With the intro of cloud, BYOD, IoT and virtual workplaces spread around the world, the conventional architectures not just hold us back in regards to performance however likewise produce security defects that leave spaces for compromise.
The network and security architectures that are typically released today are not fit for today’s digital world. They were created for another time, a time of the past. This might sound intimidating … and it undoubtedly is.
What we had in the past?
Traditionally, we have had a fixed network and security border with clear network and security separation points. In regards to security, the perimeter-based method never ever worked. It did, nevertheless, develop a multi-billion-dollar market. The truth is, it neither did, not will it supply proficient security.
If the third-generation Bentley Continental GT of your dreams has a W12 engine under its broad front hood, you have a little wait ahead of you. The British luxury maker has announced that its V-8 will power the first coupes and convertibles available at the cars’ U.S. launch in July of this year. The U.S., in fact, will debut the engine in the new car, as the rest of the world will have to wait until the first quarter of 2020 to get their mitts on the twin-turbo eight, or any new Conti for that matter. The W-12 had been planned as the lead option, but a delay in market certification has been cited as the reason for the switch.
It’s not as if it’s a big deal; the 4.0-liter V-8 is good for a heady 542 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. If you think you need the 626 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of the W-12, well, okay, who are we to try to convince you otherwise? But it’s at least worth giving a V-8 model a drive before holding out for four additional cylinders and committing to likely several months of waiting.
First launched in 2003, the contemporary Continental GT model has been a rousing success for Bentley and has only become more powerful, luxurious, and efficient with each new generation. The V-8 is a new design for this third-gen model and features two twin-scroll turbochargers housed in the valley between the two cylinder banks, as well as cylinder-deactivation technology that shuts down four of the eight cylinders under low-load driving conditions. Lest you think the new car is all about efficiency, remember that top speed is claimed at 198 mph and the zero-to-60-mph at 3.9 seconds (or 4.0 seconds for the convertible). For all you trim-spotters, GT V-8 cars receive four exhaust pipes and ‘V8’ badging on the front fenders. Pricing is slated to start at $198,500 for the V8 coupe and $218,350 for the V8 convertible.
The new Continental GT V8 goes even farther beyond your rich great-uncle’s Bentley of yore with hollow front and rear anti-roll bars, a three-chamber air suspension with the Dynamic Ride System, active all-wheel drive, and a whole suite of safety tech, including radar cruise control with stop and go, lane-keep assist, and automatic parking. Opt for the optional Bentley Rotating Display and you can impress your friends down at the yacht club with a center panel that rotates to one of three sides: a 12.3-inch touch screen, three analog gauges, or a wood veneer of your choosing. Bentley celebrates its 100th year in business this July, a milestone it has already marked with a special Mulsanne, a special Continental GT, and surely more cars to come.
Commentary by Ronnie Cummins, International Director of Organic Consumers Association
” The Nation that damages its soil ruins itself.”.Franklin D. Roosevelt 19431
Welcome to Degeneration Nation 2019. The frightening reality is that genetically crafted crops and foods, hazardous chemicals and agriculture —– the unholy trinity of commercial food and farming —– are weakening our extremely survival. Public health and the health of the living Earth —– our soils, forests, wetlands, watersheds, oceans and environment —– are quickly being ruined, civilian casualties emerging from the “earnings at any expense” principles of business agribusiness, Big Biotech, Big Pharma and Big Food.
Cancer , persistent illness, weight problems , loss of fertility, mass anxiety, finding out specials needs and reproductive conditions have now end up being the standard, in addition to ecological destruction. The rhythms and cycles of nature —– the environment, the soil carbon cycle, the water cycle, biodiversity, the environment and even the stability of our DNA —– are unraveling.
Unless we can turn things around, closed down the agriculture , restore our soils, restore our forests and watersheds, and eliminate the contaminants, GMOs and greenhouse gases infecting our bodies and our environment, installing proof recommends that we might quickly, possibly in the area of one generation, pass the moment of truth.
.Pirated System Threatens Environment and Health.
Despite all of our efforts in regards to public education and mobilization, corrupt federal government authorities, regulative firms and worldwide trade bureaucrats have actually permitted Monsanto/Bayer, Syngenta/ChemChina, Dow/Dupont and a cabal of international agribusiness, chemical, seed and GMO corporations, helped and abetted by Madison Avenue, Wall Street and the mass media, to pirate our food and farming system and gradually however undoubtedly weaken our health, deteriorate the soil, contaminate the environment and destabilize the environment.
Although Big Food, the Gene Giants and the Factory Farm lobby have actually handled to hinder our efforts up until now to prohibit GMOs, hazardous chemicals and agriculture, individuals in the U.S. and all over the world are beginning to get up.
After numerous years of pressure from customer activists, and an apparently endless stream of food security scandals, Big Food Inc. has actually continued to lose trustworthiness and market share. Backed by corrupt political leaders and effective trade companies such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, most of big food corporations pushed away countless customers by battling versus obligatory “native land” and GMO labeling of foods.
Watching customers turn away from their items, big international food and drink corporations such as General Mills, Nestle, Campbell’s, Coca-Cola, Cargill, Pepsi, Kellogg’s, Danone, Perdue, Unilever and others have actually been required to attempt to support their track records and market share by purchasing up every considerable natural brand name going to offer out.2
At the very same time, huge grocery store chains in North America and throughout the world, consisting of Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Amazon/Whole Foods, have actually been required by customer need to increase the sales and marketing of their store-brand private-label natural and “natural” items.
Even junk food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway, pressed by drooping sales amongst millennials and competitors from natural/non-GMO food upstarts like Chipotle and Panera, have actually broadened their menus and put more focus on nutrition.
Having stopped working to support their drooping revenues with natural acquisitions alone, the food giants have actually worked with an army of PR companies and political lobbyists to assist them fraudulently “greenwash” and market billions of dollars of their traditional (GMO-tainted, factory-farmed and chemical) items as “natural,” “natural” or “ecofriendly.”
In action, groups consisting of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Beyond Pesticides and Food &&Water Watch have actually introduced many suits, taking legal action against business for fraudulently identifying their items as natural, pasture-raised, u.s.-made or ecofriendly, when in reality they are not.
Despite all their cash and power, Big Food Inc. still discovers itself on the defensive, frantically attempting to connect to smart and evermore mindful customers, and to neutralize what OCA and allied food activists have actually been informing customers for 25 years: Industrial, GMO-tainted, pesticide-laden, factory-farmed foods are bad for your health, bad for stock, bad for little farmers and farmworkers, bad for the environment, and as a growing number of individuals are beginning to comprehend, bad for the environment.
.GMOs, Industrial Agriculture and Toxic Chemicals.
A growing corps of mindful customers is beginning to comprehend the threats of pesticide and drug residues in our food and water, and the hazard of hazardous chemicals in daily customer items, consisting of clothes, body care items , cosmetics , plastics , laundry and cleansing active ingredients, bed mattress, bed linen, mobile phones and computer system gadgets.
America’s growing health awareness is a significant motorist of the development in the natural, yard fed, natural health and green items sectors. Intensifying the agritoxic and commercial contamination of our environment, water and food we have now, over the previous numerous years, we have actually been dragged into the Brave New World of Genetic Engineering and Frankenfoods.
Genetic engineers, chemical business and Big Pharma have actually started to carry out a haphazard and extreme reprogramming —– with little or no insight, preventative measures or safeguards —– of the really plans of life. They are genetically changing germs, infections, seeds, plants, animals, foods, trees, drugs and now human beings.
Almost half of America’s cropland is committed to GMO crops, consisting of over 140 million acres of GE corn, soybeans, and cotton. Seventy to 80 percent of dining establishment, school and grocery store snack bar processed foods are polluted with genetically crafted corn, soy, canola, high fructose corn syrup and cotton seed/vegetable oil.3
Meanwhile, 90 percent of our meat and animal items are coming out of agriculture, where animals are packed with GMO animal feed (corn and soy), and recklessly dosed with Big Pharma animal drugs and development promoters.
And, naturally, it is not simply the genetic modification, foreign DNA, antibiotic marker genes and viral promoters in these daily (nonorganic) Frankenfoods and crops that we require to fret about.
We likewise need to compete with the reality that these gene foods and animal feeds have actually been splashed with toxic pesticides, fungicides and insecticides. After 30 years of force feeding the general public a huge variety of untried, unlabeled GMOs and low-grade, nutritionally lacking “product” crops and foods laced with pesticides like Roundup, dicamba, 2,4-D, chlorpyrifos, atrazine, malathion, neonicotinoids and Bt, it is no surprise that public health is progressively deteriorating.
The effect on the environment of GMOs, chemical-intensive commercial farming and agriculture is similarly ravaging. They are accountable for water contamination, marine dead zones, aquifer exhaustion, destruction of the soil’s capability to hold and take in water, air contamination, damage of wetlands and meadows, loss of biodiversity, exterminating wildlife, bugs and pollinators, and triggering soil disintegration and huge climate-disrupting emissions of CO2, methane and laughing gas.
Perhaps most unsafe of all is the effect of commercial farming on the loss of soil fertility and soil carbon, which has actually deteriorated the natural capability of healthy soil, lawns, trees and plants to efficiently perform photosynthesis and drawdown, hence hindering their capability to sequester excess CO2 from our supersaturated environment, into our soils and biota.
.Factory Farms, GMO Animal Feed and Pharma Drugs.
Ninety percent of the dairy, meat, and poultry taken in by the average (malnourished, supersized) American customer today originates from crowded, dirty, hellish agriculture and feedlots, euphemistically called CAFOs (focused animal feeding operations).
The day-to-day diet plan of the unlucky animals in these animal jails normally includes pesticide-drenched GMO grains, prescription antibiotics, development promoters and a mind-blowing variety of other Big Pharma animal drugs. The poultry, meat and dairy coming out of these animal factories is low in nutrition, consistently infected with hazardous germs, pathogens and animal drugs, and packed with artery-clogging bad fats (low in omega-3 and high in omega-6).
Study after research study connects the country’s weakening health, consisting of the persistent health epidemic of our kids, to the increasing quantities of harmful chemicals and GMOs (basically pesticide shipment systems) disposed into our environment and laced into our food.
Although roughly 12 percent of American customers today, according to the current studies, are attempting to secure ourselves and our households by constantly purchasing natural foods, and 47 percent sometimes do so, the majority of us are exposed day after day to a barrage of poisonous, carcinogenic, hormone-disruptive chemicals and GMOs.
The typical American diet plan, as Mercola.com and others have actually explained, is now generally made up of extremely processed unhealthy food (70 percent) and drinks, in addition to factory-farmed meat and animal items —– to put it simply, the kinds of foods you can buy at your regional filling station, junk food dining establishment or corner store.
What are a few of the health effects of this harmful attack? A current Rand Corporation study4 discovered that 60 percent of Americans experience a minimum of one persistent health condition such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes and weight problems; and 42 percent have 2 or more of these diseases.
Chronic illness now represent more than 40 percent of the $3.5 trillion that individuals are turning over to Big Pharma and the medical commercial complex. Scientific research studies suggest that the frustrating bulk of these persistent illness are brought on by dietary and ecological contaminants, instead of genetic elements.
.When in their life time, #ppppp> Half of all Americans are now anticipated to come down with cancer at least. According to current research study, U.S. guys born in 1960 have a life time cancer danger of 53.5 percent. For or ladies it’s 47.5 percent.5 Seventy percent of U.S. drinking water is now polluted with Monsanto’s poisonous herbicide, Roundup,6 while 93 percent of customers now have traces of Monsanto’s toxin (active component glyphosate) in our urine.7
Today, 1 in 13 U.S. kids has severe food allergic reactions; 6 to 24 percent have major digestive issues; 20 percent are overweight; 60 percent have persistent headaches and 20 percent experience mental illness and anxiety. One in every 41 young boys and 1 in every 68 women is now identified with autism.8
Deteriorating public health is not simply an issue in the U.S. It’s likewise a worldwide crisis. Of the poisonous stew of Chemicals and gmos disposed into the environment or laced into food or other customer items, 99 percent or more have actually never ever been separately checked for their toxicity on animals or other living organisms, much less in mix with other artificial chemicals, which is how most human beings and animals come or consume in contact with them.9
As an outcome, the frustrating bulk people are exposed every day to actually numerous various contaminants, whether we’re discussing our food, water, house, air and work environment, medical drugs, or daily customer items. As long time Australian natural farm leader and pesticide specialist Andrew Leu explains:10
” Regulatory authorities are neglecting a big body of peer-reviewed science revealing the damage triggered by pesticides and they are making choices on data-free presumptions … A research study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control discovered a mixed drink of lots of poisonous chemicals in the blood and urine of a lot of Americans.”
Genetically crafted (GE) crops, hazardous agrichemicals, commercial monocultures and factory farms are progressively deteriorating not simply our health and our air and water, however our soils. Disintegration, compaction, loss of nutrients and salinization are now extensive.
Healthy soils, abundant in carbon raw material and bacteria, and the plants, trees, and animals that rely on a carbon abundant soils, are the secret to human health and nutrition. Our soils are the structure for worldwide biodiversity. They are likewise the most essential consider keeping a climate-stabilizing balance in between the quantity of CO2 in our environment and oceans, and the quantity of carbon in our biota and soils.
Soils likewise control the circulation of water from rains or snowmelt, and filter or lower hazardous contaminants, whether from commercial, community or farming sources. GMOs and commercial product crops can not grow without the enormous usage of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
In truth, GMO seeds are clearly developed and patented by corporations such as Monsanto in order to make the most of sales of their exclusive pesticides such as Roundup. Spraying pesticides and disposing massive quantities of chemical fertilizers on farmland eliminates the soil, getting rid of soil natural matter and the bacteria that provide increase to soil fertility and healthy food.
Under the effect of degenerative food, farming and land-use practices, that include logging, heavy plowing, monocropping (growing the exact same crop every year) and the heavy usage of pesticides and artificial fertilizers, a lot of farming soils have actually lost 30 to 75 percent of their initial soil natural carbon.11
Seventy-five billion lots of topsoil, with a market price of $400 billion are lost every year to wind and water disintegration, generally from cattle ranches and farms using chemical-intensive, soil-degenerating farming approaches.12
Before carbon-sequestering forests, blended conventional cropping and meadows were damaged by chemical-intensive and now GMO and factory-farmed commercial farming (and commercial forestry), worldwide soil raw material normally consisted of 6 to 10 percent of the soil volume —– 3 to 6 times the 1 to 3 percent levels common these days’s commercial farming soils.
In other words, taxpayer-subsidized, chemical-based commercial farming, agriculture and unlimited grazing (together with commercial forestry) have actually turned the earth’s soil (which still includes 3 times as much carbon as the whole quantity of CO2 in the environment) from being a significant climate-stabilizing carbon sink into a unsafe and huge source of greenhouse gas emissions and international warming.
Forty percent of the world’s farming soil is now categorized as seriously abject or abject. That implies that as much as 70 percent of the topsoil is gone.13
Unless soils are restored and wetlands and forests are brought back, billions of rural villagers and little farmers will lose their incomes and be repelled the land. In the meantime, billions of city customers will suffer the repercussions of consuming nutrient-deficient, chemical- and GMO-contaminated foods.
Healthy soil is likewise an essential consider figuring out whether the world’s 3 billion farmers and rural villagers can earn a living off the land, or whether they are required to move to big cities or foreign nations searching for a task and a good standard of life. According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification:14
” The Earth is the basic pillar of civilization … The disintegration of soil, desertification and the scarcity of water add to the tension and rupture of society. In this sense, the destruction of the soil can be thought about as a ‘hazard amplifier,’ specifically due to the fact that it slowly minimizes the capability of individuals to make use of the land for the production of food, the procurement of water and other crucial community services.”
The damage of soil carbon (and soil fertility), by means of degenerative farming, grazing and incorrect land usage, is troubling considered that the leading 3 feet of the world’s soil holds 3 times as much carbon as the whole environment.15 This makes the soil a significant repository for carbon (together with oceans and forests) and for that reason a significant consider preserving environment stability.
Deforestation and damaging farming practices over the previous 10,000 years have actually launched 320 billion lots of carbon into the environment. Burning nonrenewable fuel source has actually launched another 292 billion heaps.16 Over time, this consistent loss of soil carbon (and soil biodiversity and fertility) launched into the environment has not just altered the environment, however has actually likewise impacted the quality of our foods.
Today’s nonorganic foods have actually lost 25 to 75 percent of the important nutrients and trace element compared to 50 years back.
As the journal Scientific American mentions, “… veggies and fruits grown years ago were much richer in minerals and vitamins than the ranges the majority of us get today. The primary perpetrator in this troubling dietary pattern is soil deficiency: Modern extensive farming approaches have actually removed increasing quantities of nutrients from the soil in which the food we consume grows.” 17
Massive soil deterioration has actually occurred in every country, not simply the U.S. In a current report,18 researchers explain that the U.K. seems 30 to 40 years far from the “obliteration of soil fertility.”
.From Degeneration to Regeneration: Five Steps.
OK. Enough of the problem. What do we do about all this? How do we move from degeneration to regrowth? How do we beat Bayer/Monsanto, Big Food and Big Pharma? How do we reclaim control of our health and our diet plans, tidy up the environment, and participate the international effort to restore a steady environment?
Fortunately, countless us are currently turning down GMOs, pesticides and agriculture, and welcoming natural food and natural health practices and way of lives. Here are some things everybody can do:
.Stay spread out the message and notified of natural, regenerative and biodynamic food, farming and natural health amongst your household, next-door neighbors and good friends. A few of the very best newsletters, sites, social networks and sources of info consist of Mercola.com, OrganicConsumers.org and RegenerationInternational.org.Boycott GMOs, hazardous pesticides and factory-farmed meat, dairy and poultry —– today and every day.Purchase natural, biodynamic, 100 percent lawn fed, other and pasture-raised regenerative foods and customer items.Get included with other natural health activists and regenerators in altering public law at the regional, state and nationwide levels. End up being a grassroots resident lobbyist with the Organic Consumers Association or OCA’s grassroots lobbying arm, the Citizens Regeneration Lobby.Make a tax-deductible contribution to the Organic Consumers Association or Regeneration International to support our continuous projects versus Monsanto, GMOs and agriculture.
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Voice assistants are an increasingly integral part of modern life, and the experiences consumers are having with these digital personalities are growing in scope and significance.
If you are a marketer in 2019 you’ve seen this often-cited voice statistic: By 2020 half of all searches will be voice searches. Based on the consumer adoption trends of the past few years, we’re on track to meet this prediction. How has the voice revolution evolved, how are today’s data-driven brands already finding success, and what can well-established voice channels like phone calls teach us about interacting with consumers via voice?
Voice Is a Continually Evolving Channel
“Brand voice” suddenly has a much more literal meaning thanks to the ability to create voice experiences for consumers. Marketers who want to successfully leverage voice as a channel—and ultimately drive sales—must understand how and why people turn to voice as a part of their daily routines.
The rise in popularity of voice assistants and voice-enabled devices and the ability to create brand voice experiences are the results of a convergence between consumer preference and technological capability.
People like to communicate through speech because it’s easy. And, after all, the promise of technology has always been to make our lives easier: Easier to be connected to one another, easier to perform daily tasks, and easier to do our jobs. Consumer tech has often left users feeling like they must adapt to devices and channels instead of vice versa—until now.
Technology Has Finally Adapted to Fit User Communication Preferences
Many technological advancements have lead to the ability to build devices and programs that we can finally interact with in the way that feels most natural—speaking.
There is both a fascination and pragmatism attached to the idea of machines that can understand humans. Thanks in part to this allure, computer speech recognition (the basis of today’s voice assistants) has long been of interest to technologists.
Improvements in computing such as faster processors, better data availability and storage systems, and developments in voice recognition and natural language processing deserve credit for today’s voice technology.
For marketers, this means the voice channel is unique for building immersive consumer experiences. Consumers get to interact digitally with brands in a way that feels, dare it be said—human.
The Evolution of Voice Recognition Technology
Audrey, the first speech recognition system was built in 1952 by Bell Laboratories and programmed to understand only numbers. It could recognize strings of digits at an accuracy of up to 90%, given that the speaker was the device’s inventor speaking very, very slowly. The device recognized other speakers at an accuracy between 70-80%. This was an early indicator of the challenges presented by the fact that individuals have very different voices, speech patterns and dialects. Audrey also required substantial space, consumed large amounts of power and was prohibitively expensive to run and maintain. It was suggested that the device be used by telephone operators but it was an inferior competitor to even simple manual dialing and was never implemented for practical use.
IBM introduced the “Shoebox,” a speech recognition system meets calculator at the 1962 World’s Fair. It could recognize 16 words including numbers and simple arithmetic terms like “plus,” “minus” and “total.” Visitors to IBM’s World’s Fair Pavillion spoke (still very slowly) to Shoebox via microphone and watched as it printed out answers to the simple math problems they instructed it to perform.
The US Department of Defense even got into the speech recognition game by funding Carnegie Mellon University’s development of “Harpy.” Harpy could understand more than 1,000 words (approximately equal to the vocabulary of an average three-year-old).
Harpy was significant because it used a technology called template matching to match the sound wave patterns of words it “heard” to the sound waves patterns of its programmed vocabulary, increasing accuracy levels.
1980s: The Hidden Markov Model
The hidden Markov model is a statistical method developed in the 1980s that allowed for a large increase in the number of spoken words computers could recognize. Instead of using the templated approach of Harpy and other prior devices, the hidden Markov model considered the probability of a sound being a word. This new approach scaled speech recognition and allowed it to be used commercially.
The hidden Markov model was even used to power a slightly creepy children’s toy known as “Julie”, the “doll that understands you.”
1990s: Dueling Dragons
Dragon Systems used the hidden Markov model for their DragonDictate speech recognition application, which powered Microsoft Windows in the early 1990s. DragonDictate still required speakers to hold long pauses in between words to assist the computer in recognizing when one word stops and another begins. In 1997 Dragon Systems released a newer, faster application called Dragon NaturallySpeaking that could recognize continuous speech of around 100 words-per-minute. However, the system still required a 45-minute training for best accuracy. Dragon NaturallySpeaking was eventually acquired by Nuance and, many versions later, is still in use today.
Early 2000s: Lack of Adoption
Speech recognition and voice commands were built into early aughts operating systems including Windows Vista and Max OS X but many users were not aware that these features existed. It was easier to use text-driven communication given the somewhat of a stagnation that had occurred in voice recognition development.
2008: Google Voice Search
Google introduced the first personal voice recognition tool, the Google Voice Search app for iPhone, in 2008. The machine-learning powered app allowed iPhone users to perform voice queries through Google, voice search their contacts and ask questions in regards to geographic location (for example: “Where is the nearest Starbucks?”).
Google Voice Search’s introduction is a great example of the convergence of technological capability and consumer choice. Thanks to cloud data centers, Google could perform the heavy-lifting of processing large voice files more easily. Consumers also preferred to perform voice search because it was easier to use than wrangle with tiny cellphone keyboards.
Shortly after launching the Voice Search app, Google built on its first iteration by focusing more on understanding the nuances of individuals’ speech.
When Siri was introduced (only eight years ago) voice recognition technology had finally evolved so much that personality was now a factor. Siri’s unique voice and quippy answers simultaneously put users at ease and intrigued them.
Although the voice assistant did receive public criticism for lack of accuracy, it still became a nearly instant companion to many iPhone owners.
Her ubiquity was no fluke. Siri’s success was thanks to the collaboration of many technological heavyweights who contributed equally to different arenas of her development. Organizations and tech giants ranging from DARPA-funded SRI International to Nuance to of-course Apple were necessary to build a voice assistant capable of capturing the public’s attention and usage.
Today: Personal Voice Assistants
We’re now living in the voice revolution. Voice assistants and voice-enabled devices are prominent and prolific in their ability to understand what we are saying, assist us with daily tasks, enable voice commerce, and facilitate deep interactions with brands.
How Are Today’s Brands Finding Success With Voice?
We’re still on the frontier of voice assistants as a mainstream marketing and branding tool, but some brands are getting an early start within the voice space and as a result are building relationships with consumers through interactive experiences.
Beaty leader, Estée Lauder helps fans stay accountable for their nightly skin-care routine and provides beauty tips with their frictionless, interactive branding play on Google. Ask Google to talk to Liv at Estée Lauder to get product recommendations, tips, and reminders to wash and moisturize your face delivered to your phone.
Whiskey giant Johnnie Walker is clinking glasses through an Alexa skill that educates consumers about whiskey, allows them to choose a label based on personal preferences, try a guided tasting, and buy a bottle from a nearby store or delivery service.
Source: Johnnie Walker
Pizza lovers can now voice order Domino’s through Google Home and Alexa. Taking it a step further, the pizza chain partnered with speech recognition platform Nuance to develop their own voice-powered “order-taking expert,” Dom that is accessible through the Domino’s app.
What Can Established Channels Like Phone Calls Teach Us About Voice Assistants?
28% of consumers call a business after finding them from a voice search. And callers convert to customers up to 15x more than web form leads. These are strong indicators of the power of voice as a revenue-driving channel.
By understanding the value of the voice channel as a whole, marketers can yield more successful results from their voice marketing approach. And by looking at a traditional voice channel like consumer phone calls to their business, marketers can gain a deeper understanding of how to acquire more customers from voice search.
Consumers are demanding local information like never before. Across channels, search queries that included a local designation increased 900% over the last two years. Depending on the device, up to 53% of consumers use voice search to look for a local business on a daily basis. Often times, consumers searching for your business are not looking to find products or pricing online, but instead are looking for the phone number of the nearest location. Whether customers are searching for you through a browser or via voice, it’s important to tailor your content locally.
Consumers are most likely to use voice search to find local businesses with less considered services like restaurants, grocery stores, food delivery, and clothing services. However, a significant percentage are using voice search to investigate more considered services like childcare, home services, and senior living facilities.
Mine Calls for FAQS to Revamp Your SEO
Marketers can collect insights from phone conversations to learn what callers are saying and what questions they are asking and use the information to power content marketing and SEO. Marketers are doing this now by either manually reviewing call recordings and transcriptions themselves or by automating the process using artificial intelligence.
One company using call analysis to mine caller insights is Central Restaurant Products, the leading wholesale distributor of foodservice equipment. With inbound calls making up 56% of orders and 81% of total revenue, Central has a wealth of conversations to pull from. They analyze calls being driven from specific product pages, see what questions callers are asking, then update content to reflect the consumer questions.
By understanding the common questions customers ask, Central is not only optimizing their content for SEO but also alleviating customer concerns so that the sales team can focus less on education and more on driving conversions.
As a result, Central is able to create a seamless, end-to-end customer experience that significantly boosts conversion rates—increasing calls by 23% and new customers by 13%.
Analyze Calls From Voice Search to Determine the Next Best Actions
When consumers call your business, it’s important for marketers to be able to access basic information about the caller, see what happens on the call, and make a decision as to how to market to them post-call.
By analyzing calls for intent and outcome, marketers can:
Retarget that caller with the most relevant search, social, and display ads
Expand their reach by using that caller to improve their lookalike campaigns
Exclude that caller from seeing ads that aren’t relevant to them
Comfort Keepers, one of the nation’s leading providers of in-home care for seniors, analyzes what happens on calls to each of their 450+ franchise locations to assess the success of their marketing efforts and determine which targeting campaigns each caller should be included in.
Since phone calls make up 70% of their marketing conversions, they analyze the calls driven to each franchise to determine lead quality. They can then understand not only the volume of calls they are driving, but how many of those calls are potential new customers versus current customers and which next steps should be taken.
We’ve Never Been Closer Than With Voice
Voice marketing lets marketers get closer to consumers than ever before, and brands are craving deeper voice experiences. Marketers who are not tapping voice as both a branding and revenue-driving channel are falling behind.
Now is the time to ensure your brand is making the most of voice and take a deeper look at the conversations it’s already having with consumers.
“My advice would always be to ignore the perceived wisdom and look for the most reliable evidence on the ground” – D.T. Puttnam
Hearing a senior executive announce “We’re committed to becoming agile!” is not the bombshell moment it used to be. It no longer indicates a personal revelation or board-room epiphany. In fact, if you were to read some of the interviews with managers in business magazines, or the guest articles and puff-pieces on agility in their companies, you’d think that their hearts and minds had been won decades ago. You’d have no reason to doubt that executives were anything other than firmly on-side with Scrum Masters, coaches, and change agents. Agile transformation, you would surmise, is a done deal with the higher-ups.
Now according to the 2018 State of Agile report, the top reason survey respondents gave for undergoing agile transformation was to accelerate a production calendar. You can see why people would think that this is important. The imperative everyone faces is to complete projects “faster and cheaper”. Time, after all, is money. Hence there’s no great mystery why executives would appear to be pulling in the direction of agile change.
Moreover, there’s no denying that senior managers are generally right about the need for increased agility. If their organizations fail to improve, then they could well be disrupted out of business. That much is becoming increasingly clear. Yet it’s also the sticking point. You see, agile transformation isn’t about “accelerating a production calendar”, as is often assumed. It’s really about becoming a learning organization…one that’s innovative enough to survive.
People, I suppose, can be right about certain things for the wrong reasons. That’s what management support for “going agile” often boils down to. I remember the gasp of incredulity when I first explained to a senior executive that the agile transformation he talked about wasn’t geared towards completing projects “faster and cheaper”, as he claimed. “In truth,” I said, “agile transformation is about learning to build the right thing at the right time”. The mouth gaping back at me was momentarily staggered into silence. The face that framed it was a picture. It is still in the gallery of my mind’s eye: “Study of a suit in shock”. An unforeseen vista had rent the air and stretched out before him. He now saw a different perspective: value might not be what it appeared to be. These are the new bombshell moments which add pep to an agile coach’s day.
It’s important to give folk an anchor in a major paradigm shift, such as the adoption of agile practice. They need something they can hold on to as a point of reference, a true north. Here’s something to grab: agile transformation is not done for its own sake. Value, however it is measured, ought to be improved as a result of change. If value is measured well, then by means of frequent release, inspection, and adaptation, it can be maximized. If it is measured poorly, then an organization may just become better at doing the wrong thing. Eventually, more switched-on disruptors will move in for the kill.
Some companies misalign their success criteria. For example, they may gauge success in terms of a certain capability delivered by a certain date for a certain cost. Their project controls and measurements are geared towards an objective where evidence of success, or failure, will arrive late. These companies would be far better served by an ability to respond to change in an uncertain world.
Generally speaking, the most common dysfunction is to try and measure value in terms of outputs, rather than outcomes. A classic example, which is often encountered in agile transformation, is known as “point productivity”. If a technical team estimates each piece of work before doing it, and gives it a notional size in points, then team members will roughly know how much they’re taking on when planning to meet a goal. They are within their rights to use this approach. However, the numbers are not then too hard for managers to get hold of, and it is tempting for the higher-ups to conflate the estimated size of the work with its value. On the basis of this extraordinarily circumstantial evidence, the more “points” a team supposedly “delivers”, the more productive it is held to be. Why fake this equivalence? Because the genuine value of product increments to stakeholders, if any are indeed delivered at all, can be a much harder thing to discern. In fact there could be little appreciation of a product in the first place. There might simply be a project with a mandate, a bolus of requirements, and a fixed amount of money in the pot.
The irony of the situation is palpable. We often read about how merciless companies can be in the quest for profit, and of how keen they are to maximize shareholder value. Yet when it actually gets down to counting the beans in a timely way, and figuring out what sort of investment to make in the next Sprint, based on hard empirical evidence, they can’t set themselves to the task. They can’t do it. They fiddle the books with wooden dollars instead, and declare that the balance of story points being “delivered” perhaps ought to rise. Non-profit organizations, such as charities, are not necessarily any cleaner. The performance indicators used to gauge impact on the social good, for example, can be tenuous and trailing. Rather than dealing with this challenge head-on, and identifying the outcomes which they can empirically measure, non-profits might also resort to assessing outputs instead. They too can fall prey to the siren call of measuring “points delivered”, for example. They too might obscure true stakeholder value with circumstantial data that, when taken out of context, becomes fake. The comparative ease with which data like this can be obtained, and used to proxy for value, is often imagined to be a solution and its misappropriation a virtue.
It’s critically important to understand that measurement is strategic in nature. Senior executives are accountable for the value an organization provides and for corporate reputation. If the measurement of value is poor, then the outlook is grim. However, if the understanding of value is challenged and curated in an empirical way, with a timely focus on quality outcomes rather than circumstantial outputs, then it becomes possible to survive and thrive. Continuous improvement is enabled. Management, in other words, has to be evidence-based. This is of essential concern where an agile organization with an innovation capability is to be cultivated.
What actually should executives measure then? Evidence Based Management, or EBM, proposes four key value areas which organizations can focus on, irrespective of business context. These are Current Value, Unrealized Value, Time to Market, and Ability to Innovate. Let’s take a look at each of these areas, and at the nature of the measurements which lie beneath them.
Current Value measures the value delivered to customers or users today. How much is an initiative worth to stakeholders? How satisfied are customers, or employees for that matter? How many people actually use a product or service? From a financial perspective, what is the revenue per employee, or the product-cost ratio?
Unrealized Value measures the value that could be realized by meeting all of the potential needs of customers or users. What does the organization need to do to maximize that value? What is the relative market share of a product or service, and what is the gap between the current experience of customers or users, and an experience that might be said to “delight” them?
Ability to Innovate measures the ability to deliver a new capability or feature which better serves customer or user needs. Do we have data on which functions are used most heavily, and those which are used least often? What is the organization’s innovation rate, which is to say, the relative investment in developing new capabilities versus maintenance of the old? How much technical debt has to be paid off, relative to new functionality? What is the defect rate for the product or service, and how many major incidents occur over a given period? How many different versions are being supported? What percentage of a team’s time is spent on the product, and how focused on that product are they allowed to be? How much time is spent merging code and context-switching?
Time to Market measures the ability to quickly deliver a new capability, service, or product. How frequently do builds happen, how often is work integrated, and what is the frequency of release? Once a release is made, is additional time and effort needed for the product to stabilize, and if so how much? What is the average time it takes to effect a repair? What are the cycle and lead times to production, and how long does it take to close the validated learning loop?
That’s a lot of things to potentially measure, and the elicitation of the associated data is something that has to be sponsored by top management. Nobody, no employee, nor any consultant brought in for the job, can pull these numbers out of a hat. Getting hold of key value measures isn’t the sort of thing that can be delegated away. These are a comprehensive set of data points drawn from a range of functions across the enterprise. No-one below chief officer level is likely to have the organizational reach, or the political sway, to pull in the numbers. Moreover, departmental and mid-tier managers should be keen to engage with this strategic initiative, so that the data obtained will be timely and of good quality. This can require direct and pro-active involvement from the CEO, even if he or she has someone else to collate the measurements and to curate the results. Don’t forget that the first step in organizational transformation is to communicate a sense of urgency for change…for which executives have to constantly stay on the ball.
These key value measures, once elicited, provide a kind of transparency over enterprise agility. The data can be visualized in the form of a spider diagram, for example, and a picture then shaped of how “agile” an organization might be. Of course, this picture will not in itself cause an improvement. No report ever can. Simply being in receipt of numbers and charts does not cause people to inspect and adapt. For any change to happen, empirical process control must be established. A change leadership team will need to consider these measurements, challenge those which appear to be weak, and frame an hypothesis about how the situation might be improved.
We believe that [doing X] for [people Y] will achieve [outcome Z]. We will know that this is true when we see that [measurement M] has changed.
For example, if the innovation rate appears to be poor, they might decide to furnish a product ownership community with a dedicated team for the incubation of new opportunities. Then they can see the effect on the innovation rate, and on the overall picture of enterprise agile health.
We believe that supporting the product ownership community with a dedicated team will achieve an improved innovation rate. We will know that this is true when we see that the number of value propositions being evaluated each month has increased relative to the number of support and maintenance tickets which have been started for existing products.
Well? Did the innovation rate of the company improve? What other measures changed when the data was next collated…and what hypothesis ought to be framed and tested next?
These are the bare bones of EBM, or Evidence Based Management. If it looks like something which is impossibly or impractically hard to do, bear this in mind: in a crisis, executives suddenly become interested in empirical evidence. They ditch the pro-forma reports, filters, and stage-gated practices which normally define the organization’s way-of-working. They get close to the outcomes instead. They try to exert control over them until the situation stabilizes and the immediate danger recedes. Then they go back to their old, non-empirical practices which have just been found wanting. Can you feel the irony yet?
Perhaps executives should adopt Evidence Based Management as a new standard, if they genuinely want to have a more agile organization. The alternative is bleak. If they don’t do so, then the illusion of control — which comes from managing circumstantial outputs — will persist until reality bites them. But will the outcome of such ignorance be survivable at that point? Or will the more agile, and the more innovative, have moved in for the kill?
When you’re a teeny, tiny startup, you’re more concerned with things like finding the right investors, than you are with preparing for tax season. The problem is, if you wait until the last minute, you’ll probably end up making some common tax mistakes. At best, these mistakes are a missed opportunity to lower your tax bill. At worse, these mistakes could saddle you with some expletive-inducing fines or even legal penalties.
Luckily, it doesn’t take an expert to avoid some of the most common tax mistakes. With a little bit of extra planning and the advice of a few trusted professionals, you can make sure you don’t repeat the kind of mistakes that landed your fellow entrepreneurs in hot water with the IRS.
1. Filing as the Wrong Legal Entity
When you first started your company, you probably didn’t give much thought to what type of business entity it would be. However, deciding on your business’ legal structure is one of the most important decisions you’ll make because it not only affects how you file your taxes, but also how much you pay.
In the US, businesses fall into one of five categories: limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships, S corporations, C corporations, and sole proprietorships. Prior to 2017, filing as an LLC was often (though not always) seen as the best option for entrepreneurs because it held significant tax advantages. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has lessened the advantages of filling as an LLC. Moreover, the tax advantages of filing as an LLC come at the cost of additional tax reporting complexity.
To avoid filing as the wrong entity and creating more problems for yourself down the line, it’s important to carefully research the advantages and disadvantages of each legal structure. If you’re not very tax-savvy, it’s an even better idea to ask your accountant for their take.
2. Not Registering In Every State You Do Business In
The virtual nature of startups means these companies often have employees and customers across the country. But what many startups fail to realize is that having business in multiple states means they may need to file a return for each of those states.
On the one hand, the Supreme Court recently clarified that a company is legally obligated to pay taxes in every state in which it does business, even if the company has no actual property or employees located within the state. So if your startup shipped products or carried out services in multiple states, you may owe sales tax in each of those states.
While the concept of mixing business finances with personal finances seems like an obvious no-no, in reality, it can be tricky to keep the two entirely separate. In fact, nearly one in five business owners admit that they do not even have separate personal and business bank accounts.
The problem is, mixing business and personal finances can make it nearly impossible to tell which expenses are business related and deductible for your taxes. Over time, failure to account for reimbursable expenses can result in lost money, as well as lost tax deductions. Commingling finances also removes a layer of legal protection in the event that your business is ever audited.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid this problem is to establish a financial account for your startup business from day one and to maintain separate records for all business transactions.
4. Not Sending 1099s
As a startup, you’ve likely had to hire contractors to help with everything from coding to legal consultation. However, if you paid any of these contractors more than $600, you’d better make sure to issue Form 1099-MISC to both the individual and the IRS. Copy B of Form 1099-MISC should be sent to contractors by January 31st, 2019, while Copy A should go to the IRS by February 28th, 2019.
If you used a contractor and did not file Form 1099-MISC, you could be fined $100 for each type of form (with no maximum). Moreover, if you miss the deadline and file late, the fines are determined based on how late you file, as well as the size of your business. In other words, make sure to send your 1099s to your contractors or you could be facing a major bill (and some frustrated contractors) when tax time rolls around.
5. Not Amortizing Pre-Revenue Expenses
Launching a startup usually takes a lot of up-front investment. This can include everything from a dozen laptops to research and development costs. Where many startups get into trouble, is choosing to report all these expenses at once.
A much better way to handle these expenses is to offset the costs through amortization. This means writing off its initial tax burden and then paying it back incrementally. This method allows you to capitalize on the expense and then pay a percentage of taxes on it over the next couple of years. If your company is in the pre-offering period, this strategy can help to reduce your tax liabilities
6. Not Deducting Your Business Expenses
If you’re running a startup and you’re not deducting your business expenses, you’re essentially leaving money on the table. While the general rule is that you can deduct all “ordinary and necessary” business expenses, there are a number of key deductions that startups should be taking advantage of.
In addition to things like meals and bank fees, startups should also be deducting the cost of training programs, research and development, and home offices. The best way to make sure you’re capturing all the important startup tax deductions is to do your research well ahead of tax season.
7. Not Keeping Proper Records
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that a deductible expense is only good if you can actually prove that you spent money on what you said you did. This is where many startups go wrong. Entrepreneurs often neglect to keep proper expense records throughout the year and end up scrambling to fill old shoeboxes with receipts when tax time rolls around.
The easiest way to avoid this situation is to go paperless. Make things a little easier for yourself (and your bookkeeper) by scanning and uploading copies of your receipts to the cloud. You can even use dedicated apps to transcribe the information from each receipt for you. Keep in mind that the IRS requires businesses to keep receipts that support business expenses for a minimum of six years from the date you filed your return, and this is far easier to do with digital receipts than paper ones.
8. Not Talking to the Experts
While all of the above can get you into some trouble around tax time, one of the biggest mistakes that startups make is trying to go it alone. Many founders believe that an easy way to save money is to simply do back-office tasks like bookkeeping and accounting themselves. However, without the proper training and expertise, the DIY approach often ends up costing more in the long run.
It’s no surprise that one of the best ways to make sure your business is tax-ready is to talk to an accountant who specializes in tax planning and tax filing. You should also consider finding a bookkeeping service to keep your books organized and compliant from tax-time onwards. You’ll be especially thankful for your bookkeeper if you find yourself in the midst of an audit.
The post What Are the Signs Your Dog Loves You? by Jennifer Lesser appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.
There’s nothing like being greeted by a wagging tail and a sloppy dog kiss after a long day at the office. But while most dogs are affectionate with their owners, it’s hard not to wonder if your pet loves you as much as you love them. So, what are the signs your dog loves you? Let’s take a closer at some signs your dog loves you.
The good news is that according to experts, even though your four-legged friend may not be able to verbalize the words “I love you,” there are lots of signs your dog loves you.
“Dogs are social creatures by nature, and fortunately, the communication between dogs and human is very good — they can read our body language, and we can read theirs,” says Scott R. Sheaffer, a certified canine behavior consultant and owner of USA Dog Behavior, LLC in Texas. “There are lots of ways that dogs tell us they love us, and some are more obvious than others.”
Let’s break out some of the signs your dog loves you.
1. One Sign Your Dog Loves You? He Stays Close to You … Very Close
According to Dr. Gail Clark, a canine behavioral psychologist and owner of K9 Shrink, LLC in Colorado, a dog that’s sitting on your lap, leaning on you, nudging you — or won’t even take his eyes off you — is sending a very clear message that they love you. “Staying close to their owners is a major sign in dog language,” she explains. “If your dog is doing everything they can to be physically close to you, his definitely expressing his feelings for you.”
Scott adds that dogs have two major categories of behavior: distance increasing and distance decreasing. When a dog is feeling affectionate and non-threatened by his human, he will move closer and thus decrease his distance … but if an animal is increasing his distance from you, it’s sending the opposite message.
“Sometimes people say that if a dog comes over and leans on you, they’re trying to show dominance in some way … but in reality, it’s just another distance-decreasing behavior to tell you that they love and trust you,” he adds. The same concept applies when your dog comes over and plops himself on your feet while you’re sitting on the sofa, or lies next to you while you’re in bed watching television. “You probably don’t need to be an animal behaviorist to know that a dog that wants to be close to you all the time has strong feelings of affection towards you,” he adds.
Important to Note: Distance-Increasing Behaviors vs. Separation Anxiety
However, Scott warns that if your dog wants to be with you all day, every day — and shows symptoms of fear or anxiety whenever you leave the house — that’s not necessarily a sign of love, but an indicator that your dog may suffer from separation anxiety. “People tend to find it flattering when their dog falls apart when they leave, but it’s really not a healthy behavior … it’s a serious fear and anxiety about being left alone, and at that point you should seek professional help,” he advises.
2. Another Sign Your Dog Loves You? He Follows You Around
Most pet owners quickly realize that as soon as you bring your new four-legged family member home, you’re not going to be able to do anything alone ever again — including use the bathroom. Yes, a dog that follows you everywhere is another one of the signs your dog loves you.
“Even when your dog isn’t necessarily touching you, he’s showing you how much he loves you by following you around,” Scott says. “A dog who loves you feels the need to keep you in his line of vision … so when he joins you in the bathroom, it’s not your dog being rude or invading your privacy — he just doesn’t know you’re not really supposed to follow someone in there.”
3. One Sign Your Dog Loves You? He Jumps on You
It’s probably not the most desirable behavior — and most pet owners will train their dogs not to do it — but a dog jumping on you is another sign your dog loves you.
“The fact of the matter is that anything a dog does to get closer to you is a clear sign of their affection,” Dr. Clark explains. “Some of these behaviors, like jumping, can be annoying sometimes … but if your dog wants that physical contact with you, they’re really just trying to express how they feel.”
4. Yet Another Sign Your Dog Loves You? He Turns His Back to You
Ever had your dog greet you by sticking his or her butt in your face? While it may not be an appropriate greeting amongst humans, in dog language, it’s actually a sign your dog loves you!
“If a dog is uncomfortable with you, he would never turn his back to you — would you turn your back to someone you were afraid of or thought could put you in danger?” Scott says. “A dog coming over and pushing his butt into you is actually a very friendly and affectionate behavior.”
5. Did You Know About This Sign Your Dog Loves You? He Stretches Toward You
Here’s one sign your dog loves you that the average pet owner may not know: if you’ve ever seen your dog stretch in front of you (it’ll resemble a play bow, but both of their front legs are together), it may not be because they’re just waking up from a restful snooze. Scott explains that dogs will often make this motion — a “greeting stretch” — in the direction of someone that they love and are happy to see.
“When this behavior is done in close proximity to you, and the dog is clearly pointing at you, it’s actually your dog’s way of saying ‘I love you, it’s great to be here with you right now,” he says.
The post What Are the Signs Your Dog Loves You? by Jennifer Lesser appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.
In New York City years ago, there was a pastor in the Garment District who advertised his church as the “crossroads of the world.” (New Yorkers are given to that kind of language.) Well, when he became pastor of a church in Midtown, he advertised that one as the “crossroads of the world.” This priest was an evangelist and a master of public relations. But he was on to something: Every church is at the crossroads of the world. Indeed, every generation and every civilization finds itself at a crossroads.
But wherever there is a crossroads, there is a cross. When the Cross of Christ appeared in the world, civilization truly was at a crossroads. It would seem that God in His infinite wisdom chose that moment in history precisely because of its drama. Consider that the Crucifixion of Christ happened almost equidistant between the capture of Rome by the general Pompey and the destruction of Rome by the emperor Titus. It was at that crossroads of civilization that the Lord of history made Himself known.
Pride and Humility
The crossroads of every biography is this challenge to the soul: How will we choose? The soul that is governed by what it thinks is freedom but is, in fact, the delusion of pride, falls into slavery. It is pride, the pretense that we can live without the Cross, that splits the soul. The soul is made of the intellect and the will: Passion enslaves the will; pride then co-opts the intellect.
That great voice of the nineteenth century and of all ages, John Henry Newman, spoke to a group of university scholars about pride, knowing that pride is a besetting sin of the intellectual.
He said famously, “Quarry the granite rock with razors. Moor the vessel with a thread of silk. And then you may hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man.”
This article is from a chapter in Grace and Truth. Click image to learn more.
Passion and pride: This is what Our Lord is speaking of in announcing the hour of darkness. He is describing the prince of lies, who wants us to think that passion — not the Lord’s divine and salvific Passion, but our fallen human passion — is the way to freedom, and that pride is the source of our dignity. Our Lord knows that passion and pride can be defeated only by suffering and failure. That’s what the Cross teaches us.
The Cross has been called the medicine of the world: It is the cure for this deep affliction, this neurosis within the soul that would have us mistake slavery for freedom. When the soul is divided, civilization begins to fall apart.
Accepting the Cross
The consciousness of God is the beginning of accepting the Cross. Once we understand that there is a God, He, by His grace, will show us that He is one, that He is merciful, and that He has the power to draw us unto Him. “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). Remember the way Our Lord revealed Himself to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM” (Exod. 3:14). He is the source of all life, and indeed of being itself.
But if our souls are divided, if our civilization is split apart, we begin to lose the vision of God and His life-giving goodness that had been given to us. God told us, “I AM.” And yet, amid the remnants of a broken and decaying civilization governed by passion and pride, instead of proclaiming that God is the great I AM, we are reduced to sniveling observations about truth and eventually gasping out, “I don’t even know what ‘is’ is!” Well, as long as we refuse to confront the reality of the great I AM, we will never really know what “is” is. We will never understand the grammar of civilization. We will never grasp the true content of justice.
We don’t have to speculate about who this great I AM is: He came into the world in Christ. “I AM the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). “I AM the Vine” (John 15:5). “I AM the Door” (John 10:9). “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). Here, in this God-man, we find the meaning of our existence, our civilization, our identity.
Our Lord went to the Cross at the crossroads of civilization, and conquered passion and pride through His suffering and His visible failure according to the terms of the world. We have to remember that the suffering of God in Christ was one of the most difficult things for His contemporaries to grasp. It was the mystery that caused many of them to flee the Cross. And even when people did try to identify with the Cross, they often tried to redefine or deny outright the suffering of Christ. These heretical groups within Christianity claimed that Christ was only pretending to suffer on the Cross. They could not understand that the divine glory and divine humility were one.
Joseph Goebbels, that vicious propaganda officer of the Nazi machine, wrote in a diary around Christmastime in 1941 that he had just had an impressive meeting with the Führer, who had told him that he very much admired the myth of the pagan god Zeus, the god of all the gods in the Greek pantheon. Why? The Führer explained that he valued Zeus as a figure of benevolence and kindness.
What a difference there is between the smiling Zeus and the pain-wracked, crucified Christ! That’s the experience of the twentieth century in a single anecdote. Our civilization suffered through another manifestation of the Gnostic denial of the Incarnation of God. Note especially how, for one of the cruelest men who ever lived, it was easier to choose the sentimental figure of a nonexistent deity than the suffering and failure of Christ on the Cross.
Christ suffered on the Cross to defeat the passion and pride of Satan. And He failed on the Cross. He had to fail — at least according to the lights of a deceived civilization. He had to contradict those criteria for worldly success that animate the passion and the pride of man. Christ cries out on the Cross, “My God! My God, why have You forsaken me?” (see Matt. 27:46). This is not some kind of mythical success story. No mythical god ever cried out like that!
Life at the Crossroads
When John Paul Getty was one of the richest men in the world, someone asked him his key to success. He replied, “It’s very easy. Rise early. Work hard. And strike oil.” (Not very helpful advice really.) Our Lord never said anything like that. Yes, He did rise early; He kept all-night vigils; and He worked hard to the point of sweating blood. But He never said, “Go out and strike oil.” Salvation does not depend on luck. “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). We must stand at the crossroads and choose truth over lies, and life over death.
There’s an old proverb that goes, “Success is not one of the names of God.” These words came from the experience of God’s chosen people. When you read those words, you can still hear the lamentations of the Jews in their captivity in Egypt, in their forty years of wandering, in the desolation of their temple, in the Babylonian captivity, in the suffering through the ages, and in the horrors of the twentieth century. The choice between despairing of this world and hope in God’s providence is in every life lived at the crossroads.
Christ, the Messiah of the Jews, came into history to show us the resolution between light and dark, between life and death. As He walked through the crowds on one occasion, He suddenly said, “Who was it that touched me?” (Luke 8:45). One woman of the throng that surrounded Him had touched the hem of His garment, and He knew it. For however many civilizations there are, however many billions of people ever lived, each one of us is known to God when we touch Him.
But we have to call Him by name. We cannot call Him according to our own name, our own concept of what He is or should be. We cannot pretend that He is anything less than the pain-wracked, suffering Christ. Certainly success is not one of His names. When He hung on the Cross and cried out, “My God! My God, why have You forsaken me?” He was saying something that you will not find in any book or saccharine sermon about positive thinking. You will not see it engraved on any smile button. That kind of language is not “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” It is, however, the voice of the Lord of history — at the crossroads of history — hanging on the Cross.
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He is speaking of you and of me and of every man and woman who has walked through the drama of the human experience. “Who touched me?” I did. “Well then, who crucified me?” I did. If we deny that, then we are governed by passion and pride, and the house of our soul is divided.
Yogi Berra, the master of malapropism, said that when you come to the crossroads of life, “take it.” It’s not much better advice than that of Mr. Getty, but I think you know what he meant. Christ gives everyone, every day, every time we wake up, a chance to choose. And of all the people who ever lived, we have less excuse than any to make a wrong choice, for we have access to the experience of all the civilizations that have gone before. We have the hard lessons of those who have rejected Christ. We have the consequences of civilizations that have turned their backs on God’s beauty and truth and love.
And every soul is offered the perception of the saints, who see at every crossroads the Cross of Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
At this moment, the Miami Dolphins are going to be going out Shane Falco at quarterback next season. After Miami made a desperate effort to sign Teddy Bridgewater, the New Orleans Saints quarterback revealed Thursday he’’ ll be going back to the Bayou for another season support up Drew Brees. While this is a win for the Saints, it informs us simply how bad things remain in South Beach today. Nick Foles was an alternative. He no longer is. Rather, he’’ s playing in Duval with the Jaguars. Tyrod Taylor was a choice. He’’ s now supporting Philip Rivers in Southern California. Perhaps Miami reverses to a quarterback in Ryan Tannehill that it had currently basically carried on from. The basic truth that Bridgewater, 26, decided to support Brees next season instead of being the most likely starter in Miami informs us a lot about the Dolphins’ ’ company today. Fins down. As it associates with the Saints, they keep among the video game’’ s finest backups. New Orleans had actually obtained Bridgewater from the New York Jets in a trade prior t.