Ebola and our Hospitals

With the announcement that a second healthcare worker has been diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas and that this same individual was on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas the day before she showed symptoms, I think it is an appropriate time to call for some changes to the way our healthcare system works.  Some simple, common sense would go a long way toward fixes the ills that have begotten this world class institution.

First, healthcare workers need to stop wearing their scrubs on public transportation.  I am not going to go as far as declaring this the stupidest thing I have ever seen, but it is an easy top five in my book.  On what planet does it make sense to subject yourself to the cesspool of disease that is public transportation right before you enter a sterile environment.  I mean, its not like using non-sterile equipment or wearing non-sterile clothing could cause any infections….or it could definitely cause hundreds of thousands of infections a year killing tens of thousands of people.

Second, if a patient has been to West Africa or knows someone from West Africa or can even broadly identify West African countries on a map.  ASSUME they have been exposed to the Ebola virus and take the conservative treatment route.  This disease causes all sorts of horrible things to happen to you, I’m pretty sure no one is going to be angry if you take extra precautions.  I mean shit, we don’t let gay people give blood still, but we are not worried about people who may have a disease that is killing 50-80% of its victims in weeks?

Third, hospitals, why are you not driving awareness?  Why is it even remotely possible that a story can come out claiming 85% of nurses do not feel prepared to deal with Ebola.  We have had months to prepare for this!  Being unprepared is no longer an excuse.  There were only three deaths at the Boston Marathon bombing, in part, because there was a network of doctors prepared to deal with injuries.  Obviously they were not expecting terrorism, but it still worked out really well for a lot of the victims.  Imagine if there weren’t tents of doctors and hospitals close by.  How many more would have perished?

Being prepared and using common sense works.  At this stage, we should be calling for the heads of any Hospital leaders that don’t act.  Sadly, it is us, the everyday citizens that need to do something here.  If the VA is any indication, our government will be unable to hold those who should be ready to help us accountable for their inaction.

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The Middle Class is a Classic “Chicken or the Egg” Story

At its core, business is pretty simple.  An individual or group identifies an issue or a need in the market and produces a product or service to meet that need.  That same individual or group will charge a price for that product or service that covers the costs of production and includes some element of ‘profit’ to make the cycle worthwhile.  This principal is as true for Apple as it was for a carpenter making bookshelves in the 1850s; the only difference at this stage being complexity.

Understanding this elementary business principal is important context when looking at the present day American Middle Class.  Every day, it seems, there is another article detailing the ills of this large group of Americans none of which are so highly socialized as ‘wage stagnation.’  While it is impossible to argue against real wage growth of the class (or lack thereof), it is still worth analyzing the root cause of the issues besetting the silent majority.

First is the worst, second is the best

Remember that saying?  Not only was it a great way to save face after losing a relay race in third grade, it is also a great way to look at the impact that ‘being first’ has had on the American Middle Class.  America was one of the first countries to pour its heart and soul into the industrial revolution, big infrastructure, and major education.  Other countries were literally blown away by how fast the American machine could run.  Massive production and massive demand lifted the American Middle Class off of an agrarian economy and placed them onto the path of industrial might.  Industry gave rise to services which gave rise to the media/marketing produced image of the ‘American Dream.’  That is, to own a detached home with a white picket fence, a dog and a cat, two kids, a wife that stays home and cooks, and a career of steady, gainful employment.

Golly shucks, that sounds swell!

For a long time this ideal fueled the entire nation.  There was, however, a force lurking in the shadows that sought to derail this whole plan.  That force?

Keeping up with the Joneses

Now maybe this is a new phrase to you so to keep the playing field even, this is what it means: one sets the standard for the nature of ‘stuff’ that one ought to have and then everyone else plays catch-up.  This force is so strong that even the Bible has a specific commandment against it!  (Exodus 20:17 for those of you fact checking).

I point this force out because of its importance in the overall ‘what happened to the middle class’ picture.  It is widely believed that this commandment serves as a warning that wanting everything that your neighbor has could lead to a lot of issues.  Some of those issues are very direct (credit card debt) while others are more indirect (demand for cheaper goods).  Being that credit card debt is an individual issue, I’m not as concerned about that.  What I am concerned with is the American Middle Class’ desire to keep up with that Jones family.

If a country has a class of citizens that really want something, eventually they will get it.  Now most of the time we would equate that with freedom or social programs, but in this case we have an entire class that really, really wants to have the same TV that the Jones family has in their living room and the same furniture they have in their dining room.  They want to eat at restaurants and drive hot looking cars.  They want to wear the same dress and shoes as Mrs. Jones and they want the same tools as Mr. Jones.

The issue?  All that ‘stuff’ costs money.  A lot of money.  The solution?  Either get more money or drive down the cost of the goods.

Keeping in line with human nature, the road easiest traveled is likely to be taken when faced with an issue that has multiple solutions.  This is both a sad reflection on society and an incredible display of survival tactics.  In this case, the solution was to look for comparable goods/services that cost less than the real version, but that could also be a justifiable substitute for the original.  And who was there waiting to solve this issue?

The classic American business.  The most adept organizations in the world at creating solutions to problems.

American businesses started to notice the desires of the American Middle Class and these businesses moved to accommodate.  The businesses invested huge sums of money into training programs and research & development labs to author original operational excellence procedures.  These programs were designed around one part Cost Accounting, on part Operations Management, one part Technology, and one part Globalization.  The programs were a knock-your-socks off success.

American companies figured out how to drive efficiency and out-source or off-shore expensive, non-core elements of their businesses in an effort to gut costs.  When costs dropped, so did prices and Middle Class Americans flocked to Wal-Mart, Target, and Ikea to fill their houses with ‘stuff’ that the Joneses might also have purchased.

Everything is Awesome!

A bit more recent, but this line from the Lego movie illustrates the image that nig industry wanted all Americans to believe.  Keep buying your cheap stuff and you will feel great!  That Jones family and their high-quality durable goods and consumer items can eat it!  We got our bookshelf from Target and it barely cost us anything!  That’s precisely the issue though.  Demand for low prices means that businesses need to have low costs, which means they need to find cheap labor and materials.  It may sound unfair when a CEO ships 5,000 jobs to India and then is awarded a bonus of $50 Million dollars, but what really bakes my biscuit is how American consumers are using their hard earned dollars to authorize that behavior.

Remember the business principal?  A good or a service needs to be sold at a price that covers costs and includes profit.  If that CEO was able to ship jobs, manufacturing, etc. to India, ship the completed goods back to Wal-Mart and then sell them to Americans at a discount and still make money for the organization to the extent that he/she can be awarded a significant bonus, what chance does a business based in America have?  Why should any business employ Americans?  Why should any Americans get raises for work that could easily be moved to a lower cost bucket?

And you see our problem.  There is limited upward movement in the wages of Middle Class Americans, because we have demanded that there be downward pressure on prices.  For every take there is a give.  An equal force in the opposite direction to bring balance to the universe.  The American Middle Class’ purchasing habits may in fact be its own wort enemy.

What came first, the Chicken or the Egg?

We have seen that demand for cheaper goods has contributed to downward pressure on prices.  We have seen layoffs in the news and jobs shipped oversees.  We have seen the vast majority of goods that we purchase include a little gold sticker on the bottom that says “made in China.”  We have seen the subsequent rise of the Chinese and Indian middle classes as they benefit from being “second” to America’s “first.”  And we have seen the outrage that American citizens harbor over the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

What we haven’t seen is a change in our approach to solving the problem.  In fact, we have demanded even cheaper goods to offset the worry that our money wont go as far in the long run.  We continue to spend like there is no tomorrow on credit and student debt despite knowing – full well – that there will be a tomorrow.  We have not listened to those that warned us against this behavior and, most frustratingly, we have voted the same band of know-nothing politicians into office time and time again in the hopes that one of them will have a magical “ah hah” moment and cure us from all this misery.

If the chicken is legislation against corporations and the rich, then the egg is a fundamental shift in the American Middle Class’ approach to living.  This is less about who or what came first and more about what will work first.  The American Middle Class cannot rely on businesses to solve all of their problems.  They must do that on their own and to do so, they must go against all they know and take the road less traveled.

Raise taxes on corporations and the rich?  You get inversion and pass-through tax shelters in countries with favorable trade pacts.  You get armies of consultants and tax strategists that are hell bent at beating the system.  You are pitting the US House of Representatives and the Senate (two groups of people that everyone universally believes are morons) against some of the smartest people in the country.  Who do you think is going to win nine times out of ten?  This solution is anything but one.  It may feel great to protest and it may have the best slogans, but it is not going to work in the long run.

A mind shift in the American Middle Class to spend more money on fewer goods/services while demanding that those goods be made (at least in part) from sustainable American businesses is what this class needs to drive wage growth. Will this road be easily navigated?  Of course not.  The group previously mentioned has an insane amount of brain power and an even higher access to resources.  They will not go down lightly.  They will bring technology and robots.  They will try to game immigration laws.  They will do everything they can to get American consumers to blindly purchase their goods.

You, the American consumer, need to do your homework.  Shift your spending habits.  Vote with your dollars.  You need to drive the change from the bottom up because the one thing that the American Middle Class has over the richest in this country is scale.  There are way more of you and if you all start buying high quality, American made goods, those jobs will start to come back.  When they come back, the competition for talent increases.  When that competition increases, wages follow.

The solution is simple, it is execution that is complicated.  Just like if you want a low percentage body fat, taking a pill isn’t going to get you there.  6 months in the gym with revamped eating habits on the other hand will get you there.  You just need to choose what approach you are going to take and then accept the result when it comes.

In this case, the answer to the question is ‘the egg,’ but how many people will choose correctly?



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The Future Arrived…Yesterday

$6.8 Billion dollars.

Not chump change, but not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.  This amount, however, holds quite a significant meaning.  This is the money that those of us in the “pro-space” camp have been waiting for.  This is the money that quite literally will write the history books of the future.  Ponder that phrase for a moment, actually, I really like that thought and I need to make it a cool quote further down this post.  This money will serve as the seed money for both Boeing and SpaceX as these two massively innovative companies build the technology and tools to accomplish the following:

  • Build a sustainable colony on the moon which will also serve as a ‘jumping off point’ for future space missions
  • Build the shuttles to take humans to Mars
  • Build a sustainable colony on Mars
  • Build the tools and shuttles to take humans to the Jovian moons
  • Drive the ‘new’ economy whereby we build stuff that is ripped directly from the pages of science-fiction novels

You see, when we spend money on extraordinary ideas, we tend to be both successful in our endeavors and come up with a lot of insane stuff along the way.  Want to grow crops on the moon?  Well, the solutions that will make that possible will also revolutionize how we grow crops here on Earth.  The future started, yesterday, with this NASA announcement.  Was it under the radar?  Of course, we haven’t valued space in ages, but look at the fundementals here.  This is the American people funding, through NASA, two American companies that will put Americans on the Moon, Mars, and into deep space.

“This is the money that quite literally will write the history books of the future.” – Drew Hall

America has been called “down and out.”  We have been laughed at, bullied, and embarrassed ourselves. We have started wars for resources.  We have toppled democratically elected governments.  We have done a lot of really awful shit.  We can still lead the world into the future.  We still have the best economy and we still have dreamers. Let us put value on what we can be.

Let us stand behind NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX.   See you on the moon!

Posted in Business, Curiosity, Current Events, Politics, Technology | Leave a comment

Some of this truth might offend you

If it doesn’t do that then I hope it just makes you think.  If neither happen, then I have failed.  In no particular order:

  1. I see more middle-aged women texting and driving than any other group of people followed closely by lower twenties guys.  This may explain why both groups of people are so terrible at driving despite telling everyone how great of drivers they are.
  2. Conservatives hate abortion, but love the death penalty.  Liberals love abortion (not the literal act, obviously), but hate the death penalty.  I’m no scientist, but that doesn’t make sense.
  3. As a society, we seem to spend little value on “personal accountability.”  All you here is about “that wouldn’t have happened if this person didn’t…”  Maybe if we started holding ourselves more accountable that would translate into the media and politics.
  4. The climate is changing.  It matters very little why or who caused it, but we cannot refute that it is changing.  Stop arguing about who is right and who is wrong and start thinking about how to solve the problem.
  5. The Earth will always have organized religion.  Humanity may also choose to leave that here when it moves to other planets.
  6. We should value those people that selflessly dedicate themselves to helping others, helping the environment, or helping animals.
  7. We shouldn’t put a premium on the thoughts of celebrities just because they have access to a soap box.  Being dumb as shit and uneducated, but being great at acting in front of a green screen does not make you some “all knowing God.”
  8. Political correctness is a great way to cover up they evils of society without addressing the root cause.  It’s like putting an ice pack on your broken leg or “Acting like Sweden.”
  9. We don’t read as many thought provoking books as we should.  The ones that we tend to read are force fed to us and usually drawn out buckets of garbage.  For example, David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell.
  10. If a private organization wants to allow their employees to unionize, they are welcome to do so and should bare all responsibility for it.  Public unions serve only to keep crappy employees in their jobs and crappier politicians in office.
  11. Cutting funding for infrastructure and education is going to be circled in the history books as “the decisions that made the USA crumble” (pun intended, this is my blog, get out if you don’t like it).
  12. Everyone has a plan to fix healthcare and none of them start with “as a society, start acting healthier.”
  13. President Obama was about as effective as someone without experience running uber-complex organizations could have been expected to be.
  14. Electing Jeb Bush or Rick Perry President would prove that we have lost our ability to think rationally.
  15. Everyone loved to blast Marilyn Manson as being a bad influence on kids, but no one says shit about the message Katie Perry is sending to 13 year old girls.
  16. John McCain should be removed from officer for associating with ISIS terrorists.
  17. Women love Hilary Clinton and view her as a champion for women’s rights.  Meanwhile her husband has a mistress code named “the Energizer” and her allowance of his behavior suggests to me that she is too weak to win the Whitehouse on her own merits.
  18. From the IT Department: if it is digital, it cannot be removed from the internet and everyone will see it.  You have a right to privacy, but you should also invest in a Polaroid camera.
  19. Too many people love to crap on millenials in the workplace.  Sorry for not buying into the “wait your turn” mentality that has dominated the corporate culture for the past 60 years.
  20. If I see you litter I will want to fight you.  I will likely just pick up after you.
  21. If I could bottle common sense, would I be able to sell it or would I be shunned from profiting off of something that everyone should be entitled to for free?
  22. Disney will do more for Star Wars than George Lucas ever could.
  23. I don’t heap praise on people because “everyone should be loved the way they are.”  Some of you need to put some effort into your life.
  24. Are you wearing those weird belly-button high shorts that somehow are popular again?  They look awful.  A message from every guy on the planet.
  25. White guys aged 25-35 suck more ass and say ‘yes’ more often than anyone else in the world.  They then expect this when they move up high enough in their organizations.  This explains why so many obvious bad ideas are not shot down right away.
  26. Uber and industry exterminating technologies like it should be applauded, not belittled because a government created monopoly is going to be put out of business because of them.
  27. The drought in California should be a huge national wake-up call, instead we are watching reruns of House Hunters International.
  28. You and I are in competition.  The race is on to see who can become the best version of themselves in all facets of their lives.  I am trying, really hard.
  29. If you don’t want to pay a high price for furniture, you need to lower you expectation of quality.  A bookcase for $50 at Target should not be held to the same standard as the $375 equivalent at Jordan’s.
  30. That noticeable silence when you ask religious leaders to denounce extreme sects of their faith or to mobilize protests against those extreme views is deafening.  That goes for Muslims, Christians, and Jews.
  31. Post a selfie and get 10k likes, every girl’s dream.  Creepy guy stares at the same girl on the bus, every girl’s nightmare.
  32. Major League Baseball hasn’t figured out that the product is crap and Baby Boomers are getting old.  Good luck selling a terrible product at high margins to people who are uninterested.
  33. There is nothing humane about an execution.  So why do we spend so much time and money with injection?  Hanging doesn’t sound so bad when you read about Vlad the Impailer.
  34. Every parking lot should be covered in Solar panels like the REI in Framingham, MA.
  35. Democrats should be after Obama’s head for his steadfast devotion to hiring lobbyists and crony capitalism.
  36. The Department of Education has not improved education since it was founded.  It should be abolished and replaced with a grant system.
  37. Social Enterprise is the PR Campaign that capitalism needs, but it is too complicated for most Executives to fully understand.
  38. Mitt Romney was 100% spot on about Russia.
  39. “First to Report” was NOT the name of a course in any college’s Journalism school.
  40. Everyday I unfriend the people I don’t really remember/haven’t spoken to in a meaningful way in many years on Facebook.  I use the Birthday reminder as my tool to bring up the 1-2 people for consideration.  I don’t feel bad about it.
  41. Kate Upton doesn’t do anything for me and it has nothing to do with her weight.  It has everything to do with being told that “I hate fat people” because I don’t write middle school love notes to her on Twitter.
  42. I used to think Ron Paul had all the answers.  He doesn’t and that’s okay; a single individual shouldn’t have all the answers.
  43. Rhode Islanders need to stop voting for the same people.  The state is a pool of untapped potential trapped under the thumb of people who are using the public’s trust for personal gain.
  44. The Mighty Ducks 2 was a terrible movie with a horrible plot.  Don’t get me started on MD3.
  45. From /r/showerthoughts “If you’re no longer covered by your parent’s health insurance, your manufacturer’s warranty is over”  That is a brilliant thought.

Please think about these.


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Corporate Person-hood

I tend to be very pro-business when it comes to policy and law, but there are a few things that I fundamentally disagree with in the business-world.  One of these is corporate person-hood.  I understand the legal pretense of these laws and rulings, but I also think they are a cop-out.  When Mitt Romney states in response to the statement “Corporations aren’t people” with “sure they are,” it illustrates an oversimplification of a complex problem.

Some things that you need to understand though, corporations need (in the current context) to be viewed as people to:

  • Sue and be Sued,
  • Enter into contracts on behalf of their shareholders, and
  • be taxed.

Other abilities, like Free Speech (Citizen’s United) and now Freedom of Religion are the result of rulings that seek to protect individual right to Association.  The legal precedent was set back in 1819 with Dartmouth College v. Woodward when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dartmouth College on the contract clause (protecting the contract of the school’s charter).  This ruling gave immense power to the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but also established that a private enterprise was protected by the Constitution as an individual would be.

I don’t disagree with this ruling as I believe it incredibly important that the states and governments not be able to alter contracts of private businesses as they see fit.  There absolutely needs to be a separation in these situations.

On my original point, though, I believe we need to pass a Constitutional Amendment explicitly defining the legal entity of corporations in the United States.  As I noted above, there are three properties that must be present to make commerce work and those are the only three.  I believe in the individual and restricting corporations (groups) from acting as an individual is the right thing to do.  The byproduct of this ruling is that it would also invalidate the Citizen’s United ruling as well as the Hobby Lobby ruling.



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It Continues to Blow My Mind

Nasa celebrated the Mars Rover’s first martian year with a pretty cool “selfie.”

The picture itself is still very cool as the rover is one impressive piece of technology, but what really blows my mind is that it is on another planet.  No human has walked there before or even seen the red landscape through anything but a digital screen.  It almost looks unreal, like it is just in some remote part of the Nevada desert and if we looked hard enough, we would find it.

Space is our future.  It is a shame and an honor in the same that I am able to see the beginning.

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Those Comments Add So Much Value!

I wrote previously about the complete lack of value offered by comments on major news sites and while looking at an article posted on CNN this afternoon I was reminded why I made that original post.

The original comment isn’t bad.  It represents an opinion without attacking anyone.  I’m completely cool with that.  What came after it, as you can see, was so horrible it had to all be deleted (they were gone before I got there).  If those comments were so valuable, don’t you think CNN would have kept them?  My opinion?  Leverage the BBC’s playbook and drop commenting.  The world will be better for it.

 Click to enlarge.  Comments are from cnn.com.

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They Are What We Thought They Were

Paralleling the World Cup in the headlines are the assaults of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Leveant (ISIL, ISIS) on towns and cities throughout Syria and Northern Iraq.  The media and a lot of Democrats have been quick to point out how the vacuum of a failed mission under false pretenses opened this region up to the most brutal and extreme terrorists around.  In my mind, fault and the past are not important enough to dwell on given what is happening in the present.  Sort out Bush and Cheney once the terrorists are purged from the face of the planet.

We need to deal with this.  I am fully in the camp of a smaller military and non-internationalist foreign policy, but this is different.  This is not a dictator holding down one group of people in his country.  This is religious fanatics point blank executing thousands of people for what appears to be fun.  This is the real deal and we need to recognize what is different here.  This is not some country acting up, this is a stateless faction that knows no boundaries.  They are a threat to all people in all places.  They do not care that they committed “War Crimes” as the BBC likes to point out.  Think about how absurd that sounds.  These guys are grabbing anyone who is not them, shooting them in the back of the head, and posting it to Youtube/Twitter.

Do you think they care that they may be violating the law?  Do you think “War Criminal” makes them shake in their boots?

These guys are sick and have no real agenda, but to kill and oppress anyone who does not accept their twisted view of Islam.  That is you.  That is me.  That is the everyone you likely know.  These guys are not human, but they will die like humans.  Iran sees this.  The Kurds see this.  Everyone sees this.  I know we do not want to get involved, but while there is only 3000-5000 in their ranks, we should be using our Air Force to pound them into submission.  The Iraqi Army, Peshmerga, and the Iranian Special Forces can mop up the rest.  We, and specifically President Obama, must move quickly.



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Using the Airport 101

Admittedly this is a very selfish “how to” guide.  I spend a decent amount of time in airports as per my job requires and I’ve seen non-travelers make the same mistakes over and over again.  So let me help you, help me.

  1. It’s the airport, not the red carpet – I don’t understand why everyone needs to get so dressed up to be crammed in a metal tube sitting next to strangers for hours on end.  Seriously, what compels otherwise sane people to wake up and go “I’m getting on an airplane today, let me pick out the most ridiculous clothes I own and put on my entire jewelry collection.”  It’s just a plane and you’re probably not someone the paparazzi care about – so chill out.
  2. It’s the airport, not your bed room – I don’t want to contradict point number one, but please make some of an effort to put on clothes.   Grabbing the nastiest looking stuff you own and looking like you were thrust from bed and dragged to the airport makes you look ridiculous.
  3. If you don’t have status on any airline, you aren’t a “professional traveler” This may be a hard pill to swallow, but going on a plane once or twice a year doesn’t qualify you as a frequent traveler.  What is a frequent traveler?  From September 26th to December 23rd (2010) I went to the airport 18 times.  That’s twice a week for 9 out of 13 weeks and I’m at the low-end of the truly frequent travelers.  Keep your vacation travel to yourself.
  4. Don’t line up to board before your group is called – Actually, don’t even go near the door until your group is called.  You will get on the plane, you have an assigned seat.   Every time I have to push through a horde of people that are in boarding group 4 to get to the line for frequent fliers it brings me one step closer to attacking, no one in particular, just blind rage.

There are obviously a million other things the once a year crowd should know, but I want to spend some time to map out how you should go about your day.

Start off by dressing in a normal way.  Wear clothing that you can be comfortable in, but that doesn’t make the general public want to throw-up (morbidly obese woman should not be wearing skin tight clothing that they spill out of.  It is horrifying that you could even describe someone as “spilling out” of their clothing).  Wear something on your feet that is easy to take off, but requires socks.  You HAVE to take your footwear off so boots that require a well trained team to unzip or unbuckle should be avoided.  Socks are essential because there are plenty of people that have some disgusting feet.  Like image-burned-in-my-brain disgusting.

Other accessories to avoid:

1. Excessive Amounts of Jewelry – Why the hell are you wearing that many necklaces and bracelets to go sit on a carbon fiber tube for three hours?  Are you a pirate?  Are you going to a rap convention?

2. $56.78 worth of change in your pocket – What were you doing before you came to the airport?  Only a psycho carries this much change in their pocket.  Did you forget to stop at the Coinstar? Are you a bank robber from the 1880s?

So at this point you’ve arrived at the airport.  Based on the look most of you have on your faces, I highly doubt you’ve ever been outside before.  Some of you actually look like what I would image George Washington would look like if I traveled back in time, grabbed him, and then dropped his ass in the middle of an airport security line.

What were you expecting to see when you got to the airport?  Oh well we came here thinking there was going to be a science exhibit, but then we were strip searched and forced into a metal tube to God knows where. Calm down.  Since you listened to me regarding your attire, you’re fine.  Just walk to a ticket kiosk or baggage attendant and get your boarding pass/deal with your bags and pay attention.  Stop checking Twitter every five seconds and stop turning the music up in your head phones.

Side-note: Just because you have a smart phone with your boarding pass on it doesn’t mean you figured all this shit out and somehow you are a master traveler.  Wipe that smug look off your face and pay attention.  I would also recommend that you get the paper boarding pass the first few times you use the electronic one.  Until you are a pro-status electronic boarding pass traveler, you are still bound to mess something up and delay everyone else while you figure out how to get the bar code back.

Okay, we have our tickets and we ditched our bags.  Security time.  Now the media and a lot of personal liberty groups would have you believe that the TSA is waiting with gloved hands to fondle the hell out of you, but that is not actually the case.  Getting a pat-down is usually the product of two situations 1) you decline the normal process (metal detectors, imaging equipment) or 2) you fail one of those processes because you kept a lot of dumb shit on your body/in your pockets (yes, cell phones set off the metal detector).

Double Secret Pro Tip: If you can control it, being a white, unassuming male in business attire is probably the best way to not make a new friend in the TSA.

In the security line grab 2 bins and in the first place just your laptop.  In the second place shoes, belt, wallet, cell phone, ticket, and liquids (jacket on top if you have one).  Place your bags in the following order – roller bag, bag that hold the laptop, laptop bin, and then the other bin.  If you are going over two bins and 4 total pieces - get out of line and go home, you’re not ready to be outside.  Walk through the metal detector or the “other” machine at the order of the TSA.  Remember, listening to them means you don’t have to have a full contact experience with a stranger in a public place.

Now, grab you roller bag and place it next to you, open the bag you’re putting the laptop in and get the computer in there.  Then grab the other bin an walk your ass away from the x-ray machine.  Seriously you don’t need to get redressed right there.  Don’t be a bottle neck - just grab and go.  Get yourself situated at one of the benches that the TSA set up outside of the security area.  It’s that simple.  Did you get touched? No. Did you get through in the 1 minutes (or less) that it is supposed to take? Yep.  Now go to the gate.

Wonderful, we are at the gate.  Stay way from the two lines that lead to the boarding door. Seriously, stay away from them.  You standing in the way literally helps no one.  Especially since the boarding process works as follows (I’ll use United as an example):

  1. First Class & Global Services – These people either paid a ton to be special or have passed the unannounced mileage threshold to be seen as always special.
  2. 1k Fliers – They have done at least 100k miles this year
  3. Star Alliance Gold & Premier Executive – 50k miles
  4. Star Alliance Silver & Premier – 25k miles.
Note: Some of these descriptions are off as this is an older post that was in draft form for a while.

Your ticket will CLEARLY state if you are in one of these groups.  If you look at yours and it isn’t instantly obvious that you are in one of them, you aren’t.  From here the normal boarding process begins.

  1. Boarding Group 1 – These are the suckers that paid extra per ticket to board early.  I bet that was worth it…Guess what though, you are not special.  You may have paid a whopping $25-50 per ticket extra, but compared to the frequent fliers you aren’t anything.  Stay away from the boarding lines until they say “Early Access Fliers/Boarding Group 1″
  2. Boarding Group 2 – These people are sitting in window seats
  3. Boarding Group 3 – Middle seats
  4. Boarding Group 4 – Aisle seats

So what did we learn?  If you aren’t a frequent flyer and you want to sit in an aisle seat, I would get the early access.  Otherwise you are probably checking your bag.  I know that sounds awful, but one of the by products of bag fees is that everyone wants to bring a carry on.  Trust me on this, there is a lot less space then bags on the plane.  If you are in boarding group 4, have them gate check your bag.  It’s free and you wont be the moron holding up the plane because you boarded last thinking you were too smart for that scam.  If you’re in boarding group three I would think about this as well.  It makes the process faster and if you’re in the middle/back of the plane, your wait at baggage claim is going to be around 5 minutes.

We made it on the plane though!  Nice work.  There are only a few other tips that I have for you today.

  • If you are in the window or middle seat, control your bladder.  Nothing pisses people off like being woken up in the middle of a 6 hour flight to move so you can go to the bathroom for the fifth time.
  • If you plan on listening to music, I don’t want to hear it through my headphones.  I’m sorry you’re so gangster you blew out your ear drums, but don’t punish me.  Also, nothing says “I’m a loser” like dressing like a bad ass and listening to Kelly Clarkson.  (You know who I’m talking about Flight 503, BOS to SFO, Seat 42E).
  • The planes are packed tightly – respect that for a few hours you are going to be very much violating someones personal space.  Wear deodorant, don’t eat a ton of garlic right before getting on the plane, and (more difficult) don’t be so fat you spill over the arm rest into my seat.

I think the moral of the story is use common sense.  Traveling isn’t hard.  Nothing that I wrote about should be too difficult to keep in mind while you’re at the airport.  And be nice to the flight attendants - their job is about safety, not being a hand maiden.  They don’t need to be treated like shit because your bag didn’t fit in the overhead or you’re too fat to fit in one seat.

Posted in Business | 4 Comments

Comments on Articles/Blogs

Navigate to any newspaper or popular blog and you will find some of the most evil writing ever conjured buried in each post’s comment section.

Some of it will be racist, some of it will be trolling, and much of it will be oddly political.  What is universal to all of the comments, though, is this: they usually provide no value to the story or the point the author was trying to make.

The comments that actually to matter tend to be from friends, family, or individuals that are invested in learning more about the topic.  Just look at some of the economics blogs out there.  Those comments matter.  Do not look at CNN though, your life will be ruined.

Why are the CNN comments (and similar sources) there?  So we can see what society is really like?  No, the individuals leaving the comments are such a small sliver of humanity that, statistically, there is no insight that could be gleaned from them.  What about sites like The Huffington Post or Slate or Red State?  These political mediums tend to be dominated by the party each parrots to, so the comments typically represent a bunch of people giving each other high-fives and feeling more comfortable with extremist views.  Think about it this way, if you invited 10 people over to your house that were politically aligned with you on a topic and asked them to debate the topic – would that be a debate?  Or would everyone just feel smug at the fact they are all on the same page?

To take it a step further, if you felt that the United States should deport everyone with the last name “Smith” and found a blog that also thought this, the comment section would be a horrible place to go.  It would just be a hive mind of poor ideas protected by bias moderators and a community that wants to convince itself that it is right.

I can only imagine the type of data each of these sites and blogs is pulling from these comment sections and I highly doubt that they care about the users that so dutifully post.  This is likely about money and ad revenue and nothing more.  If so, it is a sad reflection of our society’s priorities.

I do think it is dangerous to create this environment where we perpetuate extremism by not holding sane or logical discussions about actual issues.  We just sit at our computers and assassinate the character and thoughts of someone we don’t know when we could likely take their views and use them to conceptualize better solutions to our problems.  As I wrote before, we are obsessed with being right to the point that progress has ground to a halt.  This shouldn’t be our desired end-state.

Posted in Curiosity, Politics | Leave a comment