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Archive for January, 2008

From Stem Cells to Clones to Your Terminator

January 18, 2008 Leave a comment

So many of the technologies we use today were discovered in a pursuit to help humanity. The car, the airplane, the telephone, the television, the light bulb, the list goes on. Still, we can also say that many discoveries ended up manipulated into things that ultimately re-shaped history on genocidal proportions. The gun, atomic energy, viral manipulation, DNA mapping, the list goes on. Would there have been a Cold War if we didn’t drop two atomic bombs on Japan? Would we be talking about biological and chemical warfare if we hadn’t discovered

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams ran a story that talked about the latest advancements in stem cell research. Basically, scientists have the ability to make a highly probably fully functional embryo, that could grow into a human. Although the researchers in the piece said they do not want to make a clone of themselves, and want to use the technology to cure “incurable” diseases, I’m always suspect about these kinds of ‘discoveries.’

Remember that scene in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines where the General presses the button to bring Skynet online…I remember him saying something like, “…I opened Pandora’s Box…” Don’t we ever learn from our mistakes? Maybe not. Just visit the Atomic Dome in Hiroshima, Japan and then take a walk through the Atomic Bomb Museum and see the mistakes of us humans. The deployment of that bomb gave justification for the modern day arms race, and set human history on its proverbial ear.

I’m sure when Einstein and his contemporaries discovered atomic energy, and postulated the benefits to human civilization they didn’t imagine it would actually be used to kill other humans, willfully. What is it about humans where feel that we can push everything to the extreme, and feel justified to inflict immeasurable damage to get our way? The more I think about stem cell research and embryonic cloning I can’t help but shiver at the what might happen when taken to the extremes of human imagination.

The battlefield is perfumed by the stench of human carcass. One would think no military force could be this great, but since the governments of the world discovered cloning it became easy to mass produce armies thus fueling battles for decades, even centuries. The cracking skulls beneath your feet are not from your brother or sister, or your neighbor down the street, but carbon copies of them all. No ‘real’ connections. No ‘real’ attachments. Grown for the mega battles. Constructed to feel no pain. Honed to be the perfect fighting machine. To live and die for one reason – war.

This may sound like the script for the movie The Terminator, but every time I watch the news I feel that movie isn’t far from reality. The latest research with stem cells only makes me more apprehensive towards optimistic feelings that humans will actually correct the errors of their past and move past the want for power. I have all the confidence that the technology will be used to cure disease, but I also know it will be manipulated into a weapon for war…Or maybe this is the time I am happily wrong.

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Categories: Health Care, Japan, War Tags: , , ,

Live and Die By the Business Plan

January 16, 2008 Leave a comment

The Under-appreciated Solid Business Plan

So last time we spoke about transparency – telling people clearly and timely what is happening with your business processes – not withholding information. Today we are going to talk about probably the thing people underestimate more than any other – the business plan. Having a solid business plan is like having a solid foundation for your house. You wouldn’t build your house on swamp land, would you? In order to have a secure base for your home you need to dig deep and find that hard bedrock, then you can build the home you always wanted with secure knowledge that the foundation is solid. The same goes for a business of any kind.

A good business plan will always be useful when it comes time to finding investors (that’s if you need them). If I’m going to give you money to build your business I want to know where my money is going, and how it will grow. Investment doesn’t mean charity. I’m going to want a return, and if your business plan doesn’t give me what I’m looking for then I will not give you money. First impressions are lasting impressions. This can be the case with a sub par business plan. It will be the first thing I see, which will disappoint me so it will be the last thing I want to see. I will walk away feeling like I wasted my time, and that your business is doomed to fail – I’m out. Maybe this causes me to alert my friends not to consider your company as an area of investment.

So what actually constitutes a good business plan? Let me point you towards a site that will give you all the help you need and more – http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/plan/writeabusinessplan/index.html.
Despite the politics within the United States government, one of the good things about it is the support it gives towards small business startups (with regards to the planning phase). These resources are excellent, and can help you shape a quality business plan.

Now, as far as I’m concerned, some things I think are important to consider when formulating your business plan – 1) Explain your idea/concept/whatever thoroughly. Don’t be vague. Misunderstandings can cause people to turn a blind eye towards your idea; 2) Have a statement of ethics/morals. Make sure your decision-making process has a base that can guide it through most situations. Really work this out because people will question where you are coming from on decisions; 3) Detail your financials. Money, money, money. I hate to emphasize this so much, but if people can’t see where the money is going, and why it is going in a specific direction, forget about gaining support. Also, maintain growth potential figures. This will show potential investors that you are looking ahead, and that could mean better initial investments, as well as future support; and I will leave you with this 4th point – keep the business plan flexible. Don’t be so rigid that you can’t adjust to changes in the business environment. Don’t be so flexible that you bend to every little thing forgetting who you are. Keep the ability to move fluidly incase something happens. Understanding the tangibles and intangibles within a business is very important.

A business plan is a guide for you, the business starter. When things are crazy and confused consult your business plan for direction. If it doesn’t have this you will be totally lost. Remember it is a plan, and the idea is to follow the plan. Don’t give up on it, or it will give up on you. Adhere to it as much as possible while remaining open-minded to changes, and spend the time to craft it so that in the future you only have to tweak it here and there.Until next time my friends…Good luck with your businesses.

Categories: Business Tags:

Transparency Will Keep You Seeing Black

January 16, 2008 Leave a comment

“A Successful Business=Transparency”

Transparency – what does it mean? Simple, tell people, in a clear and timely way, what is happening. Tell the people who work for you what you know. Keep them informed. Make them a part of the process. Keep clientele informed as well. Keep all members of the operation, from suppliers to end consumers, in the loop. Of course it is more complicated than this, but for now lets keep it simple.

I am going to talk about one aspect of the above – transparency between leadership and employees, and how to maintain an open/effecient line of communication between all parties. No matter how many employees work for a company leadership should not sacrifice transparency.

In this age of information and communication technologies creating a way to keep employees informed should be easy. A great example of this advancement of technology is company intranets (internal internet specific to said company). Company leadership can set up an intranet where company employees have access to a company-only bulletin board. Leadership can post PDF bulletins that employees can access anytime via onsite computers. All information is of course internal and this intranet is a closed loop only for company use. Depending on the level of transparency employees could be given the opportunity to post information on the intranet bulletin board. How it is monitored will be something to discuss and work out. How interactive to make it would also be something for discussion. In the spirit of full transparency I would say that all information wanting to be posted should be. It would mean that the intranet would have to have a dynamic layout and design that allows for archives, etc. Again, with the advancements in communication and information technology anything could be accomplished.

Another example for increased information communication that would raise the level of transparency throughout a company is a company listserv. To make this indiscriminate employees would automatically be added to the listserv once they set-up a company email account. Once again, this would be internal in nature, for company employees only and would not be directly publicized. This is for employer-employee communication. Leadership would be able to get information out quickly, and employees would be able to contact leadership directly. It would of course be the responsibility of the leadership to answer whatever inquiry comes across the listserv lines. Monitoring the listserv is the only issue really, but if leadership gains the trust of its employees monitoring won’t be a major issue. A simple set of rules emphasizing decency, proper conduct, etc. would be necessary.

The main purpose of increased transparency, I believe, is to create a feeling of unity within the company. I believe that by communicating openly, one can foster this feeling of unity and use it to maintain high company-wide moral and spirit. And of course, this should go both ways.

Leadership should not only tell people what to do and hand down decisions, but also entertain and accept suggestions, ideas, and thoughts from the employee base. Decisions are not made in a vacuum. Leaders don’t always know everything, but knowing how to gain knowledge from the resources surrounding them is what makes a good leader.

For more information and stories on transparency and business check out these links:
This is a web blog excerpt about how transparency helped this guys business.http://worcester.typepad.com/pc4media/2005/04/transparency_an.html

IMPAQT is a search engine marketing company that employs transparency ideologies into the core of its business plan, affecting all systems from clientele to suppliers to employees.http://www.impaqt.com/insights/sem-way-business-transparency.htm

Investopedia is a great source for all information financial and investment related. This is a story pertaining to why transparency in relation to financial statements is so necessary.http://www.investopedia.com/articles/fundamental/03/121703.asp

More business talk to come…Until then, enjoy.

Categories: Business Tags: ,

A Time For Change

January 6, 2008 1 comment

On January 3rd, 2008 in the great state of Iowa the sounds of change could be heard, carried on the backs of blades of wind into the hearts and minds of the entire United States of America, and throughout the World. The sounds echoed the message – “NOW, IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE.”

On this day in history Barack Hussein Obama won the first many battle in the war of U.S. presidential politics. He won the Iowa Caucuses. Next up, the New Hampshire Primary – January 8th, 2007. This moment cannot be underscored enough. As the United States bleeds from 8 years of Bush battering, it is a wonder that we can have any hope at all. The Bush administration has left a great nation a shadow of its former self – A once beautiful statue that has been made to look an ugly stump. The savior we are hoping for must come with this next election.

My language may seem drastic, metaphorical, or simply over-exaggerated, but that is the situation in the United States. Bush has done little to raise confidence, even among his own Republican base. When die hard Republicans are running for the hills and supporting the Democrats, I have to ask myself, “Is Judgment Day coming?”

Now is the time to pay attention, for the next few months will determine the future of this great nation.

For some good reporting on the U.S. Presidential Race, check out these websites – http://www.nytimes.com/pages/politics/index.html, and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032553/. The New York Times has some really good opinion articles that can give some delicacy to this moment, while MSNBC hits you with great facts and figures, and shows you the process for expert angles. There will be so many stories coming out in the ensuing months of campaigning. Now we will see what the candidates are made of. Stay informed.