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Occupy Wall Street protesters lack realistic expectations

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The Occupy Wall Street movement

Some (like the Occupy Wall Street protesters) will disagree, but there have actually been good, if not necessary improvements born of the housing crisis. Many will not recall this fiasco, but there was a time when tenants were getting the boot while paying rent to landlords who were pocketing the cash, and yet skipping out on mortgage payments. Tenants have real rights now. If a foreclosure happens, they can stay through the end of the lease, and sometimes longer.

There are also at least 12 different government sponsored programs to help prevent foreclosure. TWELVE. These are in addition to the now traditional foreclosure avoidance methods that we have been using such as short sales, deed-in-lieus, loan modifications, interest rate reductions, mortgage cram downs, banks and servicers own in-house loan programs, and even short-refis are being used. When one of the programs recently expired with much of the funds being unused, we called it another failed initiative, like HAMP.

Last week, there was a photo shoot by John Moore in the Washington Post, on a family getting kicked to the curb via an eviction. They had an income loss, didn’t pay the mortgage for 11 months, and the wife didn’t tell her husband until the Deputy Sheriff came knocking with the final eviction notice. Yes, she was ashamed, embarrassed, whatever. There were at least 12 things she could have attempted to help her and her family, other than nothing. See above.

Enter the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is like the epitome of the I Want (Deserve) It Now Society we’ve become accustomed to – without actually doing or working for anything, and it’s such bull. These groups are out there protesting for everything, and I do mean everything… the war, foreclosures, money for ecological items, gender equality, taxing the rich, jobs, spreading the wealth, free healthcare, corruption everywhere, free college education, politicians, getting rid of credit agencies, corporate greed, eliminating *all* loans, big banks, bail outs, unemployment, raising the minimum wage to $20.00/hour regardless of employment, and God knows what else.

They want resolutions, and they want them now. Sorry, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

What got us here and what is next?

All of the crises which got us here- and the sleezoids who participated in them- didn’t screw everything up overnight, nor will they get their comeuppance all at once. The current programs and policies are designed to help distressed homeowners and there are more in the works for the future, as well as the money to finance them. It’s not as though the powers that be have a magic lamp with a genie inside granting unlimited wishes to conjure all of these programs up, it kind of takes time. A homeowner also has to toss out a little effort; they can’t just bury their head in the sand and hope for a miracle to arrive like a stork with a bundle of joy.

Protesting with no clear agenda at hand is one of the most confounding things I’ve ever heard of; doing absolutely nothing to help one’s self is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard of. There is a saying that I believe applies to these two scenarios: You can’t fix stupid.

Katie Cosner, occasionally known as Kathleen, or KT, is a Realtor® with Cutler Real Estate and is active in her local Board of Realtors® on the Equal Opportunity & Professional Development Committee. She has been floating around online for a number of years, and is on facebook as well as twitter. While Katie has a few hardcore beliefs, three in the Real Estate World to live and die by are; education, ethics, and the law - insert random quote from “A Few Good Men” here. Katie is also an avid Cleveland Indians fan, which really explains quite a bit of her… quirks.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Peggy

    October 17, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Where do you get your news from? The majority of the protestors want an end to corporate-sponsored political cronyism and accountability for the actions of individuals who act unscrupulously on behalf of corporations. They do not want corporations to be given the same rights as individual citizens when they have the resources of small countries. They want the culture of greed that has run rampant in this country, actually throughout the world, to be tempered by some small amount of humanism. You think that is wrong? I think you are wrong.

    • Kathleen Cosner

      October 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      Hi Peggy, I actually get news from a ton of places, the NY Times, Fox, CNN, the Washington Post, local papers, HuffPo, and RE sites. The loosely organized protesters are not actually "for" one gven thing, and that *is* their thing. I just don't really agree with what they doing, and chose one of their issues to write about.

  2. Hello

    October 17, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Ms. Cosner has created quite a perfect little world for herself. There are twelve programs available? Has she tried one of these twelve herself? Does she know the reality of Mr. & Mrs. Consumer's attempt to utilize any of these programs? Clearly she has no concept of how things work in the real world and, if she wants to talk intelligently about these program, she should try utilizing just one of them herself. THEN maybe she'd understand the idea behind the Occupy Movement.

    Ms. Cosner, have you talked with anyone from the Occupy movement? Do you really understand why they're mad? Have you gone to one of the rallies or are you just speculating from the chair behind your computer? Do you understand what the right to protest means?

    Nobody is saying these problems can be fixed overnight. But, 99% of Americans didn't create this mess and yet, they are the ones being asked to fix it. And, if you even tried one of those 12 "fit-it" program you tout, you'd understand that statement. They are mad and rightfully so.

    That 1% has lined their pockets from the mess that's been created. The government can put whatever programs they want in place but, banks are the ones making it difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to take advantage of those programs and NO ONE is forcing the banks to do that.

    It's the big corporations that get "bailouts" when they suffer from what's happened. Consumers have NEVER received a bailout but, we're just supposed to sit quietly and let them take more money from US to fix a problem we didn't create.

    You cite one incident of a woman not telling her husband they were being evicted. How about talking to the hundreds of thousands of people who tried desperately to save there houses but, could not because of all the red tape in these "helpful" programs. Who tried to refinance but, was told "no". Who tried to reduce their interest rate but, was told "no". Who tried to do a short sale but, was told "no".

    Come out of your bubble, Ms. Cosner, and talk with the people in that crowd.

  3. Kathleen Cosner

    October 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Hi… Hello, No one's life is a bubble, it's not all puppy dogs and sunshine. As a matter of fact, The Hardest Hit Funds, via Restoring Stability saved my fam's butt. I'm not mad, things happen, that are beyond our control. Things I certainly never planned on happening in this life. Do I need to speak with anyone involved in OWS? Not when I can read. People are quitting their jobs, their JOBS, so they can go protest.

  4. hangemhi

    October 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Wow- the pot calling the kettle black. YOU have unrealistic expectations of protesters. Anger in the streets is how revolutions start. You'd have been a Loyalist during the American Revolution with your kind of thinking. Geez, what was the point of throwing tea overboard during the "Boston Tea Party" that didn't solve anything. Meanwhile that occurred in 1973, the Declaration of Independence didn't happen until 1976 and the Constituion wasn't ratified until 1787. So you are the one with unrealistic expectations.

    • Kathleen Cosner

      October 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Cute anaolgy. The Constituion, is a living, breathing document, which can be changed at any time. It has been so throughout the years and was designed as such; abolishing slavery, chicks getting the right to vote, prohibition, need I go on?

  5. South Lake Travis Real Estate

    October 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I agree with Kathleen. Some of the protesters know what they want, but I think most simply want change. Obama promised that and that has not exactly worked out in a favorable way.

  6. Ruthmarie Hicks

    October 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    This is perhaps one of the STUPIDEST and most ill-informed posts I've seen on AG EVER. Wake up and smell the coffee perking my dear…because you are as far removed from the harsh reality of the world as it gets. 12 Programs? HAH! Try getting the banks to help a distressed home owner with any one them. Hell will freeze over before they lift a finger. If this weren't so pathetic it would be FUNNY.

    I was out in the streets of my town with the #occupy wall street crowd and PROUD TO BE THERE. How dare you judge me or them. You obviously haven't a clue and what's worse, you could care less. The rich sold out the middle class over a 30 year period and the 99% are finally fighting back. This is the stuff revolutions are made of and those that have remained fat and happy are scared that the sleeping lion (the American public) is finally wide awake. These people have had the economic rug yanked out from under them. Most are hardworking Americans that have played by the rules and have been thrown under the bus for their trouble.

    And it is NOT too much to expect that those who trashed the world economy be held accountable for their actions in a timely way. The fact that they haven't paid the price shows how totally dysfunctional and corrupt our government has become.

    And btw, NO ONE I ran into quit their job so they could go protest. Some have RISKED their jobs in the name of free speech. I also met quite a few people who can't FIND a job. I initially came from biotech and know a lot of engineers, scientists and health care professionals with high degrees packing bags at Trader Joes and Stop 'N Shop. Stop watching Faux news – get out in the streets and talk to these people and get a grip on reality.

  7. Matthew Hardy

    October 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    @ Ruthmarie

    > "This is the stuff revolutions are made of…"

    Perhaps you might specify the type of revolution sought. Too often revolutions are violent. Try applying the act of protesting to a personal context. Have a problem? How does complaining solve it? Everyone seems to understand that, when shifting from complaining to problem-solving, a better situation results. In a political context, voting is the most potent answer for democratic societies. Rallies can serve to send messages about what citizens want, but the real responsibility lies with the individual and the use of their vote.

    > "those who trashed the world economy be held accountable for their actions… how totally dysfunctional and corrupt our government has become."

    Well. Let's name them. Who should be indicted? Who currently in government are most complicit? "Wall Street", of course, is too amorphous a target — unless the demise of capitalism is the real goal.

    The contemptuous tone… the extreme polarization. Yes, there are ideologues on all sides ("Faux News" watchers AND "MSLSD" watchers), yet my hope is for those who want to make a great country better by upholding and refining systems that have served us well for some time. Retribution, demonization, class-warfare: these are not the hallmarks of the dreamers and doers who embody the success of America.

  8. Kenny

    October 19, 2011 at 1:15 am

    It is disappointing to see this article on AG.

    "Enter the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is like the epitome of the I Want (Deserve) It Now Society we’ve become accustomed to – without actually doing or working for anything, and it’s such bull."

    "There is a saying that I believe applies to these two scenarios: You can’t fix stupid."

    The above statements are simply ridiculous and insensible, as is this whole article.

    I frequently read articles here because they are insightful, knowledgeable, and relevant. This article was none of these.

    The author should have just titled this article, "Occupy Wall Street protestors are lazy, stupid, and spoiled"

    I don't fully understand what is going on with the Occupy Wall Street protests, but when I see pictures of people across the WORLD protesting something, it seems pretty obvious that this is more than just a bunch of lazy people, quitting their jobs to go protest for handouts.

  9. Jeff Brown

    October 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Thank God and Katie for this post, as the comic relief in the comments has made my day. What a buncha whining, entitled wannabes, and never-will-be cry babies. Randomly pick 1,000 'occupy whatevers' and you'll find, in my opinion, that of those who're were eligible to vote, or bothered to, put there X next to Obama and his cohorts in their states. Now they're unhappy? And yeah, I know the next reply, 'It's Bush's fault'. I'm not a Bush supporter, but he was George Freakin' Washington compared to who the Occupiers put in office.

    NASA hasn't yet invented the devise that can measure the depth of ignorance of these yahoos. I for one HAVE seen multiple street interviews, and if their arrogance, stupidity, and ignorance weren't so sad and scary, they'd be hilarious. I take that back, I still laugh. Funny is funny wherever you find it.

    Ron White was right, you CAN'T fix stoopid. And pulllease stop claiming this is the beginning of a revolution. Frankly, it's much more likely the end to the socialist attempt at revolution that's been takin' our country down, rung by rung, since I was in fifth grade.

    These are the same ignoramuses (generically) who demonstrated in SF in the 60's, talking about free love and the rest of all their perfect world fantasies. Most of 'em are my age today (60), and I can tell ya from first hand experience, they fall into two broad brush categories.

    1. Embittered, defeated, and vindictive people who're still wondering what went wrong in their lives.

    2. Those who now speak of those long ago times with a bit of blush in their cheeks, wondering how they coulda been so naive for so long. They're the ones who later on elected Reagan twice. Churchill said it best I think, loosely paraphrased: If you're under 25 and not liberal, you have no heart. If you're over 25 and not conservative, you have no brain. Amen, Winston — we sure miss ya.

    The more things change, the more they remain the same. Every generation has it's losers. And no, I'm not labeling all the Occupiers as losers. Except that is on the first Wednesday of November 2012 that is. 🙂

  10. Kathleen Cosner

    October 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Feel free to critique, I can take it, really. Please do read the article, and its links in their entirety, before jumping to conclusions, though. And do please remember that any kind of trial, that doesn't involve burning at the stake or stoning in the streets, takes longer than two-three years.

    Here are other links to check out at your leisure:
    https://tinyurl.com/5wda649
    https://tinyurl.com/6duhzwj
    https://tinyurl.com/5vbtw3x

  11. Ruthmarie Hicks

    October 21, 2011 at 1:29 am

    You can "take it" because you are clueless, insensitive and lack basic knowledge of the issues. Have you tried to help a seller with a short sale? Ever….I doubt it. As far as revolutions go – they are often violent. These demonstrations have been more peaceful than a lot of the tea bagger BS that I've seen. And Jeff you are certainly right- you have proven above all that you can't fix stupid….

    • Kathleen Cosner

      October 21, 2011 at 5:04 am

      Ruthmarie- I have refered several people to a great short sale agent over the years. As that is where her experience and talents lay. She has the contacts in nearly every bank to get them closed faster than any agent I've ever seen, & works with an awesome title co to help throughout the transactions. I have never taken a ref fee for any of them. Also I've refered people to various programs available, not just housing related, as that's where my contacts are. Some people utilize them, some don't. If you want to be angry, be angry at those who are not taking advantage of the programs which are set up to help. Please don't jump to sweeping conclusions simply because I have an opinion with which you may not agree.

  12. Matthew Hardy

    October 22, 2011 at 10:38 am

    > jump to sweeping conclusions

    A refuge for the empty and vapid argument.

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Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

Why robots freak us out, and what it means for the future of AI

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Robots and humans have a long way to go before the social divide disappears, but research is giving us insight on how to cross the uncanny valley.

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Close of R2D2 toy, an example of robots that we root for, but why?

We hate robots. Ok, wait, back up. We at least think they are more evil than good. Try it yourself – “are robots” in Google nets you evil before good. Megatron has higher SEO than Optimus Prime, and it’s not just because he’s so much cooler. It cuz he evil, cuz. It do be like that.

It’s not even a compliment to call someone robotic; society connotes this to emotionless preprogrammed shells of hideous nothing, empty clankbags that walk and talk and not much else. So, me at a party. Or if you’re a nerd, you’re a robot. (Me at a party once again.)

Let’s start by assuming robots as human-like bipedal machines that are designed with some amount of artificial intelligence, generally designed to fulfill a job to free up humanity from drudgery. All sounds good so far. So why do they creep us out?

There’s a litany of reasons why, best summed up with the concept of the uncanny valley, first coined by roboticist Masahiro Mori (Wow he’s still alive! The robots have not yet won) in 1970. Essentially, we know what a human is and how it looks and behaves against the greater backdrop of life and physics. When this is translated to a synthetic being, we are ok with making a robot look and act like us to a point, where we then notice all the irregularities and differences.

Most of these are minor – unnaturally smooth or rigid movements, light not scattering properly on a surface, eyes that don’t sync up quite right when they blink, and several other tiny details. Lots of theories take over at this point about why this creeps us out. But a blanket way to think about it is that our expectation doesn’t match what we are seeing; the reality we’re presented with is off just enough and this makes us uncomfortable .

Ever stream a show and the audio is a half second off? Makes you really annoyed. Magnify that feeling by a thousand and you’re smack in the middle of the uncanny valley. It’s that unnerving. One possible term for this is abjection, which is what happens the moment before we begin to fear something. Our minds – sensing incompatibility with robots – know this is something else, something other , and faced with no way to categorize this, we crash.

This is why they make good villains in movies – something we don’t understand and given free will and autonomy, potentially imbued with the bias of a creator or capable of forming terrifying conclusions all on its own (humans are a virus). But they also make good heroes, especially if they are cute or funny. Who doesn’t love C3PO? That surprise that they are good delights us. Build in enough appeal to a robot, and we root for them and feel empathy when they are faced with hardships. Do robots dream of electric sheep? Do robots have binary souls? Bits and zeros and ones?

Professor Jaime Banks (Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication) spends a lot of time thinking about how we perceive robots. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic that covers anthropomorphism, artificial intelligence, robot roles within society, trust, inherently measuring virtue versus evil, preconceived notions from entertainment, and numerous topics that cover human-robot interactions.

The world is approaching a future where robots may become commonplace; there are already robot bears in Japan working in the healthcare field. Dressing them up with cute faces and smiles may help, but one jerky movement later and we’ve dropped all suspension.

At some point, we have to make peace with the idea that they will be all over the place. Skynet, GLaDOS in Portal, the trope of your evil twin being a robot that your significant will have to shoot in the middle of your fight, that episode of Futurama where everything was a robot and they rose up against their human masters with wargod washing machines and killer greeting cards, the other Futurama episode where they go to a planet full of human hating murderous robots… We’ve all got some good reasons to fear robots and their coded minds.

But as technology advances, it makes sense to have robots take over menial tasks, perform duties for the needy and sick, and otherwise benefit humanity at large. And so the question we face is how to build that relationship now to help us in the future.

There’s a fine line between making them too humanlike versus too mechanical. Pixar solved the issue of unnerving humanoids in their movies by designing them stylistically – we know they are human and accept that the figure would look odd in real life. We can do the same with robots – enough familiarity to develop an appeal, but not enough to erase the divide between humanity and robot. It may just be a question of time and new generations growing up with robots becoming fixtures of everyday life. I’m down for cyborgs too.

Fearing them might not even be bad, as Banks points out: “…a certain amount of fear can be a useful thing. Fear can make us think critically and carefully and be thoughtful about our interactions, and that would likely help us productively engage a world where robots are key players.”

Also, check out Robot Carnival if you get the chance – specifically the Presence episode of the anthology.

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Opinion Editorials

4 simple tips to ease friction with your boss while working remotely

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Find it challenging to get along with your boss while working from home? Here are a few things you can try to ease the tension.

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Woman stressed over laptop in remote work.

Most people probably feel like their relationship with their boss is fine. If you’re encountering friction with your boss for any reason, though, remote work will often exacerbate it—this is one instance where distance doesn’t necessarily make the heart grow fonder. Here are a few ways to remove some of that friction without adding to your boss’ overflowing plate.

According to CNN, determining the problem that exists between you and your boss should be your first step. There’s one caveat to consider, however: Your boss’ boundaries. Problem-solving on your own time is fine, but demanding more of your boss’ time—especially when you’re supposed to be working—may compound the issue.

An easy way around this is a low-impact communique—e.g., an email—sent at the beginning or end of the workday. Since that’s a more passive communication style that takes only a minute or two out of your day, it’s less likely to frustrate your boss further.

If ironing out the issue isn’t your prerogative for now, examining your boss’ parameters for success is another place to start. Does your boss prefer to receive multiple updates throughout the day, or do they want one summative report each morning? Do you respect your boss’ preferred communication styles? These are important questions to ask during remote work. If you find yourself reaching out more than necessary, for example, it may be time to cut back.

It can also be difficult to satiate your boss if you don’t know their expectations. If you’re able to speak to them about the expectations regarding a project or task, do it; clarifying the parameters around your work will always help both of you. It is worth noting that some supervisors may expect that you know your way around some types of responsibilities, though, so err on the side of complementing that knowledge rather than asking for comprehensive instructions.

Finally, keep in mind that some bosses simply don’t communicate the same way you do. I’ve personally been blessed with a bevy of nurturing, enthusiastic supervisors, but we’ve all had superiors who refuse to acknowledge our successes and instead focus on our failures. That can be a really tough mentality to work with during remote periods, but knowing that they have a specific communication style that hampers their sociability can help dampen the effects.

As always, communication is key—even if that means doing it a little bit less than you’d like.

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