Monthly Archives: May 2016

Public Bathrooms and North Carolina

The South is outraged – outraged! – over the possibility of a boy-turned-girl (but apparently not so much about girls-turned-boys) heeding nature’s call in the “wrong” public restroom.

But memories are short in the South. Not so long ago, southerners weren’t so concerned about the prospect of people of different genders sharing public restrooms, as a recent article in The New Yorker reminds us:

rest roomConsider the political implications of an African-American woman, the first to hold the office of Attorney General, informing a white governor that his state’s policy toward the transgender population is reminiscent of the days of de-jure racial discrimination. North Carolina—with its banking center in Charlotte, its substantial black middle class, and its élite universities—esteems its identity as part of a South too forward-looking to be defined by bygone bigotries. Lynch called that premise into question. She could have taken the point further: North Carolina was more than willing to countenance “all-gender” bathrooms when they served the purposes of racial segregation. Jim Crow legislation culminated in separate bathrooms for white men and white women, but only a single “colored” rest room for African-Americans, whatever their gender.

Food for thought.

 

Your Friendly Neighborhood Cable Company

Comcast, the cable mega-giant, suffered service outages across the country in mid-February.

That kind of thing happens once in a while. Mistakes are made, equipment breaks, there are power issues, and it’s hard to hold that kind of thing against a company – even a company that’s as easy to hate as Comcast.

And the company revealed that it would credit customers’ bills $2 for the loss of service, which is a nice thing to do.

But only if they call the company and ask for the credit.

Come again?

The Philadelphia Business Journal reported that a Comcast spokesperson told CNNMoney.com that

…customers must call Comcast to get the credit, as the company cannot apply an automated blanket credit.

Cannot? Cannot? Are we supposed to believe that with all of its vast technology, Comcast can’t deduct $2 from its customers’ bills?

Of course it can.

It’s not that it cannot.

It’s that it will not.

That’s What the Headline Said

“WrestleMania typically leaves fans with a gambit of emotions.”

One can only wonder what emotions such a gambit might evoke.

Eventually, a philly.com saw the malaprop, probably muttered “Oh crap,” and fixed it.

But Norm Crosby would have been proud.

There’s No End to the New Gender Confusion

Even Fido’s having a tough time.

transgender dog

Uber’s Big Promise

Uber’s big pitch to prospective drivers goes something like this: “Come work with us, be your own boss, set your own hours, be in charge of your professional life, and make as much money as you can.”

It’s a pretty enticing pitch for a lot of people, although there’s certainly some fine print. That “Come work with us” is carefully worded because what Uber means, but what it’s desperately trying not to say, is “Come work for us,” because if you work for Uber you’re not going to be treated like an employee, Uber will deny that you ever were an employee, and if you ever have any problems during your Uber-related non-employment employment the company will pretend you never existed.

And even while it’s pitching people to come work for, er, with it, Uber is already working on how to dump them.

How?

Driverless cars.

Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, recently said

The reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car – you’re paying for the other dude in the car. When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.

Smacked Ass CEO Dude is only interested in tolerating the inconvenience of engaging drivers as long as he absolutely must. When those driverless cars become a reality, he’s going to give his drivers pink slips.

Oh no, that’s right: only employees get pink slips.

So he’ll just tell them to go away and quit bothering him.

If the Republican “Base” is So Damned Conservative…

…then how come the party is on the verge of choosing the least conservative of the candidates for its presidential nomination?

Why has Donald Trump, who’s practically a Democrat – a demented Democrat, yes, but still mostly a Democrat – gotten 3.5 million more votes than conservative standard-bearer Ted Cruz in the primaries so far? And seven million more than Marco Rubio?

And why did Republican voters choose Mitt Romney, a not-very-conservative candidate, as their nominee in 2012?

And John McCain, another not-very conservative candidate, in 2008?

In fact, isn’t it possible that while the leading conservative voices try to prevent what they refer to as the hijacking of their party by imposing philosophical and issue litmus tests on candidates, the reality is that a minority of very conservative Republican politicians, with significant financial backing from a very limited pool of donors who want to buy the government so it will do their bidding, are the ones who are actually trying to hijack the party and turn it into something it’s not and that the mass of Republican voters aren’t really all that conservative at all?

The Real Threat to Democracy

No, not ISIS.

Not even Donald Trump.

One of the real threats to democracy in this country today is money.

Consider this:

You were excited about one of this year’s presidential candidates. Maybe it was Bernie Sanders. Maybe it was Marco Rubio or Carly Fiorina or Chris Christie. Maybe, like The Curmudgeon, you wanted to see more of Martin O’Malley.

Bobby Jindal once called Donald Trump 'a madman who must be stopped.' Now he has him for president.

Any excuse to run a photo of Bobby Jindal is a good excuse. Jindal once called Donald Trump “a madman who must be stopped.” Now he wants to call Trump “Mr. President” and has endorsed him for president.

Maybe you even liked Poor Bobby Jindal.

So you decided to contribute to your candidate’s campaign. Nothing big: maybe fifty dollars, maybe a hundred.

And it felt good, like you were participating in democracy in a whole new way, a way beyond simply casting your vote.   Maybe your contribution, even though it’s modest, would help make a difference.

Well, think again.

Our small contributions are barely even felt, as this explanation from a Washington Monthly book review explains:

In 2012, according to the public policy think tank Demos, 159 donors accounted for nearly 60 percent of all Super PAC funding, and about 93 percent came from 3,318 donors—about one-thousandth of 1 percent of the population. The cap on direct campaign contributions, currently $2,700 per candidate, survived Citizens United, but that money, too, comes overwhelmingly from the rich: the donors who gave more than $200 to federal candidates in 2012 represented just 0.4 percent of the population but accounted for 64 percent of campaign donations from individuals. Not many people have a spare $2,700 lying around to give to politicians.

Is it any wonder that the concerns of working people are such a low priority among those we elect to public office?

For a More Ethical Workplace

No one's going to ask someone with this on his desk to inflate a client's bill.

No one’s going to ask someone with this on his desk to inflate a client’s bill.

Hang a crucifix.

Or a photo or Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa.

Or maybe a quote from Kahlil Gibran.

Or Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

That’s the conclusion of a study in India that found that when workers have something on display in their work space that conveys some kind of moral message, managers are less likely to ask them to do something they might perceive as unethical.

No word on whether such a thing might work in the U.S.

There’s also been no research on whether those horrible “Successories” posters and plaques and doodads might actually encourage managers to ask their employees to do something unethical.

Do a web search of "successories spoof."  The Curmudgeon's clearly not alone in finding these things somewhere between insipid and offensive.

Do a web search of “successories spoof” and then refine it to images.  The Curmudgeon’s clearly not alone in finding these things somewhere between insipid and offensive.

But The Curmudgeon suspects they would.

Hypocrisy in College Sports

Again.

The Curmudgeon has had a few choices words in the past about college sports. When you come right down to it, he doesn’t think there should even be intercollegiate sports, or at least not in the form we know it today.

One of his issues with college sports – not a major issue but an issue nonetheless – is how poorly the players are treated. By “players,” of course, he means students. If you followed the NCAA basketball tournament, for example, you may have wondered how many classes all those kids were missing so they could play basketball and make money for their schools. The Curmudgeon has written about that, too.

And speaking of money, these kids are money-making machines for their schools yet they don’t get to share in any of those profits. Yes, they get a free college education, which many of them apparently are uninterested in – The Curmudgeon has written about this, too – yet it appears that for many (most?) of them, even if they are interested in the education, the compensation for their exploits on the field of play may be nowhere near commensurate with the contribution they make to filling their schools’ bank accounts.

Recently, though, a few unrelated events reinforced the idea that college sports is filled with hypocrisy and unfairness.

A basketball player at the University of Michigan missed an entire season of play because of an injury, and even though he’s going to graduate – congratulations, young man, you’ve earned a degree from a very fine school – he still has one year of playing eligibility left (although for the life of him The Curmudgeon does not understand why someone who is no longer a student at a school, and who is now a college graduate, should be permitted to play a sport for any college). The problem is that the University of Michigan no longer wants the young man: the team has found other players to take his place. He is free to find another school to take him for one year but he is no longer a member of the University of Michigan’s basketball team.

When you come right down to it, they kicked him off the team.

And here it gets nasty. According to the rules made by the people who run college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), college students – players – who transfer schools during their careers must sit out a year before playing for their new school. There is no earthly reason for such a rule, but it’s there anyway. Why? Mostly, so that grown-ups can exercise authority over young people. If the school the student/athlete is leaving wishes to do so, however, it can grant a waiver that frees the departing student to begin playing right away. The practice of granting such waivers is not very common but is much more common when it comes to students/players who have graduated from college.

But the University of Michigan said “Nuts to that.” Its concern: that the young man would transfer to a rival school. They didn’t want him, but they also didn’t want anyone else to have him, either.

When this information made the news, public reaction was swift and virtually unanimous in its support for the student and its opposition to the school. Knowing when it was licked, the University of Michigan reluctantly relented and granted the waiver.

For this one young man. The obnoxious rule, though, remains, with colleges retaining their authority to treat their students like common chattel.

The Curmudgeon read about this kerfuffle – there he goes again with that word – in the New York Times on April 1 and put a link to the article in his folder of ideas for future blog entries because the whole thing bothered him and he thought he might write about it. Then, though, he received a gift from the bloggers’ gods: two weeks later he read on the ESPN web site of a man who had signed a contract to coach the basketball team at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas less than three weeks earlier but had changed his mind, abandoned UNLV, and signed a contract to coach Texas Tech University instead.

He reneged on his contract and left one school for another.

And unlike the kid, he didn’t need to sit out a year.

In this particular case, the parties involved don’t seem all that exercised about it. The coach apparently had a long-standing relationship with Texas Tech and the UNLV people said they understood his desire to return there once the opportunity arose.

So that’s not the problem.

The problem is the principle, and the hypocrisy.

Why is it perfectly acceptable for a coach to renege on a contract and jump from one school to another but not acceptable for a student to do the same?

Why the double standard?

There are many legitimate reasons for student/athletes to seek to transfer. In the situation described above, the school told the young man it didn’t want him anymore but still wanted to prevent him from going to the school of his choice. Sometimes, students don’t like the school. Sometimes, the coach and the player don’t get along. Sometimes, the people who recruited them made promises they didn’t keep. Sometimes, the people who recruited them left the school – like the coach who jumped from UNLV to Texas Tech (by the way: his sixth job in five years. Anyone who believes a word that comes out of this guy’s mouth should be prohibited from attending college at all because he’s just too stupid and no amount of education will change that).

What you have here, The Curmudgeon believes, is a rigged system:   a system that doesn’t operate in the interest of the students it’s supposed to serve and a system that favors adults over kids every time.

It’s hypocritical and it stinks.

It’s the NCAA.

And it’s yet another reason why intercollegiate sports is a terrible thing.

The Latest Trend in TV Show Names

scrotal recallYou’ve seen some or all of them:

“Full Frontal With Samantha Bee”

“Scrotal Recall”

“Californication”

“Schitt’s Creek “

“Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23”

“$#*! My Dad Says”

And maybe The Curmudgeon has missed some.

Is this an attempt to shock us? To appall us? To attract attention? To inspire protests that attract attention (and viewers)?

And are we finding that the most interesting thing about some of these series is…the title, and that the creativity behind the program begins and ends with the title?