This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 at 5:15 am and is filed under brain, fun, science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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February 24th, 2010 at 5:21 am
Geez. And here I am reading this at 12:20 AM because I couldn’t sleep. What does that say about my education?
February 25th, 2010 at 1:50 am
Makes perfect sense. Think of when you lift weights: if you are ramping up to a final heavy set you will take a rest between sets allowing the muscle group to recover a bit and allow it to be prepared for the next set. Also, you might take anywhere between 2 & 7 days to hit the muscle group again (depending on your goals.) Recovery is as important in mental work as it is in physical work. Of course, we are predisposed to believe that activities such as napping, or meditating, or yoga, etc. are just ways for slackers to get out of work.
February 25th, 2010 at 5:11 am
"… Of course, we are predisposed to believe that activities such as napping, or meditating, or yoga, etc. are just ways for slackers to get out of work.".Actually, I think the common perceptions of work avoidance are union jobs and college.
February 25th, 2010 at 5:17 am
I am virtually sleepless – which probably explains some of my odder posts
February 25th, 2010 at 4:22 pm
"I think the common perceptions of work avoidance are union jobs and college."
Which is kind of funny when you think about it. Unions and colleges are a source of wealth for the middle class, which were won, literally, through the blood and sweat of the workers, but they are precieved as elitist activities. Go figure! And now, I think it has to be said from this post, that if we could slow our world down, somehow, and meditate more often, we could get more work done, cute!
February 25th, 2010 at 5:14 pm
I look at union work from an opportunity cost point of view. Workers are convinced that their pot of gold is at the end of a picket line and they never set their sights higher than extracting whatever they can from their employers – a proposition that offers very limited returns. Just imagine what they could accomplish (and earn) if they set their sights higher and expended their energies developing themselves, taking risks, pursuing endeavors with a higher potential payoff, rather than stamping their feet and holding signs. Whatever they are obtaining by way of collective bargaining and union dues seems to be far less than what they could obtain if they chose a different mode of employment.
February 26th, 2010 at 5:12 pm
"Workers are convinced that their pot of gold is at the end of a picket line and they never set their sights higher than extracting whatever they can from their employers "
If you mean do the workers know who is going to get them the needed .15 cent raise, then you are correct. Pot of gold, I have never heard that one, from my fellow union comrades, when I work in a union shop. Actually most union workers have the same amount of respect for their union officials as they do have for management. The difference is that the union officials are supposed to be on their side, which I have to say is not always the case. The problem with not having unions is that the relationship between workers and management becomes similar to the Prisoner’s Dilemma as written about in academia. It is not that the union memebers want a union; it is simply the fact that the worker, and management, need the union.
Of course, I think the point is moot. Even the powerful teachers union is probably poised for deletion. It sounds like the public wants to turn the teachers into contract labor and give them grants, which can or cannot be renewed, to turn their kids into geniuses. This would give the teachers who are fighting the so-called elitist system, in-place now, to bravely go, where other who don’t have the heart to go.
This will mean more wealth reduction in the USA, and I doubt it will end-up being better for the children. I think the system will lose some precision and accuracy in its action, which will cause more children to drop through the cracks in the system for several generations.
Then again, it seems to be the direction USA is taking.
February 26th, 2010 at 6:13 pm
"This will mean more wealth reduction in the USA, and I doubt it will end-up being better for the children. I think the system will lose some precision and accuracy in its action, which will cause more children to drop through the cracks in the system for several generations."
This seems like a massive assumption. How will wealth be reduced? How will more children slip through the cracks if the current system is altered? The best example of how the current system is a massive failure is Detroit. Detroit has either the highest or second highest $ spent per student and yet is one of the last ranked educational districts in the country.
"it is simply the fact that the worker, and management, need the union."
Why didn’t we see this fact manifest in the Tech & Media industries that grew so rapidly (and generated millions of above average paying jobs) in the last 30-40 years?
February 26th, 2010 at 9:47 pm
I didn’t intend for a joke to take an otherwise light-hearted post down this rabbit hole. I’ll just say that apparently Larry’s union experience was far different from mine. I don’t know where Larry has worked. In Boston, unions are a disaster. I’ve seen them in construction, in shipping (at the airport), and as a security guard. The vast majority of individuals whom I observed (construction and airport) went to work everyday determined to do as little work as possible. The relationship between worker and management was adversarial at best. Are you familiar with lawfare? It was the same thing. I have never seen so many people without a legal education who were so well steeped in the black-letter rules that governed their workplace. Their ability to artfully use the "union rules" to avoid doing, or significantly delaying, work that management wanted done was amazing. As a security guard, I would field calls every morning from 7 to 7:30 from people who were routinely late to work (calling at 7:20 to say that they were going to be late for the 7AM start). Everyday, the same people "forgot to set the alarm" or "lost power and the alarm didn’t go off" or "had a flat tire" or some other excuse. Management was allowed to fire them, but the re-hiring process was the problem. It was made so complex and cumbersome by the union that managers found it easier to simply wag their fingers at late-arriving workers and to assume that they would need to cover for half the work force for the first half-hour of the day. Okay, I’m done now.
February 27th, 2010 at 4:52 pm
"Larry’s union experience was far different from mine."
Yes, my experience was much different, but to a certain degree I saw some of what you talk about, but I have seen it in non-union shops as well. However, if you have enough time to stand around watching the bad performers, you are one of the bad performers, if you know what I mean 🙂 Actually I have found it is easier to work with machinery than people, and have used my skills to that end. It was only when I ran into one of those people who kept my machinery from functioning properly, that I had a problem. When that happened, diplomacy usually worked. I can’t really tell you what happened when that didn’t work, but it wasn’t pretty.
The thing that helped our union/company relationship was profit sharing. We were one of the first to start this program and for the most part it worked for a time. It created a peer-pressure that was, in my opinion, actually felt out on the floor. Where it didn’t work so well was in the effort at tying profit-sharing in with what was actually happening out on the floor. Profit is so controlled by management, by when they want to take a profit and how much, that it is really just an incentive program, but it did work, until it wasn’t about making a profit anymore.
February 27th, 2010 at 6:29 pm
"Why didn’t we see this fact manifest in the Tech & Media industries that grew so rapidly (and generated millions of above average paying jobs) in the last 30-40 years?"
*Good point. I was trying to separate wealth producing from earning a wage, and maybe that is not the way to look at it. An above average paying job produces wealth, but for the worker it takes generations before it can take effect. It is like a reverse ponsey scheme in that the first one in pays a bigger price than the last one in. The next generation gets better education, health, and benefits than the last, and the nation as a whole gets wealthier. In that case wealth by generations needs stability, and unions gave us that stability, but at a cost. I think the nation as a whole is getting less wealthy, as health and life expectancy goes down and the cost of education goes up.
More children will slip through the cracks if the current system is altered because, as I said, the precision and accuracy of the system is being altered. The system is acquiring a new target (accuracy) and those kids, whose life was on a different course, will be hard pressed to acquire this new target. I think this happens, especially in education, all the time, but only lasts for a generation or so. As you describe an educational system that is badly broken, it might be a small price to pay for a better system, but I think it is important to remember who is paying this price.
I have my doubts that this system will end-up being better, because children learn despite the system, not because of the system. I think, in the end, it doesn’t matter what the system is, just the fact that there is a system in place is what counts.
Education is like a funeral, it’s about who puts it on and not about who is “attending”. Change makes those who are paying for education feel better, but has little to do with the needs or wants of the children attending. The children, after going through the system, any system, pretty much know how this is going to come out. Some can handle it, some cannot.