Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Exposing fake and real degrees

Three years ago the US Secret Service in concert with Homeland Security busted a forgery ring. DVDs, Rolexes, designer handbags? No. University Degrees. It was called a diploma mill.

A fake university based out of Liberia (yes it's a real country) that provided you with a degree in a subject of your choosing for a small fee. Many people feel rightly outraged at how people have cheated the system. One law school student has had her education and job offer disappear when her fake undergrad degree was exposed. Another consultant's (with a fake PhD) website listed the RCMP and many major police forces as repeat clients.

Yes, what these people have done is dishonest. It is unfair to those who put in all the time to earn those credentials.

Let's talk about those people that took their fake degrees and got jobs. They were hired for their qualifications. People are hired for their skills, experience and knowledge. A degree represents skills & knowledge. If people were hired and successful at their jobs, what does this say about the degree itself? If one scams to get in the door, but doesn't get exposed by their lack of knowledge, is the degree meaningless?

The degree can be used to filter applicants. But does the degree give graduates a performance advantage? If a degree doesn't translate to noticeable real-world performance then employers should evaluate it's weighting in hiring decisions. Perhaps a degree is less about the material but an extended test of intelligence and perseverance. Is a degree just creating an aristocracy into the working world, where as our capitalist market should work on a meritocracy.


Related Links:
Phony Diploma Investigation (The Star)
College vs University

Monday, December 15, 2008

TSN 2 Disaster!

I'm a die-hard Toronto Raptors fan living in the GTA. I have the misfortune of being a Rogers subscriber. Due to what appears to be a fight over money Raptor games are not being broadcasted for a large percentage of the GTA. Despite the Raptors attempts at making themselves a national team it is still a very urban team. TSN is trying to force new subscribers to TSN2 by pushing content they agreed to put on TSN.

David Purdy of Rogers
:
We're big fans. We're working on an agreement that makes sense for our shareholders and customers, and we're confident we will see the Raptors' games on Rogers.
read: we think it costs too much and it takes away from our Sportsnet channels.

I am strongly considering the hassle of changing providers. Either way i'm going to get nickel & dimed by whatever provider but if Rogers wants to play like this, then they pay the price. Despite all the raptor games on TSN2 I may not subscribe to it this season. I'll go to a bar, listen on the radio. This sort of behaviour shouldn't be rewarded.

Another blow for the death of customer-service centred organization. I wonder what percentage of the GTA are (or were) Rogers customers? We could create a groundswell against TSN 2.

Next stop: Twitter.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Are you fueling the recession?

If you pick up a paper or watch the news you might think it's economic armageddon. Each day talk of losses in the market, bailouts and handouts all over. The word recession is thrown around like candy.

60-70% of GDP is consumer spending. There are some hurting sectors with people out of work. However, there are many, Many people with stable jobs who are hoarding cash waiting for the pending apocalypse. This is only going to fuel the recession

Let's keep it in perspective. The Bank Rate is now at 50 year lows meaning anyone on a variable rate mortgage has a lot of extra money in their account, or is paying down extra principle. Gas prices have also had a massive decline, filling up that big SUV isn't so painful anymore. Yes everyone's investments are down but with great fear brings great opportunity.

The market and to an extension the economy is built on consumer sentiment. Confidence in the market and the confidence to spend money is crucial. So give it some thought, if your in a fairly secure sector, if you feel safe in your job then Do Your Part. Spend some money!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Economic Crisis / Coup d'etat / or Learning Opportunity??

I'm proposing something different to deal with the major issues at hand. We should all turn to our children and find out if we're smarter than a 5th grader. Not the show, but the headlines highlight a huge learning opportunity. It might be good for us to revisit what we've learned and forgotten, and to address deficiencies in our education system.

The economic crisis is the major story as the effects of predatory lending and sub-prime mortgages are being felt throughout the economy. So what's the lesson? As computer science grad I understand the necessity for sciences. It's critical to our individual and collective success. However, I think financial literacy is an even bigger prerequisite and hole in our public education. How many people leave highschool without knowing how to balance their own chequebooks (who uses chequebooks anyhow?) or make up a budget. There's a misconception that if the bank will give us the money then it's okay. Then people end up house-poor and living paycheque to paycheque.

Second, Canadians are now in a political maelstrom regarding the state of the federal government. People are outraged at this apparent coup that the liberals/NDP & Bloc. The Tories are milking the connection with the bloc. Yes they're separatists but they still represent a part of Canadian voters. The idea that the Canadian voters elected Stephen Harper to lead the country is just plain Wrong. The Gov General selects the PM based on the makeup of the house post-election. We don't directly elect our president similar to the US. The coalition represents a larger amount of voters, is that less democratic or more?

There are problems, and I think it's a training problem.

Related Links:
http://www.parl.gc.ca/Information/library/inside/institutions-e.htm
http://smartpei.typepad.com/robert_patersons_weblog/2008/12/canada-coalition-government-speak-for-canada.html
http://www.jarche.com/2008/12/an-educated-and-informed-citizenry/