Archive for the ‘Personal Philosophy’ Category

Why #MeToo is a Waste of Time

October 20, 2017

Recently, the hashtag #MeToo has been cycling around social media.  The idea behind this hashtag is for women to come forward and discuss their stories of sexual harassment.

The problem is, sexual harassment is pretty vague.  According to The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment is stated as,

“It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.”

Sounds clear right?  You can’t fire your secretary for turning down your advances, according to the law.

The problem is the package deal that is wrapped up in the sexual harassment.  To be found guilty of sexual harassment, the only proof is that someone else felt uncomfortable.

Obviously, rape, sexual assault, and so on are a violation of individual rights, and the perpetrators should be dealt with harshly by the law.   However, lumped into this same category is everything from rapists to a single catcalling construction worker.

Instead of recognizing that there is a long distance between an unwanted comment and rape, we are expected to swallow, as one package deal, that everyone who has received a catcall or an unwanted comment is a victim equal to a rapist victim.  And, that everyone who has laughed at a sexist joke, or went in for a kiss and got rejected, or whatever is now on par with a rapist.

The end result of this is to treat every man as though he was a rapist.  Furthermore, it is to teach every man that they are no better than a rapist, for every single (straight) man has glanced too long at a woman, or made a stray comment, and are now guilty of rape.

It’s the danger of a package deal.

 

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Facebook Anger

October 13, 2017

I have finally started cleaning up my Facebook feed.  I don’t defriend people, but I have started unfollowing people and blocking posts.  After this last shooting, I have become sick of all of the nonsense, and was realizing how much time I waste arguing with walls and reading garbage.

So many of my friends, so many people of my generation have been nursing the government teat for so long that they can’t imagine life without it.  Every problem requires a government solution.  If I dare say that the solution lies within the people, (who supposedly make up the government, in a free society), I get lots of flapping arms, yelling, and ad hominem attacks.

Side Note:  spell check wants to change “ad homiem” to “Eminem.”   That’s what’s wrong.

Another Note:  I posted the above statement on Facebook with an animated GIF.  Perhaps I’m what’s wrong.

Anyway, this week, I skipped out on all of my old friends calling NRA members “racists” and “terrorists” and read exactly no articles about “white privilege” or “male privilege” or any other nonsense.  It’s all gone from my feed.  No more articles from Vox, Upworthy, or Vice.  Good riddance.

For my trouble, I enjoyed a productive, less-stressed week.

Am I avoiding the problem?  Perhaps.  However, there is nothing to do about it on Facebook, so why increase my stress level and fight over stuff that isn’t going to be changed on Facebook anyway?

I’m not engaging any of these folks anymore.  They can treat Facebook as their echo chamber and recite their practiced lines against guns, Trump, God, whomever, if it makes them feel better.  They can beat their chests and declare themselves geniuses of social issues and politics, and the most they’ll get from the likes of me is an uninterested, “that’s nice.”  I just won’t be listening.

 

Sexist Commercial

August 25, 2017

I heard a commercial on the radio for Liberty Mutual Insurance, and it made me laugh.  I’m not one to point out sexism (as there are a million crybabies to do this), but this one was stupid.  However, I will use it to illustrate a point about the world.

This particular radio commercial has two men talking, presumably at the office water cooler.  One of them talks about how he would be freaking out and a nervous wreck if it was his teenage girl getting her license.  The other one calmly responds that, because he has Liberty Mutual Insurance, she has roadside assistance if she breaks down, and that now he can sleep easy.

First:  I (and probably most parents) are nervous about their kids driving because THEY CAN, AND OFTEN ARE, KILLED IN CAR ACCIDENTS.  Not because they might break down.

Second:  You know what sucks about breaking down?   Missing events (and work) because you are stuck on the side of the road.  You know what else sucks about breaking down?  Having to pay for it.  In a near last place, there is the off chance (very rare off chance) that you will be attacked while waiting for a tow truck.  Realistically, your daughter will miss school (I’m sure she’s broken-hearted), maybe work or a date with her friends or boyfriend (which you probably don’t approve of anyhow).  And, I’m more than willing to bet that she won’t pay for the car repairs, either.  So, the threat is that she could be attacked while stranded on the side of the road.

Let’s examine this threat a little more.  I don’t have exact numbers, but I bet the odds are pretty slim.  I bet she is more likely to be attacked at a frat house in college (which you’ll encourage her to attend), by a family member or friend (unfortunately), or some other scenario long before a random driver attacks her on the side of the road.

Also, what does it mean to be “stranded” on the side of the road in 2017?  I don’t know.  Where I live, there is miles of desert between small towns.  However, these roads are traveled by plenty of locals; more than likely if she broke down there, one of her classmates, a family friend or neighbor would see her and help.  Where is your daughter driving?  If you live in the city, she’ll be able to call for help from her cell phone and wait for a tow truck in a coffee shop nearby, no big deal.  If she is in the suburbs, the same applies.  Unless she’s driving across unfamiliar land on some cross-country road trip, alone, she’s probably in cell phone coverage and probably not far from a semi-safe public place.

Why do I bring this up?  Because this commercial tells us more about the way a lot of people think of the world.

For example, these authors have an unrealistic fear of the big, bad scary person that may attack while their daughters are waiting for a tow truck.  In reality, their daughters are much more likely to be killed in a car accident.

For example, I have heard about African American parents teaching their children that they could be shot by the police for no reason at all.  In reality, their children are also more likely to be killed in a car accident, commit suicide, or drown in a swimming pool than shot by the police.

For example, plenty of people are afraid of Muslims, as some of them attacked us.  Guess what?  We are more likely to die from a heart attack, car accident, suicide or cancer than killed in a Muslim terrorist attack.

Should these girls not be afraid of an attacker?  Should we not worry about being shot by the police for no reason?  Should we not worry about a terrorist attack?  Actually, it’s all about situational awareness.  Situational awareness, not worry.

The world is not a bad place.  There is no reason to suspect all people of being inherently evil.  A few are capable of evil things.  Let’s not let a few evil people change how we think of the world any longer.

Thank you for reading my post.

On Not Becoming A Fuddy-Duddy

July 21, 2017

I have not played in social media outside of a few blogs and Facebook.  Yes, back in the day, I had a myspace account, just like everyone else, and yes, I have signed up for things since, but never really used them.

However, it did occur to me that I was not using them for the wrong reasons.

I rejected Twitter.  After all, I don’t care for celebrity gossip or about the president’s Tweets.

I rejected Instagram and Pintrest, because aren’t they just Facebook with fewer words?

I rejected SnapChat, as I heard that it is just a place for teenagers to sext, and while I would not mind to receive a few photos from some college-aged girls, I am not holding my breath for them to arrive.

However, I have made it a point to pursue these.  In reality, all of my rejections were anti-technology in a sense.  I did not use them because they were different than what I knew.

Even Objective-ish folks can make philosophical mistakes, myself included.

I started out playing with Twitter.  Did you know that the National Weather Service monitors it for severe weather reports?

Then, I started playing with Instagram.  I do not spend much time looking at photos from other people, but I do get positive feedback from the sunrises, sunsets and wildlife photos I post.

I dusted off my YouTube account and have posted several videos to it.

Next on the list will be SnapChat.

Overall, to reject something because it is different is a poor attitude to have, especially if you intend to learn as much as you can with your brief time on this earth.  Sure, I will pick out my favorite social media platforms and focus on them, but the fact of the matter is, those will change over time, with or without my consent.  I can adapt to the new platforms that are out there, or dry up, refusing to learn something new.

I chose the former, and I hope you will as well.

Thank you for reading my post

 

Mechanization and Automation

June 23, 2017

I have heard far too many reports about how many jobs will be “lost” to machines in the near future.  These reports, some of which come from automation magazines, all have one thing in common:  the end of the world will occur as we will all become unemployed and homeless because of automation.  Figures and years range from 50-70% of jobs in the next 10 years will be replaced by automation.  I am not referencing this garbage, just know that these articles exist.  A quick Google search will get you plenty of fodder.

Part of being a human being is improving our world and making our lives easier.  During the dark ages, people worked and had zero leisure time.  Everything was about survival, and survival meant doing everything in-house.  All food was grown, all clothes made, and all home repairs done by the members of the household.  For their endless days of hard, manual labor, life expectancy was in the 40’s, and conditions were awful.

We have increased our abilities through invention and creativity.  In the strictest sense, we have no collective knowledge, but we do get to benefit from the development of others through free trade.  I don’t have to develop the air conditioner that is currently protecting me from 104 F temperatures outside.  Someone else did that, and I paid them money for it.

Through this combination of invention, creativity, and free trade, we went through the scientific and industrial revolutions which improved our lives significantly.  150 years ago, “Go west, young man,” meant walking away from your family forever and traveling by wagon, foot, or horse across the wild unknown.  Many did not survive.  When I went west in 2005, my parents were a mere three hour flight away.  FLIGHT.

In electronics, Moore proposed that the number of transistors on a single chip would double every 18 months.  It has been called “Moore’s law”, and has pretty much held true for the last 30 years.  If we are developing computing power that doubles every 18 months (not quite, but transistors are a proxy for this), then why do we expect our lives to be as they were 50 years ago.

Perhaps the days of working 40 hour work weeks are about done.  Many places have made the switch to 32 hour work weeks.  Are 20 hour work weeks in our future?

But what about the lost revenue?  What about the lost jobs?

As an undergraduate, I lost a job to automation.  I used to check student ID’s at one of the dorms at night.  I would stay up all night and just look at student IDs.  Eventually, a card swipe was installed on the building, and I was no longer needed for that role.  So what?  I found other work.

Jobs go away.   If our world is changing so quickly that Moore’s Law is followed, why do we go about employment the same way as our parents and grandparents did?

Fifteen years ago, there was no such thing as a “social media expert,” “Uber driver,” or grocery picker for curbside delivery.  100 years ago, there was someone who jammed wooden stakes into the wheels of the ore cars to slow them down.

The authors of these articles, and those who worry about their jobs being replaced by automation are short-sighted.  What job will these folks have?  I don’t know.  I know there are still problems in the world that need to be solved, and that those solutions will involve people at all skill levels.  I do know that those who resist change will be left behind.

If your job can be replaced by a machine…it should be!  And, it is happening, whether you adapt to a new job, or not!

 

 

For Show

June 15, 2017

I have a friend from high school.  We were great friends back in those days, and her and I even dated off an on for a while.  Now, I struggle to find time to meet with her and her husband, and when I do, I find myself having very little to talk about.

Jealousy, no.  It has more to do with how time passes and how people’s priorities change.  When we were in high school, we laughed and joked and played and had a great time.  Now, we find we have very little in common.  While she talks about her big house and wine tasting and other fancy things, I really have not much to say.  When I talk about working with students, gardening, and spending time on the road, she has nothing to say.

She did say to me, years ago, “What will people at your ten year reunion say?”  For years, that stuck with me, because I didn’t care what they said, and I certainly wasn’t going out of my way to attend the reunion in the first place.

While this blog is not designed to give life advice, it is designed to dive into my personal philosophies.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to do nothing for show.  Part of the way through my undergraduate education, I lost all of my friends.  My college relationship fell apart, and my friends were not supportive of me.  While they did not side with my ex, they associated with her much more closely, as they all did similar things.  I was totally alone.

However, that was when I gave up trying to be cool.  I rediscovered all of my childhood interests and pursued all of them.  I won’t say what they are, as I do want to maintain some degree of anonymity on this blog, and they are very specific, unique hobbies.  Some of them have had a giant impact on my career, and are continuing to open new doors for me.

It was way better than doing things for show.

Thank you for reading my rant…er, um, post.

The Gig Economy

May 12, 2017

In my parents’ day, a “good job” meant stability and working at the same place from the time you left your education until the time you retired.  Things were predictable, secure and safe.  One would perform a similar task (even in white-collar work) at the same time, in the same place.  In exchange for this task, this person would be compensated either hourly or yearly.

While there are some merits to this system, it no longer works quite the same as it did back then.  Today, companies change constantly.  The company you worked for five years ago probably changed names.  Sometimes, they split apart.  Sometimes, they merge.

Also, as we become more affluent, as a society, and more tasks become automated, more tasks can be done remotely.  Because of this, more workers can perform tasks from home, commuting on public transportation, or even while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Also, there is the issue of “dead-time” at work.  One of the most boring times at a job is when someone is between projects, but must maintain “butt-in-seat” time for a salaried job, or risk losing money by not clocking hours during an hourly job.  This is horribly inefficient.  We try to make manufacturing “just-in-time” so that product doesn’t sit in a warehouse.  Why should labor be different?

Some things will never move from shift work, and I am glad of that.  When my house is on fire, I am glad that there is a firefighter standing by, waiting for the call.  However, does a software engineer need to do this?

Really, the so-called “Gig-Economy” forces us to constantly innovate.  We have to develop new skills, and always look for the next thing.  Stagnation has no place in this economy.

In electronics, there is the concept of Moore’s Law, where the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles every 18 months in an exponential growth pattern.   Perhaps an exponential growth “Moore’s Law” accompanies us human beings.  A few generations ago, most people took their father’s profession, with very little change.  In the previous generation, people went to college and found a career.  Perhaps now, we all have many, smaller duration jobs.  Who knows what our kids will have.

And, ultimately, it is happening, like it or not.

Thank you for reading my post.

 

Why Baseball is Awesome

November 4, 2016

Baseball is a great sport.  I enjoyed the last game of the World Series, even though my team lost.

The neat part about baseball is while you are on defense, you learn the power of teamwork towards a common goal.  However, defense doesn’t win the game by itself.

Once on offense, you must stand alone, against nine defensive players. Nobody can help you.

It is the ultimate combination between teamwork and individual achievement.

Thank you for reading my post.

The Racism of White Privilege

February 12, 2016

I am so sick of hearing about “privilege.”  And, of course, nobody cares, because I am a fat, white, cis-gendered, straight guy from a nuclear family.

The notion of privilege is rooted in determinism; where one’s entire being is set in stone by their birth conditions or conditions out of his or her control.   It is to give up on the idea that one controls his or her own future, and says to this person that to try to change one’s circumstances is useless.

Advocates of “privilege” point to mounds of statistics where all manner of people are divided into non-essentials (race, gender, sexuality, birth circumstances, etc.) and the economic and society status of each group.

This is detrimental to those of the “underprivileged” group.  It preaches the clear message that there is no escape; no matter how hard you work, it will never be as good as having been born differently.  Why work to improve your circumstances?  It won’t matter anyhow.  Furthermore, it teaches the underprivileged group to devalue the privileged group, increasing the social divide between these groups.

It is also detrimental to those of the “privileged” group.  First, it is detrimental because even the privileged group did not decide their birth circumstances.  A white person can no more “decide” to be white than a black person can “decide” to be black.  Second, it degrades those who are perceived as privileged, but perhaps aren’t.

Those advocates can say that the value of a person is not to be judged by non-essentials.  Great, I agree.  However, in the very next breath, the mention of “privilege” says, “because you are (white, straight, cis-gendered, male, etc.), you have it easier, and I can tell this because of non-essentials.”

On the surface, I am of the most privileged class.  My parents helped me afford college.  I was never hungry.  I was fortunate.  However, I have never NOT held a job.  I have worked multiple jobs at a time since I had my first work permit.  During my college days, I often went to school full time during the day, and then worked full time during the nights and weekends.  I didn’t have a cell phone until I graduated college in 2005.  Every internship and every opportunity was one that I made.  Yes, I made them.  They did not exist before I showed up and made it work.  I fell asleep with a textbook on my chest almost every single night starting my sophomore year.  I never cheated on a single assignment; every F was mine, as was every A.  Most of my lunch breaks at work were spent writing essays or working through math or physics problems.   I went to only a handful of football games (even though my school had a very good football team) and only a few parties.  I don’t drink, and never have.

And for all my hard work, all of the countless hours awake, all of the assignments, time spent studying, the balancing of jobs and work- is all lost every time someone brings up my race, gender, family background or some other nonessential.  It’s a way of dismissing the effort I’ve put into making my life the way it is.

Is it fair to assume that classes are magically easier because a person is Asian?  Isn’t that just an ugly stereotype?  Why then, is it acceptable to assume that because I am white, that college was easy?  Why then, is it acceptable to assume that if I get lower grades than an “underprivileged” counterpart, that I must be lazy?

This is also not to downplay what work an underprivileged student experiences.  I have known plenty of single mothers who work miracles every day to succeed at college while raising their children.  I know plenty of people from varying ethnic backgrounds who had neither the resources nor the mentors to succeed at college- and did anyway.

All I am asking is the recognition that each person is an individual, complete with their own struggles and hardships.  Instead of pointing the finger at “who has it easiest,” why don’t we instead work together to understand what struggles we each have?  Instead of demanding that the “privileged” service the “underprivileged” or vice versa, why don’t we spend our time dealing with what is possible in each others’ lives and how to make it so?

Thank you for reading my post.

From Freedom to Slavery, by Gerry Spence

January 22, 2016

This book was most disappointing.  The title sounded promising, and Gerry Spence was the defense attorney for Randy Weaver.  For those of you who do not know, Randy Weaver was the separatist involved in the Ruby Ridge incident, which left his son, wife, and at least one federal officer dead, all over a shotgun barrel that was 1/4″ too short and a rescheduled trial.  During this trial, the FBI admitted to manufacturing evidence, withholding evidence, and shooting an unarmed woman while she held a baby.

There was plenty of abuses of power to write about during this trial.  However, only two chapters dealt with the trial.  The rest of the book was a long political rant about “Freedom from” which, by the way, is not really freedom.  He speaks of the “Tyranny of the Media” and the “Tyranny of Maleness” and several other topics where the end result is that capitalism is an evil religion.

Throughout the book he refers to corporations as “the New King” and says how man is enslaved to them, even though corporations are not real.  He proposes,instead that “the people” run everything; the media should be controlled by “the people.”  Which people?  Anyone claiming to be the people, I guess.  He gives examples such as “Black people” and “the teachers’ unions.”  Anyone claiming to speak for more than themselves.

He also has one chapter (“Tyranny of Viewpoint”) where he argues that trees and animals get to have a say in the way government is run, just like corporations do.

He claims that the free-market is a religion, one that enslaves everyone and convinces them that they are free.  What anti-technology, anti-capitalists have in common is their need-based standard of values.  Rather than swapping value for value, they believe that need IS the standard of value, and that by simply needing something, it should appear.

An infant can do this; a baby has no choice, and lives by the graces of his or her parents.  In this case, the value that is swapped is love and care from the parents for the happiness that the child brings, and will continue to bring in the future.  Those who believe in a need-based system of values expect to be cared for like infants for the rest of their lives.  However, as an infant swaps some value for value, a crackhead may not.  A thief, a drunkard, a bum, they may not.  We are expected to care for them anyway, and give them whatever they need.

Their claim is that they deserve freedom; freedoms that do not exist.  “Freedom from hunger” or “freedom from cold.”  At whose expense?  Food must come from somewhere.  Somewhere, someone has to labor for that food.  If this person is not willing to give it freely, how does it get distributed such that everyone is “free from hunger?”  I’ll tell you how- force.

Overall, this book was terrible.  I finished it out of determination for completion, and for no other reason.

Thank you for reading my post, and don’t bother with reading this book.  I give it two middle fingers up.