Thursday, May 28, 2015

relationships. sorry for formatting

‘The%Three%Most%Important%Things%No%One%Ever%Told%You About%Committed%Relationships’ By%Glenn%Burdick,%MA,%LMSW Ann%Arbor,%MI Facebook:! There!is!an!astonishing!lack!of!understanding!about!how!to!have!a!committed! relationship!or!marriage!succeed,!grow!and!thrive.!We!know!a!lot!about!running!a! business!or!profession!or!trade,!maintaining!and!repairing!machines,!tweeting!and! communicating!with!others!all!over!the!world.!We!know!very!little!about!what! makes!a!committed,!intimate!relationship!really!work,!really!deliver!on!its!promise! over!a!long!span!of!time.!Yet,!most!of!us!expect!the!greatest!sense!of!satisfaction!and! fulfillment!in!life!to!come!from!exactly!these!relationships.!What’s!up!with!that? We!have!all!heard!fundamental truths!like,!‘marriage!is!hard!work…you!have!to! work!at!it.’!Then!there!are!all!the!‘tips!and!tricks’,!such!as,!‘never!go!to!bed!angry’.! Both!of!these!are!useful!things!to!know.!However,!armed!with!this!information,!and! the!best!of!intentions,!we!have!a!divorce!rate!of!50%!in!this!country!!The!divorce! rate!is!the!highest!for!couples!in!the!first!few!years!of!marriage,!but!it!includes!all! socioeconomic!categories,!levels!of!education!and!income,!ethnicities!and!religions.! You!could!make!the!case!that!marriages!that!begin!with!real!romantic!love!do!no! better!than!arranged!marriages,!perhaps!worse. Highly!educated!people, less! educated!people,!wealthy!people,!people!with!limited!financial!resources,!religious! people,!and!atheists…everybody!seems!to!be!struggling!with!marriage/committed! partnership.!The!amount!of!frustration!and!heartbreak!involved,!the!toll!on!children, and!the!cost!of!divorce!in!economic!terms!is!huge.!We!need!life6changing!knowledge,! the!tools!to!turn!this!situation!around,!and!the!will!to!do!so.!I!try!to!do!my!part!in!the! work!I!do!with!couples,!and!with!my!own!partner!in!my!personal!life.!But,!even! being!a!professional!with!thirty!years!of!experience!helping!couples!does!not!make! one!exempt!from!how!challenging!it!can!be at!times!(sorry,!just!getting!a!graduate! degree!won’t!fix!this!for!you!either)!!All!of!us!human!beings!need!to!have!the!right! understanding,!enought!self6awareness!and!humility,!and!a!strong!desire!to!be! connected!to!our!partner!over!time.!Then!something!really!remarkable!can!happen. Since!you!are!reading!this!article!its!likely!that!you!are!at!least!a!little!curious!as!to! why!your!partner!seems!so!unable!to!consistently!give!you!what!you!need.!After!all,! you!have!told!them!so!many!times!over!so!many!months!or!years!what!they!are! doing!wrong!and!how!to!do!you!right,!and!they!have!really!underwhelmed!you!with what!a!poor!showing!they’ve!made.!That!can!become!overwhelmingly!frustrating (oddly!enough,!our!partner!may!be!feeling!the!same!way!about!us!).!It!just!doesn’t! make!sense,!does!it?!Don’t!they!understand!how!incredibly!important!this!is!to!you?! Do!you!feel!me!here? What!is!it!that!we!don’t!know!that!might!explain!why!so!many!couples!break!up!or! live!together!unhappily? Fortunately!for!all!of!us!there!are!have!been!some!very! bright,!curious,!determined!and!talented!teachers,!researchers,!and!clinicians!out! there!blazing!the!trail!for!us.!This!is!a!brief!article!on!a!topic!that!an!entire!book! could!be!based!upon,!but!I!want!to!point!out!three!very!powerful!understandings! that!have!come!to!light.!Understanding!these!and!learning!to!put!them!into!practice! in!your!life!is!truly!transforming. 1.!‘You!can!be!right…or!you!can!be!married!’ Harville!Hendrix,!PhD!is!best!known!for!having!penned!the!book!‘Getting!The!Love! You!Want’,!founding!in!the!process!Imago!Therapy,!and!for!being!one!of!Oprah’s!top! 20!most!influential!guests!of!all!time. When!I!wanted!to!learn!more!about!helping! couples!I!participated!in!his!yearlong!training.!Dr.!Hendrix!came!to!certain!profound! insights!about!committed!partnerships,!in!part,!as!a!result!of!the!upset!he!felt!at!his! first!marriage!ending!in!divorce.!Along!the!way!he!discovered!some!really! interesting!and!critically!important!things!about!committed!partnerships.!One! profound!understanding!is!summed!up!in!one!of!his!favorite!quips ‘you!can!be! right…or!you!can!be!married!’!Now,!that’s!deep! The!truth!of!that!is!immediately! obvious!to!most!of!us!when!we!hear!that,!and!can!make!us!feel!a!bit!embarrassed.!It! points!to!something!every!single!human!being!wants!to!do…to!be!right,!prove!our! individuality,!stand!up!for!ourselves,!fight!unfairness!when!we!feel!we!are!being! misunderstood!or!mischaracterized,!someone!not!getting!who!we!really!are,!what’s! really!true!about!us.!Ever!react!that!way?!Me!too.!How’s!that!working!for!you?!Have! you!ever!noticed!what!a!colossal!failure!getting!defensive!and/or!interrupting!your! partner!midstream!is!as!a!strategy!for!getting!them!to!hear!you!and!respect!you,!and! vice!versa?! eyes.!They!will!not!appreciate!your!efforts,!even!if!you!are!trying!to!be!helpful,!if!they! feel!you!are!set!on!making!them!wrong!for!thinking!and!feeling!the!way!they!are.! Yes,!it!is!very!important!for!us!to!be!and!feel!heard,!understood,!validated,! respected.!That!will!only!happen!if!we!learn!to!communicate!with!our!partner!with! patience,!humility,!and!real!interest!in!how!they are!thinking!and!feeling,!even!when! it!differs!from!our!perceptions,!thoughts!and!feelings.!What!we!need,!more!than! being!right!is!to!be!connected,!intimately!connected,!with!our!significant!other.!We. patiently.and.accurately.heard,.respectfully.understood,.and.genuinely.empathized.,.concern,.hurt. 2.!Our!partner!needs!us!to!‘have!their!back’!and!we!need!them!to!‘have!ours’.! This!is!the!second!of!‘three!things’…it’s!awfully!hard!to!believe!your!partner!has! your!back!If!they!seem!comfortable!with!or!uncaring!about!your!suffering,!and!vice! versa.!Each!times!it!seems!that!way!to!us!our!heart!will!close!just!a!little!bit!more.! This!is!also!one!of!the!consequences!of!proving!one’s!partner!wrong…they!will!be! left!wondering!if!their!wants!and!needs!really!matter!to!you,!if!they!really!are!that! significant!to!you. This!understanding!has!evolved!through!the!study!of!human! development,!and!is!a!foundation!in!the!work!of!Sue!Anderson,!PhD,!and!other!key! researchers!in!involved!in!the!development!of!Emotionally!Focused!Therapy.!In!a! nutshell,!the!understanding!is!that!human!beings!need!to!have!someone!who!has! their!back,!or!they!will!feel!very!insecure,!and!unsafe…it!feels!like!a!survival! requirement.!When!this!doesn’t!seem!to!be!happening!it!makes!us!very!concerned,!if! not!alarmed.!If!it’s!called!into!question!a!number!of!times,!it!can!become!a!real!‘deal! breaker’!in!a!family!system!or!partnership.!This!leads!us!right!into!the!‘third!thing’. 3.!We!need!to!know!how!we!‘live’!inside!our!partner,!how!they!really!feel! about!us!in!the!privacy!of!their!own!inner!world.!Do!they!miss!us,!think!fondly!of! us,!or!not!at!all?!If!only!we!could!read!their!mind!at!different!times!of!day!we!would really!know!where!we!stood!with!them.!We!would!know!if!we!should!really!trust! them,!that!they!will!always!have!our!back!because!we!are!that!important!to!them,! central!to!them!in!importance,!truly!valued!in!the!way!we!need!to!be!valued.!We! would!know!that,!despite!their!being!inattentive,!tired,!absentminded!at!times,!they! really!do!care!enough!that!our!emotional!well6being!and!vulnerability!is!well!placed! with!them.!Sadly!(or!not),!we!cannot!read!their!mind!and!they!can’t!read!ours.!That! means!we!can!only!depend!upon!communication!to!know!these!things,!to!find!out! what’s!really!true!when!it!seems!like!a!fact!that!we!are!not!that!important!to!them.!If! we!approach!our!partner!in!a!way!that!puts!them!immediately!on!the!defensive,! their!defensive!reaction!will!seem!to!confirm!to!us!that!our!worst!fears!are!true.!We! will!believe!they!don’t!and!won’t!have!our!back,!and!our!level!of!upset!will!escalate. It!is!so!incredibly!easy!to!feel!defensive,!isn’t!it?!When!we!feel!defensive!might!feel! sad!and!withdraw,!or!feel!angry!and!blaming.!We!will!have!two!defensive!people,! two!people!feeling!that!their!needs!are!unimportant!to!the!other.!Two!people!who! feel!emotionally!unsafe!and!insignificant.!But,!normal,!everyday!communication!will! not!work!for!us!when!we!are!feeling!defensive.!I’ll!have!a!lot!more!to!say!about!this! topic!in!my!next!article,!so!please!make!sure!to!get!on!my!email!list!if!you!got!this! article!by!some!other!route.!It’s!my!intention!to!get!a!lot!more!information!to!you,! the!kind!of!information!you!don’t!run!into!everyday,!potentially!life!changing! information.!In!the!meantime,!I!invite!you!to!notice!when!and!how!YOU!get! defensive,!what!effect!that!has!on!your!ability!to!communicate,!to!listen!to!your! partner,!to!act. Glenn!Burdick,!MA,!LMSW Ann!Arbor,!MI!USA

Sunday, May 24, 2015

get a lift from coffee

Coffee May Perk Up More Than Men's Brains: It May Ward Off Erectile Dysfunction

According to a new study out in the journal PLOS ONE last week, caffeine intake is linked to reduced odds of having erectile dysfunction (ED) in men who drink the equivalent of two to three cups of coffee per day. Among the lifestyle factors that are known to put a man at risk of ED – poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and alcohol consumptions – caffeine has not been of the biggest candidates. But the new study suggests that like other areas of physical and mental health, ED may be another beneficiary of caffeine’s fascinating benefits. Since erectile function, and dysfunction, is in some ways an extension of cardiovascular health – and caffeine is known to help heart health in certain ways – the idea that it could also help ED may not be so surprising. But for men who are devout coffee drinkers, the results may come as good news.
Erectile dysfunction affects about 18 million men over the age of 20, and among middle-aged men, the numbers grow: about 44% of men over 40 suffer from it, and 70% of men over the age of 70 do.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images
In the new study, the authors looked at data from 3,700 men who filled out questionnaires about their diets, exercise habits, alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption (from coffee, tea, soda, and sports drinks), and other lifestyle factors – and whether they suffered from ED. When the team ran correlations, they found that men who drank 85-170 mg of caffeine per day were 42% less likely to have dealt with ED. Those who drank 171-303 mg of caffeine were 39% less likely to have the disorder. These amounts are roughly the equivalent two to three cups of coffee per day.
Why would caffeine prevent against ED? Caffeine is known to affect blood vesselfunction, which the authors suggest is the likely mechanism for its effects on ED. They write that the “suggested biological mechanism is that caffeine triggers a series of pharmacological effects that lead to the relaxation of the penile helicine arteries, and the cavernous smooth muscle that lines cavernosal spaces, thus increasing penile blood flow.” In other words, arteries and smooth muscle relax, blood flow is enhanced, and the “cavernous” space in the penis that contributes to erection fills with blood more easily.
The results were even true even for men with high blood pressure, or who were overweight or obese. Men with diabetes did not experience the same protective effects from caffeine, possibly because diabetes brings with it its own set of vascular problems. “Diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for ED, so this was not surprising,” said study author David S. Lopez in a statement.
Whether men should start drinking coffee, if they don’t already, to ward off ED is unclear. Coffee brings with it a number of documented health benefits, for both body and brain, which research is illustrating more and more every day. But experts don’t often recommend picking up a new habit (especially with an addictive substance) if a person has gone his whole life without it. It’s probably worth talking with your doctor if you’re considering starting a coffee habit. But if you’re currently a caffeine partaker, it’s good to know that among its many health benefits, sexual health may be yet another.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


MARKETS  2,411 views

Investing In The Sin Bin: Are 'Vice' Stocks Like Tobacco, Booze And Casinos Smart Bets?

Does morality matter in investing? Put another way, can amorality pay off?
Gerry Sullivan thinks it can. He manages the $298 million Barrier Fund (formerly known as the Vice Fund), which specializes in the types of stock that get a bad rap from morally-conscious investors and institutions.
Four of Sullivan’s top five holdings are in tobacco companies, and for all the hand-wringing over the health hazards of smoking – and the massive settlements the companies have coughed up – he still thinks the stocks are among his best bets.
“You can’t just start a tobacco company,” Sullivan says, pointing out the wide moat enjoyed by the industry’s established players. While they undoubtedly face increased scrutiny, he’s fairly sanguine about their future and the potential market share threat from e-cigarettes.
“When you take a universe and start excluding for something that has nothing to do with investment theory, you’re using biases of exclusion that remove high-yielding stocks and will make it more difficult to keep up with or beat a benchmark,” Sullivan says.
Take Altria Group MO -0.1% for example. “If you exclude it you’re taking out one of the best stocks of the last 20 years,” says Sullivan. He’s right. Altria has returned more than 2,500% in the last two decades, better than the S&P 500′s 478% and ahead of much faster-growing companies like NIKE NKE +0.06% and Whole Foods Market WFM -0.59%.
Sullivan compares tobacco companies with “passbook savings accounts,” given their steady, consistent yields. Even some investors who were opposed to the sector years ago are finding their way back to the industry in a desperate search for income.
“If I offered you a 30-year U.S. Treasury at 3% or a tobacco stock at 4% which looks better?” the fund manager asks.
Academic studies support the argument for vice stocks that underpins the Barrier Fund, finding the group has “less institutional ownership and less analyst coverage than otherwise comparable stocks” and that social norms have “significant price effects.” According to researchers from Princeton University and the University of British Columbia, “sin stocks outperform comparables even after controlling for well-known return predictors.”
In February, Credit Suisse published a study out of the London Business School that found more of the same. The piece, authored by Elroy Dimson, Paul Marsh and Mike Staunton, noted that Sullivan’s vice-focused fund easily outpaced the returns of a Vanguard fund tracking a socially-responsible index of stocks since 2002.
“[M]uch of the evidence that we review suggests that ‘sin’ pays,” the study found, highlighting the key elements that make vice stocks compelling investments. “The rationale for ‘vice’ investing is that these companies have a steady demand for their goods and services regardless of economic conditions, they operate globally, they tend to be high-margin businesses, and they are in industries with high entry barriers.”
A recent report from SigFig found that 1 in 8 investors own at least one “vice” stock, which the company categorized as companies in the tobacco, alcohol, casino or marijuana industries. (The automated portfolio management firm, which partners with Fidelity, Schwab and Ameritrade, aggregated data from the 230,000 accounts synced with its platform that hold at least one stock.)
SigFig’s report considers a handful of stocks in each industry. Tobacco companies  Altria Group MO -0.1%Philip Morris International PM -0.51%Lorillard LO +0.32% and Reynolds American RAI +0.17%; Alcohol companies Anheuser-Busch InBev , Molson Coors Brewing TAP +0.66%Boston Beer SAM -0.36%Craft Brew Alliance and Constellation Brands STZ +0.75%; Gaming outfits Las Vegas Sands LVS -0.67%Wynn Resorts WYNN -0.78%MGM Resorts MGM +0.25%Melco Crown Entertainment , Boyd Gaming and Penn National Gaming; and Marijuana stocks Medical Marijuana, Growlife, Hemp Inc and GW Pharmaceuticals.
(The latter group is a newer entrant into the vice category, given the legalization of marijuana , to varying degrees, across a number of U.S. states in recent years, and isn’t included in most of the academic work on the topic, or in Sullivan’s fund.)
It’s important to note that the SigFig report does not include any evidence that investors are buying these “vice” stocks because they’re attracted to the sinful nature of their products. In many cases, the stocks in question offer characteristics that could prove compelling to investors, like growth opportunities or dividend income, that have nothing to do with the perceived moral character of a company or its products.
Since some investors object to owning these stocks for moral reasons, the resulting inefficiency in their market valuation offers an opportunity to investors with no such compunction.
“If you wrapped these stocks in white paper and couldn’t tell what they were, people would love them,” says Sullivan. The four tobacco stocks in his top five holdings account for nearly a quarter of the portfolio, but the group will shrink by one when last summer’s announced takeover of Lorillard by Reynolds American is completed.
In the alcohol industry, a spate of merger activity has narrowed the choices for investors. The acquisition of Beam by Japan’s Suntory took the distiller of Jim Beam,  Maker’s Mark and other brands out of the rotation, while the beer industry has consolidated into just a handful of major players.
Sullivan does point to Constellation Brands, which bought out its joint venture partner on U.S. distribution of Corona in 2012, as a bright spot for growth in the beer business. On the spirits side of things, he says companies like Brown-FormanDiageo and others have felt the pain from China’s economic slowdown.
That slowdown, along with a crackdown on corruption, has proven a substantial blow to another piece of the vice puzzle as gaming companies have been hurt by weaker performance in Macau, what had been a critical growth market.
Sullivan sees casino operators as having a different role among his collection of sin stocks though. The group has been the chief cause of his fund’s rocky performance over the last few months, but that comes with the territory he says.
“Gaming is like yeast for the portfolio – if it’s working, the bread rises. If it doesn’t, you’re flat or you’ve got a bagel,” he says.
Watching his holdings in Las Vegas Sands, Wynn, MGM Resorts and their peers tumble hasn’t been fun, and Sullivan is realistic about the likelihood of a sudden comeback.
With such a significant portion of global gaming revenue coming from Macau, “it’s hard to say you don’t need a bottom in Macau for these stocks to get back on their feet,” Sullivan says. He points to Wynn’s proactive move to cut its dividend by two-thirds in late April as a clear indication that casino operators don’t expect the Macau slowdown to be a short-term problem.
His longer-term take is more upbeat though and he expects gaming companies to eventually resume fueling returns rather than anchoring them.
“Ultimately they’ll weather the storm and will be positioned for when the takeoff happen,” says Sullivan. “The fan got hit so bad with s—, eventually the comparables year over year will start looking better.”

Investing with the terminator.

Robotic financial advisors: Investing of the future?

Posted: May 18, 2015 9:57 PM EDTUpdated: May 19, 2015 9:59 AM EDT

If robots are running the show, they must have hidden them for our appointment.

We visited the IKEA-clad headquarters of Betterment (think better + retirement), a financial firm that some like to label "robo advisors."

"There are people here," said CEO Jon Stein. 

Stein founded the company after stints working for some of Wall Street's biggest names. He said he was disappointed.

"I saw them doing things to their customers that were just not acceptable," he continued, noting fees were high and advice was often bad.

So, Stein set out to do for investing what Silicon Valley has done for many companies: Automate it.

"It's the union of people and technology," he said. "It's doing things more efficiently, which means we can pass on some savings to the customers."

Here's how it works: Consumers log onto the Betterment website, tell it about themselves (such as age, retirement status, income, and tax situation). In the background, Betterment applies that data to algorithms that generate an investment model. You add your money, and let the computer do the work.


Betterment invests your money the same way many human advisors do. The bot puts it into stock and bond funds that are made up of companies that you know and likely patronize daily.

"We're actually telling you how much you need to save for retirement and in which account. -- here's how much in your 401(k), how much in your IRA, your Roth, your traditional account," he said.

Stein says it is easy. And it's 65-percent to 85-percent cheaper than a traditional financial advisor. There are also no minimums.

"I built this for myself, for my family, for my friends, and now for 75,000-plus other people and growing by hundreds every day," he said.

Betterment said it is managing about $2-billion. It's a handsome sum, but just a tiny fraction of the nation's $18-trillion in collective savings.

Other companies are competing with Betterment with similar offerings.  But so-called "robo advisors" have many critics -- many of whom are human investment advisors.


A scathing review written by Wealth Management Systems, Inc., and posted to the Internet via the Morgan Stanley website, pulls no punches.

"Beware of seemingly easy solutions to complex issues," it reads. The paper, entitled "Robo-Advisors: Not For Everybody," warns consumers that automated investing is "limited" and "cannot provide the holistic approach that a live financial advisor offers."
Even still, some of the country's biggest financial firms are developing their own automated investing systems.

Betterment's Stein says he is not trying to ring the bell on Wall Street's titans. Betterment's casual Manhattan office -- the one with those simple IKEA desks -- is a stark contrast from the big firms' offices near Wall Street.

"I think of the competition as 'Do It Yourself' investing," he said.
DIY investing is most certainly on the rise. Given uncertainty in Social Security's future and corporations cutting pensions vanishing daily, more and more workers (especially young ones) will have no choice but to manage their own nest egg.

"Now we're really responsible for our own retirements," Stein said.

Stein is convinced that best course for those investors is an informed investment tool that is simple and low-cost. He says Betterment is a modern choice for a modern retirement.
"We have made it easier than anyone ever has," he added.