Six, now 14

I am still baffled by the media circus that surrounds the baby factory named Nadya Suleman. This also applies to Jon, Kate, and the crazies in Arkansas with the last name Duggars. Regardless of what kind of power or being you answer to, your output to society does not equal your input. Not one deserves the attention spectacle that has followed the aforementioned families, and they certainly do not deserve the handouts, promotions, and huge paychecks that followed their exploitation of their children.

Dave and I constantly discuss our future plans for children. Dave wants only one, but I want two. It will be a contentious issue until Baby #1 is born into this world, and then we’ll see who really wins the bid. But my point is this: our argument on the number of children to bear is born out of the fear of how to provide for those children. Dave fears we will not be able to provide enough attention or resources to more than one child, and I disagree. For two 26 year-old adults, we live a rather nice life. Nicer than any other person my age (that I can recall).

This is not to brag, but to prove a point. If one of the struggles we tackle everyday is the future speculation of our resources and provisions to ensure a good life to at most two children, I cannot imagine how a woman with 14 children intends to provide for them without government assistance, as she claims she will not need to accept. In one year I alone make more than the average American household, and Dave makes at least twice what I do, and we worry about whether or not we can afford these children with our own money. This woman has got to be fucking kidding me if she thinks I have one ounce of sympathy for her.

And you know what? I do not. I also believe that children services should be knocking on her mother’s door and removing the children from her household. I also believe that the doctor responsible for this blasphemy should be required to front the funds for their birth and subsequent raising. By his hands and her craziness, there are fourteen children who cannot be cared for by one person.

I hope she finds this blog, or any like it, and experiences a moment of reflection. I hope she reaches deep inside herself to find out why she lied to her mother about her disability checks, the plastic surgery, the well-manicured nails, and the insatiable appetite for bringing children into this world, children for whom she will not be able to solely provide. I hope she understands the widespread pain and anger many people will experience due to her poor, unethical choices. I hope the doctor that performed these IVFs is shamed out of his profession. I hope the media is ashamed of the foam at their mouths as they outstretched millions for interviews, photos, and ghost-written novels about the trials and tribulations of a clown car vagina, whose owner I am no longer sure knows how to drive the car.

And I am ashamed that every one of us, even me, is giving this situation another punce of spotlight. It is time to dethrone the baby-crazed families, God speaking to them or not, and regain some sense of morality and ethics when it comes to the responsibility of another human’s life. It is not right or fair to showcase the innocent life of a child born to a greedy parent, and it is certainly shameful to shower the greedy with exactly what they want: money, money, money.

Game On!

For the past week and a half, I have been training on several subjects relevant to my company and the industry in which I work as a whole. Today, as part of our training, we had a review of the subjects recently covered in the form of the popular game show: Jeopardy!

Seriously, I think I have been playing Jeopardy! since I was, oh, seven years old. It is the staple quiz game of history classes and law school seminars. The cheese factor never gets old for nerds, folks. Never EVER. There is nothing a true geek loves more than testing their brain’s basic fibers by responding to answers in the form of a question. How ’bout them reverse-pyschology apples?!

Returning to the subject: we were in the midst of a heated game when an opposing team won their Daily Double question which placed them 1000 points within our once commanding lead of 5000 points. In that moment, where the tables turned, so did my focus. The inner nerd surfaced so violently I could barely contain the oozing of knowledge from my eyeballs, ears, and nose. Knowledge does not ooze from other extremities, FYI, at least not in creatures of the female gender.

I could feel my knuckles whiten under the burden of being academically threatened by another team. It was GAME ON in the words of one of my classmates. There was no turning back, no more wrong answers, no more slowly reading questions. It was time to let out the savage academic beast seething beneath the cute, cream ruffle neck shirt. The Incredible Hulk with an IQ of 2000 (okay, maybe a little lower…by about 1,855 points) roared beneath the surface.

From that point out, I commanded the board and tore through my opponents like a lion and the juggular of the zebra. Okay, maybe not that graphic. A little less National Geographic and a little more Alex Trebek on steriods.

By the end of the game, I had that weird, visibly splotchy blush across my face and chest. It was almost like I was both excited and mortified by the entire experience, so much so that my body had an allergic reaction to my attempt to be so smart. Really, it was an odd feeling. I wanted to win SO. EFFING. BAD. that I turned into the knowledge monster.

Later, at lunch, observations about that pivotal moment were tossed around the table by my colleagues. My favorite commentor observed, “Just after we answered the question, I looked over at you and knew by the look on your face it was Game Over.”

Okay, so maybe Poker will never be my speciality, but I’ll be damned before I let someone beat me at Jeopardy!

Trolls

For awhile now, I have had a nice little Internet troll following me around, all the while seeking some sort of reaction to the insults this person sends my way in the form of comments. 

Now, this is funny to me because I don’t write anything particularly interesting.  I have no goals to make ad revenue from talking about the dumb things that happen to me, so I wonder how I attracted a little troll.  I barely even want to blog anymore because so many other exciting and wonderful things occur offline.  That, and I work from a console all day.  I really do not want to spend this beautiful, free summertime sitting in front of the Internet combating trolls.  Or trying to prove something to a bunch of Internet cowards and freak shows that get giggles off baiting stupid, unintelligent comments in order to get an emotional response.

Maybe to some this is taking the bait by actually acknowledging it, but I cannot stand cowards or yellow-bellied sissies.  So, if you want to comment on my blog now, you have to register.  I’m sorry if this poses a problem to readers who find interest in some of the stories I write, but you were never the problem, and your comments have always been poignant and thoughtful.   So, in advance, thank you for taking the time to register as you, you wonderful flower of a person.

Project Innovation

The other day, in one of my classes, we presented an analysis of NASA mismanagement during the Challenger disaster of 1986.  We further updated the case to present-day standards in order to discuss changes occuring after Challenger and the new problems following the Columbia tragedy in 2003. 

What would have normally been a lecture/analysis of product innovation for every other group (Gore, Kevlar, Silicone Breast Implants, etc), turned into a strategy lecture/analysis for our group.  NASA has not fully commercialized anything they do, aside from a brief stinct in commercializing satellite placement into orbit.  That program has since phased out because of the enormous cost advantage of send a satellite on an Atlas-5 rocket over an STS, the Space Shuttle, in the amounts of billions of dollars.

The topic of the case (basically) was this: “Why did NASA, and Morton Thiokol (the supplier of the Solid Rocket Boosters), make the decisions they made to support the Challenger launch?” 

Good question considering they knew the following:

  • The O-ring showed significant damages in launches below 53F, and the launched planned for January 28 would be a very cold day – less than 30F
  • If the O-ring did not properly work, evidenced during launches below 53F showed, hot gases would leak from the solid rocket boosters, likely causing an extremely dangerous situation
  • Morton Thiokol engineers warned both NASA Level-III administrators and Morton Thiokol executives about the possibility of failure within 24 hours of the launch

Consider the chances of a failure during the launch, endangering the lives of the crew of the Shuttle, why would NASA proceed with the launch?  Well, there were several reasons.

On January 28, 1986, NASA planned to launch Christa McAuliffe into space as the first person to partake in the Civilians-in-Space program introduced during Reagan’s reelection campaign.  Reagan handpicked McAuliffe, insisting the first civilian in space would be a school teacher.  Pressures from the White House came in daily doses.  The Office of the President constantly called NASA adminstrators to ensure an on-time launch for two reasons.  The first reason was to ensure that the launch happened during the school week so that McAuliffe could teach a lesson from space.  The second reason was to promote the lesson and the program during the upcoming State of the Union Address.  If the launch postponed by too many days, it would be irrelevant and untimely for the lessons and the Address.  NASA did not want to fail the White House.

The media was another launch factor.  As of late, media criticism surrounded every NASA launch.  NASA could do no right, and for no reason at all.  If a shuttle lifted off a day late, the media complained about NASA being unable to stick to a schedule.  The media never understood the reasons behind a launch or the purposes of each mission.  This is partly NASA’s fault.  NASA never made a very good effort to launch any sort of public relations campaign to the media and general public.  No one knew much about the program and its purposes.  Even today this remains a prevalent problem within NASA.

NASA also faced severe budget constraints.  They faced deteriorated internal lines of communication.  There was no launch commit criteria.  There was no real communication chain.  Morton Thiokol stopped listening to their engineers in order to save face and attempt to save a $1 million plus contract to provide additional SRBs to NASA.  A plethora of internal and external reasons point to why they scheduled the launch, but the underlying reasons were these: mismanagement, poor communication, and an obsession with saving face. 

Luckily, times changed since then at NASA (even considering the Columbia disaster in 2003), but there are still issues they need to address.  First, NASA needs a better budget.  The cost of the shuttle program has dramatically increased since its inception, but NASA’s budget has not.  In fact, in most cases, it has remained stagnant or dropped.  They must have a great deal of creativity in NASA in order to still maintain a huge operation such as launching the shuttles while working with an almost non-existent budget.  Second, NASA needs to up their public relations campaign with the media and American public.  It could aid in America’s understanding of the necessity of the shuttle program – perhaps even fueling the next program’s interest (hopefully getting the program the attention it deserves).  Explain that in just two short years Americans will once again need to rely on Russia, who has not been the most kind frenemy to the US anymore.  Explain the purpose and advantages of space exploration, working around classified details, just so people see the benefits of the program.  When you come down to it, people barely even know about programs.  They can watch live feeds of launches, but that is about the extent of their knowledge. 

I could go on about how I think NASA could be improved or return to the failures in the Challenger tragedy, but I will not.  I think it is important to note one thing, and that is with every launch, there is an extremely high chance of tragedy or failure (however you want to see it).  The shuttle launch is a controlled explosion with a chance of failure every 100 times (and that ratio is probably closer to every 60 times now).  That astronauts risks their lives with every launch in the name of science is an admirable feat, one that should never be taken lightly.  There is a vast, expanding universe beyond our atmosphere that deserves to be uncovered before the last evidence of our existence blows out.  In short, NASA deserves to be rewarded for its risks, and the program deserves more attention than it receives from Congress to the American people.

 

Unfinished business

I have an innate problem with books.  First, I find recommendations from friends, relatives, magazines, and suggestions from bookstore employees.  Then, I purchase one of the recommended books.  I proceed to read them until I reach just after the half-way point, set the book down on my night stand, and that ends my relationship with the current book.  Rinse and repeat four times and you have the current status of my night table.  I cannot commit to one single book.

On my night stand sits The World is Flat, The Bible, The Tipping Point, and Gang Leader for a Day.  In the queue is DisneyWar, Microtrends, and Guns, Germs and Steel.  I somehow managed to complete Freakonomics and Blink in a reasonable amount of time, which is unusual for me.  Part of my problem is my unsatiable desire to learn.  As soon as I discover a new topic that seems far more exciting that actually seeing out my current topic, I jump ship; and now you know the second part of the problem. There is a non-commital, relationship-phobe in me that springs to life only when confronted with books.  It almost seems impossible to reach that final chapter in every book I crack open.  I am not sure if Dave is lucky or unlucky due to this phenomenon, as I have managed to stay with him for over two years.  I will let him decide.

My solutions is simple.  I need to start a book, stop listening to Dave describe the books he whizzes through, and finish the one I began.  In an effort to complete these tasks, I am going to incorporate my reading into this blog.  Once a month, I will write a book recommendation.  I will call it “Rachel’s Reads” or something less ridiculous.  My creativity isn’t so spur-of-the-moment anymore, so forgive tacky, lackluster ideas.  In the recommendation, I will include a summary of the book (hopefully something Amazon can provide), my personal likes/dislikes, and anything remarkable that stood out during the read. 

We’ll see if the stack on the night stand ever shrinks, but honestly, I hope I always have a large pile of books sitting close to me.  I like the feeling of swimming in literature, even if I am the pokiest reader in town.

“Slow Down the Economy?”

Bill Clinton, along with his wife, Hillary, are two of my least favorite people on the entire planet.

Back in the ’90s when President Clinton thought he was revolutionizing global trade, he set the scene for a complete meltdown of our economic system.  Each of those free-trade agreements President Clinton signed into law withdrew any incentive foreign countries once had to do business with America.  It is all “import this,” but no “export that!”  Now, we find ourselves enslaved to foreign products and forgetting what it is like to see a tag that reads “Made in America.”

Let me explain.  The European Union decided to start heavily taxing US products, like corn, US beef, and even US-owned airliners landing in foreign European countries.  In fact, the EU even goes as far as banning our products to boost the sales of their own farmers and companies, which eventually come back as sales to the United States in some foreign-made product form.  And guess what?  They fall under free trade agreements.  So who loses and who wins in this situation?  Certainly not the United States, but that is okay with the Clintons.

Noting the above consequences of one Clinton in office, take note that not much has changed.  Apparently, President Clinton feels that Mrs. Clinton and he both agree (her comment on this quote not yet received) that the best way to fight global warming is to slow down the economy.  I quote:

“And maybe America, and Europe, and Japan, and Canada — the rich counties — would say, ‘OK, we just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions ’cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.’ We could do that.” Source.

Okay, with the American economy in shambles, greenhouse gas emission concerns should be and probably are the least of anyone’s concern, except for the über-liberal crazy green machines living in trees, perhaps.  Following this fantastic line of reasoning, we will drop our concern for the flattening of society, which lead to an outsourcing of good jobs to foreign markets, to stop the greenhouse gas emissions.  Well, Al Gore be damned because if we do not fix the current state of the economy now, President Clinton’s glossy-eyed dream for the future of our grandchildren will never come true because there will be no economic system to support them or the families that brought them into the world. 

One good turn deserves another, right?  Let us open our borders to free trade, and now with the illegal immigration problem, why do we not open those physical borders, too?  Let us simply forget about the economy, its current state, and what the consequences will be if the people of this country do not act smartly to turn things around today.  Rather, let our focus be on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as other countries, especially the BRICs of the world, double in growth and prosperity when they do nothing. 

Sometimes it pays not to be the good guys.  In this instance, perhaps our focus should remain on the economy at hand – the present dire situation – and not to future assumptions.

State of the Union

If there is one thing I respect, whether the respect is earned or forced, it is a difference of opinion.  Without getting into a political debate encircling the topic “my party is better than your party,” I want to make one statement about the State of the Union.

If you oppose the President of the United States, as the majority of Congress does, then you are exercising your rights of free speech, guaranteed to you by the blood shed of the Revolution, the long hours by candlelight of the Founding Fathers, and the words etched into the parchment of the Declaration of Independence.  We the people, we relish in our freedom to backlash and tongue-whip those we oppose politically.  That is our right, and may we always be free to voice our opinions.

However, I ask one simple favor of my fellow Americans, especially those Democrats representing a great win from two years ago.  When the President of the United States speaks to you about his vision and his policies for his last year in office, have the decency to pay attention.  Have the audacity to keep your eyes open (that goes for members of both parties).  Have the vision enough to clap when he preaches his economic development plans for 2008.  When the President of the United States demands your attention for two hours of you measely work schedule, you lackluster fools, have the civility to actually listen.  The same should be cross-applied to Republicans if a Democratic candidate should win in this election year. 

Have American politics slumped to such a level that we can no longer bear the two-hour ordeal awake?  Perhaps it is time for a revolutionary change in the way politics parlay in American society.