Saturday, October 25, 2014

America's Problem: School Shootings

Guns. Schools. Kids. Again. Huff Post cites 74 shootings since the Newtown Shooting in December of 2012.  That's 74 school shootings in less than two years!
Yesterday, another school shooting occurred in Washington near Seattle. This kid shot his friends. Not only did he shoot people, but they were his friends, even his cousins! Why?!? He was homecoming prince, played football, and was very popular. The motives seem to be missing. Not only in this case, but in a decent percentage of the cases.  Many of the shooters tend towards mental instability, and many have symptoms of extreme beliefs. Though many may have been bullied, that is only a correlation in my opinion. So what are the real causes? Why have shootings occurred at an increasing rate?

There are so many variables here, but the main ones that need to be addressed are the proper diagnoses of mentally unstable kids and kids' access to guns in the US.

Kids should not have access to guns. We all know it. All of the school shooting cases show extremely easy access to guns. The notorious Columbine shooting resulted in gun control laws that required background checks at gun shows. The Newtown shooter lived in a house with a stash of guns. The Washington state shooter did as well. Enough said.  

When kids are acting out and showing signs of instability, people need to get them some help. Many of the school shooters act out via social media posting foreshadowing things like "it'll never last...", which was tweeted by the recent Washington school shooter. These things may indicate that they are in distress and need help. The worst thing you can do is leave someone suffering alone. After many of the shootings, people start to realize that they missed big indicators in the students behaviors and social media posts.  When they are mentally unstable and have access to guns, well, you can guess what might happen next.

I think these shooters want to be remembered in history for their shooting. They want to have an impact on history. They often research school shootings or terror attacks and idolize them. These kids think they will be remembered too, but as rapper Kendrick Lamar puts it:

"Everybody gon' respect the shooter,
but the one in front of the gun lives forever"

The shooter only briefly gets attention after the shooting but in reality the ones who were killed are remembered/honored forever.

So what do you guys think? What are the real motives for school shootings? Do you agree with my ideas?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why Hasn't Obama Nationally Addressed Ebola Safety Measures?

The Ebola virus has already claimed thousands of lives in West Africa. Recently, a health worker from Liberia who had Ebola entered the United States with the virus. A major threat to national security, the patient was locked down in the Dallas Hospital. Unfortunately, a nurse tending the patient somehow contracted Ebola, the first contraction case in the United states.

Now that the virus is in the U.S., Obama needs to act now and address the Ebola Virus nationally. I feel that Obama has underplayed the risk of Ebola entering the United States.  Obama should've put flight restrictions before there was already a case, or two, in the United States. U.S. Senator Rand Paul agrees, saying “It’s a mistake. A big mistake to underestimate the potential for problems worldwide.”
Now we can all agree there may be some politics behind a Republican Senator's criticism on the Obama Administration, but aren't there some politics behind Obama's approach to the coverage of Ebola?  I mean, when there are thousands of people dying in another country of this disease, and the CDC is simultaneously saying "Ebola is not spread through casual contact; therefore, the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. is very low. ", isn't there a discrepancy: Why can't they contain it in Africa then?

The Obama Administration might be downplaying the coverage of this virus in order to keep U.S. citizens calm. Meanwhile, CDC workers quietly enter the largest airports in an effort to combat the possible entrance of the Ebola virus that could hop off almost any plane. I can't really find much evidence for such intentions, but think about thermonuclear war in the Cold War era. When thermonuclear war was imminent, the U.S. government told its citizens to just get under a table and "Duck and Cover":

In other words, the government was telling everyone that they would be okay, when in reality they would all die in the event of a nuclear bomb hitting the U.S.

So like the Cold War era "Duck and Cover" campaign, could Obama be directing the CDC to downplay the risk of an outbreak in order to calm down the population? I mean, in the first case of contraction in the United States, we don't even know how the virus was transmitted. The CDC said that there was a "breach in protocol", but do we really know if that's the case? What if the CDC is covering up the whole incident? What if  there was no known cause of transmission, wouldn't that make the public a lot more afraid than if they said there was a "breach in protocol"? There may not be a lot of evidence for these conspiracy theory like accusations, but if people all fell for "Bert the Turtle", then who knows what lies we could be believing in now? That's why Obama needs to address Ebola and specifically how he plans to stop its entry/spread in the United States.

Do you guys agree with my thoughts? Is it reasonable to doubt the CDC?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why It's Good to be an Idiot

Over the weekend I had an interview with a Chemistry Professor from Depaul University at a small coffee shop in Chicago. It was supposed to be a 15 minute interview, but it ended up going for an hour and a half. At one point, he told me that when he was growing up, he never had any access to technology and instead he would substitute that by hanging out with his friends and trespassing into haunted mansions (the Rispin Mansion, search it up),  exploring the sewers, and other stuff teenagers did. He said that now, when he rides the bus or train, he would see people "texting the person next to them". He said that technology has dehumanized us. I completely agreed. He jokingly told me that you spend 5 hours writing a text that you wanted to seem casual, like you wrote it in 10 seconds. Everyone wants to make every single sentence they say perfect and its almost like with the social media that everyone thinks of themselves as a company: they try to market themselves. When people talk to each other in person though, not everything they say is perfect. Sometimes people are idiots, and some of your best memories come from being an idiot. I told him that he somehow made me miss being an idiot. But its true, sometimes the best memories are when you or one of your friends messes up. You get some great inside jokes from that. 

With all of these electronic interfaces, human interactions have been decreasing. Everyone wants to be perfect, but they're not. Lets face it, we're all idiots sometimes, and its inevitable. Its a lot less fun texting someone than talking to someone in person. Would you rather look at a bunch of pixels or the person's face when you're talking to them? A laugh in person is worth a thousand "haha"s when texting. 
So stop being robots, and when you get a text saying "How's it going?", put your phone down, look up, and tell them "great" because it's good to be an idiot sometimes.

General Motors Recalls Reach 30 Million Units, Who is to Blame?

GM is the symbol of the American Auto industry, which unfortunately, is not doing very well. The list of cars that General Motors has recalled is incredible. CNN made a list of every single one of these recalls, and if you have a GM vehicle its worth checking out. The reasons for the recall are astonishing: electrical fires, steering failure, airbag failure, braking failure, inability to change gears, faulty seatbelts, headlight fires, inaccurate fuel gauges, programming errors to the cars' computers, and much more. It's actually scary how many things could go wrong with a GM car. I had no idea that this many cars were being recalled. It seemed as though only a few thousand cars would be recalled at a time, but after a while it has accumulated to 30 million total cars.

What makes this situation worse is that a few GM executives ostensibly had neglected reports of failures in the ignition switch that could turn the car off at any time and disable safety features. The failure to acknowledge these problems led to 53 deaths and 274 injuries, as well as a handful of hefty lawsuits. Fifteen or so GM executives were fired because of this.

So who really is to blame for GM's massive recalls and lawsuits? I think that these 15 executives were actually made scapegoats, even if they did neglect the ignition defect, in order to deflect the blame from GM as a whole. I think that with this many recalls, there is something wrong in the workings of their system. They need better quality inspection of their products and I feel that that has to start at the bottom with each individual employee.
And that is where the real problem lies. Employees of General Motors have sided with the UAW (United Automobile Workers Union) in order to get settlements for higher pay and pension. They received 73 dollars an hour wages for an average UAW worker and could retire after thirty years of work with 37,000 dollars a year in pensions. Surplus workers would even "receive 95% of their salaries while the company waited to reassign them". Some UAW workers would manipulate the system and try to get laid off so that they could be paid to do nothing and then retire.
These absurd negotiations and other UAW restrictions caused GM to lose millions of dollars at an unbelievable rate. They weren't able to complete simple tasks; for example, without "an authorized electrician" the assembly line could not be shut down, so the plant lost thousands of dollars a second waiting for an electrician instead of a supervisor to shut it down.
The UAW has ruined GM with its restrictions.  GM workers became less motivated to work because they felt entitled to more privileges: they got paid more for doing less and often manipulated the system. This led to many technical errors and oversights which led to defective products and massive recalls. The management was also bad, but that was because they were being beleaguered by the UAW.  The fault is with the employees/UAW.
As American as General Motors is, they were a failing business because of the UAW (and also some bad management), and they should have been allowed to fail instead of being bailed out by the government (which by the way, has lost the U.S. government 11.2 billion dollars).

Let me know what you guys think in the comments section below what you think about the huge mess the American Auto Industry is in who you think is to blame for these colossal mistakes, the Management or the Employees? Any suggestions on how to go about fixing this?