Should Blue Laws Return?

Should we return to the days when stores were forced to shut down on Sundays so the employees had a chance to attend church and spend time with their families or go to other meeting of a more social nature?  One major investment management firm thinks so.  What about holidays?  With Thanksgiving coming up and an increasing number of retail outlets opening for the day, we must keep in mind that each of those stores is preventing its employees from attending their family feast.

Is this the employees’ wishes?  Quite possibly, yes.  We’ve been lowering the effective minimum wage over the years after adjusting for inflation.  We’ve been eliminating the middle class in the meantime, making it more difficult for a family to support itself on only one income and continuing to push the idea of ‘keeping up with the Jones’.  Are we doing the right thing?

Do all of the employees working on Thanksgiving Day want to be there?  Or, would they rather be home watching Dallas and Detroit play their rivals on the television?  Or cooking in the kitchen, talking and having fun with family they haven’t seen in months?  The answer to these questions is also ‘yes’.  Each person has his/her own preferences.  Each one must answer these questions for him/herself.

Before you condemn the company for keeping its doors open, think about what you actually do on Thanksgiving.  Do you go to your computer and look up the ‘Black Friday’ sales and plan your attack for the next day?  Do you see that an item is on sale online and order it right then and there without needing to fight the crowds?  Is this helping the near-minimum wage employee working at the retail stores?

Perhaps a solution is for the retailer to ask for volunteers to work on each holiday, and fill in with non-volunteers only as needed and only for short shifts.  If they don’t have enough volunteers to cover most of the shifts, then maybe they should stay closed.  Would this work better for all involved?  Are there other solutions that might work?

Note:  for information on Goldman Sachs newly enacted version of blue laws (for Saturdays) see: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/11/goldman-sachs-monitors-junior-analysts.html

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3D Printing Impacts Us in More Ways Than We Imagined

In an age where we have machinery to plant and harvest the crops, tend to the cattle, repair the infrastructure and in general take care of every need we have; In the age we are approaching where we can tell a computer to print a pizza for us and it will be ready in just a few minutes without having to go to the door to greet the delivery person;  In this same age where we can have body parts printed for people who have been injured or abused their body to the point that they need new parts; In this age which is quickly approaching there will no longer be a need for the masses to work.  Then, in that age, what shall we do?

One will need to work only if they want something to do which cannot be satisfied by the entertainment systems of the day.  TV, in the new sense, will be able to stream, on demand, whatever programming the viewer desires.  Sports on the professional level could be virtual, to prevent injuries to the athlete, or they could continue to be actual physical events where people play for the thrill and the danger of injury.  After all, we will be able to replace injured body parts by just printing the correct one.

If a person is not being productive in some way, what is their raison d’être?  Why should they continue to carry on with life?  Will we enter the Twilight Zone or Doctor Who episodes where people are judged based on their contributions to society?  And if they don’t meet the criteria for being productive, be put on a game show to play for their right to live?  Should the masses be used as tokens to be pleased, with the person having the most on their side the one who gets the extra ration of whatever they desire?

These are all very morbid thoughts.  It is better to go into the future with a clear idea of what we are facing than to stumble blindly forward.  If we start thinking about the problems that choices cause before the decisions are made, we will have a better chance of making the right decision.

What impact do you think 3D printing will have on our economy?

Will 3D printing be used in the food industry?  Or will there be another technological breakthrough used there?

Please leave a comment, I’d like to hear if you think anything will come of this.

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A Writers block cure for NaNoWriMo

When writing, sometimes it is best to get away from the writing to see and experience other things.  This is especially true if you are having a writer’s block.  By seeing other things, you might get a new perspective on the object which has consumed most of your focus.  This new perspective may be the breakthrough to help you overcome your writer’s block.

Sometimes watching/reading the news will give you an idea, or sometimes you need to get out and talk to people.  Perhaps go to a nearby bar to find the local color as Faulkner and Hemingway did.  Or, possibly, you should do the opposite; go somewhere completely alone and commune with nature as Thoreau did at Walden.  The snap peas get lonely too.  (Thoreau is rumored to have talked to his vegetables.)

Whatever method you use, the point is to set aside what you are working on completely.  Don’t think about it at all.  Give your brain a break.  Just like any part of the body, the brain gets tired.

Eventually, you must come back to the writing that you want to get done.  At this point you put on your favorite thinking music, cozy up to your word processor, and work…  Just sit there a while if you must.  The words start flowing and you find yourself writing things that you weren’t thinking before.  They may be a little rough, but get them down on paper while they are there in your mind.  You can clean it up later when it’s time for editing and polishing.

Before you know it the sun is coming up.  You find you’ve written several pages and bits and pieces of other scenes that you can fill in later.  You feel successful.  It’s a good day’s work that took all night long to accomplish.  Now, when the rest of the world is waking, it’s time for you to go to sleep.

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