If You Could Only Live In One Country, Which Would It Be?

Every year, websites all over the internet release lists of what they believed to be the best countries to live in the world. Here we’re going to take a look at some of the countries that regularly make it to the top of those lists. Let’s take a look.

Switzerland

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Free Stock Photos

Switzerland is famous for being neutral and independent. Perched high up in the Alps, it didn’t take sides, even in WW2. Now the country has something of a reputation for offering a great standard of living for the people who live there. The population of Switzerland is around 7.2 million. It has one of the most stable economies in the world, thanks mainly to a stable monetary policy. As a result, investors flock here, spending their money on new projects in the country.

Metropolitan life here is also safe, fun and clean. Major cities like Bern, Zurich, and Geneva has exceptionally low rates of crime. They’re also beautiful cities. For instance, Geneva runs along the giant Lac Leman, a lake that runs for miles out of the city.

Canada

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Wikimedia Commons

Canada is considered to be one of the best places to live in the western world. This is because of its historically low rates of crime and the overall happiness of its citizens.

It seems as if many more people are looking to get a visa for Canada. Spending on tourism in the country is a good proxy for whether people want to move to the country. Spending has increased to more than $81 billion in the last year or so, demonstrating intent.

Health and longevity is good here too. On average Canadians live to 81 years of age. That’s more than four years longer than the average in the US. Canada also has a low unemployment rate, thanks to some rather clever trade policies and an economy based on services.

Ireland

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Pixabay

Back in 2009, the future for Ireland looked bleak. Its banks had been ravaged by the global economic meltdown. And it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Not anymore. The economy here has been turned around considerably since the last decade. There are genuine opportunities to settle down and make a living here.

There’s also ample opportunity to explore the beautiful landscape. Ireland has vast areas of wilderness, thanks to its low population density. It also has many of the best golf courses in the world, if you’re interested in that type of thing. Finally, Ireland is a treasure trove for history buffs. The island is littered with castles and forts. In fact, Ireland boasts the greatest numbers of restored castles and forts anywhere in the world.

New Zealand

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Pixabay

If you’re an animal lover, New Zealand is the place to be. Only 5 percent of the population here are people. The other 95 percent are herd animals, sold for export.

The main city of Auckland plays host to the Sky Tower. The Sky Tower is a little bit like the observatory in Toronto. Visitors can look out over the city of Auckland from a height of more than 1076 feet.

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Remake after Remake after Remake after…How Far Will They Go?

Just this month, the movie, “Ben Hur”, came out. I’m sure it’s a great movie, but, I have to ask, why do they keep making remakes of movies whose original or last version was great in it’s own right? It seems more and more remakes are coming out. There was even a plan for a remake of “Gone With the Wind”, often touted as the greatest picture ever made.

Is it because they want to make a greater version? Well, in my opinion, I think it depends.

With Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, the original, made in 1938, was OK for the time but was soon found to be lacking, and, if you see both the 1938 and 1951 versions, you’ll see the difference. So, in that case, I do agree a remake was in order, and the 1951 remake, with Alistair Sims playing Scrooge, it certainly filled the bill. But, they should have stopped right there. But no, a remake was made again over 30 years later and, while it was seen as being good in it’s own right, the 1951 version, in my opinion, has a certain essence to it that I believe can never be matched. Same with “Gone With the Wind”. So while a movie might need a do over, I do think that there’s a point where it’s done exactly right and literally takes on a character that cannot be duplicated with further remakes. It’s reached it’s peak, in a way.

I imagine, when plans for a remake are floated, some producers and directors do bring this up. So, why do a remake? Well, oftentimes technological advances allow for scenes to be shot in ways that look more realistic or believable, or, depending on the mood of audiences at the time, they may want to add things, such as more grittiness, graphic scenes, historical accuracy, or aspects of a character’s life that weren’t shown in a previous version. And I do find this understandable to an extent, particularly where an expansion of a character’s life experiences are concerned, or technological advances in filming are made. Technical advances certainly helped the 1951 version of “A Christmas Carol” stand head and shoulders over the 1938 version.

Then sometimes, it’s probably that a new generation of movie makers really likes a particular movie and story, but they want to tweak it in their own way, and since they can’t go back in time to tweak the original as it was being made, they have to make a new version.

As for myself, there have been some remakes I’ve seen, such as “True Grit”, which I found to be about as good as the original. But for the most part, I tend to not really go for remakes without a compelling reason. I tend to want to see new stories, and it just seems at times that they are few and far between. But then there will be a number of movies with new stories that come out within a short time frame and I’ll resume going to the movies. To each his own, I guess.

Happy movie watching!

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Want Immortality? Cloning Yourself is Not the Answer!

The issue of cloning has largely fallen off the radar, but for a while in the 1990’s, with the news of Dolly the cloned sheep, it was.

Then, there were stories which either had cloning as an issue or where something akin to it was being employed, either physically or mentally, such as the book and movie, “The Boys From Brazil”, and of course, the “Jurassic Park” series. And, there is the idea of cloning oneself to gain immortality or to make someone who thinks and acts the same.

But can this really be done? The making of a viable clone? Yes, it’s possible though the science today is still in its infancy. And no, you can’t make yourself immortal, nor can you produce a “personality twin” of yourself, either, through cloning.

All cloning does, if successful, is produce a biological twin of the person or animal, or organ or body part, being cloned, that is much younger than the original.

So, if you cloned yourself, you would not gain immortality, as the clone would not be you. It would only be a genetic copy of you and younger by as many years as you are old. You would not be seeing or feeling through the clone any more than you do through any other person. The clone is a separate being.

So, would a clone think and act as you? Again, no. Mentally, the clone could be anyone. And it would not likely matter even if the clone were raised in a duplicate way and environment as you. This is why the story, “The Boys From Brazil” could not possibly be made true. There are just too many variables within the human mind itself so that even a duplicated environment and parenting style, and even putting the same kind of people in the right places and times, if that could even be done, would not guarantee a clone being the same kind of person as the original!

So, to those who want to ban cloning because of fears of someone creating another Hitler, or of wealthy people using their money to buy immortality and having yet another advantage over the poor and middle class, your fears are completely unjustified.

What cloning can do, is bring about the possibility of making duplicate organs and body parts for people whose organs are failing. This would mean no more need for transplants, no waiting for new organs, and no fear of new organs and body parts being rejected! In addition, the stem cell controversy could also be ended, as stem cells could simply be cloned to fill the need.

This is why the banning of all forms of cloning is a bad idea!

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My Challenge to the High Paid CEO’s of the World

Tomorrow is Labor Day, and I thought I’d make a challenge to the higher paid CEO’s of the world.

First, believe me when I say that I’m not talking about those CEOs who truly pay their employees fairly and who try to understand where their employees are coming from and that, the bigger the company, the more it is supported by the employees.

The CEOs I’m talking about and issuing the challenge to are those CEOs that you hear about in the news who are paid 100 times or more than their average employee, as well as those who pad their own salaries at the expense of their employees when they could easily pay their employees more without hurting their business’ profits. Some CEO’s of some large corporations may be paid as much as 1,000 times the salary of the average employee at their companies.

So, how do these CEOs get paid so much? Well, their salaries are determined by boards made up of other CEOs. So, there’s a “I’ll rub your back if you rub mine” mentality. This results in CEOs getting more and more raises, even in those cases when some of their companies perform ever more poorly every year! Oftentimes, its only when a CEO does something really egregious that negatively effects the other CEOs on the board does a CEO get fired or penalized in some way.

But, are these CEOs really worth 100-1,000 times the salary of their average employees? A lot of industry insiders and of course, fellow CEOs will say “yes”, because the companies are large and the decisions that a CEO makes will affect the entire company, plus, they say you would not attract the talent needed for the job, etc.

I’m not so sure this is true. In Japan, most large corporation CEOs make no more than 35 times the salary of the average employee. Yet, companies like Sony, Toyota, and Toshiba, and many other Japanese corporations, have all done well and have certainly made their mark worldwide.

So, my challenge to these CEOs is this:

If you can fill in completely for, and do the work of just 20, that right, just 20, of your average employees for just 1 month, without any ill effects to the company, or customers, both internal and external, to the point where they couldn’t tell the difference in terms of work quality, quantity, and adherence to the same deadlines and quotas, then you really do deserve that huge salary.

An example would be a CEO filling in for a unit of 20 people who puts together and coordinates accounts for the sales team, such as the one I was once part of about 12 years ago.

The challenge would be that the entire unit would be off for that month and the CEO himself or herself would come in and do all that the 20-person unit does for a whole month.

If that CEO can fill in as above, making sure each sales rep gets the accounts that they should get, with all the paperwork and information intact, in order, and on time, seeing that the accounts are delivered to the sales division by the deadline, making needed corrections to accounts, reassigning accounts when the division needs them assigned, seeing that the accounts are printed and collated, filing reports correctly, seeing that added materials for those accounts that require them are added to the paperwork for those accounts, double checking to make sure that the sales division has gotten exactly what they need,  plus, maintaining any machines that the unit uses, keeping track of and ordering supplies, making calls for any needed repairs, making calls and sending e-mails to investigate and address any problems, and working with and meeting with, division managers and other internal customers, without anyone who interacts with, or depends upon, that unit, not seeing any negative impact to them for that month, then that CEO certainly deserves that huge salary!

That’s my challenge to the high paid CEOs of the world. Will they accept? I doubt it.

And to those who think the CEO should be made to fill in for exactly 100 people or that number of people who would equal the CEO’s salary? Well, in a way, comparing the CEO to the average worker in their company is a little like comparing apples and oranges, so that’s why I lowered the number of people to 20. And if this still doesn’t convince you, try calling just 10 people you know and offer to take on all of their responsibilities for just 2 weeks. You’ll see!

Of course, a lot of CEO’s won’t even know of this challenge, but, if any of you happen to have the ear of one, or care to write or e-mail one, let them know about this challenge. If any do take it up, I’m sure they will learn a lot.

Happy Labor Day everyone!

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What are some Good Traits to Have?

Lots of times, I’ve been in situations where I didn’t know what to say, or whether to say anything at all, or where my timing was just off, or I just felt plain awkward, even if I was just standing there. And, from my perspective, it just seems as if everyone else knows what they are doing.

So, in thinking about this, I’ve identified three traits I wish I had. I’ve also added them to my Page of Lists on this site.

The first of these is, knowing what and what not to say, or whether I should say anything at all.

This may be the best trait I could have. Oh, there have been times when I did say the right thing or when I did keep my mouth shut for the better. But oftentimes, even when I said the right thing, or rightly kept my mouth shut, I was often unsure if I did do the right thing. It would be great to always know. The benefits of such a trait start with the fact that I’d be much less likely to inadvertently insult someone or simply say the wrong thing in a situation such as a job interview or when talking to a car sales rep. Also, I would know when I could negotiate, present something, or sell something,  and when I shouldn’t even try to.

Next, is having great timing.

This is almost as good as knowing what to say. It would be nice to decide to take that different route when it’s not going to be clogged with traffic, or to get to the checkout area just as a new check stand is opening so you can be first in line.

Last is, looking good no matter what.

I’ve often felt awkward in some situations, sometimes just by being there. It’s that feeling like you’re the only one who hasn’t a clue and everyone else looks like they know what they’re doing. This is especially true when thrust into a new situation, such as starting a new job. You hear things like, “reg-E”, “30aught6”, or “MA2784”, and wonder what the heck is being talked about. And you get the feeling that others expect you to have known this from day one. Or at least it seems that way. It’s quite possible that it’s me feeling this way and that others aren’t really perceiving me as a “know nothing”, though In some cases I knew some were seeing me as such.

I guess what I’m really wanting here is the ability to not feel as if I know nothing in such a situation.

So anyway, these are just my votes for the top 3 traits I would want to have or have to a greater degree.

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Independence is Fine for The Right Reasons

I am politically independent for several reasons, but to be independent just to be independent is not one of them. I don’t believe in being a rebel without a cause.

Whenever a politician who is, or at least comes across, as an independent thinker, enters the race, it grabs my attention. But, does it mean I’m hooked? No, it means only that I take notice.

They still have to make their case!

Why am I drawn to independent candidates? It’s because most candidates from either camp try to adhere to all the planks of their camp.

I, on the other hand, don’t believe in all the planks of either camp, in fact, I believe in some of the planks of both camps.

So, neither camp completely fills the bill for me, as I feel that each demands that its followers adhere to all of the planks in the camp, some of which I don’t agree with.

So, what do I look for in an independent candidate? First, it doesn’t matter to me what party they belong to or if they are affiliated with any party or not, so long as they are willing to think on their own and, if they do belong to a party, that they’re willing to challenge the party on some issues.

But, it’s more than just a willingness to call out the status quo. They also have to have ideas of their own. Too often, including this time around, I’ve seen candidates who tout themselves as independent thinkers, come out with no solutions or ideas of their own, and in some cases, only attacking the other candidates and the media for simply questioning them.

I remember an election year in the past where a new party was, …attempted?, to be formed, called the “Reform Party”. Well, it was touted as the answer to the other two parties, but all it was, was chaos. They never really brought any new ideas, except to say they were an alternative to the other two parties. It went nowhere.

Yes, like many of you, I do want to see a challenge to the two parties, but it needs to be a credible challenge. Such as a candidate who not only points out where the other two parties go wrong, but also offers up solutions, and communicates to the people of both sides that they don’t have to fear an independent candidate who demonstrates that he or she can still lead despite the lack of party affiliation, and can communicate the message of “The people first, party second.”

So, what does an independent candidate need to do to have a chance of real success, both for him or herself as well as for the people?

  1. Yes, point out how the status quo is not working and attack the issues and failed solutions, not silly things as to whether a moderator or interviewer asked a supposed “gotcha” or unfair question, or whether an opponent hugged someone from the opposing party. It’s important for candidates to remember that, in order to work towards a solution, people from opposing sides often have to work together and it’s easier to be friendly while doing so, especially in times of crisis. And, as for supposed unfair media questions, candidates must remember that the real world will throw these kinds of questions at them all the time!
  2. If the candidate is a member of a major party, they must be willing to go against their party if their position on an issue is at odds with the party line.
  3. The independent candidate must be willing to talk to media and the people on both sides of the political spectrum.
  4. They need to convey the message that they can work with both sides to a viable solution but not be fence-sitters or flip floppers. That does not mean they cannot change their position if it’s for the right reasons, however!
  5. They have to convince the people to not follow their parties blindly, but to really think things through. This can be really tough, but if a candidate has the charisma, I believe it can be done.
  6. Probably not last, but very important is, they must have viable solutions to problems, especially to those they point out! Too often, independent candidates end up being viewed as not having any substance. Sure, in the beginning, they often draw a significant following, especially from those who are really fed up with the status quo and the major parties. But they often only go so far, and support stops growing, or even wanes, as people see that the candidate is offering no solutions but instead only keeps pointing out the same problems over and over.

So, this is just my opinion, but, I do ask that, during campaign season, you really, really, evaluate the candidates for everything, not just a few sound bites.

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It’s About the Heat

Just some musings here about heat and hot weather.

I hate the heat. Really. Unlike just about everyone else, I prefer cold to heat. That’s one of the reasons I moved from Southern California (The Los Angeles area, to be exact.) to the Portland, Oregon area just over a decade ago. It seems it’s almost always hot in L.A., at least to me. Of course, places like Phoenix and Las Vegas are much hotter in summer, and the southern states are much more humid, but at least they cool off more in the winter and have a stronger tendency to stay cool during the winter months.

I remember many times when it was in the 80’s or even 90 during the Christmas holidays, and there would be 2 week stretches of 100 degree weather in September and October, when the area’s famous (or infamous!) Santa Ana winds would blow. I often jokingly say that “It’s always 95 degrees in Los Angeles! And even if it’s less than 95 degrees, it’s still 95 degrees in Los Angeles!

To give you an idea of my bias, I distribute fliers door to door throughout the year. When I tell people, one of the first things they ask about is how much winter cold and weather affects me. I always tell them that it’s heat that will slow me down more than anything and that it takes about 5 solid months of winter weather and precipitation before I start to want warmer weather, but it only takes about that first one day, that’s right, one day, at 80 degrees, the first in spring or summer, to make me wish for that winter cold to come right back. We’re talking Portland winter, not L.A. winter, by the way.

Besides, in summer, there’s nothing I can do about the heat, but, in winter, all I have to do if I start to get too hot, is stop, unzip my jacket, and the cold air cools me off just fine.

Though people from back east or the Midwest would find a Portland, Oregon winter very mild, even at its worst, it is significantly colder than an L.A. winter, and 80’s are generally not seen at all from late October through the end of March. And it definitely won’t be 95 degrees on Christmas Day!

Still, Portland can have its heat moments. I’ve experienced a few hot summers here, from time to time, though still not as hot as an L.A. summer.  2009 was the hottest I’ve seen up here, where we had 4 days over 100, including 2 back to back 106 degree days, and about 28 90 degree days. This summer, 2015, we’ve had about 20 90 degree days this year, but so far have not broken the 100 degree mark yet. (And hopefully won’t!)

Summers here, and winters, too, can be variable. We may get hot weather early in a summer, and then the rest of the summer defies conventional wisdom and remains relatively cooler. This happened in 2005. We had a couple of rare 90-plus degree days in May, and then the rest of the summer stayed in the low 80’s for the most part.

Just when it seems at times that summers here are getting warmer, I’m reminded that it could just be that my heat threshold has lowered, when I go down to L.A. in the summer for a couple of weeks to visit relatives, and find the summer heat more intense down there.

I do know that my tolerance for cold has greatly increased.  When I was in high school in the L.A. area, I used to feel really cold outside in my P.E. clothes if it was cloudy and in the mid 50’s! Now, when I go down at Christmas to see my family, the jacket I wear to go to the Portland airport comes off, and usually stays off until I get back to Portland! And it’s not even my heaviest jacket! That jacket is reserved for really cold days accompanied by the Portland area’s famous “east wind”.

So, there’s my take on heat. Do I hate Summer? Only the hot part. I do enjoy the longer days.

So, have a great and cool summer!

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