The Outlet Trend

Outlet stores are everywhere. No matter where you look, there is some kind of store boasting cheap prices because it is an “outlet.” Companies have all jumped onto this same bandwagon. They buy or rent small, crappy buildings, throw their merchandise onto disorganized racks or tables, post a bunch of sale or clearance signs all over, then call it an outlet store. The problem here is, the prices and merchandise are the same as they are in the department store. As much as the stores want you to believe that the prices are better, they aren’t. All you have to do is actually compare them. The concept of paying hundreds of dollars for something as simple as a sweater in what is supposed to be an “outlet” store is beyond comprehension. I don’t care what the brand on that sweater is.

When I was growing up, there was an actual purpose for outlet stores. People are imperfect, as are the machines people make. Sometimes the machines create items that are not quite up to par. When people went to department stores, they found that all of the clothes there were perfect. None had the seem slightly twisted, or one pantleg slightly longer than the other and so on. These types of mistakes were taken to the outlet, and sold at a highly reduced prices, because they could not be sold retail. Many of us who were strapped for cash back in the day were very grateful for these mistakes. A slightly twisted seem was worth it for $5 name brand jeans.

Now, I guess, the companies either throw the rejects away, or just sell them retail. My money is on selling them retail. With each new retail generation, I’ve watched quality sink. When I was young, quality was a main priority. Companies focused on high quality materials, quality workmanship, and keeping the lower quality products off of their shelves. As time has gone by, I have watched companies lose interest in using quality materials. Those kinds of materials cost money. The companies would rather save the money on the materials, yet charge the consumers the same amount, or more, for a lower quality product. From there, they have gone to hiring unskilled laborers, mostly offshore factory workers. These people have no idea how to create a quality product, but they cost a lot less. Again, they company saves money, but charges the consumers the same amount, or more, for the product. Now, when you go to these stores, regardless of whether they claim to be a department store, outlet store, or whatever, it is common to find items with missing buttons, broken zippers, or other obvious issues on their shelves. When I was growing up, these kinds of quality issues would be rare, if they happened at all.

What bothers me the most about this “outlet trend,” is that it works! People actually buy into these companies’ hype! These companies sell these people torn, ragged, unorganized merchandise in a small, filthy environment for the same price it would have gone for in the department store, and people believe they are getting a deal! No wonder our society, and our economy is going downhill so fast…

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SEO Trolls

I get a lot of jerks trying to sell me some guide to help me with search engine optimization. Did it ever occur to these guys that I’m not really concerned with that stuff? I’m not on here to see how many people I can pull off of the web. I mean, if a few people check out my blog, great! I’m glad that I can touch a life here and there. I hope it’s for good, but who knows? Not everyone agrees with me.

Mostly I come on here for me. There are a variety of reasons I blog. My feelings change from minute to minute, and that probably shows in my blogs. While one blog is about my cats, another is about the new mixer I got, yet another is my feelings on God and religion, and another is on my feelings toward interviewing techniques. I have never had the patience to keep a diary. The few times I tried, I found it to be tedious, and unproductive. The concept of having a potential audience to critique my life experiences makes the idea of keeping a “diary” more tangible. I enjoy having people call me out on points they think are sketchy or incorrect (possibly because I’m a bit of a perfectionist), but I’m not hunting for readers. If there is something here that catches your eye, if something about me, or my blog intrigues you, then by all means, I’d love for you to stick around and critique my writing. The readers that wander into my blog come here because they are looking for something I have. I have no desire to try to sell my writings to people who have no interest in them.

For this reason, all those idiots peddling SEO BS, peddle it elsewhere. My tags, my italics, my bold letters, are all fine. The people coming to my page are here because they want to be here. You are not wanted–please leave!

The Folly of a Group Interview

The new trend in hiring is group interviews. Companies claim that they can judge customer service skills, observe the candidates ability to interact with others, and get a sense of the candidates own powers of observation through these mass interviewing escapades. Really?

These companies set the interviews up like a classroom. Interviewees are put into submissive roles below the interviewer. These people make it very clear that candidates should not speak unless spoken to, then chastise the candidates for not speaking among themselves. In fact, in the group interview I just had, the interviewer made the comment that the group was too quiet. She said we needed to talk among ourselves, yet when the girl next to me and I spoke to each other, the interviewer shot us dirty looks.

It’s a power game, and a ridiculous one at that. The companies claim to want to see how you get along with others, yet when you show that you get along really well with others, they want nothing to do with you. They say that they wish to judge your customer service skills, yet when you prove that you have unrivaled customer service skills, they are no longer interested. They insist that your ability to notice detail is crucial in getting the job, yet when you show that you have a very keen eye for detail, they lose complete interest in you. I think that the reason for group interviews is very simple. Companies bring large groups of candidates together so they can pick out the youngest, and most naive in the bunch. That way, the company will be able to negotiate the lowest possible wage, and move on. Anyone else would be more expensive. That’s the bottom line…their bottom line.

So, any company that resorts to such underhanded tactics in their hiring, probably utilizes other shady practices within their business. They are obviously very keen on keeping control over potential employees; imagine how keen they are on keeping control over their actual employees…

From Victim to Predator?

This is an urban myth I’ve always had an issue with. We see this in crime dramas, mystery movies, and hear it in word of mouth tails all of the time. There is always some story about a child victim growing up to become the predator. Does that really make sense? In my experience, most children come to abhor the tragedies they endured, and strive to ensure that no other child has to endure it. As someone who endured childhood violence, I am against all violence toward children. I cannot imagine others who have gone through worse than I did feeling any different.

While skimming through facebook a while ago, I found an interesting link. This is a story on Upworthy about a man named Dean Trippe. Trippe told his story through one of my favorite mediums…comic art. This particular section is very moving, very powerful. Toward the end of the article there is a link to the rest of Trippe’s artwork/story.

Not only does he have a very powerful story, Trippe also shows that the idea of child victims growing up to be adult predators is ridiculous. The main causal factor in most child molestation cases is attraction. The second most common causal factor is power.

We live in a society that likes to place blame. Unfortunately that blame is nearly always misplaced. The concept of blaming children for having their innocence ripped away from them, their entire life changed from what might have been a dream into what is definitely a nightmare, feeling the horrors and shame of adulthood long before those burdens should even have meaning to them…is unthinkable. These children need to be loved, they need to be understood, they need to be accepted, not just as victims of abuse, or someone who survived, but as people. Most of all, this love and acceptance should not stop just because they stop being children. A person does not change who they are, and who they love just because they’ve reached a specific age. This “cycle of abuse” nonsense is just that…nonsense. The people you love do not become monsters as adult just because someone hurt them years ago.

A Sensual Society

This is a topic that I’ve been thinking about for a long time now. We have a society that prides itself on telling everybody else what to do. The main subject that is on everyone’s lips is sex. You shouldn’t wear revealing clothes. You shouldn’t “flirt” with someone outside of your relationship. (Of course, these people never define flirt. If you are speaking to someone of the opposite sex, they assume you are “flirting.”) You shouldn’t have pre-marital sex. You shouldn’t naturally feed your baby in public. There are all kinds of things you shouldn’t do in this society. What I want to know is: why?

I spoke about beauty in an earlier blog. By telling others what they can and can’t wear, society is trying to define beauty in its own image. Beauty is a very personal thing. Each person has to define beauty for themselves. Part of that definition includes how they present themselves. Society should not be able to limit that expression.

Every human interaction is intimate in some way. Each person has a bubble of personal space that surrounds them. When people interact, their bubbles merge. That immersion into another’s personal space is an intimate act, regardless of the purpose for that interaction. Simply saying, “Hello,” to a stranger in a grocery store is intimate, because those bubbles have merged. As the conversations are prolonged, the bubbles intertwine, and the interaction becomes even more intimate. It does not matter if the relationship is completely platonic, the interaction is still intimate.

Since the nature of all human interaction is intimate, many people see sexual tension or interest where there is none. A person will see two people interacting, and assume that there is “flirting” going on, simply because, like all human interaction, the conversation is an intimate exchange of ideas.

People who have read my blogs already know my feelings on marriage, but even if I were to go in for an archaic institution based on slavery, and doomed for failure to begin with, I have a real problem with the concept of others telling me not to try it before I buy it. Whether people like it or not, sex is a big part of a long-lasting relationship. It does not matter how well-balanced every other aspect of a couple’s life is, if that area is not satisfactory, the relationship will not survive the long haul.

I see such animosity towards the concept of public breastfeeding. Even people who believe that breastfeeding is the best thing for a child, often balk at feeding in public because of negative reactions in this society. Members of my own family have commented that the practice is rude, and should on be done behind closed doors. So, babies only get hungry at home, behind closed doors?

What I find ironic is that this culture objectifies the human body, then criticizes people for following the example set by the media. Everywhere you look there are billboards with half naked men and women plastered all over them. Television shows near nudity, sexual prowess, blatant infidelity, and pretty much everything that the society claims to abhor. Of course, if anyone follows in the footsteps the media sets, the society condemns them for immoral acts.

What if the society was a little more honest with itself? The truth is, this society does not find these things as abhorrent as it claims. If it did, our billboards would not be lit up with sensual images, our television shows would not be full of infidelity, and people would not be so drawn to the concept of sex.

If our society were to accept its sensual nature, what would it look like? To begin with, there would be a lot more acceptance of alternative lifestyles. Polyamory, Polygamy, and other such multi-partner relationships would not be scorned. People would not be afraid to be themselves. The concept of being “in the closet” would not exist, because people would freely accept others for who they are. People would be less judgmental. Since these lifestyles would not be considered “immoral” or “against” any societal code, there would be no reason to judge them harshly. The sensual nature of people in general would lead to a more loving and compassionate society. By dropping the judgmental attitudes, and embracing the truth that we all enjoy beauty, intimacy, and love, the whole society would benefit.

Because of Christianity, or In Spite of It

Not long ago I wrote a blog about the need for more outspoken women in the atheist community. On that blog, I drew a very persistent commenter who felt the need to steer the direction of the conversation away from the point of the blog. That did irritate my a little, because the subject of role models is a very important one to me. My life was bereft of people who were close to me, and had the ability to inspire and motivate me. I walked aimlessly for years before relying on my own inspiration to guide me. Perhaps others can be spared that aimless struggle if they had something or someone, even if from afar, to aspire to.

Once again I am wandering off point. The troll **ahem** I mean, commenter, kept trying to make the point that without Christianity, western society would not exist. Let’s look at some of what he said:

“Did you know that all the great civilizations grew up around religion? And the greatest religion of them all, Christianity, powered the rise of mankind’s greatest civilization, Western Civilization.”

“The Catholic Church is the oldest institution on the planet. And name even one civilization that progressed past the slave, beast of burden and bone grinding manual labor besides Western Civilization. Thanks to Christianity, Western Civilization developed modern science which permitted mankind to quantum leap into a future of internal combustion and jet engines, flight, mass production, modern medicine, human rights, etc., etc. There simply is no comparison between any civilization Western Civilization with regard to technological, social and political advancement.”

“The Catholic Church was the most powerful institution in Europe if not the entire world for the 1000 leading up to the Reformation. It controlled or greatly influenced EVERYTHING, especially thought and worldview. Any intellectual was subject to Inquisition. Consequently, science developed because the Catholic Church guided intellectual thinking away from the tar pits of alchemy, magic, astrology and the secular commandeering of religion, education and science that prevailed in almost all other civilizations. Nevertheless, it was in alchemy that the precise measurement necessary for modern chemistry was developed and it was in astrology that the mathematics of astronomy, physics and cosmology was developed. The major mover of the efforts behind the study of alchemy and astrology was boo koo bucks. Royalty paid handsomely for good astrological forecasts. The study alchemy was outrageously expensive but the promise of being able to turn a base metal into gold or silver made expenditures seem like investments. This according to James Hannam in his most recent book, “The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched Scientific Revolution.”

I will not deny that humanity is prone to superstition. When people cannot explain something, the first thing they do is rarely find a logical explanation. Most of the time, people come up with ridiculous, and off the wall scenarios that evolve into crazy legends. Legends of old include the headless horseman from Sleepy Hollow, vampires, werewolves, king Arthur (and everything that comes with him: Excalibur, the lady in the lake, ect.), and many more. More recent legends, often referred to as “urban legends” include: Bloody Mary, the hook man, the hatchet killer, Candyman, and man more. When someone else sees the crazy stories for what they are, and produces evidence that shows a logical and rational explanation for the phenomenon that started the story, people become defensive. Once they’ve invested time and emotion into a story, the concept of letting it go is upsetting.

The Catholic Church is quite old, and it holds tight to its traditions, much as it always has. Much like people who get upset at facing the possibility that their legends might not be true, an organization, whose entire foundation hinges on the words written in an ancient book, gets very upset when those words are challenged. So upset that they will go so far as to ensure that those words do not get challenged. If that means silencing the challenger, so be it. If that means covering up the challenge, so be it. Whatever it takes to protect the sanctity of the institution, that’s what they will do.

There were people who believed that our solar system could be heliocentric as early as the 3rd century. This view contradicted biblical teachings and was generally frowned upon. In the 16th century, Copernicus set after this train of thought against popular thought and belief, and amid heavy criticism. Despite the obstacles he faced, Copernicus was able to show through a mathematical model that his hypothesis was correct. Even then, many did not believe him. Even now there are some that claim that the earth is flat because that’s what the bible says. The Flat Earth Society believes that because the bible claims that the Earth is flat, it is.

The commenter said that we should believe that Christianity is responsible for the rise of western society because the church micromanaged everything. This means that the church controlled everything; they could approve, disapprove, suppress, or do whatever they wanted to with research, technology, politics…well…everything.

He also says that no other civilization could do what we have done. Is that true? Greek and Roman artists, philosophers, engineers, and so on were taking the world by storm long before Christianity ever came onto the scene. The gods in both Greece and Rome were much more adaptable to the changing times. Their human attributes meant that the gods, along with the religion they represented, evolved along with its people.

The ancient Egyptians were quite innovative in their own right. Many of the Egyptian gods were not as versatile as many of the ones found in Greece and Rome, but they still were more capable of evolving with their people than the Christian god was.

Before the Catholic Church came around, Roman engineers had built amazing architectural structures, improved the quality of concrete to ensure its strength and longevity, created central heating, and much more. The Egyptians had produced mortuary practices that could preserve a body for eons, created structures that would last even longer, and created an equal opportunity society. Both societies had produced beautiful works of art.

Once Christianity began to spread through the known world, these advancements slowed. For many years the church forbade literacy for ordinary people. It was an exclusive privilege reserved for the clergy. This ensured that any “scientific inquiry” could only be done by the church. It took the people waking up and realizing that they were being denied basic knowledge that should have been a right before anything was really done.

What if Constantine had not seen the potential for control in Christianity? Christianity became a force in the western world because a very powerful man saw the potential for control. In a polytheistic system, there is no central control. There will always be different factions who believe differently and have quarrels with one another. A monotheistic system resolves those issues. There are no different gods to angle against one another. Everyone worships the same god, has the same beliefs, and strives for the same goals. If one leader (Constantine) could be the figure head for such a movement, nothing could stop him…or so was the plan. It worked quite well…for a while. Once Martin Luther came along the all for one, one for all stuff went down the drain. Now there are over 4000 different denominations of Christianity, and they are probably just as bad at bashing each other than any of the ancient polytheistic religions were. In fact, if you look at the history of Ireland, you’ll find that some of these factions have even gone to war against each other.

Without Christianity, would western society exist? I don’t have a “what if” machine to check, but my guess is, yes. In fact, I’d wager that we would have gotten where we are a few centuries faster without the church being so worried about scientific discoveries contradicting their holy texts. The Roman Empire was the dominant force in the western world when Christianity came into its own. The only reason Christianity went from a few stories told by goat herders to a world-wide religion is because a cunning leader saw its potential for controlling the masses. Within the Roman Empire there were artists, philosophers, engineers, scientists…everyone necessary to bring technology and advancement to a society. Even today people quote the wisdom of those philosophers, scientists, engineers, and artists that had nothing to do with Christianity.

Did we need Christianity then? Obviously not. Someone used it to take control. Do we need it now? Not at all. Much like those legends we spoke of earlier, people have a hard time letting go of stories they’ve grown attached to, even if all of the evidence shows that the story isn’t true.

Our Bodies, Our Choice

reproductive choice

 

I came across this meme on facebook. I suppose it’s a bit graphic, but I understand the sentiment. It’s the 21st century. By now women should not need to fight to have control of their own bodies. We should be enlightened enough by this point to understand that other people cannot and should not have any say over another person’s body. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Many people treat their own children like objects, or property, rather than people. Some people still treat their spouses in a similar fashion. Worse yet, a woman’s right to control her own body isn’t even seen as a right. In many places, rape is still seen as an acceptable means to ensure that a woman remains submissive. Here in the US, there are still schools, parents, teachers, and many others who will gloss over, or even cover up a rape case, to ensure the success of a well connected or promising male student. We even go so far as to write and pass laws that restrict a woman’s control over her own body.

While I was looking over the thread under this picture, I came across a comment that rubbed me a bit wrong:

‘I am not for abortion, yet I am not for stopping a woman from making that choice. However let’s not make it as if it should be an easy choice for a woman to make. It should not also be a means of birth control. Some women need to be more responsible with the body they have been given. Make better choices when it comes to who you sleep with. If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have unprotected sex, especially if you don’t have the means to raise a child. There should never be the attitude of, “I can just get an abortion.”‘

The use of the phrase need to, and the word should, really got my goat. Whether or not someone else acts irresponsibly is not his concern. The choices that someone else makes are not his concern. Until someone actually invades his personal space, whatever that someone does is not his business.

What I find so ironic is the argument so many try to pose to say that this is their business. Many claim that irresponsible women who get pregnant often end up using public funds to help out with their bills, which involves everyone. First off, everyone pays taxes, even the people who end up taking a little back. Second, if a woman decides to get an abortion, the cost would be a drop in the bucket compared to what it would cost to raise a child. Third, until the public actually has a say in how public funds are truly spent, it doesn’t actually involve everyone.

What really bothers me is how people never take the feelings and concerns of the women into consideration in these situations. Anyone who is against abortion assumes that a woman who considers it is a cold blooded murderer. None of them take the circumstances of her life, the condition of the fetus, the anguish the decision has caused her, or anything else into consideration. The worst part is, these people force their idea of morality onto others, then abandon the people they’ve dominated once they do. When these women do not have the means, motive, or opportunities to properly care for (a) child(ren) who have been unwillingly forced onto them, the people who did the forcing are nowhere around to help out.

All of these issues can be easily resolved by realizing what I mentioned in the first paragraph; we are an enlightened 21st century society. At this point in our social evolution we should know our own social boundaries. Setting laws that inhibit people from utilizing their own bodies is an archaic, uncivilized, and ridiculous practice. Telling others what to do, what they should do, how to live their lives, or anything else that effects another person is a practice that does not belong in an enlightened and civilized society. At this point we need to decide, are we really an enlightened 21st century society, or are we still living in an archaic past that is ruled by notions of relative morality that tell us to invade each other’s personal space on a regular basis?