Archive for June, 2011

How to Protect Intellectual Property

With the innovation of the Internet, the ability to enforce any law regarding the disruption of intellectual property is almost impossible.  Throughout the past decade, beginning the mp3 revolution, the record companies have reported that the digital revolution has cost them nearly $12.5 billion dollars and 71,000 jobs each year.1  With the use of torrent sites and limewire file sharing, digital piracy is getting harder to pinpoint. Recent surveys indicate that nearly ninety-five percent of all music downloaded online is illegal.2  In recent news, a single-mother was ordered by the court to pay $1.92 million dollars for downloading twenty-four songs.3  However, if the surveys are correct, this court decision suggests that there are millions of individuals who owe the record companies millions of dollars themselves.  Clearly, it is nearly impossible to try all of the illegal music downloaders on the Internet. Therefore, the legislature might pass an additional act to help detour people from downloading.

My suggestion is that Congress should pass a new act that would set up an agency for whistle-blowers of illegal file sharing from within the Federal Communications Commission/ FCC. This newly created agency would offer incentives to whistle-blowers, such as offer potential whistle blowers a portion (e.g., 10%) of the money reclaimed by the record companies.  With much stronger incentives, people would be more willing to report their neighbors, co-workers, friends, and even family members, to the proper authorities for illegal downloading activities.  If the government would create a whistle-blowing network, people would become increasingly paranoid about downloading music.

In retrospect, the Federal Government and the recording industry has spent the past decade working with members of the Congress and a small army of lawyers in order to create ways to come up with solutions to the problem of illegal file sharing.  The problem is so widespread that it is illogical to think that it could be solved overnight. Hence, record companies and the Federal Government need to collaborate and create more ways to detour music piracy, such as establishing a whistle-blowing agency.  As the public becomes increasingly paranoid, people will become more likely to download files legally.

Additional Resources (outside class textbook):

1. http://www.dailyiowan.com/2009/06/23/Metro/11797.html

2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7832396.stm

3. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10268199-93.html

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Does the US need a tort reform?

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Our nation is considered to be among the top legal systems in the world.  Although there are many great parts of the U.S. legal system, I believe that tort reform is much needed.  Torts are generally defined as a civil wrong, which is not caused by a breach of contract.  Every year billions of dollars are being spent to protect business owners from tort claims.  One small error in advertising a product or failure to warn people of a product’s dangers, including such dangers that arguably border on basic common sense, can cause a company to go bankrupt from exorbitant legal fines.  For instance, a gun manufacturer failed to warn its users that long-exposure to firing guns can damage hearing and was found liable for causing hearing loss injuries.

Product liability cases, such as the one just highlighted, account for over 10 million cases filed in the U.S. annually.  Cases such as these have created a world full of disclaimers.  For instance, back in 1992 the “McDonald’s Coffee Case” was making national headlines. Officially known as Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, the case was eventually settled giving Liebeck $160,000 in compensational damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages.1 Since that case, McDonald’s has placed warnings on their coffee that can be seen today.

In more recent news, on June 15, 2009 USA TODAY published an article dealing with tort reform.2  In this article, President Obama reportedly is trying desperately to curb malpractice liabilities in order to help him create universal health care.  Due to the fear of medical malpractice liabilities, the nation spends an estimated $600 to $700 billion each year on necessary care due to physicians practicing defensive medicine.3 This staggering sum is a huge factor for those who argue in favor of universal health care and a major contributor for the prohibitively high cost of health care coverage for so many Americans.

While torts are a problem for businesses, in recent years certain measures have been taken to ensure tort reform, such as the Supreme Court case of BMW of North America, Inc. v. GoreIn this case, the Supreme Court held a 5-4 verdict that limited punitive damage awards.4 While this is a far cry from total tort reform of the U.S. system, this has given tort reform advocates hopes for the future of more substantial tort reforms.  I believe that limiting product liability cases and medical malpractice cases could lead to billions of dollars in savings each year to Americans for monies spent on disclaimers and frivolous cases.

Resources:

1. http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

2. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2009/06/68120137/1

3. Ibid

4. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3811/is_199810/ai_n8812153/

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Communication

A wise man once said, “If you can master communication you can master the world.”  When communicating it is important to do two things: be concise and effective For many putting these two things into practice is nearly impossible.  The following is a list of some useful tips and suggestions I came across recently concerning effective communication.

Communication Enhancers

  • Concerned Silence—This is probably the most difficult technique to carry out. Many people are uncomfortable with silence and feel that someone should always be talking.  Silence is golden, especially when important information is being shared.  Allow time for silence, along with supportive actions such as intermittent eye contact, leaning forward and handholding (if permissible).
  • Encouragement—Often people need permission to share thoughts and feelings.  Statements like “I’d like to hear more about that” and “If you would like to share that with me, I’d be glad to listen” show interest and willingness to become involved in the conversation.  This technique can also be useful if the conversation is bogged down.
  • Prompters—This technique lets the speaker know that you are still listening, that you understand, accept and empathize.  Short phrases such as “I see,” “Yes,” and “Uh-huh” often encourage additional conversation without interrupting the speaker’s train of thought.
  • Restatements—To help in understanding thoughts and feelings, it is often useful to feed back what you have heard or thought you have heard.  The sender states, ”I’m so sick and tired of working long shifts.”  You can say, “You are tired of working long shifts.”  This helps the sender understand the impressions conveyed by specific choices of words and helps to clarify feelings.
  • Leading Statement or Question—This technique is used to help the sender move on to additional thoughts. It is especially helpful in problem solving.  The sender says, “I really don’t know what to say to my boss.”  You may say, “What are some of the things you have thought about saying?”  This will encourage listing of options by the sender.
  • Observation of Non-Verbal Behavior—Being sensitive to feelings increases the amount of information available from a conversation; however, it is sometimes helpful to validate your observations.  If you notice the sender is frowning and sighing, you can say, “You seem to be anxious and upset.”  This allows the sender to verify of dispute your assessment.

Things To Remember When CommunicatingTips and Tricks!

  • Always, always ,always! Use the right word choice with the right audience.  Remember different groups of people communicate differently.  For instance when you are trying to communicate to a group of kindergarteners you might use a less extensive vocabulary than you would if you were to try to communicate with a group of professors.
  • When practicing communication focus on your audience rather than your self.  Self-centered speakers tend to be less effective when communicating.  This can lead to a lack of interest in your audience.  Think when was the last time you enjoyed hearing a speech involving me, me, me.  You can better engage your audience and communicate more effectively if you focus on them.
  • “If you will first help people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.” Zig Zigler
  • Connecting begins when the other person feels valued.
  • Most of communication is based off of actions.  Or as the old saying goes “Actions speak louder than words.”
  • Speaking words is never enough, you must believe the words you speak to be an effective communicator.
  • Your message must be valuable—you have to deliver on the promise of your words.
  • Most of communication is visual—how other’s perceive you is important

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Tips for the Business World I have Learned as a Consumer

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I will update this list each week with a new tip starting on June 15th, 2011.  ADDITIONALLY if you have any suggestions or criticisms of listed tips feel free to comment them and I will add YOUR TIPS along with your name when I update my post weekly.  Thank you!

Tip #1 Always follow-up with costumers every step of the way.  If you fail to keep tabs on your customers deals WILL slip through the cracks!

Tip #2 Make sure your costumer understands your  mission statement.  Customers are more likely to give you business if they believe and see you practicing a mission statement.  A good example of this is Apple Computers.

Tip #3 Always think business senerios through from the costomer’s point of view.  If you want to sell someone a product you have to be able to know their every thought and get in their heads so you can connect with them enough to convince them to buy your product.

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Future Plans For this Blog #1!

Hello all, lately I have been questioning myself on what I would like to achieve developing this personal blog.  After much consideration I have decided to write on my growth throughout life as well as write other personal things e.g. lessons I am currently learning through course work.  Hopefully the lessons I learn in school will help further educate those of you studying the subjects my notes will touch on….Addionally I would like to start posting topics that intest me or that are somewhat related to me.  For instance, I have a 20 page handwritten account of my great-great grandmother’s life I would like to type and publish on the net.  I believe it is an important oral history of her generation;  it tells the tales of a poor woman who was one of the last generations to arrive in a wagon in the midwest.  If you the reader have any suggestions as to what you would like me to cover let me know and I will do my best to comply.

Sincerely As Always, Your Author,

Julian A. Lacey

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My First Hospice Experience

Recently in between semesters at college, I decided to take up volunteering at a local Hospice.  My thoughts were “If I could not secure a job between semesters I could at least try to better myself by volunteering for my community. Maybe I could pick up experiences that would make me grow as a person and grow my resume.”

Going into the experience I was virtually clueless of what to expect; I was 21, young and still ambitious talking to poor souls on their death beds that had probably been drained of any ambitions and aspirations years ago.  Yet I was determined to learn something valuable from my experience.

Pulling up into a low income nursing home, I gazed up at the imposing structure before me; I questioned myself “Is this the finally fate of those individuals who were not so good and didn’t die young?”  Getting out of my car I grabbed my briefcase as every good business student should and checked my contents.  “Book, pens, planner. . . .alright.”  And so I headed into the three-story building that looked less like a home and more like a prison minus the hoards of sailor cursing inmates and guards.

Inside I found the place to be considerably livelier, there was background music in the lobby you would expect in an elevator setting playing tunes reminiscent of the days of Sinatra and fake flowers galore.  I checked into the main office where a lady not much older than myself greeted me.  She had an amble suttle body—not too skinny but not too fat, soft brown glowing hair and a face that radiated natural beauty.  Upon seeing her appearance I immediately wished that I would have wore better clothes to make me too look more professional and some cologne.

Trying not to embarrass myself I quickly explained the business I had at her prison where I wished she would lock me away and bath me for a change.  She lead me to my patients room and left me at the door.  I knocked and quietly asked “Mr. #$#$#, my name is Julian I am a volunteer from ____________ I was wondering if it would be okay if I might have a few moments of your time?”

I was met with silence. . . . .and I an inexperienced hospice volunteer began fearing the worse.  The patient I had come to visit had passed.  But before I could start saying my prayers for the old soul I was greeted with a gruff weak voice “Yes, come in.”

Feeling relived I smiled happier than ever I would have a chance to talk to this man and perhaps even make his life better in some way.  After all I did not necessarily volunteer purely out of my own self-interest I whole-heartedly wanted to be useful and help others in their ultimate time of need.  So I entered the room and took a seat beside the man.

“So what do you want to know.”  The old man gazed at me seriously.

“Well sir I am here to visit you, what are some of your interests?”

The man dogged my question and asked one of his own.

“How old are you?”

“21.”

“21, where do you go to school?”

“I go to Central Michigan University”

“How old are you?”

“98”

The conversation continued about 10-15 minutes with periods of silence before the old man kindly told me he was all talked out and we bid each other farewell.  Although our period was brief I took away a lot of important insights.  I personally recommend anyone looking to learn take up volunteering; each experience is different but the payoff is always the same: you never leave unchanged.

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Hard Work is Good For the Soul

Over the course of my life I have come to value a few things–hard work is one of them.  Wether it is gathering wood for a fire to a task at work hard work can make all the difference.  Now I know what you are thinking, any work is hard that’s why it is work, duh? WRONG.  Hard work is separated from work by one crucial detail–hard work challenges you.

Throughout life I have heard people repeat the phrase “Work is good for the soul.”  Personally I think this age-old quote needs a revision to make it truly stand the test of time.  My revision is simple its only f-o-u-r easy letters that spell the opposite of six words to the later; hard.

Doing repetitive physical or mental task will not grow your soul, only knew experiences that challenge you be it physically or mentally (preferably both) will help you grow your soul and thus as a person.

Sarah Brown once said “The only thing that ever sat its way to success was a hen.”  In my opinion this is true, the only way to be successful is to get out in the world and do hard work.  Doing work may get you by to a life of mediocrity but hard work paves the way to a rich life.


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