Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More on Stein.

Wow, now here's an article that is worth reading!

If you've read my other blog, you'll be able to see that I get upset when someone gets paid to write an article full of common sense. However, the Ben Stein article (see link above) has true value. He doesn't tell you to "look at the other person in the face" when having a conversation. He doesn't remind you to speak clearly and not mumble. That's common sense. No one thinks to themselves, "Gee, I always thought it was okay to mumble. I'm glad I read that article." The people that mumble either don't think they mumble, or don't care.

Ben Stein has good advice for people who like to converse. I just finished a meeting with an executive at my company, and while I think we had an intelligent conversation and both learned something about the other... I still wish I'd read this article before the meeting, instead of just now.

Win Ben Stein's Brain!

I am rarely unimpressed by Ben Stein. Whenever he speaks, he seems to speak rather intelligently.
It may be because Ben Stein listens. He listens to society, and what makes them angry. He listens to big business and understands what makes it profitable. He listened to his economic professors and now seems to understand how a free market economy works (which, I don't feel many people truly understand).
It may be because he knows when to keep his mouth shut. I don't know how many stupid or irrelevant thoughts he's had... if there have been many, he's been smart enough not to say them out loud (a skill I sometimes wish I had).
Mostly, I think it's that Ben Stein doesn't have grandiose feelings of narcissism. He doesn't feel like the world owes him something. He doesn't feel like big businesses should offer services for free.
I am tired of paying for gas. It's expensive. But, I'm also tired of consumers who feel that it's collusion or price gouging on the part of big oil companies. If the product you sold was more expensive... you'd have to raise your sale price. That's how it works. Ben Stein understands that.
I like that Ben Stein doesn't whine or bitch about things. He doesn't try to tell you that your bank is evil for trying to turn a profit; a concept that seems foreign to Liz Weston.
Liz is upset about how banks charge overdraft fees, but doesn't seem to realize that you can avoid the whole topic by maintaining a balance in your bank account and not writing checks for more money than you have.
I've read the article, and I understand that my statement above is a simplistic conclusion based on material in her article. But, the point I'm trying to make is that big business is necessary. Big business doesn't try to screw customers - otherwise, they wouldn't have any.
Think about how many customers there are for a company like Wachovia (which is used in Liz Weston's story). Think about how many of those customers balance their check books and never have to worry about overdraft fees. Think about how many customers pay overdraft fees, but don't complain because they understand they make a mistake. Now, think about the customers that complain about overdraft fees. It's probably a small percentage of the overall population. And, even of all those that complain, how many are complaining simply so that they can raise a stink (My wife raised a stink about an overdraft fee, and they waived it). The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Do you think Wachovia could stay in business if they screwed their customers? They could if they were the only show in town. But, customers probably move money into accounts at other banks all the time. If Wachovia was in the business of screwing customers they would be hemorrhaging money.
Big business is necessary. If you don't agree... put your money in a local bank. Stop buying gas from Shell and Exxon. Cut up your credit cards and hawk your Dell or Ibook. Don't ever go to Home Depot or Wal-Mart and stop watching NBC on your Time Warner Cable connection.
Or... understand the services that are provided by big business. Call the customer support line and complain when you think you've been wronged. Don't be afraid to move your account to Bank of America or cut up your HSBC gold card and apply at Capital One.
Life is too short to be cynical (All banks are evil and the gas companies are in collusion). Be positive and happy (I don't like the way my bank treated me, so I'm taking my business somewhere else). Understand that prices are high because people will pay them. Think about your kids and smile. Know that sunshine is free.
Act like Ben Stein. Don't complain and think about what you're going to say before you say it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Elementary School Gun Drill

Here are the problems with this drill: No one stated that this was a drill. Elementary students actually thought there was a man with a gun in their school. Sure, the thought was a good one... let's see how these students react so that we can analyze their mistakes and teach them the right way. However, I'd be really pissed off if my little girl came home scared out of her mind. There is probably no shortage of nightmares and traumatized children in this little town.
Good though... poor execution.

RIAA fines in leu of lawsuit.

So, you're a college student downloading music. You get a letter from the RIAA indicating that they are going to sue you unless you settle by paying a $3,000 fine for pirating music. You're a broke college student, so you can't afford to fight the legal battle, but you can't afford the $3,000 fine either. The RIAA has expensive lawyers, and plenty of them. Is this fair?
Well... pirating music is illegal, even if "everybody is doing it." Sure, the RIAA may be bullying college students, but think about how many songs get illegaly downloaded across campus networks. How do you change the student's attitudes? These fines may go a long way to do that.
Sure, it sucks. I'd hate to be one of those students. I have a job, I'm not paying tuition, and I still can't afford a $3,000 fine. But, if you're the RIAA, you have to take some action. What else can you do?

Friday, May 11, 2007

You can catch more bee's with honey, than with vinegar

I can tell that Michael Moore has never heard this phrase. If he has, he must not feel that it has much value. In this article on Yahoo!NEWS, Moore is quoted as stating, in a letter to the U.S. Treasury, "I understand why the Bush administration is coming after me — I have tried to help the very people they refuse to help, but until George W. Bush outlaws helping your fellow man, I have broken no laws and I have nothing to hide."
I agree that the health care industry is in need of a major overhaul. I have corporate provided health care and am still forking over $300 a month for health care for myself, and two dependants. I also agree that George W. Bush has not established his legacy as a revered and respected president. He has shown that his intelligence is certainly not one of his strong points. However, Michael Moore seems to think that everything is Bush's fault. In his acceptance speech for the Bowling for Columbine Oscar, Moore scolds Bush for the war in Iraq. In Fahrenheit 9/11 Moore attempts to display the lackadaisical manner in which Bush responded to the terrorist attacks in September of 2001. In this new film, Moore seems to indicate that the health care problems lie solely in the hands of the President and his administration.
Does Moore provide any ideas for solutions? Or - as so many Democrats seem to do - does he simply provide criticism? I'm asking because I haven't seen any of these films.
While Michale Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 grossed a record breaking $119 million, I can proudly say that none of that money is mine.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

How to screw up your ERA in 1 easy inning.

1. Underestimate the Yankees - God knows I hate 'em, but you can't ever underestimate the boys in blue, especially when you're playing in the Bronx Zoo.
2. Count on your hot-shot short stop - Okay, so this isn't really Tejada's fault, but I'm a little upset that Micheal Young tried to bare hand what could easily have been the first out of the inning. Instead, Young bobbled the ball and left it in the dirt. He looked like a little league player that was trying to show off. Of course, Michael Young's dad isn't there to yell at him and tell him that there are 8 other players on the field and he needs to stop bein' a hot shot and glove the damned ball.
3. Give up 4 runs before that first out - I don't mean to sound like John Madden here, but the way you win games is by limiting your opponents scoring, while increasing your own. Giving up 4 runs before the first out is the adverse to that.
4. Get your first out on a ground ball after 26 pitches - That's alot of pitches for your first inning... especially when your 26th pitch is the first out. You can't go nine if you're giving up pitches at that pace.