This last week, I had the honor of speaking at the 57th Annual Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar (CASS) in San Antonio, presented by the world-renowned Flight Safety Foundation. I presented a paper entitled “CRM and SMS: Directing the Evolution of Aviation Organizational Culture,” written by my fellow Embry-Riddle PhD student, David Freiwald and me, but unfortunately David was unable to attend and I had to present solo.
The presentation was extremely well-received by about 99 and 44/100ths percent of the audience, but apparently I offended someone. After receiving multiple congratulatory handshakes as I left the auditorium and during the ensuing lunch, I was later cornered by an attendee who apparently was highly offended by an introductory joke I used which made fun of a particular aviation publication. Now I won’t recount the details of the joke other than to say that it was a throwaway line at the very beginning of my presentation, but I did highlight a specific article in the publication that I ridiculed because the article superbly illustrated a lack of understanding of Safety Management Systems and provided an excellent set-up for the context of my discussion. When I was accosted later by the offended party, he proceeded to tell me that he wrote for the publication in question and took my remarks personally. He went on to lambaste me for even using the article I had quoted, accusing me of insensitivity and deliberately insulting the gentleman who authored the article. While many retorts came to my mind (and they were superbly-worded – trust me), I remained polite and courteously told him I appreciated his feedback.
Well apparently that wasn’t enough.Read More
I’ll beg forgiveness for my lack of updates over the last two weeks or so. Between being on the road taking our company execs to places they needed to go and trying to stay caught up on PhD coursework, time has been hard to come by. So what brings me to the keyboard tonight? I’m reading a book entitled The World Is Flatfor my current PhD course. It was written by Thomas L. Friedman, a New York Times Foreign Affairs columnist and, if you read the columns on his website, a man predisposed to a readily discernible political view of the world. Now Mr. Friedman’s book is a great discussion of both the mechanisms and the consequences of globalization and if he had managed to leave it there, it would have been an eminently readable work. But of course, he couldn’t. He couldn’t manage to discuss his subject without several mini-lectures about the effects of globalization in the context with his particular views. Like many in the media, from MSNBC to Fox News, he couldn’t tell the story without adding his spin to it. And that’s unfortunate because it makes all of us, who want to rely on the media for information, suspicious of the source. And we, the average people on the street, get left in the middle, wondering who to believe and often wondering where we can get the facts to formulate an educated opinion.
But what’s more disturbing is a definite trend by those with some media attention to feel obligated to inform us, the common masses, about what we should think or what we should feel, since obviously we’re too ignorant to make up our own minds. Name a celebrity and you can usually name their cause. Some of those causes are noteworthy and to be admired, but many of them, most of them in fact, have political ramifications. You’ll notice when these particular celebrities get the spotlight, they won’t hesitate to inform us about their opinion because they, purely by virtue of their current notoriety, believe they’re smarter than we are.
So here’s my pledge to you, my readers. I am not a celebrity – nowhere near it. But if lightning strikes and notoriety comes my way, you’re never going to hear me speak or preach politics. Admittedly, part of this decision is a result of pure greed – I want to sell books. And if I tick you off with my political views, you might not buy them. But the main reason I won’t burden you with my political opinions is because I learned an important lesson years ago when I was a young lieutenant in a fighter squadron. It’s a lesson that still holds true today:
- Opinions are like anal sphincters (you can insert the appropriate vulgar slang word here) – everybody has one and everyone else’s stinks.
- The corollary here is that no one else really gives a flying (insert appropriate vulgar noun here) what your opinion or my opinion is.
This would be a good lesson for both celebrities and those in the media, on both sides, to learn. Perhaps then they could just do their jobs and leave their opinions out of it.Read More