ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Friday, September 28, 2007

Harrassment or Witch Hunt?

As some of you might recall, many years ago I was one of the whistle blowers against the false child sexual abuse industry. At that time there were many so-called evaluators that would over-zealously find molest at the slightest hunch. Things like a little child's drawing of the sun with rays radiating out of it was interpreted by these zealots as a penis with hair. Others clearly fabricated evidence because there was lots of money to be gained from treating children who were found to be the victim's of violent crimes. I went against them - and was practifally burned at the stake because of it.

Today, I am taking on the silliness of some of the findings of harassment recently reported in the San Jose Mercury. The allegations were that a comment or two was made over a period of years or a woman manager had a temper and occasionally yelled.

We wanted to protect vulnerable women and men who were being bullied and exploited. That was the intent of the laws about sexual harassment. We wanted to protect the more fragile and conservative among us and so created the concept of a hostile work environment - so that all could feel psychologically safe.

Look at what's happening now! Have we gotten out of control? Are we suggesting that the world has to work in a "hot house" environment where no emotion, no fun, no frivolity can ever occur? Are we suggesting that an expletive once in a blue moon creates so hostile an environment that people ought to lose their jobs because of it?

Or, has a new industry developed? Do we now have a cadre of investigators who make their money by finding reasons to get someone fired?

Let's get sensible. A hostile work environment is one in which a "reasonable person" would be uncomfortable. The legal standard is about reasonable-ness - not just finding that once in a long while someone did something mildly inappropriate.

We are not pure. None of us is perfect. We all slip once in a while - how can we fire someone for such minor infractions?

Am I going to be burned at the stake again - for now taking this one on?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Without an I there is no team

Have you heard the expression "There is no I in team"? It's a bad slogan. It is a bunch of "I"s that make up a team. If individusals didn't count for something, than where's the desire, motivation, rewards for trying, etc.? Why bother. IfI am not important as an individual, if I am only one small cog in a big wheel - as unfortunately many people believe themselves to be - why bother - why try - why not just go through the motions?

It is our individuality, our egos, our desires to succeed and to be curious and to find and try new things that motivates us to be creative and to perform well.

There are many "I"s working cooperatively in a great team.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

About to be trapped

What safety. Once the door comes down, the enemies cannot come in.


What a horrible feeling it must have been - to walk through that gate and know that the door was going to come down - and trap you inside.

Emotions, according to Nathaniel Branden, are "instantaneous psychosomatic responses to value judgments."

In other words, what you experienced before will determine your reaction to a new event.

If you belong inside the castle, the door coming down provides safety. If you are being imprisoned within it - as in The Tower of London - that same door coming down, portends doom.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Picture is worth a thousand words, they say

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Call Center Hell

I just wasted an entire morning trying to resolve two simple problems - that should have taken about five minutes each. The first one wasn't too bad, only 20 minutes of hold, disconnect, and then finally the right person - who was a manager and really helpful. That was with Iron Mountain, the paper files storage company.

The second though made me crazed. I was repeatedly transferred, left on hold, and then the call was dropped and I had to dial again. I was transferred to six (yes 6) different agents, all of whom were "the wrong person to help me" and all I wanted was to talk with the billing department. I was on the phone with Office Depot's call center hell for over 45 minutes. Eventually I was connected to a billing clerk named Christine. I told her what I wanted. She promised to fax it to me .... and she faxed me only one small piece of the itemsized statement i requested./

Call centers need to clean up their act. Hiring cheap labor who don't liten well, only know how to read scripts, and never have enough information to really help you, costs these companies oodles of money in the long run. It costs them customers too.

Call center agents who tell you "not my department" or "I can't access that information, it requires another department" leave the caller frustrated. There needs to be cross-training and access to a wider range of computerized information.

Furthermore, if they have to transfer you - after all you've already gone through hold ad button pressing hel before getting to them - they should get you a LIVE human being with an IQ over 100, who can actually help you.

Please please please - let's hire better and train better - customers on this end are so frustrated.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Making for Peace

Tonight the President announced that we are staying in Iraq for a while - and lot's of my friends have exclaimed that he is an idiot and we should pull our troops out immediately. I disagree. Once we decided to enter the fight we should stay and win and help them form a working democracy.

No one wants war. No wants to see human lives wasted. But peace does not come about by wishful thinking. Peaceful nations - those that trade and cooperate - have evolved over time. I firmly believe that we can achieve world-wide peace when what we do is help other nations become free and economically advantaged. The middle class has much too lose in a war and much more to gain in peace time.

I'm old enough to remember that this is the recurrance of the same seesaw we've ridden about all other wars. We get in for what at the time is considered good reasons and then there is a hue and cry because of the costs - the costs in lives, emotions, and money. There are those who want to quit before the job is done.

I don't know what wars we should have gotten into and which we should have left alone - and that's not the discuss I want to have here. My main thought is to talk about what it takes to bring about peace.

Let's work for peace - but not go belly-up. Let's educate, set good examples, bring different groups of people together so they can learn about each other and stop hating due to prejudice, let's help build constitutional systems, create sustainable economies and be good neighbors.

And, most of all let's stop polarizing within the United States as badly as we've been doing lately - let's lay down our invective towards those in in "the other party" and start cooperating again as one team with somewhat different ideas from time to time.

Steve believes in revolution. My vote is for evolution with very active involvement.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy New Year

On the eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashonah, I wish you all a happy, healthy, and wealthy New Year. As I told some of my friends and family, I've made a commitment to keeping this blog lively - and want your comments and ideas to add to it. For now, though, I think I am brain dead. It's been a long day and tomorrow, which starts early will be filled with doctor appointments - UGH.

It is the tradition of cleaning house, of mending fences, of forgiving self and friends. It is a time to be kind, thoughtful and generous to self and others. It's a starting over - a new leaf - a new beginning - and hopefully one that will make each of us a better person.

I wish you and youts a Shana Tova - Happy New Year

Harry Potter Fans take note

Hi everyone - I couldn't resist sharing this picture with you. It was taken at midnight at King's Cross in London, Platform 9 3/4. Note that we are almost through, about to board the train for Hogwart's. Don't you wish you could join us there?


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Evolution or Revolution

An on-going argument among Objectivists is whether change should be allowed to happen by evolution - or whether revolution is not only required, but is the only moral alternative.

I believe in evolution. To be trite, you move mountains one pebble at a time. As I look at the changes in politics, philosophy, and economics, just in my lifetime, I see thousands of examples of incremental changes that over time became a monumental change in the manner in which we think and act.

When younger, existentialism was the belief most prevelant among the college set. Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism - which said reality was knowable and that A is A changed that belief and now her views are commonly accepted.

I raise this point because we are in an election year and not one of the candidates perfectly fits my beliefs. Yet, I am actively and strongly supporting one - one who comes the closest - even though he is not perfect.

Perhaps we did need revolutions from time to time - in the founding of our country, during the civil war, and even the civil rights movement - but this strategy should be employed when all attempts at persuasion and small changes growing into big ones have failed.

What are your views?

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Innocent Until Proven Guilty

You'd think this was a new concept - but it is how our body of law has been created. Yet, over and over again I see examples of the presumption of guilt.

  • Investigators looking only to confirm the point of view that the person alleged to have done something wrong is indeed guilty - ignoring all information that would provide an alternative point of view.
  • Homeowner's associations, particularly mine, who listen to a complaint and without investigating it, send a sanctioning notice to the persoin being complained about.
  • People on jury's saying "I know he is guilty, because the case wouldn't have gotten this far if he was not guilty."
  • A willingness - maybe even an eagerness - to listen to bad things about others and automatically assume they are true - yet on the other hand we look for the feet of clay for anyone held up as a hero - or good guy.

When I testified in court years ago, the judges I knew tried to stay neutral. When I teach alternative dispute resolution, investigations of allegations, prevention of sexual harassment and discrimination, and other similar courses, I repeat over and over again "The Tendency is to believe the first person who comes into your office. You must resist that tendency".

Can we please go back to an American society wherein we believe person to be innocent until proven guilty - and not jump to unjustified conclusions?

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