Musings on Sports, Politics and Life in general

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My Vote Doesn’t Count


How many times have you heard that lament?

How many times have you uttered that phrase?

“My vote doesn’t count because…”

  • Because I’m only one of millions.
  • Because politicians won’t care about my vote.
  • Because my state is solidly Democrat (or solidly Republican)
  • Because nothing ever changes

Because…because…because…

There’s an old saying about excuses, the body part they resemble, and the odor they release. Whatever your “because” might be, it’s only an excuse for not voting. Just like that adage, your excuse stinks. Your decision to stay home rather than show up at your polling place definitely can result in changes. Your decision to mute your political power affects your taxes, the services you and your neighbors receive, the laws and ordinances that are passed, and the education your children receive.

Let me tell you a story. Bucks County, PA has about 460,000 registered voters. There are more Republicans than Democrats, 210,000 to 180,00 with about 70,000 undeclared. During yesterday’s general election, in which county supervisors, school boards, local councils and state representatives were chosen, had a whopping 77,000 people turn out to vote. What does that mean? It means fewer than 17% of those eligible to vote bothered to go to their neighborhood polling site and cast a ballot. It also means that a county with a total population of around 650,000 people allowed fewer than 12% of us to dictate their futures.

Those 12% of us flipped the county government from red to blue, putting Democrats in charge for the first time since the 1990s. Here’s what that means: if those Democrats who were elected to run the county keep their promises, our property taxes are about to go up. We’ll keep importing trash (literally, garbage and refuse) from greater New York City. The Sheriff’s Office will be reduced, the welfare department increased and spending on road and water system repairs will go down the drain.

Now for the kicker: the third commissioner won his seat by a mere 657 votes. 1/10th of 1% of the population of this county essentially voted for higher taxes to pay for more services that will be used by fewer residents. 657 people who wanted a more intrusive government took ten minutes out of their day to vote, while 383,000 people (most of whom don’t want government to do anything other than collect the garbage and fix the roads) couldn’t be bothered with showing up and doing their civic duty.

Do you think their votes would have mattered?

Do you think more than a few of them woke up on Wednesday surprised at the election results?

Because that’s the thing. If any of those 383,000 non-voters want to complain about those higher taxes, those reduced services or the sudden surge in homelessness sure to follow in the next two years, they literally forfeited that right. Their non-vote became a vote to give 657 people an outsized voice in the direction of their lives. That’s the same thing you do every time you decide you don’t need to cast a vote.

So don’t. Don’t be complacent, don’t think your vote is meaningless, don’t think government refuses to listen to you. Get off your duff, get into that voting booth and stop giving your vote away by not voting.


A Titanic Disaster


On April 14, 1912 the SS Titanic ran into an iceberg. No biggie; the ship was advertised as unsinkable. A few hours later, the Titanic was on the bottom of the North Atlantic. The fates had been tempted and they struck with a vengeance.

On April 14, 2019 the New York Yankees lost a game to the White Sox. It marked the first time in 37 years the team had lost its first three home series. The team had been advertised as a “fully operational Death Star” by management during the preceding off-season. The fates had been tempted and they struck with a vengeance.

Yes, this team is missing a 11 players due to injury. But consider this: the combined record of the teams that the Yanks have played at home is 19-25. They have played one quality team so far, and were swept in rather ignominious fashion.

Yes, I realize five of the eight regulars are on the IL. But management, rather than open the checkbook and sign the three superstars on this past offseason’s free agent market (all of whom had expressed a desire to wear the pinstripes) decided to bulk up with “depth” signings. The idea was to be able to weather injuries. Well, ironically enough, the injuries are here and those depth signings aren’t exactly panning out.

They signed Troy Tulowitzki instead of Manny Machado. Tulo used to be a good player, but he didn’t even get through the first week of the season before getting hurt. Machado is playing every day, making highlight reel plays for San Diego and crushing homers.

Rather than sign Bryce Harper, another consensus top 10 talent, management gave a contract extension to the skilled but oft-injured Aaron Hicks. Guess what? Hicks is (once again) injured, with no timetable for a return, while Harper is playing every day with an OPS near 1.000 for the Phillies and has become a fan favorite.

Rather than sign Patrick Corbin, a legitimate ace pitcher, the Yankees traded for James Paxton and re-signed JA Happ. Corbin has a 2.84 ERA in 3 starts for Washington. Paxton and Happ have combined for an ugly 7.30 ERA and 4 losses.

The Yankees may well be fully operational Death Star. But the authors of this mess should remember the fate of the original Death Star. It’s designers thought they had built an indestructible machine that got taken out by hubris. The Yankees season looks like it’s headed for the same fate.


Shut It Down


If the government isn’t going to defend the border, then it isn’t much of a government and has no business being in business.

Shut it down.

If our government refuses to provide for the common defense, it has no business calling itself our government.

Shut it down.

If Congress can spend over $4 trillion a year on things like seeing how fast a shrimp can run on a treadmill, but refuses to fund border defense, defund Congress.

Shut it down.

If our government can find $5 billion to help Iraq secure its border, but refuses to spend $5 billion to secure OUR border, whose government is it?

It isn’t ours.

Shut it down.

And leave it shut down.


In Remembrance


September 11, 2001.

There are only a few dates in a person’s life that can be recalled in perfect clarity. Dates where your memories are supercharged by the emotions felt that day, dates that haunt your dreams and whose events can be replayed like an old video.

My wedding day is one such day for me. The other is not nearly so happy: September 11, 2001.

It was my first day off from work in nearly two months, and I rewarded myself by sleeping in that morning. I was sitting at my kitchen table, a cup of coffee and the morning newspaper (yes, back then, a newspaper was not unusual) in front of me when my wife hollered from the living room. “A plane just hit the World Trade Center!” she yelled. “It’s on the TV. Come and see!”

I’m ashamed to admit that my first reaction was that it was a bad accident, but one I had been expecting for years. After all, those two skyscrapers jutted out, almost into the air lanes at the very southern tip of Manhattan. That no pilot had accidentally run into them before I considered a miracle.

I went into the living room, coffee in hand. My wife had the Today show on. They were showing the smoke pouring from the building via a helicopter shot and Matt Lauer was babbling about the WWII bomber that ran into the Empire State Building. I remember thinking that as much as I had dreaded a pilot losing his way and flying into one of those towers, I couldn’t wrap my head around how one had done so on that morning. The weather seemed so perfect, the skies so clear, that it seemed impossible that a pilot couldn’t have seen where the hell he was flying.

Fast forward a bit, and the first reports came in that air traffic controllers had lost contact with the plane before the crash. “Maybe the pilot had a stroke,” I remarked to my wife. It was 9:01 am. I remember the time because I had glanced at the wall clock as I turned to go back into the kitchen. I was hungry and about to root around for some food.

2 minutes later, my wife was screaming, “Another plane just crashed into the South Tower!” It was the moment our world changed. Because at that moment, I knew this wasn’t an accident. It was a planned, coordinated attack on the very heart of our economic might, on symbols of our national strength. Someone had just declared war on the United States.

Do you remember how you felt at the moment you first realized that? I do. I was pissed off. And confused, because like most Americans I had no idea who it might be. I had never heard of Al Queada, and never in a million years would I have guessed a bunch of cave dwelling goat herders could be sophisticated enough to use our own aircraft to attack us.

After that, of course, came the mad scramble. I called my store, told my employees to lock up and head home for the day. Called my DM to tell him what I did and why (like a lot of people, he was already at work and had no idea what was going on yet). And then the phone lines were jammed – nobody could a call through, which just added to my wife’s anxiety. I wasn’t certain if it was another attack or just everyone in the country trying to call one another, but I wasn’t taking chances. We raced to the school to grab our kids, just in case this was a precursor to a larger attack.

Of course, there were two more attacks that morning: flight 77 rammed into the Pentagon, and the heroes of flight 93 averted a major disaster by taking back their plane and crashing it before it reached Washington.

At 9:59, the South Tower collapsed – and like everyone else, I was shocked. One plane brought down a 1000 foot skyscraper? A few minutes later, the North Tower followed it’s sister to its death.

I was numb. I was angry. I was afraid.

And I wanted whoever had done this to be beaten to a bloody pulp, heads ripped from their necks, a pike driven so far up their asses that when it rained they could get a colonic.

When a date is so traumatic, so vivid, that it can be shared by a generation, it is a milestone event, a moment in history that can galvanize and define nations. Such is September 11.

God bless those who lost their lives that day and the men and women who toiled for weeks after to search for survivors and perished as a result.

May God bless the United States.

#NeverForget


Should The Yankees Retain Girardi & Cashman?


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With the end of the 2017 season, Yankees ownership has some decisions to make, perhaps none bigger than what to do about the General Manager and manager. Both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi’s contracts expire after this year, and the question is should either of them be offered the chance to stay in Pinstripes.

I don’t think anyone can reasonably argue that Yankees ownership would be suicidal to cut Brian Cashman loose. Since the Steinbrenner’s gave him full control over personnel decisions, the Yankees have become a markedly improved team. Shrewd trades and free agent signings have turned around the club in the Bronx. By keeping an eye towards the future as well as the present, Cashman also has the Yankees set up to make a major splash in the international free agent market this offseason and major league free agent market after the upcoming season, while getting the team’s payroll below the dreaded luxury tax threshold.

Several years ago, Cashman made improving the team’s minor league farm system a priority, which he’s done. Most baseball evaluators rank the system as one of the five best in the game, with several placing it in the top three. Even before trading for prospects such as Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, the system was developing major league caliber talent, with this season’s youngsters of note (Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances and Aaron Judge) all having been drafted and developed by the Yankees.

A general  manager’s job is to put a contending team on the field, while ensuring payroll is kept manageable enough that ownership can be comfortable. Cashman has the team on the right track. Releasing him would be mistake.

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Joe Girardi, like Cashman, is also on an expiring contract. Unlike Cashman, Girardi’s case isn’t as cut and dried.

A major league team’s manager can have differing responsibilities, based on the front office’s expectations. Some teams ask the manager to teach a young team to play at a major league. Others ask the manager to maintain clubhouse order and make a team of cast-offs and never-were’s respectable. Still others want their manager to get their team to the playoffs.

For the New York Yankees, the manager always has one job, and one job only: win. And winning means, win the World Series. Anything less is considered a failure.

This is Girardi’s 10th season as Yankee manager. In that time, his teams have been to the World Series once. Over that same period, the Giants have been three times, the Phillies twice, the Rangers twice and the Royals twice. That the team hasn’t been as successful on the field during his ten years isn’t entirely Girardi’s fault, though. But there is a case to be made that this season might qualify as his worst at the helm.

Most baseball fans have probably heard of “WAR,” even if they don’t fully understand it. It represents a player’s value above that of a typical “replacement” level player. (Fangraphs has  a detailed and easy to understand explanation here.) A team full of 0 WAR players would be expected to only win 48 games (which would set a record for futility) but the idea is that if you can cobble together a roster worth 52 WAR, you should win 100 games. It can be argued that if a team wins more games than their cumulative WAR, then the manager positively influenced the final record. The same goes for the converse.

Another way of evaluating a manager’s effectiveness is by using a little known statistic called Pythagorean Won/Loss. It measures the numbers of runs a team scored and the number it allowed, and comes up with an expected win total. (When Bill James came up with this, it sparked a firestorm which still rages in sabermetric circles).

In 2017, the Yankees aggregate team WAR was 55.1, which would equate to a 103-59 record.
In 2017, the Yankees Pythagorean W/L record was 100-62.

In 2017, the Yankees actual record was 91-71.

Throughout the previous 9 years of his tenure, Girardi had been worth between 3 and 8 wins to his team; which is to say, the Yankees typically won 3 to 8 games more per year than they statistically should have. In 2016, he was worth around 5 wins to the Yankees. So it’s fair to ask, why did this year’s squad so badly underperform their stats?

I think there are some clues in Girardi’s postseason performance. Everyone is well versed in how badly he botched Game 2 of the division series against the Indians. But there were some decisions in the ALCS, especially regarding his handling of the pitching staff, that are head scratchers. Over the years, Girardi has earned a reputation as a manager who perhaps overly relies on statistical analysis, and not enough on what his eyes see happening on the field. The fans have even coined the nickname “Binder Joe” because of this tendency. And so we had an exhausted Tommy Kahnle trying to get out hitters with his fourth best pitch in Game 7 and a spent David Robertson left in to get pounded in Game 6. We watched a tired Luis Severino lose the strike zone in Game 6. We watched as the Yankees best reliever, Aroldis Chapman, was left in the bullpen in critical junctures of both games – and never get used at all.

It is entirely possible that while he relates to his players on a personal level (the way the team rallied around the manager in the LDS is testament to that), too many of the Yankees players in 2017 were too unfamiliar to their manager for him to properly gauge how best to deploy them during the season. The youth movement underway in the Bronx certainly revealed some of the young talents shortcomings, from Gary Sanchez’s defensive failings, to Betances’ mechanical woes and Judge’s prodigious strike-out totals. Girardi never seemed to be able to address those problems, or even willing to at times.

Those would all be reasons to dismiss Girardi, but I don’t think the Yankees should -or will. Removing Girardi because of one bad year would be shortsighted, I think, especially when over the course of his career he’s proven to be one the 5 best major league managers in the game. I do think, in light of the youth movement underway (I fully expect to see at least another 4 or 5 of the Baby Bombers in Pinstripes next season), Girardi will need to step up his game and leave the binders in his office once the game starts.

Dismissing Girardi also begs the question: who would you replace him with? As I said above, his history says he is one the 5 best managers in the game today. The Yankees are on the cusp of many playoff appearances and potential world championships to come. It’s not the time to gamble on an untested commodity, and I doubt the Yankees will be able to pry Tito Francona or Joe Maddon away from their respective teams.

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So, for now, I think the Yankees will stand pat with their managerial personnel. They’ve brought the team this far. MIght as well give them the chance to finish the job.


Las Vegas


Just some quick thoughts:

  • The latest casualty toll is 58 dead, 515 wounded. That’s nearly 600 total casualties, a horrific number by any reckoning.
  • With nearly 600 casualties, it’s likely the shooter fired at least 2,000 rounds. 
  • The shooter was firing into a crowd at a range of approximately 500 yards.
  • Given those two factors, it is unlikely that the shooter was using a modified semi-automatic weapon. This jibes with not only what I heard on tapes of the shooting, but other veterans: the weapon being fired is a M60.
  • Also, the degree of planning and the logistics involved in carrying out this attack makes it unlikely the shooter was acting alone.

There is still much we do not know. But, be wary of what the alphabet networks are feeding you. A lot of what we’re seeing isn’t matching what we’re hearing from them.


What Is An American?


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One of the unique things about being a citizen of the United States is that unlike other nationalities, we often have these discussions about what being an American actually entails. We’ve been engaged in just such a discussion for the past four or five years now, and many people have landed on many different definitions.

Are we defined by our borders, the territory we control as a nation? Are we defined by our ethnicity or ethnicities? By our economic circumstances, both as individuals and as a nation? For many, these definitions, or a combination of these definitions, is what defines “Americanism.” These may be aspects of American life, but they are not what defines us as a people. As we saw this past weekend in Virginia, clinging to those notions is more divisive than unifying. They cannot define a nation as diverse as ours, one where wealthy and poor from every ethnicity on the planet call home.

Likewise, political leaders who foster these views cannot be unifying. They can only divide the nation along religious, ethnic and class lines. Both our last President and our current one have willingly used the imagery and language of grievance, attempting to force the nation as a whole to view the world through the distorted lenses of one subset of Americans or another.

The reality is the United States is not confined by our borders, defined by our economic clout or existent by our military power. You might have heard the United States identified as an ideal, and that is what our nation is. The glue that binds us are not the temporary trappings of wealth and power. The power that has allowed our nation to grow, to prosper, despite welcoming every ethnicity, every religion, and every race on the Earth was given to us by the men who created this country:

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.

I think that for many of us, these words have lost their meaning. After all, we’ve all heard them countless times. I can scarcely think of anyone who can’t recite them word for word.

Yet, we cannot deny the power they hold. It is those words, more than anything else, that drew our ancestors to this country. Those words are the birthright of every American and it is those words that are our unifying force.

One of the things I like to do, when faced with a passage whose meaning is difficult to comprehend, is to reword it in a way that is easier to understand. Bear with me as I do so here.

We: Who were the Founders referring to by “we?” The document this passage is taken from – the Declaration of Independence – was an open letter to the King of England and Houses of Parliament, on the behalf of the citizens of the new nation they were creating. “We” is nothing less than every American citizen.

hold these truths: to hold a belief is to accept it without question; a truth is an incontestable fact.

to be self-evident: something that needs no outside proof of its existence.

that all men are created equal: everyone, everywhere is no different than anyone else – and we are born into this condition. Whether you have the privileges and wealth of a Wall Street billionaire or are left scrounging for subsistence in the Somali sun, every person that will ever see this world is the same.

that they are endowed by their Creator: While the majority of the Founders believed in the Christian god, it’s important to note that not all of them did. George Washington and John Adams were deists, as were notable non-signatories of the Declaration, including Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen. It should also be noted that New York and New Jersey already had sizable Jewish populations by the middle of the 18th century (indeed, Dutch Jews were among the first settlers in New Amsterdam and Newark). Even among the devout Christians, there were religious differences – Charles Carroll of Maryland was a practicing Catholic, for instance. But the one thing all of them agreed on was a belief in a higher power, or Creator.

with certain unalienable: something which can neither be granted nor taken away by human authority.

Rights: Jefferson, John Adams and Franklin all were well versed in the philosophy of John Locke. While Locke’s ideas regarding natural rights were already well-established in philosophical circles by the mid-18th century, the Founders were doing something truly revolutionary here: they were claiming that by our existence, human beings have entitlements that no government can interfere with.

What follows is a listing of what those entitlements are.

that among these are: Whoops! make that a partial listing. Jefferson is saying there are other, unspecified rights, and he’s selected only the ones pertinent to why the Colonists are creating a new nation.

Life: Yes, you have a right to live. Sounds almost silly, until you watch this.

Liberty: for the 18th century thinker, Liberty was well defined by David Hume – “By liberty, then, we can only mean a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will; this is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may.” I’ve read many other definitions of liberty, but this one – despite it’s age – still seems the best.

pursuit of Happiness: While nobody can guarantee that you will find peace and joy in the world, you’re entitled to try and find whatever it is that lets you achieve it.

One 36 word sentence carries quite a bit of import, I would say. If we were to reword the entire thing, it would come out something like this:

American citizens agree that the following is a statement of fact:
All people are born the same, and the Creator that grants us our existence does, by that existence, grant us certain privileges and entitlements that no person, government or entity can take away. Some of these entitlements are our lives, our freedom of movement and thought, and our attempt to derive peace and joy from our existence.

It isn’t as flowery or memorable as the original, I know. But this statement is what separates America from every other nation. It is what defines us a people, and as a country. America has not always lived up to the ideals laid out in this statement, but it is the fact we continue to strive towards it – rather than abandon it – that has characterized our place in history.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King once said he dreamed of the day when his children wouldn’t be judged by their ethnicity, but by who they were as people. It was Dr. King’s way of restating our guiding principle, the American principle of natural rights. We haven’t gotten there yet, as the events in Charlottesville showed. Call me a sap, a sentimental fool or a man blinded by his beliefs, but I still think the vast majority of the people who call the United States home believe in our founding principle, but are being led astray by fear of an unknown and rapidly changing future.

Thank you for your time today, and may God bless America.

 

*The video I linked to above can also be watched here. You’ll need about 20 minutes to watch the whole thing. It’s painful and at times angering, but I suggest you do.

 


Korean Konflagration


In case you haven’t noticed, North Korea has been doing a lot of saber rattling over the past few weeks. If you listen to only the talking heads on television, you could easily believe the world stands on the brink of nuclear war. You would believe that Kim Jong Un is certifiably crazy, and is engaged in showing the USA (and President Trump, in particular) that he doesn’t have tiny hands.

Relax, everyone.

Whatever else Kim might be, a crazed megalomaniac looking to annihilate Guam for the sake of a show of force is not it. He was literally bred to lead his country. Like his father and grandfather, he is dictator for life, assuming the reins only after the death of his predecessor. In olden days, we would have called him the third king of the Kim dynasty. Like monarchs of previous centuries, after assuming the throne he engaged in a purge of anyone who might challenge his power: family members, military leaders and others. To the modern mind, those moves seem outdated, bizarre, surreal; the actions of a madman.

Put in the proper context, they are anything but the actions of an insane megalomaniac. They are the actions of a cold, calculating monarch entrusted not only with leading his nation, but ensuring that the dynasty continues unabated. And if you judge Kim by that standard, then the current situation becomes much easier to understand.

North Korea is a small, isolated country of limited resources and not much material wealth. As it’s leader, Kim has certain responsibilities and like the monarchs of ages past, one of the most important is ensuring his subjects are fed. World history is replete with examples of monarchs who failed in that respect and the results have never been particularly good for them or their families. King Louis XVI lost not only his empire, but his head in the French Revolution. Czar Nicholas II was forced to watch his family’s executions before finally losing his life during the Russian Revolution. Kaiser Wilhelm II was forced to flee to the Netherlands when even his army turned against him.

Rest assured, Kim is well aware of all those historical precedents and has no intention of joining their ranks.

His current situation is dire. As mentioned above, his nation is isolated and materially poor. Historically, ensuring the North Korean people are fed is difficult enough – and this year, they’ve suffered their worst drought since at least 2001. Kim knows unless he can secure an imported food source, and the means to pay for it, he faces a winter of mass starvation, a discontented populace and internal unrest. Even if the people are unable to overcome generations of indoctrination and rise up against the regime, there still exists the very real possibility of the army deposing him.

So, what stands in Kim’s way of securing enough food to keep his nation fed? As it has been for the past 67 years, the United States and South Korea.

What Kim wants is to enter into direct negotiations with the both countries, with three ultimate objectives: 1, getting the current sanctions against North Korea lifted; 2, getting grain from the US and 3, obtaining a security guarantee. To that end, he has reverted to a standard North Korean negotiating tactic, threatening to tear up the 64 year old armistice and resuming hostilities.

After all, threats of open warfare worked for both his father and grandfather. It works for one reason: nobody wants to see a shooting war on the Korean peninsula again, particularly South Korea. During the 1950-53 war, the US suffered nearly 60,000 deaths – but South Korea lost over a half million people. (Nobody is certain how many North Koreans died, but most estimates put the number just shy of a million). The capital city, Seoul, was conquered and recaptured on 4 separate occasions. Fast forward to today: Seoul is home to over 10 million people (with another 15 million living in its suburbs) and sits only 35 miles from the border. It is within easy striking distance of conventional artillery, to say nothing of aircraft and rockets. Should the Korean War get “hot” again, it’s generally accepted that South Korea would suffer over a million civilian casualties on just the first day.

This is why ratcheting up the rhetoric always worked in the past. Even if the US is reluctant to grant anything to the North, pressure from the South (who desperately wants to avoid reopening hostilities) has led to begrudging acquiescence.

The calculated gamble Kim is making now is based on that history. The reason he’s amped up the rhetoric even more than in the past is he knows that unlike previous administrations, the current US leadership is unlikely to be swayed only by the pleas from what is currently a scandal-plagued South Korean government. By threatening a US territory, he is hoping to force Washington to the negotiating  table.

It’s not that Kim actually wants a war with the US, He knows that in such an event, he wouldn’t last long. During the 1950-53 conflict, it took the combined power of China and the Soviet Union to stave off total defeat for North Korea. Of course, the wild card in all this is President Trump. He is unconventional, for certain. But what Kim has certainly factored into his consideration is that, thus far, the Trump administration has not deviated all that much from the past 25 years of US foreign policy, despite all the bluster.

Of course, the possibility of open conflict remains if Kim thinks he has no way out of the box he’s created – or if Trump decides that enough is enough and preemptively strikes. But I still don’t think that either will happen. I suspect that even as we bustle about our daily lives, backchannels are being opened and the first tentative steps towards negotiation are under way.


Sorry, Jim…


…but you are not guaranteed a job. You are not entitled to a job, and nobody owes you a job.

It’s almost funny. It is downright comical to watch fellow “conservatives” try to shame Alphabet into rehiring James Damore. Over the years, the sentiment annunciated at the beginning of this post was supposedly a bedrock principle. But, as with so many other supposedly conservative principles, the past 18 months has revealed that they were just talking points for many “conservatives.”

Look, here’s the deal. When you sign an employment contract (and I don’t care if you’re sweeping streets or writing code for one of the world’s largest companies), you agree to abide by your employers code of conduct. You can talk about liberty, and freedom, and all of those other things – but if you agree to work for someone, you are voluntarily agreeing to put curbs on those things.

My first “professional” job was as a QA engineer for Panasonic, more years ago than I care to remember. There was an official dress code: men were to wear a dark suit, white shirt and tie. At the time I accepted the job offer, I owned one suit. It was a very fashionable suit for the 1980’s, but it definitely wasn’t “dark” (think Miami Vice). So guess what I did? I went out and bought 3 navy blue suits and 5 white dress shirts. I wanted the job and understood that I needed to adhere to that dress code, even if it didn’t match my personal style.

I understand Mr. Damore has a problem with Alphabet’s diversity policy. I guess at this point, the entire world knows he does. I’ve disagreed with various company policies at some of the places I’ve worked, as well. There are three things that are perfectly acceptable, that you can do in that situation. You can keep quiet and soldier on. You can take your concerns through proper channels, generally by directing those concerns to a supervisor or the company HR department. Or you can quit and look for a different job.

I read the memo that landed James Damore in hot water. It is a well thought out, backed with research studies, cogent argument against Alphabet’s diversity policy. It is not a screed, as some liberal organizations declared it. Had he distributed it on Facebook, or as a private blog post, or any of the other ways a ten page article can be distributed, he probably would have avoided being fired (unless he represented himself as a Google employee). At that point, he is speaking as a private citizen and probably doing the public a great service. Given the recent hullabaloo around affirmative action and gender equality, we need more solid, fact based opinions from the proponents on both sides of the issue.

But he didn’t do those things. Instead, he typed it up as an internal memo and distributed it within Alphabet. That action, and that action alone, was grounds for termination. That he was making a political statement compounded the problem and forced management’s hand.

Let the Saga of James Damore be a cautionary tale to the Social Justice Warriors of the left and the Culture Warriors of the right. Unless you’re working as a political operative, don’t bring your politics into the workplace.

After all, you aren’t entitled to a job, either.


Kentucky Fried Horsesh!t


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I sent this to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s corporate headquarters yesterday. Apparently, they thought I was kidding.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best score possible, I would rate your Fallsington, PA store a -10.

The condition of the restaurant appeared unsanitary and unappealing. The waste receptacles were filled to overflowing, it looked as though nobody has swept the floor in days and the counter was sticky. Perhaps someone spilled a soda last month and nobody thought to wipe it up?

Regardless, my family wanted your chicken for dinner, so I soldiered on. Despite it being the typical dinner hour, only one employee was taking orders – and she was also handling the drive-thru window. After waiting 20 minutes to place my order, this poor creature had to inform me that a Kentucky Fried Chicken had run out of… fried chicken. Could I wait ten minutes until the next batch was ready? As I said, my family had their hearts set on your chicken, so of course I said yes.

Ten minutes turned into thirty. I asked to see the manager, but was informed he was not available. I suppose not having a manager might explain the unsatisfactory condition of the restaurant. It could also go a long way toward explaining how a fried chicken restaurant didn’t have any, you know, FRIED CHICKEN. It certainly would explain why I had been standing in your store (no way I was sitting in those filthy excuses for seats) for nearly an hour. Anyway, the employee at the counter did offer me a free soda for my trouble and when I declined (I am a diabetic, as I explained to her), she included a free chocolate cake with my order. How a chocolate cake is any better for a diabetic than a soda is a little difficult for me to comprehend, but I suppose you cover that in employee training somewhere.

Another ten minutes went by, and my order was finally ready. I honestly can not recall the last time I was so thankful to leave a restaurant, even if my wallet was $40 lighter than when I arrived. At least my order was correct. I arrived home tired, hungry, and with a family ready to gnaw off my left arm. Great relief was evident as my wife unpacked the bags and began to plate our long anticipated, desperately desired food. I sat down to my meal, ready to devour every last morsel. I was halfway though my first piece of chicken when, to my horror, I discovered it was bleeding! Yes! Despite taking an hour to cook your world-famous chicken, your store had served my family a salmonella infested bucket of undercooked poultry. Happily, my wife cranked up the oven (because who isn’t happy with a 425 degree oven roasting the house on a 90 degree summer day?), finished cooking our chicken and saved our lives.

Now, I do need to give credit where credit is due. Despite her poor training, lack of support and a curious fascination with her cell phone, the employee at the counter/drive-thru retained enough of her humanity to be genuinely concerned about the situation. Not that she was able to do anything to correct the problems, mind you, but at least she was upset by the entire episode.

I hope to hear back from you within the next 24 hours, with your ideas for ensuring something like this never happens again. It would certainly behoove you to do so, as at 2pm tomorrow this letter will be posted to a number of social media outlets. Thanks in advance for reading this and correcting the situation.

Well, it’s now 5pm tomorrow and still not a peep from Colonel Sanders.
Suffice it to say, I will never eat at KFC again.