when – as with the COVID pandemic – the simple fact is that nobody had conclusive evidence on which to act. In basketball it is easy to see how LeBron could just keep making a fool of Jamal Murray. That is what Michael Jordan would do. He would keep at it to make an impressive story for people to tell. About him. To become a legend simply by the fact that he personally did something extreme and impressive.
Not LBJ. He left Caruzo to defend even if it cost them a couple of buckets. He continued to pass to others even though they missed a lot. He quietly sneaked off court before the end even to not make a big fuss about the win, to not make it about him, to go and talk to Anthony Davis who had struggled on many fronts. They started to walk towards the locker room completely and obviously exhausted but a journalist chased them. It is the rule that the top scorer of the winning team has to speak on camera right after the game. Davis couldn’t handle it, LeBron dragged himself out and put his after match towel around his neck.
It is usually four questions. The last one is sometimes not about the game. Tonight it was about Breonna. That question is something that LeBron has earnt. He is the unofficial spokesperson for millions of Americans because he has matched athletic skill with political bravery. Michael Jordan may or may not have said that “Republicans buy sneakers too” to justify his lack of political action, but LeBron forcefully accepts the opposite role. If all those haters in the fitness ring cost him not getting as many championship rings as Jordan so be it. More so even than the great Mohamed Ali he is a symbol of an athlete using his position to change the world.
And I cried.
It was past 6am in Greece, I only had a short nap to take before waking the kids and all that, but here I was crying for what a tall black bearded and slightly balding man said about Breonna Taylor. In a highly polarized country getting ready to vote, what could he possibly say to millions of people like me around the world? After all hundreds of communication specialists are dissecting the same topics for presidential candidates and covering every possible angle, every slogan, every way to look at the problem and influence people, he had me, the interviewer and people around the world feeling his pain.
It is not the championship ring that LeBron James is lacking. He is President material. If you are in any way involved in leading teams you would do well to study him on and off the court. While everyone talks the talk about uniting the country, leading their companies, or teaching this and that, he shows us how.
Instagram dictates modern tourism, learn how to use it
It was our last day in Reykjavik and we headed past the scenic old port. To a simulator. That’s right. After two weeks in Iceland and a whole lot of very impressive experiences, we went to a helicopter fly-over machine. We had been on glaciers, inside volcanos, seen more waterfalls than you can imagine exist but here we were strapping ourselves in to a typical such ride. It moves, it sprinkles you, blows air on you and you get a completely unique new view on the sights you have already seen as well as many you will never be able to. It also features good weather which helps explain why it took so long to film it. At the end they offer the typical cheesy fake photos of you in front of the Northern Lights or other options for anyone with too much cash.
If you only have fifteen minutes to experience Iceland I can think of no better way. And you could have the same film anywhere in the world. But the cheesy photos kill it.
One of the reasons Iceland is so popular lately is because it is Instagramable. You just point at any of their attractions, take a photo and can be sure of a stream of likes and comments. That simple. You will look good. It is unusual. You seem interesting and adventurous. It stands out in their social media. I first experienced this effect last year in Norway.
This is just a rock. I can think of a thousand equally impressive views in Greece where we could add a rock like this for Instagram. And even though thousands of people probably post the exact same photo, mine still got hundreds of likes and comments. So why don’t we go about putting rocks for photos in more places? Make it as safe as you want, just make sure it looks impressive. And make it easy for the photographer to get to the right angle. It is more important these days than the actual experience. People don’t care how you got there, if you cheated or took a ride, nobody will check. “Pics or it didn’t happen” only refers to the finish line, the final result. No matter if you posed for ten minutes or waited two hours for the clouds to lift, the sun to be at the right place or whatever else you needed to do.
In fact if I had one criticism of Iceland and the way they have set up their national parks it is that they don’t have enough photo opportunities. Too many of those great waterfalls have fenced off the ideal semi-dangerous-looking spot or the ideal photo angle position. Nobody has (yet) fallen off that rock in the picture. This other one (with me jumping) I think one person did; too many think it is cool to dangle their feet off the ledge. Why? Because someone posted it on Instagram! In a way it may actually be the Norwegian Tourist Board’s fault that person fell off. If only they had set up the angle for photography better. He wouldn’t have to go so close to the ledge for an impressive photo.
The currency is “likes”. No point complaining, that is how it goes.Work with it. It is the most natural viral promotion there is. People take the photo, others are envious and want to go get their own ultra likeable photo. No need to chase so called “influencers”. Instagrammable locations work like a pyramid, sucking in more and more people. Even the ones that didn’t like or comment are opening a Google search about travelling to that destination in another tab. Come on, admit it, you probably started back at half way through this article when you saw my picture of my friend on that rock…
(If anyone in tourism needs my help making their location more Instagrammable, feel free to contact me.)
Many of my friends think I hate Greece. It is true I am very tough on its people, businesses and government. I openly support the famous marbles from the Parthenon taken by Lord Elgin staying in the British Museum. I fully justified austerity measures as well deserved. I even downplayed the massive recent success of containing the pandemic by claiming it is mainly due to the fact that hundreds of thousands of lazy civil servants are happy to officially do nothing and get paid for it whilst others are simply protecting older people because they live off those pensions. I am also a vocal critic of Greek tourism, always harping on about the lack of infrastructure, short term profit causing destruction and horrible rate of decay of anything Greek tourism touches in its unplanned and unregulated ways.
But right now it is pure bliss.
I just got back from a five day stint around Central Greece. Kudos to my partner and all the kids that tag along, we just hop in a car and follow our hearts. Feel like walking to a spectacular waterfall? I was in Norway last summer but we can compete with the best of them. Prefer an alpine valley, do you want to camp under the stars? You got it! Some of the least light polluted places in Europe are in the Greek mountains. And of course if you want beaches, heck, we have all kinds of beaches. Not just the ones you see on the posters. Beaches with sand, beaches with pebbles, “I want a beach to find pretty stuff to make a necklace” said my daughter and hey presto, here you go darling, I just needed to drive around a couple more corners.
The real treasure right now however is the freedom. You get that beach to yourself. You can walk all day and not meet a soul. All the tourism infrastructure is there and working, just without all the tourists. It is a unique opportunity. A friend once explained to me that the Greeks that own most seaside resorts are actually descendants of the least able offspring of people that lived in mountain villages. Back then, cultivatable land was the prize. So the second son got the lots by the sea which were considered worthless. I liked the theory, it justified all the damage I have seen done to these places over the years by short term thinkers out for a fast buck, the ones that like to take advantage of tourists.
Well the good news is that they are not around now. It is mainly the more modern, friendly, better grounded hospitality operators that decided to make a go of it right now. The long term thinkers. The ones you will like. If there is one cafe open in the village, it is the nice one. Add to that freshness the fact that nature is refreshed through quarantine keeping humans away for a couple of months and this is the most ….springy Greek spring ever.
So take it from someone that isn’t afraid to say it as it is even when it annoys all my Greek friends. Right now is truly the best Greece anyone has seen in the past half-century. If you visited a long time ago, you know what I am on about. If you don’t just take my word for it and visit Greece as soon as possible. This won’t last forever I’m afraid and I will have to go back to bitching about it again…
This is no conspiracy theory. The Greek government has done an admirable job handling the pandemic. To be honest, it was much easier than others. We have no economy. Sending everyone home when half the population isn’t working anyway is no big decision. Taking an aggressive approach when your economy depends largely on tourism is also an easy choice. If we manage to salvage July and August on the Greek islands it will be a major victory. Leaders of countries with actual working economies that produce something had a much harder job. Sure Trump and Boris Johnson are inept, but we should not disregard how much harder it is to make any decision when there are billions riding on it.
Here in Greece it was easy to stop schools. We have a terrible educational system run by civil servants who do their best not to work or be evaluated. Not much difference if they close. In England it could cripple many companies when parents have to stay at home. Here it is easy for most people. Same with our enormous civil sector. Nobody misses the paper pushers when they are gone.
Some years ago, when my kids still thought I knew the answer to everything, they asked me what I would do if I became prime minister. (Because it was so obvious that I was the wisest man in the world!) I didn’t have to think much, the answer was obvious: “I would force everyone to get on a single IT system for everything.” This would solve most of our woes, from the black economy, to corruption.
We now have most of the population at home. Online most of the time. How will they return to work when this is all over? They won’t! Our Prime minister used to be minister of Interior. He had a thing about organizing the civil service better. Here is how he will do it: What we will do is ask them, under the pretense of health and safety, to work online. Civil servants in Greece have managed to avoid using computers. About two decades ago some minister tried to make it compulsory for them to use email. He failed. They still don’t. But they could now!
These civil servants are all being paid full salaries and bonuses even though they are at home. So you could easily ask them to start signing in on a computerized system. Next step would be to get them to monitor some simple procedure, much as they would stamp approval on paper in their offices. Then more procedures on the same electronic platform. “Hey, we are paying you, it is dangerous to go back to the office, this is the only way!” It is not hard to imagine the entire civil service being restructured in less than a year like this. And the best part is that whoever can’t or won’t join the digital revolution will be self exiling themselves.
I am optimistic I know. My kids tell me that too now that they are older.
My partner works for a major airline. They have tens of thousands of people that come into contact with travellers every day. Here are some aspects of flight attendants in particular that make them worthy of being examined for possible clues about the new coronavirus:
1. It is impossible for a flight attendant (FA) to lie about being ill. They are a fairly unique professional group. For most of us if we feel unhealthy, it is just an excuse at work or an email from home and we disappear off the grid. I could be writing this while burning with a fever and you would be none the wiser. FAs are in very public scrutiny for many hours before and after every flight. The FAs flying to and from China since last November when this outbreak begun were at the airport many hours before and after flights and had to go through a number of check points. If one was burning with fever they would have been flagged.
2. It is also impossible for a FA to be ill with this coronavirus and all their colleagues not to know about it. They are a tight knit bunch with intense social media (chat groups) to solve every day issues. Even on their Facebook groups they often post about minor medical issues. Especially for American based FAs it is completely impossible that one would have coronavirus symptoms and at least 5-6 people would not be instantly alerted.
So for starters it is a group of people that is impossible to under report. It is also a pretty large sample size. Let’s look at their daily grind for clues:
1. They are in close proximity to 100-200 people in every flight for many hours.
2. Before the outbreak they wore no gloves or protective equipment.
3. Airplanes have no particularly special air filtration systems (for viruses).
4. Airplanes are stationary, full of people and FAs for several hours in total, often without air conditioning working at zero altitude. (In case you had some theory about cosmic rays killing corona virus.) So even if a pressurized cabin impedes the circulation of water vapour it isn’t always pressurized.
If someone more expert than me on air travel thinks about it, there are probably a dozen more factors like the above. And someone more expert than me should really look into the fact that so far only one flight attendant has contracted coronavirus. Maybe there are valuable clues in this (pretty large) sample of professionals for a fast solution to what needs to be done.
(In terms of cases of flight attendants with coronavirus, at the time of writing I can find only two. One Korean and one Japan Air.)
Did you know that contact with silver kills the coronavirus? In fact, according to most Greek priests, it kills all strands of the virus, even the new ones, even the ones we don’t know much about yet. Because the spoons used in communion are silver. 1+1=101
In case you haven’t visited a Greek church, Holy communion here is not like the rest of the world. We don’t do a wafer, biscuit or whatever else would make sense. No, Orthodox Christians in Greece share a spoon and drink from the same cup! And if you think that is ludicrous, wait until you hear the excuses they give for this. They range from “Christ kills all evil contained in communion” to “it is the alcohol in communion that saves us.” Fifty, a hundred or more people, gather on Sundays and basically exchange saliva based on the belief that this is an on-demand miracle, much like the spontaneous combustion every year in Jerusalem that gives us the fire to light our Easter candles.
For Greeks this is normal. The Greek Orthodox Church pretty much controls the Justice system and government. Greek schools teach more of what the church demands than most other topics. They own enormous parts of the country, prime real estate in central locations and of course an entire peninsula which in direct contrast to every single rational argument remains only for men. The President of Greece, now a woman, can not visit a part of the country because …well, because the church says so.
It is, of course, the right of every human to believe whatever they like. But in terms of public health, such irresponsible behavior that flies directly in the face of all available scientific knowledge is truly and monumentally criminal. The only miracle in this whole ridiculous farse is that the World Health Organization hasn’t intervened.
No, I am not one of those that make fun of the girl. I admire her and fully support the effort. From a communications point of view, Greta Thunberg greatly helped both bring forward important issues and the idiots that oppose global warming initiatives with no valid scientific or logical counter-arguments. In fact, I have an idea to cut emissions immediately, drastically and effectively.
Shave your head.
In fact don’t shave it, use a machine, less waste. If the entire planet shaved their heads the benefits would be enormous. I challenge some universities to calculate them in detail. We start of course with shampoos and conditioners and all those other hair washing products, their plastic containers, moving them across the globe, disposing of them. Then there is the water wasted in hours of washing hair, the energy to heat that water. Chemicals, gels, dyes, poisoning us and the planet. Electricity wasted drying hair, straightening or whatever else you do to hair. Time and energy wasted going to hair salons and all other trips related to hair. If we run the entire chain backward and eliminate hair care, I am pretty sure we can shave off 1 degree Celsius from the planet just by shaving our heads.
When Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage this September, nobody expected the shocking news he was about to deliver…
He unveiled the new iPhone 11—the most advanced phone Apple has ever made.
But it was not the triple-lens camera and lustrous finishes that stole the show. It was the phone’s price tag.
For the first time ever, Apple cut its iPhone price.
As I’ll explain, Apple made this move out of desperation… and it may well spell the beginning of the end of Apple’s run as a dominant company.
Apple Is a Phone Company
Let’s get one thing straight…
Apple is not a computer company anymore.
Apple is a phone company.
Since it introduced the iPhone in 2007, Apple has sold 2.2 billion phones raking in over a trillion dollars in sales—more than any other phone maker in history. Meanwhile, Apple stock shot up over 2,037%… and became the world’s largest publicly traded company.
iPhone Is Apple’s Golden Goose
Apple has earned a whopping $1.99 trillion since 2007. The thing is, more than half of it came from iPhone sales.
iPhone is not only Apple’s best-selling product by far. It’s also the company’s most profitable product.
For every dollar an iPhone brings into the company, Apple earns $0.60–0.74, according to PhoneArena. Compare that to the MacBook Air… Apple’s most profitable notebook…which earns a mere $0.29 on the dollar.
If it weren’t for the iPhone, Apple wouldn’t be where it is today. Without the iPhone, Apple would be a mediocre computer company like Dell at best.
iPhone Sales Stalled Out
For years, iPhone revenues have sprinted higher at an exponential pace.
But in 2015, Apple reached an inflection point. The growth of its iPhone sales has died out, as you can see below…
Last year, Apple sold 14 million fewer phones than it did three years ago.
That’s not unusual, though.
When Apple unveiled the first iPhone, the smartphone was groundbreaking technology. The typical lifecycle of a groundbreaking technology looks like this:
Sales skyrocket out of the gate… then flatten out as the market matures… and finally take an inevitable downturn.
Twelve years ago, only 120 million people had a cell phone. Today, over five billion people own a smartphone, according to IDC.
Think about it… In 2010, you could buy a brand-new iPhone 4 for $599.
In 2017, you would have had to fork over $849 for the iPhone 8 and $1,149 for the iPhone X… Apple’s most expensive phone.
The price hikes kept Apple’s growth engine alive… and for this reason, its revenues have gone on marching higher since 2011.
But there was also another reason Apple was forced to hike its phone prices…
iPhones Are More Expensive for Apple, Too
Take a close look at the chart below. It shows how much it costs for Apple to make an iPhone…
With the exception of a few years, the cost of making an iPhone has been climbing higher since 2007.
The first iPhone cost Apple just above $200 to make. Meanwhile, iPhone XS (the latest iPhone Apple reported on) costs double that.
Apple has always set records with its phone prices. But as you can see, it did it for a reason. It had to offset the ever-growing costs.
But as I warned my readers before, it was just a matter of time before Apple had to pull back with its pricing.
It didn’t take long….
iPhone Has a New Feature: Lower Prices
Last September, Apple unveiled iPhone XR, a less advanced and more affordable version of the iPhone X.
It cost $749, a 35% drop from the iPhone X’s $1,145 price tag.
But in truth, it was almost the same iPhone X, only disguised as a budget phone. It was basically an excuse for Apple to release a cheaper phone to get its sales figures back on track.
This year, Apple went a step further. It slashed the price of its full-fledged iPhone. The newly released iPhone 11 started at $699, a price point not seen since 2017.
Apple did it as a last resort to spur lackluster demand. But in doing so, it has signaled the beginning of the end of its lucrative iPhone business.
The End of Apple
See what’s happening?
Not only is Apple selling fewer iPhones, it’s now earning much less on each one.
Recent financial reports show that iPhone revenues… which have been Apple’s lifeblood… are starting to sink.
Last quarter, Apple earned 10% less from iPhones than it did during the same period last year. That’s a loss of about $20 billion!
Apple has never earned so little from iPhones… and all this will start showing up in Apple’s financial reports very soon.
Let me make it clear: half of Apple’s business is going off the rails, and there’s no turning back.
While Apple admits the demise of iPhone and is looking into new business directions, these things don’t happen overnight. Meanwhile, Apple’s money-making machine is grinding to a halt.
As I warned you earlier this year, Apple is a ticking time bomb… and for this reason, I’d recommend staying away from this stock.
Written with the assistance of Dainius Runkevičius.“
Pretty straightforward stuff. Forbes’ analysts have made similar predictions in the past, that is what analysts do after all. Last August Forbes published one entitled “Dark days are closing in on Apple” for example. But getting an article deleted like this now is either Apple with its usual heavy-handed journalist blackmailing techniques or a very clever and sneaky Forbes self-promotion.
Twitter, Instagram and a variety of blogs yet I hadn’t ever noticed him. Apparently he was a journalist for AlphaTV or something. Which isn’t saying much. And then the Guardian expose stated that “multiple email communications from 2018 and 2019 detail the entwinement of two senior executives at Bayer’s US operations with a Greek journalist and “communications strategist” named Thanos Dimadis who served briefly as executive director for the 101-year-old New York-based Foreign Press Association (FPA), and the related Foreign Press Foundation (FPF).”
That sounds important. As if he was quite high up in the pecking order. Wikipedia says that ” Athanasios “Thanos” Dimadis is a Greek journalist, political analyst, communications strategist, TV news personality, In 2018, Lally Weymouth, the senior editor of Washington Post, stated publicly about Dimadis “sets a great example to all young people who want to become journalists.” ” Wow. A great example eh?
So it was interesting to read a Facebook post by a Facebook friend which openly described him as completely useless and well, a moron. (Doubt Google translate will help you, he lays on the verbal abuse pretty heavily.) I was just about to defend Mr Dimadis. After all the expose was not really focused on his abilities or lack of abilities but the organization he worked for. And then Mr Dimadis decided to intervene himself.
In what must be a model of “how NOT to handle a negative Facebook post”, unless the profile is a fake account and/or being written by a vicious troll, Mr Dimadis first tried to intimidate though a veiled threat of legal action. Kostas called his bluff. It was too easy. Then the Thanos Dimadis profile decided to call me a “malaka” (common Greek profanity -literally means “masturbator”) which was not only uncalled for, it was downright ridiculous. This man held positions of responsibility in the Foreign Press Association (FPA)? It can’t be.
Yet there he was, just digging himself deeper and deeper into a completely ludicrous position on a public Facebook post. I have seen six years olds handle such situations better than him. The scandal is not really if he sent the emails the Guardian article refers to and what that may mean for Bayer, lobbying and corporate pressure on news’ organizations. The scandal is that someone like Thanos Dimadis was on the other end of such an email in the first place.