Effects of Reality TV on Society

The debate over whether or not television as a positive or negative effect on society has endured for more than sixty years. The latest causality in this war: reality TV. Critics lambast the genre, claiming it’s a choreographed illusion that celebrates distasteful and dysfunctional behavior, feeds our voyeuristic urges, and siphons intelligence, while enthusiasts celebrate it as a method of entertainment. So, who’s right?

The Worst of Human Behavior

Psychologist George Gerbner and Larry Gross of the University of Pennsylvania developed the “cultivation theory,” which asserts that prolonged exposure to television can shape viewer’s concept of the world. Basically, the more television someone watches, the more he will believe the world is as it’s presented by the TV. I can see how this might apply to older generations who didn’t grow up in the Information Age. Take my grandpa, for example. He watches nothing but the news and he’s convinced the world is a violent and dangerous place. I’d probably think that, too, if all I watched were reports of thefts, shooting, and terrorism.

I wonder if the “cultivation theory” applies to reality TV shows. If I did nothing but watch “Big Brother” all day, would I start to believe there were cameras scattered throughout my home and my family was conspiring to vote me out of the house?

Voyeuristic Urges

The idea that reality TV nourishes voyeuristic behavior sounds like a great argument. Who would want to raise a society of Peeping Toms? Thankfully, this criticism has no merit. Voyeurism is, by definition (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/voyeurism), “the practice of obtaining sexual gratification by looking at sexual objects or acts, especially secretively.” The key word here is secretively. All voyeuristic pleasure is removed if the person being watched knows she’s being watched.

A Threat to Intelligence

Reality TV critics claim that these shows pander to the ill-witted and somehow manage to make the rest of us dumber for watching. I don’t think it’s possible to lose brain cells or cognitive functioning simply from tuning into a TV show. I think a far greater concern for critics is the sense of superiority viewers derive from watching reality TV. The truth is many people watch these shows to feel better about their own lives. What does that say about our society’s ability to promote a healthy self-image?

Entertainment

Critics of reality TV argue that television should be used to education, inform, and enlighten viewers. I agree television is an excellent medium for teaching, decimating information, and promoting the arts, but it is also a vehicle for entertainment. It’s a way to peer into another world for amusement and fun. Television offers viewers a needed break from the daily pressures of life; it’s a healthy occupation for the mind.

Tyler is a writer for USCharterService.com. He enjoys watching and writing about Cable TV.

USPS Begins Closures

The US Postal Service has started telling employees at more than 200 of its mail sorting offices across the USA that their facilities will shut down soon.

After a five month review of the USPS mail processing network, which currently consists of 461 Area Mail Processing plants, USPS said 223 are set to be merged with other plants.

As plants close, not all jobs will be lost, however 35,000 jobs will be cut from the current workforce, and these are in addition to the 34% reduction of its workforce since the year 2000.

USPS has the difficult task of trying to reduce its operating costs by $20bn a year in order to stay viable.

US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said “As we go forward with this change it is going to be difficult but we must do this in order to keep the Postal Service healthy financially going into the future.”

While USPS promised Congress a halt on mail plant closures until May 15th, in the hope of changes to legislation being passed, the halt on closures did not stop closure reviews from occurring.

It has however stated it still will not be closing sorting offices prior to May 15th.

It is also waiting on a regulatory review of changes to 1st Class Mail deliveries, as it wants to turn 1st Class Mail into a 2 to 3 day service, and to stop overnight deliveries for nearly all mail. While this will slow down parcel delivery fairly dramatically, it will reduce costs and that is clearly the main objective.

First Class Mail makes up just over 40% of total mail volumes, but actually contributes more than 60% of its overall revenues. Mail totals however, have shrunk by 25% since 2006 thanks to widespread use of e-mail.

The company is currently $13bn in debt with a legal borrowing limit of $15bn, but is forecast to make over $14bn in additional losses every year moving forwards unless dramatic changes are made.

Splashes of Color – Spring 2012

After a long winter, spring is always embraced with open arms.  The spring season adds a skip to everyone’s step.  New enthusiasm is found with the new season in great part due to the warmer weather we have been anticipating for so long.  Another reason to make you spirit soar is because of what’s in store for your new spring wardrobe. This season you will really enjoy the spring 2012 fashions.  Finished with the drab and subtle black and grey tone of the winter and make way for the bright and bold colors that are making a splash for the spring 2012 trends.

Colors are making a comeback for spring 2012.  One of the colors that you will be seeing a lot of is Tangerine Tango.  As the name indicates it’s a juicy orange color.  You will see this coloring popping up in every fashion department. Tangerine Tango for shoes; checks out Marc Joseph shoes.  They have great moccasins in this orange color as well as a whole slew of vibrant and fashionable bright hues.  Then you will find this color in tops, bags, accessories and even in nail polish colors.  It a fabulous color to use to accent a subtle outfit with a bright accessory if you are not daring enough to wear the entire look.

Another color that you gotta make sure to incorporate into you spring wardrobe is Watermelon Pink.  (However chose these colors this season must have been hungry!) Watermelon pink is a color that is very closely related to bubble gum pink yet a little bolder and not as pinky.  It’s a feminine color yet bold enough to be empowering.  You will be seeing a lot of this color in wedding party dress wear.  If you are not a pink person, you can opt for a glossy pink wallet to incorporate the color.

Marigold yellow is a very strong color for spring.  This shade of yellow has a goldish tint and compliments a lot of skin tones.  You will find it to be a richer tone then the ordinary yellow color.   This color works well with many different fabrics including chiffons and leathers.  A hot item this year is a brightly colored leather skirt.  A leather skirt in marigold leather is an awesome look.  Marigold yellow paired up with neutral tones is a look to go with.

There are so many great colors this spring season. Oranges, reds, yellow and green; colors are really making a comeback.  Wearing vibrant colors will bring much needed excitement to your everyday life.  It’s a fact that when wearing blacks and grey’s your attitude it deflated. If until now you were hesitant to wear color because you didn’t want to stick out in a crowd; you feel more secure when your blend into the crowd, well now is the time to wear these great colors without making a loud statement.  Every wear you turn, color is all the rage, join the trend, you will surely enjoy it in more ways than one.

Cheryl Davis is a shoe stylist for marcjosephshoesnewyork.com.  With her years of experience in the clothing and shoe industry, she uses her talents and expertise to incorporate the new trend s and styles into the Marc Joseph New York collection as well as many other areas of fashion.

 

How Safe is Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser eye surgery is the most common elective surgery currently being performed with over one million people worldwide undergoing the procedure each year. Laser eye surgery has actually been around a lot longer than most people realize with the first procedure actually being carried out over 25 years ago. Refractive surgery, which relates to any surgery which corrects people’s vision has actually been carried out for over 30 years but this was not performed using a laser.

As you would expect, the techniques involved with the surgery have been improved and refined over the years and the technology behind laser eye surgery is unrecognizable from what it was when the procedure was first carried out. The main advancements have come with the laser themselves which are now extremely accurate and reliable, meaning the results of the surgery are very consistent.

The surgeons themselves have also significantly improved and laser eye surgeons are now regulated, which was not the case when the procedure first started being performed. Laser eye surgery is now considered to be an extremely safe procedure with a very low risk of complications.

Although there is variation between surgeons, a respectable complication rate is generally accepted to be around 0.1% of all procedures carried out. This means that only 1 in 1000 laser eye surgery procedures result in any sort of complication. You may be reading this thinking that 1 in 1000 procedures is actually too big a risk to take, but it is important to realize that the vast majority of the complication that do occur can be easily rectified by your surgeon, meaning you end up with perfect vision anyway.

When you are considering the risks of laser eye surgery it is probably better to think of them in terms of the likelihood of there being a complication which the surgeon is unable to rectify to a satisfactory conclusion. Again there will be variation between different surgeons but this figure averages out at about 1 in 25,000 procedures. If you are unlucky enough to fall into this category then there is a chance that your vision may actually be worse than it was before surgery.

A commonly asked question about laser eye surgery is what are the chances of going blind following the procedure? The easiest way to answer this is to say that to date no one has ever gone blind as a result of the surgery and most surgeons estimate the risk of blindness to be about 1 in 5 million procedures; which is about the same chance of dying in a plane crash!

Most of the complications of laser eye surgery are relatively minor and include things such as dry eyes and night vision problems. Complications such as these are becoming far less common as the laser technology continues to improve. What’s more, such complications generally improve to the point of resolution over the first 6 months following surgery as the eyes heal.

In summary, while there are risks involved with the procedure, laser eye surgery is generally considered to be extremely safe. The biggest disappointment following laser eye surgery is generally experienced when people’s expectations are too high and it is important that such expectations are managed by the surgeon. It is also important that your surgeon explains exactly what you can expect following surgery as it is when people experience things that they were not expecting that they are likely to be disappointed.

A good example of this is that people who are having laser eye surgery to correct their near sightedness may find that their reading vision is actually worse following the surgery than it was before. Such people’s distance vision will be massively improved which is the reason they had the surgery in the first place, but if it was not explained that their reading vision could be worse following the procedure, then they may perceive the surgery as a failure. If this was fully explained to your prior to surgery then you are unlikely to be disappointed. The single most important factor in having a successful surgery is in choosing a surgeon who you feel comfortable with and one that has the necessary experience to deal with any complications should they arise.

This post was written by Tim Harwood, A laser trained Optometrist from the UK. In addition to his clinical practice ,Tim also provides information for his own website TreatmentSaver – Laser eye surgery which covers all aspects of laser eye surgery including both the cost and risks of the procedure.

Phones in the Wilderness

It’s no secret that smartphone usage has grown astronomically over the last few years, and the range of things they can do is undeniably impressive. From finding a new recipe to working out which star you’re looking at, a smartphone is your friend.

However, they can only go so far. Recently concerns have been raised about the number of hikers using phones to navigate in national parks and wilderness areas. Unlike a traditional map and compass, which (once you know how to use them) are pretty straightforward, there are several different ways phones can fail to deliver when it comes to navigating in the backwoods. They can run out of battery, lose signal or connection to GPS services, or become unusable in bad weather. Even when running and connected the basic mapping functionality they provide often doesn’t have the detail hikers need to get from A to B safely.

The English Lake District is one of the UK’s most popular destinations for mountain hikers of all skill levels. It sees around 16 million visits every year. Most people make it back down off the hills without a problem but lately there has been a sharp rise in call-outs for urgent help. Over the last five years the number of people who have needed to be found and brought back to safety from the Lake District National Park and surrounding areas rose by 50%. Local Mountain Rescue teams lay the blame squarely on inexperience, and in particular on hikers trying to find their way with cell phones rather than paper maps.

Across the whole of England and Wales, the percentage rise in call outs is about the same- somewhere near 52% in the five years to 2011. The UK Ordnance Survey is the body responsible for compiling and updating official maps across Britain, and they claim that sales of paper maps have dropped by a massive 25% over the same period. The trend towards alternative (and often inadequate) navigation methods is pretty strong.

On the other hand, smartphones can be extremely useful in rescue situations. Mountain rescue services in Wicklow, Ireland, recently found a lost hiker in ‘an extremely remote location’ by sending a special locator app to his phone by text. The app, known as SARLOC, has also been involved in a number of successful rescues elsewhere.

There have been reported cases where lost parties have sent a picture of a nearby landmark to rescuers, who were able to determine the correct location using their own knowledge of the area. One lucky hiker was even found when rescuers spotted the flash from his camera. And of course, it must be remembered that many calls to mountain rescue services come from cell phones. Sometimes the alarm is raised when a hiker, runner, mountain biker or climber doesn’t return home at the expected time but often it’s those in need of rescue that make the call.

It’s clear that cell phones are amongst the most important pieces of safety equipment a hiker can carry, but they shouldn’t be thought of as a replacement for a traditional map and compass and the navigation skills required to use them. Mountain Rescue services from the UK, Ireland, Canada, and Australia all agree- take a cell phone, but take a map too.

Jess Spate is an experienced map-carrying hiker and iPhone user. She writes for Appalachian Outdoors, an American camping gear retailer, and edits a British outdoor clothing site.

Getting A Great TV Deal In 2012

Getting a fantastic deal on a TV is not about waiting until Black Friday or the Christmas sales, it is all about knowing where to look and when to strike.

Everyone has a deal ninja in them; it’s just about honing that skill. Here is a sure fire list of saving bucket loads on the next TV you buy.

Group Buying

With websites like Groupon becoming hugely popular, it is no wonder that group buying has completely taken off. In essence, a lot of people buy the same item so everyone gets a big discount.

If you look on sites like Groupon, you’ll see a few great TV deals every month, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to get a television that’s right for you, and for a fraction of the price.

Close Out Sales

This is something that a surprising amount of people don’t know about. Every year, the major electronics manufacturers will cease production on older models, all existing stock will be put on close out sales and sold cheaply.

This means you can get high end televisions for a much lower price than normal, simply because companies are rolling out newer, slightly improved models. This exact thing is currently happening at Amazon for big screen TVs.

Buying Display Models

Literally every major electrical store has display television models on show, when they change their display models for newer televisions they often sell the old ones to their staff or to customers.

They are usually in great condition and are sold at a cut price, just ask someone in store about buying display models, they’ll be happy to show you what’s on offer or add you to a waiting list.

This is a guest post written by Matt who writes 60 inch TV reviews at 60InchTVs.org. Check out his article on 60 inch TVs for gaming.

What are PS3 Trophies?

If you’re new to the PS3, you’re probably wondering what PS3 Trophies are. Well, to put it simply, PS3 Trophies are extra unlockables within PS3 games. Trophies come in three different levels, Gold, Silver and Bronze. Some new players may find the Trophy system confusing. However, PS3 Trophies are a lot simpler to unlock and manage than they sound. If you want to learn the ins and outs of unlocking PS3 Trophies, please continue reading.

If you’re interested in unlocking Trophies, the first thing that you should do is check to see if the PS3 game that you’re playing has Trophies. Most PS3 games now have Trophies but some don’t and many of the older games don’t either so it’s very important to check. However, all of the major titles on the PS3 now have trophies so if you’re playing a major title, chances are that you’re good to go.

It’s important to create a strategy for unlocking PS3 Trophies if want to unlock lots of them in a very short period of time. One of the best strategies that you can use is to unlock as many of the simple Trophies as possible before going for the harder ones. The reason why this is a good strategy is because you will be able to unlock quite a few simple Trophies in the same amount of time that it would take you to unlock one difficult Trophy.

Some may ask “why should I try to unlock a short amount of Trophies in a short period of time?” and “what’s the point?” Well, the point of Trophies is to have social competition with the people on your PS3 friends list. In fact, Trophies are a great way to compete with multiple people on your friends list without having to be in an online session with them.

20 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Employees Productivity

When a company’s revenue drops, employee productivity is an area that gets most of the blame. Some part of this blame is justified, if employee productivity levels are low. However, blaming won’t help raise productivity levels; the opposite may occur. Take a cue from our 20 tips to increase employee productivity and see the difference.

Set Good Employee Mentoring Practices In Place

1. Establish Employee Accountability

Clearly defined accountability lines help employees to work comfortably and establish relationships with others, with no blame games.

2. Ensure Consistent Performance

Employers must follow up on milestone achievements and do regular follow up with feedback. Only this will ensure that the employee puts in consistent effort throughout the project.

3. Avoid Micromanagement

Trust employees to do their jobs and give them freedom to work in their individual styles. Let them know they’re trusted, while encouraging and motivating them.

Implement Employee Reward Practices

4. Encourage

A word of encouragement here and there works miracles with employees. They’ll work faster to hear more encouraging and motivating words from you.

5. Recognize

Use employee productivity monitoring tools and other processes to note who’s the most productive. Recognize these people individually in private and also in public, in front of their peers and superiors.

6. Reward

Make sure that you award productive and successful employees with money, stock options and promotions. Such awards are the best form of encouragement for employees.

7. Reach Out

Seek out employees, both the top performers and the average ones for a chat. Come across as approachable people, rather than distant managing figures. Doing this will make employees warm up to you.

Good human resource practices

8. Provide Options For Additional Training

Make it possible for employees to opt for training courses that enhance their skill sets and core competencies. Offer them interest free loans, and help with the tuition fee if possible. You will earn employee gratitude and enhanced productivity, besides.

9. Conduct Team Building Exercises

Take your employees to an offsite location at least twice a year. Organize team building games so that employees learn how to depend on each other and share resources. This will help make them better team players.

10. Provide Written Processes For Everything

Create a detailed step-by-step process for everything, from how to redress issues with salary payments, to sexual abuse, to employee complaint redressal. Put up these processes on your Intranet for easy access.

Use The Right Employee Productivity Software

11. Content Blocking Tools

Use tools such as System Gate or Ez Internet Timer to prevent employees from accessing certain websites and IM programs. Doing this will ensure that employees spend their time doing what you’re paying them to do.

12. Time-Tracking Tools

With the right timer software, you can achieve maximum productivity and ensure that people complete their work within an allotted time period. These tools allow both you and the employee to track and analyze time wastage.

13. Tools To Monitor Internet Access

Use software tools provide you a report of the sites your employees visit, how much time they spend on each site and so on. When employees know you’re using such tools, they’ll automatically restrict their online activities, thus enhancing productivity.

Enable Employee-Friendly Processes

14. Keep Communication Channels Open

Make it possible for any employee, big or small, to walk into a senior manager’s room for complaint redressal. Listen to employee suggestions and reward them for good ones.

15. Pay Well

Do an annual survey of salaries for all levels in your industry and pay your employees accordingly. This will keep them from looking out for other jobs and keep them productive.

16. Enable Regular Reviews And Feedback

Conduct two performance appraisals each other, along with a mini-appraisal every quarter. This will help employees understand and increase their performance metrics. Deliver the feedback respectfully but firmly.

17. Train Managers To Be Humane

A good manager can help achieve greater productivity levels just by being respectful, understanding, firm yet kind, and easy going. Train your managers on how to deal with troublesome employees, how and when to encourage, reprimand and motivate. Build managerial assets and you’ll see the difference it makes to employee productivity.

 

18. Set Realistic Targets

Know how much is achievable within the available time, given the employee’s skills and abilities. Setting targets that are either way above or below employee abilities will result in burnout, or boredom.

19. Emphasize Team Work

Initiate team building exercises to encourage team bonding, inter-team dependency and team work. Employees, who feel that they are valued, wanted and much appreciated members in a team always perform better. Team work also encourages a healthy competition, which raises productivity levels.

20. Rotate Tasks

For example, ask your coder to do some technical writing, or ask your graphics designer to create mockups. This increases an employee’s core competence, reduces boredom and monotony.

This article has been written by Dean from Invesp  – a landing page and conversion rate optimization company helping businesses in optimizing their online campaigns.

Will the Games be worth it for London?

We’re fast approaching the end of the countdown to the launch of the 2012 Olympics in London, and the national debate continues, will the Olympics bring the Big Smoke tears or an explosion of wealth and fortune or will we meet the same fate as many past Olympic celebrations such as Los Angeles, Greece and Sydney, still paying off debts for the games over twenty years later?

Since the budget was set for Olympic village, it has doubled, soared, rocketed and doubled  again and again since the original budget of £2.7 billion was set, and has now risen to £24bn and is expected to continue to rise as fears over security, access for the disabled and other unexpected problems have to be accounted for. Whilst venue itself is funded by private sponsorship, some of which comes directly from the Olympic fund, through ticket sales and the sale of merchandise, as well as banks such as Lloyds TSB or international corporations such as McDonalds, Coca Cola and Adidas whilst groups such as the National Lottery have made a contribution of more than £2.2bn. However the extra infrastructure needed to make the games easily accessible and the security and policing costs of the event are estimated to cost the UK taxpayer an extra £20 household tax per year.

It is then important to consider the effect of the games on local housing costs. This year London tenants are being scammed across the city by greedy landlords hoping for a quick cash fix from the 17 day sports event. Many contracts for tenants have given them specific moving out dates for this time period to make way for tourists who are willing to pay up to eighteen times as much the usual cost for a regular tenant in order to see the games. This has led to many London tenants fearing homelessness during the Games or being forced to move out of the City whilst tourists run the city. Could it be that the Olympics are forcing Londoners out of their homes, rather than making it a more exciting and desirable place to live?

It is not all doom and gloom however, according to the European Tour Operators Association, the Games are expected to bring an estimated 350,000 foreign visitors per day, each spending thousands of pounds not just on the tickets, but also on accommodation, eating out and transported. Yet in previous years Olympic cities have been sorely disappointed by tourism generated income. In 2000, Sydney was hoping for 132,000 foreign visitors and only received 97,000 for the entire Olympic period, and Athens was equally disappointed four years later when only 14,000 visitors came during the Games of an estimated 105,000 per night. Yet despite these lows, Sydney did see a gentle boost in the four years following the Olympics, reporting an extra £2 bn increase in tourism generated revenue.

In essence, it is important to remember that although the Olympics may create a bigger cost than revenue, it is about bringing the world together through the celebration of good sportsmanship and uniting different cultures, after all, who throws a party to make a profit?

XBOX 360 Achievements

There is no doubt that many people have purchased a new Xbox 360 for themselves, their family or their kids this year along with a few new games. However, if you’re new to the Xbox 360, you might be a bit confused about those little things that pop up at the bottom of your TV screen and make a “blink” sound. Well, those are called achievements. In fact, once you learn what they mean, achievements are one of the most fun things about the Xbox 360!

To start off, achievements are based on a profile scoring system called Gamerscore. In order to understand how achievements work, you first have to understand how Gamerscore works. How it works is whenever you unlock a new achievement it adds a certain amount of points to your Gamerscore.

The amount of Gamerscore an achievement gives you depends on the difficulty of the specific achievement. For example, achievements that you acquire early on in a game will reward you with around 5 or 10 Gamerscore. On the other hand, achievements that are very difficult or take a long time to unlock will reward you with 25, 50 and even 100 Gamerscore in some cases.

If you want to raise your Gamerscore quickly, it’s important that you are strategic about which Xbox 360 achievements you try to unlock. For example, if you want to quickly raise your Gamerscore quickly, I recommend unlocking as many simple achievements as possible before you try to unlock more difficult achievements which will take much longer.

Some achievements require you to have an Xbox Live account to unlock them. For example, games like Halo Reach and Forza Motorsport 4 both have achievements that need to be unlocked through online multiplayer which require that you have an internet connection and an Xbox live Gold membership.