How Cellphones Can Destroy Communication

I have a love-hate relationship with my cellphone. For one it seems to love annoying the hell out of me, certain problem people or work issues seem to now find it easier to hunt me down when I try hide and I find myself acting like a crack addict needing their hit when I regularly sneak peeks at my BlackBerry for the next message. True, as much as I hate it at times my little bastard CrackBerry like most other cellphones has gone from useful to critical in helping people communicate efficiently and effectively in this day and age. Yet the caveat here is that people need to realise that there is actually a trade off of good and bad with all technologies when we embrace them. The cellphone itself is a prime example of this and it can counter-intuitively also contribute to the deterioration of communication between people if not used in a balanced manner. Consider how the ability to share electronic documents via cellphones is increasingly critical requirement in the modern world and productivity in the workplace, especially when it comes to the ability to receive one’s email via a BlackBerry. Yet when it comes to getting some sleep you can be doomed to be kept up most of the night and forced to join the zombified sleepless masses shuffling to work the next day if your socially inept (or insomniac) boss believes it means you’re always on call, including at 11pm at night.  Never mind poor productivity the next day in the office. Cellphones’ ability to send messages or make updates to electronic facilities is also immensely useful, yet many wonder why SMS communications carry none of the effectiveness of actual contact or even the ability to encourage the romance that Baby Boomers reminisce about . The fact that such messages can be composed quickly and are often poorly done is commonly believed to be the reason but there is another. First it’s necessary to highlight how Albert Mehrabian observed as far back as several decades ago...

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The Economics of Traffic Fines

If you want to understand the average local politician’s view of voters first assume that all individuals are mindless fools. One’s that cannot react to a changing environment and sometimes must be guided or even exploited by the State’s hand. It’s this underlying belief that appears to drive the local State’s quest for revenues, in particular through the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department’s (JMPD) traffic fine collection process, but which like many things may also hold within it its own seeds of failure. Almost all Johannesburg drivers are suspicious on some level of the JMPD’s motives in this regard but the question persists as to whether it is indeed economically feasible for traffic enforcement to be used as a revenue collection scheme? And if it can be how heavily can this approach be exploited? Let’s first begin with an average individual and consider how they would behave when issued with traffic fines or even arrested. They’re likely to try to become more compliant with laws in an effort to avoid receiving additional fines, lest they spend stressful hours with their accountant working on their finances or worrisome nights sharing a prison cell with ‘Bubba’. When one person changes their behaviour this way they contribute ever so slightly to reducing the likelihood of road accidents and when a lot of individuals chose to follow this same new behaviour its beneficial effect becomes clear on a larger scale. It has to be noted at this point that this outcome would be the primary intention of traffic law enforcement for normal institutions concerned about public welfare. As the available capacity of all such resources are exploited and even exhausted the result is likely to be suddenly exponentially escalating costs set against diminishing revenues. Meantime the revenues collected from those traffic fines, ignoring the trauma for some from spending unwanted time with Bubba or worse yet – their accountant – would increase from zero until a peak before declining to a more stable level.  This can be observed in...

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JMPD milks Gauteng motorists for fines

Justice. Law. Order. These three words may be considered integral to the legal system in South Africa, yet when it comes to the Johannesburg Metro Police Department’s (JMPD) traffic enforcement there is a growing belief that only one of these three is applied to motorists in Johannesburg:  Law. How any beneficial outcomes of the JMPD’s perceived selective law enforcement contribute to the wider public wellbeing is poorly defined, so such failure inevitably fuels public dissent. This in turn popularises a belief that the local State’s quest for money may be involved in the problem, ultimately undermining the true function of the JMPD in the long run. The JMPD may protest that it’s merely trying to do its job and is genuinely concerned about motorists’ safety but its traffic enforcement policy is increasingly hated and viewed by motorists as a form of indirect taxation intended to plug funding holes in public sector finances, with the safety and wellbeing of motorists pushed aside for this primary goal. These doubts can be easily ignored by the JMPD as it goes about its business, as they likely will at this juncture. Yet these public doubts need to be viewed against the reported R145million shortfall in last year’s budgeted Johannesburg traffic fine collections and expensive provisions of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offenders  (AARTO) Act that are expected to come into force in April 2011. True, the enforcement of some of these laws is actually welcomed by the public, but the timing, against the backdrop of a poor economy, poor tax collections and little support from the central Government, is suspicious. The JMPD’s position is not helped either by unsubstantiated verbal rumours that even ambulances rushing to and from accident scenes involving critically injured patients are fined by traffic cameras, which if true in the case of public hospitals is an absurd example of one state institution preying on another.  This is followed by the JMPD’s own apparent eagerness to selectively enforce aspects of the AARTO Act early....

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