Archive for August, 2012

Adjustment Games

August 23, 2012 3 comments

A paradigm of employment exists. Eight hour shifts occur five days a week and involve an hourly value or yearly salary for tasks performed. One works for a company or entity and is expected to perform the tasks for which he or she is employed while “on the clock.” Though still in use and likely an automatic notion for the majority of employers and employees, does this model still function in contemporary society?

How can one maximize efficiency in a system where tasks are less mechanical and more creative? Unlike physical jobs such as those based on agriculture and manufacturing, jobs where creativity is the major tool in use demand different types of performance. Workers in the creative field may remain stationary during their shift and may not even create a single item for the company. For some, an entire career may pass without a single physical object being created. Unlike the farmer or factory worker whose every shift involves the manipulation or creation of actual objects, the creative field involves abstraction and accomplishments that may be beyond the physical realm.

This new world where abstraction is at play requires a different type of work day. Workers whose primary tool is their creativity cannot be expected to perform at a steady rate. Varied moods and levels of inspiration lead to varied levels of success and employers who recognize this have a greater chance at success. The ideal employer recognizes this varied level of performance and creates a day based on this variety. Workers in the creative fields do not need an eight hour block of time to function; instead, a day based on their own design allows them to create as their brains drive them forward.

Unlike older models of employment, our contemporary economy is best served by a looser form of structure. Workers in the creative fields should be allowed to work at times of their choosing and employers should strive more for the quality of time provided to a company. An army of drones may look busy but if quality suffers a serious problem is in hiding. Maximum efficiency does not mean maximum structure.

Claims of Insane

August 20, 2012 1 comment

If one claims to be “insane” as a means to reduce or avoid punishment, what are the means used to establish such a conclusion? In claiming one’s insanity, must one not use standards of sanity as a means of comparison? Herein like the paradox: claiming to be insane requires an awareness of the standards of sanity and, by virtue of possessing these standards, a state of at the very least an awareness of standards of sanity.

If sanity is the means by which we judge one insane- i.e., an individual’s behavior differs from the standards of sanity, can we then conclude that awareness establishes sanity? Is insanity a choice? Truly one who is insane cannot understand the standards of sanity.

If one asserts to be insane we must assume that he or she has evaluated his or her behavior in relation to sane behaviors. Upon this reflection he or she has found the behavior to differ from standards of sanity. This process of reflection and conclusion reveal a state of sane brain functioning and reveal not the status of insanity but rather faulty reasoning.

This is not to disregard claims of insanity. Instead, I aim to suggest that claims of an individual to be insane are impossible. One who is truly insane is unable to make these claims accurately. Only when a status of insanity is demonstrated by an outside source can we truly consider the validity of the claim. The truly insane are unable to reason correctly and, if in claiming to be insane, demonstrating a level of sane brain functioning.

Unintended Damage: Reactions and Response

August 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Mass violence creates dual layers of destruction. An immediate layer of destruction comes as the moment occurs: a mass shooting causes injuries and death at the scene of the act. This is the most powerful moment of drama, the moment when an actor’s plans are carried out. In a sense, this initial moment is when victims are created: plans become reality.

The initial moment is fast, but its reaction is the secondary layer of destruction and creates more long-term changes that will affect those beyond the initial scene of the crime. In our reaction we aim with the best intentions of prevention: we sense a vulnerability and do what we can to protect ourselves from a similar act. These reactions are crucial to protect ourselves but come with an adjustment to our society and often requires an elimination of personal freedom. If acts of violence depend on areas of vulnerability we must eliminate these vulnerabilities to be safe. Complete safety requires complete control…but is this what we want?

A weak, but accurate image is to imagine society as a cardboard box. As the animal in this sanctuary the vulnerabilities we need to breathe and see only serve us if they keep us safe. A delicate balance must be found. History helps us calibrate our society but emotion makes us prone to rapid change and we may find panic inspiring us to cover more holes and hide ourselves away. Moving to a system of protection may feel better but we risk losing the culture of ideas we need to stay alive. A healthy society can only exist if dangerous ideas and people can exist. Yes, it is a hazard and yes we will be hurt over and over, but our freedom is too important to trade away for notions of better safety. One wonders whether these moves to better safety are even affective: will not dangerous people find ways to hurt others if the inspired? How much can we do to protect ourselves from human enthusiasm.

Commonly Exceptional: Today’s Political Conundrum

August 7, 2012 Leave a comment

The public expects its leaders to be both exceptional leaders and “average Joe’s” cut from the common cloth of society. We expect big ideas, but normal ways-of-life. Hobbies should be typical, boring and non-threatening, but deep within that noggin must burrow solutions to our most complicated of problems. Are politicians held to an impossible mode of evaluation? If we expect our leaders to solve the problems of our society and pave a golden road forward are they capable of coming from a common background? Do great leaders come from uncommon backgrounds and, if so, how do we explain their status as leaders? Must great individuals come from backgrounds that propel him/her to greatness? One wonders whether its possible for great leaders to come from common backgrounds. After all, if great leaders can come from the common cloth why are we not leaders? One might sense a lack of personal value and a stinging ding to one’s pride if the leaders can come from our common cloth.

Leaders choose their roles as leaders. Individuals who pursue positions of power do so with a foundational belief that his or her skills warrant power. “I am born to lead” may never be spoken, but deep within a leader’s mindset this perceived status is at the core of his or her sense of self. Beyond this personal belief, individuals who eventually reach positions where just the potential of leadership roles is possible only achieve consideration after accomplishment. No one simply grants leadership to random people: value is perceived and opportunities are provided.

As a means to plan where we head as a society, we have much to consider when deciding what template of leadership we desire. Do we want an individual with a common background whose life experience and ideas connect closely to our own? Or, do we want someone abnormal in experience and (perhaps) ideas. Innovative solutions come from brains that are not common and many of the problems challenging society require innovative ideas. We may need these innovative ideas to solve these problems. Yet again great danger hides in innovation and a figure unlike the common cloth may prove a hazard. It is a difficult decision to make, but when considering what type of leader we both want and need we must consider the mold from which these figures stem. Do we want the Apple known by all or something rather random.

By That Which We Carry

August 6, 2012 Leave a comment

The items we choose to carry with us reveal much about both who we are and how we want the world to perceive us. Identities are created and suggested in our actions and via these accessories we extend these notions outward. In many ways our media is a mirror of our own individual tasks at “persona creation” and offer a glimpse into the means by which we say who we are to others.

The items which fill our pockets come from choices. Consumer culture has long understood the power of branding and the tribal tendencies of human being. We do more than simply own a phone; instead, that phone is a device of numerous connections from which we can be categorized. An “Apple User” or “IPhone Owner” means less about the company and product and more about we as individual and consumer who has made a decision.

There is power in choice and judging the effects of our choices is the basis of many details of life. Bad decisions suggest flawed character and, vice inversely, notions of bad character come about when evaluating one’s choices. How we we establish who a person is? Limited as we are with our ability to penetrate the psyche, the raw evidence of choices and character function as the basis of our conclusions.

Breaking and Building: Using Language

August 1, 2012 Leave a comment

An interesting thought pervades George Steiner’s The Poetry of Thought: certain forms of writing, like poetry, break down language, while others, like philosophy, aim to build on language. Unlike the writer of non-fiction, whose sentences work to build to an argument or convincing presentation, the poet positions words that may or may not add meaning and may, in some cases, actually work to contradict each other.

The poet uses language in radical ways. In poetry, the variety of language use is endless. From the physical appearance of the words (line breaks, word positioning) to sound (rhyme, rhythm) to even meaning (metaphor and paradox), language has no set foundation. Words are bent and broken in poetry and, unlike other forms of writing, exist as nuggets of mystery where meaning isn’t certain and function within the sentence or work as a whole may or may not exist to assist the reader.

Poetry is unique in this use of language. The journalist must use language to add clarity: a piece of writing with contradictions or paradox does not function to assist the writer in his or her goal. Herein likes the key issue: what is the writer’s goal? This cannot be simplified but in relation to the reader, a poet has the option to toy with a reader’s understanding. Abstraction can play in poetry.


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