Saturday, May 02, 2009

Quasi-Acerbic Oddities for Today

Yogi Berra famously said, "It ain't over til its over." But in the current Minnesota senatorial election, even when its over, it ain't over.

Miss California Carrie Prejean has achieved notoriety by stating her convictions against same-sex marriage. Someone who parades before millions of people as nearly naked as she did -- and that with technologically enhanced boobs -- for the purpose of creating admiration among males and envy among females should not uncritically be regarded as a moral authority. Now we learn that she had earlier posed topless and allegedly lied about it to pageant officials. Selah.

The more often you go to church, the more likely you are to approve of torture in some circumstances.

Somehow it did not seem strange that CNN found a "red light district" in Lahore, Pakistan.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eschatological Consequences of Phone Mazes

I am a theologian, and I can guarantee you that people who design complex automated telephone programs used by banks, insurance companies, governments, and many other bureaucracies will spend the first 10,00 years after their deaths trying to call a complicated automated 911 system while their pants are on fired. The same fate will befall the executives who mandate the use of these demonic artifices.

Today I had to call my insurance company. They had an elaborate robot-directed telephone maze in which I had to answer questions, give information, and state my problem. The automaton, of course, never understands. After two calls, I finally confused the robotic voice sufficiently to provoke a transfer to a real human being.

I spoke to a nice lady who promptly faxed the the form I needed, and all ended well. I said to her, "You know, of course, that all your customers hate the telephone maze they have to endure before they get to you." She replied, "Oh yes, we know!"

Later, I found some golden plates under a rock in my back yard on which there were words written in a strange language. I was able to translate the writing in a vision provoked by putting roasted peanuts in my Coke Zero. It was then and there that the eschatological consequence of designing and ordering the use of these satanic phone mazes was revealed to me. I merely pass the information on to you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When Bureaucracies Get Crazy

Max Weber provides the classic understanding of modern bureaucracy. As an 'ideal type' bureaucracy is characterized by a hierarchical division of labor directed by clear mandates impersonally applied, staffed by full-time, life-time professionals. The aim is to bring rationality and efficiency into complex organizations by reducing as many transactions as possible to routines governed by explicit rules. He recognized that actual bureaucracies could be dysfunctional. Later critics have suggested that they can really screw things up sometimes, e. g. Robert K. Merton and Michael Crozier.

We all have had experiences of how the "red tape" we encounter can be anything but rational and efficient. My worst came about like this. In 1961 I bought a car in Georgia with a loan from my hometown bank, then shortly after moved to Pennsylvania and in 1964 moved to Delaware with the loan paid. I went through the routines of getting my Delaware license but was thwarted because Delaware rules insist that the loan must be marked "paid" on the outside, because that is the way it is done in Pennsylvania. I had every legal document the state of Georgia provides to show that the car was fully mine with no lien, but it was not marked "paid" on the outside. I appealed to the supervisor, but he merely restated that rule and refused to grant me a license, although he admitted that I had a legal and lien-free title, but rules are rules.

I had to send the loan document back to my hometown Georgia bank, explain my problem, request that it be marked "paid" on the outside. The banker kindly did and now in accordance with Pennsylvania practice and Delaware rules for cars coming from Pennsylvania, I got my license.

This was neither rational nor efficient, but with no provision for legitimate exceptions, it became a nightmare of frustration, not to mention extra work for me, the banker, and the Delaware license bureau organized on bureaucratic principles.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Nevada As Vast Solar Panel

I propose that the entire state of Nevada be made into a vast solar panel as a source of alternative energy. Just think of how much energy could be produced by this mostly desolate wasteland.

Nevada's only contributions to society have to do with prostitution, gambling, drinking, and entertainment, and we have enough of those already without this largely desert expanse of barren territory.

Residents who voluntarily chose to live there should be forced to become citizens of Utah for at least five years. They deserve it, and it would improve both states. Those who were sent there by others can transfer wherever they please.

My next blog will demonstrate that Idaho does not exist and never has. It is a gigantic illusion created by the ancestors of the Wizard of Oz using smoke and mirrors aided and abetted by a multitude of hypnotized co-conspirators.