Making Good Business Ethical Decisions

How do you know you are making a good, moral decision? This question was asked on a forum and I’ll share my answers.  This answer would also apply to business ethics.

Actually, you won’t.  You have only good guidance from Christian theology and the philosophy branch of ethics. So how would you know you would make the right choice in this video (i.e. which I’ve including in our discussion on war):

Let me give you an answer in Interesting  Zeno‘s Paradoses, and underline the important part:

The dichotomy paradox leads to the following mathematical joke. A mathematician, a physicist and an engineer were asked to answer the following question. A group of boys are lined up on one wall of a dance hall, and an equal number of girls are lined up on the opposite wall. Both groups are then instructed to advance toward each other by one-quarter the distance separating them every ten seconds (i.e., if they are distance d apart at time 0, they are d/2 at t=10, d/4 at t=20, d/8 at t=30, and so on.) When do they meet at the center of the dance hall? The mathematician said they would never actually meet because the series is infinite. The physicist said they would meet when time equals infinity. The engineer said that within one minute [u]they would be close enough for all practical purposes[/u].

So while you should study ethics in philosophy and Christian theology, you  would be close enough for all practical purposes – in making ethical decisions in most situations.  And if you fall short, Christianity does offer forgiveness of sins.

Before I bring up the medical case with my mom, look at this short video

Here’s what happened with my mom:

  • To insure I was making the right scientific and bioethics decision, I made sure the  Bio Ethics right laboratory tests were preformed
  • To insure I was making the right theological  decision, I consulted with clergy from the Protestant, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.
  • I then held a meeting with the chief doctor, a nurse, a hospital chaplain and my cousin and her husband (i.e. who lived close by).  I asked questions of the doctor from a scientific and bioethics perspective.  I asked the same questions of the hospital chaplain, which I asked of the Christian clergy.  Then I asked for any advice from family members.

Then I had them remove life support.  Now I might have made the wrong decision.  But I got the best advice for making that decision.

I’m sure in my mom’s case, I made the right decision.  And all the scientific experts (i.e. physicians) and theologians (i.e. Protestant, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) also felt the same way.  Luckily, I did attend Grief Share  meetings (which is a Christian video series), held at local churches.  The best part was discussing the grief and death with others, under the guidance of a trained facilitator.  The second year is much easier for me, as my mom passed on Oct. 4, 2013.

Being a Successful Writer Requires Marketing Knowledge

Here’s some advice I gave on a forum, to an aspiring writer.  But his wife was objecting to the time devoted to the project:

Actually, I don’t think the person shouldn’t write the book – providing he can make peace with his wife on it. But if it leads to a divorce, is it really worth the effort?

Notice how all the TV evangelists have books to give away – for a small donation, of course?

Writing is a form of therapy. It also helps us to clarify our thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc. It matters not whether we are writing a book, a short story, poem, PhD dissertation, etc., as writing itself is helpful. And during the process of writing, join a local writers group (in the US, ask your local adult reference librarian or in-district, community college, to refer one to you). They can give you candid, but honest. feedback. Read books on writing, like On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.

Sure, put it out on Amazon, get an ISBN number, copyright the book, etc. These are all easy steps to do. Then discover for yourself how hard – or easy – the selling process is. I never ask people to take my word on anything or even agree with a philosophical or theological idea I present. I appreciate alternative positions that are well argued and presented. I just prefer taking a more Socratic approach, in “just asking questions” , like Colombo or Socrates. No harm in that, right?

You’re probably under the spell that this book will be a runaway best seller. I’ve spent several years hanging around the College of DuPage, in their creative writing courses. There were many good to excellent writers there. I only think one or two of them ever published anything, and neither piece ever sold much. Even writers who have several published works, usually market themselves by going on speaking and promotional tours. Does she really have a problem if you write a book and nobody buys it?

Let me add this. Writing a book and self-publishing is the easy part (f you call it easy, as “good” writing requires many revisions). Getting people to buy it is the hard part.

Authors need to know a lot about marketing. I run and started a LinkedIn group for writers called Working Writers and a LinkedIn group for copywriters called Copywriters International. Both are sizable LinkedIn groups, with many good writers and marketers there. One of the persons I know is a ghostwriter, who has written fictional works for well-known authors. She was one of the first professional ghost writers out there. It’s one way to get known as a writer – but also very expensive.

I’ve also heard different fictional writers speak, in events sponsored by a consortium of local public libraries. I remember one guy who wrote several mystery books, based upon title names of famous drinks. He was using this as a marketing ploy. He had to travel on his own, promoting and marketing his own books. Often at events like the library talk. And he did say that for the price of a few drinks, he would answer extensively any questions.

Even if you secure an agent and a publishing company secures a contract, you are on your own in marketing and promotion. That is, if and until you become famous and a household name. And what would make you believe more in the rapture? A scholarly book on the topic or one of the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (i.e. which is not really bad writing, by the way)?

The only other way to avoid the marketing -at least, in part – is to be admitted into an élite writing school, like the University of Iowa. Then if the professors like you and think you are good, they use their contacts to promote you. If you can stand their intense scrutiny and tearing apart your works first, along with extensive rebuilding you need to do.

Or you can be like the woman in Basic Instinct: Extremely talented, very beautiful, extremely intelligent, devious as all get-out, schooled in the right university and left with 110 million, to promote and market herself.

The Three Biggest Cyber Attacks Against Corporations in 2014

Cyber attacks are one of the most common and costly threats against businesses. In fact, IBM estimates that companies are attacked an average of 16,856 times a year. Data breaches occur when confidential information is released to an entity via unauthorized entry, explains LifeLock. And with today’s constantly moving data these breaches can happen in a blink of an eye. Let the three biggest cyber attacks against corporations in 2014 be your guide on what to do and what not to do to protect your company from hackers. With more than 1.5 million monitored cyber attacks in the U.S. per year, you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

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eBay

What’s red, blue, yellow and green and doesn’t quite know how to handle data breaches? Earlier this year hackers managed to successfully steal personal records of 233 million eBay users, including their encrypted passwords. The company sent out emails to the affected people, notifying them of the hack and asking them to change their passwords immediately. This sounds good until you realize that they decided to do this after the news had leaked, reports PC World. According to Wired, they also weren’t clear that financial data had been compromised, which has led to a class action suit. Let’s just hope that this corporations learns from its PR mistakes and starts taking the protection of customers’ sensitive data more seriously. The takeaway? Always make sure your company’s first response is to let clients know of a potential threat or break in security.

JP Morgan

In October JP Morgan announced that contact information for about 75 million households and 7 million small businesses had been compromised in a cyber attack. Considered to be one of the biggest bank hacks in history, the attack against JP Morgan should certainly not be taken lightly, particularly when we keep in mind the kind of information stolen. The breach managed to gain the highest level of access to more than 90 computer servers and expose clients’ personal information including names and email addresses. Interestingly enough, the hacker or hackers did not attempt to steal account data, most likely because that information is supposed to be encrypted, states The Atlantic.

Regardless, there’s still a high chance of identity theft for those unfortunate people that had their personal data stolen during this cyber attack. Why? Well, considering that banks have more personal information about us than any other business, it’s easy to see how this could be abused. Not only can the hackers sell our info, but they can also use it for fraudulent activity. And according to The New York Times, the attack went on for three weeks, a difficult thing to believe considering that JP Morgan has more than 260,000 employees. The breach has made many question if this bank is becoming too large for its own good.

Apple, Inc.

Who can forget Apple’s latest cyber attack? In this case, it wasn’t a person’s bank account information that was up for grabs, but something much more scandalous. The problem began when hackers gained access to celebrities’ iCloud accounts. The attack was specifically targeted for “Hunger Games” darling Jennifer Lawrence, model Kate Upton and actress Kirsten Dunst. The hackers proceeded to post compromising photos of all three online. Dollar bills might have not been at risk this time, but reputation and privacy certainly were for these Hollywood beauties. Furthermore, Apple also suffered from this data breach since it came only a few weeks before the highly anticipated iPhone 6 launch.

Problems With Forum Auto-Login Feature

Recently, this topic came up on a forum I belong to. Let’s call this forum MM. Here’s the original question.

“Can anyone tell me why, for the last 2-3 weeks, I must log on each and every time I go to the MM forum? It doesn’t matter whether I check the box ‘Log me on automatically each visit.’”

An obvious answer was this:

Web-browser settings for saving cookies may be the issue. These settings may have been changed by program updates. If you use a web browser like Internet Explorer, you should be able to check and, if necessary, reset these cookie settings so that cookies are saved from visited web sites on which you sign in. If cookies are saved from these sites, you won’t have to sign in each time you visit.”

And another answer was this:

“Another possible reason why you are having to sign in each time you visit this site is you may have an anti-spyware program that deletes cookies. The setting for the program might have been changed recently, from keeping to deleting cookies, without your knowing it through an update, and that’s why you have seen a change. I see from internet forums that losing needed cookies for sign-in has been a problem for some customers using various anti-spyware products. Most of these products have options to turn off cookie detection and removal. Maybe you can find that option and reset it.”

Or it could be a complex problem and solution, like this answer:

“I was having exactly the same problem during that period with my office computer, but not with my house computer. At the time I chalked it up to ATT having recently forced us to convert to Uverse or whatever it’s called, which was messing with our ability to use pages at all (randomly about 1 out of 3 attempts the load would hang and might or might not ever complete, but almost always attempting the pageload again would work.)”

“Turned out after many annoyed calls to ATT tech support there was a rare router malfunctioning happening at a node in town somewhere.”

Somone suggested Ccleaner, to which I’ve added:

“I have to agree with CCleaner. If you actually install the File Hippo updater at File Hippo , it will tell folks when a new version of the free CCleaner is available. If you run a good paid or free anti-virus, then I would install the free version of Malwarebytes and run a weekly quick scan, along with a weekly one from your anti-virus. Malwarebytes doesn’t deal with cookies, but it’s a good check for bad stuff on your machine.”

I ended up with this suggestion:

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth”

.-Arthur Conan Doyle

The problem here is that the obvious (i.e. cookies) has been looked at and I conclude from the conversations – eliminated. I conclude other suggestions (i.e. like static vs dynamic IP) were tested and eliminated. There’s also no clear tech forum discussions – given the keywords I’ve used – showing similar problems, other than the one I shared. It could then be any number of unknown variables.

The most logical approach is for some admin here, who is tech savvy, to work on the problem with a remote tool – with permission. If this approach is taken, I recommend the free for private use tool Team Viewer Team Viewer, installed on the tech admin and user machines. You can also use Skype for voice conversations during the diagnosis.

What was my final forum suggestion? It’s one the original questioner had also implemented:

When I can’t find a solution, I look for an effective substitute. For example, the recipe for Venison stew Venison stew calls for 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. But a search of the Internet said I can substitute Soy Sauce instead. In this software issue, why not just install a free login password manager, with an auto-log-in feature?

Moral Dilemmas, War and Pacifism

I was on a Christian forum, where the questions was: “Are Christians allowed to fight?” Let me inject theological answers from Got Questions (Got Questions) – a Protestant biblical site and philosophically – by introducing the moral dilemma.

Moral Dilemmas

The problem with taking absolute positions is that it would open you up to Ethical dilemmas, like those found at Ethical dilemma; Ethical dilemma 2.

  • The first article says, “Ethical dilemmas, also known as a moral dilemmas, are situations where there is a choice to be made between two options, neither of which resolves the situation in an ethically acceptable fashion.”
  • Wiki in the second article says, “An ethical dilemma is a complex situation that often involves a clear mental conflict between moral imperatives, to obey one would result in transgressing another.”

A perfect example is this. Suppose I had a child and suppose someone is running towards them, to kill them with a knife. I have a gun and can shot the killer dead. Should I do nothing and let the child die? Or should I shoot the killer and save the child? Which would it be? Whose life is more important – the killer’s or the child’s?

We could even make the above example more interesting. Suppose the killer was your wife (or husband, if you are female), who has a psychotic problem. She forgot to take her medication today. She is the one coming at your child with a knife, saying she is going to kill them. And you are too weak from a flu virus, to physically stop her. You only have the gun option. What would you do?

How would pacifists resolve this and other ethical dilemmas?

We could even inject some interesting alternatives to the above ethical dilemma. Like:

Do we still face the same moral or ethical dilemma? Unless you have a solid theological and philosophical solution to ethical dilemmas, then you are threading on shaky ground.

Let me leave you with some interesting moral dilemmas to reflect upon at:

Ethical or moral dilemmas can be even be situations where nothing drastic will happen. There’s a popular Pentecostal Chicago preacher on local access TV. His wife is always shown on TV – in the audience – wearing awful hats. She once had one on that looked exactly like a flower-pot – full of flowers. It was the ugliest hat you ever saw. Imagine you are friends with the TV reverend and his wife. Then the wife asks you, “how do you like my new hat?” You can tell her it’s awful and hurt her feelings. Or you can say it is great and lie. Or you can say something like, “this hat brings out the real you” or “It’s nice that the flowers are the same color as your hair.” How would you answer her?

Sometimes there’s not enough information in the Bible, to make a solid case either way. And we also get into the problem of when to interpret something figuratively or literally. This can be the topic of a debate – in and of itself. And some groups – like the Quakers – rely more on the inner light than biblical verses. As the old saying goes (i.e. re-adapted from Jewish lore), if you get three theologians in a room (i.e. regardless if they are Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant), you might have five different opinions. The martial arts – if taught from old traditions – has a great philosophy behind it. They don’t go out looking for fights. Hence, Pacifism is a good quality to mimic. But the martial artist (i.e. a good one), would be well-trained to respond to any reasonable, philosophical ethical or moral dilemma imposed. Hence, live for peace, but if war or battle is needed – respond. But there’s always the Conscientious objector route available – to those who object.

Let’s look at some Got Questions theological answers:

There’s another site called CARM, who tries to answer this question at Should a Christian go to war?  I like these points from the article, which I shall quote.

  •  “This question has caused a lot of division in the body of Christ. Should a Christian go to war where he might kill other people when the Bible says to ‘turn the other cheek’ (Luke 6:29)?

  • From this we can easily conclude that going to war is not a sin, that is, if it complies with the biblical instructions of self-defense and protection of the innocent.

  • Finally, notice that some soldiers approached John the Baptist and inquired about repentance. John did not tell them to stop being soldiers but to do their jobs properly–honestly.

  • “From all of this, we can see that going to war is not wrong it itself and that a Christian can go to war under the right circumstances.”

Finally, notice that some soldiers approached John the Baptist and inquired about repentance. John did not tell them to stop being soldiers but to do their jobs properly–honestly.

is interesting to me. I’ve used a similar argument in the past against groups that dismiss secular healing. This can be anything from Christian Science to a Christian grief group, that dismisses any secular counseling and help. Or whether depression should only be treated by Christian biblical direction, instead of with, secular counseling and medical medications. My response to them was:

“In all the time Luke hangs around Christ, Paul and the apostles and sees all the miracles going on,not once did he renounce being a physician.”

I believe a person should avail themselves to the best that conventional medicine, alternative or complementary medicine, and spiritual healing and prayer – working hand in hand – have to offer.

It should be noted that I’m not always in accord with what CARM and Got Questions always says biblically, but they do offer some good starting points for discussion.

So I guess the original question is

“Are Christians allowed to fight?”

The answer would be yes. But we should then follow up with a second question:

“Should ALL Christians fight?”

The answer is no and should be left up to the Christian and his Conscience – whether guided by the inner light of Quakerism, their understanding of Biblical directives, church teaching and affiliation or reflections on the Just War criterion. But whatever the choice made:

  • The Christian will have to deal with any secular repercussions from any decision, other than conscientious objection.
  • The moral or ethical dilemma might be something a person could be confronted with.

3 Ways to Use Content Curation to Increase Marketing Penetration

There are pros and cons of both content creation and content curation. Creating your own content gives you ownership, but it can be expensive and time consuming. On the other hand, curation does not give you ownership, but it can help you establish your web and social media profiles as one-stop shops for information about your field. If done right, content curation can be economical and impactful while still being creative and helpful to your market. Here are a few ways to think about using content curation:

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Almost Automate It

The website Alltop was one of the first content curation success stories. Founded by marketing evangelist Guy Kawasaki, the site promises to be the place for all the top stories. The site uses a mix of automatically pulled topics, community submitted articles and staff selected stories to make several robust sites all under the Alltop umbrella.

Although Alltop is a good example of content curation, it may not be the best example of how to set up your marketing strategy because it does not tell a story. If you want to automatically pull content, then you need to weave it into your marketing campaign. Use a tool like Storify to help you. This tool is a drag-and-drop content finder that lets you mix, add and collaborate until you have the perfect story. Once you have your story, you can embed it into whatever media you wish. This type of curation lets you add your own spin to the story without needing to write the post yourself.

Let Wi-Fi Boost Your Analytics

Every social media expert knows that one message a day is not enough. Several posts are needed daily to keep your site relevant and fresh from a Google Analytics point of view. In our global economy, these messages need to be staggered throughout a 24 hour day so that everyone has an opportunity to see them. Systems like HooteSuite are great for scheduling your social media posts, but they lack the personal touch that is inherent with social media.

To make your campaign more organic, use a cloud-based service like Dropbox to store your curated content. Have your team place these stories onto your social media feeds from different locations, preferably throughout the world. Even though these people may be employees, analytic programs do not know this and will classify your information positively.

Mix The Platforms

Pulling from other’s work has its advantages, but sometimes there is nothing better than fresh content to draw in new readers. This is where a smart blend of curated content and new content can have the most impact. Social media marketing and content curation firm Buffer points out that the natural upside of curation is that you have more time to write great articles based on other’s work. To create a good mix, post curated articles, and then add your own in-depth and unique perspective.

One way to mix the two types of content is to use Pinterest. Use the image as inspiration to create unique content, and then link both the Pinterest image and your content to your social media feeds. Doing this will drive viewership to your social media platforms.

Alternative Viewpoints

This week found me dialoging on a Christian theology forum.

I did a bit of reflection on alternative viewpoints.  There is a movie called God is Not Dead. The movie presents a philosophy professor, who insists folks take his viewpoint in class. Yet my experience in philosophy classes, is they are open to multiple viewpoints. And sometimes it’s good to argue a viewpoint that’s not your own. I remember taking a business ethics class at the College of DuPage. The professor has some projects for us to work on, with a partner. My partner and I found the one on the porn industry fascinating. Then I went on to defend the position of a porn producer and my partner took the place of a TV interviewer. The professor said he can envision me as a porn producer – something that would go against every ethical grain in my fiber.

And sometimes we might discover an unusual and interesting new viewpoint. The best response I’ve seen started on evil and the Christian response to it, came from the Journal of Christian Theology and Philosophy. It’s called Eternal Selves and The Problem of Evil at Problem of Evil . Or someone argues for reincarnation. Let me propose an alternative explanation. How do we know that a person having reincarnation memories of past lives is not tapping into genetic memory (see genetic memory )? We could have access to everyone’s experience who ever lived. It would be akin to the collective unconscious of Carl Jung.

Then I reflected on two other things:

  • I was asking an Indian friend about something the Muslims believe, as he was married to a Muslim wife. But he was a scientific type and an agnostic. He told me that western university scholars had the best understanding, what the Muslims believe and practice.
  • Then I read a story about a holy person or saint in India. Some of this students asked what a certain popular figure’s place on something was. He told them to pick up the telephone – call them – and ask them.

So I do like both these pieces of advice. Go and see what the western academic scholars say – who don’t belong to that group. Or pick up the telephone and ask them.

I also thought about a story from a popular health and prosperity gospel minister – Larry Ollison. He had a dream in which God taught him all the secrets of the universe. He remembered that everything was very simple. Yet he couldn’t remember the details.

Then I remember emailing a Baptist minister, who had a PhD in theology from a Catholic university. He taught church history at the College of DuPage. I asked him if there was a rational way to tell which Christian group is right. He got mad at me and discussed the topic the next day in class. But he didn’t mention me by name. He said there is no rational way and it end up being a matter of belief.

I’m not so hard pressed on positions and it’s good to see alternatives – at least, be aware of them. I can appreciate reading a great work of literature like Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Yet I am opposed to her atheistic and self-centered philosophy.

In the article (i.e. from Dr. Mark E. Ross – associate dean and associate professor of systematic theology at the Columbia campus of Erskine Theological Seminary in South Carolina) at Unity it says, “How, then, can we be one in Christ and show the communion of saints? It would seem that either we must ignore our doctrinal differences and treat them as inconsequential, or we must remain permanently divided and in opposition to one another until Christ returns. Is there not a more excellent way? (1 Cor. 12:31).”

Perhaps when things finally end in time – we might find things as simple as the dream of Larry Ollison.

 

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