Thursday, September 3, 2020

Biden's "Back Up" Plan /s

With the imminent passage of SB145, the Dem Presidential candidate is already planning out a new home-based business.

The provision allowing for an age difference exemption from the sexual offender registry in California should spark a demand for fake IDs.

"C'mon man! why wouldn't people want to be younger with these kind of benefits?" he was heard to say in response to the news. "Ten years? If I could have a fourteen year old girlfriend at twenty-four, I'd hit that!

NYS AG Tish James appeared to endorse the business plan, saying "If I could get away with being four years younger for decades, why wouldn't someone be able to pass for long enough to fool the police?"

It appears that other politicians were in line with the program, even going so far as to start prepping for photo shoots for their new ID.

"With a good wash and blow out, and the right neck scarf, I could shave half a century off
my age!" one of Biden's supporters was heard to say on a hot mike. "After all, the public doesn't even realize I had cosmetic work done while I was quarantined!"

We all know it is a good idea to have a backup plan, if something goes wrong. But this is truly genius!

Most of the fake ID businesses focus on making teens older to sidestep drinking laws. 

Biden's proposal turns the whole industry on it's head - making people seem credibly younger (also to avoid laws).

Although one of his primary funding sources has encountered "difficulties", he expects that other angel investors will quickly line up. Some well known individuals have already
expressed delight at the concept of this business.

"Why didn't they have this when I was in college?" one of them was heard to say. "I might never have married, and we all know how bad that choice was!"

Meanwhile, the marketing department has been making phone calls to Greece in order to get a commitment from their choice of celebrity spokesperson.

Should that individual fall through, they have a long A list of potential endorsements, and expect an announcement any day now.

Sen. Weiner was heard to say, "I approve of this business message!"

Sarchasm Alert: This "article" is meant as a parody of current events, and if you are under the impression that it is "fact", you are probably voting for any of the politicians mentioned above.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Chump Change - Working for an Essential Employer!

The alarm goes off, you go to work, often getting shortchanged on your breaks and mealtimes, then clock out at the end of your shift.

You head home to manage your own family and household, then get up the next day and do it all again.

Dolly Parton summed it up best in her anthem to the workforce, "9 to 5".

This year, the inconceivable happened to many hourly employees who worked for "essential businesses" - the job that was helping pay the bills became one that was also a potential health risk to themselves and their families.

 To add insult to injury, their friends and neighbors who worked for business that closed down not only got unemployment, they "earned" the equivalent of a $15/hour 40-hour work week "pay" on top of it.

But these dedicated individuals continued to work, often no longer being allowed overtime, and frequently being subjected to testing for COVID19. (For those of you who don't know, it is an invasive process up the nostril with pressure and friction applied.)

These non-salaried employees are paid AFTER they have put in the hours, and based on the actual time that they worked.

So can you even comprehend when payday rolls around, and you have less than half of what you are due in your check? Or when you check your bank account and there was no deposit?

Such was the situation this morning for the employees of a healthcare system.

This is a screenshot from a July 30, 2020 article about Samaritan Medical Center/Samaritan Health Systems located in Upstate NY.

Yet this morning's paychecks were anything but "normal", and these employees were unilaterally shortchanged.

Samaritan issued a letter to employees on Tuesday, August 4, explaining that they were going to make some adjustments to pay, with "new" employees having 25% of their check withheld for "taxes" and the remaining employees receiving a paycheck the same as their prior one.

Let's ignore the fact that 25% is an amount in excess of what is normally withheld on minimum/low pay employees for taxes, and arbitrary figure.

Those "pre-existing" employees were finally allocated overtime hours at the conclusion of their prior paycheck, and many of them took advantage of the situation after moths of reduced hours, and so were entitled to far more pay than the prior check would indicate. 

For many of these individuals, the amount they received was far less than 50% of the amount due them for hours they already worked.

These are frontline, essential employees in healthcare.

These are the men and women who have put their lives in harm's way on a daily, no wait, hourly , basis to help protect, care for, and heal our most vulnerable.

These are the people who worked at nursing home facilities in a state where the governor saw fit to deliberately send COVID19 individuals.

These are the individuals who did NOT receive a $600 a week bonus from the government to stay at home and do nothing.

These are the hardworking people who have NOT received any type of bonus or compensation from their employer.

And these are the people who just were given a virtual flipping the bird salute for their dedication by Samaritan Medical System.

Apparently, this same organization was able to pay $2 MILLION dollars ransom to malware perpetrators who hacked their system and held it for ransom, apparently claiming that the FBI directed them to do so.

This healthcare organization is beginning a systematic replacement of their computers, at a final cost in excess of $2 million.

And yet they can't provide their employees fair, timely, and equitable compensation for time and hours that were already worked.

Essential employees have been front and center throughout this entire crisis, often taking verbal abuse from others, as well as being underpaid, and now unpaid, for their dedication to their professions and employers.

Is it too much to expect an employer to do the right thing??


Apparently this employer has been forcing employees to sign letters stating that they will accept the "adjusted" pay for as long as necessary.

Statements from the administration about how long it will take involve estimates of up to eight months.

How are they forcing the employees to sign?

They (through their representatives) are telling the employees that if they don't sign the letter, they will not receive their back pay!

So, how legal is it to refuse to pay employees for time worked?

This is beginning to sound a lot like harassment and extortion to me.

Class action lawsuit anyone?

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Can You Hear Me Now? I'm Claiming MY Time!


It is an interesting word, hearing

Maybe a refresher on its two primary definitions is in order, not for you readers, but for those who supposedly are our elected representatives.

From Oxford English Dictionary, hearing is a noun and means:
1) The faculty of perceiving sounds; and
2) An opportunity to state one's case.

If you have spent any time reading my blog, you already know that I have the conviction that words matter, that the pen is mightier than the sword.

In light of two major "hearings" this past week, I felt the need to claim my time, and defend some of our basic principles which are falling by the wayside.

Both of the dictionary definitions of "hearing" were not only disregarded during the two Congressional Hearings that were held this week, they were completely negated.

Apparently many people wrongfully assumed that the second definition would be in play when the House of Representatives had people in the "hot seat".

After all, when you are being questioned, don't you have an intrinsic right to "state your case"?

Not in the eyes of the members of Congress on the Judiciary Committee, as it soon became apparent.

Although each of the interrogators was adamant about "claiming" and "reclaiming" their two minutes, none of the individuals called to testify was afforded even a minimum of wait time to process the question, much less to respond.


For clarification, "wait time" is an integral part of the question/answer process.

After asking a question, both the questioner and the respondent should wait from 5 to 15 seconds in order for a full comprehension of the question and formulation of the response.

Not only were the respondents involved in these "hearings" deprived of the time to even provide anything other than a "yes/no" response (despite many of the questions posed requiring far more or a different format), many of the interrogators were asking complex, multi-part questions, each piece meriting its own wait time.

And that is a good segue into the first definition of "hearing" - the faculty of perceiving sounds.

The definition of perceive inherently involves understanding and awareness, something that was clearly lacking in these Congressional Hearings.

Our elected representatives demonstrated that the only thing they understood and were aware of was continuing with their rehearsed speeches (couched as questions) and were intent on continuing forward with their personal agendas, rather than actually listening to anyone other than themself.

Considering that many members of the Judiciary Committee are attorneys, and allegedly experts in the law, they rendered the entire process into a burlesque show.

Had they been in a courtroom when any of these activities had occurred, they would have been demanding a mistrial.

Now that they are in a position to advance their own personal program, they no longer care about the niceties of appropriate behavior.

It is time for these public farces to end!

It is time for our elected representatives to stop acting like self-centered, squabbling adolescents!

It is time for our government to focus on solving our country's problems, not on political power wars!

It is time for our leaders to be held accountable for their decisions and actions!

It is time for our government and its officials to stop wasting taxpayer money and resources on their personal advancement!

It is time for true justice to return to our nation!

This is how I am claiming MY time!

How will you claim yours?

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Beyond the Edge of the Blackboard

Boundaries. It's all about setting boundaries.

Unless you are suddenly thrust into a novel situation where there are no rules, no precedents, just guidelines hurriedly put in place over a few hours, a day, a weekend.

And the struggle is real. 

Teachers used to be able to show up at the school door, enter their classroom, get a lunch break (30 min, which for a professional with a college degree is far below the industry standard), leave school at the end of the day, and put the classroom behind them until the next day of work.

Contrary to the belief of many elementary students (and middle school, and high school, and even parents), teachers don't climb into their closet at the end of the day and turn off like a robot only to reactivate the next morning.

But the transition to online education in the wake of school closings has been anything but smooth, for students AND for teachers.

What used to be the sporadic casual encounters between parents/students and teachers, in grocery stores and public places outside of school, has now morphed into something pervasive.

Most teachers are in the profession because they care about people and helping others learn. They arrive at school early and work late, they work on weekends and holidays, and forego their lunch breaks as needed. They go un/underpaid to coach sports and advise clubs and activities.

And that is their choice.

But now they are waking up and responding to texts and emails before or during their breakfast, long before the "start" of the school day. They are doing the same during lunch, and dinner, and instead of relaxing in the evening and watching their favorite movie or show.

This is who they are by nature.

But the emails and texts and phone calls continue long past the school day, and well into holidays and weekends.

These compassionate, selfless teachers who used to be able to manage their job as well as their own children (whose education they now need to supervise), pets, and household are suddenly on call 24/7.

Last time I checked, being "on call" only applied to doctors (who are paid considerably more than teachers).

Now there is a growing vocal minority screaming to "defund" the schools, because "if schools don't reopen, then teachers don't need to be paid".

Seriously? If they don't need to be paid, then stop calling and texting and emailing, and complaining if you don't get an immediate response.

Dust off your own skills and sit down at the kitchen table with your children and teach them yourself. 

Make sure you get copies of all the state tests that your children are expected to pass so that you can bring them up to standards as the teachers are expected to do (most states require that homeschooled children pass state tests).

Not interested? Well then stop the nonsense and realize that we are in unprecedented times.

Pretend that we are back in a time (less than a year ago) when teachers weren't available at your text and call (and email and ping on MS Meetings or Zoom).

Request an appointment within the "school day" or soon after to discuss your concerns.

But most of all, realize that reopening schools may be necessary so that our society doesn't bleed out teachers who are rapidly burning out.

All the student educational issues aside, there are serious mental/emotional health ramifications occurring for teachers that need to be addressed.

Help them set boundaries by setting them for yourself.

And when schools reopen, those teachers that don't feel comfortable returning to work can be reassigned to providing the online education for those students whose parents keep them on remote instruction.

If "it takes a village to raise a child", prove that we aren't living in a village of opportunistic, self-centered, ego-driven adults who will sacrifice others for their own benefit.

Give teachers the respect for their dedication that you are now realizing they deserve.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

CRITICAL UPDATE: Vote by Mail? Three Strikes and You Failed!

Trust issues.

Verifiable trust issues.

Why do many people not want "Vote by Mail"?

When you can prove that your local elections office doesn't even follow the rules and laws, why would you believe that a "fair and impartial" election will take place with a whole new element?

This morning (July 29, 2020) I completed my New York State Absentee Ballot Application.

When I ventured on to the interwebs and Googled "Jefferson County NY Board of Elections" to ascertain the correct mailing address, I was pleasantly surprised to find the following:
Look at that final sentence in the first paragraph: " Applications for absentee ballots may be made by mail, email, fax or in person."

Fax? I can do that!
Email? Hallelujah!

So I promptly took advantage of both options (making sure that I specified that I had done each), just in case a catastrophic technological failure should occur. After all, redundancy is good operating policy.

And then I prepared to file away my paperwork with a note to double check receipt in a few weeks.

Much to my astonishment, a new email appeared in my inbox in response to my application! 5 minute response time? Such rapid service! I felt all warm and fuzzy about the immediate personal attention!

Until I read the email.

"Good morning Elizabeth,

Unfortunately we cannot accept a copy of your application. If you will mail us the original we can process your request and will mail your ballot when it becomes available. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Have a great day and be safe!"

POOF! Like that, the warm fuzzies disappeared!

Apparently the employees don't read their own website or the ever increasing spewing of Executive Orders from the state leadership.

More to the point, the title under the signature gave me even more reason to be frustrated: 
"Deputy Democratic Commissioner"

Last time I checked, this was not the political party in which I was registered to vote.

I responded with a link to the county's own website with a direct quote regarding the stated ways in which I might apply for my absentee ballot.

I also took a screenshot (see above) of the website as it existed at the time of my submission.

It has now been over thirty minutes since I replied with the information.

Apparently rapid response only applies to denying an absentee ballot application duly submitted under published guidelines.

Strike one: Publishing Absentee Ballot Application guidelines which are de facto false;
Strike two: Rejecting Absentee Ballot Application submitted under those guidelines;
Strike three: Failing to respond to a reminder of the published guidelines.

Voting by mail? Not just no, but HELL NO!

When I have first-hand documentation of how just one county is unable to adhere to local and state guidelines for "well established" Absentee Ballot procedures, why would I feel that they could successfully manage an entirely new process?

So take the concept of voting by mail off the table - it WON'T work!

Update: I finally received a response to my email indicating that "there was a mistake on the website" and the Executive Order in question had "expired".

Not only were there multiple fails during the process, there was an additional one in this agency being negligent in keeping updated voter information on their website.

So I am back to once again submitting an application by mail.

The irony? I am currently in one of those states on the governor's "list"...and now my local board of elections would like me to mail in an application that has been in prolonged exposure with this environment?

Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?

This is the email that I had to send tonight:

On Wednesday, July 29, 2020 I emailed and faxed my absentee ballot application in to your email address as well as the listed fax number, in accordance with the information that was posted on the Jefferson County, NY Board of Elections website.

I received a response from Michelle LaFave stating that the provisions on the website were erroneously still posted and had expired on June 23, 2020, and that I would need to mail in my completed application.

I mailed in my application, and have USPS delivery confirmation that it was received on August 6, 2020 by an individual at your office.

At that time, the website stated that I should receive my absentee ballot within 15 days of your receipt of my application.

As of today, it has been 26 calendar days and 18 business days since your receipt of my application and I STILL have not received my absentee ballot.

I visited the website tonight only to discover that apparently now I am able to apply online, via fax, and via email, as well as by regular mail, for my absentee ballot.

I applied online tonight, and have already applied via mail, fax, and email with my previous submissions which have been confirmed as received in your office. 

I have attached documentation to this email for my online application.

Consequently, I expect to see delivery of my absentee ballot within 15 days, or I will research further action to take.

I have a constitutional right to vote and have attempted three times so far to secure that right following the guidelines posted by your office.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Not only haven't I received my Absentee Ballot within the posted guideline of 15 days, it appears that Jefferson County NY is deliberately ignoring my application which has been submitted THREE TIMES according to the current guidelines.

If someone who legitimately is requesting an absentee ballot is being ignored, how well do you think that the proposal for "mail in voting" will go overall?

Time to seriously reconsider your position on the claims being put forward in the media!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Teacher, Teacher, Can You Teach Me?

Teacher, teacher, can you teach me?
Can you tell me if I'm right or wrong?
Teacher, teacher, can you reach me?
I want to know what's goin' on, oh

~"Teacher, Teacher", 38 Special

Enough already with the debate about whether or not to reopen schools!

I have taught in schools for over 31 years - more than half of my life. More than that, I have taught outside of a classroom for most of my life. So my voice matters and I would like to be heard.

We are irreparably damaging our children. Not just now, as a result of the pandemic closing schools, but by our use of public education as a resource for any "minority" group who wants to push their agenda.

Right now I want to expose the harm that is being done by leaving public schools closed.

I grew up in a small city (it was actually not even deemed a city until later) at a time when handicapped children in our town were "lucky" enough to have a facility that provided them what realistically was glorified day care.

The facility was actually started shortly before I was born, but in 1975 PL 94-142 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act) was passed, and just as I entered high school, a whole new world was opened up.

The disabled students that had previously been "out of sight, out of mind" at the local facility (for any of us who did not have a neighbor, friend, or family member with a disability) were now in our school building, and sometimes even in our classrooms.

In my school, there was a wing that led to the band/music/chorus/stage that held the classrooms for most of these students, but those of us who participated in those activities became familiar with many of the teachers and students.

What I have NOT seen raised as an issue at all during the school closings is a dialog about how disabled students are being affected by no longer having access to the school buildings.

You can NOT do PT (physical therapy - large movement skills such as walking) or OT (occupational therapy - fine motor skills like writing or turning switches) effectively over a Zoom interface. 

Speech therapy is also problematic and difficult under the best of conditions, and given all of the issues that can arise with connectivity, cameras, and microphones, it is not meeting the needs of these students. (I will discuss the "digital divide" more in a separate blog entry.)

Life skills such as laundry, cleaning, personal hygiene cannot be effectively taught without following the student around and observing them in action. And since most schools have barely been able to provide stationary technology for students, a portable camera interface is beyond budget.

Are schools able to provide an interface on their Zoom or Microsoft Meeting so that the teacher or aide for handicapped students has a private connection to deliver their supplementary instruction which they used to receive in the school building, if not in the actual classroom?

A physical school environment is so much more than learning academic skills (and I include the areas listed above as just a small sample of services provided for disabled students).

School is a medium for providing social skills for ALL of the students. And remote learning just does NOT compare.

When you are IRL (in real life) with a room full of classmates, there is "hands on" instruction in tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions that are kept to a minimum over electronic media. (Don't believe me? How many of you adults only "dress up" for the part that the camera has in view?)

There is observation of interactions between peers and adults that does not occur when people are no longer in the same room.

And there is exposure to a wide variety of individuals who are different from you, they look different, smell different, speak differently, and have different interests - and you learn how to interact with others who aren't just an extension of how you were raised.

Those are all critical educational skills, not only for disabled students, but all students, especially from an early age. 

How else do we expect our children to learn that there are people in the world who are not the same as them when they no longer encounter them, even if just casually walking past them in a school hallway?

If you read the link above about PL 94-142, the original provisions were for at least one free meal a day for handicapped students.

What is not being discussed is that often, the parents of disabled students are unable to provide for these students basic needs sufficiently - food being just the tip of the iceberg.

Yet now we have thrust them into the position of providing supervision of their child's educational program without providing them any training equivalent to even a teacher's aide.

Some of these children have behaviors which even trained professionals have difficulty managing, and that was with the "tag team" approach that gave both parents and teachers time away.

Now these students are full-time in a household that may not be well-equipped to provide a substitute for the public school academically, let alone behaviorally.

Over the past several months I have had conversations with parents of disabled students and they are frustrated and angry that the "remote learning" is not addressing the needs of their child.

Yes, we have a health crisis in our country. But if we allow our most vulnerable student population to become victims to educational malpractice, we are reverting to the "out of sight, out of mind" warehousing mentality that existed half a century ago.

Open schools with CDC guidelines. Give parents a choice if they feel their child is at health risk.

But allow our children to learn and grow in skills and behaviors and attitudes. All of our children, not just those capable of utilizing technology!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Sing Me A Song

I learned that a local band released an album, and was sent the info on where to find it - it has dropped on both YouTube and iTunes.

I had been given the lyrics to track three several years ago, and was honored to have discussions with two of the band members about the origin for that particular song.

When injustice occurs, it often has a profoundly far reaching impact that can't be measured or even anticipated.

Anyone who has ever had any type of contact with the individuals in a case end up dealing with the fallout of a miscarriage of the legal system.

Each of them must find their own way of working through the pain and frustration, and the origins of this blog were my way of dealing with overwhelming negative emotions.

What you should realize from the title of this band's album "Underwatertown" is that these young adults have realized that there is a toxic culture in their hometown that has resulted in multiple miscarriages of justice.

Without further ado, here is this band's interpretation of the Jon Massey Case - the single "Buried in the Case":

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Free Speech, Just Not For Me... The Anthem of the Muted Majority

"And I feel like a number
Feel like a number
Feel like a stranger
A stranger in this land
I feel like a number
I'm not a number
I'm not a number
Dammit I'm a man" ~Bob Seeger

Right off the bat, I know that I have already offended some of you reading the lyrics I chose for my introduction.

This may be your first foray into my blog, or a repeat visit, and that last line may have triggered you.


Not because of the fear of numbers and math that many people profess.

Because of my use of a single word: MAN

Those of you who know me IRL, know that I am not a man, and those of you who don't, well, now you know too.

But your overwhelming compulsion to jump on "discriminatory" language has already led you to slot me into whatever negative stereotypes you favor at the moment.

However, forty plus years later, and the lyrics still fit, regardless of the "gender specific" word used.

This is sad, because if you peruse my other blog entries you will realize that I have great respect for numbers and wish that everyone would feel comfortable enough to use them in their everyday life.

For me, personally, to feel like a number in a negative sense is not a good thing.

Ironically, for all the almost universal dread of mathematics and numbers, our society has become obsessed with quantifying people - usually in a way to avoid human contact.

The result? I feel as though I no longer have a voice. My conversations about how I really feel on any topic are confined to the people in my life who I trust.

Otherwise, anyone who disagrees with my point of view declares open season and lumps me in with their preordained dismissive labels.

Don't believe me? This morning I received a video from a friend of mine, a woman I have known for more years than the Seeger song has been in existence. 

Click here to see/hear the hate speech from both sides. Warning: NSFW, and even I cringed to hear the language out of these seniors.

It is my understanding that we are guaranteed "freedom of speech" in the First Amendment to our Constitution. 

Nowhere in that amendment is there language limiting that freedom to "only speech agreed to by the listener", yet that has become the norm.

People who disagree with your point of view are free to hurl hateful invectives at you, become physically agressive towards you, and even attempt to interfere with your job, your residence, your way of life.

I no longer feel as though I have the right to express my views, even when confronted aggressively by another person expounding their opinion.

How has it come to the point where a multitude of individuals like myself feel muted?

Because we have become quantified by our age, our gender, our height, weight, eye color, hair color, shoe size, marital status, race, highest level of education, household income, place of residence, ad infinitum.

We have been slotted into categories that are used by any and all wishing to dehumanize their "opposition" in order to advance their own agenda.

Don't believe me? Rewatch that video above. The hateful phrases being slung freely by both sets of seniors are characteristic of our society in general.

Then watch this one, because it is how many of us silenced individuals perceive ourselves: 

How is this relevant? You can throw out all the polls and predictions presented by either side of an issue.

The numbers collected are invalid because of the sheer numbers of people who remain silent, fearful of expressing their opinions by the retaliatory activities of those who disagree with them.

Enough is enough. We are developing a society of Stepford Wives in which diversity is not only devalued, it is penalized.

We complain about the lack of innovation and invention from our country, which used to be in the forefront of the world in those areas.

How can we possibly expect to excel when our entire society is focused on homogeneity - and differences are punished?

Wake Up America! 

It is okay to be different!

It is okay to disagree!


Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Truth...

We are ALL human!

Part of being human is having free will to make our own decisions.

Repeat that phrase until it starts to sink in...

We are ALL human!

We are ALL human!

Yet something that has been lost in our perceptions of, behaviors towards, and treatment of other humans is that there are no absolutes.

Good and bad are artificial constructs, and humans are living organisms.

Part of reality is acknowledging that there are no absolutes, yet our society has become focused on polarization and characterization.

The "ugly truth" is that our society's ability to interact on a personal level has died an unnoticed death.

Instead we use snap judgments, appearances, and labels to place people in boxes so that we no longer have to discover who they really are and how they fit into the world.

Don't believe me? Let's play a game of Family Feud!

Take out a sheet of paper and list the first ten words that come to mind for each of the following phrases:

Homeless Person                      Recovering Addict                    Convicted Felon

If you were truly honest with yourself, the ten words you listed were ugly and limiting.

Nothing you listed would possibly allow any person in any of those groups to be productive and successful.

Each of those three phrases is used by our society to put a member of that group down at the bottom of a well (figuratively).

Then our subsequent actions become the water source that fills the well and drowns them.

This is what I refer to when I use the word "absolute".

It is easy to quantify a person by a label, and that has become the norm in our society.

Fast food, next day delivery, snap judgments, instant gratification - these are the hallmarks of who we have become.

More to the point, it is far easier to dismiss a person by quickly tossing them into a category that you have already tried and convicted in the court of your mind.

We are ALL human!

Which means that making snap judgments (based on physical appearance, behaviors, or anything else a person does) is no longer acceptable.

We are ALL human!

But in order to become more human ourselves, we need to take the time to learn who a person really is rather than characterizing them in a way that denies their individuality.

We are ALL human!

Don't be an ambassador for "the ugly truth" - revise how you characterize and treat others.


Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword - Part 2 - "What's In A Name?"

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By Any Other Name would smell as sweet"
~ Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare

And how true this is about roses, but unfortunately roses and humans are far different.

Although living, a rose does not have free will and is incapable of making choices and changing its nature when it becomes necessary for survival.

Humans can, and will, adjust any aspects of themselves that they are able, when they realize that happiness and success depend upon that change.

A human will further their training and education. A human will seek professional help for a problem. A human will stop their substance abuse. A human will reform themself.

Unfortunately, there are aspects of being human that a person cannot change. Skin color, age, visible disabilities, these are all aspects that are difficult to alter.

Yet not only are these visible aspects of humanity used to make snap judgements, people use other information to also discriminate against their fellow human beings.

This human behavior is systemic and institutionalized, and even ingrained into our society at every level, and has been going on for decades.

Don't believe me? When is the last time that you filled out any type of "official" paperwork when you weren't asked to indicate your gender and racial background?

Just as the human race encompasses a broad spectrum of descriptors (race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social background), so does the discrimination.

Making laws and rules to "correct" the issue is not only unsuccessful, it causes the development of additional problems. (University of California v Bakke is just one of many examples.)

For the record, I don't believe that there is "reverse discrimination". I do believe that discrimination occurs when any member of a group treats an individual differently based on not belonging to that group.

When you attempt to advance one group for opportunities and reduce the availability for others as a result, you are contributing to the problem.

Yet government agencies, educational institutions, and employers chest thump and give each other "attaboys" for on-boarding easily identifiable "minorities", as long as those minorities aren't a potential problem.

Ever wonder why we have a serious problem with homelessness, addiction, and criminal recidivism in this country?

Those populations constitute individuals that transcend any visible or societal quantifiers, and they are discriminated against at a far higher rate than any other "group" you could name.

The homeless are unable to get housing because they don't have "references" or a current address. They are often unable to gain/maintain employment because of their lack of a stable living situation.

Addiction is considered a disabling condition, and just as a diabetic has that condition for life, so does an addict. Addicts (as opposed to casual drug users) are covered under the ADA, and are therefore not subject to discrimination in hiring practices when reasonable accommodations allow their employment.

Most employers won't hire someone they know is an recovering addict, even when that individual will agree to random testing and lengthened probationary periods. I know of one company CEO/President that did just that despite positive interviews, references and recommendations from multiple individuals within the company. (Ironically enough, in that instance the company has a number of government contracts.)

Individuals with a criminal record? Not only can't they find employment and housing, they are unable to escape their poor decisions from the past. Despite our society claiming that they are willing to "let bygones be bygones", anyone with a criminal record, even just a misdemeanor, is often denied on a rental application and a job application. (Unless you are rich or a social media cause celebre - then you find offers falling into your lap.)

Small wonder that many individuals in these three populations "relapse". They are unable to secure simple things (home, work, stability) that most of us take for granted.

Even in their daily social interactions, the instant an individual is suspected or identified as being homeless, an addict, or having a criminal record, they are ostracized or treated differently (and not in a positive uplifting way).

It is impossible to finger point any one group in our society as discriminatory offenders, just as it is impossible to define any one group as the victims.

Anyone can change their social media profile for an hour or a day. Anyone can brag about the "efforts" they make that last an hour, a day, a week, or (rarely) a month. This is not new behavior. Most of these individuals will be on to the next cause within a short period of time.

Instead, point the finger at yourself. Ask yourself what you can do to change your practices and beliefs. Ask yourself what you can do to help the least of these. Ask yourself how you can lead others to make a change.

Life Matters! Truth Matters! Behavior Matters!

Friday, June 5, 2020

The Rule of Three - Liar's Poker

Gather round kiddos, because today's math lesson is about exponents.

Why exponents? Because it directly applies to lying behavior.

Studies have shown that for every lie you tell, you need to tell three to keep it going or cover it up.

So you tell one lie.

Next you tell three lies to cover that first one up.

For each one of those, you tell an additional three lies.

The actual equation is 1 + 3^n where the exponent/power is determined by how far out you are from the original lie (which is represented by the 1). The base of three is the number of lies you tell to cover each one lie.

Example? You tell a lie, then you tell the three lies to cover it up. Now you need an additional three lies to cover each of those. And for each of those, another three lies.

1 + 3 x 3 x 3 = 28 lies

Now consider that the average person these days has difficulty remembering a phone number, which is only ten digits.

(About the only number most people remember is 867-5309, and Jenny Jenny isn't going to help you now.)

By the time most people get to that second round of dissembling, where the total is only ten lies, they are having difficulty keeping track of what they have already said.

That's when things should start to unravel, and often do in most cases.

Unfortunately, in this day and age of everything being documented and available on social media, the skillful liar will review the original lie and any supporting falsehoods in order to build a coherent, uniform story.

This is especially easy for those in the public eye, as their every breath and gesture is endlessly recorded and analyzed and available on social media platforms.

So although it is easy to see the lie unraveling for an individual you know personally, it isn't always easy to identify the same problem in a public figure.

Hallmark behaviors that can indicate "rehearsal" in order to cover up/explain a story would be lengthy periods of time before beginning an explanation or rationalization of misstatements, as well as multiple successive "press releases" with additional details and/or clarification.

In terms of personal behavior - if you don't tell lies, you are able to continue to provide a consistent story.

Let your word be your bond, lest you become one of the 10-15%.

Not that long ago, humankind used to be able to trust a person who took an oath that they were telling the truth.

Be that person who is known for their veracity, and it will make your life so much easier.

Truth Matters!

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword - Part 1 - Binary Value THE CURRENT MATH PROBLEM

Based on some of the news headlines this morning, I felt that a second math problem would give a meaningful example of the binary nature of human life.

The statement "10-15% of all people" is an easy illustration to use.

A quick review of the math you need to use - it is called the "percent equation" and works like this:

n = % x t

n is the number of people that fit the description
% is changed to a decimal (move the decimal point two places to the left)
t is the starting total population

Using this information, lets look at a room full of ten people (since ten had been set as a gathering limit under COVID-19 restrictions).

n = .15 x 10

Under this equation, that means 1.5 people in that room. Imagine being with a group of people you know very well, and discovering that 1.5 of them fit the description given.

But under the binary nature of life, that actually means two of those people who you know. Think about those people - do you really believe it?

Know your math! 

Know that life matters!

Know that you can bring change!