“Sixty eight percent of Republicans don’t believe in evolution. On the other hand, only five percent of monkeys believe in Republicans.”
Barclays zal alles in het werk stellen om na een overname gedwongen ontslagen bij ABN Amro in Nederland te voorkomen.
Over enkele maanden:
“Goh, ja, sorry hoor, we hebben echt alles in het werk gestelt, maar hier heeft u toch u toch uw ontslagaanzegging…”
Ik sprak afgelopen week iemand die een paar jaar geleden met een duizend andere collega’s weggesaneerd was bij een groot bedrijf – dat wil zeggen, zijn afdeling werd verkocht aan een derde partij die een dikke zak geld meekreeg (dat hadden de bonden geregeld) als sociaal plan, met de belofte dat een aantal jaren niemand ontslagen zou worden. Vervolgens werden die mensen een jaar later bij een andere bv in de holding ondergebracht, en kort daarna “plofde” deze bv. De zak geld was uiteraard niet meegegaan naar de bv, dus iedereen kon fluiten naar z’n werk en/of geld. De persoon die ik sprak is nu ZZP (zelfstandige zonder personeel) en doet EXACT hetzelfde werk als voor de sanering, voor exact hetzelfde grote bedrijf, maar nu als sub-contractor voor meer geld.
En om het helemaal cynisch te maken, ik sprak deze persoon tijdens het uitvoeren van zijn werkzaamheden voor een klantje van me die een dienst gekocht had van het grote bedrijf, en ik sprak ook met mijn klant over deze dienst, en de betreffende ZZP’er was eigenlijk de enige in het hele leverproces die z’n werk gewoon op tijd en correct af had.
CIA counsel nominee Rizzo said in response to a question asked by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI): “I’m trying to be responsive . . . without getting into a detailed explanation. We believed then and we have believed throughout this process that the CIA program, as it was conceived, when taken in toto, justifies the conclusion that the program was, from the outset, and remains conducted in a humane fashion.”
Murat Kurnaz was more direct. “In Kandahar,” he said, “they hanged me by my hands.”
In 2001, 19-year-old Murat Kurnaz was an innocent man caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Accused of being a terrorist, he spent five years in Guantanamo before being released — now he’s telling his story.
It has been a couple of months since the tragic events at Virginia Tech, and though we were moved by the heroism of Liviu Librescu, a professor who blocked the door to his classroom with his own body, and by the hypothetical heroism of radio commentator Neal Boortz, who totally would’ve rushed the deranged gunman, we know that revulsion and grief will rule that day forever. So, we once again look to bigger issues and preventive measures. Alarmist liberals are, predictably, braying for more gun control, but I urge you to stick to your strict constructionist interpretation of the Second Amendment (except for the militia part). If the victims of Virginia Tech had been armed, maybe there would have been no need for Librescu’s sacrifice or Boortz’s valiant speculation. And I got to thinking: Why stop with one American college campus?
Here’s what I propose for Iraq: Distribute assault weapons to every Iraqi man, woman, and adolescent with the aptitude to crook a trigger finger. After all, the insurgents are a proportionately minuscule part of the overall population, and since the bad guys get hold of weapons anyway, why not put equalizers in the hands of law-abiding citizens? That’ll make any mass murderer with a death wish think twice—unless he’s got a death wish or something. And just think of the relief our soldiers will feel every time their patrol encounters a dozen Iraqis stroking AK-47s at a traffic light. They’ll say, “Man, maybe Al Qaeda should fight us at home, because they sure don’t stand a chance here.”
I suppose some of the weapons we provide could be used against us. But we all know that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. All a semiautomatic does is discharge 75 poor choices per minute. Remember that so-called assault-weapons ban we had? What happened there? Thugs merely adapted and replaced drive-by shootings with drive-by pillow smotherings, and no one was any safer.
But here’s the best part. The unrestricted flow of weapons will help expose the subversive element that poses the greatest threat to our soldiers and to civilized Iraqis alike: the unarmed. Think about it: Only someone who had a reason to feel protected from insurgents would feel secure not hoarding weapons. We will know our enemies by the food stashed in their pantries, the clothes cached in their drawers, and the wall tapestries concealing large areas of their walls.
I don’t care if you give me credit for this idea, Mr. President, just as long as you implement it. Most Americans can’t identify the people behind strategic breakthroughs like Shock and Awe or Sending Troops Into Battle With the Protective Equivalent of a Fishing Vest, but the people responsible know who they are. The quiet satisfaction will suffice for me.
Let the bullets fly. And let freedom reign.
Want to take a look at what’s going on inside your iPhone? Dial *3001#12345#* and hit Call and you’ll get access to the special field test mode of the iPhone. This mode is designed to allow technicians and Apple reps to get information on the inner workings of the iPhone and the cell phone network it talks to.
President Bush got a lesson from a group of recent high school graduates. They were Presidential Scholars, a program designed “to recognize and provide leadership development experiences for some of America’s most outstanding graduating high-school seniors.”
The 141 Presidential Scholars were being honored at the White House. One of them, Mari Oye, from Wellesley, Mass., describes what happened: “The president walked in and gave us a short speech saying that as we went on into our careers, it was important to treat others as we would like to be treated. And he told us that we would have to make choices we would be able to live with for the rest of our lives. And so, I said to the president, ‘Several of us made a choice, and we would like you to have this,’ and handed him the letter.” It was a letter Mari had handwritten. It read:
“As members of the Presidential Scholars class of 2007, we have been told that we represent the best and brightest of our nation. Therefore, we believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions. We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants.”
The letter was signed by close to 50 of the students, more than a third of the Presidential Scholars.
Mari described Bush’s reaction to the letter: “He read down the letter. He got to the part about torture. He looked up, and he said, ‘America doesn’t torture people.’ And I said, ‘If you look specifically at what we said, we said, we ask you to cease illegal renditions. Please remove your signing statement to the McCain anti-torture bill.’
“At that point, he just said, ‘America doesn’t torture people’ again.”
German children’s book author Rotraut Susanne Berner was delighted when her latest worldwide success story, the newest of her “Wimmelbücher” series, was courted by a publisher in the notoriously fickle US book market.
However, after celebrating the fact that a German book had been noticed by the normally indifferent American publishing industry, Berner’s happiness turned to consternation when she discovered just how fickle the industry could be.
Of course, said publishers, Boyds Mills Press, there would be some cultural differences that would have to be addressed and possibly changed, which Berner herself was happy to consider. The publishers suggested that the inclusion of some smokers in the brightly colored illustrations would not be suitable for US children, and Berner agreed.
But when the publishers began suggesting censorship of naked artworks in the background of a museum scene, the German author couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“It was a sensation to start with,” said Berner of her amazement at attracting US interest, in an interview with the German Der Spiegel news magazine. But when the suggestions for edits and exclusions started to flood in over the nude paintings and sculpture, she thought it was a joke.
While Berner admitted that she could have lived with the offending artworks being covered by a black box or bar in the book, the author and graphic arts designer said that she could not agree to a complete reworking of the page and the omission of the artifacts. Instead, she pulled the plug on the US deal.
The contract would have been a sweet one, but Berner need not worry. Her books are sold all over the world and she has racked up best-sellers in 13 countries from Japan to the Faroe Islands. No one, other than the Americans, has complained about the nudity, she said.
Really, the international community doesn’t hate Americans, we’re too busy laughing at them.
Where do we stand in the discussion about patents on computer-implemented inventions (CII patents) two years after rejection in the European Parliament? This was the perspective under which the EPO had invited members of the European Parliament, representatives from industry and enterprise, NGOs and IP specialists to review developments since the rejection of the CII directive.
Approximately 100 people attended the one-day conference in Brussels, organised by the EPO.
All speakers welcomed unequivocally the opportunity to discuss the issue at a high level and made clear that a new CII debate followed by legal modifications was neither necessary nor desirable.
On one hand I applaud the death of software patents in Europe, for now. On the other hand, I think extra vigilance is needed to make sure they don’t sneak this in through the back-door by attaching it to a goat-herders resolution or something like that. You can’t trust politicians, unfortunately.
Consumenten zijn niet tevreden met de service en kwaliteit van Nederlandse bedrijven. Tweederde van de consumenten is zelfs ronduit negatief.
Dat concludeert Egbert Jan van Bel, marketingdocent aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, die onderzoek deed onder 6000 personen. De resultaten werden donderdag bekendgemaakt bij de presentatie van zijn boek ‘Kloteklanten’.
“Het resultaat is onthutsend”, zo zegt Van Bel vrijdag in het AD. “Banken, telefoonbedrijven, autodealers: ze schofferen, schepen af en gedragen zich arrogant. Vaak zijn ze maar in één ding geïnteresseerd: hoeveel kan ik aan de klant verdienen?”
Dat is te kortzichtig – het is eerder “hoe kan ik dit kwartaal mijn targets halen”. En daar komen een hoop van de problemen vandaan. Als de target is “zoveel procent clean orders”, dat wil zeggen orders zonder problemen, heb je grote kans dat een poging een iets ingewikkelder product te bestellen mislukt omdat op miraculeuze wijze je gegevens gewoon verdwijnen: dan tellen ze immers niet meer mee in de “niet-cleane” orders. Een call center wordt vaak afgerekend op de duur van een telefoontje, dus een ingewikkeld probleem proberen op te lossen betekent verbroken verbindingen en overnieuw bellen. Intussen zijn de bedrijven tevreden, want “alle targets zijn gehaald!”. En simpele producten zijn aan het verdwijnen – een mobieltje heeft er vaak internet en MMS bij, een adsl verbinding heeft telefonie en televisie erbij.
Zolang grote bedrijven hun mensen op “targets” blijven sturen die zo te manipuleren zijn, zal de klanttevredenheid (wat een slecht-meetbaar iets is, en dus altijd maar voor een klein deel in de targets terug te vinden zal zijn) het slachtoffer zijn.
Wat ook opvallend is, is hoe de target-cultuur een verschil in perceptie oplevert tussen de consument die alle shit meemaakt, en de mensen in het bedrijf, die denken dat alles hardstikke goed loopt elke keer als ze weer hun op targets gebaseerde resultaatbeloning uitgekeerd krijgen.
Ik vrees dat het nog een heel stuk slechter gaat worden voordat er bij grote bedrijven een lampje gaat branden.
Years ago, Carla Ruff stored her grandmother’s jewelry and a file of personal documents in a safe-deposit box at her bank in San Francisco’s Noe Valley, thinking they would always be there when she wanted them.
Not so. Without giving her notice or acting on evidence that she’d forgotten about her cache, the bank’s staff, under the auspice of the state, determined the contents of her box to be unclaimed property.
In July 1997, bank records show, the pearl necklace and diamond-encrusted pin, real estate and insurance documents as well as her birth certificate were all removed. The paperwork was shredded and thrown away. Her jewelry was auctioned off on eBay — for a fraction of its $80,000 value.
Ruff said she didn’t know what had happened until January 2006, when an illness in the family sent her to the Bank of America branch looking for the deed to her house. Weeks later, the bank manager told Ruff that her property had been seized by the state under a law that requires the government to take control of lost or abandoned assets.
The law requires that banks and other financial institutions notify the state controller’s office if property has been left unattended for more than three years. The law also requires the state to take the asset into trust to be held until the rightful owners claim it.
But most of the time, no one claims the property, and when the assets have been converted to cash the state gets the benefit from the unclaimed property to pay for services such as health care and highway repairs.
Critics say the so-called lost assets have emerged as an important revenue source for the cash-strapped state, providing as much as $400 million annually for general spending — enough to cover the salaries of more than 7,500 teachers. Complaints about the handling of personal property have sparked several lawsuits against the state, most of them brought by Sacramento attorney Bill Palmer, who also represents Ruff.
So far, none of his cases has resulted in an award of damages against the state — or has even been allowed to proceed to trial. The statute that controls the handling of abandoned property, the Unclaimed Property Law, expressly provides that “no suit shall be maintained by any person against the state … on account of any transaction entered into by the State Controller pursuant to this chapter.” California appeals courts have cited that immunity, among other grounds, as support for dismissing the claims.
The whole point of a safety deposit box is that you can leave stuff alone for a couple of years. Not so in California. If you actually use the box as intended, the state will steal your stuff….