Thursday, January 5, 2012

Using inappropriate language or slang

One of the most common indicators of the lack of refinement, good manners, and education in our society is the tendency to use vulgar or inappropriate language even in a very public context. The movies are full of crude and inappropriate language. The use of bad or inappropriate language content is nothing new. I suffered through the barrage of filthy language while I was in the Army. It seems like people have to use the language to demonstrate that they some how "fit in."

I would quote from an old English book, TALMAGE, Thomas de Witt, and John MATTHIAS. The Talmage Series of Sunday School Dialogues ... Edited by J. Matthias. 1880. Wherein Thomas Talmage has written a discussion between two boys. It is worth quoting some of the statements made:
In my opinion there is not anything so degrading, so vile and meaningless as the detstable habit of profane swearing... No good can possibly be arrived at through it... Stay now, my friend, do not look so angry at my outspoken words, as your friend, I wish you to consider your speech, think twice before you speak once, and leave off such an evil, which has become with you an inveterate habit. 
I sincerely agree with Talmage's sentiments. The use of vulgar language shows a lack of education and refinement. It is objectionable per se and there is no logical excuse for the waves of vulgar language I am subjected to on a regular basis. Quoting from Spencer W. Kimball, "Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly.”

One place profanity and swearing appear frequently is in comments written on the Internet. This is a despicable habit and very objectionable. Here is a further quote from Spencer W. Kimball,
We wonder why those of coarse and profane conversation, even if they refuse obedience to God’s will, are so stunted mentally that they let their capacity to communicate grow more and more narrow. Language is like music; we rejoice in beauty, range, and quality in both, and we are demeaned by the repetition of a few sour notes.
And yet another quote,
Some time ago I saw a drama enacted on the stage of a San Francisco theater. The play had enjoyed a long, continuous run in New York. It was widely heralded. But the actors, unworthy to unloose the latchets of the Lord’s sandals, were blaspheming his sacred name in their common, vulgar talk. They repeated words of a playwright, words profaning the holy name of their Creator. The people laughed and applauded, and as I thought of the writer, the players, and the audience, the feeling came to me that all were party to the crime, and I remembered the castigation in the book of Proverbs to those who condone evil:
“Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not” (Prov. 29:24).
I automatically discount the statements anyone makes when they resort to foul, vile, crude, or profane language. I am not impressed with either the thought process or the education of those whose vocabulary is so limited that they cannot use civil and reasoned language. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Unemployed or unemployable

It is apparent that I have failed to fully explain my last few posts. The question I raise is whether or not the current long term unemployed are in effect unemployable. The jobs that they lost may not be necessarily being replaced with the same or even equivalent jobs due to permanent changes in the companies or due to technological, sociological or other types of fundamental changes. If those who are losing their jobs now do not have employable skills and the job they were previously doing is no longer viable, no upswing in the economy will bring them back into full employment. They will inevitably have to retrain in areas where skills are in demand or they will remain unemployed or only employed in lower or minimum wage level jobs. No matter what their past experience, if that experience does not prepare the unemployed for a needed job skill, they will not be able to find work.

The government's welfare support of the unemployed, without a commitment to retrain them with new employable skills only prolongs the inevitable. Part of the problem is caused by a school system that in many cases does not produce graduates with employable skills. But the problem is primarily personal. You either learn and grow into marketable work skills or you begin to move backwards and work for a reduced income. Despite your perception, your high paying middle management job may no no longer exist and the skill set you developed is no longer in demand.

Those who are "retired" from the work force have the same problems. If they have no marketable skills, if their retirement income shrinks either through inflationary pressure or cyclical downturns in the economy the retired may find themselves in a downward spiral with no marketable skills that will overcome the age prejudice built into our employment system. Long term retirement planning should include planning to obtain skills that will allow you to continue to be employed as long as you are physically able to work, not stopping work at some arbitrary age.

Work is work. If you or anyone views a job as undesirable merely because it is "boring" then you or they have bought into the entitlement generation full time. The day you stop learning is the day you start dying. I have personally seen people walk away from good, remunerative work because it was not what they wanted and they believed they were entitled to higher pay and better working conditions without any replace job or income. You need to make a realistic inventory of your job skills and work on those areas that will qualify you for replacement employment in an area where your job skills are needed.

For example, if you have been a carpenter in the construction industry, you may have believed that there would never come a time when you could not get a job. Maybe while you still had a job, you should have studied or taken classes to obtain some other types of skills that could be used to find employment in the event of a downturn in construction such as one during the past few years.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Out of work or unemployable?

I heard a short interview on the radio while driving that got my attention. It was a news commentary on the increase in the minimum wage in various states. In this case the interview was of a slightly older woman who had been out of work for a relatively long time and who blamed her inability to get a job on her age. She claimed to have been working at a position paying over $67,000 a year and had been unable to find work "in her field" and had finally found a job as a clerk in a convenience market for minimum wage. She topped off the interview by noting that she found it necessary to give up toothpaste and deodorant so she could feed her dog. 

OK, this scenario opens up a plethora of issues. Age is genuinely a factor. But job qualifications are more important than age or experience. Because I have no idea where this woman worked or what she did before she lost her job, I am forced to look at the overall picture for reasons why this can happen. First, if you hadn't noticed, we are in the middle of a post-industrial revolution. I have a friend who lost her job and she is training to do online support for a major company. This particular company found that customer satisfaction was so poor with their "overseas" support that they are moving all of their support jobs back to the U.S. with trained people. She will be working from home on her computer and providing telephone and online support. The job pays much better than minimum wage.

Perhaps this lady on the radio was employed in a job that no longer exists or maybe her whole type of work is no longer part of our economy? My guess is that the so-called high unemployment rate is more a reflection of the way the overall employment environment in the world is changing than it is a reflection of the economy. There are skill sets for jobs where the jobs going begging for qualified people. For example, during most of the past two years, our office has advertised consistently for qualified paralegal assistants and has gone months without finding a qualified prospect no matter how old or how long they had been out of work. I have been told repeatedly that there simply are no qualified paralegal assistants available. I personally added to the unemployment by retiring.

If there are jobs openings that go begging, why are there long term unemployed? It is a situation where the job skills need to match the job openings. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. But if you are presently in a good paying job, you should count on the fact that the job may end. So what are you going to do about it now? I suggest looking at the present jobs shortages and begin to cross-train. Think of other things you can do and begin now to prepare for the downsizing and job losses of the future. Take a lesson from the insurance industry, quoting from the Insurance Networking News, "Despite high levels of unemployment, U.S. business leaders say one of the biggest risks they’re facing is a talent and skills shortage, according to the 2011 Lloyd’s Risk Index." In another article in the Huff Post Business the claim was "The mining and software industries have at least one thing in common. A labor scarcity, or a shortage of skilled workers, could affect the profit margins for both of them, according to a report issued by Fitch Ratings Tuesday afternoon."

It would be interesting to know what skills the radio lady had and what she had done to improve her skills while she was gainfully employed.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Technology is more than social networking

Less technologically adept individuals tend to equate an ability to use social networking as sign of computer prowess. Howerver, texting and Facebook skills do not equate to an ability to reason and use a computer productively. Computer use has two major components, the motor skills necessary to use a keyboard, a mouse or a trackpad and the cognitive skills necessary to use the software programs. Using a computer instinctively, requires a monumental amount of practice with a fairly high degree of hand/eye coordination. But simply because you have the motor skills does not mean you can automatically run a computer.

My personal experience with younger computer users is that many of them have acquired the motor skills to operated the computer. They can use the mouse to open, close and move files, but have no idea about software. Learning to use moderately to extremely complicated computer programs requires the skills behind the program. For example, someone may be able to play computer games all day, but that does nothing to qualify him to use a computer based accounting system, or do online legal research or build a spreadsheet. A computer is a tool. If you give a hammer to a two year old he or she can do quite a bit of damage but are unlikely to build anything. I have used computers in my work since the 1970s and I view them as a tool to an end.

When was the last time you saw a young person use a computer for something other than entertainment or as a text entry device? To effectively use a computer, you need to have a concept of work. Unfortunately, this concept is sadly lacking in American society, especially by the youth. The first level of computer usage is keyboarding. A Nielsen Study found 13 to 17 years olds averaged 3,417 text messages a month. Typically 86% of those who own mobile devices use them while watching TV! See ReadWriteWeb. Looking at the U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 Statistical Abstract, almost half of the high school students in the U.S. or 45.16 percent still have no Internet use at all. Whereas only 6.17% of those people with a bachelor's degree do not have Internet access.

Interestingly the 2012 Statistical Abstract shows, 29.13% of the population of the state of Arkansas have no Internet use at all. The state with the most computer use is Utah with only 9.9% of the population with no Internet use. Total computer use in all the states combined is fairly evenly divided between those 18 to 34 or 30.48%, 35 to 54 37.77% and 55 and older 31.75%. 

Other than using social networking, playing games, or email, when was the last time you actually did some elective work on a computer? When was the last time anyone you know under the age of 18 did some work other than that required by a school class? How many different programs do you use regularly? How many do your below 18 year olds use?