Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pass the Placebos Please

Image result for placebo effect
pla·ce·bo ef·fect
  1. a beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient's belief in that treatment.

A placebo is anything that seems to be a "real" treatment -- but isn't. It could be a pill, a shot, or some other type of "fake" treatment. What all placebos have in common is that they do not contain an active substance that will affect health.

What Is the Placebo Effect?
Sometimes a person can have a response to a placebo. The response can be positive or negative. For instance, the person's symptoms may improve. Or the person may have what appears to be side effects from the treatment. These responses are known as the "placebo effect." There are some conditions in which a placebo can produce results even when people know they are taking a placebo. Studies show that placebos can have an effect on conditions such as:
  • Depression
  • Pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Menopause
In one study involving asthma, people using a placebo inhaler did no better on breathing tests than sitting and doing nothing. But when researchers asked for people's perception of how they felt, the placebo inhaler was reported as being as effective as medicine in providing relief.

How Does the Placebo Effect Work?
Image result for placebo effectResearch on the placebo effect has focused on the relationship of mind and body. One of the most common theories is that the placebo effect is due to a person's expectations. If a person expects a pill to do something, then it's possible that the body's own chemistry can cause effects similar to what a medication might have caused.
Experts also say that there is a relationship between how strongly a person expects to have results and whether or not results occur. The stronger the feeling, the more likely it is that a person will experience positive effects. There may be a profound effect due to the interaction between a patient and health care provider. The same appears to be true for negative effects. If people expect to have side effects such as headaches, nausea, or drowsiness, there is a greater chance of those reactions happening.
Image result for placebo effect

The fact that the placebo effect is tied to expectations doesn't make it imaginary or fake. Studies show that there are actual physical changes that occur with the placebo effect. For instance, studies have documented an increase in the body's production of endorphins, one of the body's natural pain relievers.
Critics of the practice responded that it is unethical to prescribe treatments that do not work, and that telling a patient (as opposed to a research test subject) that a placebo is a real medication is deceptive and harms the doctor-patient relationship in the long run. Critics also argued that using placebos can delay the proper diagnosis and treatment of serious medical conditions.

Legitimate doctors and pharmacists could open themselves up to charges of fraud or malpractice by using a placebo. What say you: is lying to (a patient, a customer or ...a voter) ever OK?

How we make people feel is one of the most important things in life. There is an old joke where the full-figured wife asks the husband: “Does this dress make me look fat?” Is there ever (ever) a time when the husband would be so dumb, so stupid as to say yes to such a question?

People don't like to be sold - but they love to buy!
Salespeople learn techniques. Salespeople learn "closes." Salespeople learn systems of selling. And none of them are more powerful than someone wanting to buy. In fact, all of them are useless if someone doesn't want to buy.

Rather than selling, take a look at buying. Would you rather know how to sell, or would you rather know why people buy? Aha! Why people buy, of course.

You can argue that relationship building, questioning skills, networking, and presentation skills are all part of the "selling process," and I agree. But I stand firm on this point: that buying motives are a million times more powerful than selling skills.

A buying motive may have to do with how much money I have. Or it may be about how much of a risk I have to take to make the purchase. Or it might be about "Will it work when I get it home?" Or it might be about "Will this produce for me?" Or "Will this increase productivity?"

Think of your buying motives. Why do you buy? You decide that you need or want something. Then you justify the need or the want, and you literally search for it. You set out on a Saturday afternoon to spend money. You may go "shopping," or you may go directly to the establishment that has what you want. Either way, your motive is clear: you want ownership as soon as possible! If someone’s buying motive is strong enough - spouses, children, parents, and especially salespeople - can't keep you from getting what you want. Logic? Facts? Ha! I WANT IT!!!! And I want it NOW!

And buy the way, that need is defined as an emotion - it has nothing to do with logic. One of the primary motives for buying is an emotional one. And in the emotional state, people will overpay to get what they want.

People will overpay to get what they want. Logic has NOTHING to do with it. Facts have NOTHING to do with it. It is all about the emotions. People buy things for emotional reasons and then try to justify the reasons by using logic. Emotions Trumps Facts. Ooooh, I made a pun!

So: Why did Trump win the election?

Trump was the better salesperson, by several levels of magnitude.

Donald J. Trump has spent his entire career mastering the “Art of the Deal” as a master salesman and professional marketeer. President Elect Trump knows that people would rather BUY A PLACEBO - all the while KNOWING that it is only a placebo - than be SOLD anything.

Could there ever be a bigger “placebo” than telling the folks in West Virginia that he will be bringing back all the jobs to the coal miners? What would you rather hear: coal jobs are coming back! Or: you need to forget about your coal mining jobs, as that is a dying industry. Sorry, you need to be re-trained in other careers.

West Virginians  voted for the placebo, big time. Same goes for climate change, or immigration or any other inconvenient truth. Big complex problems are rarely solved with short sentences.

This is the funny thing about placebos - they can work, they can make a patient feel better - even when the patient knows all along that they are taking nothing more than a sugar pill. But all the while that a placebo is making the patient “feel” better, a placebo is not doing anything to cure what ails them.

The Big Lesson of Election 2016: 
people don't like to be sold - but they love to buy. 

President Elect Trump: Salesman in Chief

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Radio Days

My first memory was Friday, November 22, 1963.  I was three years, one month and twenty days old.

I walked into the kitchen, and my mother was standing there. She greeted me with a smile. And then, she screamed. On the kitchen counter was our GE radio. New flash: JFK was fatally shot in Dallas. To this day, there is still a conspiracy theory about who really killed JFK. It would not be the first time (or the last time) that the government kept secrets from the public.

The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (about $26 billion in 2016 dollars). This was a conspiracy that was much more than just a theory. From 1942 to 1945, 130,000+ people worked on the project without telling anyone.

When “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that is the first time the world learned of the secret. 250,000 civilians were killed in Nagasaki, and 65,000 in Hiroshima. President Truman ran for re-election and won. My parents would tell me stories of how they learned of how we dropped “The Bomb” and how that ended the war - saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Ah, so dropping the Atom Bomb saved lives. Got it.

I remember September 11th, 2001 like it was yesterday. Some memories are burned into our brains so deeply, so vividly, that it is like watching a movie in your mind’s eye.

The world changed so many times in my lifetime. The JFK Assassination. The Space Shuttle disasters. The war in Vietnam. Watching the twin towers fall still to this day is a very painful and vivid memory.

Fifteen years, one month and 29 days ago, the twin towers fell in New York City. Since the fall of the towers, our country has experienced multiple wars, a major financial crisis, and several natural disasters. But we recover. We survive. When we say “9/11” it does not matter who you are, where you live, or where you came from. 9/11 means something.

Last night as the election results were coming in, our family was watching very closely. As the evening went on, I could tell that the results were not what I was expecting. At around 10:30, I told my wife “I can’t watch anymore.”  But we all stayed up, well into the morning, watching the results unfold. What our family experienced last night was uncertainty and deep anxiety. We did not expect the results that were unfolding in our living room.

When an event takes place that we are not expecting, our minds focus on it intently. That is human nature. Shock. Surprise. Fear. Anxiety. In nature, this can be beneficial to survival. When something surprising happens, thinking about it at length is what leads to learning. But sometimes that increased focus can do damage. It can lead to anxiety, rumination, fear.

No matter who you supported in yesterday’s election, there’s an important lesson that’s worth considering. It is a lesson that I have been learning since my earliest memories. When stressful events happen, how we interpret the the events matters. It matters a great deal. 

Our interpretation of the events is actually more important than the event itself.

It is very common to focus on the emotion of the moment. And when we focus on our emotions, we magnify the stress and the fear and the anxiety. With time, comes wisdom. True wisdom is characterized by the ability to manage our emotions, especially when things aren’t going as expected. In times of crisis, we must resist the impulse to do something, anything, just for the sake of taking action. We must pause. We must step back and study complex situations. 

But how can we do this?

It’s not always easy. One way is to ask yourself: How will I feel about this 10 years from now? How will I feel about this 20 years from now? Will this really have that much of an impact on my life 10 or 20 years into the future?

Last night as the election results were coming in, the news was terrible: the stock market was crashing. Overseas markets were down. There were rumors running wild on the Internet of NATO being mobilized. I admit it, I did not sleep very well last night.

Today, the stock market has rebounded. The news is slowly moving away from “the election” and things are slowly going back to normal. Slowly. The stress and the anxiety are going away. We are back to talking about Brad Pitt and his wife. I am sure that cat videos on Facebook shall be back in full force very soon.

Since 1992, across three presidents, average salary for people ages 18-40 has gone DOWN from $36,000 to $33,000 while student loan debt has gone straight up, inflation has gone up, healthcare costs has gone up, housing costs have gone up. We've had a Republican, a Republican, a Democrat, a Republican, a Republican, a Democrat, a Republican, a Democrat as President since I started voting. 

Meanwhile salaries are plummeting in America today. Salaries are going down versus inflation, versus healthcare costs, versus housing costs, versus food, versus just about everything.

The median real salary today, adjusted for inflation, is almost 10% lower than it was in 2007. It's lower than it was in the year 2000. And average hourly wages are lower than they were 40 years ago. A salary alone will not keep most families afloat anymore. Even two salaries won't keep most families afloat. The idea of retirement for tens of millions of Americans doesn't even exist anymore.

OK. I get it. I understand. People voted with their hearts. The reason why the polls were so so so wrong, is that people voted with their hearts. People voted with their emotions.

I did not vote for President Elect Trump. I do not agree with his policies, and I do not approve of his style. But just like every event in my life since November 22, 1963 this too shall pass.  

There are many posts on Social Media about “moving to Canada”. Well, this is the United States of America. We don’t run away from our problems. We fix them. We try again. We learn from our mistakes. And we pledge to do better.  

Donald J. Trump is going to be the 45th President of the United States of America. He will need our guidance and he will need our help to heal our nation. I wish him well. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.

There are many things that have happened in this country since my first memory. Whenever I see an “old radio” I think of my mother, standing in our kitchen, smiling. Many of my memories are emotionally draining, and many are painful to relive. But we must always push forward.

When I see an old radio, I prefer to see in my mind's eye my mother, smiling.

We must always push forward. Always.

We all know the election was very close. Hillary Clinton had slightly more of the popular vote, but Donald Trump had the edge in the electoral vote, thereby winning the election for the Presidency. In a sense, then, both candidates’ supporters have something to celebrate. The losers in the electoral vote, those who supported Hillary Clinton, were the winners in the popular vote; my advice to them is focus on that victory. But we don’t elect presidents by the popular vote, hence President Donald J. Trump, and his supporters can rightfully focus on that victory.
     When the voting is so close it focuses our attention on how divided our country is. The task for Donald Trump is to unify by his words and deeds, not to act in a way which will enthuse his supporters and cause despair among those who voted against him. We are divided as a nation; his task, and it is not an easy one, is to cross the boundaries and bring unity through words and deeds. We will soon find out if he can (or wants) to do it. Let us hope so together.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Don't Void the Warranty

Image result for void the warranty

Under certain circumstances, especially when the consumer has used a product for something other than its intended purpose, a merchant may choose not to honor the terms of a warranty by declaring it void. 
But sometimes merchants may attempt to void a warranty for reasons that are strictly prohibited by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a federal law governing most consumer purchases in the U.S., or various state laws.
While the federal act establishes a groundwork for U.S. consumers, state laws add another layer and often more protections for consumers. 

Even if your written warranty is voided, you may be protected by an implied warranty.

Image result for void the warranty

The best way to protect your interests and avoid having your warranty invalidated is to fully understand the terms of your warranty. 

And of course, reading the fine print if it is a limited warrantyFull warranties are much less common than limited ones and are legally required to cover all repairs or replacements pertaining to defects within the warranty period.
Therefore, reasons for voiding a limited warranty usually vary with the manufacturer or individual product. Understanding the conditions and limitations of a warranty will usually inform you of when the warranty can and cannot be invalidated. 
Ask yourself the following questions when making a major purchase:
  • How long does the warranty cover your purchase?
  • Does the warranty cover repair, replacement, or a refund if the product fails?
  • Who should you contact and what are the procedures for obtaining warranty service?
  • Which parts and problems are covered by the warranty? Which are specifically excluded?
  • Does the warranty also cover "consequential damages," such as the cost of spoiled food when a freezer fails to operate?
  • Are there any modifications, changes or unauthorized uses of the product that could void the warranty? Under federal law, the merchant must prove that a defect was caused by the alteration in order to void a written warranty.
  • If it is a so-called "lifetime" warranty, does this mean the life of the product or the life of the owner?
  • Is the merchant a reputable company?

Below are some of the most common reasons warranties are invalidated by merchants:
  • The warranty period has expired
  • The defect or part is not covered
  • The product failure is due to misuse or lack of proper maintenance
  • You have made significant alterations to the product, affecting its performance
Image result for voided warranty

The terms of limited warranties differ from one company to the next, and sometimes even within one company's product line. The following examples illustrate this diversity:

  • Apple: The act of "jailbreaking" an iPhone, whereby users override built-in limitations in order to run unapproved software, voids its warranty. Jailbreaking is legal, though.
  • Kohler: The company's lifetime limited warranty covers its faucets for as long as the original purchaser owns his or her home. The policy states that "improper care and cleaning will void the warranty."
  • Chevrolet: Its "bumper-to-bumper" warranty covers the first three years or 36,000 miles. Among other exclusions, the policy does not cover coolant hoses, the engine radiator, or clutch.
  • Integrity Windows and Doors: Its limited warranty covers stress cracks caused by product defects for 10 years. Non-glass components are not covered for windows "installed within one mile of a sea coast."
  • Buck Knives: The knife maker's "forever" warranty is essentially a full lifetime warranty, with a few conditions. Knives damaged by misuse, improper maintenance, self-repair, or tampering are not covered.

Where are you going with this Tom????

An implied warranty is a contract law term for certain assurances that are presumed to be made in the sale of products or real property, due to the circumstances of the sale. These assurances are characterized as warranties irrespective of whether the seller has expressly promised them orally or in writing. They include an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, an implied warranty of merchantability for products, implied warranty of workmanlike quality for services, and an implied warranty of habitability for a home.

Bring it home, Tom, bring it home! 

Warranty of Fitness, folks. It's all about 
Warranty of Fitness.

The warranty of fitness for a particular purpose is implied when a buyer relies upon the seller to select the goods to fit a specific request. For example, this warranty is violated when a buyer asks a mechanic to provide snow tires and receives tires that are unsafe to use in snow. 

This implied warranty can also be expressly disclaimed by name, thereby shifting the risk of unfitness back to the buyer.

Did you catch that????  Shifting the risk of unfitness back to the buyer.

Major Purchase Alert!!!  November 8th 2016

The Oath of office of the President of the United States is the oath or affirmation that the President of the United States takes after assuming the presidency but before he or she begins the execution of the office. The wording is specified in Article II, Section One, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution:
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
This clause is one of several that employ the oath concept, but it is the only clause that actually specifies the language of an oath for a constitutional officer. While the Oaths Clause in Article VI simply requires the persons specified therein to "be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution," the Presidential Oath Clause requires much more than this general oath of allegiance and fidelity. 
This clause enjoins the President to swear or affirm that they "will to the best of [his or her] Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Warranty of Fitness, folks. I hope that by now you can see that this blog was not about new cars or iPhones or flat screen TVs. We are talking about who has their fingers on the nuclear codesIt's all about Warranty of Fitness.

Image result for clinton vs trump the best of his or her ability.......