Wednesday, June 29, 2011

CHOICE: Either/Or... What about choice Both or Depends?

Empiricism is great when you need to demonstrate certain realities to the unthinking mind. You collect facts, you compare items with each other to determine their differences and their commonalities. You measure the weight of gold, you measure the running speed of a tiger, you measure how much oxygen is depleted during a fire, and on and on.... Then we conclude that we can measure humanity the same way. What is the population count, how many people are working, how many are working in a field with immediately measurable results like manufacturing cars vs those who have less measurable results like producing art?

Empiricism is a tool best left in the hands of the thinker and not in the hands of the unthinking mind. What happens is that the unthinking mind believes that reality is only what can be measured or predicted through calculated measurements like statistics. We then see this in bureaucracies that give out questionnaires to a diverse public who often don't fit the categories presented.

Imagine that before Empirical research, people spoke only in terms of black and white. The thinker needed to demonstrate the reality of color and was able to introduce red and green, so empiricism was born. The problem today is that we have replaced a world of black and white with a world of red and green; we are convinced that red and green is better than black and white. Reality is a full basket of colors including black and including white. So imagine the frustration of the bureaucrat who asks the question "red or green" and receives the answer yellow from the citizen.

Some nations will insist "yellow" is just another word for green and will use the empirical tool to measure this and prove that yellow has many elements of green. Another nation or another group of scientists will insist that "yellow" is just a modified version of red. In the end, the unthinking mind will only see red or green and deny the existence of "yellow".... the unthinking classical adherent will not do a better job because he will either say that "yellow" is really white or will see that it isn't quite white so it must therefore be black.

Our statistics and bureaucracies can only measure what they see and try to fit what they don't understand into categories that can be labeled and measured. Politicians make decisions based upon these flawed measurements and statisticians predict trends on the "red" and "green".

From the thinker's perspective, decisions are made in such a way that when the politician is stuck on a rowboat with a hole causing the boat to sink, the statistician informs the politician that the sinking can be slowed down if the boat has less weight (which is true, but is only part of the problem; plugging the hole would stop the sinking altogether but statistics will never deduce that). The politician hears this so he orders that we throw all our buckets overboard to slow down the sinking of the boat (buckets can be heavy, don't you know), he hopes that the sinking will slow down long enough to be re-elected.... and he gets re-elected because the measurements show that the boat was sinking at a slower rate.

30 years later we are in 2011 and the boat is sinking quickly.... water which accumulates creates weight. The politician is left with little choice but to throw out the undesirables of society from the boat..... hence we cut social programs. Did we just throw overboard tomorrow's Einstein by cutting the educational program? Did we just throw the people who row the boat overboard because they complained that they couldn't row anymore ever since we threw away the paddles; and then replaced them with people who are willing to use their hands to row by using back to work legislation?

Wait! There is news about cutting funding for the artists and the sportsman.... we are now throwing those who inspire us to work harder overboard!!! In 30 years the politician will wonder why the boat no longer moves as quickly as it did in the 1980s. The thinker will point out that they got rid of the heavy paddles, they got rid of skilled rowers, they got rid of those who inspire us to work harder. The unthinking empiricist will scoff and prove that the reason the boat moves slower is that it has taken in more water and is sinking more so we need to throw out even more people to slow the sinking until we reach some unknown port. The thinker will be ignored when he points out that the water would not have accumulated so much if we had kept the buckets, that we would have moved further if we would have kept the paddles.... He will be ignored because it doesn't fit the "red/green" reality of the unthinking mind.

If the thinker was given the power and the authority, he could eventually find a way to find the hole in the boat and then find a way to plug this hole. But Plato has said much the same thing so many years ago and we still refuse to allow the thinker to do his contribution and we delegate the thinker to the confines of the weird or non-conformist and occasionally society is lucky to have allowed an Einstein to enter society's ranks in a somewhat limited fashion.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mismanagement of Funds

Spend to Save

We laugh at governments because they have the tendency of spending a quarter in order to save a penny and we all know enough examples from our own personal lives that I don't need to present any more here. Businesses are almost as bad because they have the tendency of spending a dime in order to save a nickel, just find the comic Dilbert to see examples of that.... again we have witnessed this mismanagement in business either directly or indirectly so I don't need to bring out more examples. What I would like to propose is that we spend a loonie in order to save a twonie (Canadian money: loonie is 1$ and twonie is 2$).

Of course the difference between a business and a government is that the government money is guaranteed to come in while the business has to look really nice to receive someone's money.... but both will waste their money needlessly. Both will refuse to spend necessary money because they fear the consequence of wasteful spending but will continue to waste money because they are trying to save money. Its ironic, but its true, they are afraid to go out and plant the seed in the garden because they will lose the seed and they spend all their time trying to increase the nutritious content of the seed that they refuse to plant, in the end they spend more energy and receive little to no return on the seed compared to having planted the seed and receiving a decent harvest after a period of rest while the plant grows all on its own.

How do we do this? Well I will use a fictitious example which could be applied with almost every conceivable product out there including cleaning products to clean the floors of your business. Lets look at computers, now governments look at reducing the deficit while corporations look at maximizing profits but the logic is the same; if they are offered a choice between a PC computer costing $1000 a unit and a MAC computer costing $2000 a unit, then they will both go for the cheaper $1000 PC. Why? Because the government is trying to save $1000 to pay for the deficit and the corporation is trying to get $1000 more in profit.

So lets look at the hypothetical results of such thinking:

Year 1

Government George and Corporate Charlie are happy because they saved their employer $1000 while Spend-smart Sam has spent $1000 more than his competitors because he bought the MAC. Time goes by and we discover that the PC has to have constant maintenance which costs about $100 per day per unit wile the MAC has to have about $100 per week in maintenance per unit. PC constantly needs to be upgraded because they released the product before it was truly ready to have the jump on its competitors and each upgrade takes about an hour per week. The MAC needs to be upgraded as well because the need to improve an already decent product is part of their philosophy but they require an hour per month to upgrade.

At the end of the year, Government George and Corporate Charlie have spent a total of $37 500 per unit and lost 52 productive hours per unit. Meanwhile Spend-smart Sam has spent a total of $7200 per unit and lost 12 productive hours per unit (but in reality Spend-smart Sam bought double the number of computers needed than his competitors and scheduled the maintenance in such a way that he only lost an average of 6 productive hours per unit).

Government George then had to spend a $10 000 study to understand the cost impact of computers and why it was necessary. The recommendations done to Government George included the acquisition of MAC computers but he had no money in his budget to spend on that recommendation so he ignored the best advice and took the cheapest advice, only use half the computers available to schedule the maintenance around it to reduce the average loss of productive hours by half, but unlike Spend-smart Sam, he had one computer per worker so that while half the computers were off-line, the workload did not decrease and the employees had nothing to do and in the end they lost an average of 104 productive hours per unit. Government George ignored the rest of the recommendations because he thought it was foolishness and the next year another $10 000 study confirmed that workers who did not have computers to use could not be productive.

Corporate Charlie decided to divide the computers into two categories, spare parts and actual computers. So 50% of the computers would be the spare parts of the other 50% and they could try to average out a loss of 50 productive hours instead of 52 hours per unit and since they no longer had computers for each employee, they laid off 50% of their workforce and encouraged the remaining ones to produce the same output. When Government George saw that this worked much better than his solution, he was going to try to imitate it on his own end.

Year 2

On year 2, MAC and PC both had a new and better product available. Well Government George had already spent so much on the computer budget and was going to eventually use less computers, he decided to keep the current computers, after all he had to worry about the deficit and couldn't afford to buy new computers. Corporate Charlie decided to buy a few PCs to replace 10% of its currently used computers and continually upgrade each year so that they could be completely upgraded in 10 years. Spend-smart Sam decided to replace his entire network and he donated his previous year's computers to a local school. The MAC and PC cost the same as last year's model. So again, Spend-smart Sam spent more than his competitors on purchasing new computers.

Government George had to spend more for upkeep because the computers would break down more often and the parts were no longer being made so Government George would spend 3 times more per unit than the previous year but the upgrades became less frequent so that they didn't lose as much in lost hours of productivity.....

Corporate Charlie had to spend $3000 to integrate old technology with new and managed to use older software with new machines so that they also avoided the lost productive hours in upgrades, and their spare parts from unused computers helped in reducing costs. Since they didn't use the latest software, their newer computers could cost less than the usual $1000 because they weren't up to date with the latest software.

Spend-smart Sam increased the speed of his entire production by 20% in direct comparison with his competitors because he had the latest software with the latest hardware, he was getting a reputation so people were ready to buy his product because it was such high quality and done quicker.

After 10 years

Fast-forward 10 years and you can see how much money was truly spent in the long run.... Government George still has his old computers, he keeps buying outdated computers at $100 per unit but he spends 1000 times more on upkeep and can't afford the $30 000 to overhaul his system to the newest technology. Corporate Charlie has managed to offset his complete loss by having 10% of the original workforce and having the technology of 3 years ago, he keeps losing customers to Spend-smart Sam but he is still making a profit because he is buying less computers and reducing more staff and still managing to produce the same amount.... the products fall apart in the customer's hands because they are so cheap but the cost of production has been reduced while the price has been maintained lower than his competitors.

Spend-smart Sam is now successful and has been bought out by Take-over Tom and he wants to make a profit with his new acquisition because he sees the success of this business..... The first thing Take-over Tom does is to buy PCs for the next year so that he gets his quick-fix profit, later he will sell it to Corporate Charlie or file for bankruptcy to get Government George to bail out such a successful company from disintegrating.

So what now?

This fictional story pretends that MAC is so much better than PC, I will let genuine users argue amongst themselves as to the accuracy of this (or the inaccuracy).... the point I wanted to make was that spending more will save you more in the long run as long as you spend smart and that if you spend less today, you will have to spend more tomorrow. Using the deficit as an excuse to avoid spending money is like wanting to build a house around a plant to protect it from strong winds while blocking out the sunlight when the better solution would be to plant hundreds of trees nearby which will eventually grow into a natural barrier and protect the same plant while the trees produce an added benefit.

Also, using profit as a motive is also foolishness because if you avoid spending smart you will make less profit than your competitor who has decided to spend. Starving yourself will mean that you have more food than your neighbor but you will also be unable to produce in comparison to your neighbor? Why is Europe outproducing North America? Well they work less, have more vacation time and worry about happiness instead of money while we work more, reduce our vacation time and worry about money instead of happiness. We are starving ourselves to have more food and we are unable to farm our land because we have no energy while the Europeans don't worry about farming or food and play while they farm and they eat very well without pressure.

So I propose the solution of spending more because we can't afford not to, but I want our spending to be smart-spending not blind-spending. Paying a quarter to save a penny is wasteful (like Government George) and paying a dime to save a nickel is almost as wasteful (like Corporate Charlie), but spending the loonie to save a twonie is brilliant (like Spend-smart Sam).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Census Issues No One Wants To Consider

Canada has had a long version of the census which was distributed to Canadians on the basis of one household out of five. This long form was obligatory and only 3 complaints were ever recorded on the intrusiveness of this long version. Today we are discussing how we will transform this by making the long form completely voluntary and distribute it to Canadians on the basis of one household out of three.

Voluntary versus Obligatory

Anyone with an inkling of how statistics are processed knows that a voluntary basis of acquiring information is the most flawed methodology you can imagine. Those who are predisposed to answer may also be introverted chess players who love to fill out long forms and will express how we don't have a national program to teach chess in kindergarten while the extroverted hockey fan would rather be outside playing street hockey with his friends instead of filling out such boring statistics and then wonder why the national hockey budget has been cut by half to help fund some chess for toddlers competition.

This issue has been discussed in the news but not thoroughly explained. We are told that its "bad" for voluntary census forms and that we should enforce compliance with jail terms for those who refuse to do their civic obligation. I suspect there is a reason why we are not told the "why" its bad.... more on that in a few paragraphs.

Is it intrusive?

Another issue that has been discussed is the intrusiveness of the information gathered. Even though only three recorded complaints on that issue have been revealed to us we are claiming that this is the worry of the government and this is why we make the long form voluntary. If the government was truly worried about intrusive questions and how they are recorded and used by others perhaps they should look into private corporations who probably have better specific information on very specific issues on most of us.

With the right hacker, an astute psychologist and your Airmiles number I can tell you what kind of person you are based upon your purchases in the past 5 years. Do you really believe that the coupon you received in the mail last week addressed to you personally was sent out to everyone else on your street? Do you really believe that 1 airmiles point for the information you provide to marketing statistics causes them a loss or do you realize that they make a profit from your information freely given through manipulation?

The government may be untrustworthy on handling some information but I would trust a corporation even less on most issues. Again, this issue of intrusive questions and what is done with the information was also dealt with in the news but not nearly as thoroughly as they could have gone and with the wrong target. Statistics Canada is probably more worried about security of its data and personal information being linked to any specific individual than lets say (hypothetically) Costco with your purchasing habits. But we don't really want the news to tell us what to really worry about, do we?

Probable Issues

There has been a situation in the last census where a group of like-minded individuals were communicated virally through email and internet chats with instructions to deliberately lie on their long version of the census. Apparently they obeyed because from one census to the next we had an illogical turn of events. People who were bilingual suddenly unlearned their second language, being English, and were only able to speak French. This set of instructions had the purpose to force the Federal Government to place more money in specific programs to insure that the French had services in their mother tongue. They used the census form to manipulate government policy. This part has been ignored by the news.

Now as much as I agree that making the long form a voluntary issue is bad for statistical studies, it is nonetheless great to witness who answers the voluntary form and see if they are also using the census to manipulate government policy. If all the bagpipers of Canada are instructed to mention in their long form how they have nowhere to practice their loud music and no one else bothers to fill in their voluntary census.... then we will see that this group is trying to manipulate the government in granting them parks specifically to play the bagpipes.

I know bagpipes are not really something to worry about, how about a cultural group or a religious group who instructs their members to lie so that their group can receive genuine concessions? It has already happened with one linguistic group.... that we know of. It is not unusual to think that a minority cultural or religious group to try a similar tactic. The voluntary form would spot this quite easily because they would all fill out the form above and beyond the average Canadian. So this would not give us an accurate picture of Canadians but it would give us an accurate picture of which social groupings are attempting to manipulate government policy.

Now before someone accuses me of being unfair against A or B or C..... If any of us were part of a minority no matter what it is.... we would be tempted to use this tool of lying to get an extra advantage.... and if you are part of a truly exceptional minority where you would not lie then you must also realize how rare you are because your very neighbors don't have this same exceptional quality of being truthful as you..... and if you deny that then you are just lying to yourself.

Do we drop the entire census because we are afraid that a few would lie? Not at all, this may be an interesting short term solution as we develop a better methodology to track immoral instructions to lie on census forms. Will this throw back Statistics Canada with inaccurate information? Which is better, knowing the info is flawed because the gathering methods are flawed or believing the info is accurate when we don't know if there was a deliberate intention to misrepresent answers? Too bad we are not discussing this issue openly and rationally amongst an educated electorate.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oil Rigs, Technology and Accountability

What we have here is a situation perpetrated by a leadership that would immediately fire subordinates who did the same kind of mistake in the function of their jobs. And yet, no one is arrested for negligence, the owners are not stripped of their property, the managers/directors are not fired from their positions.

If you lived in an apartment and caused such a disaster, you would be arrested immediately. If you owned a house and caused such a disaster, your property would be seized immediately. If you were a superintendent of an apartment complex and your decision caused this kind of disaster, you would be fired immediately. I guess if you are rich, you can get away with murder.

Problem 1
Oil rigs in North America do not have to have a specific safety valve unless they are being built in the Arctic. This is nonsensical, if the technology exists for extra safety, why do we make it an optional device? Imagine, cars sold to rich people will have airbags and safety belts while cars sold to poor people will only have a basic plastic frame with no airbags and no safety belts. Houses sold to rich people will have locks on their doors and windows, apartments rented by poor people will have the option of doors and windows if they pay extra..... even more so if you want to have locks on them. The Arctic will have safety valves because the environment is more precious over there than elsewhere.

Pour some salt on the injury and insult the the wounded: Before the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, oil companies were trying to convince the government to allow them to build oil rigs without safety valves in the Arctic because no one had ever had an accident in the other oil rigs in the other areas of North America. Why are they even allowed to propose this in a rational setting? Imagine a group of engineers asking permission to build bridges which can fall apart during a windstorm because the wind "rarely" blows above 50 miles per hour and they want to save on material costs.

Problem 2
We build a technological wonder because we can and because it can bring us some material benefits but we don't have any way of correcting any disaster if something dangerous happens. Imagine building a 20 floor building with 3 outstanding elevators but no stairs. Oh dear, a fire has struck the building, how will the people get out with the electricity cut? Or imagine that you buy the most technologically advanced car that no one can repair if it ever breaks down..... and your engine has just spurt its last spurt....

The oil companies that have built this oil rig did not have included in its design plans ways to circumvent problems that could arise. So when the widget, that did not have its safety valve, finally exploded and caused all this oil to come gushing out... no one had a clue how to stop it because nothing was designed into the system for such an accident. And yet somehow, we continued to build oil rigs without A)safety valves and B)without corrective devices to limit accidental damages. These people who allow this have a higher salary than most of us? Why?

Problem 3
Twenty odd days later and accumulating, we still haven't found a way to stop this oil spill. The main oil company who is responsible for this is enthusiastically informing us that they will cover the expenses of the cleanup and pay damages incurred. Are you telling me that they are insinuating that they actually have a choice to refuse to pay the cleanup cost and the damages? Imagine the drunk driver proudly proclaiming that he will submit himself to a criminal trial for having hit a passerby with his vehicle while drunk and that he will pay for any medical expenses that the victim suffered. And the experts who love to criticize politicians for any wrongdoings turn and agree with each other that the oil company should be applauded for taking responsibility.

The engineers still have no idea how to solve this situation..... Before implementing a technology into our world, should we not have spent time in determining how to correct potential problems like this one? Imagine sending humans to the Moon and forgetting that we have to find a way to bring them back to Earth and we try to solve that problem after the humans have landed on the Moon and want to come back.

Problem 4
"We did not fail to stop the leak, we just did not succeed in our attempt to correct the problem." and only John Stewart or Stephen Colbert can mock the individuals who said those statements at the latest attempts to stop the gushing oil leak which is currently destroying our environment? Why are the journalists and the politicians so polite with these individuals who make obviously self-contradictory statements and who admit that they have no immediate solutions to the problems that they created?

Would a boss tolerate an employee that says "I did not arrive late, I just did not arrive in the time scheduled."? Note that this fictional employee is transforming the language of responsibility from himself to the boss. If the employee admits being late, then he is responsible for this action. If the employee can convince the boss that his arrival did not fit the scheduled time then it is the schedule which is at fault and not the employee.... hence it is the boss who invented the schedule who should be responsible in accommodating the employee's arrival. Well if we don't tolerate this from the majority of the population, why are we tolerating it from its supposed leaders?

This entire situation is yet another example of rushing in somewhere without thinking of the consequences. Capitalism wants you to move without thinking so that you can get the profit before the slow guy next to you. Capitalism works if you are a small owner and the extent of your ownership is a family farm. Capitalism can not work with technology that can manipulate our genetic structure, technology that can transform an environment as easily as a volcano and with ownership structures that surpass political nations.

We have allowed money to dictate to us our moral standards. If we can save money to make more profit then we are successful. Explosion in an oil rig? oops, just a temporary "financial" setback..... we will just throw money at some engineer to fix the problem and throw money to clean up the spill and then we will continue to make profit tomorrow.

Our current capitalism will cost us more in the long term for a short term benefit. Consumers can not solve this problem, Citizens can solve this problem. Put Capitalism under the complete control of Democracy before Capitalism buys out our Democracy from under us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Logic, Evolution and Sexual Harassment

Occasionally we read different things from different areas of study and we wonder how all of it can be combined into an interesting whole? Or do we throw it out into some forgotten hole?

Basic Logic
Ok, so the basics of logic teach you that if every premise is true within an argument form and the argument form is a valid form, then the conclusion must be true. We get a fact like A is equal to B being premise 1. We get a fact like B is equal to C being premise 2. We conclude that A must be equal to C. If premise 1 is true and premise 2 is true, then the conclusion must be true. This very paragraph is an example of a valid argument form, and if you want to know what makes an argument form valid or invalid I would recommend taking a class in logic to get the very best info.

I can give you one example of an invalid argument. We get a fact that A is equal to B as being the first premise. We get a fact that B is equal to C as premise 2. We conclude that A is equal to D. This would be classified as an invalid argument form. Even if premise 1 and 2 are true, the conclusion can not be expected to be true because it is not a valid argument form. Many times we are presented with argument forms through rhetoric and the argument forms are not always valid but we are expected to accept them as valid and make decisions about them. The use of statistics can be abused in such a fashion. The point is to be astute in one's observation.

Evolutionary Psychology
Now I do not claim to be an expert in the field of evolutionary psychology so I am not necessarily familiar with the latest developments in that field and I know that in any theory, you will have those who agree and those who disagree and both sides will have their scientific evidence. Just look at how light was perceived by 19th century physicists. Some believed light was a bunch of rays and others believed that light was a bunch of particles and they both had their evidence. Turns out that they were both correct, light is supposedly rays AND particles. My point is that knowledge is constantly "evolving" pardon the pun.... and evolutionary psychology will have proposed theories which will be modified and refined as the years go by.

One of the premises that has come out recently in evolutionary psychology is that the human male is very dependent upon his visual organ to determine his sexual partner. What he looks for is irrelevant for my argument, the fact that the visual is the main tool is what is important to my premise. Apparently, some research has demonstrated that when the male visually sees what stimulates him, his brain produces pleasure responses similar to that of cocaine. Ok, again I have no idea how true this premise is..... This is something that can be debated amongst the evolutionary psychologists. For the purposes of my argument, we are assuming this is true.

So the human male needs to see something that stimulates him sexually and to propagate the species. This could explain why photographic pornographic material is so successful with a male customer base and the more literary material is more successful for the female customer. But I don't want to deviate my focus away from the male in this blog, suffice it to say the visual keeps the male "stimulated".

Sexual Harassment
Well we all know that sexual harassment is unwanted sexual advances from an unwanted partner. If the male requires visual stimulation to be attracted to his partner, what happens if he does not wish to receive visual stimulation from an unwanted partner? Advertising on television that shows the scantily clad individual to attract the vision of its male audience, huge posters on billboards that show a visually stimulating image for the male audience and the strategically placed inserts inside a magazine that one must turn to continue reading whatever article being read, all of these examples are probably unwanted visual stimulation which tease the male visual sexual drive with no possibility of release.

"Just don't look." becomes synonymous with "She should not have worn such a short skirt." If the woman is allowed to wear what she wants without being harassed sexually, then the man should be able to walk down a street without seeing such billboards in his face, or watch television without having to "fastforward" every circumstance, or even read his magazine without having to worry what comes on the next page.

Besides, before he can determine for himself whether or not he should look or not, he must realize what he is looking at in the first place. If he decides that he does not want to look, well its too late, the damage is done. Just like the woman who is approached by an undesirable advance, once the approach has happened, the damage is done. If she wants to be approached by strangers in such a way, she has the option to go to a singles bar. She does not want to be approached in the same way at her work or walking in the park with her friends.

We believe that a woman should not have to suffer sexual harassment just because she wore a skirt. If the man is stimulated visually, should he not be in control of what he looks at? The billboard, the television commercial and the magazine ad don't give him that choice, they ambush his visual response and create this stimulation which the male may not want to receive.

--So if "the male vision stimulates his sexual desires" is true.
--If "the male is ambushed by advertising campaigns to attract his attention with sexually stimulating images" is true.
--If "the male is not particularly interested in being sexually stimulated by that image at that moment in time" is true.
--If the premise of: [if the argument "women should not suffer sexual harassment based on their clothing choices" is acceptable then the argument "men should not suffer sexual harassment based on their inadvertent glance at some advertising aimed at them" should also be acceptable] is true.
--Then the conclusion "that the human male is victim of sexual harassment by visually stimulating advertisements" must be true.

Now is this morally or ethically wrong? Well logic never really determines morality or ethics so that would be a matter for a different blog. But this is an interesting area for further consideration. Naturally this topic is meant to stimulate a debate, not to impose a specific point of view..... Perhaps the human male enjoys ALL visual stimulation and would never dare avoid the advertising, after all, if the visual stimulation gives a high similar to a cocaine high (legally) what male would rationally want to take away one of his pleasures? Bring on more advertising? But then again, does this become the beginning of slavery through pleasure?

Lose your adult status for more chocolate, which a child enjoys even more than an adult, get even more chocolate if you now avoid your vegetables (which a child will now readily agree)..... and then the body breaks down because no more vitamins. Where is society in that metaphor? Are we the society that just traded in our vegetables for more chocolate? Yay to visual stimulation! I would rather enjoy my chocolate in moderation.... as an adult where I choose when to eat my chocolate, but maybe I am in the minority?

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Apology from a Pope

The Problem

During the past 50 years people have complained about priests sexually abusing them. The current pope has offered an apology. The wronged party is not satisfied with the apology. Neither am I.

First, the apology focuses upon Ireland. What about the abuses done in Canada, the United States, Australia, Brazil, need I go on with all the other countries? Seems like a trend and nothing is being done to address this issue nor to acknowledge that it is a huge problem. If the apology sticks with one country it may distract from the bigger problem. Afraid of showing dirty laundry to the public? Apologizing for the one dirty linen found on the ground by the public and hoping the basket full of dirty clothes goes unnoticed?

Second, I believe there are two crimes that were done here, the abuse itself being crime 1 and the denial of any wrongdoing up until recently being crime 2. What is the most frustrating thing for a victim than to be disbelieved and then attempting to describe the crime in its graphic details to then be ignored and shunned by the leadership of the church because the story is just not believed?

Claimant-->You have dirty clothes in your laundry basket.
Reluctant Apologizer-->We wear clean clothes.
Claimant-->I saw Criminal A put one dirty sock in that closed basket.
Reluctant Apologizer-->Please describe this dirty sock.
Claimant-->It was red, its easy to find, just open the basket and you will see it.
Reluctant Apologizer-->Did anyone else see Criminal A put this red sock in the basket?
Claimant-->I have no idea and I don't care, look in the basket and you will see for yourself.
Reluctant Apologizer-->Well Criminal A denies having put his red sock in the basket. Are you sure that it was our basket? You may be confused. Are you sure it was his sock and not someone else's sock, maybe your own?
Claimant-->Look in the bloody basket, the one with the initials of your organization and find the red sock with the initials of its owner on the sock and you will see.
Reluctant Apologizer-->Well it may take time to go through all of our baskets and all of the clothes found therein, we will get back to you.

months go by and Claimant meets Frustrated who shares his story of having seen Criminal A put his green dirty shirt in the laundry basket and that Reluctant Apologizer took down his statement and never got back. Both decide to ask around and see if anyone else has seen anything and they both discover that several have had similar experiences, it goes public.

Reluctant Apologizer-->Well we have concluded our investigation and we wish to apologize for the red sock and the green shirt, not to worry Criminal A will no longer have access to that particular laundry basket.
Claimant-->What else was in the laundry basket? Why is it still hidden? Why are you only acknowledging the red sock and the green shirt?
Frustrated-->Yes, and also what about the fact that you ignored and disbelieved us until we took matters into our own hands and began to organize? Lastly, why is Criminal A only being blocked on one laundry basket.... shouldn't he be blocked from all of your other ones as well?
Reluctant Apologizer-->Well we will offer Criminal A to an outside justice system so that we do not need to answer your other concerns, would that be acceptable?
Claimant-->That may be nice, but what about Criminal B? One of my friends saw him put dirty pants in some other laundry basket.
Reluctant Apologizer-->If your friend comes in, I will be happy to ignore her details and repeat the same nonsense I did with you two and then we will apologize for Criminal B's behavior once we can no longer stall and hide.

What should be done

The leadership spent a lot of resources to hide the crime and to discourage the victims from receiving any comfort. I can understand being cautiously skeptical and investigating any allegation but when you see a phenomenon that crosses national borders and that unrelated people all seem to be giving identical details about a crime you border on the ridiculous if you stall in your investigation and tell the victim that the aggressor denies the allegations.

Does the Roman Catholic Church really believe that admission of a crime is the first instinct of a criminal? I can understand that dirty laundry is preferable to be kept in one's family but we are talking about burnt clothing not about some priest who doodles on a notepad while hearing someone's confession. We are talking about a priest who takes advantage of his trustworthy position to satisfy himself sexually not about some priest who thinks people on welfare should work in hard labor camps and occasionally writes about his opinions to his peers.

Dirty laundry is normal, burnt laundry is not. The leadership who stalled and ignored the problem should apologize for trying to hide the crime and then resign from their positions of leadership. Forgiving does not imply ignoring the crime, forgiveness is acknowledging the crime and still having a relationship with the criminal. A parent who sees his child stealing from a store owner won't ignore it but will have his child face responsibility of his actions and still be there as a parent. A parent who sees that his child steals and then tries to hide this fact from the victim is not doing his family name any favors nor is he helping his child.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Art, Humanities and Business

Ways of Seeing

No generic criticism in this blog, just a comparison on ways of seeing the world. Neither of the three ways of seeing the world should replace the others although perhaps some are a bit more noble than the others. Looking at an elephant from the front with a telescope at 100 yards may be better than seeing the same elephant while on his back with a magnifying glass. But the telescope won't give you the details that the close-up look will give you and the magnifying glass dude won't realize that he's on the back of an elephant until its too late. Of course these 3 ways of seeing this metaphorical elephant are not the only ways to see either. I will just limit myself to three in this blog.

The problem that I often encounter is that the telescope guy thinks he is superior to the magnifying glass dude and vice versa and they don't bother sharing what they have discovered to each other. Secondly, sometimes they attempt to impose their way of doing things to the rest of us as if their way of seeing is the only true way of seeing. There really is only one way of seeing something, but the magnifying glass alone won't cut it, neither will the telescope alone. It has to be these ways combined and a bit of judgment to determine the true object of one's study.

The telescope guy may be convinced that he is looking at a horse while the magnifying glass dude is convinced that he is on top of a tiger. Combine both pieces of information and a bit of judgment and you see what it truly is: a zebra. Unfortunately we don't really do any of this because our capitalist mindset encourages us to specialize into distinct areas of knowledge. Specialization does have its benefits but as in the above example, having some generalists who see the whole picture can also have its benefits. I just find it sad that we go to the extreme of what capitalism teaches when it is self-evident that capitalism at an extreme is quite flawed at best and just plainly wrong at worst.

I now want to show hypothetical examples of how the disciplines of art, humanities and business present a certain set of information onto a public. It is encouraging when each distinct view has equal access to the public eye even if the generalist view is not presented; but unfortunately, some distinct views get more airtime than others. The topic is how to be more understanding of blind people and to allow better services for them as part of government or charitable expenses. How does the film arts scholar present the info, how does the communications scholar present the info and lastly, how does the marketing scholar present the info.

Fine Arts

"Its all about art baby!", this is the mantra of the arts guy. So we want to have people understand about blind people and what they go through? No problem, we will make a five minute film in blackness with the sounds of walking all over the place, but with no visuals, just a black screen! The audience will be disoriented as they hear all sorts of sounds of traffic and walking and see a completely black screen during the entire 5 minutes! Art!!! yeah!

Communication Studies

"What is the message?", this is the question that the humanities guy asks himself. Ok so we want to have an individual walking with his cane on the street as cars pass by and have someone come up to him speaking about directions of how to get to a place using visual cues. We then switch to a point of view shot where the audience is seeing the person speaking and pointing to different locations but we hear no sounds, then we switch to a black screen and hearing the person explaining about visual cues and saying things like: "just go down there where I am pointing and...." then we switch back to a 3rd person viewpoint and have a written statement explaining that the blind person is missing one of his senses and could not even be reading this text and that we should realize this instead of continuing in our usual ways of doing things. That would convey the message we want to give.


"We all know that sex sells.", this is the down-to-earth statement for the business guy. Alright, some guy with a cane is walking down the street and is tripped by some handsome looking guy. A sexy looking lady comes out and yells at the handsome guy for being a child and the sexy looking lady dressed in revealing clothing bends down to help the blind guy up and says that he can see her heart so he is better than the handsome guy. 30 seconds and we saved money because we shot on video instead of expensive film for 5 minutes. Make sure that we use the remaining money in our budget to saturate the television channels with our commercial.


Which of the above three is the best way to transmit the info? Neither is better than the other, we need all three. If one of the above methods replaces any of the other two or both, then we are in danger of seeing life in only one way and that won't help us get to the truth of anything. Once truth is in danger, lies will be easier to manipulate our democratic population.

For democratic society to be preserved, we need to guarantee that market forces won't dictate that the easy message will have precedence over the sophisticated message. We need to make sure that the specialist is not the only one to speak nor is one specialist favored over any other. We need to encourage generalists, those who have an over-arching view of things.