Are all Lies Bad?

Don’t you just hate being lied to? I sure do. But, and this is a big “but“, I haven’t been offended by all lies told to me. Why? Because some lies were told to keep pleasant surprises as surprises, for one.

Most lies are bad, but some are good. I was told that the club I belonged to was changing its meeting place. I went to the new place and was treated to a surprise party for my birthday one year. It was great! It happens all the time.

Also, we tell “white” lies. These are lies to avoid offending people or to prevent people, often older parents or grandparents from worrying. Can you imagine if we always spoke our thoughts. Saying to Aunt Marge, “Your hat looks dumb and too big for your head!”, when she asks you what you think, or saying, “Cousin Tom and his girlfriend lived together before they were married.” to your old-fashioned grandfather, or saying how dangerous your job in law enforcement can be to your worrying grandmother, will only cause trouble.

Of course, the truth may still come out and, in the above examples, the idea shouldn’t be to deny the truth as much as to lessen the full impact of the truth.

In that last example of your law enforcement career, God forbid if you are killed, everyone knows that your grandmother won’t accept the idea that you just decided to take a very long trip without any communication with her or anyone else when you’ve always been a stickler for keeping contact with all family members. What needs to be done is to gradually let her know what your career is and assure her that you are taking extra care to protect yourself.

But what these white lies can do is to prevent the truth from being too blunt. Instead, in all 3 examples, the truth can be brought out in stages so the recipients won’t suffer as much mental shock with the resulting tumult in the family.

And of course, your child home alone telling an inquiring stranger on the phone that you are home in the shower is also a very good lie.

So, there are times when the lie can be more helpful than the truth. Just something to think about.

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Freedom to Grieve

There was a death in my family recently. Oftentimes, when there’s such a tragedy, people, especially those closest to the one who passed on, are bombarded with often well-meaning advice on how to grieve. They may hear things such as, “You have to cry”, or, “You must pray”, or “You must do this,… wear that…have this type of ceremony”, etc.

Luckily, for me, there was very little of this, for which I am grateful. You see, everyone grieves in their own way, and just because one grieves in any particular way that is different, doesn’t mean they love the deceased person any less. Not everyone has a funeral. Not everyone wears black. Not everyone grieves for the same amount of time or to the same degree all of the time.

So, to keep this short, my advice is, to let people grieve in their own way. Please. They’ll appreciate this as greater respect, and they are more likely to respect you in turn.

Thanks for reading.

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Will Automation Phase Out Work?

Recently, I read an article online where it was said that one of the reasons for the future growth of unemployment will be that more and more jobs will be done by robots and other forms of automation.

Among the jobs that were listed as ones that could fall to automation were dental assistant, delivery driver, and restaurant wait staff.

Actually, this may turn out to be true, and I understand that there is a restaurant in France that does have automated wait staff.  Driverless cars are being tested. And sure, we’ve all seen, or rather, heard automated answering systems (“…press one, for customer service, two, to leave a voice mail..”, etc.), and automated toll booths, among others. But a fully automated world where no human will hold a job?

Possibly, but only after a very long time, for several reasons I can think of.

First, and possibly the strongest reason is, though we are encountering more and more automated systems, we still tend not to like them. We still want to talk to a human being. And this is especially true in medical situations and those situations where things have gone wrong in general. I’m sure most people simply don’t feel comfortable with a robot diagnosing their symptoms and prescribing medicine just yet.

And then there’s the hassle factor, which I have dealt with. Some automated phone systems will simply not let you get to a human being, and their voice recognition systems will often misunderstand what you are saying. And, of course, they cannot think so when your situation falls through the cracks because it doesn’t neatly fall into one of the categories you’ve been presented with, so you get nowhere.

Second, is reliability issues, which is related to the first reason. Again, many voice recognition systems won’t understand what you are saying. A company may be reluctant to completely rely on a fully automated customer service system without some kind of human backup.

Third, which is, yes, related to the second reason. It’s a lack of an ability for self correction, or to think, period. That is, if a human employee makes a mistake and sends you a toaster instead of the blender you ordered, it may be caught by another employee before it even gets to you. If a human employee has to leave suddenly for the day, another will see it and offer to cover for the now absent employee. And if the employee is a mistake prone jerk, the boss can let the employee know that his or her job is at stake unless they shape up.

But with robots, at least for now, if one makes a mistake, you’re getting that toaster and you’ll have a real hassle trying to straiten out the mess through the company phone system. If one machine breaks down, it stays broken and the other machines don’t know it. The pumping machine may just keep filling that tank until it explodes. The other machines cannot make a call for repairs. Production and other functions stop until a human notices, by which time much more damage may have been done. And if a machine or robot just will not work, no amount of threats will make it start working.

Lastly, we’re not quite there yet. That is, while certainly, we have been able to successfully bring automation to areas such as the factory floor, and yes, the example of the exploding tank above has been solved by adding sensors and systems that will shut down the pumping machine, the technology for having robots completely replace humans in many areas is a long way from reality, even now. And while many businesses are looking to use more and more automation, it is still very expensive to start, and somewhat risky, so many businesses, especially small ones, are not yet on that bandwagon and won’t be for a good while.

We don’t have a robot that can go door to door delivering mail, or selling items and services, and people are not ready to deal with a robot salesperson or clerk unless there’s another human from the company there who understands what you’re saying and who can correct any problems on the spot. And no one’s yet ready to trust a robot surgeon acting alone in the OR just yet.

So, not to worry yet, humans will still be needed for jobs, including those that robotics and growing automation will generate, for a long, long time to come.

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And thanks for reading! 🙂