Our society’s obsession with looks

While watching television the other night, I saw several commercials in a half hour span that pretty much sums up our attitudes about outward appearances. We are simply obsessed with being young and beautiful. One was an ad about getting rid of gray hair. A few commercials later was a spot about getting rid of wrinkles around the face and neck. Shortly after, a weight watchers ad appeared. If you watch enough television these days, you might get the impression that being fat, gray, having a receding hairline or wrinkles around your face makes you an outcast in society. It is a crime to be ugly.

Personally, I believe that looks are extremely overrated in our society. Sure, if someone is extremely attractive, it makes for some good eye candy. When I go to my favorite beach in the summer, I don’t want to see a bunch of fat, ugly people surrounding me. Of course, I would rather look at a bunch of beautiful women. But in the big picture of life, is being beautiful all that matter? What good does it do to society if someone only has good looks and nothing else? What about brains, emotional stability, character, ambition and a sense of humor? These traits often fall down the pecking order in judging people. The really hot woman or man gets all the attention at a party. Do you think a bunch of guys are going to hit on some nerdy looking lady who walks in? Never mind that she might be the smartest woman in the room.  That simply does not matter. The fact that she is downright ugly immediately eliminates her from any attention. How sad is that?!

Another example on what I am talking about is online dating. Everyday, thousands of men and women get bypassed in searches because their profile picture looks ugly. And believe me, I am guilty in that respect as well. There have probably been many women who I have overlooked because I was not attracted to their picture. They might have been the nicest, sweetest person on the earth, but that old-looking face really turned me off.

In any given year, people will spend millions of dollars in an effort to look hot. In addition, people will spend a considerable amount of time trying to get that perfect body. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to be the most beautiful person that you can be. But what the inside of you? How much time do these people who work out constantly spend on trying to better their inner self? For every hour that they spend in the gym, do they spend an equal amount of time trying to learn something new such as taking a class? Do they value how other people are doing in our society or are they fixated on that object in the mirror?

Sometimes I wonder if this obsession with looks actually harms our society. If people actually spent an equal amount of time trying to become better people on the inside, we might not have all of the problems that we currently have in today’s world. Good looks are something a person only has for a temporary amount of time. A good heart on the other hand, last a lifetime. Why not spend equal amount or more time on something that will benefit society more in the long run?

 

A part of me died when Prince passed away

It was around noon on Thursday when I heard the dreaded news. A co-worker of mine asked me if I heard any new information about Prince. Rumor was running rampant that he had passed away. I immediately checked my phone and the rumor was now a fact. The man who could arguably be called the Elvis Presley of my generation was dead. My shock was shared by many others in my office. It was one of the most difficult afternoons that I have ever experienced at my job. There were so many questions to be answered about his death. How could this happen to someone who was still pretty young?

Many people have spent the last 48 hours reminiscing about the music legend and what his music has meant to their own personal lives. I can honestly say that Prince was a huge symbol in a certain era of my life. Whenever I hear the song “Party till it’s 1999” it brings me back to my late high school days and some of the school dances that I used to attend. Those were the times of my life! Other songs of his really bring back memories of my college days when I used to drive around with the radio blaring loudly and my ex-girlfriend singing at the top of her lungs. She loved Prince. His extremely well produced music videos on MTV are another thing that I most fondly remember about Prince. “When Doves Cry” is a classic video of his. The 80’s and early 90’s were a special time in my life and when I hear some those classic Prince songs today, I think back to an era that really stood out in my life.

Will Prince go down as the great musical artist of all-time? Very few performers were as versatile as him. He could excel at playing just about any instrument, most notably the guitar and piano. Furthermore, his drive at perfection is what stood out by many who worked with him. He once went through a 2.5 hour sound check. Yes, 2 and 1/2 hours! Imagine being a part of that crew? That attention to detail in his performances and recordings separated him and made him so great. There are probably thousands upon thousands of great musical artists in this world, but what separates the haves from the has beens are those little details and just plain hard work. His rise to the top after being told that he could not make it should be an inspiration to people of all fields.

Prince is gone but his music and memories will go one forever. Many people my age grew up listening to Prince. It seemed like a part of all us died when he passed away. Sure there were other great musical pop artists such as Madonna and Bruce Springsteen in that era, but Prince and his songs really stood out to me. He was a one of a kind artist. There are many things that define my teenage to early 20’s years, school, sports, hanging out with my buddies, chasing after girls and listening to the great tunes of Prince on the radio and watching his music vidoes.  RIP to a great musical artist. A whole generation of people were lucky to have you be a part of it. We cannot thank you enough for making our memories so much sweeter.

 

 

 

The great transgender bathroom debate

With the many problems this country is currently facing such as a sluggish economy, rising uncontrollable debt, terrorism threats and health care, isn’t it sad that the number one topic on the minds of many is whether a very few small group of mentally disturbed people can have the right to use a bathroom, not based on their birth gender, but what they currently identify with? Is this what our country has come to? We are more concerned about where some mixed up individuals can pee rather than focusing on the far more important issues that face us.

Throughout social media, this has been a very hot topic in the past few weeks ever since a law was passed in North Carolina which forces people to use the bathroom based on the sex listed on their birth certificate. So if you were born with a penis, you use the men’s bathroom. I think must people will agree with me that this a very common sense law to have. If we did not have a law like this, any predator could walk into a women’s bathroom and have a field day. I am sure that must women would not be very comfortable having some creepy looking guy arrive at the stall next to them.

However, according to many, this the worst travesty of rights in the world to members of the transgender community. In their way of thinking, a transgender person has every right to use the bathroom based on what they currently feel is their gender. Words of discrimination has been thrown out frequently to describe to this law. Many businesses and a few celebrities have stated that will no longer do any business with the state. Of course, these same businesses would not hesitate to do business in some foreign country which might have numerous human rights violations. The hypocrisy is simply amazing! For instance, the NBA is considering removing next year’s all-star game from North Carolina, yet the league is perfectly okay with having an exhibition game in China which has had some of the worst human rights violations in the world.

Like many topics regarding the rights of GLBT groups, supporters often do not mention the rights of all people involved; they are only concerned with the rights of those GLBT members. Forgot about the rights of any religious group, women or children. It is all about THEIR RIGHTS and nobody else’s. How selfish is that! How difficult is it really to use a bathroom based on your gender on your birth certificate. It is not really that difficult at all!

The next natural progression from giving bathroom rights to transgender people is giving them rights to use a locker room according to what gender they may feel. What is stopping that from happening? Why deny someone the right to use a women’s locker room when they are allowed to use a women’s bathroom? If you have a problem with a lack of privacy in using a bathroom, wait until this happens. Imagine if your teenage daughter was showering after swimming practice at a local health club and some guy who claimed to be a woman decided to shower next to her. How would you feel? Sure he may have man’s unit, but he claims to be a woman! After all, it is his right to shower in the women’s locker room, right? That is the reason why states have these laws. It avoids situations like I just mentioned.

Perhaps a simple solution to this is to have more unisex bathrooms in public places where both sexes could have access. We have one at my workplace right across the hall from my cubicle. Both sexes use it and simply lock the door. In the meantime, there are many Americans who are currently struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis. Can we start talking about solutions to these more important problems with the same kind of passion?

A sport that is much better to watch on televison

For the most part, I am the type of guy who would rather attend a sporting event than watch it on television. There is just something about being there in person that makes the game or event more interesting. Maybe it is the atmosphere of the stadium or arena that does it for me. I cannot pinpoint exactly why. Of course, there are a few exceptions. It is always nice to enjoy a football game in the comforts of my living room when it is freezing cold outside and snowing. One sport that is so much better to watch on television than in person is a sport that many in this country will focus on today and that is golf and the Masters tournament. It is one sport that is really made for television.

I have attended 3 major golf tournaments in my life, 1 US Open and 2 PGA Championships. One the plus side, it was very thrilling to be up and close to several of the golfers that you always see on television. I will never forget the time when I was only a few feet away from Tiger Woods as he hit a shot. I could clearly hear the conversation that he was having with his caddie. No other sporting event allows fans to be that close to the action. However, it is very rare to be that close to the action particularly at a major. If you are walking the course and following the action, you will probably end up standing behind several rows of people and struggling to see what is happening especially if there are some tall people in the front.

Another big drawback about attending a golf event is not knowing what is happening on the course. Many people tend to choose a certain location such as the 18th green to pitch camp for the day. In golf, there is action taking place at many locations all around the golf course. When you watch it on television, you never miss something exciting that may have taken place. Many golf tournaments do allow any type of electronic devices such as smartphones so you have no real way of tracking the progress of the tournament. The only way is by constantly looking at some scoreboard which is often behind schedule in getting updated.

Now if you watch golf on television, those problems do not exist. You have an idea as to what is going on at all times. If someone makes a great shot and takes the lead, you see it instead of just hearing a big roar in the distance. The networks who telecast these events do a great job of jumping around the action as well as having reporters on the ground who can give the viewers some valuable insight on the action. The only drawbacks to watching it on television is of course the announcers. I personally do not have a problem with any of them, but some folks really seem to have a hard time listening to some of those guys.

I would never again shell out big bucks to attend a big time golf event in person. It is a total waste of money. When you can only see a limited amount of action, it is just better to stay home and watch it on television. Golf events are made for television, not attending as a spectator.

Farewell to a great reality show

It seemed like just yesterday when this new phenomenon of a show called American Idol burst upon the scene some 15 years ago. I can remember vividly the early days of the show and tuning in one cold winter night to see for myself why this show was show highly rated among the American viewing public. It didn’t take me long to become hooked on the show as well. Having a bunch of regular everyday people shooting for that dream of stardom and success combined with a group of very entertaining celebrity judges was the perfect recipe for a great show. My favorite judge and probably many others was Simon Cowell. I just loved his very blunt honesty about the contestants. If a person sucked, he told them and many times in a very humorous way. His departure from the show seemed to represent a starting downtown in the show. No other judge was quite like good old Simon.

In recent years, my interest in American Idol has gone down hill. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a great show, but now there are many other like-minded shows such as the Voice for the viewer to watch. The sudden rise of that show probably was the final nail in the coffin for American Idol in my opinion. After 15 years, it was finally time to end what might be one of the most successful and long running television shows ever in this country. I guess in television, all good things must come to an end sooner or later. In the land of television, for a show to last that long is very unprecedented.

Given the enormous popularity of the show, isn’t it surprising that winning the show has not necessarily translated into huge success after the show? Sure Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson went on to have good careers, but how many people can even name 5 winners from the show?  It is hard for me to believe that this Trent Harmon will go on and become some sort of superstar in the music industry. In a few years from now, he will probably just be the answer to a very tough trivia question.

Perhaps another new show will soon be produced by the Fox network that will be similar to American Idol. Who knows? Our country seems to have a love affair with these reality shows where some average person can achieve their 15 minutes of fame. It would be foolish for the network not capitalize into that love affair. I just want to give a huge thanks to the producers of American Idol for giving me many hours of entertainment in the past 15 years. A job well done guys! RIP American Idol. We will miss it come next January.

Get ready for 15 dollar burgers in California

The state of California made headlines this week when its legislature passed a historic measure that would bump up the state’s minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour by the year 2021. No other state in the country has a minimum wage at that level so this piece of legislation is very unprecedented. The current minimum wage in the state is 10 dollars an hour. The state of New York is will soon follow suit and pass a similar law. Supporters of this new law are naturally very gleeful and want more states to pass laws that would bump up the low-end wages to that level. In fact, if these supporters had their way, there would be a federal law requiring all states to have a 15 dollar per hour minimum wage. While many people seem to be jumping for joy over this new law, this blogger, who has worked in business for several years, is not. I think it is a stupid idea for the government to dictate how much a company should pay their employees. In the end, minimum wage laws like this will hurt the people for whom it is designed to help, the poor and less experienced workers.

I fully get the arguments out there for this 15 dollar an hour minimum wage law. If you give a worker 5 dollars an hour more in their pockets, they will spend more and thus the economy will grow since consumer spending is the biggest factor in expanding the economy. Furthermore as proponents will argue, fewer people will be on government assistance due to the fact that their wages will increase. Looking at the argument from that side, it is a no brainer. Heck, why not bump it up to 25 or even 50 an hour! Why settle for 15? However, do these supporters look at the big picture and see how this will affect many companies, especially the food and restaurant businesses?

Let’s say that I own a business and now I am forced to give a bunch of low waged workers in my company a 50 percent bump in pay. What about the rest of my employees? If someone who works in a department that requires very little skills or experience gets that kind of pay increase, what about the people who actually do have unique skills or talents that help make my company more profitable? Are they not entitled to a 50 percent pay raise as well? I cannot think of too many business owners who could afford to give all of their employees those kind of raises.

There are a number of consequences that a huge minimum wage hike will have. If a company is forced to pay workers more, they will make it by increasing the price of their products and pass it on to the consumers. The product that you buy at the store will increase because it costs more to produce it. The buying power that a bump in wages for a low-income person will have is offset by having to pay more for many products. Secondly, the fact that many employers will be forced to increase their payrolls will lead to less hiring among low experienced or skilled workers. Companies will try to cut costs by having employees perform more tasks or worse yet, lay off people. This will create more unemployment so the argument that fewer people will be on government assistance is not correct. Sure many workers might not need more assistance due to their higher wages, but many may lose their jobs or not be able to find work due to their high price tag.

If someone wants a living wage, then go out and EARN IT! Make yourself marketable by picking up unique skills that puts you in demand. You don’t even have to attend college or get a 4 year degree to pick up those kind of skills. Pushing a broom for 40 hours a week is not what I call a very marketable skill.

Instead of having this debate about paying some person more to flip burgers, why are we not having a discussion about increasing the wages of the middle class? Only about 3 percent of all workers in this country earn minimum wage and many are not the sole bread winners of the family. Many of us in the middle class have not seen a substantial pay raise in years. It seems as though the more the government sticks their noses into businesses by requiring certain mandates such as wages and health insurance, the more everyone is hurt. Many politicians including a few who are running for the president have no idea or clue on how to run a business. Their policies will further hurt our economy.

The next time you visit a state which has a 15 dollar per hour minimum wage and stop by a restaurant to pick up a hamburger, be prepared to fork out some cash for that next meal. We will all suffer the consequences of having these mandates put in place. On the surface, what California is doing looks a great idea until you dig into it and look at what the consequences could be, especially the low-income people. I hope other states who want to implement this law listen to their business leaders first instead of caving into a bunch of radical people who have no knowledge of the basics of business or economics 101.

A few thoughts on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament

If you are a huge college basketball fan, today is certainly a day to mark and circle on your calendar. It is final four day and 4 teams will battle it out tonight to determine who will play in Monday night’s championship game. Like most people, my bracket is totally shot so I can sit back and actually enjoy the games this year. Thanks to the efforts of Michigan St. and Kansas, I do not have to worry about winning that jackpot in our office pool. Anyways, I have to say that this has been one very enjoyable tournament. I just love this tournament because of the one and done element to it. No long drawn out best of 7 series which usually favors the better team. This tournament certainly had its share of drama and hopefully the final four games will continue that trend. I would like to share a few thoughts on the tournament so far and offer up some predictions on what might happen in the next few days.

1) MVP of the tourney – Buddy Hield. This is kind of a no-brainer.  Hield has had a fabulous year and has taken his game to a new level during the tournament. I am happy for the kid because he decided to come back for his senior year and that decision is during out to be a great one for him. His NBA stock has really risen in the past few weeks. I hope he has a fabulous final four.

2) Most impressive team so far – Villanova. I know how everyone is praising North Carolina, but in my mind, Villanova is the most impressive team that I have seen play in this tournament. I’m not saying that they will win the whole thing, but this team is very solid both on the offensive and defensive end of the court. In addition, they have a strong inside presence which matches up very well with North Carolina. I have to admit that I overlooked Villanova in making my picks. They are one good basketball team.

3) Biggest surprise of the tourney – Michigan State losing in round 1. Of all the teams that you might consider getting upset in the tourney, Michigan St. was at the bottom. It makes no sense at all! They were a hot team with a proven tournament coach and here they go down in flames in the first round, go figure!

4) Most memorable game – Northern Iowa vs. Texas A&M. In all my years of watching basketball, I have never seen a team come back from being down by double digits with less and minute left in the game. It was a shocking finish that will be talked about for years to come. One of the top 5 biggest collapses ever by a basketball team at any level.

5) Television coverage – I like Charles Barkley and the crew on TNT NBA telecasts and wish they would stay there. I very much wish that Turner Sports would stay out of this tournament and let ESPN cover the games. They telecast a million college basketball games during the regular season and have some of the best and brightest analysts. Furthermore, they have about what? 5 different channels to televise the games on. Wouldn’t you rather have Jay Bilas on during the halftime show than Charles Barkley? No offense to Sir Charles, but the likes of Bilas, Dick Vitale and Jay Williams have been watching and commentating on the college game all year. They could give us better insight.

6) Bold predictions- To be honest with you, I would love to have Syracuse win the tournament.  That would really screw up many office pools around country! However, I am picking Villanova and North Carolina to reach the championship game with Nova cutting down the nets on Monday night.

I want to wish the players and fans of those teams still involved the best of luck. I wish this tournament would last another 2 weeks; it has been a lot of fun.