Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cars, Suits & Salaries

Now that the election is over it seems the news has returned with many things of interest, let's start with the Big 3.

I'm talking about America's long troubled car manufacturers and their need for a government bailout. Here's one place where I think EVERYONE should turn a cold shoulder to their pleas for help and here's why. First, it is a rare situation where both the company and their employees are to blame, but this is the case here. The companies have refused to innovate and change to accommodate the changing market of better fuel efficiency, smaller vehicles and hybrid technology. If you'd believe it some of the first mass produced electric cars were made by GM and systematically killed off by the company one by one. If you don't believe me rent "Who killed the electric car". Add on top of that their need to build bigger SUVs, trucks and just plain UGLY cars and there's no wonder why sales are down. As for the employees, the United Auto Workers and other automotive unions has basically made it impossible for these companies to change their employment practices to adapt to their losing market share. Auto workers pay no deductible or copay for their health plans, and even in the face of total market meltdown, union leaders refuse to budge.

The second piece of news is the fact that over a half a million people applied for unemployment LAST WEEK! And as a result, the need for the "interview suit" is on the rise. Check out the article in the NYtimes about what works in 2008 as you head to your interviews. I personally am not a fan of suits. I find them quite constricting, but I do believe it is one piece that should never be skimped on. No suits from Target! Outlets and sales are the best places to find designer brands at good prices, plus never underestimate the use of a good tailor!

Finally, one of my favorite subjects- public education- is back in the news. Washington D.C. public school's 38 year old chancellor has proposed giving huge bonuses and salary raises for teachers if they agree to giving up some of their hold on tenure. Salaries could more than double, giving teachers 6 figures! Believe it or not for all the complaints about not being paid enough and not being able to recruit good teachers because of pay, this plan is being rejected in favor of the assurance that they will not be fired. If you think that tenure isn't such a bad thing, ask students about their teachers in schools no one wants to work at- typically low-performing, extremely large (pop. over 3,000 students), structurally unsound, and in crime-ridden neighborhoods- about the quality of the education they receive on a daily basis. Many of these teachers exist because of tenure, they were discarded by other, better schools and since they cannot be fired they end up living out their days until retirement- meanwhile the graduation rate of LAUSD hovers at around 50%. Or just ask my bearded friend he knows all to well about the havoc tenure creates.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I heart Facebook

I'm a frequent Facebook user, making the full shift from MySpace to Facebook after starting graduate school and realizing no one over 25 has a MySpace page. Plus, Facebook makes MySpace appearance-wise look like The Hilton vs. one of those Downtown by the hour hotels. There is just too much junk on it.

At first, my profile was so well hidden by privacy controls that it was almost impossible to find me unless you were in my graduate program. But after awhile I added some undergrad and high school friends and now it feels like a virtual reunion! It has started to make me think about all the things "social networking" sites has done away with:

1. Reunions: No need to go and suffer through a 3 hour meet-up with your old classmates, now you can make them your friend on Facebook and either just read their profiles to get the update or make plans one-on-one to hang out. I am really glad that I will no longer have to feel guilty about NOT planning my high school class 10 year reunion.

2. Blind dates: There is no need to ever go on a "true" blind date. As long as you have a first name and a city or a first and last name you can Google, LinkedIn or Facebook your way to knowing all the necessary information about this mystery date. Especially the important stuff like what kind of music they like and who has been giving them "gifts" lately.

3. Emails: Now this is the aspect I had not anticipated. Prior to Facebook, I used to actually take the time to write detailed emails to my faraway friends now you can just post something on their wall and you're done.

4. Belated Birthday cards/apologies: Everyone's birthday is plainly listed on their page and you even get a reminder a few days in advance.

5. Embarrassing conversation: Thanks to Facebook I can easily look someone's political or religious affiliation, check to see if they're still dating so and so, and make sure not to forget when they were at an event, because all the info is right there! Thankfully this will prevent me from congratulating a McCain supporter on Tuesday's win, stopping me from asking about someone's gf when they are now listed as "single" and never have to ask...You were there at the party, right?

Oh the internet, how I heart thee. Even more than when all you did was get me in trouble for being up late at night in chat rooms on AOL.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I don't know if there is anything other to say than that little 3 letter word. My emotions are on a roller coaster. Will I remember this moment forever? Or is it a passing thing? I almost feel like my political psyche was too damaged during the 2000 election to really "believe in the process." But I'm also happy that there are no questions about the outcome, it is done. Everyone will just have to wake up tomorrow and deal with it, in their own way.

So here are all the favors I've called in:

PA- Thank you for staying blue. Next year it is ON in the NL! Dodgers are coming back and fierce, but at least you came up in the clutch.

FL- Also thank you for deciding to go blue. I'm thinking that you should be able to come back strong with the Rays next year.

St. Jude (patron saint of the impossible)- Thanks, next time in Baltimore I'll stop by your patron church and say hi.

OH- I don't know if us beating you up in football could be considered a peace offering, but thanks for also coming up. Maybe we can play in the BCS?

Alright, that's all for now. I still have CA to worry about and I guess I'll either wake up to more good news or have to join the ACLU to contribute to fight two props I am very troubled by.