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Favorite Link Friday (December 18, 2015)

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Here Comes SuperBoss

In a crowded field, a contender for most absurd business-related tweet of the year must surely be the World Economic Forum (WEF) for its “14 things successful people do before breakfast”. They get up with the lark, avers the article being promoted in the tweet. They exercise furiously. They spend time on a “personal-passion project”. (“Novel-writing and art-making are easy to skip when you’ve been in meetings all day.”) They connect with their spouses. (“What could be better than pre-dawn sex to energise you for the day?”) They make their beds (because this is supposedly correlated with increased productivity). They spend quality time with the family. They network over coffee. They meditate to clear their minds. And so on. But they still find time to work on an important business project.

The tweet was quickly drowned in ridicule. One commenter said this represented a busy month for him. Another noted that it appears successful people don’t take showers or get dressed. But for all its inanity, the WEF’s tweeting does point to something real: a growing cult of extreme performance among the Davos crowd. In the pre-industrial world, elites abided by a code of conspicuous leisure. In the era of gentlemanly capitalism, they replaced this with a code of effortless superiority. Today’s code is all about effortful superiority: the successful deserve their success because they get on the treadmill and sweat. This cult of hyper-performance is nurtured by a growing army of personal trainers and yoga coaches who make their living by fine-tuning and de-stressing business leaders. For example, Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox, schedules an hour with a trainer twice a week at 6am. Business magazines bulge with articles on how to train like a Navy SEAL or how to achieve “cognitive fitness”. Business schools and corporate in-house “universities” compete to have the most expensive gyms. Deloitte’s new $300m training facility, near Dallas, Texas, has a 12,000 square-foot (1,100 square metres) fitness room whose classes start at dawn; and SAS, a software firm, has run a 90-day “leadership and energy for performance” programme for its high-flyers. [Read the rest here.]

Startling new report on Oak Island could ‘rewrite history’ of the Americas

A team of expert researchers reckon they have unearthed astonishing evidence that Roman ships visited North America in antiquity - ‘during the first century or earlier’ and long before Columbus landed in 1492. The discoveries could cast new light on the mystery of Oak Island which is currently the focus of a centuries-old treasure hunt centering on a 230ft deep booby-trapped shaft known as the ‘money pit’.

“I think this is the single most important discovery for the Americas - an event that will re-write history. They will talk about it very briefly on Curse of Oak island but something like this shouldn’t be a footnote in a TV show - this is a gunshot to be heard around the world. It changes all of our history on this side of the pond.” He said mainstream historians often dismiss such finds by suggesting artifacts that do not conform to the orthodoxy must have been dropped by collectors in more modern times. “That’s how they poo-poo having to talk about it,” Pulitzer says. “But it’s a pretty blatant Roman artifact. The knee-jerk reaction was to think somebody put that sword there. It was found incredibly close to Oak Island in water only 25ft deep. But if you dropped that rare collectors’ sword overboard, wouldn’t you dive down to get it?” [Read more here]

Unemployment rate remains at 6.4 percent in November

JUNEAU, Alaska—Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rate was 6.4 percent in November, unchanged from September and October. The comparable national rate was 5.0 percent, also the same as October.

Alaska’s jobless rate has been relatively steady through most of 2015. The unemployment rate is just one of several indicators of the economy’s health, but the flat trend suggests sustained low oil prices have not yet taken a significant toll.

The not-seasonally adjusted rate rose from 6.1 percent in October to 6.4 percent in November, a typical seasonal increase. Rates rose in all but three boroughs and census areas. The largest increase was in the Denali Borough, where the rate rose 7.7 percentage points from October to November. Denali Borough had the third highest rate at 17.2 percent, behind Kusilvak Census area at 19.4 percent and Skagway at 20.7 percent.

Urban rates were lower than the statewide average. Juneau’s rate was 4.7 percent, followed by Anchorage at 4.9 percent and Fairbanks North Star Borough at 5.5 percent. Five other boroughs and census areas also fell below average, including Aleutians West Census Area, which had the lowest rate in the state at 3.8 percent. [Source]

Governor Walker Releases 2017 Budget Legislation

Reduces Overall State Spending By 21 Percent Since FY2015

December 15, 2015 ANCHORAGE – Governor Bill Walker released the FY2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017) appropriation and revenue bills today as part of the Walker-Mallott Administration’s New Sustainable Alaska Plan. Rolled out last week in Anchorage, the plan addresses the state’s $3.5 billion budget deficit using a combination of spending cuts, new revenue, wealth management and investment.

Governor Walker also released the Alaska Permanent Fund Protection Act (APFPA) today, which re-plumbs funding for state services to stabilize the state’s budget. The Governor’s fiscal plan calls for continued cuts, implementing the APFPA, and adopting broad-based taxes and fees.

This year’s state operating budget is $4.8 billion, down from $6.1 billion when Governor Walker took office one year ago. Additionally, proposed FY2017 state funding for agencies is $140 million less than FY2016 and $544 million less than FY2015—a cut of 11 percent from state operating costs since FY2015. The budget also includes investments of $38.3 million for continued progress on the gasline project and $1.3 million for the Rural National Guard enhancement; leaving the administration with a net cut in agency operations of $100 million since last year and $500 million since FY2015.

· Between FY2016 and FY2017, the Walker-Mallott administration has cut 6.7 percent from overall spending in the state’s operating, capital and oil tax credit budgets.

· Since FY2015, the administration has cut 21 percent from the state’s operating and capital budgets—including an 11 percent cut in the operating budget between FY2015 and FY2017.

Governor Walker reiterated the importance of continued streamlining efforts, as well as program and service reductions.

“Tackling our state’s budget problems is going to require a combination of continued spending cuts and new revenue,” said Governor Walker. “With the help of the legislature, we reduced state spending by nearly $1 billion last year, and eliminated 600 state positions. While we cannot balance the budget with cuts alone, it’s important that we continue to look for budget efficiencies throughout our state system.”

The administration also released legislation today that would generate new revenue for the state. Outlined in seven separate revenue bills, the legislation would generate approximately $360 million a year in new funding, including broad-based taxes and fees.

Governor Walker stressed the importance of shared responsibility.

“As Alaskans, we are all in this together, and it is very important that this plan is fair,” said Governor Walker. “The legislation package that we released today is the result of input from many industries and individual Alaskans. I appreciate the contributions that lawmakers and other Alaskan leaders have made to this important conversation, and I look forward to working with the legislature in the months ahead to chart a sustainable fiscal future for our state.”

For more information on department cuts and information on the Governor’s budget and revenue bills, please visit the OMB website at https://www.omb.alaska.gov/html/budget-report/fy2017-budget/proposed.html

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