Writer's Block: Money ain’t a thing
firefox-ie
darkknightradic
If money were no object, what technology big or small would you buy tomorrow?


A top of the line computer with quad monitors. :p

Writer's Block: Who wants to live forever?
firefox-ie
darkknightradic
Would you want to live forever? Does your answer change depending on whether or not everyone else gets to live forever as well?


Well, considering I already have eternal life in Christ...

Chain vs. Franchise: Who Controls What
indifferent-me
darkknightradic
The franchise has proven a very profitable model for expanding a business with minimal effort (7-11, Subway and McDonalds are the most profitable iirc). With a franchise what you are doing is giving up training of staff (a huge cost, especially if you have a personal stake in making sure the training is better than adequate) and handing over a license to use the menu, look, feel and name of your business to a third-party. In return they give you a cut of profits through licensing deals and they purchase all their food from you. All you have to worry about is mass-producing as many disheses as possible and all they have to do is heat it up or in the case of meats, cook them properly; for non-cook-to-order meats such as pork, fish and chicken, you can further minimize that by freezing them as pre-cooked items.

What are you giving up? Food quality, for one. In all my years of working fast-food and the few years I spent in buffet and casual dining environments, I have yet to come across anything that was pre-cooked and frozen that tastes as good as fresh prepared (if you've ever bought those Wan-Chai Ferry, P.F. Chang, or Romano's Macaroni Grill frozen meals, you'll know what I'm talking about). Sure it takes longer, but there is a noticable enough difference in the quality. If you start out that way, or go to that really quickly before you grow too big, the loss in customers won't be as great so there is no worry and it's just what people will expect already. Also, staff training is another issue. By franchising out, you cannot take as personal an interest in the training regimen or in the quality of the new hires as you would normally do if say you had a small to medium sized chain, I imagine large, non-franchise chains have a training quality issue as wekk, but they have corrective issues they can take directly that would include escalating the issue right up into corporate headquarters. With a franchise you have a customer service line that gets in touch with the licensor who gets in touch with the particular liscensee. The level of care there will vary widely.

Who should franchise? Those who want to expand quickly, have basic training guidelines (including customer care aspects), and can afford to hope for the best. Who shouldn't franchise? Anyone who cares more then a little as to the look, feel, and quality of each restaurant. If you want to maintain that level of concern, don't franchise. Chain out, open up corporate headquarters and work diligently to set in place policies that will satisfactorily handle not only inter-employee disputes but employee-customer issues (while customer-only issues will still be a high priority and should remain a top priority). If you've been watching undercover boss, I would strongly encourage all business owners to do something similar. Good practices need to be pointed out and rewarded and bad practices need to be ferreted out and, if the people who are the source do not want to change, the source needs to be cut out without a second thought. This is your business, after all. It is your name and your companies image that is at stake here. It's not all about profit-vs-loss. There are no acceptable risks when you can mitigate or even out right eliminate behavior that would lead to loss.

This means a reform in union thinking, too. Yes, people need to work and deserve fair wages, but not if they are doing a bad job and will not unlearn those behaviors leading to bad performance. Reward those who are performing about expectations, keep them and those who are performing at level. Get rid of anyone and everyone else without a second thought.
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GMO Foods: Friend or Foe?
trap
darkknightradic

GMO Foods: Friend or Foe?


The Basics


GMO Foods have been around since the beginning of basic agriculture. As soon as it was figured out you could actually selectively breed crops (and animals and even people) for desirable traits (whatever those may be), farmers, ranchers, and those involved in eugenics programs have taken the basic idea (mating pairs based on bringing out or strengthening desirable traits while weeding out not-so-desirable ones) and ran with it. What's going on is nothing new, in it's most basic form. What current GMO foods have on previous generations, though, is the fact that they are being manipulated on the DNA level. That double-helix we share with every form of life on the planet (hey, when God creates an awesome design, He runs with it, deal). There is only so much you can do with selective breeding (even with plants, despite their ability to incorporate even what our bodies would consider foreign (non-native) DNA) though. For example, you couldn't, through selective breeding, get the firefly glow gene into tobaccoo (Time, 1986) via selective breeding. That requires some real gene-hacking wizardry.

What's the problem?


The problem lies in plant patents, specifically the patents on the genes. Since we are talking about plants, and they generally reproduce by pollination (either self- or cross-pollination depending on species), when a GMO plant gets pollinated by a bee, the bee doesn't go, "Oh, this is so-and-so's plants, I can only continue visiting flowers in this field." No, the bee goes, "bzzzzzzzzzzzz bzzzzzzzzzzz bzzzzzzzzzzz" and flies around randomly pollinating flowers in its search for nectar. Also, the wind does a good job of helping pollination and it won't stop blowing the pollen from a field of crops that is GMO so it doesn't cross-pollinate (illegally, remember, these GMO plants are patented) in that farmer's field who doesn't happen to have a license from Monsanto (with Monsanto and the USDA being co-owners of several plant patents, don't expect this to change soon).

So far all the Monsanto cases have looked at one thing:

  • Did the farmer know that Monsanto's patent-protected plants cross-pollinated with their plants

    • If yes, sue into oblivion

    • If no, sue into oblivion anyway, obviously the farmer should have known it was going to happen


  • Did the farmer try to profit off their new-found windfall of "ill-gotten" gains?

    • If yes or no, see above.


Invalid Patent?


Neither the courts, nor the defense lawyers (they have to be idiots, I swear) seem to have looked at this. Can the farmers or Monsanto stop the cross-pollination? If no, than Monsanto's patent should be invalidated because there is no reasonable means of protecting the patent from unauthorized reproduction (yes, I know it's Infowars, find me another source that contradicts anything in this article and I'll be happy to post a new entry with that link). With no reasonable means of preventing unauthorized use of said patent in it's typical application (farming), why was the patent even granted? Is Monsanto that far in bed with the USDA? Are the courts not supposed to be a checks-and-balance anyway?

Should Monsanto be rewarded for it's contribution to agriculture? Maybe. GMO foods, specifically those Monsanto have been producing, have not been shown to not cause disease in the organisms feeding on those products. Coupled along with the issue of preventing unauthorized cross-pollination (and upon detection, a farmer would have to destroy every plant that is "contaminated" with the patented genes; can you say good-bye to your livelihood that easily?), this presents a significant difficulty in getting not only farmers to grow the junk, but people to eat it (well, perhaps not that difficult, products containing GMO foods aren't required to be labled as containing such) as well.

Go, buy your fresh produce, but don't be surprised if it contains built-in herbicides/fungicides/pesticides (you know, the stuff you could wash off on non-GMO foods). And don't think you can grow your own food, either. At least, not without the government's permission.

Hrm
indifferent-me
darkknightradic
I am, as of yet, unware of how the Writer's Block questions are supposed to help me write more.

Writer's Block: Comfortably numb
firefox-ie
darkknightradic
Where is your favorite place to relax?


At church.

Writer's Block: Happy happy joy joy
firefox-ie
darkknightradic
What cheers you up the most when life gets you down?


The promises of God. (:

Good Spelling
indifferent-me
darkknightradic
I'm 32, so those of you older than I should know what I'm talking about, though I imagine that depends on where you were brought up.

When I was growing up, we didn't have hooked on phonics for parents to help their kids with. We had phonics taught in grade school. Enunciation, pronunciation, and spelling are all wrapped up in that. From that very strong base, along with encouragment from my parents to read, I was prepared for a world in which good, clear, concise communciation is important. As someone who has been around the Internet for a while (about 13 years now, though I know that's not nearly as long as some others my age), I've seen all manner of spelling and grammatical errors.

"Will" for "well"
"To" for "too"
"Groan" for "grown"

The list goes on, though it's not limited to homophones.

What has happened to the school system? Has so little emphasis been put on correct spelling? What about grammar? I struggled through high school exclusively because of grammar, yet I managed to pass on my own merit, not just so the teacher can get me out of their class. Does this make me elitist? No. I don't even consider myself well educated. I have a high school diploma which I received with a 2.3GPA after 4 years in high school, twice dropped out of college (two different colleges; one I flunked out of due to changes in the curriculum I couldn't adapt to and a second time dropped because of issues with my first semester (missed all but a few of my finals)) and only now going back to school after 5 years of trying to find steady work and even then it's a trade school, not a degree-earning program. Not that there is anything wrong with learning a trade, it is just a really far cry from my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.

There are definitely issues that I could not be considering as I encounter all sorts of people. Some might not have had the chance at even going to and graduating from high school. Others might not have had teachers that cared (that is still a rampant issue, I believe). I really can understand that and I try not to rant about spelling errors too much, but at what point did it become okay to tell our students that having a problem spelling is not something to be concerned about? At what point did it become okay to let slide the basics of our much-maligned language (according to the English, anyway :p) just so we can cram a few more kids out the door with a diploma? Slowly the worth of a high school diploma is becoming less and less as our employers demand ever more of our children and even us in the work place. Is it really true, as one commentor to an article in a news article I read, that all the liberals want is a government-indoctinerated drone with no capability of even forming a proper thought? I can't help but consider that as a possibility given laws such as NCLB which puts quantity over quality (an ever dangerous thing no matter what it is you are talking about). Do we as a society no longer value a truly educated person? Are technical companies (such as Google, Yahoo, Sun, etc.) the only ones to value any sort of independent thinking (though that seems to be slowly eroding as each one lobbies the government and educational instutitions with their own agendas)) the only ones interested in highly intelligent people who can do a good job? When did proper spelling and grammar usage become of so little value in the educational system?

Yes, I'm frustrated and rightly so. As a potential employer and future contractor I want to be able to clearly communicate with those who work for me and those whom I work for; there should be no ambiguity in meaning in business transactions or even personal ones. I want to see an emphasis brought back to spelling and grammar, and for those who never had a chance while a child to get that sort of education, perhaps the Church could help with that. Guttenberg brought the printed word to the masses in spite of opposition from governments and the Roman Catholic Church (both feared a loss of power over the masses). It seems little has changed in many societies. Those who are native speakers of a language, I urge you to learn it well. Such knowledge will benefit you in an untold amount of situations. Whether you are learning a new language or digging down even further into a study of your own, do not dismiss spelling as unimportant. It is important. It is one of the hallmarks of clear, concise communication. It helps to remove ambiguity and gives the appearance of authority. It also confers a level of respect. God does not want us to be knuckleheads. Almost everyone is born with the possibility of being a clear communicator. You don't lose that until you're either senile or dead. Don't waste any moment to continue your education. If you need help, reach out and find someone who will help and do not be discouraged. It will be hard, it could even possibly take a long time.

Don't let a failing public education system limit your God-given potential.

Writer's Block: Remember that time…
firefox-ie
darkknightradic
What is the most embarrassing thing that happened to you as a child? Are you still embarrassed whenever you think about it?


I had my sweat pants pulled down to my ankles at school on a day I had to go commando.

Writer's Block: Don't judge a book by its title
firefox-ie
darkknightradic
If you could change the title of one published book, which book would you choose, and what would the new title be?


Journey to the Center of the Earth would become Adventures Near the Earth's Core as I don't recall them actually making it to the center of the earth (though it started out as being the goal). I can just see Jules Verne rolling in his grave with horror.

Or, alternatively, Alice in Wonderland would become Alice's Vivid Imagination.

No, I am not good at naming things. I feel sorry for any kids I might father once I'm married.

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