Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Being An Asshole

I had a conference call today that was scheduled to last two hours. It was a call for technical people only and it had to do with the installation of a new version of software for the server and the client workstations. After doing a roll call of about 30 attendees, the person heading up the conference passed the baton to a technical person who had us open the 38-page server installation instructions and he proceeded to read each and every word to us. One of the first paragraphs instructed the user to read and review the entire document before doing the installation. After a couple of pages of this, I responded when the reader asked if we had any questions about the page he just covered.

I politely questioned the need for reading the instructions completely--there was a second set to go through for the workstations as well and I was not looking forward to two hours of story time--and asked if there were parts of the instructions that needed to be touched on because they had been troublesome to others. The conference lead got all defensive and said that nobody complained during the last two conference calls and he thought this was important.

I wasn't looking for a fight so I didn't mention that what everyone probably did during those conference calls was work on other stuff while a voice on their speakerphone read to them and maybe complained to a work mate about how stupid that was. So I said, "Thank you," and was just about to disconnect when someone else chimed in. They agreed that a better use of our time would be to summarize and mention any troublesome spots. The conference lead was a little upset and asked if anyone else thought we should do that. So someone else piped up and said they thought so too.

Bizarrely, the conference lead said that maybe other people on the call would like to go through the entire set of instructions, to which that person responded, "Well, you asked." And nobody said they wanted to have it read in detail. So they shifted gears and the instructions were summarized. Not as much as they could have been, but enough to shorten the meeting from two hours to one during which I worked on emails, edited a document, monitored bandwidth usage, and requested quotes from vendors.
The title of this post doesn't convey what I intended to be, but that's how the conference lead reacted to me. That's his problem. In the end there were exactly three points where we were told something important. They could have just updated the instructions and told everyone to get the latest version via email, but the lead didn't give anyone a chance to say so. As soon as the last page of the second document was covered he thanked everyone for attending and concluded the call by hanging up.

I hit play on my music.


Anonymous said...

Great post.

You should consider making it into a Powerpoint presentation.

Definite webinar potential.

Hank Greer said...

A Powerpoint presentation! And a webinar, too. Why didn't I think of that? I guess I'm not as forward thinking as most people. ;-)

Woody Alanon said...

Feel our pain.

We inked a deal to make Shallow Cogitations with Tom Hanks as "Hank," Joseph Gordon-Levitt as "Hank's son," and Emma Watson as "Hank's daughter."

But after this asshole post, the feds are claiming the whole blog as work product.

Now the Pentagon has final say on casting, and we're stuck with Vin Diesel, that werewolf dude from Breaking Dawn, and Miley Cyrus.

New working title: Drone Hard: Damascus.

"In a world filled with evil, one American family says enough is enough."

Anonymous said...

"And they're not just talking. They're fightin' back."

Wolfie: Diesel Daddy, you said we built the Obama Drone for truth, justice and the American way.

DDad: That's right, son.

Wolfie: But, then why do we lie and break the law and spy? Why did we kill that American boy in Yemen?

DDad: Son, that boy chose the wrong dad.

Wolfie: But---

DDad: Son, we kill because that's what Martin Luther King would have wanted.

Wolfie: Wow. I did not know that. In that case, lets go kill some Muslims in an illegal war!

DDad: We have a dream today!


Keep Hope Alive said...

I worked locally for the Jackson campaign in '84, and for me it was moving to see Jesse. He was a compassionate and passionate man. The real heartbreak of his campaign was that many rank and file whites were willing to vote for him, but (white) party leaders had just a constant stream of gloom about his candidacy.

That's one reason Clinton's comments comparing Obama to Jackson in 2008 rankled people so much, particularly since Jackson had bailed out Clinton repeatedly. Jackson deserved a lot of the flack he got, but history also cheated him.

I voted for Obama but he's a cold fish. I realize it would be awkward to exclude the first black president from the podium, but I think the remembrance bent MLK to boost Obama rather than Obama bending in respect to MLK.

Obama betrayed the progressive causes he won on, he always sides with capital, but somehow it's all progressives fault. As if.

I'm dismayed by the huge gap between what Washington talks about and what people talk about. I think both the major parties use race cynically.

I doubt Martin Luther King would have showed up for his own party.

Arse Technica said...

American officials said Wednesday there was no “smoking gun” that directly links President Bashar al-Assad to the attack, and they tried to lower expectations about the public intelligence presentation. They said it will not contain specific electronic intercepts of communications between Syrian commanders or detailed reporting from spies and sources on the ground.

Oh for crap's sake. We're just supposed to believe Clapper and the rest of the Junta.

I'll be the asshole to ask: Did the US intelligence services gas the Syrians to save themselves from the Snowden leaks?

Remember a couple weeks ago when it was Africa supposed to be hit? Since that didn't pan out, why not a little distraction in the confusion of Syria?

Anonymous said...

Even taking Obama at his word, there is little case for an immediate US strike. Obama admits that the strike will not degrade Syrian ability to use chemical weapons. If the point is to teach Assad a "lesson," that lesson can be delivered more effectively in a deliberated, reasoned fashion. It would be a stronger lesson to strike with as broad a coalition and as much popular support as possible.

But we also need to consider whether a strike would lead to more atrocities and war expansion and our likely reaction to them.

Taken at his word, Obama seems to be giving away our advantage. He is allowing events to dictate our reactions. He is letting Assad dictate our reactions. The strategy in any fight is to fight your own fight, and to force your opponent to fight your own fight. That's King in a nutshell, by the way.

Assad gains by standing up to America alone, for example. Gains in the Arab world, gains with Russia. He gains if we look as rabid as he is. A long buildup of the case for war helps us, hurts him.

This whole argument that Obama has to act because of his red line comment ignores that Obama will only further entrap himself AND US if he follows this logic--there will be more red lines.

If Obama does this attack now, he dies it alone, without the American people at his back. Even Cameron is asking Parliament, and UK doesn't even have a Constitutional edict to do so.

If the fight against Syria is part of a long war against terror, Obama needs us more than we need him.

He and Kerry need to stop calling the American people assholes for asking questions.

Twerking Class Traitor said...

Wikipedia is also a battleground, and is currently reflecting Assad's pov:

"According to international news channel ( RT News ) during the ongoing Syrian fight against terrorists and different mercenary groups which are trying to destabilize the country, thousands of people have died in Damascus."

The Syrian argument to the UK expands here


This distortion is quite frankly nausea-inducing. Syria was and is no democracy.

But watching Kerry and Biden gives a similar feeling of intentional manipulation and obfuscation.

What we can know is that the intelligence on the attack comes from sources--Clapper and Israel--with their own motives. (In Israel's case, particularly about involving the US in striking Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. In Clapper's, justification and distraction.) We also can know that the administration won't share the intelligence with us yet mocks those who ask for factual verification.

We also can know that media is reporting that anonymous US officials are leaking that the information is "not a slam dunk" and that the gassing may have been rogue or accidental (imagine if the US had an accident or hijacking of our own stockpile). The description of the intercept lends itself to several interpretations.

We need a debate on the facts, assumptions and motives before we strike. It's beginning to look like Obama's main consideration is attacking before Congress reconvenes on Sep. 6.

Anonymous said...

“The commander in chief of any military is ultimately responsible for decisions made under their leadership,” the State Department’s deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf — even if, she added, “He’s not the one who pushes the button or says ‘go’ on this.

Sounds like a worthy sentiment.

How about we prosecute George Bush for systemic torture then, rather than just some low level grunts?

Anonymous said...

While the administration insisted Thursday that Obama had the authority and determination to make his own decision on a military strike in Syria without congressional approval, Americans overwhelmingly oppose that approach. Fully 79 percent in the poll — including nearly seven in 10 Democrats — said Obama “should be required to receive approval from Congress before taking military action in Syria, while just 16 percent said he does not.
That finding jibes with more than four decades of polls showing the public believes presidents should win approval from Congress before using military force, even though the legislative body is deeply unpopular.

Congress shall have Power... To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; Art.1 Sec.8, U.S. Constitution

The Constitution and we the people have drawn a red line. Will Obama cross it?

Breaking Silence said...

When Martin Luther King spoke out against the Vietnam War, he spoke from a moral perspective, but also a practical one.

In Syria, both the state and at least some rebel factions may be assumed willing to use chemical weapons (not to mention foreign actors). Isn't the issue the stockpile itself? In a practical sense, do strikes discourage further use, or possibly decrease control of these weapons? Is it worse or better to have pocession decentralized and pass to non-state entities?

Obama's objective appears to be "punish Bashar al-Assad." It should be "control the weapons." What is the strategy? Maybe we should be worried that Assad has lost his grip on these weapons, and that they are in a loosening spiral of control.

It's odd that Obama waives punishment where it would serve as a deterrant and he has the power to prosecute (torture, banksters, surveillance, US war crimes) but he becomes punitive in a situation where punishment may interfere with a more just result (and even preclude later prosecution for the criminals). Let's stop looking desparate and start thinking tactically as well as moralistically. If we are to use military force, let's do so in service of clearly defined and measurable goals that ultimately help Syrians and the world, and not in ways that damage our own democracy.

Anonymous said...

So now Kerry pontificating and refusing to go the Congress. Refusing to take questions, naturally. Obama always keeps his word? Oh yeah? Like his campaign promise to go to Congress before war?

America always stands on its values and opposes chemical weapons? Then why do we make them, use them, and still refuse to get rid of our stockpile in violation of treaties? Why did we help and fund Sadaam as he gassed the Iranians?

Kerry promised limited action would prevent further use, not just in Syria but the world. Really? Because you say so?

We can't even control our own weapons and proxies, Mr Secretary. Why not start here?

Anonymous said...

So does this mean that targeting and killing Muslim women, children and first responders is now a bad thing?

Or is it still OK to murder them with drones?

Clarification please, Mr. President.

Order of the coiffed said...

Kerry and Obama are definitely in full Harvard and Yale mode, Skull and Bones, they know best, they know the future, we're immoral idiots if we question them.

Unfortunately for them, war and reprisal are questions for Congress.

If Obama and Kerry are so highly confidant in their honesty and the overwhelming and intrinsic persuasiveness of their case, why do they fear a Congressional debate and vote?

And, why would the elites want to go to war without the American people? We're their cannon fodder!

Come now, Harvards, let's be honest. What is this really all about?

Anonymous said...

More like in full Colin Powell mode.

Kerry in 2004, defending his vote for the Iraq war (CNN):

The U.S. senator from Massachusetts said the congressional resolution gave Bush "the right authority for the president to have."

But he told reporters on a campaign swing through Arizona, "I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has." He challenged Bush to answer four questions.

"My question to President Bush is why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace?" Kerry asked. "Why did he rush to war on faulty intelligence and not do the hard work necessary to give America the truth?

"Why did he mislead America about how he would go to war? Why has he not brought other countries to the table in order to support American troops in the way that we deserve it and relieve a pressure from the American people?

"There are four, not hypothetical questions like the president's, but real questions that matter to Americans," Kerry said. "And I hope you'll get the answers to those questions because the American people deserve them."

They still matter to Americans, Mr Secretary. And you haven't answered them. And unlike Bush, you won't even go to congress or face media questions.

So what is our plan for the peace?
Where is our ally Britain?
Why do you hypothesize such glorious global results?
Why haven't you prepared for the bad outcomes?

Why the rush Mr Secretary?

Anonymous said...

Well. This is my first time to say it, and I hate saying it--

Going to war without authorization of Congress is a high crime.

I just watched Obama at the cabinet table. He really doesn't get the Constitution or divided government.

I'm not sure he gets the peril. We attack Syria, then Syria has the right to attack back. It takes just one pilot to fly at one of our vessels, and yes, we will have boots on the ground. Is that Obama's intent?

We are conceding the advantage to Assad.

I hope Democratic Senators watching this debacle are planning to speak up and be more than scenery. Where are Murray and Cantwell?

Toxic oligoi said...

You're all missing the point. Neither party wants a Congressional vote.

Their point is to evade responsibility while pretending to give a shit about us plebes.

They don't care if the war gets hung on Obama, nor does he. He's a lame duck. They just want an excuse to invade Iran I suspect.

They are completely cynical about the Constitution, except for elections, and they narrow those to meaningless differences.

Fox Populi said...

Actually I agree oligoi. Our representatives and media develop a disdain for the public that shows up strongly at times like this. Kerry in particular is basically a bigot. The President should have the war power the Constitution gives to Congress, even in 2004.

I'm not sure if the elites know what they are doing though. Probably just want to poke a stick into the Syrian hornets nest and then hand the end to us. Keep us busy.

Notice Syria has knocked the NSA below the jump.

Anonymous said...

Well, looks like we the people have forced Obama to do the right thing and bow to the Constitution.

A congressional debate is also a practical step forward, particularly given the poverty of effective choices and the long term nature of the problem. Let's hope this pause allows for the development of reasoned, multilateral options.

Next up: cut the spy budget, get Clapper charged with perjury, and a truly independent investigation of the NSA.

The Misery Compromise said...

Congress should convene early.

I'm not optimistic Obama will heed a no vote. He considers himself above the law.

If this was a CIA op, then we've probably only increased the risk that our spooks will up the ante. It's unfortunate we cannot trust the liars in the intelligence agencies.

I imagine Congress may include preconditions, (ultimatums to Syria, multilateralism, time limits) to get to a yes vote.

Let's hope they ask some hard questions on appropriate domestic surveillance during this new war.

Anonymous said...

the comments seem to have gotten off track from the "Being An Asshole" topic of the post.

The Old Rugged Crass said...

As Jesus said "Opinions are like assholes, and everbody's got one."