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marcfrey150If an innocent person has been  stabbed and lies bleeding in the street, we know who the bad and the good are. But how do we judge the passersby who could have saved a life but decided not to take action for fear of getting entangled in the case? Is an indifferent person bad by choosing to be silent or passive?

Good and bad have been part of mankind’s struggle since the beginning. We know that more good than bad exists; yet the wish for global peace, and the hope for societies that universally take care of everybody remains an elusive goal. Part of the reason is that there are too many “indifferent” individuals; people that are fully aware of what is going on, but for various reasons choose not to take action or speak up or change their behavior. As a matter of fact, it seems that those committing immoral acts and those actively involved in doing good seem to be in the minority, and that there is a large but passive moral majority, the indifferent. The “silent moral majority” as I like to call them.

marcfrey150Skip this column if all your stars are aligned and you are in perfect harmony with yourself and the world. All others may read on.

Somewhere along in 2012, I started to feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information raining down on me, the fast pace of change, the vastly different interpretations on how it affects mankind, and my own efforts to keep up with it all. If you have ever experienced the feeling of being exhausted and confused because your mind is racing at 150 miles an hour, processing loads of information and asking yourself dozens of questions, you know what I’m talking about.

So, I decided that there has to be a better way, and thus reminded myself that the word intelligence comes from the Latin word “intelligere” which means to see through things. We all know the Johnny Nash hit song “I can see clearly now,” and that is the feeling we would like to enjoy more often in our lives. So how do we get there?

marcfrey150Stop ringing the bells! I was just about to write another cheesy note, full of clichés like, “This is the time to count our blessings and give to somebody that needs it more than ourselves.” While I encourage you to do that, the very smart readers of Last Call already know that, and are not looking for me to state the obvious.

So I was wondering what makes readers come back to this page, and why it solicits spontaneous reader comments from all walks of life. Maybe it’s because I write from the heart, maybe because I try to cut through the noise and try to put issues into perspective or provoke my readers to think about a topic in new terms. Whatever it is, I feel grateful for the opportunity and the feedback I receive.

last-callThrough my recent involvement with, the Island School Council for the Arts, a local not-for-profit organization that enhances art education in schools, I had the opportunity to think more how art affects our lives.

Imagine for a moment a life without the arts:

We would all be wearing the same boring clothes, driving the same non-descript vehicle, eating tasteless food, sitting in front of blank TV screens with no movies to entertain us, we wouldn’t be able to sing along our favorite songs or dance the night away… you get the picture.

Some form of art is everywhere in our lives. Artists make us think, wonder, laugh, cry. Artists color and shape our world and make it more livable, more enjoyable, more memorable. In one sentence: “Art adds value.”

Nobody could have said it better than Steve Jobs: “Technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us results that make the hearts sing.”

marcfrey150Yes you are! The power of marketing is everywhere in our lives, influencing our way of thinking and even dictating the way we feel about things.

How else is it possible that the color pink is exclusively associated with girls; how is it possible that a simple folded pink ribbon symbolizes the fight against breast cancer without the need to put one single word next to it? Think about that for a moment…

I venture to say that it is not often that we reflect on the outside influences that infiltrate our brains. Unfortunately, there is no class in high school called “Independent thinking 101.” It seems that we simply accept that marketing is a natural part of our lives without giving much thought to how we are being manipulated into behavior patterns or believing things without fact-checking them.

marc_frey

13 proven ways to get out of a ditch

 If the rain made you dump your car in a ditch, forget it. Just call a tow truck and let it go. But if you are mentally in a funk, here are some things that might help you find a renewed zest for life:

13. Visit your favorite pizza store for lunch, have a glass of wine and call it a day.

12. Call somebody you feel safe with, meet up and dump it on them.

11. Buy some flowers or, better yet, plant some flowers or herbs or a small tree.

10. Cook your favorite meal.

9. Start a new fitness routine and stick with it.

8. End your evening with some dark chocolate and a single malt scotch.

7. Walk the beach in the rain.

marcfrey150Nobody has time to read, never mind to think

By Marc Frey

Instead of writing the usual 700 words about one topic, and given that we are in the middle of summer, I opted to go with short snippets of thoughts instead. If any of them grab you, e-mail me. It might motivate me to expand on the idea in a future column.

"I'm so energized about the future, but depressed about the present "


I mentioned that in a business conversation, probably expressing the sentiment of many small business owners. Real entrepreneurs always find the energy to come up with new plans, yet see the current economic conditions and the inability to get bank financing as a real hindrance to implement these plans. One has to wonder why government programs always tend to favor big business but don't give small business its fair share of support in helping to reduce unemployment.

marcfrey150This month I want to follow up on my last two articles and bring light to a local topic.

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Readers of my column will remember that I wrote about smart phones and how they could, in essence, take control of humans. Just weeks after my predictions were published, an Intel-commissioned white paper about the future of mobile technology concluded that “connected devices interfacing with the human brain is an inevitability.”

Here’s how the paper’s authors, from consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, put it: “As convergence continues across device types, functions, and capabilities, the melding of mobile technologies directly into the human body becomes the logical next step.”

The only question for me is: Who is in control? Humans, the machines or a third-party entity like the government? The fact that researchers believe that this is no longer science fiction but likely to become a reality does not solve the ethical and moral issues that are associated with such advances. Could it be that we are developing technology that is too smart for our own good? I ask because we could ultimately lose control over our own destiny. Then again, maybe I’m simply too old-fashioned to realize that having your own will and privacy are a thing of the past?

I urge you to send me your feedback on this topic.

marc_freyIf one would have to summarize what characterizes Americans, four words suffice: We like to win!

So it should come as no surprise that we are slowly but surely on the rebound. After shaking the memories of the 9/11 attacks, followed by the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the near meltdown of our financial system and one of the longest recessions on record, there are signs of optimism everywhere.

Trend spotting is not a science but rather a deduction based on unrelated events that point in the same direction. A few years back I predicted in this column that the United States had not seen the best of what is yet to come. I based that on a few major fundamentals, including that we are uniquely adept at combining science, capital and entrepreneurial drive into forward momentum. We are not afraid to try out new things, fail, and then try again.

How cool was it to see a Boeing 787 Dreamliner (assembled in North Charleston) fly low over the 18th hole during the RBC Heritage? Well beyond soliciting a few “Oohs” and “Aahs,” that plane served as a clear reminder that manufacturing in the USA is back.

marcfrey150As a high school graduate I wrote an essay inspired by Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” It’s time to see if the future has caught up with us. So, if you are up for it, let’s get into some science fiction:

It all started so innocently. A person’s desire to connect to a distant person seems all so natural. Think back in time, and you will find that we always employed technology to achieve the long-distance connection. First came drums and smoke signals, then the written word allowed us to create messages and transport them via messenger on foot. Organized services like the United States Post Office (founded 1775) and the short-lived but legendary Pony Express added regular delivery schedules. The next invention made it possible to transmit electronic Morse signals via telegraph services, followed by the next breakthrough that came about 100 years later with the invention of telephone services. Then one day about 40 years ago, another quantum leap propelled humans’ ability to talk to other people to a whole new level: The age of the mobile telephone has arrived. In order to put this breakthrough into perspective, it is enough to look at the statistics: The number of U.S. mobile phone subscribers grew from 300,000 in 1985 to 300 million in 2010.