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I am a recovering idealist 13 August 2011

Posted by splait in entitlement, Integrity, Lack of Integrity, Uncategorized.
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I read the book and loved it.  MBH and I went to see the movie today, and I loved it, too.  However, both the book and the movie made me very, very mad and sad.

The Help is an amazing story, set during the height of the civil rights movement.  I was living in the D.C. suburbs of Virginia at the time.  I read about it all, but I truly didn’t understand what it meant.  I didn’t see the bigotry where I lived.  Northern Virginia might as well have been on another planet.

Why would white people treat others so badly just because they were a different color?  (This question is posed by a Jew who had been through much Sunday School at the time and was taught about prejudice – we’re talking the Pharaohs of Egypt and Nazi Germany here.)  I just didn’t get it.

Still don’t, really.

So the movie made me mad and sad.  While I’m glad that I didn’t live in the South at the time (MBH did, and she has told me stories), I wish I had been old enough to join the Freedom Riders.  Those folk had the right stuff.

Having said all that, if you (all three of you in the US) haven’t read the book, pick up a copy.  If you have read it, go see the movie.  The book comes to life.

Ron Howard’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, deserves an Academy Award nomination.  She plays the incredibly bigoted villain of the piece, Hilly.  Hilly rules Jackson, MS with a white, iron hand.  She’s about as despicable a person as you’ll ever meet.

Emma Stone plays Skeeter, the lead, almost exactly the way I pictured her while reading the book.  I hadn’t heard of Ms. Stone until about a week ago, when MBH and I saw Crazy, Stupid, Love.  That’s another movie I enjoyed.

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer ARE Aibilene and Minny.  It was also good seeing Cicely Tyson as Constantine, the woman who raised Skeeter.  All three are outstanding actresses who gave their all for this movie.

Go see it.  You men see it, too.

So, back to the title of this post.

Being an idealist is hard.  It has probably always been hard, throughout human history.  I live in a country that, at one time, was considered the best in the world.  I still think it’s the best place to live, but I watch the new “racial” prejudice, Right vs. Left, and neither gives a damn about Middle.  It plays out in a similar way*, and it’s sad.  Polarization is never good, and it is killing us.

I don’t get it.

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* – Before anyone raises Cain about this statement, I know the two are not the same, and I don’t mean to imply that they are.  However, I believe there are some strong similarities.  Want to discuss that?

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Does emotion trump science, or even “common” sense? 31 July 2011

Posted by splait in corruption, Criminals, entitlement, Grrrrrrrrrr!, Lack of Integrity, Uncategorized.
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There is an ongoing debate raging over climate change (GW – global warming) and whether or not human beings are effecting it to the negative.  A recent article on the Fortune website by a creationist scientist (how is it even possible that that term exists?) referring to a single study saying that scientists are wrong about GW has inflamed the rhetoric tossing again on both sides of the argument.  It doesn’t help that the guy who wrote the op-ed piece used inflammatory terms in his writing.  He is trying to incite his readers.

The article has been deconstructed on several sites and shown to be incorrect in many places.  MLB (my little brother) has written a post about it, and there have been many comments.

I posted a comment there that I am repeating here, because I think it’s important to say (at least it is to me):

“Just like in politics and customer service, those who scream the loudest win, while the rest of us (and our children) have to live with the remains of a despoiled Earth.

I’ve read several posts here which state something very similar to, “I want proof that mankind can do ANYTHING that changes this planet’s ability to sustain us.”  I won’t state any science here, because I don’t have the background.  However, I will say this:

Human beings have populated this planet in numbers very large compared to other beings of any comparable size, and that includes all of known history.  We cut down the trees that support the life cycle required for us to live.  We mistreat the soil to grow non-native plants wherever we please.  We send megatons of smoke, both visible and not, into the air in great quantities in order to go from one place to another at our convenience, smoke that hinders the atmosphere and sun from doing their jobs that made this planet habitable for us in the first place.

I don’t care whether or not there’s scientific proof of whether or not humans are changing the livable environment of this planet.  Anyone with any thought process that is functional should KNOW we are doing that.  It can’t be otherwise, and that’s what blows me away about the statements from folk who say that climate change is hooey.  How can ANYONE believe that we can pump environmentally damaging chemicals into the air, water, and land while simultaneously removing from the planet the very living things that can fight the damage we are causing (trees and other living things that turn the poisons into the air we need to live), and NOT affect our planet.

Emotion does NOT trump science.  It just causes human beings to be lazy and continue on the paths we are already on, especially Americans, of which I am one.  We see it in all walks of life, and we keep shooting future generations in the ass.

A perfect example of this is 09/11.  People who live on hate (one of the most powerful emotions) fly planes loaded with human beings into building filled with other humans.  Americans are outraged for a few months, then we start complaining about the efforts made to avoid such catastrophes in the future.  Why do we do this?  Simply because it inconveniences us.  It really is that simple.

Financial corporations reward executives and employees who fail to do their jobs with lots of money, basically causing a global economic meltdown, and anyone who can do something about this is too scared to prosecute these criminals, so we are right back where we were just before the big fail.

How incredibly selfish we have become.

People choose not to vaccinate their kids against diseases for reasons based on a questionable study (ONE, totally discredited, study), when the odds of a child developing autism are orders of magnitude smaller than of that same child dying of the disease the vaccination prevents.  How does that make any sense?

The answer is: it doesn’t.  However, the reaction against vaccinations is emotional, not scientific.  THAT’S the rub.

I don’t advocate that we become automatons, totally without emotions.  Doing that would also wipe out humanity.  It’s just a shame that we can’t control our emotions just a smidge better, so that we can use our minds properly when our emotions send us into dangerous places.

Some comments here have brought up the costs (Money?  Really?) of fixing the problem without real proof that there is one.  Would someone please calculate the cost to Humanity if the people who say that climate change is bunk are wrong?  Why is it that we are so ready to not do anything as opposed to making a strong effort to heal our planet JUST IN CASE THE SCIENTISTS ARE RIGHT???

This debate is just so hard to understand.  How can anyone support doing nothing, and delay the progress we could be making because scientists might be wrong?  It seems to me we could change the global economy dramatically to the positive if we started initiatives now to reverse the damage we are causing daily.  We could probably eradicate some of the afflictions (medical and financial) that have plagued us in recent centuries by making the air cleaner and healing the soil and air.

We need to stop looking at the best case scenario and focus on the worst ones.  Otherwise, the worst case is what we will have.”

What do YOU think?  I am open for discussion, as long as you keep it civil.

Integrity at the corporate level is totally dead 25 July 2011

Posted by splait in Annoyances (me), Annoyances (others), corruption, Criminals, entitlement, Grrrrrrrrrr!, Integrity, Lack of Integrity.
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Corporate officers, especially at the CEO, CFO, COO, President, and COtB levels get paid the big bucks.  For many years now, I have had a great many problems with how much they get paid, but that’s another point altogether different from what I really want to say here.

I’m pretty sure that, at least when I worked in Corporate America, the people who ran the companies were responsible for the actions that their employees took, no matter what.  Of course, they were always responsible for the good stuff, the stuff that made their shareholders money.  However, what ever happened to being responsible for the bad stuff?

It is interesting to hear Rupert Murdoch and his son claim that they are not responsible for their company’s current woes.  I’m pretty sure that the people who tapped the phones of others illegally as they worked for the company were being paid by the company for their work.  In my mind, that makes the people who run the company responsible for those illegal actions – under all circumstances.

So, fast forward back through time* to a year or so ago in Atlanta, where we first hear of a cheating scandal being exposed in the Atlanta Public School system here.  The woman who ran the system, Ms. Beverly Hall, claimed (and continues to claim) she was innocent of the charges.  Today, despite the evidence against her, she continues to claim that she was unaware of the problems that were going on during her watch and that she is not responsible.

Huh??

Here’s the first paragraph of a press release you can still find online with her picture smiling back at us on the first page:

“When Dr. Beverly L. Hall became the 15th appointed superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) on July 1, 1999, she promised to transform the district into a world-class school system, using nationally proven reform models, facility upgrades and business operations redesign. Under her leadership, standardized test scores have risen, aging facilities have been renovated and a new blueprint for business operations is being implemented. The district’s vision is that APS will be one of the nation’s highest performing urban school systems, where 90 percent of its ninth- graders graduate from high school in four years ready for success in college or career.”

The good news is, she actually managed to accomplish a great number of those goals, as stated.

Part of the bad news is that she did it while teachers and administrators created a conspiracy of manipulation of grades and changing of test scores.

The rest of the bad news is that the local political establishment ignored the amazing results she was turning in year after year as a sign that something might be terribly wrong (shades of Bernie Madoff!), and the people who are going to pay for this are the students and their parents, as well as students and parents of the coming school years.

Ironically, when Googling “beverly hall superintendent”, the link right after the link to the press release is:

Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall to step down | ajc.com

The person in charge of an organization, corporation, event, or anything else is ultimately responsible for the good AND bad stuff that comes down on their watch.  We can forgive them if we wish, but that is our choice.  In the old days, a Japanese man was expected to commit hari-kari if the organization he ran (it was almost always a “he”) was dishonored by anyone in the organization.  Today, the Japanese only expect the COO to resign.

In the US, they often do resign, but, if they are a member of Congress or a major corporation, they not only get Platinum Parachutes, but they often get more money running some other company or, in the case of the government, they get full pensions and insurance benefits, even if they only served one term.

I went into the wrong line of work.