Too Many Degrees

The Celsius system is the definition of simple. The Fahrenheit system is the definition of stupid

The Celsius system is the definition of simple. The Fahrenheit system is the definition of stupid

281°  America is the dumbest when it comes to measurement units. We refuse to accept the metric system, which are intelligently designed units. Instead, we have stuck to the Fahrenheit scale for temperature — a system that has too many degrees.

In the Celsius system, zero is freezing. Anything below zero is really cold. Zero to ten is cold, and ten to fifteen degrees is cool. At 20 to 30 degrees most humans are comfortable, but anything over 30 degrees is hot. That’s it. Fahrenheit has no easy numbers to go by when equating temperature to human experience.

It’s time we switched to the same units that the rest of the world uses.

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Public Building Names

Coming Soon: Another building with a ridiculous name

Coming Soon: Another building with a ridiculous name

182°  Public buildings are the prostitutes of the world of architecture. In today’s world, buildings are named after the person who gives the most money. I can live with that, because the family name associated with the building will eventually take on a life of its own. The name will be shortened, abbreviated, or changed completely by the people who use it. Few will know anything about the person for which it was named.

On the campus of the University of Nevada in Reno, the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center will join the Pennington Health Sciences Building and the Pennington Medical Education Building. If you haven’t guessed it by now Pennington was a Nevada gaming tycoon. Since the newest Pennington building will be near the center of campus, it would not be surprising if it becomes referred to as Penn Center, but time will tell.

What I do take issue with is the rest of the name. Some organizations seem to be in a contest for the most complicated building name. The University of Nevada must be winning. “Student Achievement Center” is one of those titles that scream, we’re-trying-to-disguise-the-reason-this-building-exists. The National Security Agency doesn’t have a building they call ‘Spy Operations,’ but you know they have at least one.

In this case, the name is used to refer to all those programs and services that are required to help Nevada’s under educated high school graduates. It’s a great idea and I can understand why they wouldn’t call it ‘Pennington Stupid Students Senter,’ but isn’t the university being a little optimistic by calling it an ‘Achievement Center?’

I guess if they called it for what it is, no one would give money for the building, but if smart people don’t understand the name, how are the intellectually challenged going to understand it? Maybe they should call it the Pennington Party Center and put neon signs in the windows that say, “Free Beer,” and “Ladies Nite.” The students who need ‘achievement services’ will be able to find it blindfolded with one leg tied behind their back. 

The All Important 1%

It's a long way to the next place with air, but right now our air has a problem

It’s a long way to the next place with air, but now our air has a problem

250°  Air is a good thing. In fact, one might even say that if someone were off-Earth for business or pleasure, they might find air more important than even sex.

For those of us who don’t frequent outer space, air is almost taken for granted…but we shouldn’t.

Last night I had the pleasure of talking to a graduate student who is finishing up his doctorate this year. His field is atmospheric studies, in particular, the amount of infrared radiation (energy) being absorbed and re-emitted by particles or aerosols in our atmosphere.

Breakdown of our atmosphere

Breakdown of our atmosphere

He reminded me that 99% of the air around Earth is Nitrogen (78%) or Oxygen (21%.) Those two elements don’t absorb or transmit infrared radiation. Only 1% of our atmosphere is affected by infrared radiation. One percent controls the amount of energy retained or emitted in our air.

When scientists talk about global warming, they are talking about the mechanisms that drive and control the behavior of our atmosphere. One percent. It is the penny in our dollar that will determine whether our children and their children spend all their time and money on fixing what we screwed up, or on moving forward into a bright new future.

I would suggest that we literally and figuratively stop pouring coal (and other carbon-based fuels) into the engine that is energizing our atmosphere.  

Costco: Capitalism or Socialism?

Costco:  Socialism American Style

Costco: Socialism American Style

202°  Despite the ongoing misuse of the word Socialism by Conservatives, the term does not have anything to do with President Obama, nor the government of the United States of America. Socialism is by definition:

“A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”

The result of true socialism has been to limit choice and maximize the efficiency of large numbers for an exclusive population. While Costco is often considered to be a perfect example of capitalism, it actually a great model of socialism.

You don’t go to Costco for selection. Many items have only two choices and often the second choice is Costco’s brand, Kirkland. Costco uses the socialist model of limited selection, economy of scale, and an exclusive group to maximize savings and profit. Costco is adapted socialism for a capitalist market. 

Why Back Into Parking Spots?

Tactical parking is safer. Period

Tactical parking is safer. Period

 Last year I decided to start backing into parking spaces and my garage providing there was no active traffic. It takes about ten seconds longer, which for some is equivalent to murdering kittens.

Why back in to a parking spot?

It’s safer. People who want to argue this point usually jump to the statement, “What’s the difference, you’re either backing in, or your backing out?” There is a difference, and it’s big. I decided to adopt this practice after being exposed to two companies that have strict policies of backing company vehicles.

FedEx drivers are instructed to park so that they don’t have to back out. FedEx delivery vans are big and they can’t see what is behind them. By not backing out of parking FedEx avoids paying out hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions of dollars, annually in accident claims for damages and injuries caused by blindly backing into something or someone.

The second company experience was an oil field client that required its drivers to use ‘tactical parking.’ The term is used to describe positioning a car or truck ‘head out.’ Their reason for the policy was to save lives in the event of a catastrophe on a drilling site where rapid evacuation may be required.

After learning about these policies I began to think about the dangers of backing out of garages and parking spaces. Backing out means a driver is going into traffic with the worst point of view possible. The driver view is often blocked by parked cars on either side, and the driver is trying to look backwards in a seat that is the least closest to the traffic.

When backing into a parking space the driver is in the traffic and has the right-of-way. The driver is also in a position to see all the traffic as well as the open parking space. It just make sense.

Backing out of a garage is even more dangerous and is the greatest threat to children who may be below the view of the driver.. While exiting the garage the driver has no view of the driveway nor the activity to either side. Even if the driver safely exits the garage and driveway, then he or she is usually backing into a street, which is inherently dangerous. 

The next time you see someone backing into a parking spot, remind yourself that are being safe, not annoying.

Over Messaging

Too much message is a failure of communication

Too much message is a failure of communication

184°  Today I saw this car ahead of me. I agree with most of the messages this person is trying to send, but I could only make out one of the bumper stickers (YOGA) and the rest were just noise. This person has a lot to say, but too much message is no message in public communication.

While some may laugh at a car with too many bumper stickers, it’s no laughing matter when business does this stunt….and they do it all the time.

Too much information is no information

Too much information is no information

171°  For decades, shopping centers have been putting up a sign tower to list all the resident businesses. There may be a total of three seconds where a driver can read the sign and make a decision to turn in to the parking lot. That is not enough time to read and comprehend all the information, especially when the eye is going to be drawn to the electronic message.

Business signage is 1960's thinking

Business signage is 1960’s thinking

01°  A business that expects the drive by customer to be a significant part of their revenue really needs to re-evaluate their business model. Today, business signage is not going to bring in enough revenue to pay for the cost of the electricity to light it. Identify your business, yes, but invest your marketing in your website, your people, and social media efforts. Advertising is not about making noise. It is about communicating.

Tipping Point In Reno

The Reno Arch:  A gaudy symbol of the past

The Reno Arch: A gaudy symbol of the past

349°  Recently a prominent Nevada gaming family, the Asguaga’s, sold their casino/hotel property. It was a sign that Reno has finally reached the tipping point in gaming. There is no recovery in the casino industry.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that opened the flood gates of Native American involvement in the industry. By the dawn of the 21st century it was apparent that the boom of new casinos in California would siphon off gaming revenues in Nevada for the foreseeable future.

After over a decade of declining profits, Reno casino properties try to carve up a dwindling piece of the tourism dollar. The problem is that the Nevada gaming industry has nothing new to attract people to Reno, nor can they shake the paradigm that gambling is the only means to earn revenue.

The pawn and loan industry is ugly step sister of Nevada gaming

The pawn and loan industry is ugly step sister of Nevada gaming

241°  Gaming has a dark side that is never discussed in public in Nevada. Near every casino area will be pawn and quick loan businesses ready to suck in the weak and gullible tourist or resident. In addition, gaming areas create the perfect storm of people out late at night, drunk, with cash. Violent crime in Nevada always ranks near the top in the United States, in part because tourist are easy prey to the criminal element that hang out in the shadows of the glitz of casinos.

Gaming is the Titanic of industries and Reno is staying with the ship

Gaming is the Titanic of industries and Reno is staying with the ship

246°  It is unfortunate that gaming ever came to Reno. Nestled near Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and a four-hour drive to San Francisco and the ocean, the town could be filled with diverse industries making it nearly recession proof, but because the community has become dependent on the gaming industry, it has no will to challenge the hand that used to feed it. In ten years or less, Reno will be the next Detroit.

Sparks: Nevada’s City of Failure

This sculpture, tucked away near and abandoned Wal-Mart shopping center shows what happens when you have two cities competing for business, boxes with nothing in them

This sculpture, tucked away near and abandoned Wal-Mart shopping center shows what happens when you have two cities competing for business:  boxes with nothing in them

348°  One of the ongoing tragedies in Nevada is the resource-sucking duplication of two cities in one valley. Reno was founded in 1868. About 30 years later the railroad put in a switching yard a few miles east of Reno and rabble living there declared it and surrounding few houses a city. It was originally named after the President of the railroad, but it was quickly renamed after the current Governor of Nevada, John Sparks, who was very cozy with the railroad.

The attitude of the City of Sparks has probably always been one of jealousy of Reno. Sparks main feature has always been the railroad yard, which is as close as the city comes to having a downtown. The desperation to best Reno has led Sparks to be on a never-ending campaign to steal commerce from the original city.

One example of the damage Sparks has done to the community is the desperate attempts to create a premier shopping center at the far east side of Sparks. To entice businesses they offered taxes incentives. Lowe’s took advantage of this by closing down one of their large home improvement centers in Reno and relocated in the Sparks. Now the community has no additional jobs, but the business provides less in tax revenue for the citizens.

The result has been to have three competing governments (City of Reno, City of Sparks, Washoe County) serving one community, each with duplicate services. No one is benefiting from the mud wrestling-like competition. The premier shopping mall in Sparks is noticeably lacking in customers, even during the holidays.

The Reno/Sparks/Washoe fiasco is typical of Nevada. It is why we are the best of all the worst indicators. High in violent crime, high in unemployment, low in education. Barring a miracle, failure is Nevada’s only option.

Yellow Pages End of Days

How businesses waste money

How businesses waste money

198°  Yellow pages are the Dead Man Walking of today’s business world. Once the Yellow Pages were the gorillas of business allowing customers find the array of services they needed from one giant book filled with small print. It was a brilliant money-making scheme that no one else could provide and telephone companies made the most of charging outrageous fees for a tiny business listing. Even a ‘bolded’ phone number cost extra.

Then came the Internet. Then came Google. Then came smart phones. In three strokes everything the Yellow Pages offered were erased. Those precious books that used to be hand delivered in a plastic bag to every door of every home are now unceremoniously thrown from the back of a pickup to a driveway near you.

Throwing expensive trash on the customer

Throwing expensive trash on the customer

They are now just expensive litter. Only old, white business men still pay for ads in them and it is a waste of money. Yes, old, white men will desperately shout, “I STILL USE THEM!!” and that says everything about how passe′ they are in our society.

Business’ Historic War on Decency and Children

Business doesn't care about the welfare of children or society in general. They care about making more money.

Business doesn’t care about the welfare of children or society in general. They care about making more money.

94°  Today my son asked me if children were slaves before ‘civilization.’ It was an innocent question, not initiated by me making him do something he didn’t want to do…at least this time.

I explained to him about child labor in the days before government established laws to protect children and how business, when left unchecked, will use children and others who are at a disadvantage to the rich and powerful, to lower their labor costs in pursuit of profit. He suggested that people who treat children this way should be subject to the Death Penalty. I’m not sure I disagree with him.

Paul Ryan says that we lost the War on Poverty. No doubt he feels that business should be allowed to return to an absolute profit motive where business can use children as slave workers. Business is often at war with decency. Business doesn’t care and that has been proven over and over and over again. Business does not operate by logic or intelligence because of greed.

Boeing recently strong-armed its employees into agreeing to a unfavorable contract under threat of losing their jobs. If business operated under a model of logic and/or intelligence the managers of Boeing would have never threatened their employees. Anyone who is not motivated by pure greed can see the outcome of this story.

As any bully would respond to fear in others, Boeing managers now feel more empowered to treat employees with disrespect. Boeing employees feel betrayed. Their great employees and the smart employees will look for alternative work options, and they will find them. The remainder of Boeing employees will have minimal loyalty to the company and their product will show it over the next ten years. Boeing’s lust for more money has created the cancer that will slowly kill the company.

Conservatives are worshipers of the business gods. These gods are the destroyers of decency. They would see us return to the labor practices of the 1800’s and make children work in factories. For investors it would be a win-win. Cheap labor and no tax revenues needed for public schools. The perfect business-solves-everything scenario.

We, the American people, are not going to let that happen. The choice is clear. Do you love profit and greed, or do you love decency and our children? There is no compromise between them.