Bashing “Respect For Others” By Calling It “Politically Correctness”

2014 May (17)I grew up in a small town. Mrs. Wick was the cranky old lady that lived next door. Mr. Valdez lived down the street and was a law enforcement officer.

It would have been easy to make fun of Mrs. Wick, but my mother would not allow us to do that, and in fact, we were taught to offer to help her whenever she needed it.

It would have been easy to disrespect Mr. Valdez in our small, almost-all-white town because he was Hispanic, but I would have never thought to do that, and his son was one of my best friends in elementary school.

Basic respect for the people in our town was how I was raised. It wasn’t being ‘politically correct,’ because it was part of being a decent person. Sure there were times when people failed to be decent, but the rodeo was only in town once a year and city people who pretend to be cowboys are idiots.

Today, our neighborhood is much larger. A Facebook post reaches around the world. Our community is no longer bound by city limits, county or state lines, nor national boundaries. What we say and do is part of a recorded history that will exist for hundreds, or possibly thousands of years.

It is not easy to be respectful of other people, but it is required. There should never be a question of whether or not to fly a confederate flag. It is always wrong to wave a symbol of traitors and racists in the face of our brothers and sisters around the world.

It is never appropriate to malign a group of honorable people who often risk their lives to have a better life in the United States by characterizing them as drug dealers and rapists. We have a responsibility to speak and act with respect to others. It is not a matter of being ‘political correct,’ it is a matter of personal honor and decency. That value has been the foundation of the strength of our country. It is why, when America faces a real threat, we drop everything and respond as one.

It is why Hitler failed, and Putin hates us. The test of a true American is the ability to respect others who are different in race, gender, religion, who they love, and where they are from.

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Gay Marriage Legitimizes Marriage

gay_marriage_81102178Today’s Supreme Court ruling acknowledges that the United States of America is legitimizing marriage, and it is about time.

Historically, marriage was created to establish a legal bond or contract of property ownership. Sometimes the property was just the woman, but typically marriage included the transfer of land, animals, money, or other material items. A woman was not a party in the contract, but the subject of the contract, meaning she was irrelevant in taking part of the terms of the contract.  The woman’s opinion or love was not needed, nor wanted in most marriages.

As a society we have moved away from the marriage-as-a-contract concept; however, even today we still have men and women in the United States who cling to the misogynistic idea that a woman is property to serve and bear a man children. These men and their Stepford spouses cite the historical aspect of marriage as the justification for demeaning a human being (or allowing themselves to be demeaned.) 

Gay marriage has only one purpose, the expression of love between two people. There is no property exchange and no issue of who is the master and who is subservient, (unless both parties agree to a 50 Shades of Gay-type relationship.) You can’t attach outdated expectations of a gender-based owner/property understanding to a marriage between two people who are of the same gender.

Perhaps now heterosexuals shed the mantle of the woman as property and confirm marriage a legitimate expression of love.

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Science Versus Stupidity

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Earth: Victim of Stupidity

“Science doesn’t have all the answers.”

It’s hard to know where to start when someone makes a statement like the one above. ‘Science’ isn’t an entity, so it can’t possess anything, but beyond the poor grammar is the issue of motivation and failed logic.

When a person makes this statement their motivation is often in defense of religion. The idea seems to be that if science doesn’t have all the answers, then religious and mythological beliefs are valid. Using this logic one could say that because nitrogen doesn’t make up all of the Earth’s atmosphere, (air is 78% nitrogen,) then the air we breathe is all fairy dust.

No intelligent person would say that science has all the answers. We are just scratching the surface of understanding the mechanisms by which our universe operates. Even after science has shown us how one system works, scientists may discover that there are other factors that affect that system. We are on a path of discovery and we have a long way to travel.

However, there are no shortcuts. Just because science hasn’t fully explained everything doesn’t give anyone license to invent an explanation that is based on opinion or agenda. This includes explanations that were created over a thousand years ago by people who didn’t even understand that urination and defecation are the end process of digestion.

All science begins with asking a question. Why? How? What? In the process of answering those questions, the scientific process rules some things out. By narrowing down what isn’t a cause or a factor the scientist begins to clarify the important causes or factors. Religion ignores this process and immediately jumps to an answer that lacks any support other than, “Because I say so!”

I have no problem with anyone’s mythological beliefs…until the believer wants the rest of society to abide by those beliefs. Public policies, laws, education and regulations that exist or are governed by someone’s mythological beliefs is pure stupidity, even if a majority believe in the mythology.

Those that don’t ‘believe’ in evolution, global warming, vaccinations, or any other scientifically based fact are stupid. I’m not calling anyone names, I’m saying they lack intelligence and logical thinking. They are incapable of making good decisions. They are, by definition, stupid.

Believe in God? Fine. But, giving credibility to religious beliefs over scientific fact defines one as being stupid. Making religious beliefs part of societal laws is mass stupidity.

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The Day the World Will Stop: Changing of the English Throne

Queen_Elizabeth_II_March_2015

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

In 114 days (as of May 9, 2015,) Queen Elizabeth II’s legend will take one step further into history. On September 9th of this year she will become the longest-serving royal (63 years, 217 days) to ever grace the English throne. If you are younger than 65 years old you will not have known anyone other than Queen Elizabeth as the leader of England.

It is said she will not abdicate her throne, but will reign until her death. That is the expected choice, but possibly not the wisest.

It is likely her Majesty does not understand the impact her death will have on the world. Humans cling to the idea that some things do not change, and there are few people in the civilized world who don’t have a mental and/or emotional attachment to her and her place in our world. She is the constant that we all rely on to know that some things do not change.

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The Queen’s Royal Coat of Arms (UK)

During her reign as Queen we have had twelve Presidents in the United States (Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush (41,) Clinton, Bush (43,) and Obama.) We have seen movie stars, rock stars, athletes all come and go, but Queen Elizabeth has always been there.

In a world of instant communication, her death will affect more people than anyone in the history of the world. People will remember where they were and what they were doing the moment the news is announced. If her death coincides with a change in royal leadership, it will magnify the impact on the world.

Queen Elizabeth 1953

Queen Elizabeth II in 1953

The event of her death and the passing of the English crown will be seen by some as the perfect opportunity to take advantage of an emotional situation. The majority of the world will pull closer together in grief, but those who seek radical changes in politics, government, the economy, or just seek to hurt the Western world, will use the chaotic feelings of the loss as a way of creating more chaos.

The royal family will be dealing with the loss, and the matters of royal duty at the same time. The coronation of the new King may not happen for a year or more; however, the details of transitioning power from Her Majesty to the His Majesty will involve changes in staff, new protocols, and a thousand other items that have not been done for over six decades. All this will happen at a time when few will be able to focus on anything beyond the loss of woman and icon that has been an unflickering beacon of the Western World.

However, if she reached this milestone in four months and then decided to abdicate sometime in the next year, a calm, undramatic transition would preserve the stability of the royal role the hearts and minds of the world. As the former queen with over sixty years of experience, she would become the most valuable and trusted counsel for the new King.

Her eventual passing will still devastate the emotional state of the world, but with a new King already on the throne, the world will know that England’s royal, non-political leadership will live on.

God Save the Queen.

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Death By Incentive Program

_DSC0363 (2)Incentive programs are the tip of the sword in organizational suicide. They are often designed by people who believe that there is a single cause leading to a positive effect in achievement. The reality is that life isn’t that simple. Here are three examples of incentive program fails:

EXAMPLE 1 – Retaining Major Customers
ISSUE:  A business owner loses a major customer and believes that it was because his employees weren’t responsive enough to the major customer’s needs.

INCENTIVE:  The owner creates and incentive program that rewards employees for being more attentive to major customers. (Potential measures:  Major customer satisfaction surveys, increase in revenue from major customers, response time data.)

EFFECT: Some employees learn how to gain the favor of the major customer through unethical tactics:  i.e. kickbacks, access to inside information about the major customer’s competition, sacrificing minor customers in order to be more attentive to major customers, giving more product or service to the major customers and charging it to minor customers, etc.

RESULT:  The owner finds out that some unethical employees look like superstars to the major customers, while ethical employees seem to be failures. Minor customers, a primary source of new revenue, leave for competitors leaving the company with a few major customers that demand special treatment.

EXAMPLE 2 – Improving Student Performance
ISSUE:  Recognizing and reinforcing good student behavior and educational achievement.

INCENTIVE:  Teachers are given special reward tokens to give to students who display good behavior, or who perform exceptionally on class or homework assignments. Students with the most tokens are given a special reward at the end of the school year.

EFFECT:  Some teachers give out tokens liberally and gain favor with the students. Some teachers attempt to ethically administer the program, but find that they are not consistent in giving out tokens to the students for similar positive events. Some teachers do not buy into the incentive program and rarely give out tokens.

RESULT:  High performing students discover that their behavior and achievements is subject to different evaluators who create an reward system that is not objective. Students who are recognized feel superior to other students, and other high performing students become angry, frustrated, and discouraged.

EXAMPLE 3 – Improving Productivity
ISSUE:  Motivate management to improve to eliminate wasted time and resources.

INCENTIVE:  Financial bonuses for top managers who have higher output per employee and/or expenses, OR have lower cost per dollar of revenue.

EFFECT:  Managers discover that by making salaried employees work longer hours and not replacing old equipment as needed, they can look more productive. Employees may not like working with broken or outdated equipment, or be required to work longer hours, but that is not what is measured, so it is irrelevant to the manager.

RESULT:  Other indicators (high turnover, loss of customers, etc.) might indicate a failure of the manager in performing his or her duty; however, because the incentive is to improve productivity, those factors are ignored. The manager looks like a superstar and yet the division or department has severe morale issues and is a business failure._DSC0361 (2)

Why Incentive Programs Fail
Despite the popular idea that incentive programs are a good motivational tool, there are four reasons why they are not.

Organizational success is not a science, but an art

Incentive plans are based on the old idea that the ends justify the means. True organizational success is all about the ‘means’ and the success comes only after multiple factors combine. Organizational success often can’t be repeated because it was contingent on the talents of key team members who brought key talents or skills into the formula of success.

Cause and effect are rarely in a one-to-one relationship

Whatever is defined as the positive outcome, people will find multiple ways to achieve the desired goal, regardless of ethics.

People are not ethical by nature

Incentive programs encourage unethical behavior. The goal is assumed to be the highest priority and that is tacit approval to some that anything goes as long as the goal is met or exceeded.

Some organizations intend the incentive program to encourage unethical behavior

Executives cannot tell their employees to be unethical, but they can create the environment that fosters unethical behavior in pursuit of the indicators of success. This protects the company and puts all the risk on the employees.

Incentive = Manipulation

People who design incentive programs explain that the intent is to reward good behavior, and they fail to complete the sentence, “through manipulation.” Manipulation requires a lack of respect. Most people want to do the right thing and don’t need to be tricked into doing it. It is possible that unethical behavior is stimulated by incentive programs because the person feels disrespected by the use of manipulation and responds by obtaining the reward while sabotaging the program.

The Need For An Incentive Program?
Organizations that need an incentive program indicate a failure in leadership. Any business or school should know who its best performers without an artificial measurement program in place to identify them. In addition, any organization should have an ongoing effort to recognize and reward the best performers. Leadership that is effective in celebrating success will be setting the example for others without manipulation through an artificial program that disrespects people and will likely be vulnerable to unfair evaluation and unethical behavior.

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Free Range Parenting: How to Say I Don’t Love You

Abandoning a child does teach a lesson: Parent's don't care

Abandoning a child does teach a lesson: Parent’s don’t care

The parent always correct. That is the basis of free-range parenting. The idea that a parent should be allowed to do whatever they want, including nothing, with their children.

I grew up in rural northwestern Colorado. The idea of ‘free-range’ is common in farming communities where it refers to animals. It means the rancher allows his animals to roam on open land, usually federal land and expends minimal personal resources on the care and maintenance of his or her livestock until it’s time to round them up for sale. The expectation is that some of the animals will be lost to predators, but the money saved by not feeding and watering them is worth the risk.

In parenting, ‘free-range’ is applied to the children of the mother and father. The concept is that children of almost any age will mature faster as unsupervised survivalists than under the care and monitoring of an adult. It is as stupid as it sounds.

Rafi and Dvora Meitiv: Children with a lack of parenting

This idea gained national awareness when Rafi, a ten-year-old boy, and Dvora his six-year-old sister were picked up by law enforcement when they were reported to be unsupervised about a mile from home. They are children of Danielle and Alexander Meitiv who believe that their children should be allowed to roam free on streets and in parks in order to learn the lessons that life offers. The parents have been charged with child neglect.

The real issue with free-range parenting is not one of parenting style. Parenting style requires that you actually take the responsibility to be a parent, which free-range parents don’t. Free-range parenting can be compared to having something of infinite value entrusted to someone, for which they go to the back door and throw it as far away has possible.

The critical issue with free-range parenting is assuming that children are born with an automatic sense of right and wrong. They are not. Children learn good behavior and they learn it from the human examples around them. Left on their own, many children experiment with cruelty and seek to satisfy baser desires, especially when one child is older and/or stronger than another child.

Parents have to constantly guide children to understand the concepts of boundaries, respect, kindness, responsibility, and humility. Often children battle against parents when told that certain behaviors and/or actions are not acceptable, but as a child matures they begin to understand that parents are acting out of love in teaching proper social behavior. They understand this, often because they see other people around them who lacked proper parental supervision and who are social failures as an adult.

A free-range parent is also setting themselves up for failure. The child will soon discover that the more they stay away from the parents, the less hassle they will experience, so the detach themselves emotionally from the parent. Once a child has found the parent to be irrelevant the opportunity for the parent to offer advice and guidance is lost forever.

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Goodbye to HelloFresh

Instructions for preparing HelloFresh meals

Instructions for preparing HelloFresh meals

We were not in the market for a home delivery meal service, but when I received a coupon for three meals for less than $30 from HelloFresh we took the plunge. 

HelloFresh is a subscription dinner service. For the normal price of $69/week we could have a UPS truck stop at our house every Tuesday (or any other day) with the ingredients and recipes for three meals. The box had three large ice blocks with the meat under them and the other ingredients on the top. The meals were enclosed in a large plastic bag in case the ice began to melt and leak.  

The meals were for two people, (you can get boxes with meals for four) and the quality of the ingredients were good with one exception, an avocado that was overripe. 

The issues with the service are as follows: 

Extremely limited menu – HelloFresh has two menus to select from, a meat menu and a vegetarian menu. You cannot mix the meals from the two different menus. On the meat menu, they offer three meals of their choosing, or we could have selected from two alternatives; however, we found the alternatives to be less palatable than the three primary choices. 

Odd menu choices – The lack of quality cuts of red meat on their menu is obvious. The red meat offerings during the two weeks were flank steak and a meal with hamburger mixed in with the stuffed pepper meal. The six meals were:

  • Pan-seared chicken & pea pilaf
  • Citrus skillet shrimp
  • Wasabi-glazed (flank) steak 
  • Goat cheese-stuffed chicken roulades
  • Indian stuffed peppers (with hamburger)
  • Oven-roasted salmon

Alternatives for week one were:

  • Fregola Sarda & Sweet Italian Sausage
  • Pea & Asparagus Gnocchi

Alternatives for week two were:

  • Mustard pork chops
  • Burst tomato & squash fusilli

The menu targets the person with eclectic taste and/or someone who loves the challenge of cooking new foods. If you are a person who can only find four or five acceptable choices on a typical 50 item restaurant menu, HelloFresh is not for you.

Heavy on frying – olive oil and the skillet are prominent aspects of preparing a HelloFresh meal.

Increased prep and clean up time – the HelloFresh website proudly states, “Cooking Made Easy.” This was not our experience. If you are an experienced chef you might be able to meet the prep times listed, but we found that it typically took about an hour to prep a HelloFresh meal. Clean up took at least two to three times longer than clean up for our own home cooked meals.

Confusing recipes – HelloFresh breaks down the recipe in steps; however, each step is written in paragraph form with multiple sub-tasks in each paragraph. It requires re-reading the same paragraph multiple times to make sure you don’t miss a step.

Cost – At almost $70 for three meals, HelloFresh is an expensive meal service. I estimate that the ingredients for each meal cost around $10, so we paid about $40 for shipping, meal planning, and ingredient procurement while still being responsible for the cooking and clean up.

Excessive delay between order and delivery – All orders for the next week must be in by Wednesday midnight of the previous week regardless of what day it is delivered. That means the food for the meals is probably ordered/finalized on Thursday. That would make the process for HelloFresh much easier, but it sacrifices convenience for the customer and means the ingredients delivered late in the week are likely as old as the ingredients delivered at the beginning of the week.

Of all the issues I have with HelloFresh, it is the lack of choice. The limitations set by HelloFresh indicate a minimal budget and a lack of commitment to the concept of home delivered meals. That suggests an organization that lacks the financial and human resources to meet the expectations of the customer.

I have tried to understand what market HelloFresh is attempting to capture; however, with the menu limitations, cost, and eccentric meal choices, it is mystifying who would pay for a glorified shopping service that places customer choice and convenience as secondary to their own.

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