I’m working on the blog right now and that’s taking up all of my bandwidth. Stay tuned for changes coming.
Well, we’re back at the home base after a week out. The visit to family members out that way was fun and I accomplished the goals I’d set in handling some of the larger tasks my mother had on her household “to do” list. A good visit in all respects.
As usual, the return trip was draining and we’re all sitting around in that “don’t wanna do nuthin’” droop. Give me a few hours and I’ll get back up to speed.
Like some other businesses (Dell, for example) Delta Airlines has had enough complaints from people who can’t understand the reservations agents Delta hired overseas. They have made the decision to halt outsourcing their reservations centers to India.
Chief Executive Richard Anderson told employees in a recorded message late Thursday night that the world’s biggest airline operator is in the process of bringing all customer calls back in-house in the U.S.
Customer calls were no longer forwarded to India as of the first quarter of this year, Anderson said. Foreign call centers remain in Jamaica and South Africa, though Anderson indicated that staffing at those locations likely will be reduced in the future as the global financial crisis cuts call volume.
“The customer acceptance of call centers in foreign countries is low, and our customers are not shy about letting us have that feedback,” Anderson said.
I’m sure the pressure about outsourcing jobs that could quit easily be handled by people in the hinterlands of North Dakota, Oklahoma, or northern Ohio didn’t hurt in making that decision easier, either. I must say, I approve. When the idea is to offer customer service over the phone, having people answering those phone who speak the same language as the majority of your customers is a good business decision.
On April 18, 1942 a daring mission led by Army Air Corp Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle was launched from the pitching deck of the carrier USS Hornet 650 miles off the coast of Japan. The raid which would bear Doolittle’s name was to launch 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers to bomb Tokyo, the heart of Imperial Japan. Doolittle’s raid was undertaken for 2 reasons, both of them psychological. First, the Japanese felt their homeland was untouchable and the US wanted to cast doubt on that confidence. Second, the US people badly needed to see a “win” from their troops.
Both objectives were achieved. The US public saw that they faced a foe that could be bloodied and beat. They also saw that their armed forces were not outmatched at every turn and had the fight in them to win the war, if supported at home.
Jimmy Doolittle passed away in September of 1993. Godspeed, sir, to you and all of your men. We remember you this day.
Now what could birthdays, questions asked of twins, and network security have in common? Funny you should ask and even funnier what brought this up.
Some of you know, but most don’t, that I’m an identical twin. We live a long way off from each other, now, and we’re even further apart in terms of political thought. The fact that I’m a twin doesn’t come up in casual conversation much so it’s not something I tend to bring up. So, why now? Well, years ago when we were boys we’d find ourselves in situations all the time where some adult friend or acquaintance of our parents would be doing the “oh, aren’t they so cute, looking exactly alike?” thing and they’d ask how old we were followed up by when our birthday was. One or the other of us would reply with the actual date (in the summer months somewhere). This person would then look to the other one of us and ask the question, “Oh, and when’s yours?”
Now, it’s certainly possible for twins to be born on different days but it’s a very rare occurrence in the already rare situation of identical twins. We’d stammer a bit, trying to get the info across to this adult that they were asking a dumb question without actually saying they were doing so. This person would suddenly get it and then laugh at their mistake expecting us to find it hilarious as well. Well, after 2 x 10some-Godawful-number times we’d heard this, it began to get unfunny. So the day came when the selected dope asked the 2nd one of us what our birthday was and – I’m not sure which one of us started it – the 2nd twin answered “April 12th.” I have no idea why we picked April 12th. It was just some random date sufficiently different from our birthday that the math would have shown Mom in labor for over a fiscal quarter. Some of the people we’d say that to would get it almost immediately and, usually, laugh. Others walked away never having gotten the joke.
Years later, we’d trade off years, each of us calling the other on April 12th and wish them a happy birthday. The next year, the other one would do it. It’s just one of those things that goes from joke to inside joke to inside custom over the years.
When the day came that I was signing up for Facebook, it demanded to know my birthday. Well, this is where network security comes in. Folks, you don’t put your social security number up on a public bulletin board. You don’t put your mother’s maiden name up there. Why? Because that’s data that financial companies and various other organizations use to positively identify you and it’s data that ID thieves go to great lengths to get. Another item of that data set is your birthday. Working the industry I do, I know all too well what can be done with that info in the wrong hands. And that’s why, when I was presented with the “gimmee-your-birthday-or-you-don’t-get-a-Facebook-account” question, I gave it the fake date I and my brother had used for years. I never gave it a second thought.
Until this week, that is, when a number of friends and well-wishers started sending me happy birthdays. Messages that, for reasons of travel, I didn’t see until last night. So, to those of you who reached out to me and sent best wishes, I thank you and I’m truly honored and humbled you thought of me. That it’s not the real date does not make the wishes or my thanks any less real. I just wanted everyone to know.
I’m in the middle of some rather long-range travel at the moment, blogging this morning from a hotel. We’re visiting some family this week so I might be a little lighter in the blogging department. There are some interesting goings-on lately, however, so I won’t be completely silent. Hope all of you had a Happy Easter!
A very Happy Easter to you all! By the time this fires, I’ll be at Mass celebrating the Risen Lord. Here’s hoping your celebrations are happy, too.
The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.
Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”
In this week’s Second Amendment podcast on iVoices.org, Jon Caldara and I discuss three different cases which could give the Supreme Court an opportunity to decide whether the Second Amendment is incorporated in the Fourteenth: the Chicago handgun ban; the Alameda County, California, gun show ban on county property; and the New York nunchaku ban. The MP3 is ll minutes.
Interesting. Especially the “New York nunchaku ban.” I’ll see what I can find about that.
The federal government is enjoined from abridging the freedom of speech or of the press by virtue of the explicit restriction against Congress making any law granting any part of the federal government the power to do so. That restriction is housed in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the highest law of our land. What that means, essentially, is that the government has no authority to halt the reporting of a public event (unless they’re somehow asserting a national security issue and, therefore, are classifying the event) nor can they confiscate a reporter’s materials used to record that event. And yet, according to Mark Segraves at WTOP News in DC, that’s exactly what happened a few nights ago:
What makes this story truly unbelievable – and very scary – is the fact that the mastermind of this attack is a federal employee, Gloria Hairston, an internal communications specialist with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. She was aided by at least two other employees of the V.A. and four armed security guards.
I call the incident an “attack” because it was just that. An attack on the First Amendment, an attack on veterans and an attack on the public’s right to know how their government is treating wounded vets.
Schultz is a reporter with Public Radio station WAMU. Last Tuesday night, he was covering a public event at the V.A. Hospital in Washington, D.C. While interviewing one of the veterans about the poor treatment he was receiving at the hands of the V.A., Ms. Hairston demanded that Schultz stop recording the interview and hand over his recording equipment.
“She said I wouldn’t be allowed to leave,” Schultz tells WTOP.
At first he refused. But after being surrounded by armed police officers who stood between him and the exit, he looked for a compromise.
“I became worried that I was going to get arrested,” Schultz says.
I am amazed that Schultz’s editor advised him to hand over the recorder’s flash memory card. The VA has refused to answer questions about this situation nor have they returned the memory card. (And even if they did, who would believe they had not tampered with it?)
Even more astounding was what happened when one of the many vets who overheard what was going on came out into the hall to try to give Schultz their phone number. The VA official apparently claimed he wasn’t allowed to do that and promised to “get ugly” if they didn’t do as she ordered.
Read Segraves’ whole article for the details. This is one that deserves a full and public investigation to say nothing of an indictment against Hairston if this situation turns out to be even remotely as reported. Schultz’s comment at the end is spot on: With actions like these, what is the VA trying to hide? Why do they fear what interview was going to reveal?
Update: Well, apparently the glare of the spotlights the VA’s actions attracted have managed to clear whatever haze was keeping the VA from thinking clearly. In a letter from the VA, spokeswoman Katie Roberts has said they will return the gear:
In a written statement to The Associated Press, VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts said the department “regrets this incident occurred” and as a result would hand back the flash drive that it took from WAMU reporter David Schultz at the VA Medical Center in Washington. WAMU is a National Public Radio affiliate in the capital.
“After reviewing all the facts surrounding the incident of April 7th and actions since, VA has arranged the return of the flash drive to WAMU,” Roberts said. “We make every effort to protect the privacy of our patients and to ensure that they are able to make informed decisions about what information they release or discuss with the public while in a VA facility.”
“The Department of Veterans Affairs regrets this incident occurred as we appreciate the interest of the press in covering veterans’ issues,” she added.
I would certainly hope that someone has explained all of that to Ms. Hairston, the woman who clearly didn’t think the VA appreciated the interest of the press at all.