An Author’s Gripe

I remember reading an article where a “fan” of the fantasy genre stated that fantasy was getting too predictable. They complained about every fantasy novel or short story having the same plot devices such as prophecies, magic, a mission that the protagonist(s) had to perform, etc. and asked why fantasy writers couldn’t come up with anything original. I was irritated after reading the article and though ‘if they want a fantasy story without those elements, then why didn’t they try writing the story they wanted?’

Then I realized that those who gripe the loudest are the very ones who couldn’t write a fantasy story to save their lives. Yes, they can always point out what is wrong, in their opinion, with how a story is written.

Novel Idea # 1: Hey book critics: If you can’t stand the standard fantasy novel plots, why not come up with a few new plots, try to write a story around them, then submit them to see if they actually work?

I’ll bet you would find it isn’t half as easy to formulate a story if you removed the very elements that make fantasy what it is. Write a fantasy story without a central prophecy. Write it without magic or an element of mysticism. Take the quest out of it. Go ahead.

I’ll guarantee you that, by the time you are done, you will not have a fantasy story. You will have just a regular, bland, run-of-the-mill allegory with absolutely no point or direction.

Novel Idea # 2: Try to understand that fantasy is known as fantasy simply because the plots aren’t necessarily believable, realistic, or without magic or mysticism.

In fantasy, as with science fiction, there are only a handful of plots or plot devices. what good would sci-fi be without interstellar travel or something scientifically more advanced than modern day? The same goes with fantasy.  fantasy would not be the same if it wasn’t built around some long ago era or based on a world vaguely similar to our own, yet either less developed or more savage. It does not hold up without magic and or prophecy.

Think about it. What are key “concerns” in modern culture? Is it not our aversion to magic, even though we are drawn to it, and yet our obsessive fascination with prophecy–which,  in its own right, is still a form of perceived magic? In our own little way, we sate our desire for fantasy through our modern fixation with prophecy-both in a religious sense and a secular sense.

Novel Idea # 3: Fantasy is fantasy because it cannot be believed, not because it resembles reality.

Fantasy allows the reader to escape from reality, not relive it. It is designed, much like science fiction, to take the reader to other worlds and times, not to remind them of the world around them. It isn’t supposed to be believable. nor is it supposed to reflect reality in any way. It is fantasy simply because it is what all fantasize about: magic powers, mystic journeys, fulfilling a mission or a personal prophecy, etc. Why try to change it?

Novel Idea # 4: Finally, if you are that disgusted with, or hate fantasy that much, why not try another genre?

I will tell you, if you don’t like fantasy’s plot devices and themes, you will not like science fiction for all the same reasons. After all, both science fiction and fantasy rely on two or three different plot devices that have remained unchanged since they were created and every story seems somewhat predictable, if you have studied plots and plot devices.

Go read romance, erotica, Christian Fiction, horror, or detective novels. Oh, wait. All genres rely on three or four central plots/plot devices. it is just how writing is done. deal with the familiar and change as little about the formulation as possible.

In conclusion, I guess what I am trying to say is this: before you gripe about how a book is written, try writing one yourself as you would want it written so you can see whether it would work or not. Otherwise, don’t bitch. Authors write what they see in their minds, not according to what other believe it should be.

A Case Against Theocracy

Lately, there has been a lot of talk in the political arena about the desire to create a theocracy here in the United States. Yet, only those with little knowledge on the history of such governments would ever want such a thing. Being a student of history, and of current affairs and current government forms, I know that becoming a theocratic state is a bad idea. In the following expose, I shall show you why.
Although ancient history is riddled with theocratic states, only one stands out as a beginner’s look at how a theocracy runs. Ancient Egypt. Yes, Egypt was the land of the god-kings. Though it lasted for centuries, it did not remain unified. Nor did their religion remain singular. Each pharaoh raised his own deity.

In the end, this instability, and the constant infighting between contenders to the throne, destroyed Egypt. Ancient Persia was also theocratic. They also were guided by the worship of their deities. Though Persia rose to greatness, it collapsed after the failed attempt to conquer Greece.

Ancient Israel. Rome. Greece. To a certain extent, each were theocracies. They all failed.
Fast forward to Europe in the Middle Ages. Though Europe was headed by monarchies, the main leadership was the church. This standard had been started by Charlemagne and his “Holy Roman Empire”. Though a theocratic monarchy, the kings of these kingdoms were far from being the best examples for their subjects. Greed, envy, infidelity, and lust ran rampant.

Between 1232 and 1833, the notorious Inquisition took place. This, spurred by ethnic biases and greed, not to mention a few unscrupulous and very lecherous priests, killed millions of innocent people based solely upon their religious differences or their opposition to the corruption of some priest. But those were not the only people to die at the hands of the Inquisition. Rape victims, both male and female, were slaughtered to silence them from outing any priest who had seduced or forced themselves upon them. Those who were rich, if they refused to cede land to the church or the government, were executed as heretics simply to get their wealth and lands.

But the nightmare did not end there. Theocracy once again reared its ugly head in the American colonies. This time, people who had come across the ocean in search of religious freedom now restricted the very freedom they had south. None could disagree with the Puritan Church’s authority. To do so was to be branded an outcast.

By 1620, the Inquisition had spread to the colonies in the form of the fear of witches. Seizing upon this fear, a small group of young girls began acting out. They began acting as if they were having seizures, then accused innocent people of witchery. The clergy of the day, being as superstitious as they were, took the word of these girls and, by 1622 had imprisoned hundreds of people. Even thousands. Of these at least 100 were hung innocently of charges that were later revealed to be false.

This collapse of the social structure, then forced the hand of the British authority to take control of the colonies. For the 100 years that spanned between the witch hunts and the Revolution, England had slowly tightened its control until the colonists were basically impoverished through taxation. This, along with forced conscription into the British military, pushed the colonies to revolt.

Our forefathers, 100 years removed from the incidents of the 1620s, resolved that those events should never take place in this country again. Their vision for their states was one where both church and state could thrive, but separately. This separation was meant to deter those who would use political intrigue as a reason to effectively cause inquisitions or witch hunts simply to erase their rivals from the running.

Now. Let us look at a couple of theocracies that now exist. Most would agree that the Arab monarchies, for the most part are theocratic monarchies. In recent years, these have become much challenged by their subjects and laws demanded to be changed. Iran, once known as Persia, is also a theocracy. We have, since the seventies when the Ayatollah rose to power, vilified this government as being evil.
The terrorist organization ISIS (IS) is also a theocratic regime. So was the Taliban. So why would America want to join these so-called evil groups and countries and form its own theocracy? With the track record of failure, I am still left wondering.

Finally, the reason theocracy does not work. Much like communism, theocracy works wonderfully on paper. But the implementation and follow through is what causes it to be simply an “ideal” form of government rather than a “practical” form of governance. Ideally, one belief is a great and wonderful thing. Yet, from the practical standpoint, it defeats the very reason this country was formed: the freedom of religion, which is stated very succinctly in the bill of rights, along with speech, bearing arms, and several other points.

Theocracy only works when the leadership is pure of heart. This means no greed, no envy, no lust, no hate, and no desire for personal gain. Not one of those who are crying out for a theocracy have any of these qualities. Not even the mainstream “Christian Fundamentalists” who rail against blacks, gays, and the poor. Fundamentalism, you see, is actually fundamentally wrong. They focus on everything but what actually would show people what they believe: their examples.

Right now, the drive for a theocracy is born out of hate, fear and ignorance-not out of true concern for the peoples’ faith, belief or wellbeing. There is no common welfare in their desire to create a strict “religion” based government. Many who are clamoring for it do not realize that their ways of belief would also soon come under attack if they did not side with those in control. The instance they disagreed would be the instance they would be removed from society.

To claim that history has nothing to teach us is to close our ears to wisdom and to close our eyes to the lessons of those who came before. Ignorance is not bliss, and following the crowd is not always the best for all. Those who fail to learn are doomed to repeat past mistakes. Those who keep their eyes open and refuse to take someone’s word as truth until they have tested it beyond any doubt will always be the wisest. For once, America, open your eyes. The truth is being hidden from you. The truth is always within your reach, all you have to do is be willing to accept it as such.

***

I wrote the above article and sent it, as my resume, to a newspaper in hopes of securing my first reporter gig. I can do the best investigative-and in depth-articles I know. I search out every possible side, every possible source, and every possible tidbit of information. I can compare and contrast, though not with total perfection, anything.

Had I been given the job, I would have brought a knowledge of history that most journalists seem to lack. I also have a better knowledge of religion and faith than those currently ‘reporting’ the current propaganda of the day. I have a better handle on objective politics, meaning I am from neither party and can quickly point out the errors of thought on both sides.

But, apparently, you still need a journalism degree to become a reporter…even though many have fewer brains than I do and just tend to look really nice as an office ornament. Or maybe I threaten the current view that a twisted view of history is the best. I don’t know.

How To Write A How To Paper

Jason Peterman

Public Speaking

112-06

Feb. 11, 2009

Title: How To Write a “How-To” Paper.

Topic: The proper method of writing a “how-to” paper.

General purpose: To inform my audience.

Specific purpose: To show the proper method to writing good instructions on how to do something.

Central idea: To inform my audience how good instructions help those who read them get the job done and that the writer has to keep the reader in mind.

Introduction:

How many of you have bought something only to find that you couldn’t understand the instructions? How many of you have ever bought a self-help or how-to book? Have you ever had to write a “How-To” paper for an English class? I can say “yes” to all of these. For instance, I help my mother-in-law put together garden projects from time to time and have found, several times, that the instructions weren’t as concise as they should’ve been…or were in another language. As a result, I decided to show you how to write a “how-to” paper. I intend to tell you the importance of choosing your topic, proper writing, presentation, and the importance of feedback.

I. Finding your topic is the first step.

A. What do you know the most about?

B. Can you explain it in the simplest way possible without sounding too simple?

C. Is your topic something your audience is interested in?

Transition:

In some instances, research would be the next step…but not here. Here, we’re ready to begin writing. So what are the rules to writing ?
II. Writing is your next step.

A. Don’t use jargon. Big words easily lose your audience’s attention.

B. Be as simple in your directions as possible. The more complicated you make things sound, the less likely your audience will be to listen to you.

Transition:

So, why did you write your paper in the first place? For many, it is as an assignment. For others, it is their job. Others write to sell. What was your purpose? Your purpose, whatever it may be, is what we call the presentation.

III. Finally, it’s time to present your finished paper.

A. Who is your audience? You don’t want to present your paper to the wrong audience.

B. Did you cover every possible angle? Before the presentation make sure that you included all the necessary information.

C. Were you clear and concise? Could everyone understand what you wrote?

Transition:

People will let you know what impact your paper had on them. This is called feedback and it is very important in this process. It allows you to know how well you did and what, if anything, you need to change.

IV. Feedback is essential.

A. Feedback lets you know how effective you were.

B. Some feedback is verbal.

C. Some is non-verbal.

D. Now, you’re done.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, I would like to review what I have spoken about. I have told you the four main points to writing a “how-to” paper which are: finding a topic, writing, presenting, and gaining feedback. I remember my first “how-to” paper. It was an assignment for a high school Writing Composition. In that paper, I stated that a “how-to” manual should be so simple that even the least mechanically-minded person could easily complete the project. Yet, for all the projects I have ever put together, I have only had a handful of instructions that ever guided me well enough to where I could successfully complete the project.

Religion Vs. Faith, Part 2: Faith

Faith: the belief in and the observance of that which remains unseen. The practice of spiritual precepts, changing one’s heart and soul for the better; thus hoping for the future betterment of all mankind. Walking in the spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh. Not putting a physical value to a spiritual ideal. Knowing that nothing physical can ever change the heart and soul of another, but that the spiritual can always change the physical. 2. The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

***

Again, Webster would differ with me on this definition as well, but this is the best way to sum it all up. In faith, we trust that someone or something is correct. Man, being the creature he is, cannot simply accept anything on faith. He has to make everything difficult.

We have faith that we will wake every morning and be able to trudge off to whatever workplace we go to. we have faith that the bus at the corner of Fifth and Main won’t hit us and end our life’s journey before we meet our special someone or accomplish that one thing we have always wanted to do. In faith, we trust the stores to be stocked and ready every time we go shopping.

Yet, when it comes to our inner world, we seem to lack that same faith. For some reason, we cannot simply have faith in what we read in a “Holy” book. We cannot simply follow the simplest of instructions and feel as if we are actually doing what we have been instructed. We seem intent on second guessing, countermanding, or just flat ignoring that which is simple and might actually make us feel better about ourselves.

We tend to believe that we have to have thousands of rules, rites, rituals, dogmas, theosophical mandates, and what have you. The more complex, the better. That seems to be our mentality. And it gets us absolutely nowhere.

Age old vendettas become mantras. Things to abstain from becomes center to hate-preaching. People decide that only appearance is needed for their spiritual well being. And, generally, interest wanes because it has become too demanding to be of any particular use. Or someone decides to branch off and become overly militant, wandering even farther away from faith.

And key to faith is belief. Yet, belief is also key to a religion, though in a very different manner. belief is key to faith in as much as you believe in the simple idea that any change you make to the way you live your life might cause enough change to make someone else interested in changing theirs and so on. In essence, you hope that you can make a change through how you act and perform you daily duties, but know that it will not happen over night.

Ah, but man is such an impatient creature. And a hypocritical one as well. He expects those around him to change and conform, but rarely ever does the same. He seems to think that the world revolves around his desires, but cannot grasp why no one seems to pay him any mind. He wants to talk the talk, but rarely walks the walk. This is even true of those who are “religious” leaders. Those in control of churches, mosques and any other meeting place where an ideal is worshipped.

He tends to believe that force will make everything change, extreme force will make all capitulate, and that if it doesn’t, then murder, rape, and terror will make people fall in line. Trading one evil for another does not make anything right. and force, physical force, does not change a thing. It only makes a bad problem worse. It is, in man’s mind, simply not enough to walk in faith and change his own heart. To him, the problem isn’t him. It is everyone else. and to him, everyone else should change. Bend to his will. Or die.

there is a great need for us to return to faith, no matter what book we profess to believe. There is a need for us to begin opening our eyes to see that no matter how violent we get, we aren’t really changing a thing. We are only making it worse.

I am only going to say this one more time. The Bible. The Torah. The Koran. The Tao Te Ching. The Kabbalah. The Essential Rumi. Whatever your Holy book may be. They are all spiritual guide books. They do not preach or teach a physical lesson. They are words for your heart, not to spread fear and hate with. We are not to make any to capitulate to our ideals. We are supposed to learn how to live in peace alongside each other and learn from each other. We are supposed to walk in the spirit and give up the physical. Yes, we are supposed to forget about trying to change the physical. It cannot be done, no matter how hard we try. But we can change ourselves, one heart and soul at a time.

We have wasted enough time fighting amongst ourselves to see who could come up with the best religion. Now is the time for us to begin living in faith and forgetting man-made ideals. It is time to learn the true power of the spirit.

Religion Vs. Faith: Part 1, Religion

Religion: 1. A set of laws, Rules, rites, rituals,etc. meant to discipline and coerce others into conforming tone’s way of thinking. 2. one of the following: greed, envy, murder, war, rape, violence of any kind, gluttony, misuse of power, etc. that occupies one’s mind. This includes such fallacies as extremism, militancy, the desire to run governments, Jihadism, the “Crusader” mentality (trying to convert as many “non-believers as possible), and even coerced marriage. A man-made system to replace faith. Anything used to try to change the spiritual world physically.

***

The dictionary would differ with me on this definition, but this is actually right on. If you take a look at the religion of polytheism, (from which we have a record through myths and legends, the stories about gods and goddesses) we see that religion does choose physical attributes. They had a god of war, goddess of fertility, god of love, goddess of lust, and so on. It was a physical thing. You went through rites and rituals, had rules for the worship of each god or goddess, and even had to go consult the oracle before waging battle to defend your lands.

The dictionary will tell you that religion is a system of belief, then will list the different faiths as examples. But this is wrong. religion is and always has been man-made. The rules, though derived-partially, anyway-from the books each faith is dedicated to, and added to by men. The punishments and demerits are made up by men. Everything is made up by man.

Let’s take the rash of militancy that has swept across Africa and the Middle East. These cowards, and they are, proclaim death to the west, yet use western weapons, philosophies, tactics, and lies to justify and carry out their desires. This is hypocrisy at its finest. Waging war or creating chaos, that is their religion. They no longer believe in the tenets of their professed faith, or they would not strive to contrive such erroneous lies and missions. They have strayed from their faith in ways that they will never be able to return and believe in it again.

To place a physical action as a catalyst for spiritual change defeats the reason for action. How many converts can you win if everyone is dead? how many sympathizers will you have if those who would normally listen are dead? And how does killing anyone in the name of Christianity, Islam, or Judaism make you any better than-say-Ted Bundy? It doesn’t. It makes you just as bad as the gangs in the street who kill innocent by-standers in their drive-by shootings and drug related turf wars.

You are no longer Christian, Muslim, Or Judaic once you have taken on the role of Judge, jury and executioner. You are, quite simply, a cowardly murderer with no morals and no faith. You become the problem, not the solution.

Let me explain. You can only change the spiritual with the spiritual. In other words, you can only change what is within you, not someone else. At least not physically. You can force them to say that they believe what you believe, but them saying it doesn’t make it true. The heart and soul alone knows the truth.

Yet, you can change the physical with the spiritual. This means that you can make someone want to change through how you act, treat them, and perform everyday functions. If you live purely in the spirit, you can affect others and the way they perceive you. Live purely enough, and they will want to live that way too. Your example becomes your witness. You proclamation of belief in what you have placed your faith in.

But, when you try to change the spirit with a physical means, you negate everything you are trying to do. If you kill, you lose possible converts. But that is another fallacy bred through the formation of religion. The idea that you can “save” or “convert” another. This is an impossibility which I have illustrated above with the discourse on forced proclamations of conversion.

In essence, religion is institutional slavery which places expectations of perfection upon the shoulders of those who follow it and spreads fear and terror to those who do not believe. It forces one to follow all to the letter, never allowing for human imperfections or reality. Reality being, no one is perfect and that perfection is humanly impossible to obtain.

Each believer is enslaved by unbending and judgmental rules and leaders who-themselves-are just as human and filled with fault as their subjects. They are engaged in the hopeless tasks imposed and expected by their religion, whether it be the “jihad” to punish those who do not believe, or the enforcing of one faction’s system as opposed to another’s. They cannot quite find the freedom they are promised for each because they dig deeper into the very slavery they are already party to, becoming more enslaved and less free.

They justify the unjustifiable actions through claiming that it is a directive of “their faith”. Faith does not allow for the taking of hostages, kidnapping innocent girls or women and forcing them to marry you, the mindless beheading of a hostage, the cowardly drive by shootings of your own people, the use of violence to get what you want, threatening violence toward another country or group of people, or any of the tactics being used in militancy or radicalism. In fact, the “jihad” all these groups fall on as core to their belief was a lie told to them by the west to get them to fight as a unified group against a common enemy and to do what the west wanted from them. So is the terror they are intent on spreading. Yes, we taught that to them. We made that a part of their culture and religion. But we also should have expected it to be used against us at some point. Never teach something without knowing there will be a reckoning for it.

In conclusion, I just want to say one more thing. Religion is man’s answer to faith. For both faith and religion, we need one common attribute. Belief. But it is what you actually place your belief in that becomes either your faith or your religion. If you believe in the physical changing the spiritual, then you believe in a religion. If you believe in the spiritual to change the physical, then you are a person of faith.

New Ideas on Ethics: Being the First to Sacrifice

New Ideas on Ethics: Being the First to Sacrifice

In my first article, I introduced you to some of the “new” ethics concepts. The first of these, though I put it near the end of my list of facts, is management’s being the first to make sacrifices in a time of corporate crisis. This is known as being fiscally responsible. It also goes hand-in-hand with never paying one self any more than you believe your employees to be worth.
If this last point was in use, then there would be less use to make unnecessary sacrifices to keep your business from failure, and most slumps could be faced with a surety that the company would not fail because there would be enough past profits left in the bank account to keep it running through any hard times. Unfortunately, too many within top management believe that, in a time of prosperity, they can afford to take pay raises and soon these raises drain the company’s reserves and when crisis hits, they have grown too accustomed to their high salaries and refuse to see that they need to make the first cuts in their own pocket books.
After all, a company is only as good as those who are in charge. If they do not take enough care to establish a solid account for the business, then the business is doomed to fail. I don’t care how prosperous it had been before the crisis, it will fail. But, if the top management are always aware that a crisis could arise at any time, even after massive success, and wipe their company out, then they will be careful to build the company coffers up first and forego any raises in their salaries.
With this said, a salary should never exceed $100,000 per year for any. This keeps them on equal footing with their employees and keeps them humble enough to understand that tomorrow’s fortunes are never assured us. All we have is today’s success or failure, no more and no less.
If this fiscal responsibility is put into practice, there should never be a need to cut jobs or production. If all top salaries are kept relatively low, then most of the profits are going back into the company to bolster and strengthen it. Let’s examine this idea with the following order of how things should be done.

1. Pay all bills. This includes loans, investors, and running costs.
2. Pay all employees. Yes, this also includes top management, but not huge salaries. Never pay management more than what the average worker is making. If they want top salary, they must make sure they are also willing to risk sinking the business by paying everyone the same salary they are wanting to give themselves.
3. Community involvement. This is whatever organization you wish to associate your company with.
4. The majority of the profits should go straight back into the company it self. This will ensure that you still have your job 5-20 years down the road.

Fact: a fiscally responsible management team realizes that company will either succeed or fail based on what they demand as a salary. In a time of crisis, it is their salary, not the common worker, that costs the company the most. The view of one standard of pay, across the board, for all, is a policy that will see any company through any hard times that come its way.
Fact: a fiscally responsible management team understands that the bills always come first. Running a business is a lot like running a household. The bills always must be paid, or nothing can get done. Among these bills, other than utilities, are contracts with suppliers, investors (if your company is publicly traded or if you opened your business with outside help) and lenders who have put money into your business, taxes, advertising, and internet marketing just to name a few.
Fact: fiscally responsible leaders will lead by example and be able to help their employees make sound financial decisions through setting an example in the company first and in their own behavior second. In this, I mean that a company that offers profit sharing options, a 401K, and anything else that makes good business sense is going to have financially stable employees as well as management. At the same time, the employees will feel as if they are part of a team, not just a name in a file. Many new companies are already beginning this trend of “sharing” and are finding that their employees tend to be much happier and feel more fulfilled as workers.
Fact: fiscally responsible leaders realize that their workforce is their most valuable resource. Without it, they would have no company, and thus, would not have the success they have. Employees should never be the first option in crisis as what to cut back on and the first to be listened to when there is a need. The only reasons to let an employee go, and it should never be just an excuse or unfounded, is either for theft and the inability or unwillingness to follow rules or do their job. Laying off workers should never cross a responsible employer’s mind unless everything else has been tried and there is no saving the business. Yet, if most of the business’ profits are constantly being re-invested into the business, then you should never enter a point of no return.
Fact: fiscally responsible leaders will see that it is more important to take care of the health and well-being of their workforce than it is to save by not offering health coverage.
Fact: fiscally responsible leaders never look for shortcuts. Relocating jobs should never ever be an option. Neither should finding cheaper labor or using temporary staffing services. Fiscally responsible leaders know these are a waste of money and time. They know that shortcuts end up costing more in the long run that just simply sticking with the workforce you already have.
Fact: fiscal responsibility means that you never pay yourself more than you pay your workers. A flat salary, across the board, is more fiscally sound than paying out millions on a bunch of desk jockeys who have no clue how to run anything in the company.
Fact: a fiscally responsible leader works alongside his or her main work force and has an intimate knowledge of how everything in the company works. It is only common sense to know your system so that you know what changes can and can not be made to it. Sitting behind a desk and dreaming up ideal changes is not keeping in touch with how your company runs. It is dreaming of things that won’t work. Only by knowing can you make informed decisions.
Fact: fiscal responsibility heralds a strong and successful company that is sure of its place in the market. It ensures that the company, and her employees, will remain active for decades, not just a few years. In essence, it will keep the company stable even when others are unstable. It will keep work going for those who depend on it for their livelihoods, including the management.
Fact: fiscally responsible management always listens to their workers. Sadly, all too often, management loses touch or stops caring about their employees and make useless changes that only serve to hamper and impede progress, then begin letting go of staff who can not make it work instead of abandoning the notion that their new process will work. They stop listening to the feedback given by their people and start thinking that they alone hold the answers. It is at this point that they have already wasted more money in wasting the time they have vainly fought to keep a change in place. They have cost their company precious time and money in enforcing something that does not work.
When management listens to their workers, they can form conclusions based on multiple viewpoints and decide whether a change is worth keeping or if it would just save time, effort, and money to go back to the original way of getting the job done.
Armed with these facts, we should-then-be able to better manage a business. When we fail to change how we view things, we fail to progress. Without progress, we are doomed to fail. To put it another way, if we do not learn from the mistakes of those who came before, we are doomed to repeat them.

Ideas In Business

IDEAS IN BUSINESS: INTRODUCTION
By Jason L. Peterman

Entrepreneur: a person who organizes and manages a business undertaking, assuming the risk for sake of the profit. (Webster’s New World Dictionary)

According to Webster, I am an entrepreneur. I have decided to organize and manage my own business. In a way, I seek to profit from it, but not exactly in the same ways as the traditional sense. I want to see it successful both as a business and as an ideal. Personally, I do not want to profit from the running of the business as much as I want to profit from remaining completely immersed in it, doing different tasks within the business rather than being paid to keep a seat behind a desk warm.
Let me elaborate. So many CEOs get paid millions of dollars for being desk jockeys. They sit and crunch the numbers, never realizing that the millions they get paid for being the top of the food chain should be put back into the business. No, I am not claiming that all of it should, but the vast majority should. Why? Because those millions should be for the preservation of the company, not the preservation of a decadent and showy lifestyle. Business could use with a little modesty. Modesty in top salaries. Modesty when dealing with the public.
I am not recommending that there should be enacted an austerity clause into every top management pay. But lack of profit is equal in proportion to the excess that goes into each top management salary. Let me ask a question: who suffers most from these extravagant salaries? It isn’t the people being paid the salary. No, it is the worker who ensures that the company still has products to sell or services to render.
My point? Simple. No one in business management is worth millions. No one. My solution? Cut the top salaries to sustain the business. Raise lower worker wages to encourage harder work. Supply health and retirement benefits for all, not just those at the top.
The number one reason that most businesses fail? Gluttonous misappropriation of profits. What does this mean? Simple. Each “successful” business that has either folded or who had to ask the government for bailout money during the last recession had one thing in common.
What was that one thing they had in common? Simple. Their CEOs and top management were making well over $1million in yearly salaries for mismanaging the business. In some instances, the CEO-alone-was making $4.5 million or more and was making errors in judgment where projects and/or products were concerned. These company heads had severance packages worth even more than that. Even worse, they were allowed to keep those severance packages and salaries even after they were given bailout money. And they were still paid, after their companies-if their companies- went under. This should not have been allowed, ever. They ran their companies into the ground, they should have taken the biggest hit, financially.
As an entrepreneur, I set out to figure out how best to solve this discrepancy. Even when I found an answer, I was criticized for not thinking about those who have earned their level of pay. Why? Because I expressed that a company should do one simple thing: offer a single, across the board salary set at a level that is actually $15,000 more than was expected by a CFO candidate early on in my attempts to start my business. His desire was for $100,000 a year. Ok, why not offer all a salary of $115,000 per year? No one is getting more than anyone else at this level and it offers a good incentive to work hard, no matter what position they hold.

At this point, you’re probably saying “but hold on! What about you, the owner and CEO?” As CEO, if I were to put myself under this salary, would make no more than the man or woman in distribution or in duplication/manufacturing. But I will not be on salary.
Why? For several reasons. First, I am a writer. I will be making money off books and articles. Second, I am an actor. I will be making money from roles I play or shows I am involved in. thirdly, I am a musician. I will be making money off every CD I release and every concert I perform. I could go on here, but you get the picture.
You’re probably saying now “but wait, you’ll still be making more than your employees. True, but I will also give them the same opportunities. As you have probably figured out by now, I am trying to open my own entertainment company.
So what exactly goes into an entertainment company? What do they sell? What is their market?
Let’s take time to break the company down. I suppose I should clarify that I want to build an entertainment PRODUCTION company as opposed to entertainment management, promotion, or agency. Of course, with production, there is a little of the others, but I am not simply promoting or recording…or even filming. I am also selling, distributing and finding the components that go into film, television, and music.
I simply term my company and entertainment company, since I want to do more than just produce. My company includes every aspect: the production, the distribution, the promotion, the discovery of the talent, the educating of the next generation on the industry.
This means that my products are simply stated as follows: for music, CDs and online music sales; for film, theatrical releases of movies, DVDs and online streaming; for television, the production and broadcasting of television programming as well as online streaming and marketing to other broadcasting companies; radio, production of programming, broadcast and marketing of that programming; and for publishing-publishing music and entertainment related magazines, publishing music, publishing book and comic books, and the distribution thereof both in stores and online in every possible form.
I list this because when I submitted my two-year business projections, I was told that I did not list what my products were. Granted, I did not break it down this much, but I did break down the costs and the returns. My original breakdown was this: music, television, film, publishing, radio. If a company invests funds into these sectors, what does it usually sell? Maybe I see things more simply as those who try to match numbers with traditional ideals. I am involved in the industry, so I know what I am selling under those headings. I go and buy DVDs. I go to the theater. I buy CDs. And, every now and then, I go to a concert. I know the cost of a ticket, a CD, a DVD, and even a download. Do I have to break even these costs down for a lender? I know I shouldn’t, if they have spent any time doing whatever the average consumer does, but it seems that this is what they expect. Just as it seems as if they expect a full break down of every aspect of a business so that they can understand exactly what kind of business it is.
I know, I seem to be ranting, but I am not. I explained, to the best of my ability within my simplified business plan, what I was going to be doing as a corporation. I also gave my biggest competitors: Universal Entertainment, DreamWorks, Fox, Imagine…I could have listed all of Hollywood, but only listed three or four companies. And, still, I could not get across what kind of company I am trying to start.
My projections were done with a conservative view on profits, putting them at the break-even level. Assuming that a movie, through ticket sales brings in $1million in sales weekly, and the company’s take is 10%, I multiplied this percentage (about $100,000 per film) times the number of films I intended to market to the public and distribute to the theaters. I had figured that I could easily license at least 5 films and 5 straight to DVD productions at first and build to low budget in-house productions after a certain length of time. This meant that I would also have to raise the actual budget at a certain time as well, but that was something I did not figure in right away. In the first six months, while the main facilities of the company are slated to be under construction, I intend to sign licensing agreements with producers and production companies that have market-ready films, thus cutting some of the costs of production.
Still, taking into consideration each possible mode of sales, it is easy to figure that a company can easily make back the investment they have made in a certain project or number of projects on a weekly basis and thus make a rather large profit in the end. Yet, after figuring this, and the estimates for all the other groupings (music, television, radio, and publishing) with every possible market as well, I found that it was possible to have double the profits weekly without compromising any.
In fact, I found, by the end of the projections, that I would be able to make more than I had originally projected in my less descriptive projections (I had done a standard two-year projection, but was asked to break things down more). At the end of my final projections, I included the following:
At the end of year one: repayment of investors, Iowa state tax, federal tax, benefits, community involvement funds, and family loan repayment.
At the end of year two: state taxes, federal taxes, benefits, and community involvement funds.
I did not opt for deferred taxes. If my projections are right, I didn’t need to. I did the full 60% for federal and a 7% for Iowa State. Even at this, I still came out ahead. Even with paying triple ($300,000,000 per $100,000,000 invested) what the investors would which equaled a $600,000,000 total for two investors (would rise to 900,000,000 for three, and so on.). So the full year-end totals looked like this:
Year one
Pretax total: $49,256,453,259.50
Year-end total after loans and investors paid: $48,656,258,259.50
Total after benefits: $30,656,258,259.50
Total after federal taxes (at 60%): $12,262,503,303.80
Total after Iowa State taxes (7%): $11,404,128,072.53
Total after community involvement: 304,128,072.53.
Community involvement would include such things as sponsored workshops, local and regional charities, scholarships, etc.
Year two
Pretax total: $ 207,998,700,353.10
Total after federal taxes (at 60%): $83,199,480’141.40
Total after Iowa State taxes (at 7%) $77,375,516,531.50
Total after community involvement: $7,375,516,531.50
Total after educational fund: $3,687,758,265.75
Total after benefits: $687,758,265.75
I thought this was both well estimated, even from a “break-even” stand point, and well thought out. I covered all the majors. Even the $115,000 salary per employee, which was broken down weekly, starting at the 100 employee level to start, then doubling as the projections showed I could…except in the second year projections.
But the microloan lender decided that these figures were “unbelieveable” and that they could not finance me due to this point. Perhaps they were confused as to what I was actually going to be doing. Perhaps they had thought that I was just simply opening another studio or promotions agency. I cannot begin to understand their reasoning. Whatever they were thinking, it was not a realistic view of my business or its capabilities.
Still, I am undaunted. Determined. Persistent. I am still searching for the one lender who will get the ball rolling for me.
Even though my credit is lacking, this should not stand in the way of some lender who can see the big picture instead of just the numbers. I have no credit, financially. What credit I might have had was destroyed by personal events that I have since learned from. It was also not allowed to grow due to the job market recession we just went through. I have had to endure seven years of nothingness, job-wise, and watched as countless jobs in my area have either folded or been turned into “temporary” work.
The problem with temp work is that you are only on the job for a week or less, then are without work for months. You can’t pay bills with that. You can’t build your credit on that. You can’t survive at all.
I am not whining, just telling the current status of my region and local area. When factories are not hiring, or are relying on temp services to fill jobs that won’t be there tomorrow, there is no work. There is no way to build credit.
This time, right now, to me, would be the perfect time for lenders to look for fresh and innovative business ideas and business plans. This would be the best time to start rebuilding America’s job market.
Yet, we have them still holding onto the traditional “let’s crunch the numbers according to the markets we are used to” mentality. No originality. No sense of adventure. No diversity in thinking.
Personal credit is seemingly always a key, as is equity. For someone struggling to get started, these are things they have precious little to offer. Especially someone who has had a less than stellar go of it to that point.
If your credit is bad, you lose. If you lack credit, you lose. If you don’t have enough revolving credit, you lose. Never mind what has taken place, or what the job market has been for the past six to seven years, to make your credit less than what they expect. Never mind the fact that you are trying to start a business so that you are gainfully employed.

Jay’s Weekly Pick (Originally Published By Keep It Coming Magazine. Reprinted By Nebraska City News Press. Posted On Triond, 2010)

Jay’s Weekly Pick

Group: Bizarre Musik Machine

Tracks: Obvious, Industrialize, Silent Regrets, Do You, From The Heavens, Fever, Awake, Ultimatum.

Rating: 4 ½

This L.A. based duo produces ethereal techno. On this promo CD, they seem to be at their best. Its highly danceable, eerily loveable, sucks you in but won’t spit you out. Wraps you in its music for the duration of the CD. I would describe it as what you would get if you threw together Stevie Nicks, The Eurhythmics, and Laurie Anderson…but with taste and eclecticism that Laurie never seems to have. Excellent music for those into techno. Contact: http://www.bizarremusik.com .

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Jay’s Weekly Pick

Group: Kilowatthours/The Rum Diary

Tracks: Letting go, The Electroencephalograph, King, Memory Controls, {Ex}change, Poolside, Halos, Twenty-Six, In Attempt to Reach The Other Side.

Rating: 5

This is the only team-up CD I have ever come across where two bands work together on one project…and do it so seamlessly! They switch out on songs and even do one song together. And its two bands for one low price! It is really nice to see that some bands will work together and aren’t trying to add decibels or having a screaming contest. I would love to see other bands try this same technique sometime. And the music here is really good. Contact : http://www.springmanrecords.com/www.substandard.com .

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Jay’s Weekly Pick

Group: Happy Accident

CD: Vanity Press

Tracks: Triple A, The Big One, Get For Nothing, Pedagogy of the Depressed, This Was A Career Move, Acronyms mean I’m Smarter, The Davy Jones Friend Ship, The Actuary as Philosopher, Way Out Behind You.

Rating: 3 ½

This Philly band has promise, but they need more work. I mean, I wouldn’t rush out and buy this CD. Instrumentally, they’re fairly strong. Vocally, though, they sound as if they are trying to aim-albeit, unsuccessfully- for an imitation “live” George Harrison sound. In other words, they could polish their vocals up a bit, or trade for a different lead singer. I am amazed that this CD didn’t accidentally get lost in the mail. I wouldn’t have missed much. Contact: http://www.10gevrecords.com / happy accident@hotmail.com.

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Jay’s Weekly Pick

Group: Ben Green

CD: Me & This Ol’ Guitar

Tracks: Me and This Ol’ Guitar, Walkin’ Blues, Bottom Of The Barrel, Bluegill Lover (live), Life For A Life, Buildin’ Up Steam, Driftin’ Wind, Beer On Ice, Been Gone Too Long, Heal Your Lonesome Soul, Easy Street, Plugged Into The Sun, Move On.

Rating: 5 ½

It’s rare for me to admit that I know a musician, but I went to grade school with Ben. All that time, I never knew how good a bluesman he really was. When I first got this CD, I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it. But, as I listened to it, I knew instantly that Ben was one of the truly great blues artists. Contact: none at this time.

Enough With The Political In-Fighting (From Triond, 2010)

Why is it that, no matter how good a president’s ideas are, Congress can’t seem to agree with anything? why do they always seem to want to fight among themselves or add a congressional pay raise, all the while refusing to give those struggling with trying to make ends meet on minimum wage(or even those struggling to stay afloat on SSI or Social Security for that matter) a raise? Why do they need money (money, I must add, that would better serve for the masses and seeing that much needed jobs are either started or strengthened) for needless projects like the highway and bridge to nowhere or vacations they don’t need to take until they finally agree on things? Why won’t they actually sit down with the president and start thinking about those they represent?

Unlike a lot of people, I believe in term limits on senators and representatives. No more lifers. No more greedy old men who have spent too much time bleeding this nation dry while they ignored the woes of their constituents. While we’re at it, why don’t we start putting everyday people into office? I mean, why do they always have to be lawyers and billion-dollar businessmen who already have enough money to live several lifetimes? And why should we have to pay them at all? I mean, have you seen their annual audits from their own businesses, their net worth (minus their congressional pay, of course?

If they already have millions of dollars-even thousands of dollars-of income every year when they go into congress, we shouldn’t have to pay them. Even if we did decide to pay them, they should only be allowed to make minimum wage. Let them see the struggles of the little man. No more tax dollars paying for excess vacation expenses either. We can’t take million dollar vacations, why should they?

They are supposed to work for us, to do what we need done. That’s what we put them into office for. We don’t put them there to argue or grow fat off our tax dollars. they aren’t supposed to have pet projects which they try to procure funds for that benefits no one. They’re supposed to ask their constituents what they need and then fight for what is right. They are supposed to uphold the laws of the land, not break them.

Yet, it seems as if once a politician gets into office, they believe that their debt to their constituents are forgiven and that they can do whatever they want. They tend to believe that they can promise the voters anything to gain support, but they don’t have to follow through. Once they’re in office, they can pretty much do as they wish, even if it is the exact opposite of what they promised. Forget the promises, forget the little man, they pretty much go into politics for the money.

And even more unsettling is the fact that they are automatically programmed to object to nearly everything that would truly help the common man (or woman, child). Education reform, health reform, minimum wage raises, etc. all seem to offend the average politician. Keep the masses stupid, fat, poor, in ill health, and complacent and they can bamboozle them easily. But, God forbid, educate them and see that they are informed and in excellent health-able to get the medicines they need to stay in good health-and they run the risk of not being able to hold their office at all.

Continue the in fighting and nothing will ever get done. Just leave it for those who come after to fix. Who really cares? Or, at least, that seems to be the going perception in Washington. It needs to stop. The fighting. The procrastinating. The congressional pay raises. The continuance of the propagation of poverty by keeping minimum wage at a low rate of pay. The fight over health care reform. The turning a blind eye to the deficiencies in our education system. Too many foreign countries are way ahead of us in the area of education, do we really want to fall so far behind? The much needed reforms to welfare laws. There are too many who are abusing the welfare system, every level of it (this includes the child welfare system as well), and the abuses need to be stopped.

It’s time to stop it all. Pay the citizens back for their help. Put into action those things that are needed. Most of all, return the power to the masses as it was intended. Give the power over the family back to the parents. restructure the education system to where we are better able to compete with the world community. Give us health care that is affordable and covers all medication and needful (anything that aids with good health) procedures both exam-wise and surgical. Give us wages we can live with and survive on comfortably, without raising the cost of living. More importantly, begin to agree on things and work together to make this a better country…and ask the citizens what they need, not focus on your own greedy desires and determination to keep things from happening that would benefit everyone.

Sometimes We Forget (From Triond, 2010)

It is strange how soon we forget the past. We fight over politics, religion, money, race, country, and whatever else we think is necessary. But there is nothing, and history will attest to the fact, that is so worthy to wage war over as to put to odds those of different creeds. No political view gives a nation the right to wage war against another, nor is nationality or religious belief.

When I was in college, we had a cause essay assignment which we had to do on racism and discimination. In mine, I tried to show the historical roots of racism and discrimination. As I wrote, I attempted to take the neutral stance without trying to condone or excuse either topic. My method, it seems, after I reread my essay, could possibly be taken as excusing the topic even though it was not meant to be taken in that manner. For this, I am truly sorry. I would rather the reader take the essay as a history of and a plea for the discontinuation of both topics.

Being of mixed heritage, I am naturally opposed to both topics. I do not look at the color of a person’s skin, their religious beliefs, or political affiliation. Monetary and social standing plays no part in my decision as to whether someone can be a friend or not, either. What does count is attitude, how they treat others, and their honesty. I suppose you could say that I am a very tolerant person.

So, why can’t the nations of the world be the same? Is there no equality? Is there no neutral ground on which they can stand and agree upon things? Or will we forever be plagued by wars?

There is no such thing as a “holy” war. Nor is there any right side in a war. No matter how you look at it, war is evil. Everybody loses, whether it be the war its self or lives of citizens and soldiers.

This is not to say that I am against self-defense, I am just saying that we should learn from the past and put aside our differences and try to live tolerant of one another. we should not see color, creed, political views, sexual orientation, or monetay/social standing. We should learn how to work together in order to make this world a better place to live.