Justified Pay Gap

If high-level executives are genuinely worth what they are paid then there should be no issue or serious reservations with declaring it to the world.  In fact, the standard practice should be for all Executive Officers to make a public post something like this:

Hello, I’m so-and-so.  This is how much I make (including options and bonuses) and here are the reasons I am worth this amount.  Here also is the median pay of the company’s non-executive employees.

…and then open it up for public commentary.

Published in: on December 9, 2016 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Homelessness is Unacceptable

Why does the wealthiest nation on Earth not even have safety measures in place for those who suddenly find themselves without basic necessities for survival?

There are many dozens of ways (especially in a Capitalist society) that an individual or a family might find themselves without access to shelter, meals, some place to safely store a few possessions.

How can anyone be expected to pick themselves up and carry on when they’re already so busy asking questions like,

Where is the next meal coming from?
Where am I going to sleep tonight?  Is it safe?
…will my children be safe?
Where can we bathe, shower and wash our clothes?
How can we get money for basic necessities while trying to get out of this?
Is there any medical facility that will treat me? What about transportation?
How can I find work and access the internet, or try to start a new career?
What can I put for ‘Home Address’ on this banking or job application?
Most of all, how can we stay together and be safe?

No one, in any civil and wealthy and technologically advanced society should find themselves faced with these questions…

…and have no ready answer available to them.

How can any government, on the one hand, boast about having a powerful military to protect the “freedom” of the people while not even having a structural plan for ensuring that no one should become forgotten and destitute?

How can any nation beam with pride when it can’t (or won’t) even see to the basic needs of its own people?

More on Understanding Homelessness

Published in: on November 27, 2016 at 7:48 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Accountability on Campaign Promises

It wouldn’t hurt to have an infographic set up in a public-facing venue that tracked progress on campaign promises over the term of a newly elected (or re-elected) President.  Something that could be easily viewed and referenced as a kind of accountability report card for America’s highest office of public service.

Published in: on November 17, 2016 at 10:54 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Love Undeserved

I’m not sure that there are any definite “secrets” to a long-lasting and healthy relationship, but would venture to guess that one of the immutable qualities of such rare treasures is one person (or maybe both persons) loving the other more than they deserve.

Published in: on November 13, 2016 at 7:37 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Animal Adoptions

Try to imagine in your mind an animal shelter; there probably is one nearby somewhere in the city or county where you live.  Picture this place, with the small cages and pens with dogs and cats and other small animals.  They’ve been dropped off and discarded or taken into custody.  They would like to have a home, someone to love and care for them and someone they can love and care for in return.  But these animals, sitting now in a small cage or pen at the local shelter are at a disadvantage… as many people, when looking for a “new” pet look first inside the local pet store.

After all, it’s such a more safe and friendly place to shop for a pet.

Only, what would it be like for these other animals over there, looking for a good home, if they too had a chance to be on display inside a comfortable and welcoming pet store?  What if pet stores took up the cause to be leaders and advocates for “unwanted” and “homeless” animals?  What if the local pet store, out of compassion, began leading the way in animal adoptions, perhaps by integrating or partnering with local animal shelters…

Published in: on November 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

What is your age(s)?

Have you ever contemplated your age beyond the number?  Because it turns out you actually have about three ages.

Your Chronological age – The one we put on forms and documents.  A number.  It reflects the number of days (usually rounded to years) since birth.  The most simplistic reflection of a person’s “age” but also boring and possibly the least meaningful   (if one is interested in seeing and understanding someone).

Your Physical age – I credit Nintendo Wii Fit for raising more awareness of this one.  It’s a reflection of your body’s relative “age” based on health, how well you’ve taken care of your physical self.  Are you aging your body faster than your peer group? Or eating healthy and staying fit?

Your Emotional age – Closely related to maturity.  How old you feel you are, even if unconsciously.  The subjective age domain in which your mind and interests most often reside, likely informed by outward behavior though not necessarily (as we do tend to roleplay according to social norms & expectations).  It can change in both directions.  Probably the most interesting of all.  Why is that?  Consider this… might it be possible to feel inwardly younger through the maturing process of self-reflection, acceptance and identifying those things that really matter the most?

So the next time someone inquires about your age you might respond with, “which one would you like to know?”

….or give the cheekier reply of all three.


P.S. Sign language is beautiful, regardless of age

Published in: on July 29, 2016 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Naming is Notoriety

Every action taken against terrorism has a cost.  Those that hope to receive protection, or at least benefit from the effort are the ones who pay the cost.  Military operations are costly and the lives of personnel may be taken also.  Intelligence operations, the same.  Information and cyber efforts have a cost.  So too do humanitarian efforts (those funded by the government with the use of taxpayer money and those funded more directly by the American people).  Every challenge of this magnitude calls for a multi-layered response, and the debate on how to best focus and direct our collective resources is healthy and necessary.  But no matter the chosen configuration, all of them ultimately has a cost to the people, the everyday citizens who hope to benefit from the efforts.  We pay with our taxes, with the lives of our men and women in uniform, and often with our liberty, that tumultuous trade-off.

But among every tool that may be applied to the challenge of living in a world where civilized society is faced with the persistent threat of terrorism, there is one action that, for the lowest possible cost to citizens, has the greatest potential benefit to the effort.

Don’t name them.

Every news organization and media pundit (or influential blogger) that states the name of a murderer only increases their notoriety further.  Psychology and common sense tells us that notoriety is a supremely powerful thing that fanatical crazy people and calculating bloodthirsty individuals often crave as much as their desire to commit atrocities.  It may be the thing they crave above all else.  It gives them the attention they desire and elevates the status of the organizations to which they pledge their allegiance.

…and it isn’t even necessary for effective reporting.

Criminalizing the naming of mass murderers, terrorists and would-be operators isn’t the solution (and would likely prove counter-productive).  But the decision comes with a cost.  Not naming them would cost the citizens of a society very little and could be a hugely useful tool in the effort, denying murders the notoriety they crave.  What would it cost the media?  Not naming them.  What is their calculation?

If innocent lives could be saved by the simple act of not naming the perpetrators of violent acts of murder what is the cost-benefit calculation of news and media organizations and the individuals who run them?  Maybe we watch and see.  Maybe we let them show us how their cost-benefit analysis weighs out.  Whenever a news organization gives glory and notoriety and infamy to a perpetrator of mass murder then we might rightly conclude their cost-benefit calculation as follows:  “We would rather sell more copy/advertising and otherwise increase revenue even if it will cost additional pain and more innocent lives further on.

Remember, there is always one individual who has the power and authority to make the call, be it an editor or an influential blogger or the owner of a media property.  Someone has the authority to take a position and make the call.  Do we name them (and maybe reap a benefit from it)?  Do we choose not to name them, and try in some way to do our part to help keep our fellow citizens, our friends and our family and our children out of harms way?

Published in: on June 16, 2016 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Investing for Regular People

While the basic principles of personal finance should be taught in school (if not already) it is also something we need to consider from time to time.  On the one hand there’s the most basic concepts of budgeting, paying bills and living within our means.  From there we learn to think about saving, the importance of credit scores and hopefully the dangers and many pitfalls of loans and credit cards.

Eventually some of us move on to the more complex realm of investing.  But for so many others, because this topic is so distant and overwhelming, there is often a sense of resistance and dread at the thought of trying to figure out where to start.

This isn’t a sponsored post and to my knowledge FINRA is a non-profit organization.  It’s primary mission is, “…to protect investors by maintaining the fairness of the U.S. capital markets” along with, among other things, “educating investors.”  Which to that point it is doing (I think) an admirable job – because that’s what I’m hoping to pass along with this entry.  Aside from those with a natural inclination for finance, investing is an intimidating topic; but what FINRA has managed to do is break it all down into easily readable, digestible bites that you can spend a few minutes (in short daily sessions) reading through one at a time.

Start with the section: Prepare to Invest to learn about setting up financial goals and managing debt.  No hurry; no pressure.  Once you’re done there you’ll be ready to start learning about the various types of investments and investing concepts – Products & Professionals.  I’d like to emphasize again what I most admire about FINRAs work here in that these articles are concise and easy to read, even for beginners.  That’s probably helped in part by the fact that, as far as I can tell at least, they’re not looking to profit from you.  FINRA describes itself as as a “non-governmental organization” that helps to regulate and hold accountable U.S. securities firms.  So in a sense, the more educated investors are at every level the easier their job in the broader term.

I think there are many people who, like me, wish they’d been better educated around matters of personal finance… especially near the time we became eligible for our first loans and credit cards.  As for saving and investing, it turns out that just about anyone, including ‘regular people’ can do this.  They only need to get informed with a basic understanding and, from there (with a better ‘finance’ vocabulary) enjoy the ability to talk with the kinds of professionals who help in setting up and managing a brokerage account, IRA’s and other tools you’ll learn about.

Published in: on February 11, 2016 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Product Testing. The Beagle Freedom Project.

Testing experimental cosmetic and consumer household products on animals is still a common practice.  It turns out, Beagles are a popular choice because of their, “friendly, docile, trusting, forgiving, people-pleasing personalities.”

I spent a bit of time on the organization’s website, thinking about how I might assemble a short post highlighting their efforts.  But then I came across this message to would-be foster homes.

Anyone interested in fostering or adopting a lab beagle should be aware of the challenges these dogs have. They will not be accustomed to life in a home and will not have experience with children, cats, or other dogs. They will not be house-trained and accidents will happen, although they learn quickly. Many have gone directly from a commercial breeder to the lab, and have never felt grass under their feet or even seen the sun. They will have been fed a special diet formulated for lab animals and may be difficult to adjust to new foods. They will be unfamiliar with treats, toys, bedding and may never have walked on a leash. They will have lived in cages with steel wire floors and may have inflamed or infected paws from the pressure. They may be fearful of people initially and may have phobias from a lifetime in confinement or from being restrained. They are likely to have been surgically de-barked by the breeder and have an ID number tattooed in their ear. Please also be aware that although these beagles are considered healthy, you will be given very little information about the beagle’s medical history, and you will not be told its origins or what kind of testing they may have been used for.

With time, patience, play, companionship, love – and most of all, freedom – these dogs will learn how to become dogs, and their transformation will be amazing.

The short video on the homepage is a good place to start.  For those thinking about donating or getting involved in some way, there is also an iPhone App called Cruelty Cutter that lets you scan product bar codes to check up on its animal-testing status.

The Beagle Freedom Project

Published in: on November 10, 2015 at 9:31 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Need to distinguish AI from Robots

People always think that ‘Dangerous AI’ means, ‘watch out for rampaging robots’ – when in fact a robot is little more than a form-factor, one of thousands of possible containers that an AI might inhabit and manipulate.  It doesn’t take deep analysis to suppose that a true and predatory AI would purposefully avoid using robot containers to achieve its objectives since, by the very definition of such an entity, it would easily know that as the place we’re most likely to be watching for it to emerge as a threat.

Published in: on October 8, 2015 at 3:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,