A Slowly Fading Marque?

With Americans having to adjust their budgets now more than ever to modestly harmonize with their incoming cash flow, cutting costs for entertainment expenses is indeed on most everyone’s agenda. Those who enjoy watching movies have had to lay this form of entertainment on the budget chopping block as well, but thanks to mediums such as Netflix and Video On Demand, movies can still be enjoyed for a reasonable price that can easily fit into modest budget. The average cost of going to the cinema is roughly around $25 per person, which includes tickets, snacks, drinks, and other refreshments sold at the concession stands. According to the results of an online survey conducted by “Harris Poll®” in December 2013, 57% of Americans favored watching movies at home as opposed to the 21% of Americans who preferred to go to the cinema. With approximately a little over one-half of American moviegoers faithfully visiting the cinemas, will this amount be enough to keep the cinemas alive within the next few years?

The participants who were surveyed in the aforementioned poll were also asked to give their opinions about the pros and cons of going to the cinema to watch movies verses watching movies using another medium. Being able to experience a movie in 3-D and in digitally mastered sound quality seemed to win the majority of votes on the pros’ list despite the fact that “rude moviegoers” was the number one reason on the cons’ list for why the participants would prefer to watch movies from home. The high cost of refreshments sold at the concession stand was another major turn-off for 62% of those surveyed, and an overwhelming 69% felt theaters take advantage of showing 3-D movies as an excuse to charge outrageously higher prices to view them.

With tablets and smartphones gaining more and more popularity for their video-playing capabilities, a majority of the moviegoers who are constantly on-the-go have converted their medium of viewing pleasure from going to the cinema into indulging in Netflix for downloading movies to their portable device. If the cinemas can come up with an idea that tops this convenience along with figuring out a way to offer lower prices for tickets and refreshments, then the cinema might have a fighting chance to stay alive.

©2014 Learus Ohnine

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The Plastic Plague

Outrageous. Abominable. Stupefying. Unbelievable…

These are just a few words that blatantly describes the catastrophe bestowed upon possibly as many as 110 million credit and debit card owners between the months of November and December in 2013. With Target being one of the top-selling leading retailers during the busy holiday shopping season, their announcement of a data breach of confidential information left millions to question whether or not the retail chain was capable of adhering to quality security policies to protect their customers’ information. Hackers reportedly have gained access to approximately 70 million names, phone numbers, and mailing addresses as well as email addresses with little to no further confirmation as to what or not other information was obtained during this invasion of privacy.

But this outlandish activity does not stop there…

Neiman Marcus, another high-end retail store, has recently announced a similar breach of security to its system. On January 1, 2014, evidence of a cyber-security intrusion has result in an investigation that has yet to determine just how many Neiman Marcus customers have been affected. While there is no confirmed statement of this breach being linked to the same Target scandal at this time, the most impertinent suspicious factor of evidence points to both malicious breaches of security being originally discovered approximately at the same time – mid December.

So what does it all mean for consumers? In a nutshell, having the pleasure of enjoying one’s in-store shopping experience without the added nuisance of carrying large amounts of cash around is not only a convenience – it is a luxury. Being able to make purchases from the comfort of your own home via the internet is a convenient luxury in its own right, yet lately the risks involved seem to inadvertently outweigh its advantages.

The main question is this: is there simple solution to protect consumers from the vile acts of privacy invasion? At the moment, the only feasible and seemingly safest way consumers can do their shopping is by carrying lump sums of cash on them at all times. For the banks, this solution spells financial troubles. For the retailers, this should not have any substantial affect on their sales revenue although their accounts receivable department may have less or more work cut out for them. In the end, all that really matters is regaining that trust bond between consumer and retailer once again, and with the rate things have been going lately, there is no current equitable solution to this being offered by retailers… except to advise all shoppers to shop at their own risk.

©2014 Learus Ohnine

Overwhelming Amount of Information

From smoke signals to fiber optics, the evolutionary way we exchange information has expanded at such a rapid pace that we seldom realize the overwhelming amount of information we literally receive today compared to many years ago. With a majority of society having access to the internet along with the use of satellite technology, we encounter breaking news stories and pertinent information within seconds of the initial start of an event. In the 1800’s, the average time it took for a news event to circulate around the world would approximate within the range days, weeks, or even months depending on its mode of transmission. When comparing the modes of information transmission used today with those of yesteryear’s, the uncanny similarities in the art of creating systematic modes of communication for our convenience are more apparent than what we give them credit for.

For example, the concept of using smoke signals was to create a visual for the use of transmitting news and to signal danger. Although the smoke signal itself could only be seen within a particular range of view, it was much more effective in getting a message across quickly within a matter of minutes. Today’s concept of the smoke signal’s mode of transmitting live information would be equivalent to that of the satellite, with the exception being the amount of time it would take to transmit a satellite signal being narrowed down to seconds as opposed to minutes. Satellite technology offers us the guarantee to receive a vast amount of information more frequently, and to reach a wider range of audiences for a much more quicker response.

Another comparative form for transmitting information would be
the personal messenger system used during the Abraham Lincoln era and today’s electronic email system. The personal messenger system required information to be carried manually by a human carrier from one location to another, sometimes traveling by foot or with the help of an animal. This posed a problem for messages needing to be delivered immediately, for in Abraham Lincoln’s days, “immediately” could be assumed to be within the next few hours. Today’s electronic email system has a varied definition for “immediately”, which entails the time frame to be within a matter of seconds. An entire conversation that would take days to conclude during the Abraham Lincoln era can now be concluded within minutes, and also be held simultaneously with numerous parties involved.

The incredible transformation with how we receive information in today’s society when compared to many years ago does not only provide us with the ability to communicate quickly, but also adds to it the possibility of what new information transmitting concepts that can be created from it for usage in the next generation to come.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

Literacy In America

The advanced potential of technology, along with its mainstream function of being able to access information at any given time, has now overturned the way readers have access to books. Having the potential to access publications from the comfort of your own home at any given time of the day or night may be the main contributing factor as to why consumers have elected to invest in the purchasing of an e-book reader as opposed to spending money on transportation costs to their local bookstore. More recently, local and large chain bookstores have reported an enormous drop in sales since technology has introduced a more convenient way to read by way of the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Amazon Kindle, the Pandigial Reader, and the Sony Reader. While e-book sales have increased over the years in the United States, the U.S. adult literacy rates have decreased.

Literacy has a major impact on the functional ability of a country. However, statistics reveal a sad truth concerning the readers residing in the United States: approximately 32 million Americans cannot read. According to a study performed by The Organization for Economic Adult Literacy, the United States ranked 16 out of 23 countries. 1 out of 3 American adults cannot read properly, meaning either they do not fully understand the material they have read or they cannot analyze the information they have read correctly. Oddly, 33% of American adults, or 1 out of 4 Americans, own an e-reader of some sort. As the number of e-books sold has increased by 43% over the past 5 years, over 10 million e-books have been sold thus far yet this does not indicate there is hope for an increase in American literacy rates.

One possible explanation as to the awkward imbalance in statistics when comparing the number of e-reader and e-book sales to literacy rates is the decline of available bookstores where physical books may be purchased. When assessing the literacy rates, approximately 1 in 3 adults scored low in problem solving abilities within a technical environment. Not every reader is computer literate. In bookstores, customers can readily ask for assistance if needed when searching for a specific topic or publication. With e-readers, the reader is pretty much on their own. Since the sales of e-books has risen over the past 10 years, bookstores have been forced to shut down due to their low sales volume. Their low sales volume is contributed to the rising number of readers who prefer to purchase e-books rather than the traditionally printed book, and not all adult educational development resources are available in electronic form.

With bookstores becoming extinct and electronic book sales increasing, there may still be hope for raising the literacy stats for American adults as long as the number of library locations does not decline in the process…

©2013 Learus Ohnine

The Real World vs The Taught World

Throughout our educational years, we have been taught by our instructors that we can become whomever we want to be, we can achieve any dream we wish to achieve, and we can have anything we want to have. Our educators encourage us to dream big, to never give up, and to strive for success by reaching the top of the ladder in society with hard work and dedication. We are pre-programmed to think the recipe to make our dreams a reality is a dose of perseverance, an ounce of faith, and a smidgen of determination is all that’s needed to make them come true…along with a good, quality education of course. But the one thing that is not taught is the fact that our perception of how things SHOULD be and the reality of how things WILL be are two separate entities, that if ignored, is the recipe for disappointment.

The depressing reality is: half of today’s college graduates are working in jobs that are not in their chosen field or may be overqualified for, are making less money than what they’re worth, and are sacrificing a majority of their hard-earned income into repaying student loans for an occupation they were told would put a substantial amount of money in their pockets in order to cover their post-education expenses. In a 2012 McKinsey & Company survey, along with the collaboration of Chegg, Inc., 4,900 college graduates expressed their regrets of what they envisioned reality to be like after four years of higher learning. 48% of U.S. college graduates were employed in jobs that did not require a four-year degree while 32% of graduates were actually working in their field of expertise. Out of the 72% of college graduates who were required to complete an internship in their chose field of study, only 42% reported their internships have landed them a job. This means either 30% of these college graduates were either out of work or underemployed.

As the competition stiffens within the workforce, so does the number of available jobs for college graduates decrease. Of course, this all depends on one’s major, with the visual and performing arts being the most difficult to break into while science, engineering, and technology provide the most satisfactory results for job seekers. But with today’s economy, even choosing the “right” major still does not guarantee a stable job. Higher education institutions overlook this fact when promoting idealizations of reality in exchange for a signed promissory note. What appears to be achievable through hard work, dedication, and persistence is not always what will be attainable in the end.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

Information Age Revolution

Anyone who utilizes the internet will have their own individualistic purposes for doing so. Some use it mainly for gaming, some for social networking, and some use the internet to conduct their personal or professional business. A majority of internet users take full advantage of its many available “How-To” resources for researching anything from mechanics to technology itself, or in other words, anything that will enlarge, enhance, or expand their knowledge of a particular subject.

With the way the “Information Age” has transformed the way we learn, evidence shows our learning is not only exclusive to tradition classroom learning. For example, two exceptionally intellectual teenaged individuals have made great strides in their contributions to science by creatively putting in motion the knowledge they have acquired from their usage of the internet. Jack Andraka, a high school student better known as the “teen prodigy of pancreatic cancer”, won the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Gordon E. Moore Award for his invention used to detect the early warning signs of pancreatic cancer. Ann Makosinski, a 15-year old student known for her invention she calls a “hollow thermoelectric flashlight” that transforms body heat into energy. Coupled with traditional classroom learning, both teens utilized the resources available on the internet to do both researching and marketing of their ingenious inventions.

As time moves on and technology advances, the expansion of knowledge being shared on the internet will be infinite. The internet has proven to change the way we think, the way we live, and the way society will revolutionize on its own.

©2013 Learus Ohnine