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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Death Star Grows

image: att

America won’t see any kind of economic revival until it breaks up big companies that control just about everything, and bring back competition.

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U.S. appeals court OKs $81 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner

CBS News
February 27, 2019

A federal appeals court has blessed AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner, defeating the Trump administration by affirming that the $81 billion merger won’t harm consumers or competition in the booming pay-TV market.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington came Tuesday in the high-stakes competition case, approving one of the biggest media marriages ever.

It was already completed last spring soon after a federal trial judge approved it, as phone and pay TV giant AT&T absorbed Time Warner, the owner of CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros. movie studio, “Game of Thrones,” coveted sports programming and other “must-see” shows.

Many observers had expected the decision favorable to AT&T from the three-judge appeals court panel. The decision was unanimous to uphold the trial judge’s June ruling. Opposing the merger forced the Justice Department to argue against standing legal doctrine that favors mergers among companies that don’t compete directly with each other, what’s known as a vertical merger.

The U.S. antitrust lawsuit against Dallas-based AT&T marked the first time in decades that the government has challenged that doctrine by suing to block a vertical merger.

The appeals court judges said U.S. District Judge Richard Leon was correct to dismiss the government’s argument that AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner would hurt competition, limit choices and jack up prices for consumers to watch TV and movies.

“The government failed to meet its burden of proof” for its theory that costs for Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting content would increase after the merger, mainly through threats of programming “blackouts,” the judges wrote. The Turner networks include CNN.

The Justice Department antitrust attorneys had asserted that Leon misunderstood the complexities of the TV industry and the nature of AT&T’s competitors.

The idea behind the merger was to help AT&T which claims about 25 million of the 90 million U.S. households that are pay TV customers - compete better with online rivals like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu.

AT&T already had a streaming service, DirecTV Now, but it launched a cheaper offering called WatchTV soon after the deal closed. It’s planning another streaming service, “WarnerMedia,” for later this year.

“The merger of these innovative companies has already yielded significant consumer benefits, and it will continue to do so for years to come,” AT&T General Counsel David McAtee said in a statement. “While we respect the important role that the U.S. Department of Justice plays in the merger review process, we trust that today’s [decision] will end this litigation.”

The ruling dealt a major setback to the Trump Justice Department. If the government decided to appeal the ruling, the next step likely would be the Supreme Court, and it wasn’t clear whether Justice planned to do so.

There’s about a 50 percent chance of the government taking it to the high court and scant prospects of it winning there, said Matthew Cantor, an attorney focusing on telecom antitrust matters at Constantine Cannon in New York.

The Justice Department appears committed to pursuing the long-shot bid against the merger, rather than considering conditions that could have been imposed on AT&T by the trial court to make the deal more acceptable. The head of Justice’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, doesn’t like merger conditions requiring regulators to keep an eye on the combined company’s conduct for years after.

But politics and presidential influence also could be a factor, Cantor suggested. When the deal was first made public in October 2016, it drew fire from then-candidate Donald Trump, who promised to kill it “because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” Trump as president has publicly feuded with Time Warner’s CNN, calling it “failing” and a purveyor of “fake news,” and suspending one of its correspondents from the White House.

“It seems to me that political considerations played into this,” Cantor said. “It’s odd that the Justice Department has gone after this merger as its principal merger case. ... This was a very tough case. It’s very hard to challenge a vertical merger.”

The case could affect future antitrust regulation. It underscores that the government should look at vertical mergers more critically, particularly when the companies combining are already in industries that have few competitors, said Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute.

There has been a rush of deal-making in the cable, entertainment and telecom industries over the last few years, and Leon’s ruling opened the doors for more efforts.

Just a day after his decision, Comcast jumped back into a bidding war with Disney for most of 21st Century Fox’s TV and movie businesses. Disney eventually won, and Comcast bought British broadcaster Sky instead.

In other deal activity, wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile also are attempting to combine. The Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission are still reviewing that deal, which is not a vertical merger. Sprint and T-Mobile are direct competitors.

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Posted by Elvis on 02/28/19 •
Section Dying America
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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bahavioral Interview Questions

image: interview questions

Behavioral Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

By Robert Half
February 7, 2019

Your job search is starting to pay off, and you scored an interview. As you prepare for inquiries related to your skills and experience, you realize you’re comfortable answering those questions. But you’re not so sure about behavioral interview questions. Here’s what to do.

What are behavioral interview questions? They are the unpredictable queries that employers ask during job interviews. They help hiring managers take a deeper dive and find out more about how you think and what you’ve done - or would do in certain circumstances.

The idea is that your answers will provide insight into your problem-solving skills and personal attributes. Managers are looking for people who are competent and a good fit for their organization, and they can get at that by asking these behavioral interview questions.

So, whatגs the best advice to help you prepare?

Recall your experiences, develop your stories

Some questions will require you to recall a situation youve likely experienced. Prior to your interview, think of different circumstances you’ve encountered on the job where you took a specific action, and make a list of them. That way the memories can be top of mind when you need them.

Let’s say the hiring manager asks you, “When youve strongly disagreed with members of your team, how did you communicate those feelings?”

In all likelihood, you’ve had a disagreement with a coworker, so to answer this, find an example you can frame in a positive light. Perhaps the difference of opinion identified a problem you were able to solve or revealed an insight that led to improved productivity. Tell your story, but keep yourself from naming names or giving specifics that shouldn’t be shared outside the company.

As you think about issues you’ve tackled in the workplace, try to compose several short stories you can share in a minute or two. Come up with examples of times when you were able to overcome stress, deal with a crisis or help fuel a successful workplace collaboration. Think about how open you are to new ideas, how good you are at finding common ground and what experiences you might draw upon to think through a problem.

Explore different topics

Hiring managers want to learn about your real-life work experiences, but they’re also looking for how those experiences will predict how you’ll behave in the future.

A typical question would be something like this, “Tell me about a time when you set a goal and met your objectives.”

Discuss a workplace goal that was specific, measurable and time bound. Discuss the action you took and the method you used to achieve the results. Did you develop proficiency in a new tool or technology? Did you complete a project in record time, increase customer satisfaction in specific ways, cut costs in your department, or achieve ambitious sales goals? Whenever possible, use numbers to quantify your success.

On the other side, you might get this behavioral interview question: “Can you describe a time when you failed to achieve a goal?”

Nobody is perfect, and this is an opportunity for you to describe a mistake that you made on the job that may have taught you a lesson. Rather than mentioning a huge failure, highlight a challenging event where things didnt go as planned, and you weren’t completely successful. The main part of your answer will be what you would have done in hindsight or what you’ll do going forward as a result.

Some other common behavioral interview questions include:

Describe a scenario when you were persuaded to change your mind about something?

Have you ever convinced a manager to change their mind about something?

Describe a situation where you found yourself outside your comfort zone.

What were the best things about your very first job?

Give me an example of a time when you had to explain something complex to a client or coworker.

How have you saved your company money in the past?

How have you interacted with a difficult boss?

Describe an example of when you ran out of time before you got something done.

When have you gotten a special thank you for something you did on the job?

Prepare to think on your feet, hypothetically

Other behavioral interview questions address circumstances you could encounter. They are “what if” scenarios, in which you have no past experience to call on and have to use your imagination.

Sometimes called situational interview questions, these can be difficult if youve never considered the question. If that’s the case, they will definitely require you to go off scriptand think quickly on your feet. As you describe your hypothetical actions, think problem, solution, benefit.

Here is a sample situational interview question: How would you respond to a client who insisted you made an error?Ӕ

Whether you made a mistake or not, the key is to focus on the resolution. The interviewer wants to know how you would handle complications. Instead of pointing the finger at others, discuss how you would address the complaint, outlining the steps you’d take to diffuse the situation.

Another question might be: “How would you cope with being assigned a project for which you lacked the skills or knowledge to complete?”

An effective answer is one where you spotlight your initiative, resourcefulness and the drive to succeed. That could involve asking for company training, finding a knowledgeable colleague or gathering the information needed to complete the assignment. The key is to convey a positive, innovative approach.

Practice answering situational interview questions

Here are some sample questions to consider. Even if you’re not asked these specific ones, you’ll train your brain to formulate responses to situational queries.

What would you do if you were asked to collaborate with a coworker you didn’t feel you could work with or who was unproductive?

How would you handle working at a job where you knew your boss was wrong about something that was affecting the company?

If you had to undertake multiple projects with tight deadlines, how would you stay on track?

How would you persuade a coworker to see things your way at work?

What would you do if you were expected to conform to a company policy with which you had a strong disagreement?

If you werent satisfied with the work you turned in, what would you do about it?

How would you prioritize your work if you had multiple assignments from different managers?

Final words of advice before the interview

Don’t memorize your lines, but try to have a general strategy for approaching topics, using compelling anecdotes and details. Rehearse your stories out loud. You might even record them. Find a friend or family member to listen and coach you.

One technique for answering interview questions is called the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action and Results. That helps you break down your answers into the when, where, what and how, and articulate your specific results without rambling.

Even if you’re thrown a curveball, behavioral interview questions give you the opportunity to illustrate your insight or experience as an indicator of future success.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 02/16/19 •
Section Job Hunt
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Friday, February 08, 2019

Energy

image: aura

The Great Thread of Being
The Raw Stuff Were Made Of, And Why it Matters

By Umair Hague
Eudaimonia
February 7, 2019

“The energy you put out into the world is your responsibility!” I couldn’t help but be struck by how funny the tweet was, whereupon someone told me it was from some guru type. Is it true? Lets talk about “energy” and being and you and me for a moment. I don’t writeoften enough about this kind of stuff these days, though its my favourite thing to writeabout, because, well, the world has more pressing issues. What are we? Why are we here? Who are we, really?

This kind of sentiment “the energy you put out is your responsibility” - which you and I both hear expressed ubiquitously - is a kind of convenient mishmash of East meets West. It takes the formative philosophical idea of the East - that there’s “energy,: which is to say Qi, or prana, or so fort - but then combines it with the formative idea of the modern West, which is rational individualism: its yours, like a car or house or money. Feels a little off already, doesn’t it?

I think that any of us who have been close to the edge of ourselves recognizes there’s indeed such a thing as “energy.” Deep down, when you go beyond the narrow limits of the ego, there’s something that the old philosophers of the East described beautifully, because its so accurate to anyone who’s had the experience. A kind of luminous coiling presence, the “snake” of Kundalini, a force that’s pure in intensity as it is impossible to put into words. If you want me to describe it in words, when I was close to death, I’d experience it just that way - as a kind of coil of light, in a place of pure being, stretching into an endless expanse of stars, dust, time beyond, space beyond space.

But that coil of light wasn’t “in” me. Its more accurate to say that it was something that poured “through” me. But even that’s inaccurate. Its more accurate to say that it was something that was released, or experienced, or encountered, as “I started to die. That coil of light that existed in space beyond space, in time beyond time - what was it?”

Let’s think about it a little more. It wasn’t pure being - because it was in the “ground” or the “field” of pure being. Yet nor was it “me” - because, as the ancient philosopher who discovered this energy, this “Qi” or “Kundalini” and so forth rightly pointed out - it’s found where you, the little you of appetite and desire and money and clothes and so on ends. For the same reason, you feel connected when you stand on a beach - there’s nothing of you left suddenly, and somehow everything feels right, not wrong. You’re naked - “o now what are you?”

Immediately, a few things should be crystal clear already. This energy doesnt “belong” to “me” or “you.” because it only comes into focus when “you” and “I” and are fading. Therefore, it isn]t something that can “belong” to us at all, in an individualistic sense. To say that we must take “responsibility” for the energy of being is as wrong as saying that the summer must take responsibility for the sun. It is a thing that belongs to none of us.

This energy is there to teach us a lesson. A great and mighty lesson about the truth of us. A lesson thats as difficult to learn as it is to teach, one thatʒs as impossible as it is beautiful, as awesome as it is tiny.

So we struggle our whole lives long with all this. Western psychology tries to treat this energy in us in a hyperrational way - with therapy and so on. Eastern thought tries to treat it in a silent, contemplative way - with meditation and Tai Chi and yoga whatnot. Its hard to say if the Western approach has been any more successful - just witness how depressed and anxious and angry people are these days.

When it comes to “energy,” the Western approach tries to contain it - which is what so much psychotherapy is about, calling it “libido” and “eros.” The Eastern approach, on the other hand, tries to “channel” it, for example in yoga. And yet that approach, while I think can work better, often fails, too. Why do both these approaches fail? Because neither one brings us, first, closer to encountering this “energy” in its pure form - to really experiencing it, knowing it, bonding with it, developing a kind of intimacy with it.

So what happens? It roars through us, tears at us, wails like a banshee. It is saying: Know me. See me. Feel me. What am I? I am you. Don’t you want to know yourself? Of course we do. But we’re diehard rationalists - we’re taught to ignore these whispers and screams, which we can so obviously hear - and they only get louder the more they’re ignored.

Now, here’s the funny thing. Nobody doesn’t feel this energy - just stand on a beach for a moment, or stare into a sunset, bang! There it is, coursing through you - we just don’t know what to call it, where to put it, what the hell to do with it. How would we? Nobody teaches us. Nobody much even really acknowledges its reality. We walk around all pretending away the deepest parts of us.

Soon enough, by about midlife or so, most of us are wrecks. Our lives feel strangely disconnected. We feel lonely, even when we’re with our kids and families. Our work seems meaningless. We don’t seem to know our place in this universe at all. We struggle to contain this energy that’s screaming and whistling and exploding through us by now. Maybe we have affairs, maybe we blow up our careers, maybe we throw our life savings away. What are we really searching for? We are desperate by this point - truly desperate - to know who we are. Why we are here. What we are made of.

But we’re still not ready to go inside and face this energy of being itself - really just experience the truth of it for ourselves. Its funny, isn’t it? We know we are not just bags of chemicals. We feel there is a “soul” or a “presence” in us. But we can’t quite seem to connect with it. Bang! The energy overwhelms us - and that leaves us weary, exhausted, drained, as we try to fight it, repress it, ignore it. Isn’t that how you feel sometimes? I know I used to feel drained every day, even though I was bursting with energy - until I was in something like a walking coma, numb and frozen.

So what should we do about it? What can we do? We can go towards the energy. Really go towards it. Just try to see it, and be seen by it. Just experience it. By “experience” it I don’t mean imagining coils of light in your mind’s eye (which is comforting and relaxing, but.) I mean experiencing it, feeling it, so there is nothing left but that energy. So it is you, and you are it - and that is just the beginning. Just sit there for a while if you want to do it - there’s no great secret, you’re just overloaded from modern life.

As you look “along” the light, or “into” it, depending on your perspective, you will see that this “coil” is something as magnificent and remarkable as beautiful and impossible. “Look” here means sense, in the way that we look with the third eye, with the witness, with the observer - not with the physical eyes, of course. So what is this coil?

It is the thread that links all selves. It has no ending and no beginning. It just spirals and stretches and twists and dances endlessly in this space beyond space and this time beyond time. Along it lie all selves who ever were or have been. From the tiniest insect to you and me. Selves are just artificial separations in this consciousness, which is the raw material of existence itself, as quantum physics is starting to understand. No “selves” - no object “reality” just pure energy.

When we say two people are in love, it means something like their place along this coil has intersected , touched, and a little explosion has happened. When we say that people die, it means they are letting their “selves” go, and returning to the ground, or the field which this coil lingers in. (You can think of this thread as alaya if you like, if you’re versed in Buddhism, all the karma in all the worlds, flowing like a great river, from self to self, conditioning them into existence.)

Imm sure by now some of you are amused or horrified or just plain bewildered. What the hell is this guy talking about? LOL that’s OK. Before I died I would have been the first to laugh off stuff like this - pretty viciously, too. But I was desperately unhappy, too. So let’s go a little further still, if you really want to delve into a few untold secrets of being.

Energy, Qi, Kundalini, etcetera, is the thread of selfhood which we are all traveling along. It is always flowing through us because we are all just traveling along it. In that sense, it is the cycle of life, too, that the ancients spoke about. One self goes - bang! The next one is found, had, lived. That doesn’t mean there’s a sequence, really, because we are not in a linear space. We are trying to use words to explain an impossible reality, the idea that consciousness, not matter, is what is fundamental, and therefore, there is a place where all consciousness exists in its raw form, too , undivided, unseparated, one, whole. That place is the thread of being, which we sense, but which our eyes can never see, because our eyes, just like mountains, rivers, or stars, are made of it to begin with.

Now let me try to distill a few practical, simple lessons from all this. The energy you feel coursing through you is not your own. Because consciousness is fundamental, it is the truest thing in you. It is the raw stuff of existence itself. That is why it is always crying out to you to know it.

It doesn’t belong to you any more than the sunlight or the ocean does. The most that you can do is try to honor it, in a way, to do justice to it. That means letting this great thread of life unfurl through you, and that means lifting up and nourishing and nurturing every life that you touch, because from the threads point of view, there is no difference between you whatsoever.

To do that, though, you must have the courage and wisdom to gain some intimacy with this “energy,” this great thread of being - which is just primal consciousness, roaring through you. You have to stop the futile work of trying to ignore its pleas and cries. You have to stop pretending its not there, while all the time you feel unhappy and lonely for a reason you can’t quite put your finger on. You must understand your exhaustion and weariness come as much from this existential battle you are waging with your true self as they do from capitalism and supremacy and so on. You must go into it, towards it, and really know it, not just as part of you, but you, yourself, as just a tiny, evanescent part of it.

The starting point is to no longer be afraid of the idea that you are only what you’re told you are - just a consumer, a material object, a worker, in short, a brain-body piling up money and stuff - but that you might just be something much greater and truer and wholer. You are this whole thread of being, and this whole thread of being is you. In the end, you learn that - whether it is in the moments before you die, or in the moments long before them. The question is only when. So there’s no need to worry - only to laugh.

I think if you learn this early on, though, a lot of things become a lot clearer. There’s a sense of happiness, a sense of belonging, a sense of peace. That makes love truer, relationships deeper, intimacy warmer, moments more intense. It makes life something a little more mysterious, vast, impossible, tiny, beautiful. You have a higher sense of consciousness - but it’s better to just say a deeper, simpler, rawer, truer one.

Or maybe the rationalists are right - it’s all just an illusion, a fairy tale fools like me tell. I guess there’s only one way for you to find out.

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Posted by Elvis on 02/08/19 •
Section Spiritual Diversions
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Today's Diversion

Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural & spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things as a meaningful unity. - Albert Einstein

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