April 2009 Archives

I flew in to Richmond today and walked through a couple of airports. If I only I had listened to the Vice President first who advised people to not travel on airplanes to avoid getting the flu. Well now it seems that statement has been softened some by the administration but I'm not hearing many jokes. It seems funny that every time President Bush made a funny statement it was the lead story of the news and the topic of the late night comedians. Vice President Biden seems on the way to breaking Bush's record yet no headlines.

Official May Be Fired for Authorizing N.Y. Flyover. By Michael D. Shear and Ann Scott Tyson. The Washington Post, 29 April 2009, Kindle Edition

The plane known as Air Force One when the president is onboard flew over New York on Monday so that the photo file could be updated. Sounds reasonable to me. Steps were taken and New York City officials were notified of the event but were asked to not notify the public. I'm not sure why the public was not notified but it just might have something to do with terrorists and the fact that taking pot shots at the plane could be a PR coup for the like of al Qaeda. Even if the public were notified then there is the question of just how many "in the public" would get notified.

Well, come Monday it seems the folks in New York had panic attacks when they saw a plane flying low. Yep, they claim flashbacks to 9/11. Fear they were under attack. To read news accounts the city shut down out of shear panic. To hear and read some reports it was almost a repeat of Orson Welles' broadcast of War of the Worlds. Now here seems to be a call for heads to roll.

"Asked repeatedly whether White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera, who made the decision, would lose his job, [White House press secretary Robert] Gibbs told reporters yesterday 'I think the president has rightly asked that a review of the situation and the decision-making' be done."

The only dumber than having New Yorkers panic over a low-flying aircraft would be fire someone over this event. Come on people, grow up and get over it. I hope the Obama administration will realize this for what it is and let it go. To fire someone like Caldera over something this trivial would be insanely ridiculous.

Delta Air Ends Use of India Call Centers By Paulo Prada and Niraj Sheth. The Wall Street Journal, Vol. CCLIII, No. 90, Saturday/Sunday, 18-19 April 2009, p. B1.

Delta Airlines, which moved some of its call center work to India following 9/11 in an effort to cut costs, is now bringing some of that work home. According to the article, over first few months of the year Delta stopped routing calls to centers in India. The advantage of off-shoring this type of work is that "Call-center representatives in India earn roughly $500 a month, or about one-sixth the salary of their U.S.-based counterparts." However, the article points out that Delta is not pulling back its call centers in Jamaica and South Africa, countries where complaints have not been as high.

Is this the end of globalization? Hardly. This is merely a company recognizing that saving salary costs is not there is to running a good business. As Delta's chief executive, Richard Anderson said, "Our customers are not shy about letting us have that feedback [low tolerance of call centers in foreign countries]." Globalization is not about sending everything offshore but about sending things offshore that can be done more effectively offshore. Call centers are not always the best things to offshore.

It is unlikely that I will ever buy a Dell computer that is not in their XPS line simply because of the support I get from them. I am able to talk to intelligent people, in my native language, who understand what they are doing. Too often the foreign call centers are merely low-level representatives who do nothing but read scripts presented on a computer screen.

Part of the outrage is the language barrier. I'm not sure I agree that is the major problem. I have been able to understand most of the people in India I have spoken with but they do seem to miss some expressions. My complaint is that they are typically of very little help. It is only after being elevated several levels that I am able to get someone who can solve my problem.

This is a smart move by Delta and others will hopefully follow.

The Pirates Challenge Obama's Pre-9/11 Mentality, By Mackubon Thomas Owens. Wall Street Journal Vol. CCLIII, No. 84 Saturday/Sunday 11/12 April 2009, page A9

Mr. Owens of the Naval War College draws an interesting parallel between pirates and al Qaeda. The Obama administration is changing the term "enemy combatant" but they still do not seem to have solved the problem of how to handle those captured in Iraq and those likely to be captured as pirates.

As the eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard argued shortly after 9/11, the status of al Qaeda terrorists is to be found in a distinction first made by the Romans and subsequently incorporated into international law by way of medieval and early modern European jurisprudence. According to Mr. Howard, the Romans distinguished between bellum (war against legitimus hostis, a legitimate enemy) and guerra (war against latrunculi, pirates, robbers, brigands, and outlaws).

Bellum became he standard for interstate conflict, and it is here that the Geneva Conventions were meant to apply. They do not apply to guerra. Indeed, punishment for latrunculi, "the common enemies of mankind," traditionally has been summary execution.

Mr. Owens then argues that some in the Obama Administration seem more concerned in criminalizing the activities of those in the Bush Administration than focusing their energies o terrorist and pirates. If Obama is wise, he will squelch the talk of criminalizing those in the previous administration and move forward. Every administration, every president, should realize they too will one day be the "previous administration" and any precedents they set may well come back and haunt them.

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