No offense, Las Vegas, but I was really hoping not to see your lovely nighttime skyline again on this trip. I’m in my 8th hour of sitting on my butt and catching up on all the laptop crap I’ve ever wanted to do. Hopefully the flight will be on schedule and we’ll get outta here. Then I can sleep.
Smash gives his answers to 20 questions taken as a sample of the (presumably) larger list submitted for the pondering of 112 of the world’s biggest thinkers. Sounds like a fun exercise, so I figure I’ll join in. The questions are taken from Smash’s site. I’ve only taken a sample from the list so do be sure you read him whole post. Without further ado…
Australia: What are the basic dignities that each human being deserves, and why do we let so many people go without them?
Smash Sez: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
These words are as true today as when Thomas Jefferson wrote them 230 years ago. It’s up to the people of the world to ensure that their own rights are not violated. Don’t wait for someone else to come to your rescue.
Ric speaks: Damn right. Perhaps if the EU Constitution had been a little more succinct like our Mr. Jefferson, it would have passed the votes, eh?
South Africa: If the world is attempting to eradicate racism, then why has South Africa simply reversed the roles, making it near impossible for a white male to get a job? Is it fair to punish this generation for previous generations’ mistakes?
Smash sez: Depending on whom you ask, it’s called “affirmative action,” or “reverse discrimination.” No matter what you call it, it is inherently unfair. If you don’t like it, you can always emigrate to the United States, where we don’t go for that sort of thing.
Ric speaks: We don’t? Seems to me we just had a Supreme Court decision explicitly allowing law schools and other members of academia to do exactly what Mr. South Africa is saying. I agree it’s inherently unfair and such policies cannot be defended while also demanding equality. How those members of the Court can do so and consider themselves to be consistent arbiters of the law escapes me.
U.S.A.: Why is it women in the age range of 18-28 think Coldplay is the greatest band in the world?
Smash sez: Why don’t you ask them yourself?
Ric speaks: “Coldplay” who? Never heard of ‘em. Besides, real men capture the attention of the ladies so completely, they don’t have time to listen to music. (That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.)
Germany: When will the U.S.A. begin the next war?
Smash sez: I’m not at liberty to say.
Ric speaks: Heh™! What he said…
The conference is done and I’m at the airport waiting to go home. Not having any true idea what the surrounding terrain was when I booked my flights months ago, I asked travel services to pick a flight – preferrably a non-stop – that left after 2:00 pm. (The agenda said everything would be done at noon.)
The only flight that fit my requirement was a redeye leaving at 11:30 pm. They booked it, I took it. I did so because I wasn’t sure how fast I could get to the airport. Turns out I could get here very quickly and managed to arrive with about 90 minutes before the previous flight’s departure at 1:10 pm. I’ve done this before so I checked in on my United flight and headed to the security checkpoint. Unfortunately, my experience on the way here was not to be repeated on the way home. The lines were extremely long. This is Vegas, however, and they have a huge number of people leaving the city today since everyone’s biz conferences end on Fridays.
I managed to get throught the line in a fair amount of time, sweated the time spent waiting for the tram to the United terminal, and then headed for the 1:10 pm flight’s gate. (It was at the extreme end of the terminal, of course.) Upon arrival, I found the gate agent there and I’d arrived in time!
It was all useless. The agent told me that because I had checked a bag – something I did only because the new security status required me to do so – I would not be allowed to stand by for the flight. The FAA, they told me, considered it a risk to allow someone to fly on an earlier flight when their bag will be going on a later one. Sorry you busted your ass getting here, Mr. Passenger, but now you get to enjoy the airport for the next 11 and one-half hours.
I understand the position the FAA’s taking. (Probably the TSA, actually, but the airline people tend to think of any government agency as the FAA by default.) I supposed I can even understand the position the gate agent was taking. What ticks me off is that I told the counter agent to took my bag that I was trying to get on the standby list for the 1:10 departure and that agent said nothing to indicate that checking my bag in might make it impossible to stand by at all. So, while I’m not angry with the TSA nor with the airline as a whole for the policy of wanting a person’s bags to fly on the plane with them, I am upset at the lack of consistency within the airline. Poor training is all that is, or poor execution by the specific agent at the counter. Either way, one of their customers is now paying for the inconvenience when that customer (me) did everything required.
What’s really going to boil my blood is when I arrive at my destination, wait for my bag to come up, and then find out that it did, in fact, fly on the plane I was trying to stand by on. United will be hearing from me in that case, you may rest assured and the TSA might get a copy of the letter.
We are winding up the business conference I’m attending this week. This morning’s main event was the first order of business, bright and early. The company brought in 2 guest speakers to talk to us about their viewpoints on moving business ahead. When the conference scheduling site opened up a few months ago and I was selecting which of the many sessions to attend, I took note of this morning’s session choices. To be honest, this was the most difficult choice on the schedule and I actually took about a week making up my mind.
You could be forgiven for wondering what would take me so long to make this decision. My politics are hardly a secret and my stances don’t coincide with Bill’s in a lot of places. Lance is a great man with a fascinating story. Seems like it’d be a slam-dunk, doesn’t it? But be honest: how many times do you get to attend a speaking engagement by a former President, even one you disagree with, politically? That’s why, in the end, I could not do otherwise than select attendance at Bill Clinton’s session. (It’s unfortunate that the sessions were held at the same time – I would have liked to have heard both.)
We’ll get back to Bill in a moment, because he’s not the only political entity who had a chance to speak to us this week. Let’s step back to yesterday afternoon and who do we see on the schedule? Retired General Wesley Clark. Clark was here to talk to us about selling. His viewpoints on what made for a good salesman and what techniques were effective were solicitied by our management so he came on in. I’ll be blunt: from the perspective of salemanship and an attempt to impart useful information on the subject of sales, the speech was a disaster. Clark’s experience as Commander of US Forces in Europe while Milosevic was trying to do some Albanian ethnic-cleansing was what he chose to use as his example story because, as he put it, getting Milosevic to stop was his best sales job.
Let’s just skip over that nasty fact that the “sale” apparently didn’t take. Milosevic wound up kicking off his cleaning campaign and Clark wound up bombing his troops anyway. Clark was quite keen on passing along the details of the story – right down to impersonating Milosevic when quoting him – but the details were a military/political/historical analysis, not a sales example. All during the speech, he seemed to lose sight of the fact that he was supposed to be using this retelling as a sales analogy. When he’d remember (and it was jarringly obvious when he did) he’d make some really shallow connection back to his overall sales thesis but then he’d drop the pretense and get back to the story.
He almost made it through the speech without injecting his political views on the current administration and events of the day. Almost, but he just couldn’t help himself. He referred to Afghanistan and Iraq as failures, Iraq especially so. When referring to the Israel-Lebanon conflict, he basically blamed the Bush administration, saying “we’ve bollixed up this thing in Israel.” Of course, he offered no explanation of how “we” did any such thing, he just tossed that out there like it was a fact as indisputable as the color of the noon sky here in southern Nevada. It was a dig at Bush, nothing more.
President Clinton was a much smoother communicator and is clearly at ease speaking before large crowds. His speech was good and I say that as a man who doesn’t really like him that well. You still must credit where it’s due and it’s definitely due here. Clinton draws energy from a crowd like we had today. I won’t go into much more detail about his speech in this post but suffice it to say that he managed to get his own little hits on our current administration worked in there as well as some plugs for Hillary. And he managed to hit all the major Democratic Party talking points. Some in the crowd just loved it and I was hoping no one was going to break out campaign signs.
My issue is this: when a person is asked to come speak to a group on a specific topic, is it appropriate to launch politcial points into the speech when the venue and time does not permit you to back them up? This was a sales conference – why did we need to hear statistics and quotes from studies supporting the concept of socialized medicine here in America?
More on this later – it’s late and I’ve burned my candles at both ends trying to keep up with the youngbloods here at the conference. Tonite, I’m staying in and calling it a day.