Friday, November 23, 2007

NPR's anti-worker bias.

Dear Day to Day:

Regarding your piece on customer service and the mystery shopper:

I'm wondering if you all are going to ever get around to talking to anyone who actually WORKS in retail.

We've heard from the business guy and the mystery shopper, we've got a pretty good handle on where corporate America is coming from.

What about the worker, though?

Has it ever occurred to anyone that the folks behind the counter or on the sales floor probably would rather be doing anything else but what they're doing?

Most likely they have no choice but to work for $6 an hour. Or they could be working to make a little extra $ while they go through school or only working there for the medical insurance.
In any case, their #1 motivation probably isn't to go out of their way to help you or make money for their boss who is most likely a jerk.

What ever the reason -- based on my 18 years in retail -- the employee you encounter at IKEA or Linens N Things or where ever doesn't really give a rat's ass about what you want or what the thread-count is on a particular sheet. It has been my experience that the reason you'll find most employees don't know anything about the product they're selling is because they aren't told anything about the product they're selling.

Training people costs money.

When you begin working at a Linens & Things or an IKEA or Pier 1, you're on your own when it comes to figuring out what you're selling. (At Pier 1, they gave me a book on how to work the register and left me alone.)

At IKEA they gave us three days of orientation about the wonders of IKEA and the glory of our "Dear Leader" Ingvar Kamprad and then set us out on the sales floor to fend for ourselves.

In Invar's perfect world of the extremely low price profile, you either sink or swim with little or no imput from your managers. If you could find one you might be able to ask another employee about a product, but better to just read the helpful product knowledge signs (which are mostly in Swedish.) If you don't want to apply yourself for $9.80 an hour for 20 hours a week -- spread over six days (6 PM to 10:30 PM) then your are not IKEA material.

If you can manage to get 30 hours a week for 12 weeks we'll give you benefits, but since our managers make very sure never to allow that to happen, you can enjoy the $2 Chicken Marsala at our employee cafateria. Yum!

As our Dear Leader says:

"A job must never be just a meal ticket."

And unions are Verboten! As Ingvar tells us, the individual should never subcome to "the gray gloominess of collective agreements."

My apologies for this rant, but except for one time a year on Labor Day, NPR never covers the worker.

Along with the travails of corporate America and the frustrated house wife trying to find someone to tell her about all the sales and the thread-count on a particular sheet (which really makes no difference unless you're willing to spend some real money "Marie Antoinette") how about covering the people you interact with everyday at the local supermarket or at the mall?

Are they not worthy of your time because they make minimum wage?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giant's Stadium Gate D for "Dumb." J-E-T-S Suck! Suck! Suck!

After attending numerous meetings between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets at both the Orange Bowl and Dolphin's Stadium, I've known for quite few years that Jet fans are, by far, the biggest bunch of classless knuckleheads in all of football fandumb.

Who else would show up in their main rival's stadium in trash bags when it rains? What other fan would show up at a game initially flashing their favorite player's jersey (usually a player no longer with the team) on the way into the game, yet if the Dolphins go up by 3 points at half time they run into the bathrooms to take off the jersey. [I've actually seen this] The Jet fans are the only ones I've ever seen who show up with two shirts on -- just in case.

Now comes this:

The NYT reports that Richard Codey, president of the New Jersey Senate [Note "New Jersey," not "New York," because that's not where the Jets play] is determined to crack down on Jets fans' unruly behavior at games.

"An article in The New York Times yesterday described how hundreds of male fans on a ramp near Gate D shouted at women to expose their breasts, and then threw plastic beer bottles when they did not.

'It seems like for some Jet fans, that Gate D stands for drunk and disgusting,' Codey said in a telephone interview. He called on the state police and the sports authority to investigate the fans’ behavior — which, according to many fans and some stadium workers, has been a halftime staple at Jets games for years — and to implement steps to ensure that the harassment stops."

So, according to stadium staff throwing beer at women if they don't expose their breasts has been a staple of Jets fan behavior for years.

Very classy.

Not that any of this this will be too much of an issue for the remainder of the season, though, as Jet fans usually abandon their team when they're in the cellar. The police shouldn't have any problem keeping an eye on the 45,000 or so "fans" who show up to see the 2-8 for Jets run out another disappointing season.

By the way, weren't the Jets on their way this year? Wasn't that the buzz? What happened with that anyway?

Oh well, Jet fans, time to start pretending you were a Giants fan all along. Of course, what they don't understand is that most folks who are not Jet fans can pick one of them out in an instant by their tell-tale uni-brows.

Want to make a bet on how many Gang Green fans show up for the Patriots?

Game prediction:

Patriots 72
Jets 3

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More good news from Iraq:

Things are really working out in Iraq. That Surge really did the trick. If you've been reading the news papers lately, that's all you see. Why do I feel like a German in 1943 listening to Goebbels tell me about the heroic 6th Army's exploits at Stalingrad?

The WaPo reported yesterday:

"U.S. officials yesterday declared a 55 percent drop in militant attacks in Iraq since the launch of an offensive nine months ago. Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a senior U.S. military spokesman, said violence in parts of Iraq had fallen to its lowest levels since summer 2005. Iraqi civilian casualties are down 60 percent since June and have dropped 75 percent in Baghdad, Smith said."

Of course, this is not to say we can declare voctory quite yet.

"In eastern Baghdad, Forward Operating Base Rustamiyah was hit by 12 rockets early yesterday. No serious injuries were reported, but some vehicles and buildings on the base were severely damaged, including several trailers that house soldiers from the First Battalion, Eighth Cavalry Regiment, Second Brigade, First Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas."

One might wonder, incidentally, why after four years into the war our troops are still living in FEMA trailers when they're constantly under the threat of being killed by indirect fire. Imagine if the bunch running this war had been involved in the siege of Keh Sanh!

For all the good news about lower troops and civilian casualties in Baghdad and Anbar, there is the little problem in the north of the country.

AP reports today:

"Despite a decline in violence in Iraq, northern Iraq has become more violent than other regions as al-Qaeda and other militants move there to avoid coalition operations elsewhere, the region's top U.S. commander said. Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling on Monday said al-Qaeda cells still operate in all the key cities in the north."

Mosul, in particular, the capital of Nineveh Province. That's kind odd because I recall that back in July Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack claimed that the Surge was "finally getting somewhere" especially in Nineveh, where "American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. . . While Iraqi Army troops cover the country side."

Uh Huh!

Stalingrad, Stalingrad, Berlin calling!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Aliens, sedition, Naomi Wolf and Operation Endgame.

I heard Naomi Wolf on NPR's Day to Day this afternoon talking about her new book The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot, which posits that what has been going on in the US for the past six years with this administration is a total fascist take-over of our democracy. She looks back into history to come up with the standard way dictators like Hitler and Stalin go about destroying open societies. She lists several historical examples of how Hitler legally subverted the post-WWI Weimar Republic, which was a parliamentary democracy, bit by bit until there as nothing left.

One example she cites is Hitler's setting up of prisons outside the legal framework where torture was practiced. And as he began filling them with people who were at the time were considered to be on the margins of society -- like the Jews and homosexuals and any other non-example of pure Germaniness -- he gained more and more power through the exploitation of the fear of internal and external threats.

Sounds pretty familiar to me, but naturally NPR can't just have some crackpot like Wolf come on and say W. is a fascist wannabe without having an opposing view. That wouldn't be fair and balanced. So they got Josef Joffe the token German to debunk the whole premise.

As a German, naturally, he is qualified to say who is and isn't Hitler. And Naomi, he knows George W. Bush and George W. Bush is no Hitler.

One example he cites for why Wolf is totally off base is the 1798 Alien and Seditions Acts. See, he explains, Americans have had these episodes of government going too far before like the Alien and Sedition Acts and we always came back from the brink.

That sounds great, but what he doesn't point out is that the moment Congress passed those draconian laws the next president was sure to end them. What are the chances either Rudi or Hillary are going to end Gitmo or repeal the Patriot Act?

It's funny he should have mentioned the Alien and Sedition Acts, by the way, because the administration's new Uber-Plan to fight illegal Immigration to round up tens of thousands of illegals and house them in what can only be considered concentration camps of the Nisei round-up era is called Operation Endgame.

The actual government documents that explain the legal basis of Operation Endgame states:

"The Detention and Deportation Program, now the Office of Detention and Removal (DRO),
was established in a 1955 reorganization of the INS to carry out a mission first articulated
in the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. The Alien and Sedition Acts included the earliest
deportation legislation, which empowered the President to order the departure from the
United States of all aliens deemed dangerous. Legislation since then has expanded the detention and removal operations and redefined the classes of aliens to be deported or excluded. The basic
mission, however, remains the same: Remove all removable aliens."

Glad those olden days are gone!
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