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Cultural Learnings of Corporate America for Make Benefit All Those Not in Corporate America

Now that I’m two years out of college, I want to share some of my learnings from the glorious nation of corporate America.

With respect to my career, I have learned:

  • flamesThat in case of a fire emergency, my entire office building would burn down with everyone still inside…  But at least we’d be working until the very last monitor melts.
  • t-rexThat even though my boss could (hypothetically) have the management aptitude of a monkey, the social capacity of a deaf-mute hyena, and the brain of a T-Rex hopped up on acid, I would still have to answer to him/her.
  • cupcakesThat it is possible to eat an entire box of Cheerios, a pound of grapes, a cookie ice cream sandwich, plus four cupcakes, all in a day’s work.  As a snack.
  • bigwomanThat it only takes one time before you’re known as “that” guy, or “that” girl.  Trust me, you don’t want to be “the girl who eats meatballs for breakfast”, or “the girl who eats four cupcakes as a snack”.  Not that I know from personal experience…but I’m just sayin’.
  • circusThat sometimes you have to stick it out in your crappy job, because it’s a recession and some career dreams (eg. circus journalist) are just unrealistic.  And yes, in this economy, the unrealistic part is more “journalist” than “circus”.  So, if you know of any openings in the circus… hit me up.
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Will Today’s ‘Stupid’ Become Tomorrow’s ‘Smart’?

Back in November, both presidential candidates acknowledged that we had to reform our education system. Like most everything else, Obama and McCain naturally disagreed on how to solve this issue. Perhaps we need to pay teachers more and get the best-qualified educators to head our classrooms. Perhaps we need to have more vouchers and charter schools to foster competition. Perhaps we just need parents to get more involved in building shoebox dioramas and helping their kids with algebra problems.

Or, perhaps we’re just getting dumber. (After all, we elected George W. Bush twice. Enough said).

Now that Obama’s education team is in place, here is my billion-dollar proposal: tell smart people to start making babies. Seriously. Set up some mood music in grad school dorms, dim the lighting in the labs, and arrange for some conjugal visits at the space station. Let’s do everything we can to encourage reading and breeding amongst the nation’s intellectual elite.

Why? Consider this: over the past few decades, we have seen significant declines in the birth rates across the country. As more and more young people started going to college, and women became more prevalent in the workplace, births in the U.S. have naturally declined. With that, the composition of mothers has also changed:

“Fertility tends to decline as education level increases. Women may put off marriage and children to further their education, then to get established in the labor force. Women age 40 to 44 with no high school education had about 2.5 children in 2004, compared with 1.6 children among women with a graduate or professional degree.” – Mary Kent, Population Reference Bureau

So keeping this in mind, let’s look at the following charts from the National Center for Health Statistics, which show the birth rates by state in 2002.

In this graphic, the blue states are the most fertile, while the green states are the most sterile (somewhat ironic).  We can see that the states with the highest birth rates are typically in the Midwest and South, whereas East Coasters and Californians are apparently too busy to procreate.  The state with the highest birth rate was Utah (20.9 for every 1,000 people), which may not be all that surprising. (Go to full report)

Now here is a graph from a U.S. Census report, on the percentage of college graduates by state:

So it looks like the states with the most college grads are also the states which tend to have the lowest birth rates.

Hmm…

Consider if this trend continues: the least-educated areas of the country are popping out babies like hotcakes, while the sterile Ivy Leaguers in the Northeast are busy trading mortgage-backed securities on Wall Street. Thus, the composition of the American population is skewed towards those with parents who are less educated. One may argue about the degree to which parents’ educational attainment affects their children’s test scores, but there is undoubtedly a correlation between the two. And while Texans and Idahoans may rightly argue that causality cannot be determined by a few colorful graphs, the data is in line with what we know: women who attain less education have more babies. There is a greater likelihood then that their kids will get less education than children born to snooty PhD candidates in Washington. And their kids will have more kids and more kids, while the slice of snooty intellectuals gets smaller and smaller.

So what can turn this around? In the end, we need to build a universal culture that values learning, instead of a dumb-is-cool culture that values a self-righteous idiocracy. We need to get students excited about education, and close the achievement gap that too often divides along racial and socioeconomic lines. We may need to rehaul our schools, implement student incentive programs, or pay our teachers more…

And we could also start encouraging smart people to make some babies, too.

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Filed under Politics, Random

2008: The Race That Was

We’re five days away from November 4th, and it kind of feels like summer camp is ending. I’m a bit sad, but I’m also excited that it’s finally over. After the 4th, there will be no more political ads, no more pandering for votes, and no more McCain-Obama melodrama… something we can all look forward to. To me, election day is almost like an early New Years: I expect that everything will turn out fine, but I still have a little pocket of dread that Y2K will hit, the country will be catapulted back into the dark ages, and Joe the Plumber will become Secretary of State. And so, with the upcoming end to a tumultuous campaign, here is our requisite look back at what we’ve learned in 2008, The Race that Was.

  • If you want to be President, start vetting your acquaintances. If someone you know ever did or said something crazy, you’re on the hook by association. It doesn’t matter how well you know them: if you have an acquaintance who eats babies, you’re a baby eater too.
  • If you want to be Vice President, shoot some moose, drop your g’s, and wink a lot: Vettin’ is not necessary. Neither are press conferences, direct answers, or substance. Simply put on $150,000 worth of designer digs, and tell people that the other presidential candidate eats babies. And if it doesn’t work, well, there’s always 2012. By then you should be able to handle a press conference or two.
  • Tina Fey should send Sarah Palin a Christmas card. With a picture of her in a black power suit, surrounded by the pile of money she’s made.
  • Once again, Ohio and Florida decide. And we shall find out if they are “pro-America” on November 4th. If they are not, we should consider seceding them to Canada and Mexico, respectively.
  • The economy is like an ugly stepsister. When you’re in the family, you don’t want to trot her out at the risk of repulsing other people. So, you dress her up, throw on some lipstick, and try to divert all attention to the pretty, wink-happy stepsister instead. When you’re outside the fam, you take one look at the atrocity, say, “holy crap,” and schedule an emergency extreme makeover.
  • The focus of this election being the economy. Back in 2004, the election focused on terrorism and Iraq. In 2000, social issues like gay marriage and stem cell research were at the forefront. It’s interesting to see how priorities change… Thanks, George.
  • Joe the Plumber has come to symbolize middle America. But, he owes back taxes, he’s not actually a plumber, and his real name is Sam. And if he’s making $250K+ a year, middle Americans should probably look for a better spokesperson… like Phil the Pharmacist or Martha the Schoolteacher.
  • There is still racism in this country. Not just the black-white kind, but also based on religious beliefs. (Colin Powell said it best on Meet the Press: “Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.”) You’d think that by 2008, we would be better than this.
  • Democracy can sometimes be scary. They are predicting that McCain only has a 4.3% chance of winning, but I’m still scared about Y2K.

November 4th… VOTE! And even though this post is biased, you can vote however you like.

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Filed under News, Politics

Pretty Soon, Today’s ‘Stupid’ Will Be Tomorrow’s ‘Smart’

Last week, both presidential candidates acknowledged that we had to reform our education system. Like most everything else, Obama and McCain naturally disagreed on how to solve this issue. Perhaps we need to pay teachers more and get the best-qualified educators to head our classrooms. Perhaps we need to have more vouchers/charter schools to foster competition. Maybe we just need parents to get more involved in building shoebox dioramas and helping their kids with algebra problems.

Or, perhaps we’re just getting dumber. (After all, we elected George W. Bush twice. Enough said).

Consider this theory: over the past few decades, we have seen significant declines in the birth rates across the country. As more and more young people started going to college, and women became more prevalent in the workplace, births in the U.S. have naturally declined:

“Fertility tends to decline as education level increases. Women may put off marriage and children to further their education, then to get established in the labor force. Women age 40 to 44 with no high school education had about 2.5 children in 2004, compared with 1.6 children among women with a graduate or professional degree.” – Mary Kent, Population Reference Bureau

So keeping this in mind, let’s look at the following charts from the National Center for Health Statistics, which show the birth rates by state in 1990. The chart on the top shows the birth rate, while the chart on the bottom shows the growth in births from 1990 to 2002. The state with the highest birth rate was Utah (20.9 for every 1,000 people), far surpassing Texas as the place where the most babies are made (or at least birthed). (Go to full report)

The states with the highest birth rates are typically in the Midwest and South, whereas East Coasters and Californians are apparently too busy to procreate. Unsurprisingly, these are the same areas where birth rates have declined the most in the past ten years, whereas states like Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Georgia, and North Carolina have stepped up their baby-making game.

Now here is a graph from a U.S. Census report, on the percentage of college graduates by state:

So, the states with the most college grads are also the states which tend to have the lowest birth rates.

Hmm…

Consider if this trend continues: the least-educated areas of the country are popping out babies like hotcakes, while the sterile Ivy Leaguers in the Northeast are busy trading mortgage-backed securities on Wall Street. Thus, the composition of the American population is skewed towards those with parents who are less educated. One may argue about the degree to which parents’ educational attainment affects their children’s test scores, but there is undoubtedly a correlation between the two. And while Texans and Idahoans may rightly argue that causality cannot be determined by a few colorful graphs, the data is in line with what we know: women who attain less education have more babies. There is a greater likelihood then that their kids will get less education than children born to snooty PhD candidates in Washington. And their kids will have more kids and more kids, while the slice of snooty intellectuals gets smaller and smaller.

So what can turn this around? In the end, we need to build a universal culture that values learning, instead of a culture that values moose huntin’ and a self-righteous idiocracy. We need to get students excited about education, and close the achievement gap that too often divides along racial and socioeconomic lines. We may need to rehaul our schools, implement student incentive programs, or pay our teachers more…

And we could also start encouraging smart people to make some babies, too.

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Filed under News, Politics

Please Don’t Judge Me For Judging You

Most of the time, I try my best to be a tolerant, open-minded person. However, personal beliefs can often get in the way of broadmindedness, and that’s when prejudice may rear its ugly head across the narrow maritime border to Russia. We each have our own values, our rights and wrongs, and our preferences and pet peeves. As such, it’s easy to assert that what we know is right. We can often end up judging others based on their appearances, political beliefs, favorite TV shows, aptitude at Scrabble, etc. We can find ourselves questioning the intelligence of blondes, recoiling at the sight of obese people, and raising our eyebrows at the loony with her alien theories. As different people with differing opinions, we all judge.

Even though there may be legitimate reasons why we judge others (um…aliens for world peace?), that doesn’t mean that our inclinations are defensible. We have seen how judgments may lead to societal prejudices that can be harmful and degrading: racism, sexism, and crimes against those of a different religion or sexual orientation are still prevalent. While many countries have made some efforts to eradicate institutional discrimination, it’s harder to erase the predispositions of individuals.

So what is one way to reduce the existent partiality in society today? Honesty. If we admit to every ugly, narrow thought we have, then perhaps we will be shamed into having fewer of them. The following, then, is a list of groups that I have inexcusably looked down on. I’d like to think that I treat all individuals the same, regardless of whether they fit into any of these groups, but perhaps this is untrue. Either way, this exercise is rather enlightening…

Top Ten List of People I Judge: (apologies in advance)

10. People with Southern accents (I don’t know why, exactly, but I hate when people say “y’all”. I’m sorry. You can make fun of Bostonians.)

9. People who type liKe tHiS aNd uSe LoTs of ExClaMaTiOn pOinTs!!! (It was mildly annoying in 6th grade, and it’s even more so now.)

8. People who say “dang”, “heck”, and “fudge” instead of the real thing (Although I would hire them to babysit my children in the future.)

7. People who do volunteer work just to put it on their resume (I suppose the act of doing it is better than doing nothing at all, but I wish more people had pure motivations… But perhaps that is being too idealistic.)

6. People who make spelling errors on important presentations (It’s called a dictionary.)

5. Vegetarians who make you feel bad for eating meat (I’m not waving a hot dog in your face, so relax. You made your choice, I made mine.)

4. Compulsive whiners (If you’re reading this on a computer, you probably have a good life compared to other people in this world.)

3. Fundamentalist Christians (Even though I know not all of them are Bible-thumping zealots, I tend to blame them all for advocating creationism, rejecting science, and re-electing Bush in 2004.)

2. People who don’t think global warming is happening (Really??)

Finally, the number one group of people who I judge…

1. People who misuse “your” and “you’re” (The fact that this is at #1 really speaks to my anal-retentiveness with punctuation. But it’s true: I really hate when people do this.)

 

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