Conservance

Social, Economic, Enviromental Responsibility

Category: Action

A Short Essay To Save The World


In response to the question “Do you feel that businesses or governments have a moral obligation to their workers/constiuents?” I wrote an essay that would solve quite a few of America’s and the World’s problems. It’s easy to write about, hard to live.

 

Yes, I think so, but I understand that companies need to make money. The government is supposed to represent the people and keep their best interests in mind, a part of that is keeping them gainfully employed. But I also believe that Unions and the people themselves must play a part.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that the period of lowest income inequality in the US, our largest innovations and breakthroughs, and our “golden” era all fell within roughly the same time frame. And CEO pay was “surprisingly” NOT tied to stock performance.

There’s a sweet spot where companies get their profit and stay competitive, the government has enough regulations to keep everyone safe and make their share of taxes but doesn’t damage the industry, and the citizens themselves are protected and employed.

The government needs to enforce tariffs on imported finished goods, or goods to be assembled in the US, and it has to encourage innovation and technological innovation that results in lower costs, higher quality and a better work environment without firing workers. There also needs to be a serious overhaul of the investment laws and regulations to discourage the short-term maximum profit trading that destabilizes US industries and encourages automation/outsourcing.

Unions and workers need to negotiate for raises, benefits and the workers with an eye towards maximum employment possible. Currently, they seek maximum wages and benefits with thought to what the company is facing economically, or how many union members are employed. Which is better, 1000 workers getting paid $10 an hour or 100 workers getting $75? Beyond that, “Union Pride, Union Made” has become a joke. “Union made” used to mean high quality, long lasting goods, now it doesn’t mean anything except overpaid, poorly made junk. Compare a 1958 Chevy Impala versus the 71 model, versus the monstrosity that was the 1994 “impala” or the even worse abomination of the 2002 model.

We the people need to stop buying based solely on price, and we have to start demanding different priorities from our companies and action from our government. We should be voting with our pocketbook, by buying the highest quality goods manufactured and we should be willing to pay top dollar for them. If companies are laying off employees, automating, outsourcing or other negative actions, why are we buying from them? If our representatives are more worried about special interests or lobbyist dollars, then why are we still allowing them to make decisions?

In short, we need to change how our society acts.

Mathematics, Why No One Likes It, and What Can Be Done


“When Will I Use This In The Real World?”

The most dreaded question of any Math teachers life. It is a question that cannot be answered when the mathematical endeavors move beyond basic arithmetic and small components of geometry and into the higher level of mathematics. Unless that junior high student is going to go on to be an accountant or rocket scientist, there is little need for calculus.

The question cannot be answered, not because there is no answer, but because of the way mathematics is taught.

Math has been called the “universal language” not because everything, everywhere understands math as we understand it. Quite the contrary, Binary and Hexadecimal number systems are strange and intimidating to anyone raised on the numbers zero through nine. But as binary and hexadecimal can show, they are number systems born out of a need to translate or understand data.

Math is the universal language because it allows an explanation to made of, order to be imposed on, and understanding to develop from seemingly random  information. Every mathematical formula, law, rule, and function was born out of a need to explain what was occurring. From the seemingly lowest level of adding one apple and one apple to the highest concepts of thermodynamics; all of it was born out of the need to explain a phenomena. In this framework, all math from adding onward has a real world connection.

When math is taught, it is taught backwards. First the formula is given, then it is memorized through torturous repetition, and then the student moves on. Occasionally a word problem or two is included, something generic and inapplicable, or a brightly colored side note talks of some “real world connection.” By and large, though math is a problem to be solved. Until the testing begins. And students across the world turn in page after page of mental vomit. The entire system is designed to memorize concepts and is utterly devoid of any real world application. And since each equation is presented as an obstacle to be overcome, it is no surprise that the homework is viewed as such also. It is no surprise then, why so few students are willing to “do” math, let alone “do” math well.

What if a more worldly method was used? Perhaps the data and scenarios that lead to the development of a certain formula were presented first. How then is this data to be interpreted, understood and explained? The student would then embark on the same path of discovery that lead to every mathematical concept from the number line, to infinity, to compounded interest to every component of Math. The real world connections are there, in black and white numbers. Students would then understand that mathematics is not an end all subject, but it is the lens through which a large portion of our day to day world operates.

Instead of the problem, Math becomes the solution.

On Equality


We think of equality in terms of good and bad, better and worse, weak and powerful. It is none of these. Equality is simply being equal. It cannot be anything other than that, and it can only apply to a single characteristic.

Some thing is either equal across the board for all, or it is not. That is the cruel beauty of equality. It will grind all down in a manner.

The field will be leveled. But it will be filled with all manner of organisms. Or the field will be filled with a single organism, that then grows to various heights and widths. The field will never be filled with one species mowed down to the same height.

That is not equality; that is oppression.

Students, Universities And The Student Debt Crisis


The American Ideal involves a house, a dog, a wife and 2.5 children. Those children then spend 18 wonderful years growing up, and after high school attend a fine college or prestigious university to begin the first steps in their chosen career. After four years, the graduate with honors holding a piece of paper that unlocks opportunities that would not be available otherwise. Young men and women enter into the workforce, highly skilled, highly intelligent and go about making the world a better place.

Having now started my second journey through college to develop and refine the left side of the brain; I have been forced to see the truth of higher education in America. On the record of course collegiate institutions are upholding the ideals listed above. Off the record, behind closed doors, where no one but the initiated are allowed the driving principle seems to be this:

The Student Is a Revenue Stream.

This realization came, not through stumbling across an unshredded memo or a chance remark in passing; rather by piecing various experiences I have had thus far with certain university policies and several other conversations. Like Archimedes in the bathtub, my Eureka moment came hard and fast.

The ballooning cost of tuition combined with the increased length of time until graduation is the first marker. It’s one thing if a for-profit institution seeks to place students into the longest possible course schedules, they have to make a buck! But when state schools and private, non-profit universities behave in such a manner; something is wrong. If rising tuition costs are unavoidable, then a prudent university would work to ensure that students are able to graduate in as short an amount of time as is reasonable. The opposite is occurring and I know this from first hand experience. I am currently looking at five plus years of work at a minimum to graduate, and have met strong resistance when attempting to pursue paths that would shorten said time frame. Beyond that, the additional fees assessed by universities onto students in addition to tuition and room and board and the rising cost of text books (especially those special versions printed by a University that cannot be sold on the market, and are still priced at a premium) reveals the idea that students are to be squeezed for as much money as possible.

If one steps back and looks at the Board of Directors, their policies, budgets, and the day to day procedures; it most closely resembles that of banks and financial institutions. To begin with, Students have quietly lost their rights on campus. Of course legal counsel is still available, but there are no Ombudsmen or Arbitrators to decide issues between students and professors or students and the university. Student Advocacy Groups have become information/help desks, their teeth removed and only allowed to answer questions. Student government organizations have been distracted with frivolous things like homecoming court and determining the nutritional value of the food served on “Mexican Mondays.” Meanwhile, the students are so overloaded with coursework and debt that they have no time to think about how wrong this is, and if they could, they wouldn’t have the energy to do anything about it! So the students themselves are left with no course of action to take if they disagree strongly with an issue that directly affects them whatever it may be, from tuition and parking costs to course scheduling and requirements. It is an oppression and slavery of the worst kind.

Consider how universities have handled cutting costs. If they were truly public servants, who desired to serve the best interest of the public and their nation at large, the board would have begun with their own salaries. In fact, the board of directors would be an entirely volunteer position with the appropriate honor and respect given to it because these fine men and women have sacrificed financial gain in order to dedicate their lives to bettering the pursuit of knowledge.

Instead of that, they began with privatizing essential services. Outsourcing! Contracting out essential services to the private sector. It would be one thing if the least profitable portions of the college were outsourced, under-performing departments and bloated research projects for example. But it tends to be those services that break even or make money (provided of course that they are not wildly successful athletic programs). At Ohio State for example, the entirety of the parking services is being sub-contracted out for fifty years with the students having no say in the matter whatsoever. A short-term boon, and the ability to fire State Employees without fully paying retirements, has cost Ohio State long term financial stability and the respect of the students. It won’t come at first, but after a few years of being mistreated at the hands of over-worked, under-paid employees, students will realize how little they mean to the University. While the financial gluttons on the board of directors enjoy a cut of the take.

The most brazen example of this is the recent spate of collegiate advertising. When a state school believes it needs to advertise in order to attract students, something is very wrong. Advertising is, rightly or wrongly, believed to be lies; They might tell the truth in some way, but they are still lies. If a University uses advertisements to trumpet its accomplishments, then those accomplishments are false. They are presented as lies, in a medium specialized for lying. Companies advertise out of desperation, either a competitor is gaining market share, a product has performed poorly, or they are losing money and are trying to reverse the trend. The best companies don’t need to advertise. Starbucks, prior to its fall from grace, had almost no advertising budget. They didn’t need one, they were too busy delivering great coffee to people, and those people were telling everyone about it.

State Universities at one point, were too busy turning out some of the best students ever seen in the world. Students who went on to found ground breaking companies, spearhead research, develop new technology, write the next American Classic, push the boundaries of art, foster thought and philosophy, and generally better the world around us. That was their advertising. Or when a university won a prestigious award, or had an alumni win a prestigious award. That was their advertising. Sometime in the not so distant past, that stopped happening. The students weren’t graduating as bright eyed and (most importantly) well equipped to tackle the new round of challenges. Universities had begun to get caught up in themselves, had become a ground for personal gain, advancement and vendettas. The focus, was no longer on the student. Look at how many “professors” never teach a class at Ohio State, and President Gee has DEFENDED them for it.

This. Is. Wrong.

Any and all colleges and universities should be focused on graduating the best students possible in the shortest amount of time. The “profit” comes in the form of a highly skilled, highly intelligent, highly motivated workforce that goes out and creates the “next big thing.” Pushes society forward, strengthens the economy, and solves the problems facing us today. That means much more money over a much longer period of time, and an alumni association that encourages students to attend their alma maters.

Of course, this means that students must once again be the focus and end product of higher education. They must be taught the skills necessary, and equipped to handle the challenges of the contemporary world. They cannot be burdened with too much debt, and they must be taught how to use their degrees. Gone should be the art major who doesn’t know what to do with their degree, in its place should be the Art Major. An individual who has developed their creative drive in such a way that they can produce amazing works of art and solve solutions in elegant ways. As comfortable with a paintbrush as they are with a hammer or laptop, or Excel spreadsheet.

This requires that Students become investors in the university. They are shareholders with a vested interest in the university. Students attend a university, and enter into a contract that states:

I believe this university is the best choice I can make to succeed. I will work hard, I will learn, I will grow, I will mature. I believe that this is the best course of action. In exchange for investing myself, my money and my time, the University will agree to prepare me to be an economic force. To solve ideas, to serve others, to achieve. They will not overload me with debt, and will not keep me a day longer than is needed to achieve the goals set out.

Instead of being released from the need to learn, the student must work harder at it. Instead of languishing in immaturity, the student will be forced to grow and become better in all aspects of their lives. If they don’t succeed in the larger world, then they have failed themselves, and the university has failed them and itself.

San Francisco Sewers


San Francisco has pushed for low flow toilets to reduce water usage in the city. The results have been less than desirable. Many will be quick to draw their own conclusions from the report, and all sides will use this as ammunition. That is unfortunately going to distract from the larger problem.

The brushfire argument will center on low-flow toilets not working with the sewer system in place, and therefore should not be used.

The real issue is the sewer system!

San Francisco’s sewer system is over a hundred years old. It’s been operating well beyond its lifespan, and well beyond its capacity, with patch after patch after patch to try and make it work. It’s old, well past its usefulness.

The problem isn’t low flow toilets, or what will be needed to clean the sewers in San Francisco. The whole system needs scrapped and a new one installed.

We’re no longer at a point where temporary measures, fixes, or stop-gaps can be used. Our infrastructure needs to be reinvented.

 

Tolerance Doesn’t Work


Tolerance is the cheap imitation of Equality. It is a lie designed to calm and pacify.

A good man cannot tolerate wickedness, just as darkness cannot tolerate light. Tolerance leads to inaction, inaction leads to weakness and weakness leads to injustice.

Tolerance is disrespectful. I can’t accept that your views are different from mine, therefore I’ll tolerate them. How childish; how selfish.

If I respect you as a person, then I will respect your opinion; even if I disagree with it. If I believe you are wrong, I will say something. Ask something. Pursue the issue further. Maybe you aren’t wrong; maybe I am. If I merely tolerate your “wrongness” then we will never learn who or what is right.

There are rights and wrongs. Constants and laws. Good and Evil. As we learn more, we have a fuller understanding of what those absolutes are. At one time, tomatoes were poisonous. We’ve since learned it was a reaction of the acidity in tomatoes with the lead soldering used in pewter plates, bowls, and mugs. Tomatoes weren’t poisonous, but the lead was.

What does this have to do with the environment? Everything!

We need to understand, that the modus operandi of our contemporary world has only been in play for fifty to one hundred years. We’re learning what is wrong or obsolete, and we need to implement what is right.

We can no longer tolerate the wrongness that exists in our societies. We must respect individuals, and begin to address the serious issues we face. To cut away what is wrong (from both sides of the argument), and add what is right.

Renewed


The Sun delivers roughly a kilowatt of energy to every square meter of the earths surface. Meaning, one meter of land provides enough energy to power ten light bulbs.

If the average rooftop is say 10 meters by 30, that’s 300 meters. Meaning the potential for energy is 300 kilowatts a day.

300 kilowatts, times 365 days a year equals 109,500 kilowatts of energy a year.

The sun doesn’t shine everyday, and this is assuming a perfect conversion rate. Solar panels are only 30% effective, meaning only 30,000 kw of energy is actually produced. Still more than enough energy to power a home, and the two homes next to it.

The sun doesn’t shine every day; a true statement. But it could not shine for 8 months, and there would still be enough power for a home. The average American household uses 11,040 Kwh as of 2008 4 months of sunshine is all that is necessary to cleanly power an American home.

The rub with solar power is not energy production at all, it’s energy storage. The roof of a house has the potential, with current means, to provide all the energy requirements for a home. But there is no effective way to store that energy.

Why then is so much money and effort devoted towards solar panel development? What is needed now, is an efficient way to store and discharge energy. Solar panels work, it’s time to bring batteries up to speed!

Cool Photos Will Now Be Seen


Just some photos from work that I took. Enjoy

DSCF2027

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Winter


Winter is a time to engage in labor. A chance to see the world in its cold, naked beauty.

Tonight is the first snow flurry in Ohio. I hope it won’t be the last.

There’s something about the cold. It magnifies sounds, creates a sense of isolation. In that isolation, for me, there’s a sense of renewal and refreshment.

Come February, I’ll be a miserable as everyone else I’m sure. But until then, let’s enjoy the changing of the seasons.

And hot chocolate!

Election Day


It’s election day, and I for one am filled with… nothing.

However, I have finally determined what it is that has caused me to lack any real feelings whatsoever about voting, and our democratic process.

There are few real solutions on the table.

If we look at most political commercials and the politicians behind them; it’s mostly a case of “I’m better than this guy. Look at how they are/have been.”

Look at the election leading up to George W. Bush’ second election. The Democrats were scrambling for a candidate, and their basic campaign was “vote for us, at least we aren’t Bush!” And their candidate:

The Master of the flip-flop, John Kerry.

A ridiculous choice for president if ever there was one.

The democratic process has become a stage for oneupmanship of the wrong kind. It’s a constant bombardment of negative speak, followed by a brief “but I’m not like that.”

No solutions offered to our problems, no ideas, no suggestions, no action. All signs of a lack of leadership.

We’re voting to the lowest common denominator, and the results of that choice have been clear from Clinton onwards.

Again: Don’t vote, revolt.

It is not the time to cast a meaningless ballot, it is the time to throw off these bonds of tyranny through ineptitude. Yes, I’m calling for action against the current means of government in the US. No,that does not make me a traitor. To preserve America, we have to fix it. Unfortunately those in power are so entrenched, that revolution is our only course of action.

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

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