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?