George Carlin

Today the world lost one of its most interesting personalities, and one of my personal heroes. George, I will miss you…

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Bad Astronomy Blog » Certifiably Christian

This (well, not this post, but the issue is describes) is just about as dumb as what I posted about some time back about author Philip Pullman being described in a major Canadian newspaper as “an admitted atheist”, like it was some kind of disorder.

More stupidity – Soviet Microsoft: Stockholm Syndrome Among Unswitchable Windows User?

 

Soviet Microsoft: Stockholm Syndrome Among Unswitchable Windows Users

This crap is getting ridiculous. First Microsoft is the Soviet Union, and now anyone who does not agree with the “Microsoft is an evil empire” crowd and switch to inferior desktop environments such as Linux, or closed, over-priced systems like Mac (both of which I like in the right context, and both of which I have developed software on) is obviously mentally impaired and suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

People, get a freaking life. This is bloody software, nothing more. If you like it, buy it and use it. If you don’t like it, DON’T. Either way, stop playing amateur psychologist, political analyst, or whatever else you are playing, and please, please, please STFU. 

Confessions of an airline executive – CNN.com

Confessions of an airline executive – CNN.com

This is an interesting article. unfortunately it does not address the main outstanding question I have – why does the airline industry (and this includes not just the airlines, but the airport authorities, government agencies and all others involved in this continuously worsening mess) believe that it is acceptable to provide atrocious customer service, disrespect their customers, and generally perform badly in all aspects of their operations, and yet feel they should stay in business. Quite honestly, most business that were run this badly would be dead in months.

As a side note, a couple of weeks ago I had written a post (more of a rant than a post) about my recent experiences flying. I saved it, but did not post it, as I was not online (I was on a plane). Unfortunately it seemed to disappear from my saved drafts. I took this a s I sign that I should not post it! To summarize, though, I was on my 4th trip in two weeks – one to Toronto, and three to other endpoints, but going through Toronto. So, a total of 14 flights. The “on time” performance on these 14 flights was somewhat less than 50% (and this is considering anything within an hour of on time as “on time”). What was disturbing to me was that none of the delays were due to whether, air traffic congestion, or any cause “outside of the airline’s control”. In all cases, the cause airline mismanagement. For example, 2 cases of “the plane is not working”, because the flight segments between Toronto and Moncton are all crappy, old, small planes. Another case, we could not leave Moncton because the incoming plane from Toronto had not arrived. Why? Because no ground crew had been assigned in Toronto to the departure gate, and so they could not load the plane. Yet another case, we sat on the plane for 45 minutes after having landed at Toronto because no ground crew was available at our gate (what, they were not expecting us?).

All of this reflects the fact that this airline (and almost all others with whom I have travelled in the last 5 years) accept that lousy service and disrespect for passengers and their time should be the norm. And they will continue to think this way as long as it costs them more to fix the problem than accept it.

So, how do we make it cost them more to be incompetent? Well, how about every time they are late due to their own incompetence, everyone on the flight gets a partial refund. Say, $50/half hour delay? Make it cost them money, and they will fix the problem. 

Of course, this will only partially address the problem, since we still have to deal with airports, security, and other aspects of the experience which are designed without any consideration for the customer.

CANOE — CNEWS – Canada: Kids book removed from schools

CANOE — CNEWS – Canada: Kids book removed from schools

This article is interesting to me, but not so much because of parents concerns leading to the book being pull from shelves. I mean, the entire point of religious schools (Catholic or otherwise) is to shelter kids from content they feel is “non-whatever-religion-they-follow”. What I find comical is the last line:

“…by British author Philip Pullman, an admitted atheist.”

An admitted atheist?!?!?!

The writer makes it sound like it is some sort of crime or deviant mental state, like an “admitted axe murderer” or an “admitted child molester”.

Atheism is a valid belief (not a lack of belief, as some would try to imply). Would any journalist worth reading say someone was an “admitted Catholic”? or an “admitted Jew”? Would they get away with saying it?

(December 20, 2009: note that the above link is broken – Canoe.ca does not seem to have maintained the article)

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Treating employees well

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good”Samuel Johnson

Many companies claim to treat their staff well – claiming in fact that people are their greatest resource. In fact, I am pretty sure that I have never heard a company claim the opposite – when was the last time you heard a company loudly proclaim “we treat our staff like crap, and we’re proud of it”? Maybe these companies do exist, albeit briefly. I guess the companies which actually think this way do not make a point of mentioning it.Thinking for now, however, just of the companies who do claim that they treat their staff well, I have come to believe that there are two main groups:

  1. Companies which believe that you treat your staff (and everyone else, for that matter) well simply because it is the right way to be. There is no analysis of the ROI of being respectful. There is a fundamental belief in the right way of doing things, and a corresponding confidence that doing the right things ultimately leads to long term success.
  2. Companies for whom “treating people well” is a strategic decision, accompanied by detailed analyses of the ROI which will be achieved by treating different people with varying degrees of “rightness”. For these companies, there is no right or wrong here, it is merely a way to coerce the people upon whom the company relies into doing what is best for the company.

The difference between these two flavours of “we treat our employees well” is frequently made most clear when someone is let go – when for one reason or another, it is determined that a given individual is no longer of value to the organization. Companies in the former group treat outgoing employees with the same respect and kindness as they have all along. Companies in the latter group, on the other hand, show their true colours at this point, and will generally treat outgoing employees only well enough to avoid being sued, no more.So, which kind of company do you want to be?

What language is that?

We have all become familiar with various forms of slang, lingo, emoticons, abbreviations, and acronyms used in the IM and Texting world.

Well, today I had an experience which indicates I may be a little too used to it. I was browsing through various blogs (not ones to which I subscribe, just random ones), and came across a blog I was having trouble understanding. The author seemed to be using way too much slang, etc. After about 30 seconds of trying to interpret this post – it suddenly occured to me: this post was not using internet slang, it was in another language altogether!