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Archive for December, 2011

AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP OATH

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 22, 2011

If you have been following my columns, you know I consider citizenship to be an important responsibility which shouldn’t be taken for granted. I make an effort to stay abreast of current events and what is going on in our government. I have voted in every national election since I was eligible to do so in 1972. This is why I become rather disturbed when people do not vote, nor care about what is going on in their country, particularly young people who I consider a generation of naive sheep in the offing. It’s a sad state of affairs when immigrants know more about what is going on in this country than native born citizens.

In the 2008 presidential elections, only 56.8% of the American populace voted, which is a pitiful figure when you compare it to other democracies like Australia, India, and the Scandinavian countries. Surprisingly, this was the highest voting percentage in the United States since 1968 (60.8%). The highest in recent history was in 1960 (63.1%) for the Kennedy/Nixon election.

Since 1778, immigrants coming to this country have had to pass a test and take an oath swearing their allegiance to the United States. The current oath is as follows:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Not surprisingly, immigrants coming through this program tend to appreciate this country and are more loyal than native born Americans. Another cause for this could be because there is less emphasis on teaching American government and history in the schools than in years past. In other words, the importance of being a citizen has not been impressed upon them.

So, as a proposal, how about administering a modified version of the immigration oath to all native born Americans on January 1st? Parents could give it to their children, thereby turning it into a family tradition; civic organizations and local governments could administer it in public group settings, or perhaps some other venue. Maybe even the media could get involved and administer it over the airwaves or Internet. It should be administered in some solemn way with a right hand raised and the left hand placed on either a copy of the U.S. Constitution or perhaps a holy book such as a Bible, Torah, or Koran.

All that is necessary is to simply modify the first sentence of the Immigration Oath; to wit:

AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP OATH

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Ideally, this should be followed by voter registration for those who haven’t done so.

This oath is certainly not the same as the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, this is instead a reaffirmation of our commitment to our country and would help promote citizenship and voting. Maybe this is something that should be given routinely as opposed to just one time; to remind people of their allegiance to this country. I cannot help but believe this simple gesture would have nothing but beneficial effects.

I can dream can’t I?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timbryce

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Government, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

WHAT IF THE SOUTH HAD WON THE WAR?

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 20, 2011

For a moment, let’s imagine the South had won the Civil War; that Pickett’s Charge had been successful in breaking the Union Lines at Cemetery Ridge in Gettysburg; that Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had crushed and crippled Union forces. He would have then be freed to sweep down through Philadelphia, Baltimore, to capture the Capitol in Washington, DC. Once defeated, the North would have reluctantly been forced to recognize the Confederate States of America (CSA) as a legitimate and sovereign state. In all likelihood, Lincoln would have been captured and released to serve out his term mending a defeated nation. Basically, his political career would have been over. After a short occupation, Lee would have probably ordered all troops home, both North and South, and the two countries would have had to learn to live together in peace, just like we do with our neighbors to the north, Canada.

Such a scenario presents some intriguing prospects regarding history, not only in North America, but globally as well. Over time, both the USA and CSA would have recovered economically, and both would continue to operate with the same laws and customs as before the war. I doubt another conflict would erupt as both sides were exhausted by the debacle and finally learned the perils of embarking on another such venture. Following the war, slavery would still be accepted in the South, but abolished in the North. The civil rights movement of the 1960’s may have occurred in the north, but certainly not in the South. Whether a black person today would still be a slave in the south is doubtful as slavery is generally frowned upon by the world community. Keep in mind though, it was the Union’s victory that greatly influenced world opinion regarding slavery. Had the Union lost however, segregation would most likely still be with us and countries like South Africa would still be practicing apartheid.

As two separate countries it is unlikely we would have had as much influence in world affairs as we have experienced. Both countries would be strong, but the division would keep us from becoming a super power to challenge countries like the Soviet Union. Both countries would have likely served on the same side during the two world wars, but would have been much weaker than a unified nation. In all likelihood, Great Britain would remain the dominant super power of the free world as the Americas would be divided, and the rest of Europe in shambles following WW2. Without the United States as a super-power, Communism would have likely flourished and spread to more countries and the Russians would have undoubtedly won the space race.

The energy resources of the middle East would have inevitably fallen under Soviet rule which would threaten the free world and cause the two Americas to increase production. The only benefit to having the Soviets controlling the Middle East, particularly under Stalin, would be the suppression of Muslim radicals and peace would reign. As the dominance of the Soviet Union grew, the two Americas would likely have withdrawn and become more isolationist in nature.

So where does this leave us; what would North America be like today? More importantly, what would we be like as a people? What are the cultural implications assuming the two countries survived to this day? First, as part of the its terms for peace, the CSA would have insisted that runaway slaves would have to be returned to the South. This means there probably wouldn’t be a massive migration of blacks to the North, that they would have been stuck in the South. An uprising for freedom may arise over time, but this would be harshly suppressed much to the dismay of the people in the North. The point is, the demographics of the populace would be significantly different than what we know today.

Regardless of the movement of the masses, I cannot help but believe the north would become a bastion of liberalism as it would primarily be driven by New Englanders. The South would consider itself more conservative than its counterpart in the North and would be less likely to bend traditions and change social rules. Both sides would suffer during the Great Depression of the 20th century. Inevitably, Franklin Roosevelt would emerge in the North and be more likely to pass sweeping social legislation. Without a conservative coalition to challenge him, it is likely he would have implemented changes to the Constitution, such as his court-packing plan to add more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to obtain favorable rulings to his liking. In other words, a greater social agenda would likely emerge in the North, much greater than his “New Deal” legislation. The South would not be so willing to implement such changes. Nonetheless, the two countries would wallow in depression until entering World War II which would finally ignite industry in both countries.

Following WW2, Roosevelt’s social agenda would be carried forward in the north resulting in a massive and intrusive government. In contrast, the South would be less likely to follow the policies of their neighbors to the north. Government would be smaller and less invasive in the lives of its citizens and businesses. Whereas the North would likely mock their “country bumpkins” in the South as being backwards, the CSA would industrialize and develop their natural resources. So much so, it would eventually supersede the output of the North.

Whereas a lot of the freedoms as specified in the Constitution would be challenged in the North, the South, with its own separate Constitution, will be more inclined to defend it. Consequently, patriotism, citizenship, and religion would more likely flourish in the South as opposed to the North.

The biggest difference between the two countries would inevitably be ideology; Liberals gravitating to the North, and Conservatives to the South. The two countries would both be strong in their own way, but nowhere near as powerful as a unified nation. Then again, knowing the politics of today, maybe this would have been a better scenario than what we all experiencing today where the government is gridlocked over ideological differences.

It is not clear to me what our standard of living would be like. I’m sure both countries would have prospered following victory in WW2, but maybe not to the degree we experienced in the 1950’s and 1960’s. If the South successfully industrialized, which seems clear they would, they may very well have had a higher standard of living than the North. The division between the two countries would have impacted technological developments. Keep in mind, we experienced a tremendous technological revolution as a result of the space race, but if the Soviet Union had won the race, they would probably be in the driver’s seat as opposed to North America.

If Pickett had broken the Union’s lines at Cemetery Ridge, life would be substantially different than we know it today. Between our differences in culture, technology, and ideology, our standard of living and position in the world community would be noticeably different.

One thing is for certain: had Lee taken the field in Gettysburg, Lincoln and Kennedy would likely have not been assassinated, and there probably wouldn’t be a Panama Canal.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timbryce

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

IS PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY A DRUG?

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 18, 2011

As many of you know, I have discussed the adverse effects of technology on numerous occasions. Specifically, I am talking about such things as mobile phones, video games, tablets and personal computers, those devices we embrace in the daily affairs of our lives. I have argued there is no documented proof it improves productivity (at least not with the U.S. Department of Labor), and that it affects our socialization skills particularly in the area on interpersonal relations. Such technology may allow us to express our creativity faster, to quickly access information, to communicate with anyone on the planet and share such things as notes and photos, but there is nothing to substantiate it enhances our ability to think. If anything, it diminishes the use of the brain. For example, many people can no longer perform basic math without the assistance of an automated calculator; We cannot communicate except by constant text messaging; We no longer believe we can compose letters or essays without a word processor, etc. It should come as no small wonder to watch an average office come to a complete standstill when the power is cutoff. Studies have also shown that extensive use of such devices actually lowers IQ. As Hicks points out in his book, “The Digital Pandemic,” technology has the ability to alter our minds; that it can assume the same robotic mannerisms as the technology we use. This means we are subliminally adjusting our lifestyles to adapt to technology.

We tend to think of drugs as chemicals or substances that are either used for medication or as a stimulant or depressant affecting the central nervous system, thereby causing changes in behavior. Under this paradigm, drugs are absorbed into the bloodstream orally, injected or smoked. In contrast, personal technology is absorbed through our senses particularly sight, sound and touch which, in turn, stimulates and arouses the brain, and provides a convenient venue for escapism. If used in moderation, there is little problem, but when used on a prolonged basis it leads to addiction and can alter moods, perceptions, and thinking patterns which leads to both positive and negative side affects. One obvious positive side effect would be a sense of accomplishment as in winning a game or successfully completing a task. The negative effect though comes from extended use whereby people become dependant on their technology to perform a variety of mental functions, such as math and writing. Further, we become impatient for results; as we grow accustomed to instant information, instant cash, instant photos, instant food, instant everything, and as a result, we become less tolerant of any form of delay which increases stress levels and leads to anger.

I contend our extended use of technology leads to an increase in violent behavior. This is a proposition that is hard to prove as it is difficult to locate reliable data tying technology to violent behavior. Also, such things as road rage, sports rage, work rage, bullying, anger management, animal cruelty are relatively new phenomenons and weren’t very prevalent just a few short decades ago. Consequently, finding reliable data over an extended period of time is very limited. The closest thing I could find was data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (its “Arrest Data Analysis Tool”) which revealed an increase in assault, sexual abuse, and threatening communications over the last ten years (the period when the use of personal technology soared). However, there is no direct connection to technology being the cause. Because there is no hard data, my premise will remain a theory until sufficient data can be assembled tying the two together.

In terms of addiction, technology exhibits the same type of powers as chemical dependency or, at the very least, gambling which also does not require drugs in the usual sense. Actually, the parallel between technology and gambling addiction is quite remarkable, and can be just as devastating. One interesting report that attests to the power of technology addiction is “The World Unplugged,” a global media study led by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA), University of Maryland. As part of their conclusions, the report comments on how students in the study handled the lack of media (meaning electronic devices):

“Going without media during ‘The World Unplugged’ study made students more cognizant of the presence of media – both media’s benefits and their limitations. And perhaps what students became most cognizant of was their absolute inability to direct their lives without media.

The depths of the ‘addiction’ that students reported prompted some to confess that they had learned that they needed to curb their media habits. Most students doubted they would have much success, but they acknowledged that their reliance on media was to some degree self-imposed AND actually inhibited their ability to manage their lives as fully as they hoped – to make proactive rather than reactive choices about work and play.”

Like anything, if used in moderation, technology holds no ill-effects. However, we have turned it into an 24/7 extension of our lives and can no longer imagine living without these devices. Because it offers instant gratification, it has become a new form of pacifier which we scream for when it is taken away from us.

The “pushers” of this new drug, of course, are the entertainment and electronic industries who keep refining their technology and content, making it even more enticing with each new release. They truly understand the addictiveness of this drug and how to use it for their benefit, as do politicians.

Let me leave you with one last thought; Life doesn’t emulate art, it emulates technology. Think about it, are we becoming more robotic in our thinking? Is our imagination and creativity limited by our technology? Can we live 24 hours without such products? The subjects in “The World Unplugged” study had trouble living without them and exhibited genuine signs of withdrawal, and if you are honest with yourself, you’re hooked too. So, is technology an extension of us, or have we become an extension of our own technology? Either answer is unsettling.

It may not be a chemical or powder, but make no mistake, personal technology is just as addictive and can alter the human spirit like any other drug.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timbryce

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Social Issues, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

TAKE HIM AWAY FOR REGROOVING

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 15, 2011

I am an avid fan of the Firesign Theatre, a comedy troop which came to light in the late 1960’s. Their humor was considered rather avant-garde even for this turbulent period in our history. You couldn’t find them on television or in the movies, and rarely would their comedy be broadcast over the radio waves. Instead, it was primarily distributed in vinyl form (good old 33rpm records) and appealed primarily to college students who treated it like an underground movement. Today, their comedy has attained cult status, not just for its humor but as a great parody of the times and their prophetic vision of the future. Their first album, “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone like Him” (1968) includes a satirical tale of the future based on the values of the psychedelic sixties. In particular, there is one track involving two police officers of the future traveling together in their patrol car. As part of their duties, they have to check to see if all of the citizens are “groovy.” If a citizen looks suspicious, the police would stop them, ask them some pointed questions to determine their grooviness, what drugs they were carrying, as well as to check their clothing and body paint. If the citizen wasn’t compliant, he/she would be “taken away for regrooving” which meant a massive reorientation to bring them up to date with the times. In the story, the people become so overtly groovy that underground study cells begin to emerge whereby students began to read books and discuss major issues of the day, all to the horror of their parents and teachers.

Lately I have begun to feel like one of the older pedestrians in the story, as I am sure I no longer appear to be “groovy” and in need of a major update. For example, I no longer know all of the names of today’s musical artists and motion picture stars. I still say “actors” and “actresses” as opposed to just “actors”; “pictures” as opposed to “movies”; and “Ethyl” and “Hi-Test” as opposed to “Premium” gasoline. Although I grew up in the digital age, I still appreciate analog technology which makes me think I’m in desperate need of some “regrooving.”

Not long ago I gave a couple of talks at the local High School. I deliberately chose to wear a suit and tie that day as opposed to a casual look. With rare exception, the students looked shabby and grungy, not to mention undisciplined. Please keep in mind the students come from some rather affluent families in the area. While I was speaking, I got the uneasy feeling the students were there more for me to teach them as opposed to them being there to learn. In other words, the teaching experience was unidirectional in nature, from me to them. I don’t consider this a healthy educational environment as the student has to at least be willing to put forth effort to learn.

Although I think I made some progress with several students and the teachers present, I got the uneasy feeling the students considered me to be a dinosaur and definitely not “groovy.” Normally when someone feels like time is passing them by, you make an effort to bring your skills and perspectives up-to-date, an attitude readjustment if you will. I’m not sure I can do this anymore and let me explain why. I don’t have a problem with technology and fashion passing me by, but to properly “regroove” myself, it will be necessary to reappraise and adjust my moral values, and herein lies the problem. I still believe in such things as common courtesy, such as holding a door open for people, to say “please” and “thank you,” and to volunteer my time to help others. I like to tuck my shirt into my pants and would be mortified if my underwear was exposed. I still appreciate the genius of classical music, the taste of a good glass of scotch and a fine cigar, and I still believe in such antiquated concepts as honor and respect, discipline, citizenship, patriotism, and doing unto others as I would have others do unto me, etc.

To properly upgrade I must alter my sense of right and wrong and, frankly, this is something I cannot bring myself to do. Maybe as creatures of habit we get too comfortable with our daily routine, but I do not think this is the case as I can (and have) changed habits many times over the years. No, this is more about my perception of right and wrong as ingrained in me, and something quite difficult to change, if not impossible. To change a person in this manner means to change his very essence as a human being. It would be like asking an honest person to wrong, cheat and defraud others, which is something he cannot do with a clear conscious.

In order to change my values requires me to admit everything I had done previously was incorrect, that I had lived a big lie, and a disservice to everyone I had come in contact with over the years. That is a bitter pill to swallow no matter who you are. No, instead I do not believe I’ll allow myself to be “taken away for regrooving” and suffer the consequences, if there be any. Instead I’ll have to start one of those underground study cells and hope for the best.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timbryce

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A NEW MASON-DIXON LINE

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 13, 2011

Although originally plotted in the 1760’s to settle a border dispute, the Mason-Dixon Line was better known
as the boundary between the slave states of the South and the anti-slave states in the North. As such, it became symbolic of the cultural differences which led to the American Civil War (or as we prefer to call it in the South as “The War between the Confederate States of America and the United States of America”). Nonetheless, our current political differences are so pronounced, I wonder if it’s time to plot a new type of Mason-Dixon Line to divide the country over ideological lines, Liberal versus Conservative. After all, the division in this country is only going to get worse, not better, regardless of what happens in the 2012 election.

I pulled out a map of the United States and pondered a way to divvy up the country equitably. The challenge was to fairly share the natural resources, particularly energy, access to shipping, and minimize the disruption of people moving to a new state. To do so, I considered the general political inclination of the people in the states. I began with a separation of Northern and Southern states by drawing a line from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River using the old Missouri Compromise Line (parallel 36’30” north). I then went beyond Missouri before turning north to include Iowa and Minnesota. It would be too easy to say the remainder of the country was Conservative, not to mention unfair, as the states along the Pacific coast are all rather Liberal. Plus let’s throw in Hawaii, but certainly not Alaska. This resulted in the following map:

Here, the Red color denotes the new Liberal-USA (L-USA) and the Blue denotes the Conservative-USA (C-USA). With the exception of Iowa and Virginia, all of the Red states using this demarcation are generally considered liberal in nature (sorry Iowa and Virginia, but fair is fair). Fittingly, Washington, DC will remain in the L-USA while the C-USA creates a new capitol, probably somewhere in Colorado to be centrally located. Both countries would have abundant energy resources, agriculture, technology, transportation, shipping, not to mention their own military. Hopefully, the two separate countries will find ways to work together, particularly in the area of commerce. Nonetheless, they will both begin on an even footing.

This would be an interesting experiment. Obviously, the big difference would be how the two countries would operate. The C-USA would undoubtedly embrace capitalism and a smaller federal government. Citizens would be emboldened to be more entrepreneurial in nature, thereby encouraging innovation, invention, and freedom of expression. The GDP would naturally grow substantially as a result. In contrast, the L-USA would become a socialist state with a massive government enforcing a long litany of laws, rules and regulations dictating what citizens are permitted to do, thereby creating a Nanny State. The tax structure will be such that the citizens will be working more for the government than themselves. While the L-USA will specialize in the entertainment industry, the C-USA will enjoy a press that doesn’t try to manipulate the masses. Whereas the C-USA will dine on red meat, fruits and vegetables, the L-USA will ration generous portions of tofu and bean sprouts to its citizens. Patriotism, morality, and citizenship will doubtless flourish in the C-USA, while organized religion and the pledge to the flag will be outlawed in the L-USA where criminals will be asked to perform community service as opposed to time in prison.

The two countries will respect each other’s sovereign borders, but as the C-USA grows in financial strength and world influence, the L-USA will become concerned with their citizens escaping to seek political asylum in the C-USA. Inevitably, a massive wall will be constructed by the L-USA to prohibit such escapes much like what divided Berlin years ago. In the event the two countries regrettably go to war, the C-USA would undoubtedly triumph as they would have more financial resources at their disposal, the will to win, and their citizens would be better armed (the L-USA would have abolished guns from the outset).

The symbology of the two countries will have to change. Although both countries will be reluctant to depart from the stars and stripes as their flag, the L-USA will show their field of stars on the left, and the C-USA will display theirs on the right. As to the national bird, the C-USA will follow tradition and adopt the Bald Eagle, while the L-USA will adopt Benjamin Franklin’s suggestion, the Turkey.

Devising such a scenario is not as far fetched as you might think. The country is currently gridlocked awaiting the outcome of the 2012 election. Something needs to change. Only two things can possibly happen: either the country will remain gridlocked in its current form, or one party will take control forcing
the other underground. Neither option is acceptable to our future. Only a physical geographical split along ideological lines will satisfy the citizenship. We may not like it, but at some point we’re going to be forced to admit we cannot live together anymore. Am I advocating the overthrow of the country? Absolutely not. I’m just looking into the future and I don’t like what I see.

One last thing, don’t be surprised if the Pacific coast spins off to form a separate country of its own which we would color white to maintain our red, white and blue patriotic theme. The only exception might be California who may want to abandon the United States altogether and represent their native Mars.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timbryce

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

THE NEVER ENDING NIGERIAN SCAM

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 11, 2011

I have been receiving messages from the Nigerian scam artists for over 25 years, first by snail mail, next by fax, then by e-mail naturally. Their con in the early days sought to capitalize on simple greed whereby they would promise their victim millions of dollars if they could deposit money in their bank account. To do so, the victim would have to reveal details regarding his/her bank account. Once exposed, the Nigerians would fleece the account of all of its money. I cannot imagine a single man, woman, or child who hasn’t been approached by these scam artists over the years who, by the way, are considered national heroes in their home country. This has been going on for so long, I do not have any pity for the suckers swindled by them.

Regardless of how many times I block Nigerian users sending such messages, a new one gets through now and then. Normally I just delete them but recently I started to read them as I wanted to see what the latest wrinkle was in their ploy. Interestingly, they have added some new twists to the banking scheme. Instead of just appealing on a person’s greed, they now try to play on people’s emotions. Regardless, they are all rather entertaining to read when you understand their motive; here is a sampling of unretouched pleas (I particularly like the grammar and spelling):

“Dearest Beloved Friend,
I know that this letter may be a very big surprise to you, I came across your email contact from my personal search and I believe that you will be honest to fulfill my final wish before i will die. My name is Mr. Ehab Elbalawi, I am a dying man who has decided to donate what I have to charity through you.You may be wondering why I choose you.But someone has to be chosen i am a dying man with cancer, I have a charitable offer of $6.5million Dollars.please get back to me for full Details……
Your Dying Friend,
Mr. Ehab Elbalawi”

Dear Ehab, so drop dead already.

“My name is Mrs. Anna Moyes; I am a US citizen, 51 Years Old. My residential address 645 Leland Drive Deltona FL 32725 , United States, I am one of those people that took part in receiving Inheritance funds and Lottery funds from African banks and European banks even from many lottery organizers few years ago and they refused to pay me, I had paid different fees while in the USA trying to get my funds from those banks and lottery organizers but all to no avail.

So, I decided to travel to WASHINGTON D.C USA with all my compensation documents, and I was directed by the F.B.I Director to contact a man called Dr. Fred Owen, A British citizen and a member of the UNITED NATIONS & IMF COMPENSATION AWARD COMMITTEE currently staying in ACCRA – GHANA.

Contact Person: Dr. Fred Owen.
Address: Diplomatic Lodge, United Nation Accra Ghana.
Email:drfredowen@yahoo.cn
Telephone: +233549970284.

Contact him now and send him (1) Your full names, (2) Your contact Address, (3) Your mobile phone numbers and (3) Any of your photo ID bearing your picture etc, you really have to stop dealing with those people that are contacting you and telling you that your fund is with them because it is not in any way with them, they are only taking advantage of you and they will dry you up until you have nothing left with you.

Thank You and Be Blessed.
Mrs. Anna Moyes.
3648 W. Scenic Hwy 30-A,
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
United States of America.”

Dear Mrs. Moyes, first I find it interesting that you have two conflicting residential addresses in the United States, one of which I plotted is in the middle of Tyndall AFB in Florida (the Santa Rosa Beach location). I trust you are sleeping well on the practice range as the Air Force makes their bombing runs. I agree we have to stop dealing with deadbeat people such as yourself who are trying to swindle people out of their money. Please give my kindest regards to Dr. Owen of the Akan Tribe. Someday you will have to have him tell you about the “Spider Story” which celebrates the deceit of people. Oh yea, please join Mr. Elbalwi and drop dead.

“ATTENTION; My Dear:

I have contacted my secretary to confirm if you have received the compensation draft cheque of (US$10.500.000) which I issued in your name, but he told me that he could not send it to you because of the courier charges. Now I have called my bank to cancel any payment regards to the draft cheque and then authorized them to transfer the payment into ATM CARD in your name which they did.

As of now be informed that all charges has been paid and the ATM CARD is going to be in your name, but to reactivate the ATM Card you have to forward your current informations as requested below to the bank and the only money you will pay to the bank is US$295 for the ATM Card Reactification fee, then they will send you the ATM CARD for your immediate use.

Here are the informations you have to forward to the bank:

1. YOUR FULL NAMES:______
2. Postal ADDRESS:_______
3. PHONE NUMBER:_________
4. CELL NUMBERS:_______
5. EMAIL ADDRESS:________
6. SEX:_____
7. AGE:_____
8. OCCUPATION:________
9. NATIONALITY:________

CONTACT PERSON: Mr. Ben Peter
Director, ATM Foreign Operation Dept.
INTERCONTINENTAL Bank Lagos, Nigeria
Email: (mr.ben_peter@yahoo.cn

Get back to me once you received the ATM CARD ok.

Thanks and God bless you.
Mrs. Ruth King L.”

Dear Mrs. King L. – regarding your generous offer regarding a new ATM CARD. As tempting an offer as it may be, I’ll have to say No. Besides, what am I going to do with another US$10.500.000.? Thanks and God bless me.

There are several other variations, but I think you get the idea. Obviously, if the deal seems too good to be true, it is. These people will sink to any level to scam you out of your money. If you have the slightest suspicion something on the Internet might be fraudulent, in all likelihood it is. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do as the scammers are seldom caught. Nevertheless, for some information on reporting Internet fraud, see:

USA.gov Internet Fraud
http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Internet_Fraud.shtml

ComsumerFraudReporting.org
http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timbryce

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

CELEBRITY PERFUMES

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 8, 2011

Shopping in drug stores has been a favorite pastime of mine since I was quite young. You never know what treasures or oddities you might run into simply by digging around, usually at bargain prices. I think my fascination began with an old Ben Franklin five and dime store my family frequented back in Connecticut, representing a veritable treasure trove of goodies for a youngster to discover at discounted prices. Today’s drug stores are the natural successors to Ben Franklins and I still find myself snooping around looking for the odd product here and there. Recently, I found myself in the women’s perfume aisle. I was, of course, familiar with the big brand names but I was surprised to discover a display of perfumes as touted by female celebrities of the day including Beyoncé, Faith Hill, and many more. This surprised me as I did not know their talents extended to the development of fragrances, or “parfumes” as they call it to denote an air of sophistication (try saying this with a southern twang and it sounds less than impressive).

I’m not sure who started the celebrity branding of perfumes, but I cannot help but believe Elizabeth Taylor was an early contributor with her “White Diamonds”, “Passion”, and “Passion for Men.” Her notoriety as both a major Hollywood star and sex symbol made her an effective pitchman for her products, most of which were reasonably priced to attract consumers who couldn’t afford the expensive perfumes. Since Taylor, there have been many other celebrities follow in her footsteps. To illustrate, in the local drug store I found the following:

Singer and actress Beyoncé offers “Heat,” “Pulse,” and “Heat-Rush.” I found her advertising interesting, “I want women to feel sexy, strong, empowered and I want them to feel like they can conquer anything. When they walk into a room, I want them to feel like they can leave a lasting impression on everyone they walk past.” Presumably, she wants people to exude confidence as a result of using her fragrances, perhaps even cockiness.

Actress Halle Berry features her “Reveal” perfume which is described as “Some mysterious. Some open. Some earthy. Some glamorous. In the spotlight. In twilight. In candlelight. Always seductive. Always natural.” I guess this last description was a pitch for people who think “green.” They forgot to add, “Sometimes a good buy. Always on sale.”

Country singer Faith Hill’s “Truth” perfume is, “An invigorating fresh new scent for a fresh new you. Embracing a tantalizing blend of exotic botanicals, you can enjoy this refreshingly light fragrance alongside our debut fragrance.” Frankly, this message sounded to me like a commercial for “Tide” laundry detergent.

Canadian singer Celine Dione offers a line of perfumes named, “Sensational,” “Brilliance,” and “Signature.” She describes it as, “I want my fragrance to bring joy and inspire us all to seize the day and live life to its fullest.” At first, I wasn’t sure if she was describing a perfume or a Tony Robbins motivational speech.

As I was to discover afterwards there were several other celebrity perfumes including those offered by Jennifer Lopez, Kate Moss, Sarah Jessica Parker, and many other talents I’m too old to recognize. Interestingly, all were manufactured by Coty, Inc. This leads me to believe the celebrities are only allowing the company to use their names to move product as opposed to them actively involved in the development of the perfume, and if the price is right, Why not? These may be fine singers and actresses, but you don’t seriously believe they were suddenly imbued with scientific knowledge to create an irresistible fragrance do you? Surely singer Susan Boyle or Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi are smart enough to create an alluring fragrance, but I do not see anyone clamoring for their scents. Maybe we should wait for the Hillary collection?

As we should all know, people do not buy these products as advertised, regardless of the verbosity of BS used. They buy them because it is a vain attempt to capture the essence of their favorite star, that maybe someone will confuse them for Halle Berry or Celine Dione. Sure. Wouldn’t it be amusing to discover the celebrities do not actually wear their own perfumes, that they wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that “cheap crap”? Well, in the end, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about image, it’s about perceptions, it’s about money.

As long as we have celebrity fan clubs and a tabloid media, there will always be a market for celebrity perfumes.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timbryce

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 5, 2011

When the Herman Cain sexual misconduct allegations surfaced, he was riding high as the leading GOP presidential candidate. Was this a coincidence? Hardly. The matter was dropped only after his popularity declined and he flatly denied the allegations. Perhaps this had something to do with the credibility of his accusers, perhaps he threatened to open a case of whoop-ass litigation thereby frightening them away, or perhaps the backers of the accusers felt they achieved their goal of discrediting Cain as evidenced by his decline in the polls. Whatever the reason, Cain survived but with a tarnished image.

Shortly thereafter a sex scandal erupted at Penn State University involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Although an independent investigation of events has only just begun, the scandal has already ruined the reputation of not only college president Graham Spanier, but legendary football coach Joe Paterno, a man who was nearing retirement at the end of the season. Up until now, Paterno’s credentials were impeccable. So much so, the Big 10 had his name engraved on their Football Championship Trophy, but due to the controversy it was permanently removed. Now, the legendary coach’s name is Mud regardless of whether or not he played a significant role in the scandal.

That’s just the point, in both instances, the people in the spotlight were considered guilty in the court of public opinion, a court which is tightly controlled by the mainstream media who is more interested in ratings than in the truth. Unlike many other countries, our system of jurisprudence is based on the supposition the accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law (usually by a jury of one’s peers). Unfortunately, this is no longer the case as the media spins the story and inflames the situation to suit their ratings. This obviously complicates finding an unbiased jury for such high profile cases.

In the Cain case, it is still unknown as to who and how the story was leaked to the press which led to a tempest of controversy. Many suspect it was politically motivated which, if true, means the media will use such tactics again even if it means manufacturing a fabricated story. And as we enter the final bell lap of the 2012 presidential elections, you can count on it. The press is less concerned about the position a candidate holds on an issue as much as they are with raking up muck on the person.

Something to understand about our legal system in this country, anyone can initiate a lawsuit against anyone at anytime, right or wrong. As such, do not naively believe the accuser is always correct. Many times, lawsuits are brought on as a scam in the hopes the defendant will settle out of court. Think I’m kidding? Ask any large company about frivolous lawsuits, such as IBM, Microsoft, Boeing, McDonald’s, etc., where you take a number and get in line to take the Goliath down. The only thing worse is the mainstream media who is indifferent to a person’s guilt or innocence.

If Cain and Paterno are indeed found guilty of improprieties in a court of law, Yes, they should be made to suffer the consequences. However, if they are found innocent, I hope the media has the decency to apologize and help rebuild their reputation with the same fanfare they helped to besmirch it, and the Big 10 engraves Paterno’s name back onto the championship trophy. Then again, who am I kidding? Regrettably, we live in a country where you are guilty until proven innocent, particularly in the court of public opinion. Those that control public opinion can influence the outcome of a lot of things, including presidential elections.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timbryce

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Media, Politics, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

HOW TECHNOLOGY AFFECTS OUR YOUTH

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 4, 2011

Recently I was invited to speak at our local high school as part of their “Great American Teach-in,” a program held here in Florida whereby guests are asked to speak to the students on a variety of subjects. One of my business related articles caught the attention of a local teacher and I was subsequently asked by the Business/IT Department to come in to make some remarks regarding business and technology. My talk was entitled “Our Changing Times” which discussed how technology affects us as human-beings. It was my argument that technology has an adverse effect on our mental acuity and productivity in this country. I conducted two consecutive classes of approximately 50 high school juniors each. Both sessions were interesting.

I began with a very brief description of my company and our methodologies for system design, data base design, enterprise engineering, and project management. Basically, I wanted to establish myself as a credible businessman who had extensive experience in the business and I.T. world. I then reviewed the cultural and technical changes I witnessed over the last 40 years. I even brought in some old mainframe magnetic tapes, printer wheels, and plastic templates used for flowcharting.

I then discussed how technology affects us as human beings. It is my contention that technology has conditioned us to be intolerant of inefficiencies and limitations thereby causing us to think faster, virtually, and to multitask. Think about it; we don’t like to wait in traffic, we want information at our fingertips, we expect to be able to listen to any song or watch any movie whenever we’re in the mood, we want to get in and out of hospitals, we want instant food, instant pictures, instant credit, instant money, instant everything. We drive faster and talk faster because we have been conditioned to do so.

To illustrate the point, I quoted some references; first, Dr. Mack R. Hicks, author of “The Digital Pandemic,” who demonstrated how technology alters the minds of impressionable youth. So much so, they begin to exhibit the same robotic mannerisms of the technology they use which is not conducive for grooming socialization skills. Hicks basically argued that technology is a genuine threat to the human spirit.

I next referenced the work of Dr. Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist at King’s College London University, who in 2005 was hired by Hewlett Packard to research the effect of technology in the workplace. During his study he found that workers distracted by phone calls, e-mails and text messages suffer a greater loss of IQ than if they’d smoked marijuana. The IQ of those juggling messages and work fell by an average of 10 points – equivalent to missing a whole night’s sleep and more than double the four-point fall seen after smoking pot. The drop in IQ was even more significant in men.

These studies surprised the students. To stress the point further, I asked the students how they received their news. Out of 100 students, only 4 read a newspaper, a couple got it from an app on their iPhone and virtually none watched the evening news. Interestingly, a handful said they got their news from Jon Stewart on “Comedy Central.” Needless to say, I found it rather disturbing that students were out of touch with the world’s ever-changing events and considered Jon Stewart a credible source for unbiased journalism. Whereas adults are generally upset with politicians, the economy, jobs, military conflicts, etc., our young people are rather apathetic. I don’t believe parents even talk to them around the dinner table, which I found rather disturbing. Fortunately, this particular group of students will not be old enough to vote in the 2012 election; but if they did, I’m confident they could be easily swayed.

As students in the late 1960’s we obviously didn’t have all of the elegant technology as is available today, but we all knew what was going on in the world. Everyone read the daily newspaper and weekly news magazines, watched nightly news, listened to radio, and discussed it over lunch or with their parents. We all knew about the War (Viet Nam), the protests, major accidents and catastrophes, elections, the various assassinations, etc. If you didn’t stay on top of recent events, you were considered a dullard. Not so today. In fact, I got the uneasy feeling that you are an oddity if you follow the news today.

Wanting to understand their dependence on technology, I asked the High Schoolers if they could live without their smart phones. All except one said they believed they could manage. The one exception wouldn’t budge, even when I pushed her to defend her position. In her mind, the phone was her lifeline to her friends and social life. Without it, she was lost.

In the summary section of my presentation I admonished the students to develop a sense of history, not just American history, but history pertaining to their chosen career path. I told them this was needed so they wouldn’t commit the same mistakes we made and understand why we made certain decisions over the years. I challenged them to resist the temptation to go on “automatic,” to avoid repetition; avoid stagnation; to question the status quo, and simply THINK (an old IBM expression).

I don’t know how successful I was at getting my points across. Some students looked as apathetic as a lot of adult programmers I have taught over the years. The teachers seemed to appreciate my presentation and told me so. I also had a few students thank me for the presentation afterward, shook my hand, and asked a few questions. I don’t think I batted 1.000 with the kids that day, but if I got them to at least start thinking about things, then I believe I made a hit.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timbryce

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Social Issues, Technology | 1 Comment »

REUNIONS: THE CLASS OF 1972

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 1, 2011

When you bring up the subject of High School reunions, people tend to have mixed emotions on the subject. Some are excited about renewing friendships, others loathe the prospect of seeing someone from a dark chapter of their youth. As for me, I skipped my 10th anniversary as I wanted to distance myself from my past. Frankly, I was busy trying to build a career and didn’t consider a reunion very important at the time. Both my wife and I graduated from a small high school in Cincinnati with a total class size of less than 150. When our 20th reunion came around, my wife encouraged me to attend, which we did. Subsequently, we also attended our 30th reunion and now our 40th beckons next year. I have found the experience enjoyable and, believe it or not, I’m looking forward to next year’s gala.

In a small high school you tend to know everyone, either as friends, adversaries, or simply slugs attending the same class. I have fond memories of my time there and, like anyone, there are things I would have done differently if I had the opportunity to do it over again, but obviously such is not to be. I have made some lifelong friendships from the experience even though I was first considered an outcast who moved into the area from Chicago just prior to my Freshman year, which was significantly different from a cultural perspective. I initially had trouble adapting to the area but eventually developed friendships and found my way through High School with few scars. Along the way, I met my future wife who, like me, was new to the area and considered an outsider. Out of our class, I believe five couples married their High School sweethearts and remain so to this day, including yours truly.

Fortunately, there is still several classmates living in our hometown who helped organize the reunions over the years. Their patience and persistence in trying to do what is best for the class as a whole is truly admirable. Alas, someone always complains about the arrangements no matter how hard the group tries. The critics are usually those who like to sit on the sideline and complain as opposed to volunteering their time in planning the event. I suspect our 40th reunion will be no different.

At our 20th reunion, I found a lot of people still trying to impress each other. Men were dressed in power suits, women is beautiful dresses. Everyone was quick to show pictures of their children and played a game of one-upmanship by talking about how successful they had become. Some tried to sell themselves too much and I learned to turn a deaf ear in their direction. Most people though were down to earth and although they had aged slightly, they were the same people underneath. The drunks were still drunk; the intellectuals were still in school, the gays of the class had come out of the closet (to the surprise of nobody), and the druggies had found Jesus. Actually, I found the people who had been the quiet wallflowers of the class had blossomed into the most interesting, not to mention possessed a great sense of humor. Best of all was the opportunity to share a few laughs with old pals. As a footballer, I became reacquainted with several teammates and subsequently went on many fly-fishing trips with them.

I think the most astute comment made at our 20th was when one of the reunion organizers playfully observed, “Gee, when did we become our parents?” Although it was said half in jest, it had become a startling reality.

Our 30th reunion was different. People dressed down a bit and were no longer obsessed with trying to impress others. Instead, they appeared to be more comfortable and sociable. Photos were still shown, but mostly of graduations, weddings, and grandchildren. It was here that someone broached me with the subject of retirement, a foreign concept I hadn’t considered. For some reason, I have an aversion to the thought of being put into mothballs, but others seem to embrace the concept, even looking forward to it. To each their own I guess.

Perhaps the most interesting person I met at this reunion was a footballer who quit the team following our Junior year in protest of the head coach who was a bit tyrannical and had trouble understanding our class. As it turned out, this was a decision which haunted my friend for a number of years, something he deeply regretted as he possessed a love for the game. This disturbed him so much so, he was embarrassed to attend any of the earlier reunions. We all assured him that we were glad to see him and, as far as we were concerned, he was still a member of the team.

Now another planning committee has been formed for our 40th reunion next year. My role over the years has been to develop and maintain the web site for the class which I try to do faithfully. Between this and the general good will of the classmates, I believe we’re better organized and enjoy higher attendance than most High School classes. Regrettably, we have lost eleven classmates over the years, which may not seem like a lot, but it is noticeable in a small class like ours.

More than anything, reunions tell us about ourselves as opposed to others; how we have developed, what kind of person we have become, and if we are at peace with ourselves. Some tend to view it as a sort of scorecard to see if we are better or worse than others in our class, which strangely confirms our sense of success or failure. Some cannot cope knowing this, which is perhaps why they tend to avoid it, either that or they simply couldn’t stand anyone in the class. It would be a big mistake to assume that none of us have changed over the years, that we’re the same meatballs we were in high school. True, we may understand the essence of our classmates, but it would be wrong to assume time stopped and nobody changed. We’ve matured, we’ve made mistakes, we’ve learned, and we are wiser for it, which is why I enjoy attending the reunions. Frankly, using reunions as a scorecard is the wrong reason for attending. Instead, it should be a celebration of friendships, past and present, to laugh about the past, talk about the future, and enjoy the society of our peers.

So, do I really relish seeing my classmates? Maybe not on a daily or weekly basis, but every decade or so, it is a hoot. Here’s to the Class of 1972.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/timbryce

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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