Archive | September, 2012

That stranglehold of P.C. And ideology: Political party culture is stuck on stupid

30 Sep

Here’s a bonus COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Political party culture is stuck on stupid. Moi grew up in Pierce County and was for many years a dem in the mold of Senators Henry M. Jackson and Warren G. Magnuson. There is no room in today’s dem party for folks like moi. Moi doesn’t believe in abortion in all circumstances and supports the FIRST AMENDMENT guarantees. In light of the fact that moi is an independent, this story illustrates why moi is an independent. Every now and again is a story that is so stupid, one has to comment.

City Looks to Twitter for Answer to Gun Problem: The best submitted ideas will be debated at an Oct. 11 panel discussion:

The City of Chicago is asking residents with ideas on how to get illegal guns off the streets to share their thoughts — in 140 characters or fewer on Twitter.

The initiative is part of Chicago Ideas Week, an annual forum for innovators, artists, scientists and others to share ideas and inspire action.

Those who think they know how to cut off the flow of illegal guns into Chicago are being asked to tweet them with the hashtag (hash)whatifchicago.

The best submitted ideas will be debated at an Oct. 11 panel discussion.

Chicago’s social media director, Kevin Hauswirth, says the effort is a great example of “the potential power that social media offers city government.” http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/City-Looks-to-Twitter-for-Answer-to-Gun-Problem-171939501.html#ixzz27ziNIsVD

Really, no one in Chicago can guess how to reduce gun violence. Must be that stranglehold of P.C. And ideology.

Let moi makes some suggestions even though she lives in Seattle not Chicago. Seattleites shouldn’t gloat as our government is equally stuck on stupid with a tendency to stick their head in sand regarding Seattle’s own gang problem.

Part if the solution will not be P.C. for “progressives.” In the short-term, just about any crime-ridden neighborhood in America needs better education and economic development. Can one say, JOBS, JOBS, and MORE JOBS. In the longer term, there will have to be a change in the cultural dynamic and thinking of groups trapped by low-income culture and mentality. This is what moi said in UN-traditional Father’s Day message: Don’t become a father unless you can make the commitment to YOUR child:

Humans have free will and are allowed to choose how they want to live. What you do not have the right to do is to inflict your lifestyle on a child. So, the responsible thing for you to do is go to Planned Parenthood or some other outlet and get birth control for yourself and the society which will have to live with your poor choices. Many religious folks are shocked because I am mentioning birth control, but most sluts have few religious inklings or they wouldn’t be sluts. A better option for both sexes, if this lifestyle is a permanent option, is permanent birth control to lessen a contraception failure. People absolutely have the right to choose their particular lifestyle. You simply have no right to bring a child into your mess of a life. I observe people all the time and I have yet to observe a really happy slut. Seems that the lifestyle is devoid of true emotional connection and is empty. If you do find yourself pregnant, please consider adoption.

Let’s continue the discussion. Some folks may be great friends, homies, girlfriends, and dudes, but they make lousy parents. Could be they are at a point in their life where they are too selfish to think of anyone other than themselves, they could be busy with school, work, or whatever. No matter the reason, they are not ready and should not be parents. Birth control methods are not 100% effective, but the available options are 100% ineffective in people who are sexually active and not using birth control. So, if you are sexually active and you have not paid a visit to Planned Parenthood or some other agency, then you are not only irresponsible, you are Eeeevil. Why do I say that, you are playing Russian Roulette with the life of another human being, the child. You should not ever put yourself in the position of bringing a child into the world that you are unprepared to parent, emotionally, financially, and with a commitment of time. So, if you find yourself in a what do I do moment and are pregnant, you should consider adoption. This is a totally NOT P.C. Message because “progressives” want to think that government can solve this society’s problem. First Lady Michelle Obama is a gracious and classy woman, but really girlfriend, the problem is too many “baby mamas” and “baby daddy.”  When we have around 70% of Black children born to woman who are most likely not able to feed and care for the children, whether they are eating vegetables is not as relevant. One needs to treat the gaping head wound first.

There must be cultural change in addition to economic development and “progressives” don’t want to touch that hot potato. Meanwhile, because this society is not dealing with the root problem, the carnage goes on.

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The Whitney Kropp story: What’s wrong with teaching kids the ‘Golden Rule’????

30 Sep

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: At the core of bullying is a basic lack of respect for the individual who is being bullied, no matter the pretext for the bullying. The Tanenbaum Center which honors the work of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum has a really good definition of the “Golden Rule” which is stated in an interview with Joyce Dubensky entitled, The Golden Rule Around the World At the core of all bullying is a failure to recognize another’s humanity and a basic lack of respect for life. At the core of the demand for personal expression and failure to tolerate opinions which are not like one’s own is a self-centeredness which can destroy the very society it claims to want to protect.

 

The Daily Mail has written an excellent synopsis of the bullying incident involving Whitney Kropp in the article, You shall go to the prom! Bullied teen who was saved by kindness of town after cruel prank shows off her new hair ahead of big night:

Whitney Kropp, 16, elected to homecoming court earlier this month – only to find out it had been a prank by popular students

  • Facebook page set up in support of sophomore, and donations pour in for her hair, make-up and a dress for the homecoming dance tonight
  • More than 1,000 showed up at homecoming game last night to support her
  • ‘The kids that are bullying you, do not let them bring you down,’ Whitney said after ceremony…

But her triumph turned to humiliation when she found out from other students that her nomination was nothing but a prank by the popular kids at the school – and she was told that the male student who was elected with her had withdrawn.

She said the prank hit hard and she even considered suicide.

But in an impressive show of support, her community rallied around her.

Local businesses offered to pay for her homecoming dress and shoes, for her to get her hair done, and even to buy her homecoming dance dinner.

A Support Whitney Facebook page has received more than 100,000 likes, after her heartbreaking tale of bullying resonated with hundreds of thousands around the country.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2210429/Whitney-Kropp-Bullied-teen-saved-kindness-town-cruel-prank-shows-new-hair-ahead-big-night.html#ixzz27yVwUzw0

A natural question is whether “values education” in schools would affect the number of instances of bullying? For a really good description of the goal of “values education,” see Teaching Values in School: An Interview with Steve Johnson http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v13n1/interview.html

The Tanenbaum Center which honors the work of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum has a really good definition of the “Golden Rule” which is stated in an interview with Joyce Dubensky entitled, The Golden Rule Around the World

At its simplest, it’s really just “being kind.” Caring about other people. That means putting that kindness into action and treating people with compassion. It means trying to understand people’s beliefs and needs. It means not harming others and actively working to eliminate harm….
What concrete steps can people take to start to put the Rule into practice?

Practically, there are steps that institutions and individuals can take to make a difference.

Institutionally, there are anti-discrimination and accommodation policies you can put into place to ensure that employees aren’t unduly thwarted in their ability to practice their religions. Educational institutions can make sure that teachers are properly trained to create inclusive, multi-cultural and multi-religious classrooms. And hospitals can work proactively with patients who may not want treatment that conflicts with their religion.

There are also things we can all do on the individual level. We can notice people who are not from our own group – people who have different practices or beliefs – and be interested in them. We can be curious about who they are and what their lives are like, without applying stereotypes. We can ask questions with curiosity and respect and truly listen to and digest the answers. And we can be willing to share about ourselves, our own beliefs and our own experiences.

Finally, we can work together, whether in workplaces, schools, community groups or governments to ensure that people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints are
involved in decision-making. By making all voices heard – and really listening to each of those voices – we can solve many of the problems we face together.

And when we do that, we’ll get to the gold.

Some form of the “Golden Rule” is found in most religious traditions.

Misunderstandings Which Could Divide Religious Conservatives and Secularists

There are probably as many chances for understanding and misunderstanding as there are people. For many secularists, they probably wince when they hear some person like this blogger state that they believe The Bible is the inspired word of God. The question inevitably turns to what does that mean for me and how I will be treated? The honest answer is, it will probably vary depending on the individual. Still, although there are certain individual passages of The Bible other religious texts which can be harsh, the admonition is to look at the entire book, as in the case of Christianity. Christians are clearly mandated to love their neighbor.

On the other hand, many Christians and others of faith assume that because they take a strong stance for their belief, many of those who are secularists will automatically dismiss them and their beliefs. Again, this may or may not be an individual perception. If there is anything good which can come out of these tragic instances of bullying, perhaps it will be to spur people on to greater understanding with the intention of being tolerant of people who are not like us.

Anthony B. Robinson, President of Congregational Leadership Northwest has an excellent post at Crosscut, which although written specifically about religious tolerance, is really a good piece about tolerance in general. In Why Religious People Can Be More tolerant Than Secularists? Robinson writes talking about Rabbi Jonathan Sacks thoughts:

The secularist may argue for tolerance. Tolerance is a hallmark virtue of modernity, and certainly a necessary one. But is it sufficient?

At least sometimes, tolerance masks indifference. The person who breezily declares that, “Well, all religions are really just the same, only different paths up the same mountain,” may not be that helpful or persuasive to those whose faith is at the core of their life and culture. People who dismiss religious faith often end up dismissing people of faith. They lack the vocabulary and points of reference to enter into some of the most important conversations….

We need people who have mined their own religious traditions deeply. We need people who are used to carrying diamonds and so know something of the value of rubies. We need people and communities of faith that are both deeply rooted in their own tradition and radically open to people of other faiths and traditions.

Sometimes in modern and Western cultures we imagine that the person best equipped to be truly tolerant is the person without any deep or particular religious or world-view commitments of his or her own and who, as such, is assumed to be open to all. It is the myth of detached objectivity.

Sacks argues for a different option, something more and something deeper than tolerance: a radical openness and respect for the faith and traditions of others, because one is so deeply rooted in one’s own.

Religious people need to mine their own religious traditions which will lead them back to the “Golden Rule.” Secularists need to examine the practicality of the “Golden Rule.” The “Golden Rule” is the beginning of tolerance.

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Not so much a society of boundless enthusiasm, but a society with few boundaries

29 Sep

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Many people when they hear that a story is from a particular point of view immediately discount that story or information. Because so much of what is labeled as “news” is really just opinion labeled as “news,” moi reads and watches outlets all across the opinion spectrum. Many folks either never learned or forgot the maxim that a stopped clock is right twice a day. In the quest to be all knowing even if that means we are not understanding or being understanding of what it is we think we know, we have morphed into a society a few boundaries.

The latest example of dissolving boundaries comes from Fox News in the story, Fox News inadvertently airs live suicide:

Fox News inadvertently aired a live suicide while broadcasting helicopter footage of a carjacking suspect in Arizona.

Anchor Shepard Smith, visibly upset, calls for the live shot to be pulled, but not in time — Viewers saw Smith repeating “get off it,” after the gunshot, indicating he was watching the video on a delay.

The network cut into commercial immediately after.

Smith says Fox was on a five-second delay, but the video was not stopped in time, he later apologized for airing the suicide, saying “That was wrong, and that won’t happen again on my watch, and I’m sorry.”

Update: Fox News issued this statement Friday afternoon:

We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five second delay. Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen.” – Michael Clemente, EVP, News Editorial http://blog.seattlepi.com/hottopics/2012/09/28/fox-news-inadvertently-airs-live-suicide/

Moi hears the snickering, “Faux News” but, they are no more or less prone to boundary dissolving than CNN, MSNBC, or the New York Times.

A couple of years back there was a scandal involving Duke University graduate, Karen Owen which indicated just how rudderless this society is. Rudderless is defined as:

Adj.1.rudderless – aimlessly drifting                  

adrift, afloat, aimless, directionless, planless, undirected

purposeless – not evidencing any purpose or goal

We have a generation of young people who have grown up in the Sex in the City culture and who are, in this blogger’s opinion, rudderless. An example, the story of Duke University graduate who sent her “thesis” entitled “An Education Beyond the Classroom: Excelling in the Realm of Horizontal Academics” to a “select” group of friends. Of course, the darn little thing went viral and now Seattle blogger, Dr. Wilda has made the sleazy little mess a blog post.

Michael Inbar of MSNBC reports in the story, Duke University Coed’s Scandalous Sex Ratings Are Viral Sensation

Karen Owen took kiss-and-tell to a whole new level when she combined her Duke University-honed academic acumen with her extracurricular wild side to create an elaborate sex list ranking the college men she bedded.

But now the recent Duke grad finds herself red-faced over attention she never bargained for: Her tongue-in-cheek “unofficial senior thesis” on sex with Duke athletes spread from the three friends she originally e-mailed to the whole 14,000-strong student body and, eventually, to websites the whole world can see.

It’s funny because we know the people on it,” one Duke University student told NBC for a TODAY report on Owen’s now-infamous sex list.

Horizontal academics’

Owen’s sex ranking is nothing if not precise. She took a list of 13 men she slept with, drawing mainly from Duke’s lacrosse team — the same team that was embroiled in a sex scandal of its own in 2006 — and created a bar graph ranking their sexual prowess. She left little to the imagination in creating a 42-slide PowerPoint presentation, detailing sex in the university library during finals week, sex in cars and, most of all, sex while inebriated.

In my blackout state, still managed to crawl into bed with a Duke athlete,” Owen commented on one escapade.

Owen called her presentation “An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics,” and was clearly having fun mixing her book smarts with her partying experience. She treated her sex ranking as a full-on thesis, writing, “Senior year and college in general often bring about certain situations that result in the seeking of so-called ‘sex.’ Until now, no studies have succeeded in developing a methodology for quantifying and ranking these so-called horizontal academics. In this study, we used data from four years at Duke University to create evaluation criteria for such encounters and applied these criteria to evaluated subjects.”

Karen Owen’s presentation included a bar chart rating her lovers’ performance.

While Owen was obviously not serious in her clinical rankings of her lovers’ sex skills, she may have done too good a job: The friends she e-mailed couldn’t keep it to themselves and began hitting the “forward” button on their e-mail accounts. Thus Owen now finds herself one of the most infamous authors in the country.

And while she was initially full of bluster, saying she’s “got some fantastic stories for the grand kids,” Owen is now sorry that her list has become a viral sensation. “I regret it with all my heart,” she told the Jezebel.com website. “I would never intentionally hurt the people that are mentioned on that.”

Obviously, this is one stupid, stupid young woman who will probably make some big $$$$$ off of this sleazy and sad chapter in her life. A couple of points. First, a lot of these encounters were fueled by alcohol and or possible binge drinking episodes. Parents must begin having conversations early with their children about the responsible use of alcohol. College students are prone to binge drinking. See, Binge Drinking Statistics The second point is this stupid, stupid young woman has no concept of privacy, either her privacy or the privacy of the lovers she graded.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines privacy

In an article written mainly as a defense of Warren and Brandeis’ paper and as a response to William Prosser, Edward J. Bloustein (1964) argues that there is a common thread in the diverse legal cases protecting privacy. According to Bloustein, Warren and Brandeis failed to give a positive description of privacy, however they were correct that there was a single value connecting the privacy interests, a value they called “inviolate personality.” On Bloustein’s view it is possible to give a general theory of individual privacy that reconciles its divergent strands, and “inviolate personality” is the social value protected by privacy. It defines one’s essence as a human being and it includes individual dignity and integrity, personal autonomy and independence. Respect for these values is what grounds and unifies the concept of privacy. Discussing each of Prosser’s four types of privacy rights in turn, Bloustein defends the view that each of these privacy rights is important because it protects against intrusions demeaning to personality and against affronts to human dignity. Using this analysis, Bloustein explicitly links the privacy rights in tort law described by Prosser with privacy protection under the Fourth Amendment. He urges that both leave an individual open to scrutiny in a way that leaves one’s autonomy and sense of oneself as a person vulnerable, violating one’s human dignity and moral personality. The common conceptual thread linking diverse privacy cases prohibiting dissemination of confidential information, eavesdropping, surveillance, and wiretapping, to name a few, is the value of protection against injury to individual freedom and human dignity. Invasion of privacy is best understood, in sum, as affront to human dignity. Although Bloustein admits the terms are somewhat vague, he defends this analysis as conceptually coherent and illuminating.

The key concept in this definition is human dignity. Ms. Owen certainly was not dignified in her dealings with others no matter how much of a scamp some of her partners might have been. Fox News or any other news outlet for that matter is not dignified in ignoring the privacy rights of the subjects they claim to be covering as news. Ms. Owen’s key failing, however, was she was not dignified in how she dealt with herself. If this blogger had a chance to meet Ms. Owen, the only thing I would say to her is, girlfriend, some things were just never meant for public consumption. Moi would also say to the “news business” the same thing she would tell Ms. Owen, there are some things not meant for public consumption and your industry is not dignified in how it deals not only with us, but itself.

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All that glitters in the ‘Gilded Age’ is not gold

28 Sep

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART:

The Gilded Age” was a term coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book, The Gilded Age. Here is a portion of book summary by Shmoop:

Key Points

  • Rapid economic growth generated vast wealth during the Gilded Age
  • New products and technologies improved middle-class quality of life
  • Industrial workers and farmers did not share in the new prosperity, working long hours in dangerous conditions for low pay
  • Gilded Age politicians were largely corrupt and ineffective
  • Most Americans during the Gilded Age wanted political and social reforms, but they disagreed strongly on what kind of reform

The “Gilded Age”

Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner were the first to call the years after the Civil War the “gilded age.” Struck by what they saw as the rampant greed and speculative frenzy of the marketplace, and the corruption pervading national politics, they satirized a society whose serious problems, they felt, had been veiled by a thin coating of gold. http://www.shmoop.com/gilded-age/summary.html

Moi, like many people, watches award shows for the glitz and the glamour, to see what people are wearing and who should fire their stylist, hairdresser, and make-up artist. Still one star wannabe’s accessorizing got moi pondering. Yahoo is reporting in the article, Kelly Osbourne defends pricey Emmy manicure, that girlfriend had a $250,000 manicure. Say what, some folk are living in their cars. Here are the details:

Kelly Osbourne is typically the one dishing out the fashion critiques on the Emmy red carpet. But this year, she was the target of some fashion policing over a $250,000 manicure that some considered wasteful and tacky. Now she’s taking the opportunity to defend herself.

“I see that my nail polish has offended some of you, however I see your point, but it was a once in a lifetime experience. #MyApologizes,” she tweeted. “And please forgive me for not regretting it. It made me feel like a queen!”   http://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/emmys/kelly-osbourne-defends-emmy-manicure-182358078.html

Girlfriend may be thinking she is feeling like a queen, moi is thinking,  girlfriend, u be an idiot.

In 3rd world America: The economy affects the society of the future, moi said:

So what future have the Goldman Sucks, cash sluts, and credit crunch weasels along with we don’t care, we don’t have to Washington Georgetown and Chevy Chase set – you know, the the “masters of the universe” left those on a race to get through college? Lila Shapiro has the excellent post, Trading Down: Laid-Off Americans Taking Pay Cuts and Increasingly Kissing Their Old Lives Goodbye at Huffington Post:

This government, both parties, has failed to promote the kind of economic development AND policy which creates liveable wage jobs. That is why Mc Donalds is popular for more than its dollar menu. They are hiring people.

This economy must focus on job creation and job retention and yes, hope. Both for those racing through college and those who have paid their education and training dues. “You deserve a break today at Mc Donalds,” the only employer who seems to be hiring. http://drwilda.com/2011/11/22/3rd-world-america-the-economy-affects-the-society-of-the-future/

“It is a time when one’s spirit is subdued and sad, one knows not why; when the past seems a storm-swept desolation, life a vanity and a burden, and the future but a way to death. It is a time when one is filled with vague longings; when one dreams of flight to peaceful islands in the remote solitudes of the sea, or folds his hands and says, What is the use of struggling, and toiling and worrying any more? let us give it all up.”

Mark Twain, The Gilded Age

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What do Henry Ford, NFL referees, and human workers at J.C. Penney have in common?

27 Sep

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi wrote in 3rd world America: Not working for a dollar, working for a dime:

Moi discussed what many Americans feel is diminished prospects for their future in Americans, no longer dreaming:

The Victorian Contexts gives a good overview of the world of Charles Dickens.

Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door.

Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

Charles Dickens

Mr Jarndyce, and prevented his going any farther, when he had remarked that there were two classes of charitable people: one, the people who did a little and made a great deal of noise; the other, the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.”

Charles Dickens (Bleak House)

Throughout history there have been great empires who eventually challenged each other for dominance in a variety of areas. One of the most interesting historical rivalries was between Athens and Sparta. See, PBS’ The Two Faces of Greece: Athens and Sparta which has atable comparing the two cultures. http://drwilda.com/2012/09/03/3rd-world-america-not-working-for-a-dollar-working-for-a-dime/ Some commentators have said that the is the “Pacific Century” and economic power and influence will shift from the Americas to the Pacific. Whether it is incompetence or fear, which has given rise to a strange shift in the view held by many managers toward their employees and the role of business toward contributing to the strength of a society. Henry Ford, the NFL referee strike, and J.C. Penney share a theme.

AP is reporting in the story, NFL Reaches Tentative Agreement with Refs which was posted at Time:

The union was seeking improved salaries, retirement benefits and other logistical issues for the part-time officials. The NFL has proposed a pension freeze and a higher 401(k) match, and it wants to hire 21 more officials to improve the quality of officiating. The union has fought that, fearing it could lead to a loss of jobs for some of the current officials, as well as a reduction in overall compensation.

The NFL claimed its offers have included annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it means an overall reduction in compensation.

Replacement refs aren’t new to the NFL. They worked the first week of games in 2001 before a deal was reached. But those officials came from the highest level of college football; the current replacements do not. Their ability to call fast-moving NFL games drew mounting criticism through Week 3, climaxing last weekend, when ESPN analyst Jon Gruden called their work “tragic and comical.”

Those comments came during “Monday Night Football,” with Seattle beating Green Bay 14-12 on a desperation pass into the end zone on the final play. Packers safety M.D. Jennings had both hands on the ball in the end zone, and when he fell to the ground in a scrum, both Jennings and Seahawks receiver Golden Tate had their arms on the ball.
http://keepingscore.blogs.time.com/2012/09/27/nfl-reaches-tentative-agreement-with-refs/#ixzz27e2QKJsP

According to Marc Bastow, Investor Place Assistant Editor, who writes in the article,  NFL’s Referee Spat: Everyone’s Screwed, League gets a massive PR problem over a relative pittance these are the issues involved in the referee strike:

The dispute with the NFLRA revolves around three main issues:

  1. The NFL wants to change how NFLRA members receive retirement benefits, going from a defined-pension plan in which the NFL contributes a set amount each year that provides a fixed, stable retirement revenue source, to a defined-contribution 401k plan. Current full-time NFL employees (the league considers the referees part-time employees) are all on a combined defined/401k plan. This issue appears to be the main sticking point.
  2. The salary pool for all 121 union referees is $18 million, or roughly $149,000 per referee. The NFL has offered to add $1 million per year to the pool. (Because I am not a referee, I have no idea how much any of that means relative to time invested in the profession. But I do know the job is difficult.) The majority of referees have “primary” jobs that announcers love to tout when they talk about officiating crews, however, so it’s likely this point can get worked out since the refs are making money elsewhere.
  3. The 121 referees are broken up into 17 crews that work the games (which means there is one extra crew). The NFL wants to add another three crews to increase the pool to 140 referees. Needless to say, the referees feel that would imperil their job security since they could be — you know, replaced — if they did not perform.

In monetary terms, those issues come out to a difference of around $4 million per year, according to a league memo from the NFL’s chief attorney, Jeff Pash. http://investorplace.com/2012/09/nfls-referee-spat-everyones-screwed/

The NFL referees and their labor issues are just one symptom of an economic landscape that is no longer positioned for success.

A sleeper story is described by Barbara Thau in the Daily Finance article, J.C. Penney’s Latest Leap: Retailer to Ditch Cash Registers, Cashiers:

J.C. Penney (JCP) will say farewell to cash registers, checkout counters and cashiers by 2014, said Ron Johnson, the chain’s CEO, during the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference, reports Time.

Penney’s plan evokes Apple’s (AAPL) mostly cash-register free stores — and that comes as little surprise: Johnson was the head of Apple Retail and is considered the mastermind behind its success. He left Apple in November to take the top spot at J.C. Penney.

Johnson, who has been in the headlines lately for Penney’s radical, controversial — and so far, unsuccessful — strategy to eliminate most of its sales and coupons, is now looking to shake up the checkout experience in the chain’s stores.

His plan is to eliminate cashiers, cash registers and checkout counters, replacing them with a patchwork of technology solutions, such as WiFi networks, mobile checkout, RFID (radio frequency identification) technology tracking systems for merchandise, as well as self-checkout options. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/07/23/jcpenneys-no-more-cash-registers-cashiers/

The NFL strike and the future J.C. Penney human layoffs point to two issues which bring this discussion to Henry Ford. The issues are is it more profitable to a business to pay for expertise, as in the case of the NFL strike and is technology really going to replace humans as in the case of J.C. Penney?

Tim Worstall posts the article, The Story of Henry Ford’s $5 a Day Wages: It’s Not What You Think at Forbes:

So, if creating that blue collar middle class that could afford the cars wasn’t why Ford brought in his $5 a day wages, what was the reason?

Actually, it was the turnover of his staff.

At the time, workers could count on about $2.25 per day, for which they worked nine-hour shifts. It was pretty good money in those days, but the toll was too much for many to bear. Ford’s turnover rate was very high. In 1913, Ford hired more than 52,000 men to keep a workforce of only 14,000. New workers required a costly break-in period, making matters worse for the company. Also, some men simply walked away from the line to quit and look for a job elsewhere. Then the line stopped and production of cars halted. The increased cost and delayed production kept Ford from selling his cars at the low price he wanted. Drastic measures were necessary if he was to keep up this production.That level of turnover is hugely expensive: not just the downtime of the production line but obviously also the training costs: even the search costs to find them. It can indeed be cheaper to pay workers more but to reduce the turnover of them and those associated training costs. Which is exactly what Ford did. As Paul Krugman points out, the effects are obvious:

But in any case there is a fundamental flaw in the argument: Surely the benefits of low turnover and high morale in your work force come not from paying a high wage, but from paying a high wage “compared with other companies” — and that is precisely what mandating an increase in the minimum wage for all companies cannot accomplish.While that’s talking about the living wage argument it applies here as well. The point is not so as to be paying a “decent wage” or anything of that sort: it is to be paying a higher wage than other employers. That gets your workforce thinking they’ve got a good deal (for the clear reason that they have got a good deal) and if the workers think they’ve got a good deal then they’re more likely to turn up on time, sober, and work diligently. They’re more likely to turn up at all which was one of the problems Ford was trying to solve. http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/03/04/the-story-of-henry-fords-5-a-day-wages-its-not-what-you-think/

This government, both parties, has failed to promote the kind of economic development AND policy which creates liveable wage jobs. That is why Mc Donalds is popular for more than its dollar menu. They are hiring people.

This economy must focus on job creation and job retention and yes, hope. Both for those racing through college and those who have paid their education and training dues. “You deserve a break today at Mc Donalds,” the only employer who seems to be hiring.

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‘Plan B’ birth control for K-12 schools: Tolstoy was right about families

26 Sep

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina with this quote:

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first lineRussian mystic & novelist (1828 – 1910)

Which brings us to the state of families in contemporary society. There have been several high profile instances of folk intervening in the lives of children to provide them with condoms and other methods of birth control. In 2010 there was an instance described by Cara Pallone of the Statesman Journal of Oregon. She wrote an article about a Halloween incident which describes the cultural divide which currently exists in this culture. On the one hand, are the Sex and The City mavens who advocate sex with anything with a pulse. On the other hand, are those who espouse what is commonly described as traditional values and who advocate a bit more restraint. Pallone reports in the article, Condoms for Halloween Trick-Or-Treaters

Some teenage trick-or-treaters received condoms in their bags on Halloween night in Silverton.

For the couple who handed out the prophylactics, the act was a community service, health education and a message of pregnancy prevention.

For the father of one 14-year-old girl who got them, the act was an intrusion of family privacy and a violation of his right to raise his daughter as he wishes…..

Is providing condoms to teenagers a pragmatic strategy to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, or is it an unintended signal that promotes promiscuity? Or did the Harrises just overstep?

“It is hard for me as a parent to imagine any justification for giving children condoms without parents’ consent,” Côté said. “It’s inappropriate. I want to deal in my own house with my own children.”

Kathleen Harris said she started handing out condoms to high school-age trick-or-treaters in college, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, before she moved to Silverton. She has continued the tradition for the past 24 years in an effort to curb teen pregnancy and STDs….

“It’s harm reduction,” Kathleen Harris said. “Kids are going to do these things anyway, so we want them to have to at least think about it ahead of time.”

That’s not the message that Côté says he hears.

“By providing kids with condoms, you’re promoting sexual activity no matter how you look at it,” Côté said, adding that he respects the Harrises’ opinions and values, but that they shouldn’t impose them on other people.

“It’s definitely a subject reserved for family, not some neighbor I hardly know in a neighborhood somewhere,” he said.

At least one expert would agree.

It is parents who know their kids best, said Steve Stephens, a Clackamas psychologist. Strangers giving condoms to teenagers forces them to address sexual issues that they may not be ready to discuss.

“These are the sorts of issues the parents need to be able to talk to kids about when children are ready, or when they come to them to ask questions,” said Stephens, who works with Every Marriage Matters, a nonprofit group that works to stabilize families.

Côté was especially upset with the way the condoms were delivered — on Halloween, to trick-or-treaters.

Moi wrote about a Massachusetts school district’s decision to give condoms to children in WOW: Massachusetts school district to give condoms to 12-year-olds http://drwilda.com/2012/03/19/wow-massachusetts-school-district-to-give-condoms-to-12-year-olds/

The latest intervention in what should be the prerogative of the family is New York City’s plan to offer “Plan B” contraceptives in city schools. Alexandra Sifferlin has written the excellent Time article, New York City Schools Offer Plan B to High School Students:

In Jan. 2011, New York City quietly launched a pilot program to dispense free prescription contraceptives, including birth control pills and the morning-after pill, Plan B, to students at more than a dozen public high schools in the city.

The program, known as CATCH, for Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare, is an expansion of an existing, privately administered program that has run health centers in about 40 city schools over the past several years, offering students primary health care services as well as contraception, including oral birth control pills and Plan B.

In early 2011, CATCH launched in five New York City schools; this year, the program is in 13 schools. All schools were chosen because they are in neighborhoods that lack nearby clinics or health services or because they have high teen pregnancy rates. While public high schools around the country have offered condoms for students for years, CATCH is thought to be the first to provide contraceptive pills. The program works with city health department doctors and trained school nurses to give students a fuller range of contraceptive services, including pregnancy tests.

So far, city officials said, parents have not resisted the program. Parents were notified of the program by letter, and were given the opportunity to opt out by signing a form. Children of parents who don’t opt out can then visit the school nurse and receive contraception, or get a pregnancy test and Plan B after having unprotected sex, without explicitly notifying their parents. About 1% to 2% of parents have opted out, according to the health department.

We’ve had no negative reaction to the CATCH program,” Deborah Kaplan, assistant commissioner of the health department’s Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health, told NBC News. “We haven’t had one objection. We’ve just had the opt-outs.”
http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/25/new-york-city-schools-offer-plan-b-to-high-school-students/#ixzz27YRM6Rcj

Parents must be involved in the discussion of sex with their children and discuss THEIR values long before the culture has the chance to co-op the children. Moi routinely posts the number of Planned Parenthood at the blog along with information about the vacuous and troubled lives of Sex and the City aficionados and troubled pop tarts like Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton. Kids need to know that much of the life style glamorized in the media often comes at a very high personal cost. Problem is too many parents have opted out of the role of parent, don’t know how to be a parent and/or think their role is to be their child’s friend and not parent.

Because some children have ineffective parents, the child, the society and any potential offspring of the child pay the price. It is time for some speak the truth, get down discussion. An acquaintance who practices family law told me this story about paternity. A young man left Seattle one summer to fish in Alaska. He worked on a processing boat with 30 or40 others. He had sex with this young woman. He returned to Seattle and then got a call from her saying she was pregnant. He had been raised in a responsible home and wanted to do the right thing for this child. His mother intervened and demanded a paternity test. To make a long story, short. He wasn’t the father. In the process of looking out for this kid’s interests, my acquaintance had all the men on the boat tested and none of the other “partners” was the father. Any man that doesn’t have a paternity test is a fool.

If you are a slut, doesn’t matter whether you are a male or female you probably shouldn’t be a parent.

How to tell if you are a slut?

  1. If you are a woman and your sex life is like the Jack in the Box 24-hour drive through, always open and available. Girlfriend, you’re a slut.
  1. If you are a guy and you have more hoes than Swiss cheese has holes. Dude, you need to get tested for just about everything and you are a slut. 

Humans have free will and are allowed to choose how they want to live. What you do not have the right to do is to inflict your lifestyle on a child. So, the responsible thing for you to do is go to Planned Parenthood or some other outlet and get birth control for yourself and the society which will have to live with your poor choices. Many religious folks are shocked because I am mentioning birth control, but most sluts have few religious inklings or they wouldn’t be sluts. A better option for both sexes, if this lifestyle is a permanent option, is permanent birth control to lessen a contraception failure. People absolutely have the right to choose their particular lifestyle. You simply have no right to bring a child into your mess of a life. I observe people all the time and I have yet to observe a really happy slut. Seems that the lifestyle is devoid of true emotional connection and is empty. If you do find yourself pregnant, please consider adoption.

Let’s continue the discussion. Some folks may be great friends, homies, girlfriends, and dudes, but they make lousy parents. Could be they are at a point in their life where they are too selfish to think of anyone other than themselves, they could be busy with school, work, or whatever. No matter the reason, they are not ready and should not be parents. Birth control methods are not 100% effective, but the available options are 100% ineffective in people who are sexually active and not using birth control. So, if you are sexually active and you have not paid a visit to Planned Parenthood or some other agency, then you are not only irresponsible, you are Eeeevil. Why do I say that, you are playing Russian Roulette with the life of another human being, the child. You should not ever put yourself in the position of bringing a child into the world that you are unprepared to parent, emotionally, financially, and with a commitment of time. So, if you find yourself in a what do I do moment and are pregnant, you should consider adoption.

Why the rant? Live Science reports in the article, 1 in 6 Teen Moms Say They Didn’t Believe They Could Get Pregnant:

Half of teen mothers say they were not using birth control when they got pregnant, and a new report outlines the reasons teens give for not doing so.

Of teen moms who reported not using birth control, 31 percent said they did not believe they could get pregnant at the time. To decrease teen birth rates, teens need factual information about the conditions under which pregnancy can occur, along with public health efforts aimed at reducing or delaying teens’ sexual activities, according to the report released today by researchers for the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Others gave various reasons for not using birth control — 24 percent said their partner did not want to use contraception, 13 percent said they had trouble getting birth control, 9 percent said they experienced side effects from using contraception and 8 percent said they thought their sex partner was sterile. Twenty-two percent of the teens said they did not mind getting pregnant.

Health care providers and parents can work to prevent teen pregnancy by increasing teens’ motivation to avoid pregnancy; providing access to contraception and encouraging the use of more effective methods, and strengthening the skills of teens to negotiate contraceptive use with their partners….

Research has shown that teens who report using birth control do not use it consistently, the report noted. One survey found that among sexually active teens who reported using condoms, only 52 percent said they used a condom every time they had sex.

The rates of not using birth control did not vary among teens of different racial groups — whether white, black or Hispanic, about half the teens reported not using birth control when they became pregnant.

There were some differences among the groups in terms of the reasons teens gave for not using birth control. Forty-two percent of Hispanic teens reported not using contraception because they did not think they could get pregnant at the time, whereas 32 percent of black teens gave that reason and 27 percent of white teens did.

Previous research has shown that 17 percent of all sexually active teens report not using birth control when they last had sex….

About 400,000 U.S. teens ages 15 to 19 give birth each year, which gives the United States the highest teen birth rate in the developed world, according to the report.

Teen mothers are more likely than others to drop out of school, and infants born to teens are more likely to have low birth weight, putting them at risk for a number of health conditions, and lower academic achievement, according to the report.
http://news.yahoo.com/1-6-teen-moms-didnt-believe-could-pregnant-202403188.html

Parents and guardians must have age-appropriate conversations with their children and communicate not only their values, but information about sex and the risks of sexual activity.

Which brings us back to Tolstoy, happy families are just that and they communicate their values to their children. Unhappy families, or given the contemporary context, unhappy associations are more likely to abdicate their responsibilities to each other and any children produced from that association. Parents not only have the right, but the duty to communicate their values to their children. That is the problem with the contemporary context, too few folks know what their values are because, after all, one shouldn’t judge.

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As a Black, moi asks: Are Black leaders stuck on stupid?

25 Sep

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi is an independent as she formed the opinion that unless one has about $5,000,000 to form a super pac neither side gives a cup of warm spit what you think and as for how you feel, well, just Fuggedaboutit. So, moi read with interest Motoko Rich’s article in the New York Times, Seeking Allies, Teachers’ Unions Court G.O.P., Too:

As these traditional political alliances have shifted, teachers’ unions have pursued some strange bedfellows among lawmakers who would not appear to be natural allies.

In Illinois, the top two recipients of political contributions from the Illinois Education Association through June 30 were Republicans, including a State House candidate who has Tea Party support and advocates lower taxes and smaller government.

William Seitz, a Republican state senator in Ohio who is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business-backed group, has received more money this year from the Ohio Education Association than from any other donor. Teachers’ organizations in Georgia and Texas have also donated to numerous Republicans.

In all, teachers’ groups donated $1.23 million to Republican state candidates through June 30, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/us/politics/challenged-by-old-allies-teachers-unions-court-gop.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1

Well duh, it is called survival of the fittest and it relies on adaptation to changing circumstances. Moi hates to get all Machiavelli on you, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Here is some interesting data from Fact Check.Org:

For how long have the Democrats garnered the black vote? Certainly there was a point during the last century when a majority of blacks started supporting the Democrats rather than Republicans. What has been the voting pattern and what happened to change that pattern?

FULL ANSWER

Blacks mostly voted Republican from after the Civil War and through the early part of the 20th century. That’s not surprising when one considers that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president, and the white, segregationist politicians who governed Southern states in those days were Democrats. The Democratic Party didn’t welcome blacks then, and it wasn’t until 1924 that blacks were even permitted to attend Democratic conventions in any official capacity. Most blacks lived in the South, where they were mostly prevented from voting at all.

The election of Roosevelt in 1932 marked the beginning of a change. He got 71 percent of the black vote for president in 1936 and did nearly that well in the next two elections, according to historical figures kept by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. But even then, the number of blacks identifying themselves as Republicans was about the same as the number who thought of themselves as Democrats.

It wasn’t until Harry Truman garnered 77 percent of the black vote in 1948 that a majority of blacks reported that they thought of themselves as Democrats. Earlier that year Truman had issued an order desegregating the armed services and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in federal employment.

Even after that, Republican nominees continued to get a large slice of the black vote for several elections. Dwight D. Eisenhower got 39 percent in 1956, and Richard Nixon got 32 percent in his narrow loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960.

But then President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 (outlawing segregation in public places) and his eventual Republican opponent, Sen. Barry Goldwater, opposed it. Johnson got 94 percent of the black vote that year, still a record for any presidential election.

The following year Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. No Republican presidential candidate has gotten more than 15 percent of the black vote since.

Footnote: Younger African American voters have been edging away from the Democratic Party in recent years. David Bositis of the Joint Center notes “a fairly long-term pattern of decreasing identification with the Democrats by younger African Americans.” Of course, it remains to be seen what the 2008 campaign will bring.http://www.factcheck.org/2008/04/blacks-and-the-democratic-party/

Since elections are about the future as much as the past, Here is the National Poverty Center’s statistics for child poverty:

How many children live in poverty?[3]

Children represent a disproportionate share of the poor in the United States; they are 24 percent of the total population, but 36 percent of the poor population. In 2010, 16.4 million children, or 22.0 percent, were poor. The poverty rate for children also varies substantially by race and Hispanic origin, as shown in the table below[4].

Children Under 18 Living in Poverty, 2010

Category

Number (in thousands)

Percent

All children under 18

16, 401

22.0

White only, non-Hispanic

5,002

12.4

Black

4,817

38.2

Hispanic

6,110

35.0

Asian

547

13.6

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, Report P60, n. 238, Table B-2, pp. 68-73.

This brings us back to the question moi posed at the beginning of this post: Are Black leaders stuck on stupid. It appears to moi that just about every other interest group is adapting for their survival.

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.
George S. Patton