Birthday greetings – How might they evolve?

Last year, August 2012, I recorded all the birthday greetings I received via the various channels and posted the details in this article on Myndset. This was not an exercise in self-aggrandisement and/or auto-flattery*. It was to see what and how people are communicating on what is, quite appropriately, a personal and nominative affair!  So, this year, I was curious to evaluate the changes, thinking that it might be a way to capture how things have evolved online.  Between this year and last year, the number of people in my network has grown a bit, but other than on Twitter (+500 or so), the growth is not going to be more than 5% for any one network.

Birthday channels

Below is a table that charts the different birthday greetings year/year on a purely numerical basis.  The numbers below include a few of the belated wishes that trickled in the day after (and thanks to everyone for the kind and wonderful wishes!).

Wishes for Birthday, Birthday wishes, Myndset digital marketing

Facebook domination

Facebook birhday, The Myndset digital marketingFacebook remains the preferred channel for birthday greetings by a highway mile.  What you will observe is that, overall, the major difference year over year is down to Facebook: 183 in 2013 versus 86 last year.  And, no, it has nothing to do with having a banner year or being more loved.  Moreover, the 49th versus 48th year celebrations are both rather innocuous, so that neutralizes another potential reason for any differences.

2013 versus 2012

So, what happened?  Essentially, this year, I changed the settings on Facebook to allow people to write directly on my wall.  Last year, all wishes were automatically transformed into personal FB messages. So, this year, the messages were generally dropped onto my wall.  As we all know, Facebook vets what appears on your wall.  Over the summer, they again made changes, introducing new variables and flexibility in their algorithm, all with an intent to promote engagement.  For the birthday wishes that are posted on the wall, Facebook keeps only the posts with attachments (photos) visible. To read the remainder of the individual wall posts you need to find the last of the day’s posts and on the drop-down, View Individual Stories (as below) specifically linked to Birthday Wishes (courtesy of a parsing by Facebook).  The good news is that neither your own timeline nor your close family are besieged by the friendly barrage of messages.

Facebook birthday wishes, The Myndset digital marketing

Final considerations

If Facebook is the dominant and easiest way to send birthday wishes across all communication platforms, it is not the only way.  The remarkable aspect of the FB network (I have just under 2000 “friends”) is the disparate nature of the people that take the time to say hi and send along wishes.  The FB birthday “system” is presumably more indicative of those who are regular users rather than necessarily your nearest and dearest friends.  All the same, the messages were rather varied and, at times, enjoyably surprising.

As for other nuances on the two year’s “campaigns”:

  • Despite a bigger Twitter base, there was no increase in the personal tweets
  • The SMS continues to be the most personal space, although I received far fewer this year, possibly because I now have two mobile numbers?
  • Skype again surprised me with the number and content of messages
  • Snail Mail is completely AWOL (I received an email from a friend saying that a card was in fact on its way!)
  • Business “social CRM” messages remain rather tame and ineffective (and basically unchanged for those that did it both years).

So, in sum, it seems that Facebook is the place to go for birthday greetings.  If you want to create a more personal message, try SMS or snail mail!  And, otherwise, if you want your message to have a lasting effect on Facebook, add a (preferably funny or meaningful) photo.

If there were one birthday wish I might ask for, it would simply be for you to go by the Facebook page in honor of my grandfather and other members of the Greatest Generation, after whom I was named, and like it, if you feel it merits your click.

Please Help Celebrate Minter’s 100th Anniversary on March 21st, 2011

PERSONAL LETTER TO READERS OF MINTER DIALOGUE

Dear readers,

I am asking you to join in a 5-minute social experiment. It is for a good cause, I believe you will agree.

Minter Dial and Lisa Porter Dial

Minter and his wife, Lisa, in New York (c 1938)

In just over a week, on March 21st 2011, it will be the 100th anniversary of the birth of my grandfather, Minter Dial, after whom I was named.   Lt Minter Dial was 33 when he was killed in 1944 in the Philippines, after having been awarded the Navy Cross and having been a POW of the Japanese for 2 1/2 year. In honor of his life, I would like to invite you to join me in a rather novel communal action.

The objective is to see if we can, together, rally more people to join in and sign up for his fan page. Ultimately, I hope that we can use this page to launch the film and find the lost Annapolis ring!

Here’s the idea (It will take no more than 5 minutes of your time, I guarantee).

You have just 3 quick things to do:

  1. Join my grandfather’s fan page here: Lt Cdr Minter Dial 1911-1944.  You can just click LIKE here.
  2. Send me an email (send Minter an email) to sign up for a time slot, before March 21st, 2011.
  3. Then copy & paste a sentence onto the fan page on March 21st, 2011.

Here’s how you participate in this social experiment:

Some time this week, you sign up for a specific time slot on March 21st (the anniversary day).  To do so, you just need to click on this link to send Minter an email (dialfamily AT gmail DOT com) and I’ll send you a link via Doodle so that you can book your slot.

You will then just need to fill in your name and choose a specific 15-minute time slot between midnight of the 20th to midnight of the 21st March.  Please note that the timing is based on Paris Time, GMT +1.  For New York, for example, you need to subtract 5 hours (DST has just happened in the US), meanwhile for the Philippines, you must add 7 hours, etc.

Minter’s Last Letter written Dec 12, 1944

At the chosen time, you will be asked to copy & post on the fan page wall a sentence from the LAST LETTER (see on the FB page for a readable version) that my grandfather wrote on the eve of his death from Old Bilibid Prison (Manila), December 12, 1944. It is a moving letter and contains the reference to a poem (that will also be part of this communal activity). The idea is that the “LAST LETTER” letter is “published” in morcels by each of us IN ORDER all along the day.

To make it super simple, I will custom send to you, privately and in advance via Facebook, the sentence for you to copy and post, and if possible, with an Outlook meeting request to serve as a reminder!

I hope that you will consider signing up and, if you can think of anyone who would be motivated to particpate, please consider sharing and/or passing along this post to them.

I trust you will find this an enjoyable and memorable little social experiment. Thanks for having read this far in my post and, for those of you who do sign up, thank you and see you soon.

Warmest regards, Minter

Births out of wedlock

In France, it was announced (see here in the NY Sun!) by INSEE, the Paris-based national statistics agency, that in 2007, for the first time, the number of babies born out of wedlock eclipsed 50% (hitting 50.5%). That sent me scurrying across the web to find comparative stats. I was not sure, but I assumed that France was not alone in that trend. And that is an understatement. The trend is international. And quite a statement on the plight of marriage, as well as on the state of society.

Here is what I found out.

In the UK, this BBC report from 2004 said that the rate in Britain had reached 42%. But it is Sweden that leads all EU countries with around 53% (see Eurostat graphic to right). Sweden (red line on top) was already at 52% in 1995. France (green line) has been the second highest in Europe since the mid-1980s. Some good info on this Demographic Blog, and a comprehensive recent post on Demography Matters.

In the US, per 2005 CDC Gov stats, the percentage is 36.9%. Who makes up that 37% is not easy to piece together. But, already on the immigration front, courtesy of the Center for Immigration site, I have the following details and quotes:

  • Hispanic immigrants have seen the largest increase in out-of-wedlock births — from 19 percent of births in 1980 to 42 percent in 2003. This is important because Hispanics account for nearly 60 percent of all births to immigrants.

  • In addition to the 42 percent rate for Hispanic immigrants, the illegitimacy rate is now 39 percent for black immigrants, 11 percent for Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 12 percent for white immigrants.

  • There’s no indication of improvement over the generations. Among natives, the illegitimacy rate is 50 percent for Hispanics; 30 percent for Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 24 percent for whites.

  • There is no evidence that illegitimacy is related to legal status. Illegitimacy is common in many immigrant-sending counties. According to the UN, in Mexico and Canada the illegitimacy rate is 38 percent; in El Salvador it’s 73 percent; and it’s 86 percent in Jamaica

Per this CITY, Hispanic Family Values article, there is clearly a lot of concern with regard this trend of births out of wedlock in the Hispanic community. And I quote from this article, “[E]very 1,000 unmarried Hispanic women bore 92 children in 2003 (the latest year for which data exist), compared with 28 children for every 1,000 unmarried white women, 22 for every 1,000 unmarried Asian women, and 66 for every 1,000 unmarried black women. Forty-five percent of all Hispanic births occur outside of marriage, compared with 24 percent of white births and 15 percent of Asian births. Only the percentage of black out-of-wedlock births—68 percent—exceeds the Hispanic rate.” This NPR podcast deals further with the situation for Black Americans.

Perhaps another area that deserves highlighting is the appallingly high number of teen births in the US. This article from Breitbart.com says the following:

“The birth rate among teenagers [in the U.S.] declined 2 percent in 2005, continuing a trend from the early 1990s. The rate is now about 40 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19. That is the lowest level in the 65 years for which a consistent series of rates is available. The U.S. teen birth rate is still the highest among industrialized countries.”

Looking at births out of wedlock, in general, the most critical issue may just be the existence of a loving couple to bring up that child. But between the high numbers of teen births and the high divorce rates, not to mention out-of-wedlock births, there is surely a new paradigm shift underway in terms of the composition of family. Apparently, Gen Yers are placing high(er) esteem on traditional values of family and are now looking for guidance and mentors. It would seem that there is a lot of work to be done on all fronts to create a successful concept/image of long-term marriage, new economic models and incentives and, above all, EDUCATION for what is, as far as teen and out-of-wedlock births are concerned, an over-weighted phenomenon in under-educated classes.

Worldometer

Check out Worldometers, a live feed that supposedly tabulates as it happens a whole slew of events and activities in the world, including a host of ecological stats on food, water, energy as well as numerous health issues. I was passed this link by François (merci) and literally spent minutes glued to the numbers ticking over. When you observe the number of deaths or births happening as you watch, you tend to feel a little like you are participating. Yesterday, the 23rd January, was a special day because my sister in Guam delivered a 5kg son to the world. BRAVA biggrin and welcome Nathaniel Broderick. Meanwhile, today, it is our son’s birthday… another year ticks by. Happy Birthday Oscar! razz

Regarding Worldometers, it “is managed by a team of developers and researchers with the goal of making world statistics available in a thought-provoking and time relevant format to a wide audience around the world.” As my friend Jean-Marc reinforced in a recent brilliant presentation this week: check the green and blue lines (in the google search) and [especially for any www information] check your source. Worldometers’ site presents its sources as the most reliable out there. These include UN, WHO, etc. and certainly, without double-checking, that seems official enough.

Worldometers starts with a stat du mois, this month it is toxic chemicals released by industries worldwide into our air, land, and water this year (tons).

Other categories include Education and Media, Government & Economics… And among the list of numbers you can watch ticking over, there are the “cumulative hours waited for web pages to download this year” (which surely is a misleading number because it will have difficulty to account for the geometric surge in high speed lines). But otherwise, the site is appropriately thought provoking.

Others who have blogged on Worldometers include Vicar in Yeovil, Saravanan in Singapore, Prathiba in Chennai India, the Gaol House Blog (UK)… Certainly garnering worldwide readership!

China: Do you see 2020?: Financial Ascent vs Demographic Descent

Last night, at the MSG (not-in-my-salad) Arena, there was a curious heavyweight boxing match between two Chinamen. One, in the gold shorts, was the China of Optimism (CO). In the other corner, wearing satin red shorts, was the China of Porcelain Doubt (aka PCDo). The bout was about to enter into its 10th round when I curled up and went to sleep. It is probably going to go on for a while further. In fact, the match may just as easily step outside the ring and resound throughout our global arena. In any event, here were some of the highlights of the match.

In the first rounds, CO was all over PCDo. Some ringing hits to the upper body as well as inside on the chin(a):

* In China, as evidence that access to the stock market is truly democratizing, there are on average 200,000 new brokerage accounts opened each day. In 2005, there were just 2 million opened all year.

* In May 2007, the Chinese government plopped down $3B for 10% of the Blackstone Group.

* US trade deficit with China hit $232B in 2006 up from $50B in 1997.

* China will overtake the US in number of Internet users in 2009: “There are now an estimated 137 million Internet users in China, and that number has been growing by 18 percent since 2004 until it picked up even more steam in 2006, going up to 23 percent. The United States has 165 million Internet users, according to Pew, with 25 million of those users being aged 12-17. At the current rate of growth in China, the number of Chinese web surfers will surpass the number of American users some time in 2009, and it will continue to rise sharply afterward. With more than half of Americans already online, China’s growth over the next 10 years will easily dwarf that of the United States.” — Jeremy Reimer . As my friend Mitch reminded me from Singapore yesterday, one of the interesting facets of the Chinese internet boom is the censorship of Beijing and the permeability of the Great Chinese Firewall (see BusinessWeek article).

But, PCDo was not to be outdone, storming back with some profound counterattacks for the remainder of the evening. Even though PCDo is slightly chubby around the midrift, his age and world-famed wisdom pulled its weight.

* There is much to say about the Chinese demographics, notably that the total population will spiral up to a peak of 1.5 billion people by 2030. More important is the composition of that 1.5B population. By 2040, the UN projects that the elderly (60+) share of the population will jump from 12.8% (or 174 million according to a document issued by the China National Committee on Aging in 2006 to 28 percent, a larger elder share than it projects for the United States. By 2040, assuming current demographic trends continue, the Chinese elderly will number nearly 400 million–more than the total current population of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom combined.** When you compare the span of time and the rate of increase of elderly in China to the West — whose elderly share rose from 10% in the 1930s to an anticipated 25% a hundred years later — one has to assume that such a meteoric change will have rude consequences in the social climate and economic dynamics. Courtesy of FuturePundit.

* Currently, the Chinese Fertility Rate is 1.82 births per woman. In 2001, the average was estimated at 1.98 in rural areas and 1.22 in urban areas. (Hamayoun Kahn study). See right: the People’s Republic of China’s Fertility Rate 1949-1999 as estimated by the US Census Bureau graph.

* The UN projects that the size of China’s working age population, on whose shoulders will be the burden of creating wealth and taking care of the burgeoning elderly class, will peak in 2015. The rate of decline after that point will depend on future fertility rates. If the fertility rate remains constant (an optimistic viewpoint for some), the population of the working-age Chinese will drop a staggering 18% between 2005 and 2050. And, it could be considerably worse than that as well if the fertility rate declines. The risks would point to wage inflation due to a lack of workforce supply.

* Considering the socio-economic pressure, just 25 percent of China’s total workforce, urban and rural, have any pension provision at all.

* Bare Branches offers some statistics on the ratio of boys to girls. “In China, the official ratio is 117 boys born for every 100 girls, but the reality is probably 120 or more. In India, the official birth sex ratio is 111-114 boys per 100 girls, but spot checks show ratios of up to 156 boys per 100 girls in some locales [around New Delhi, for example]. For comparison, normal birth sex ratios are 105-107 boys born per 100 girls.” (Still debated in biologist circles, human beings apparently naturally create more boys than girls.) Courtesy of IHT article published in 2004. The disarming prospect of an overstretched economy, insufficient funding for retirement, fewer children (and fewer still women) to take care of the eldery — China’s main instrument of retirement — as well as the fact that the future wave of elderly will not have reached affluence (unlike today’s baby boomers), is bound to be a very heavy strain.

CO put in some good later rounds, however, reminding us that education is as gold as discipline.

* Higher education is on a fast track in China with 12 percent of senior high school graduates entering universities and colleges for further study in 2001, compared with 3.4 percent in 1990. There are now more than 4 million students at college or university in China, with an estimated half million Chinese students at higher education abroad.

* China provides universal health care. However, clearly, there are substantial cracks in the system, as witnessed by the Avian Flu issue, Hepatitis B (affecting est. 10% of the population), widespread smoking and escalating HIV/AIDS.

* Percentage of Chinese living in poverty has dropped from 73% in 1990 to 32% in 2003.

* China’s economy has averaged over 9% annual growth since 1978.

There it was, the end of the 9th round. Most people were still looking for CO to cruise to victory. The panel of famous international judges, including Hugo Capex, Harold Persons and Sly Dettor
, were wringing their hands and shaking their heads. The arena was a buzz with chat. I know it seems odd, but zzzzzzzhangzu, I started to snore. So, I let you commentate the next rounds as I zzzzzzzzzzinzhua away at night.

———

I approached this particular post as if I were a universal (not exactly university) student starting out on a research paper. Aside from the content of this post — on which I freely invite comment — I am fascinated at how different is the process of research in today’s world compared to our traditional methods back when… Where appropriate, I have given a link rather than outright citation of credit. Not exactly scientific, but part of the web 2.0 of dealing with multiple sources. This post is not intended to be a definitive study, but a collection of some miscellaneous facts about China that lead me to be confused about the future, more than make me more entrenched. No doubt there is a silver lining or black cloud behind any number. And the above “match-up” limits itself to internal issues. Jokers in the future will include developments in Korea, Japan, as well as the role China takes on internationally once it has the measure of the world.
_________________________________________________________________

** Richard Jackson and Neil Howe, The Graying of the Middle Kingdom, Report published by Center for Strategic & International Studies, April 2004, p.2.

Geting a new US passport

A little story that I didn’t talk about regarding our holidays and one that is, by nature, a tad embarrassing. Three days before going for our holidays in Turkey, I went on a business trip to London. After a day of meetings, on the Thursday night, upon arriving at Waterloo to take the Eurostar back to Paris, I found I no longer had my passport. It was past 5pm. Getting on the train was impossible. Panic aboard (except I wasn’t aboard at all). Our trip to Turkey was hanging in the balance. Our charter flight from Paris to Antalya left on Saturday. I had less than 48 hours and only one business day left to get a new passport in London, get a train back and then do everything one has to do on the last day of work at the office before going on holidays on the fly. A tall task. My wife supplied via email with me with scans of my lost passport, birth certificate, etc. (note to self: best to carry a copy with yourself in your bags).

On Friday morning, having taken an appointment on line for 8:30am, I got up early as I had to find a place to take my two photos — in a size not available in photo booths — that was open early AND not too far away from the Embassy.

After rumbling around, I managed to find a spot that was open early and, photos in hand, rushed to the Embassy. I arrived at the gate at 8:30 on the nose. The appointment apparently took into consideration the queue. Sparing you on the smaller details about the comedian guard, I was walking out through the in-door at 10:25am with the emergency passport in my hand. It took under an hour and a half to get a replacement passport. I was astounded. Aside from what I thought would be the inevitable long queue, I didn’t even know a passport could be issued in a day. Until you need it that fast, it’s not a question you really want to ask.

I was back at Waterloo at mid-day and, to the relief of all the family, back on my way to join the family. Of course, there was some work to be done, some bags to pack and some other last minute stress. But, we made it.

—-

Back in Paris after the holidays and after a quick business trip to Switzerland, I then went to get a permanent passport. (BTW You can’t get two emergency passports in a row). This morning, I showed up a 8:50am to drop off my application. I was out by 9:10. Seems so weird to spend so little time doing bureaucratic things. Kind of got me thinking… I can only imagine this is the privilege of being a US citizen. But I have other frames of references of how Embassies/Consulates will treat their own citizens. Is it possible that US embassies have figured out how to run efficiently? Have people stopped lining up for visas to go visit the US? Whatever the reason, a good score on my account.

And in yet another bonus: The US Embassy called me up later today to ask if I wanted to add a suffix “2nd” to my name, as that was what appears on my birth certificate and it had been omitted in my passport application form. It’s true that I have not had that “II” or “2nd” on my passport for all my adult life. But considering the ‘discovery’ (ongoing book) of my grandfather, after whom I was named and who died as a Japanese POW in 1944, I told the woman that I would indeed be glad to add the suffix. I am proud to be NMD II. My step-grandfather, Kenn Hinks, who married my widowed grandmother and was a remarkable man in his own right, always used to write to me with “II” behind my name on the envelope. An elegant gesture. In a touch of serendipity, this is an official rebirth of the notion of the II in my name.

The bad news, and just in case you needed another reason not to lose your passport: Every time I enter the US, for probably the rest of my travelling life, I will be stopped at the US Customs & Immigration and made to pass a second scrutiny of my passport to ensure that it is not a forgery or the lost passport in re-circulation. Might as well always check through baggage because I will have a minimum of 10 extra minutes to wait for the extra security check.

P.S. Anyone find my old, cancelled passport, please send it on to me!