Thursday, May 31, 2007

How to Turn Bad Customer Service into Good

In my post below, I whined about the rip off that is business centers in upscale downtown hotels. Namely the Hyatt Union Station St. Louis charging a $13.95 minimum to log on to a computer in the business center

I got off the phone tonight with one of their customer service folks. Was she truly sympathetic or just highly trained? Doesn't matter. She listened to my gripe, validated my concerns, and did something about it.

So she singlehandedly changed the poor customer service story below into an example of how to treat and retain customers. Nice work.

I kept my Hyatt reservation for Virginia next week.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Photo of the Year

Follow the link to see the full size, but, beware of trolls. Please don't feed them.

Intellectual Poverty

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the author of My Year Inside Radical Islam, is embedded in Yarmouk and has written a very nice roundup of his impressions over at Bill

He has an excellent line that hits home with me.
Right now our country is embroiled in a critical debate about setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Unfortunately, this is one of the most intellectually impoverished political debates that I have ever witnessed, with both sides often resorting to sloganeering and demagoguery rather than substantive argumentation.

This is where our current political leadership is failing utterly. There is little to no discussion of what would be the implications victory or defeat, staying or leaving. I think Republicans may do a little better in looking forward, but frankly they have failed to communicate the importance and impact of the world struggle against Islamism, therefore their arguments have a hollow "sky is falling" ring to them, maybe only because that's the counternarrative Dems successfully communicate. But the Dems won't honestly discuss what happens next. For both sides it's all jockeying for position and pandering to the perceived base. perceived, because they often get it wrong. As I said, our current political leadership is failing utterly.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Still an Idealist...

I had an interesting conversation late one night last week at the conference. Sitting in the Grand Hall, discussing war and politics over Jack Daniels and cigars. I was struggling to convince my companions, an atheist and a Buddhist, of the necessity to continue the fight, the conditions for victory, etc...

Their contention was that the Iraqis have been killing each other for millenia, and that we shouldn't be in the middle of it. My contention was that we stand for the promise of something better. I tried to convey the message that, rather than attributing evil or mercenary motives to our President for going in, that we should consider the idealism that drove the decision. At some point I commented that maybe I was an idealist too. The conversation continued, I hope on good terms, an we headed up for the night.

A parting comment in the elevator stuck with me... "I can't believe you're still an idealist...."
The comment stuck with me, because I had to wonder why... why after all I've seen and done, and I've been pretty lucky to have some very interesting life experiences, including getting a taste of what evil looks like, why do I still believe that men, good men, can make the world better?

I saw an answer this morning... maybe this is it, maybe it isn't... It seems too noble, and I am long retired from the active ranks... but then what better way to explain why one might still be an idealist?
I can't say 'we don't mind dying, we knew that risk was part of the deal'. None of us want to die. But there are ways that we accept it. We all volunteered to place ourselves between our homes and families and war's desolation. We don't mind dying....for a reason. For America, for human freedom, for a noble cause, for our buddies...the last full measure has to mean something.

Of course, that leads me to the more uncomfortable question, "Are we who have served that different?"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hotel Rip Offs

Why is it that I can stay in an interstate Holiday Inn Express for half the price of what it costs for a downtown Hyatt, but the Holiday Inn gives me free Internet. The Doubletree I stayed at last month gave me free internet and printing (from the room no less! picked up at the front desk.)

But the Hyatt downtown St. Louis charges me $9.95 a day for Internet access. If I want to print something, it's in the 24-hour business center - minimum computer charge of $13.95, plus $1.69 a minute, and 80 cents a page.

Do these guys realize that they have seriously damaged my "customer experience?" Others aren't happy about this either. It's kind of like those old rip-off hotel long distance phone charge back before everyone had cell phones.

Now I have a story about how crappily Hyatt treats their business travellers. My advice to other travellers - don't stay downtown. I've got a reservation at a Hyatt for another trip next week. I'm so angry I may cancel an switch hotels. At the least I've got another poor customer satisfaction story to tell. Jason says that Hilton is just as bad.

I think I'll be staying at Drury from now on.... Who wouldn't prefer a free happy hour to a $10 internet fee?

So Hyatt, is that worth your lousy cheapskate computer charges?

UPDATE: LB's Rambles is making the same point, that bad customer relations negates advertising. He's talking about airlines, but the lesson for anyone providing customer service should be universal. Nowadays, when a business gets so big that it forgets that its customers have a choice, and treats them accordingly, the web allows us to remind them quickly.

UPDATE II: See above

Update III: Okay, Hyatt doesn't suck
What Libertarian Means To Me....

Remember this. Government has no rights, only power. That's what I think to myself whenever I hear someone say "Government has the right to..."

I think, nope. The question is, Should goverment have the power to..."

Usually the answer is no.

Our constitution delegates government certains powers or authority to legislate and act on our behalf. So we should also ask "What gives government the authority to do that?"

Monday, May 21, 2007

What Libertarian Means To Me

I have a strong sense of right and wrong. But because something is wrong, doesn't mean the government needs to be involved....

Some acts are inherently evil. Bad for society. They violate someone right to life or property. Murder. Rape. Arson. Theft. Those acts are rightly criminalized and punished. Other acts, called "victimless" may be wrong or bad... but crimes? By criminalizing them, the government inflicts more harm than good.

Let's start with something easy. Teenagers having sex. They always done it, always will. In modern society where one is not considered an "adult" until later in life, it's wrong for teenagers to have sex. The consequences are responsibility (a child) that the modern teenager is ill-equipped to accept. So here in Georgia, it's a crime.

I will grant that it's wrong for unmarried teens to have sex. They shouldn't do it. I don't approve. I don't condone it.

But criminal? Is sex between two teens a criminal act that should result in jail time and designation as a sex offender? It should not be.

How about underage drinking? Is it wrong? No, not in moderation. The simple act of having a couple of beers does not rise to the level where government intervention is required.

Same with drug use. It's wrong and destructive. But what is more destructive? An occasional joint or years in jail? Government intervention is what causes most of the pain, not the act.

Libertarians and true conservatives understand this.

Next example..........
Welcome Back Soldier

Sitting in the American Airlines gate Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Airport this morning waiting for a flight.

They started boarding by announcing the three soldiers who were going home on two weeks leave from Iraq.

The whole area cheered and applauded.

The soldiers were the first ones to board. Before first class. Before "zone 1."


Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Republican Party Just Doesn't Get it

But this guy does "So many people in the Republican party are coming unhinged because they are being ignored...."I favor massively increasing legal immigration (my wife and mother are immigrants.) Illegal immigration simply can't continue like this- people will freak out. That's happening before our eyes. What's amazing is that the political class is so deaf to the concerns of their constituents."

I agree and this has bothered me for a while. That is, I'm not hearing arguments from the party that ring true with me. If anyone believes in the promise, the opportunity of America, it's conservatives. That sense of hope that should also be the immigrant ideal. Think about it, almost every American descends from those brave souls who gave up all they knew in the hope of making something better for themselves and their families. They didn't come for handouts. I don't think immigrants have changed. It's not the fearful and timid who come to America. It is those who have the fortitude to do great things. Those who would prefer to wait for help, those who are more naturally aligned with the left, are by and large still waiting back in their home countries.

Conservatives, true thinking conservatives, have failed to make this our issue.

As I said earlier. Shame on you. You have failed us.
McCain Again...

According to Powerline, McCain told his fellow Senator ""F*** you! I know what is going on here. I know more about immigration than anybody in this room!”

I believe the phrase he was looking for is "I've forgotten more about immigration than anybody in this room has ever known"

But that might be arrogant, no?
Finally Decided Which 9mm

Yesterday I became the proud owner of a new in box Smith & Wesson Sigma 9mm SW9VE. Put 120 rounds of ball ammo through it total down at the local range without a single malfunction. (A box of Magtech 115gr. FMC and a box of the range reloads.) I'm pleased.

I had been looking for a 9mm for a while. My first preference was Ruger. I've been a Ruger fan for years, but couldn't find anything that had the combination of function and price I was looking for. I was going back and forth between full-size and concealed carry size. My son in law briefly had a Keltec P-11. But the trigger pull was too hard and long for me; it was just too brutal to practice with for more than a few rounds. He wound up selling it soon after he bought it. I had one of the new Keltec PF9 in my hand two weeks ago, but couldn't decide and my local dealer sold the only one he had. I should've grabbed it, he was only asking $289.
My main consideration is that it be fun to shoot, and the little CCW guns just didn't do it for me. In the meantime, this one promises to be some fun.
Take down and cleaning was a snap. (Wondering if the oils/solvents are harmful to the polymer? Anyway.... also figured it's better to stock up on handguns.... who knows what'll happen after the Dhimmicrats take over next year.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

McCain Sucks

Too bad. Would've liked to support a Navy guy. But I'm afraid that after his performance the other night, and now this Senate compromise bill granting amnesty. He's toast.

Why are these important to me?

In the debate he said that you had to compromise to get things done. My problem is that with McCain-Feingold he compromised on the First Amendment. Sorry, but compromising on fundamental human rights makes me wonder what other principles he would sacrifice to the god of bipartisan progress. Frankly, if you did the wrong thing, it doesn't matter much that you "did something."

I think the same thing probably happened with the immigration bill. You've still got a chance. Don't vote for it. Don't do it.

CDR Salamander has a discussion too. He said FOD. Heh heh.

UPDATED: Nate asks a valid question... Who do I support? That's the problem... there is no one I support yet. None of them have me fired up. So at this point I can only watch and discount who I won't vote for. In all fairness, I've been down on McCain for some years (again, ever since McCain-Feingold and his second amendment stand after the 2000 campaign.) But he is considered a "top tier," so I'll listen. I fear that his willingness to shift on what I consider fundamental principles indicates a weak leader. Positions are negotiable, principles are not. If he's willing to "compromise" and "reach across the aisle" on the First and Second Amendment, which others are negotiable? As a Senator, he's not a limited government kind of guy. This is what, in my mind, will make him unelectable to the office of POTUS.

Here's an idea. First one to campaign on FAIR Tax and eliminating the IRS wins.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reject the Question

Wow. I thought we were over this. Way over this. But GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul comes out with this at the debate over in Columbia last night

“I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it”

So you would ask the question, "Why do you hate us and want to kill us?"

Let's apply that same approach to Nazis... "Why do you hate Jews?" You know, they can come up with a reasoned response. Maybe based on halftruths and false logic. But it's reasonable enough to them. Do you accept their answer that begins with "I hate Jews because...."? Do you accept the answer then act upon it?

How 'bout a White Supremacist or Klansman? Let's ask, "Why do you hate Black people and Mexicans?" They too can come up with a reasoned response, also based on halftruths and false logic. But it's reasonable to them. Do you accept their answer that begins with "I hate niggers and wetbacks because...."? Do you accept the answer then act upon it?

Of course not. There is nothing that they could say that would cause me to say, "Why, yes, I see now. Of course they deserve it. It's all their fault. We must work on fixing that."

Since there can be no acceptable answer. We must simply reject the question.

(Info war Caveat)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Watching the Debate

McCain - bipartisan work. Good for you. Stay in the Senate. (Wife says she couldn't stand looking at you for 4 years)

Guliani - straight talk. But I disagree.

Romney - hmm. Kinda slick. not sure.

Others... liked one... which the hell was it?... dang... Not

Monday, May 14, 2007

Greyhawk says it's folks who think the military are victims. I think it's Pandering. Pure and Simple.

The "soldier as victim" meme does get a lot of play from the "support the troops, end the war" crowd. But that pandering too.

Friday, May 11, 2007

War Fatigue?

From the Chicago Tribune "Eleven GOP moderates, led by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), met with Bush and top administration officials Tuesday to deliver what one participant called a "strong signal" about the electoral dangers that "war fatigue and war weariness" pose for Republicans in 2008."

It's obvious they are not talking about "the troops" and their families here. They're not talking about the active duty folks in the Navy and Air Force who wonder why they don't "feel" like we're at war.

They're talking about the rest of us. The America that has time for weeks of the Anna Nichole saga, the Superbowl, and the NCAA finals.

War fatigue and war weariness? What war fatigue and war weariness?

What work have Americans done that could possibly tire us out?

Not a damn thing. No exertion. No sacrifice.

We are not tired. We haven't been asked to do anything yet.

It's the politicians who are tired. On both sides. They are tired and afraid. Tired of talking about it, and afraid that they won't get elected or re-elected because of it.

Shame on the Democrats for maneuvering America into a position where failure seems to become an acceptable option.

Shame on the Republicans for failing to lead us to victory when they had the chance.

Shame. Que verguenza. стыдно

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think it Means*

Professor Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit commented on a statement by Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Richard Parsons who said, "The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation...They will lose this war if they go to war...The notion that the new kids on the block have taken over is a false notion."

Professor Reynolds commented that "And second, while Custer certainly lost the battle, the Sioux actually lost the war. That's because they faced an opponent with better technology, more dynamism, and . . . oh, hell, you get the idea. It was a poor choice of metaphor."

Actually, it was a brilliant choice of metaphor. Spot on in many ways. It was only a poor choice because it came out of Parson's mouth. As the dashing young Inigo Montoya once said "I do not think it means what you think it means."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Al Jazeera Gets One Right?

There have been several wire stories posted about the sentencing of the Azeri journalists to prison for an article they wrote discussing Europe and Islam. But the text in the AlJazeera story is unique to their site. It's worded specifically to show the irony.

"Soon after the article appeared, an Iranian cleric - angered by its depiction of Islam as a violent religion - offered his house to anyone who killed the journalists, Reuters reported on Friday."

Thing is, the original Reuters story didn't quite make that connection. Only Al Jazeera.


By the way, the Reuters story about the Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Morteza Bani Fazl, goes back to November 2006. Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Fazel Lankarani issued a fatwa in English here. (HT to Volokh)
Jimbo Gets Succinct

Hmm... Uncle Jimbo has made a point in a three second soundbyte. "You can't end a war, you can only win it or lose it."

That's not really like him, but I enjoyed it.