Sunday, September 11, 2011

A New Update, an Apology, and a Promise

For the rest of you who don't like rage comic explanations, here's the short and skinny. My schedule has become very hectic lately, and I just can't provide posts that are the quality that I want to provide. I want to discuss topics from several points of view, and in a meaningful way. Lately, I just haven't been doing that. So, to fix that, the blog is being indefinitely suspended. As soon as I can get back on a good schedule, it will return. To get updates on when the blog makes its triumphant return, follow, subscribe, like the Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter. And as always, feel free to contact me to share your thoughts and pass along suggestions for future posts! 

Finally, I just want to thank all my regular readers and fans. Without you, this would be a wasted effort and no fun. Thanks for being so loyal and thought-provoking! Keep it up guys. 
     Until next time, 

Friday, September 02, 2011

Feelings About "Emotions Revealed"

For those of you who do not know, psychology has come a long way since Freud. One of my favorite psychologist, Paul Ekman, has demonstrated this. His work with emotions and microexpressions has influenced many people, and even inspired a hit television show. One year I was fortunate enough to read his book "Emotions Revealed" for a psychology report. Below is this paper. Please note that this is for entertainment purposes only. This report is my own, and is not to be copied or distributed at all. Please enjoy it!

     Not very much is known about emotions. In Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life by Paul Ekman, the author described research he and his colleagues have done to explain different kinds of emotions people experience. The book had few weaknesses, and many interesting aspects. The book was very well thought out and informative.
            Paul Ekman explains many emotions, how to identify them, and the practical uses of identifying them in his book. Ekman begins his book by discussing how some emotions are universal across cultures and people. This was first indicated when he “showed photographs to people in five cultures…and asked them to judge what emotion was shown in each facial expression” (Ekman, 3). Most of the people agreed on what emotion was being displayed by each emotion, leading to the first indication that some emotions are universal. In a later follow up study, Ekman and his colleague Wally Friesen studied films of a Stone Age culture and found that they “never saw an unfamiliar expression” (Ekman, 5), adding strength to their theory. In the next chapter Ekman discusses certain times when people become emotional. He has determined nine ways that emotions are activated. The ways are through auto appraisers, which are “automatic appraising mechanisms that are continuously scanning the world around us, detecting when something important to our welfare…is happening” (Ekman, 21), reflective appraisal that turns on auto appraisers, memories and imaginary scenarios that evoke emotions, talking about past emotional experiences, empathy towards someone, others telling us what to be emotional about, witnessing a violation of a social norm, and making the appearance of an emotion. Ekman then proceeds to discuss how one can change what they become emotional about. The main subject matter here was how scripts, refractory periods after becoming emotional, moods, and other such things cause us to become emotional and techniques to change that. The focus of the next chapter is how people behave when they become emotional and how to control their emotions. Ekman describes how emotions are shown mainly through the face and voice, and techniques for dealing with emotional people. Ekman then describes how sadness and agony feel, and how to identify those emotions. He talks about which muscles are used to create various levels of sadness and triggers for sadness. The description and identification of anger were covered next. Again, which muscles are used to display anger were discussed, triggers for anger, and how to deal with the emotion in oneself and in others. Surprise and fear were the next topics covered. Triggers for these emotions and physiological responses were covered. The next emotions that were covered were disgust and contempt. The triggers of disgust, “tastes, smells, and touches…the thought, sight, or sound of them… [and] also the actions and appearance of people, or even ideas” (Ekman, 173), were covered in detail, along with associated emotions with those emotions. After covering many of the so called negative emotions, Ekman goes on to describe enjoyable emotions. English does not cover all names of the positive emotions, so Ekman had to borrow from other languages. The enjoyable emotions are amusement, contentment, excitement, relief, wonder, ecstasy, fiero, naches, elevation, gratitude, and schadenfreude. The final main topic covered was how to identify lies. Ekman described how micro expressions, contradictions, and hesitation mark hot spots, which are “moments when we need to find out more [information] to make an accurate evaluation of truthfulness. The book was very detailed in these discussions, but easy to follow and understand.
The book was very interesting and had many strong points. One point of interest was the time Ekman took describing the facial expressions for each emotion. Emotions vary based on how strongly the emotion is felt and the social context that the emotion is felt in. However, some signals are apparent no matter how strong the emotion is felt. When describing sadness, Ekman describes the upward angle of eyebrows as a reliable signal “because few people can make this movement voluntarily, so it rarely can be deliberately fabricated…[and] even when people are attempting not to show how they are feeling, these obliquely positioned eyebrows will often leak their sadness” (Ekman, 97). By describing this aspect in such great detail and why it is a reliable indicator, he makes the complex task of understanding what to look for much easier. He also included “photographs of [his] daughter Eve…to explain how subtle changes occur in expression… [and] so [the reader] [would not] be distracted by the specific features of the person [the reader] see[s], and so [the reader] will be able to focus on how the expressions change” (Ekman, 101-102). These photographs, along with photographs he took while researching various Stone Age cultures and photographs from newspapers and news reels, show the degrees of the emotions quite well and how they can be analyzed in real life situations. This shows another interesting point of the book: the practical application of his and his colleagues’ research in everyday life and industry. On such application was a “program, developed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), that now includes [their] training on evaluating truthfulness…called SPOT, Screening Passengers by Observational Techniques” (Ekman, 228). The program trains personnel to observe passengers about to board planes, and, when deemed appropriate, “people are detained for further interviews, and in those cases a very high percent turn out to be wanted criminals, drug or money smugglers, illegal immigrants, or terrorists” (Ekman, 228). The strengths of the book, such as the effort to make the material easier to understand and the explanation of the practical application of his research, make Ekman’s book a very enjoyable book to read.
On the other hand, there were some very apparent weaknesses to the book. For one thing, at times there is little evidence to support what is being said. Ekman admits himself that he has “learned a great deal more than [he] [has] the time to prove through experiments” (Ekman, 1). Many times he uses “phrases such as ‘I have observed,’ ‘I believe,’ [and] ‘it seems to me…’” (Ekman, 1) to denote when he is basing a claim solely on observations and not just scientific research. Unfortunately, with so much information being told at one, the distinction between proven facts and educated conjectures becomes blurred and difficult to distinguish from each other. In addition, the book was very heavily influence by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, including several of the books he wrote. Though this is not a flaw in itself, some ideas such as the theory that we become afraid of snakes sooner than of guns because our evolutionary ancestors learned to become afraid of snakes, so it was passed down through their descendants. While it sounds logical, there was little evidence presented to back up this claim. Another weakness, although a very minor was, is the constant repeating of states facts and ideas. As just one example of this, many times throughout the book Ekman stated that “knowing how a person is feeling doesn’t mean that you necessarily will want to acknowledge it” (Ekman, 107), to the point that it was stated in different ways in many of the chapter, sometime multiple times, especially when describing anger. Though many facts were meant to reinforce some information, it became very repetitive at times. Though Ekman’s book had a few weaknesses, its flaws never really got in the way of the enjoyableness of the book.
Taken as a whole, Emotions Revealed was a very entertaining and informative book. The many different universal emotions were described in sufficient detail so that almost anyone could identify the emotions in both themselves and in others. The efforts taken to ensure that the reader fully understood many of the concepts and expressions made many things easier to understand. By describing the practical applications of his research, Ekman added a sense of relevance and enlisted further interest from the reader. The few weaknesses in the book were so minor that they did not make the book any less informative or less interesting. Paul Ekman relates the findings of his research and many of his theories in a very well laid out and descriptive way.

What did you think? As always, please leave a comment or contact me to let me know your thoughts. I apologize for the length of this post, but I haven't had time to do a proper one. I'm going to try to fix that by moving the post day from Friday to Sunday. This way I can still write a quality post for you guys and focus on my academic work. See you next Sunday!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Be Sure to Not Vote

With elections just around the corner and political candidates starting to make their way to the front of the pack, many of us are really starting to put some thought behind which way our vote will go come November 2012. I would just like to take some time and remind you not to vote in the upcoming elections. Not unless you know what you're doing at least.

But your choice hurts us all

Yes, it is your duty as an American citizen (or citizen of any democratic country for that matter) to vote. It is how We The People voice our concerns, tell the politicians what we think is important, and tell the representatives  how we want the issues dealt with. That one vote that you cast has a lot of power behind it. Multiply that power by every citizen eligible to vote, and big things can happen over a short time. Voting is not a thing to be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, however, many people do not take this power seriously. Some people vote along party lines, some just cast a vote because they feel obligated to, and others still vote based on misinformation. The ramifications of this are unbelievable. The wrong politicians get put into office, bad laws get passed, a mishandling of funds sends states and cities into bankruptcy, and elected officials get too comfortable in their jobs. All this can lead a country, state, or city down a bad path. I have put a lot of thought behind this, and I have come up with a few solutions.

Don't Vote Unless You Know The Facts

Misinformation is a dangerous thing. Not knowing all the facts is just as bad. So before you cast a vote, do research. I was in my senior year of high school when most of my class was eligible to vote in the 2008 presidential election. It sickened me to hear that most of my class was itching to vote for Barack Obama. Not because he was a good candidate, not because they liked his stance on the economy, but because MTV, celebrities, and campaigners said he was a good candidate. If you were to go up and ask someone who they were going to vote for in a few weeks, there was a 90% chance they would say Obama. If you asked them why they would vote for him, they would say that it was because he was a good candidate. If you then asked why he was a good candidate, you would get a weird and confused look from them. They never really knew. They just knew that he was good. 

And this is just one example. In the current election, a lot of facts are left out. Sure Candidate A has a better economic policy than Candidate B, but what about their stance on foreign affairs, homeland security, education, and border control? These things all need to be considered as well. And just one source won't give you all the information you need. Reporters now days add a lot of spin to stories, or misreport stories to make someone look worse than they are. Look at many sources, gather many facts. Think for yourself when two pieces of information seem to conflict. Do more research. You wouldn't buy a house on impulse, so why should you cast a vote half-cocked?

Don't Vote if You're Going to Vote Along Party Lines

I've referenced it before, but political parties are dangerous. They encourage you to vote without thinking, just because you like what the party as a whole says. Last time I checked, one person does not make up the entire Democratic or Republican party. So why should you vote for one person just because they have the support of one party? This ties in with the above point: Check all your facts. Republicans may be pro-life, but the Republican candidate for governor may be pro-choice. Democrats may be against the death penalty, but the Democratic candidate may want to install gallows in every prison in the state. Minor differences in the candidate and their party could mean a major difference in their beliefs and your beliefs.

Don't Vote Just for the Sake of Voting

I remember a scene in the film The F Word in which two men were arguing that a vote for Ralph Nader was really a vote for one of the 2004 presidential nominees (It's been a while, so pardon me please for not remembering which nominee the vote helped). To an extent this is true. Voting for a candidate that you know will not win just because you don't like either of the front runner candidates is a waste.* It decreases the margin between the two nominees, causing problems in which recounts and House of Representative intervention is needed. And even then it's a throwaway vote. It serves no purpose other than self satisfaction. Sure, later on you can complain about the president and say you didn't vote for him or her, but did you really cast a vote if you threw it away? 

I believe that everyone should vote. But I also believe that everyone should vote intelligently. As stated above, voting unwisely or for the wrong reasons can wreak havoc on a government system. Be smart, do your research, and vote wisely, and things will be great. Otherwise, just do us all a favor and don't vote.

*I would to make a special note here. While voting for a candidate that you know will not win is a waste, voting for a candidate you know will not win because you like their political stance is encouraged. In this case, you know what you want, you've done your research, and legitimately want that person to win. They may not win in that election, but it could be the beginning of a movement in Washington to get more of that kind of person on the Hill.

A controversial perspective, don't you think? But it should give you something to think about. And I would love to know those thoughts! Leave a comment or use a resource on the contact page to let me know your thoughts! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

It Takes Two to Tango, but One to Make A Decision

Two adults have consenting sex one night. The result of this act is a pregnancy. One adult in the situation wants to keep the child. The other wants to abort it. The first adult offers to raise the child and never involve the other one. When Adult #1 is a woman, no one really has a problem with this. But when Adult #1 is a man, more than likely the fetus is aborted. What is wrong with that?

Before all the hate commenters and screamers who don't read the article get whipped up into a frenzy, this is not simply a pro-life article. This is an equal rights article. The point here is that if a woman is carrying a child (or fetus? I'm trying to stay neutral with the pro-life and pro-choice terminology here, so please bear with me), legally a man has no say in if it is kept until term or aborted. If it takes two people to reproduce and they are both consenting partners, shouldn't both people have equal say in if it is aborted?

A Woman's Right
Now, a woman's right to do with her body what she pleases is indeed an issue. A woman cannot and should not be forced to do something with her body against her will. It's her body, her right to do as she pleases. However, in the act of consenting to intercourse (trying to keep it semi clean here), does she not share some of her rights with the man? That may sound a bit weird, but think about this: If a woman does not consent to sex, if a man does have sex with her it is rape. He violated her rights and her body. If a woman does consent to sex, it is legal, and in a way the man is enveloped in her legal sphere of protection. Put another way, by consenting to do the deed, she is waiving her legal right to report him for rape. By allowing him the opportunity to impregnate her, shouldn't he be allowed a say in the event of a pregnancy?

A Different Perspective
If you find the previous argument a bit weak, allow me to try another one. When a woman gives birth to a child, she is allowed to sue for child support. The money she obtains is supposed to go for the well-being and raising of the child. Now, if a man is required to pay for a child that he did not want (and this is just an instance, not the rule), shouldn't he be allowed to care for a child the woman did not want? To me, that only seems right and fair. If a man is legally required to pay for a child, he should be legally allowed to care for a child. Is this so bad?

A Slippery Slope
By now some of you have found an important flaw to this argument. If a man can be allowed to save a fetus from abortion, then he would also have a say in if the fetus should be aborted. In other words, if a woman wants an abortion and a man can stop it to raise the child, then a woman who is carrying a child can be told by a court to abort because the man won the case. Now, I'm all for equal rights, but I'm also for saving money on abortions (call me pro-choice with pro-life leanings). Also, this goes against one of the first things stated here: A woman cannot and should not be forced to do something with her body against her will. And while forcing her to carry a child to term is a violation of that, isn't making her destroy the cluster of cells that could one day become a baby be a bigger violation of that?

The Unfortunate Impasse
As you can tell, no matter what someone is going to lose her. Either a woman loses the right to do with her body as she pleases, or a man loses his privilege of one day raising a child. Not the best scenario either way. Though the current arrangement is disproportionate as far as rights go, it tramples on the least rights. If you really look at it, all the man did was donate some of his genetic material, while the woman has a parasite growing in her for about nine and a half months. Because more work, effort, time, risk, and difficulty is involved with pregnancy, it could be argued that a woman does indeed have more say involving the fetus.

Rights, sex, and pregnancies are always complicated. When you put all of them into an arena, the outcome is always messy. The best thing to do is to avoid accidental pregnancies by using birth control and all that. A condom is cheaper than an abortion and more ethical anyway. So the best solution to this problem I can find is to avoid it all together. Can you think of something better?

Well, can you? Let me know! Leave a comment or contact me to share your thoughts!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Novelty is Not A Bad Thing

There's promising new leukemia treatment that's emerging, and I don't think anyone is upset about that. But if you read the article, it almost didn't happen. To quote:
Both the National Cancer Institute and several pharmaceutical companies declined to pay for the research. Neither applicants nor funders discuss the reasons an application is turned down. But good guesses are the general shortage of funds and the concept tried in this experiment was too novel and, thus, too risky for consideration (emphasis mine).
 This makes no sense. Especially on the cancer front, new and innovative ways are needed to help get rid of the disease. But more and more, people are afraid of new and novel things and ideas, and staying more with what they know and what is "safe." This is just wrong.

Cancer, AIDS, leukemia, all those diseases, the traditional treatments just aren't good enough. Chemo, radiation, pills, with all of them the mortality rate is still too high for me to be happy. Taking risks for treatments that could potentially save lives that seem to make sense is a great idea. But many of these treatments are unfunded or unexplored, as mentioned in the above article. My grandmother was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. After a quack doctor gave her six months to live, she explored herbal treatments and remedies. From bed-ridden and dying, to taking herbs to treat the cancer (note the word treat, not cure), she was well enough to go to a cancer center for a better doctor. She is still alive and doing well a year after her six months were up.

As stated, though, these treatments must make sense. I'm not saying to fund every thing that gets put on grant desk. But a treatment that uses a body's own T-Cells to kill the tumors seems like something worth funding. Herbs that can help slow the growth of a tumor, or at least give the patient some vitality during a chemo treatment may be worth looking into. A flashing light that blinds the tumor into falling off is stupid. A regimen of rubbing horseradish and turnip greens over the cancer site should be filed under "Not even if I won the lottery." 

As you can imagine, this is a difficult task. Sometimes great and new ways seem insane and not worth a second glance. But I call for some more serious thought be put into the rejection and acceptance process. more transparency for sure. The article said the reasons for turning down an applications is not discussed. This leaves too much room for politicking and self interest. With no transparency, it's too easy for friends, business associates, and others who may return a favor further down the road to get funding, while people outside the loop or people who slighted someone on the applicant board in the past go unnoticed. 

New treatments need to be sought out. New avenues need to be pursued to cure all kinds of deadly diseases. But being scared of novel ideas is just wrong. Every idea deserves a lot of consideration, and every rejection should be reviewed before it is permanently rejected. Without that, progress will be slow, and more people will succumb to their illness instead of living long and productive lives. And isn't that exactly what we're trying to prevent?

Agree? Disagree? I'm interested in what you have to say! Leave a comment or try one of the many ways of contacting me to let me know your thoughts!

Friday, August 05, 2011

How Far Out of Touch Have Politicians Gotten?

Politicians. I hate them (if you couldn't tell from this post, which I highly recommend you read before continuing with this one). With this whole debt ceiling debacle still hanging over us, we have to ask, what the heck is wring with politicians, and how far out of touch with humanity have they gotten?

In a great article by the New York Times, it seems like people are finally realizing that politicians don't care about them. Instead of acting in their constituent's best interests, or at least honestly listening to what they want, politicians are instead voting along party lines, doing their best to help themselves and their party members re-elected, and overall  not caring about what happens to the rest of us.

Let's look at some of the facts about the debt ceiling issue. 

1. The debt ceiling has been raised forty-four times. Of those times, thirty-four have been for the short term (Source). 
2.President Obama himself has voted against raising the debt ceiling in the past (Source). 
3.The political party not in power has typically criticized raising the debt limit and voted against raising it again (Source, again).

Now, let's ask some questions.
1. Why did Republicans finally dig in their heels now? Why dig them in so deeply?
2. Why did it take so long for negotiations to even begin?
3. Why has "compromise" become such a dirty word in Washington?
4. Why were both parties using this as an excuse to bash the other one, instead of working harder to find a solution?
5. Will we the people of the United States put up with this come 2012?

Look, I'll make this simple. First off, we don't need to be running a deficit to begin with. If citizens can't run a deficit, if businesses can't run a deficit, and if Bank of America is still allowed to foreclose on homes, then why should our government, who is urging us to save more money and pay our bills, allowed to spend more than it makes for several years running? Second, all the political nonsense was unnecessary. Who was it really helping? The stalemate hurt everyone, even hurt the people who are in the same party but haven't entered a single race yet. Third, there was way too much misinformation being spread around. I can understand some people getting their facts wrong, but it almost seems like bad information was being put out there just to scare the public and put more pressure on opponents in Congress. Finally, make no mistake, all parties here were at fault. It wasn't just the Republicans. It wasn't just the Democrats. It wasn't just the Tea Party movement. Everyone in Washington got a 500 Smith & Wesson Magnum and took turns shooting themselves in the foot. 

Of course, this has been just one instance. A very revealing one, yes, but just one. This is the kind of bull that is impeding our progress as a nation. So how do we fix it? For one, research the candidates you want to vote for. Not just what they say, but their voting record and bills they've supported. This is all public record. Another solution is to vote against the incumbent whenever possible. The faster the rotation, the less time the representative has to get too comfortable and play the Washington game. And a last resort solution is to write to your representative. Now, I know elementary school has taught you that writing to a Congressperson actually does some good, but let's face it, it doesn't. The representative has his or her underlings answer the phone calls and answer the letters and emails. However, if they get enough people wanting something AND the previous measures are used to keep the representative on their toes, change can occur.

The debt ceiling fiasco was avoidable. It was all political nonsense that made it into the drama that brought us to the edge and ruined our reputation in the international community. We can fix it, but it will be hard. Speak your mind and prevent something like this from ever happening again by casting your vote wisely.

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? I'm interested in hearing from you! Leave a comment or have contacts with me to open up a discussion! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Great Diet Tips, Given By Someone Who Has No Idea What They Are Talking About

Something a little different this week...

Dieting is hard. I have to do it a lot, my girlfriend and her mom are constantly on one, and there's no fun in it. So I decided to put some fun in there :)


So you want to go on a diet and stay on a diet, but you have no motivation. I have plenty for you.
1. If you are 250 pounds and have no chance of being a wrestler, that's all the motivation you need. 
2. Order a pizza. Now don't eat it. Can't do it? Then you need a diet plan.
3. Do house hold laps. Sit on the couch. Now walk into the kitchen. Now go sit back on the couch. Now go back to the kitchen. Now got sit back down on the couch. Are you winded? How many sandwiches do you now have made? If the answer is yes or more than one, that's your motivation.
4. Count how much of exercise equipment you have in your house. If you have more than one, you need a diet. Fit people go to the gym. Duh.
5. Paint your toe nails. A few days later, try to remember what color you painted them. If you can't remember and can't look down to check to make sure you're right, you may need to reconsider your lifestyle choices. Guys: Say you bought the paint for your girlfriends. There will be no cheating here!
6. Count how how many Twinkies you've eaten since midnight. If the number exceeds the number of hours you've been awake, a diet plan is perfect for you.

Tips for Losing Weight

So now you are properly motivated. Now how are you going to lose all that fat?
1. Smoke more. As long as you have a cigar or a cigarette in your mouth, you can't put food in there, right?
2. Brush your teeth more often. You know how when you brush your teeth, and then afterwards nothing tastes good? That's how this works. You'll be skinny AND have a perfect smile.
3. Don't sleep. When you sleep, your metabolism slows down. Keep it ramped up by staying awake.
4. Drink more water. If you have a lot of water in your belly, you wont feel hungry. And because it's water, it has nothing in it. So it's like anorexia, but with out the hunger pains, right?
5. Become a stoner. Have you ever seen a fat stoner? No. And yet they eat all the time. I rest my case.
6. Start a life of crime. With all the running from the cops you'll do, you have to burn SOME calories. And if you get caught, you'll have plenty of time to work out and get the body you and your cell mate always wanted you to have.
7. Sleep more. If you're sleeping, you're not eating. Problem solved.
8. Get diabetes. It forces you follow a strict diet of no sweet and not a lot of carbs. Or your foot will fall off. That's still weight loss, right?
9. Eat a lot of fiber. I know the government says to eat a lot of it, but I'm saying eat even more than that. Or even laxatives. If you eat enough, you'll get exercise by running to the toilet, and you'll poop all the food out before you can digest it.
10. Eat. A whole lot. The more you eat, the more you puke. It's like bulimia! But more socially acceptable!

Tips for Keeping the Weight Off

1. Follow all the tips for losing weight listed above. Yeah. It's pretty much that simple. Keep up the good work.

I don't see how people think dieting is hard.

All work and no play makes 10swords a dull boy, right? If this is your first time visiting the blog, it's not normally like this. Just something a little different ;) As always, I would like to know what you think! Leave me a comment or yell at me more privately. Either way, thanks for reading, and this will be back on track next week! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

"You Can Call Me By My First Name: Doctor"

These were the first words spoken by one of my professors on the first day of class. He was attempting to seem tough to weed out the people who wouldn't do the work in class, but it brought up an interesting point in my mind. Where has all the respect gone?

I think this was the first professor many people respected

I would like to ask you, dear reader, to think back a few years. Near the end of his presidency, what did many people call George W. Bush (This isn't a trick question, smart alack)? Many people referred to him as Mr. Bush. Now, that may sound alright, but think about it. He was President of the United States of America, whether you like it or not. His title should have been, at all times, President Bush. The same thing happened with Barack Obama. People were so used to saying "mister," they referred to him as Mr. Obama, instead of Senator or, later, President Obama.

Now let's get a little closer to home. How many of you are on a first name basis with your bosses?  Or your Professors? Instructors? Anyone in a higher position than you? Seems great, doesn't it? You can get all chummy with them, forget the formalities, and just be happy with your relationship with them. But do you realize how many problems that actually causes? Think about it. How much harder is it to tell a friend that they messed up than an underling? How much more difficult is it to command respect in a crisis if everyone thinks they're on the same level when the situation needs a leader? The answer is a lot. Some people just don't get this. There needs to be a distinction in the hierarchy, and titles serve this purpose.

To go along with respect of position, how about respect of accomplishment? If someone go through college, gets through grad school, and miraculously gets their Ph.D, shouldn't this be commemorated in no other way than to say "Dr. Derp?" If someone puts eight or more years in with a company and gets promoted to manager, should they not be referred to "Mr./Mrs./Ms. Herp" to show respect to their hard work? Something as simple as a title can do wonders in establishing the chain of command and, in some instances, making it harder to shift responsibility to someone else (Yes, that was a jab at bad bosses. I'm not completely putting down the little man here).

There are people like me and my friends who use titles as a show of respect out there, and usually it's appreciated. But then there are people in the higher up positions that try to buck the titles system. "Dr. Kevorkian" insists on being called "Jack" (this is just an example). In the classroom, office, or treatment room, "Jack" seems to be a cool guy. Then a group of people in the setting you picked above start to cause some trouble for "Jack." "Jack" needs to do something to curb this behavior before he gets put down. But because he has never commanded the respect he deserves and needs, he is detained by the situation, rendering him ineffective. (I had more fun writing that than I should have...)

You see it everyday in some businesses. Just the other day at my job, one of my coworkers came in thirty minutes late. The supervisor on duty, who insists on being called by her first name, should have and had the authority to send him home for being so late (his shift was already covered). But, because there was no line of distinction between friend and boss, she couldn't find it in her to send him home. Think of the hard feelings if she had made the call herself! So she had to call her boss (who had the day off) to make the call to send him home. Same result, but it took longer and more people than needed got involved. And in a business atmosphere, wasted time is wasted money.

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't be friends with your boss. Go ahead. They're a person too. But there needs to be some distinction and some respect shown in the work environment. Yes, you can play golf with "Sally" on Saturday. But on Monday, you had better have your TPS reports on "Ms. Bakersfield's" desk by 5 p.m.

Sure, this may seem elitist, but we know that this system works. I reference the military. "General Jackson," "Private Stern," "Captain Pierce," just to show some examples. There are hardly any problems identifying the chain of command there, and part of that is due to the titles they hold. This system may not exactly work well in the civilian world (though I would like to see this to some extent), but the simple Mister, Missus, or Miss does go a long way in ensuring order is maintained and things get done in the proper way.

Titles help in more ways than many people know. Sure, they may be a hassle, and yes, we may not respect the person to whom the title belongs, but the chain of command needs to be clear and respect needs to be given when it is due. And when push comes to shove, if nothing else it makes the higher up's job easier by allowing them to do their job without having to step on an underling's toes.

What do you think? Too elitist? Or were our grandparents right about showing respect through titles? Tell me what you think! Leave a comment or contact me so we can discuss this!

Friday, July 15, 2011

March Of Morons

Did she do it? Did she not? Does it even matter?

Does this look like a guilty mother to you? Wait... Maybe not the best example...

Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven't heard about the Casey Anthony case, I envy you. I truly do. Because quite frankly, I'm sick of hearing about it. near 24 hour coverage on Headline News, constant coverage during the trial, THIRTEEN FRIGGIN' TOP STORIES ON CNN.COM, Facebook groups in response to the verdict, it's all a bit much, don't you think?

 Before I move on the the meat of this article, let me get something out of the way: the verdict was made. Get over it. You may not agree with it, but it was final and legal. The prosecution's case sucked, a jury of her peers found her innocent (and it was a well diversified jury too, by the way. It reflected the people of the community well), and she still served time for lying to the cops. Yes, this is justified too. She was arrested and held for murder. She sat there for three years. Three years behind bars for a crime she was acquitted (not found innocent) of. The bigger injustice was if she didn't get time served. The defense created reasonable doubt, and that's all that was needed. The American justice system was set up to protect the innocent, and while some people may slip through the cracks and get through loop-holes, it works (mostly). Live with the verdict. It's final.

That being said, why the heck was the case so big? Kids die all the time. Mothers kill their children all the time. Huge volunteer searches for bodies happen often. What made this case so special? The news media. Without them, this would have been an open and shut case. Without them, the case could have been settled out of court, or taken longer to get to court so the prosecution could get more evidence, money could have been saved finding an impartial jury, court proceedings could have gone smoother, and overall real justice could have prevailed if the cameras were just gone.

Everyone had to show off for the cameras. The stinkologist was brought in, the charge was murder one instead of something lesser, the case was brought to court way too soon, all for some of the lime light. And the media ate it up. Here was a woman that was easy to make people hate, easy to vilify, and a case that could be made into a top headline for weeks to come. The whole thing played out like a bad daytime soap opera, and had a similar audience. Why wouldn't the news media jump on it?

In the process however, they turned people into an angry mob. They strung the viewers along, leading them to one and only one conclusion: Casey Anthony is guilty, should be found guilty, and will be found guilty. As far as the news hounds were concerned, there was no other alternative. And of course, their simple-minded viewers who had every bit of the case spoon-fed to them with a little added spin and conjecture went right along with it. When the great jury that would surely find the woman guilty acquitted her, it was suddenly a bad jury, a stupid one, and, as one woman put it, a jury that should "be shunned by society." People wanted a retrial (double jeopardy anyone?), people wanted justice! This jury didn't do justice! They heard a month's worth of testimony, saw all the evidence, deliberated for 10 hours, and analyzed all the facts without the media explaining it to them! How could they have come to an informed and correct decision?! 

See the problem here? Outside the courtroom, it's all spin. It wasn't impartial. If anyone thought that maybe, just maybe Casey may get off, they were ridiculed or censored. Is that any way to do the news? (Full disclosure, I may have a bit of a problem with the media). Not only that, this whole civil suit for defemation, it's an attempt at double jeopardy. "Even Al Capone went down for tax evasion." Yes, but he was tried once (in that case) and even then the punishment was too strong (for tax evasion). To get Anthony on a civil suit just because she didn't get the murder charge is a last ditch effort by the mobs to "see that justice gets done."

Then there's the after-trial part. This part just dumbfounds me. Casey Anthony was acquitted. It's finally over, right? WRONG! All of a sudden the media goes into overdrive. The cash cow is almost dry! Time to milk it for all it's worth before it's cold, dry carcass is unceremoniously kicked to the curb. Huge speculation on if Casey will do porn now, how much she can get for a book and/or movie deal, how the mobs are going to attack her when she gets out, and, here's my favorite, a countdown timer for when she goes "free," as if she hasn't already paid three years behind bars for a crime. She's not going free. She's paid her dues, and with the mob that's going to follow her for the rest of her life, she may as well be in prison for the rest of her life. 

It's all a huge problem that could be solved it we just let the justice system do what it's supposed to do. No cameras, no media, no hype, just prosecutors, defendants, cops, evidence, and the law. As soon as anything extra is added, is justice really done? Can the system really properly compensate for all the cameras and hype? Of course it can't! Jurors need to be impartial. With the spin of the media, they form too many judgements before they even get to hear the case. With mobs of people on the outside, there's pressure on the jurors to give the popular decision, not the proper one. Not to mention the vigilantes that Nancy Grace herself could have spawned (I fully expect at least one murder attempt within three months of when Anthony gets released). 

So, when it gets down to it, where's the justice? Was it not done because Anthony was acquitted? Or was it not done because the justice system wasn't allowed to work properly? You have my opinion. You make your own from here.

So what do you think? Was justice done? Or was it spat on? Am I right? Or did I miss something? Tell me what you think! Leave a comment or contact me to share your thoughts! 

I hope you enjoyed this article! The topic was chosen by fans of this website (last week, this topic was chosen). If you want to get involved, join the community on Facebook or get a hold of me on Twitter!  Your voice is just as important as mine in this corner of the internet!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Bad Games, or Bad Parents?

I'm not sure if you've heard of it, but the decision on Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association was released recently (if you don't want to read the whole document, there's a good video synopsis here and here). The back story is that California wanted to ban violent video games to anyone under the age of 18 and require more labeling of games beyond the ratings of the ESRB. The Supreme Court decided that such a law was in violation of the First Amendment, stating 
The most basic principle--that government lacks the power to restrict expression because of its message, ideas, subject matter, or content--is subject to a few limited exceptions for historically unprotected speech, such as obscenity, incitement, and fighting words. But a legislature cannot create new categories of unprotected speech simply by weighing the value of a particular category against its social costs and then punishing it if it fails the test.
I thought this was a great ruling, but it begs the question, what's wrong that people think such a law is needed in the first place?

Is this really so hard to understand?

Many of my readers know about the ESRB, but I think it's worth discussing the basics of the organization. It's a self-policing body that gives ratings to video games, among other things. As you can see in the image above,  a quick glance can tell you the age appropriateness of the game. On the back of a game box, there's even a detailed description of the game, telling the buyer why the game got the rating. If you don't want to go to the store to do this research, it's all on the internet via the ESRB website. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a hard thing to understand. Let me add just one more point before moving on: Most retailers (Wal-Mart, Gamestop, and others) have policies that force cashiers to card anyone who wants to purchase a M-rated game.

With this information at hand, what was the point of California's law? Basically everything the law set out to do was already in place. My answer: because idiot parents still can't wrap their heads around simple things. Log on to a M-rated MMO and wait for an annoying, bad mouthed 15 year old kid to start screaming about how everyone but him is an idiot. Don't blink, it won't take long. How did a child who obviously can't handle such a game in a mature manner acquire it? More than likely the parents gave it to him. The same parents who are upset about the violence in video games usually, and claim that they didn't know how violent the games really are. Let's even assume that the kid didn't get the game him or herself. It was a gift from a relative. How hard is it for a parent to take the game away? How hard is it to realize the child does not have the maturity level to handle a game and then take it away until they do have the maturity level necessary?

The way I see it, the problem with violent video games is not with their content, but who consumes the content. Steps have been taken to limit what content is consumed by certain groups, but no laws have been made (until California's attempt), largely because it is not a state's, organization's, or other group's place to do so. It is ultimately the parent's (or legal guardian's) decision and responsibility to decide what their child plays. With all the resources available to guardians as to the content of the game, there are two reasons as to why children are supposedly being negatively affected by video games. 1. The parents don't bother to learn about the rating system and/or 2. the parents aren't in good enough touch with their children to know that they can't handle the games.

If the first option is the case, then we have a lot of seriously messed up parents. They don't bother to learn the system set up to help them "protect" their children, but they will cause a huge outcry at the thought of violent video games. If the second option is the case, then what right to the parents have to complain about violent video games when they have bigger problems on their hands? Everyone knows that any Grand Theft Auto game is not meant for kids, that anything that has a muscular man with a gun on it shouldn't be given to a 13 year old, and that most anything that has two people on either side of the screen fighting each other may be a bit graphic. The ESRB rating system simply backs up the obvious, and in some cases actually brings to light what may not be so obvious.

To bring this back around, what was the point of the California law? Was it to punish "bad" games and protect the youngsters, or was it to do the job that parents should already be doing? It seems to me that the latter is a more plausible possibility. Why else would a special department be set up just to put a sticker on a game that's already be rated? And why else would it (eventually) lead to M-rated games being pulled off the shelves and not sold in stores? And why would people want to set up such an agency with tax-payer money in an already bankrupt state? It makes no real sense except that maybe parents no longer want all the responsibilities of being parents in the modern age. And that, my readers, is a scary thought.

What do you think? Bulls-eye or missed by a mile? Let me know what you think! Leave comment below or contact me to let me know your thoughts!

A quick on this article. This week's article subject was chosen by the fans of this website. Next week I will be covering the Casey Anthony case (unless something better comes up). If you want to get involved in this process, join the community on Facebook or Twitter!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Is Anarchy So Bad?

Say the word "anarchy" and all kinds of negative connotations come to mind. While many of these associations are rightly feared, I say that, ideally, it isn't so bad. In fact, we are already teaching it in our schools.

To many, this is the face of anarchy. Punks, criminals, and low-lives post them in books, on walls, and everywhere else that can hold the paint from a spray can. It was denounced in the French Revolution, used against people in the Cold War if they couldn't be proved Communists, and overall has been used to describe detestable people. Ladies and gentlemen (and everyone inbetween), I would like to show you the real face of anarchy.

I would like to introduce Adam Smith, one of the early pioneers of economics, and main influence in economics today. Now, ask anyone and they may not see the connection immediately. And no, Smith was not an anarchist. But if a few connections are made, the reasoning behind what I say will be clear.

I like the short and skinny personally, so here it is: Adam Smith put forth the idea of the Invisible Hand. In essence, this states that in the absence of government (and therefore, without regulation), businesses will provide the best quality goods and services at the cheapest price in order to remain competitive in a market with no barriers to entry. Sound a bit complicated? How about an illustration?

I wake up one morning and decide to sell sandwiches on the side of the road. I gather up my supplies to make sandwiches, load up a cart, and set up my stand. There are other sandwich carts on the same road I'm making food on, and I have to be mindful of that. Following the idea of the Invisible Hand, I will keep my cart clean so that I will not make my customers sick and seem more attractive. I will make great tasting sandwiches to get return customers and spread the word about my business to their friends. I will also have a great price, covering my costs and making a little money for myself, but the price will be VERY reasonable. After a successful day I go to bed, and the next morning I wake up and decide to be a doctor.

We'll get to that last part in a minute, but this is basically what the Invisible Hand theory states. The best quality goods and services at the cheapest price in order to remain competitive in a market with no barriers to entry. I do the best I can do to be successful, and if I'm good I succeed. Conversely, if I'm bad at what I do, then I no longer have a job in that field. This applies to that last part about being a doctor. No barriers to entry means exactly that: no barriers. Average Joe can wake up and do brain surgery. However, following the Invisible Hand, he won't be in business for long. More experienced, trained, and educated brain surgeons
will put him out of business quickly. All this is only achievable without a government to make you get licensed, certified, and regulate what you do. In short: perfect anarchy.

This brings up an interesting question, however. Knowing all this, could we, as a society achieve this perfect anarchy, be led by the Invisible Hand, and become much more wealthy because of the perfect economy that would be created (by most accounts, a completely free market is the "best" market)? The realistic answer: No. The optimistic answer: Yes, but with many bumps along the way.

Sounds nuts, right? But follow me here, it'll make sense in the end. Let's say that all of a sudden the government disappeared overnight. For the sake of simplicity, let's also assume world peace was achieved overnight too, just so this example doesn't get overly complicated. There are suddenly several thousand people out of a job because they worked for the government; police, fire...people, paramedics, and schools suddenly have no funding; the military is S.O.L.; and there is chaos in the streets. Skip ahead a few weeks. Vigilantes roam the streets, businesses practically enslave workers similar to the industrial revolution, and education was a thing of the past. Not good at all, is it? Things would get very rough quickly. But eventually equilibrium would have to be achieved, and that equilibrium would be anarchy/the perfect free market. Vigilantes would still roam the streets, but with an agreed upon sense of justice that would be upheld. Education would be held in high regard so that positions like doctor and brain surgeon could be filled, but they couldn't necessarily be as important as they are now. Business owners would pay their employees fair wages because the workers are also the consumers. Innovation and invention would be very important. The next best thing could mean the difference between a short lived business and a huge market share. It would be a peaceful and profitable time to live.*

To summarize, we go along, have social World War III, and then achieve total peace and prosperity. Ideally it could work, right? Not exactly. Corporations, war lords, crime ring leaders would find a way to gain control. Human greed, the need for guidance, and humanity's propensity for violence and cruelty would make this almost completely unachievable. Not to mention the huge booms and busts in the economic cycle that would make the current recession and the Great Depression seem like the good ol' days.

So, to wrap all this up, is anarchy so bad? Ideally, no. Anarchy is equitable to a perfect free market, which in itself is almost perfect. While this would normally be something to strive for, generally people suck, meaning that even in the long run it could never be achieved, with an oligarchy much more likely. Therefore, realistically, anarchy is indeed a bad thing. Still, by just philosophizing about it, some interesting discussions can be had.

*I would like to put a special note here. You would have to pay for everything. Even the vigilantes and the most basic education. So, while ideally many people would lead profitable lives, there would be absolutely no free rides.

What do you think? Did I just waste your time? Or did I bring up some good points? Is my final conclusion correct? Or do you think differently? No matter the case, LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK! Leave a comment below or contact me to share your thoughts! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

What The Heck Is Wrong With People Today?!

As many of you know, a few days ago (June 19th) Ryan Dunn died in a horrible car accident. Almost immediately, across Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of the internet, two camps were formed. The first camp was fans who were sad at his passing and felt bad for his surviving friends and family (FYI, I was in that group). The second camp was filled with people who either said it was good he was dead because he was drinking and driving or forgot the fact that someone died and focused solely on the fact that he was in "Jackass" and drank and drove. By and far, the latter group was more vocal and annoying, and some of these trolls took it upon themselves to take the saddened fans head on. All this brings up an important question: What the heck is wrong with people today?!

A Random Hero

When you look at some of the posts about Mr. Dunn from the camp of "haters," most of them focused on the fact that he was drinking and driving. Yes, this is bad. I doubt anyone supports this. But a man died, and his fans were saddened by this. Shouldn't they be allowed to be sad over this? When Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger died, the trolls did not come out and play so badly. Most people were allowed to mourn, and the people who played the "haters" (me again) were small and not very vocal. One could make the argument that Dunn was a Jackass star who did stupid stunts while the others were an international superstar and a successful actor (overlooking the pedophilia and the string of bad movies), but that is irrelevant. All three men were actors (or musicians) who achieved success and had a loyal fan base. Now I am to believe it's worse to have died while drinking and driving rather than overdosing on dangerous drugs? 

On the other side, I found myself shocked about how I was feeling. When Jackson and Ledger died, I was amazed at how fans could muster up so much emotion over someone they had never met, but there I was, saddened by the news of Dunn's death. Most of the people who were upset by the news never knew him, never would meet him, and had only seen Dunn on television. What is it that causes us, as a people, to be sad over things like this? It's silly and a bit stupid. There's no reason to be saddened by a strangers death. But at the same time, if we aren't saddened by the news of someone's death, does that make us heartless monsters? Uncaring pricks? What does it mean? 

So what the heck is wrong with people today?! Why do people still have double standards about celebrity deaths? Why do people get sad over people who they will never meet (or places they will never go)? And why do people have to be dicks so often? For those of you who haven't heard, Westboro Baptist Church is planning on protesting any public service for Ryan Dunn. This is all ridiculous, but it's confusing at the same time. Should we condemn someone for dying from doing a stupid thing? Should we mourn the passing of a person? Should their accomplishments and life story affect if or how we mourn them? If people are entitled to their opinion, shouldn't they be allowed to act on them? Or is there really a time and a place for everything, and some things should just be left alone?

It's a lady or the tiger situation. How you answer should tell you about yourself. But think about the bigger picture. Turn on the radio or the television. People are tearing each other apart because of their beliefs and opinions. Now this is happening over a death. People today aren't allowed to hold opinions or beliefs anymore it seems like. If someone holds a views, out of no where someone else will be on the defensive and try to change that opinion. Try to have an intellectual discussion anymore and watch how fast it descends into a heated argument. Why to there have to be "haters" and "trolls?" Why does my opinion have to be a personal attack on you? It makes no sense. 

This blog serves as a perfect example of this. Look at the comments under a few of these posts. I have an opinion, and try to present them in a unique way. Then an anonymous reader begins to attack what I say in a hostile manner. I encourage discussion and differing opinions. That's what drives learning and development. But why has it recently become okay to attack people like this? Or has it always been like this, and it is just recently becoming more obvious? Ponder these questions for a while. Maybe you can figure out what's wrong with people anymore.

So is there really anything wrong with people today? Or am I just spinning my wheels here? Let me know what you think! Leave a comment or contact me! I would love to hear from you! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why Did Weiner Have To Resign?

I have a simple question. Why did Representative Anthony Weiner have to resign? I can find no real reason why he should have, except for one: unwarranted pressure.

I don't know much about lying about war (reality: I don't feel like getting into that in this post), but is his lack of good judgement a good enough reason to resign? I'm not defending his actions by any means. What he did was in poor taste, disgusting, and wrong. However, as far as I can tell, not illegal. I've been keeping up with this case, and I have yet to hear about him sending the pictures to any unwilling recipient or anyone that he knew for sure was under age (I invite you to prove me wrong. It won't be the first time I've had to edit a post for wrong information). 

Yes, the man lied. But honestly, stop and think about it. He was a representative that was supported by his constituency, he has a loving wife, and had a bright future in front of him. He had a lot to loose. When the scandal broke out, of course his knee-jerk reaction was to lie and try to make it go away as quickly and as quietly as possible. Again, I'm not defending him here, but I am saying, without condoning or condemning, I understand why he lied.

Now, here's the part that I really respected: he not only fessed up (it was only a matter of time after all), he said he would not resign. Why do I respect that? Most politicians would take the easy route by confessing and then running and hiding. Instead, Weiner admitted that he had done wrong and then chose the hard route by staying and facing his wrongdoings head on. That could have backfired had the people he was representing wanted him to go away, but a majority actually wanted him to continue supporting him (I always like a person who goes with their constituency over the pressure inside the government halls). 

If his constituents wanted him to stay, he confessed what he did was wrong, and planned to complete his term, then why did he eventually resign? Duh! The pressure that was put on him! He finally caved! I don't blame him (I'm actually surprised he held out as long as he did), but where was the pressure REALLY coming from? Clear and simple, the news media. For those of you who dislike hyperlinks, most Americans couldn't care less about the Anthony Weiner story, yet it trumped most every other story the news broadcast in terms of coverage. As a whole, people where more concerned about the bad economy than yet ANOTHER politician with a sex scandal. Let's face it people, it's the same song and dance every time, just different players. 

So with this massive amount of coverage of Weiner's...okay fill this in yourself (believe it or not, I do make SOME attempts to remain tasteful), is it any wonder that his fellow representatives and even the President called for his resignation? Think of it like this: one day you hear about a series of three murders in Benin. Have you even heard of Benin? I doubt you have. So you don't really care. It's just another news story that may make it's way around the water cooler the next day and that's it. But then the media makes a huge deal out of it. Constant coverage, analysts of all types, and queen bitch Nancy Grace herself causing a huge stink over three murders in a country across the ocean that you've never heard of before. How long do you think it will take until some sort of federal or at least Congressional call to action is brought up? Not long I'm sure. Why? Because suddenly it's all anyone is making you hear about. It's the same thing with Weiner. No one really cared, and after he confessed there really was no more story to cover. The media made it a huge deal, so all the big wigs had to do SOMETHING so that they could further their own careers. If they didn't, it would have spiraled out of control until several people lost their jobs in other scandals or lost elections because of their "indecisiveness" or because they "defended a pervert." Who wants that on their record?

It's too narrow-minded to blame just the media, however. A fair amount of tradition was involved too I'm sure. Just about every time a politician gets caught with his pants down or her skirt up, they resign and then fade as far out of the public view as possible. Weiner decided to not to resign and do the job he was elected to do, bucking tradition. I'm sure this rubbed a few people the wrong way, and I even remember hearing a news cast a few days after his confession saying he should resign just because that's what is expected from him. What wrong with that picture?

What are the ramifications of all this? Unfortunately, there are many, and they are long lasting. First of course is the special election that will be held to fill Weiner's seat. With the thought of a double-dip recession on everyone's mind, I'm sure the tax payers are none too happy with having to pay for another election. Second is that now the news media will see justification in over-reporting on some stories to get a desired result or more stories to report on. This will make it harder for many people to get meaningful news, or at least news they care about or affects them (Perspective: Anthony Weiner was a representative from New York. How does that affect any of the people in any of the other 49 states?). Finally, this perpetuates at least one tradition in our government (resigning after a scandal). I have no proof of this one, but it is my personal opinion that there is too much tradition build into our laws and legislative bodies, which is hampering our progress as a nation. All these consequences could have been avoided if coverage stopped shortly after June 6th when Weiner came clean.

To wrap all this up, I want to go back to the original question. Why did Representative Anthony Weiner have to resign? I put forth my argument. It was mostly due to over-coverage and run-of-the-mill political bullcrap. But I'm interested in what you think. Did he really need to resign? Or could he have stayed in office? I'm interested in what you think.

Just for reference, here are some of the more important articles I used to write this article:

You read that last paragraph, right? Tell me what you think about all this! Leave a comment or contact me to present your own argument!  If you don't feel like presenting your argument or don't really have one, feel free to tell me what's right or wrong with mine. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Am Overhead, You Are Profit

Retail, service, and just about any other job seem to forget that one simple rule: Employees are overhead, and customers are profit. When the overhead slows or drives away profit, shouldn't the overhead be cut from the budget?

There's a certain amount of truth to this...

We've all been there. A bad customer service rep, a cashier that is more concerned about the end of their shift than doing their job, or the employees making themselves scarce once you enter the store. What happened to friendly, helpful service? And shouldn't the employees be grateful for the job they have, especially in this economic climate? I think the answer is a resounding yes.

Watch the news or pick up a newspaper. The economy may be slowly coming back (supposedly), but the jobless rate is still sky high. And it's not just unskilled workers that are hurting for jobs. Skilled and educated people are in search of work too. It's become so easy for just about any position in any field to be replaced. Employees are almost a disposable resource anymore. Sure, it may cost a bit to train new people, but if a company is getting rid of dead weight for a (comparatively) better worker, then what's the problem? Not only that, but a new worker starts off at a lower pay scale than the newly fired person was working at, offsetting the cost of training and then some.

So with this in mind, what does that mean for the people with jobs right now? It should be clear and simple: work hard and be productive. As stated before, employees are easily replaceable. But if an employee becomes a true asset to a company, then they provide their own job security. Sure, this sounds like common sense, but we all become complacent after a while. We get new jobs, do everything we can to prove to the boss that he or she made a good decision by hiring us, but then we find our groove, stop taking the initiative, and stop being as hard working. The boss may not take notice for a good while, but eventually they will, and then what? Fewer pay raises, fewer promotions, fewer attaboys, and then the new guy starts looking better and better.

Show initiative. Be productive. Smile. Help the customers. They're the ones that pay your paycheck. Use common sense, and your job is secure. The economy may be bleak, but you're future doesn't have to be.

What do you think? Am I full of hot air? Or good ideas? Let me know what you think! Leave a comment or contact me to let me know what you think!