Friday, January 27, 2012

My Favorite Fairy Tale

The Emperor's New Clothes
This is my favorite fairy tale because it celebrates a childlike innocence, an air not caring what others think. The King, and in turn all of his subjects, believe (or pretend to believe) in the "robes." The King is worried that if he admits he cannot see anything, he will be thought of as unworthy of his crown, while his subjects, all hoping to please him and prove their greatness, claim to see it too. Only a child, who is young enough to not realize the implications of such events, proclaims the obvious: the king is naked. There is a lesson here about group thinking, which, while it may seem impossible, is really not that unheard of (see: Hitler, Kim Jong-il, etc.). When everyone agrees, it can be very dangerous to disagree. But, like any good fairy tale, the astute child is not punished, but lives happily ever after.
Another aspect I like about this story is that the Lake Woebegone effect is present, in a way. By believing that every other person could see the cloak, each individual was falling into the trap that this effect can have. For everyone to be able to see the clothes would be for everyone to be fit for their position (i.e. above average). If the King examined this claim, he would be very happy, because if everyone could actually see these robes, that would mean every single one of his subjects was fit for his position.

Note: Blog posts are due every Sunday night around 9, so check back in each week for something new. Maybe I will put up a schedule sometime. Depends how lazy I am.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Lesson in Basic Economics

Well, I will begin this blog by explaining my motivation for blogging:

Someday, I would like to retire comfortably, while being able to support my children. In order to have enough money to do that, I will need to either a) win the lottery, b) become a lot better at soccer, c) marry rich, or d) get a paying job. Henceforth I will assume that options a) through c) are unattainable, and therefore d) is my best option.

In terms of getting this job, I need to first get hired. While getting hired is a fairly simple process, involving things like applying for jobs, interviewing, speaking English, and not dressing like a homeless man, getting hired for a job that will pay me enough so that I can retire in ease is much more tricky. The majority of these jobs are considered "skilled" jobs, as in "Did you have the skill to sit through four years of classes that didn't interest you very much, without going insane?" That's right, the single most important investment one can make in oneself is to attend college and earn a degree.
(Granted, different degrees often yield very different incomes, as shown here, but overall a college degree boosts one's net worth enormously.)

Based on this premise (and pressure from parents, family, and peers, not to mention an absolute lack of alternate options), I enrolled in college. McDaniel College actually.

Now, one would think, all I have to do is to pass. Do the minimum for four (4) years, and get my diploma. However, more and more people are attending college, rendering degrees less and less useful. One needs ways to distinguish oneself from the pack. I could attend graduate school. I could study a very specific (read boring) subject, like accounting, or organic chemistry. The way I have chosen: the McDaniel College Honors Program.

The Honors Program requires that my GPA stay above a certain level. (3.5, glad you asked.) It requires that I take extra courses, filled with similarly gifted students, which are non-major related. For example, this semester I am taking an Honor's class called:

"Once Upon a Time: Folk and Fairy Tales Around the World."

My professor, Dr. Esa, requires that we all blog. This blog will count for 15% of our final grade. Therefore, I blog, because blogging will help my grade in this one class. Which in turn will help me keep a high GPA, which is one step towards graduating with Honors, and which will give me an edge in any future applications (i.e. getting a job!).

That's right, as long and wordy as this post is, my final point is as follows (see the wordiness?): I participate in the Honors Program now, so that I might make more money in the future. And therein lies the economics. In my mind, giving up some hours of potential fun (leisure) while in college is worth it, given the increase of fun (leisure) and stuff (consumption) that I expect to receive later. Work harder now, get more later. Others might contend that the benefits one gets with an Honors tag is not worth the extra work. And those people did not enroll in Honors.

But why did I choose the Fairy Tale class as my Honor's elective? Why not choose a class that didn't require a blog, and maybe less reading, so that I could save some leisure hours, spend more time playing FIFA and less time on Well, I respond, "How was I to know we would be blogging?" When I registered for the class, it looked very interesting to me: a chance to explore stories that I have been told countless times, and that I will likely tell my children one day. I have a chance to find out the origins, the twists and turns, and Walt Disney's manipulations of a myriad of tales.

Therefore, sign me up: Fairy Tales, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:40 to 4:10. Let's go.