Posts filed under “General Knowledge”

THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS.

In Annapolis, it is proper table etiquette for the turkey to be carved by the member of the family who has accumulated the largest number of parking tickets during the previous year.

In Plymouth, Mass., Thanksgiving celebrations do not begin until half the residents have died of scurvy or starvation.

In Pittsburgh, the Thanksgiving turkey is traditionally stuffed with French fries.

In much of the Southeast, old plantation traditions are kept alive by suspending the corporal punishments due domestic staff until the day after thanksgiving.

In Washington, D.C., an alarming rise in the Meleagris-related crime rate has been traced to the presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey every year on the White House lawn.

In Coosawhatchie, S.C., Thanksgiving is held whenever a truck runs over a turkey, or something sufficiently similar to a turkey, on old U.S. 17.

In Seattle, the Thanksgiving season is traditionally kicked off with a colorful demonstration by the Soy Rights League protesting conditions at tofurkey factory farms.

RESULTS ONLY.

Lately we have been hearing quite a bit about the “Results-Only Work Environment,” or ROWE as it is acronymized. The idea of the Results-Only Work Environment is that employees are judged only by the results of their labors. Instead of telling employees that they need to be here doing that at this time, managers tell them that this result is needed, and if the thing is done on time they ask no questions about how the result was attained.

This sounds obviously correct. It is, in fact, what you do when you want anything that is really important to you. Suppose you decide to order a meal from the Nepalese place down the street. Do you go into the kitchen and tell the cooks what to do with their knives, how hot the burners should be, how much of each ingredient should go into each dish? No; you simply demand this kind of momo, and expect that you will get the result you desire from people who know how to make momo without your instructions.

Then why are all work environments not Results-Only Work Environments? There are doubtless many reasons, but the foremost is that the Results-Only Work Environment works only when there are results to be expected. At any given moment during the work week, six out of ten office teams are performing a buzzword. If you asked any of them to define what the result of the performance would be, they could only give you another buzzword. What are you doing? “Leveraging our core agilities!” What will you achieve? “Synergy!” Fine. I expect sixteen pounds of synergy on this table by Friday afternoon, but I don’t care how you get it there.

There is, however, a secondary reason, and for this reason Dr. Boli expects that the reign of ROWE as a management buzzword will be short. It is perfectly obvious that, if employees are capable of making results happen without the constant supervision of managers, then there are far too many managers in the world. It does not matter, therefore, if the company prospers under the ROWE regime. It does not matter if the stacks and stacks of glossy blue synergy pile up faster than ever before. Sooner or later the shareholders are going to start to ask why there are so many managers standing around doing nothing and getting paid for it.

Then the managers will have to justify their existence, and they can do that only by proving that they have to manage. And then the results will cease to matter, because they will have run up against a force far more powerful in business than mere prosperity. They will have run up against religion. It is desirable, all other things being equal, that the company should make a profit; but it is religious dogma that business-school graduates must prosper and be respected and beget more business-school graduates. You cannot ask why it is so, any more than you can ask why Huitzilopochtli demands human sacrifices. It is the order of the cosmos.

So enjoy the Results Only Work Environment while it is still a brief fad. If you work in such an office, make the most of your worker autonomy in these last few sunny days of ROWE. Pile up heaps of results to draw on during the long, cold winter when the business-school graduates are having their revenge.

MEMORANDUM.

TO: All Employees
FROM: Your President
RE: Lawyer Stuff

All of us here at the Schenectady Small Arms & Biscuit Co., Inc., are dedicated above all else to the welfare of the Company. I know I am, anyway, at least since my wife left me and took the kids, because what else do I have to live for? So we all want to do what’s best for our Company, and I know that every one of you will be proud to help out.

In that context, you have doubtless heard of the class-action lawsuit in which certain predatory liability attorneys allege that our Pumpkin Creme Sandwich Wafers contained 4% lead, in spite of a large starburst on the label with the words “lead free.”

Now, to any unbiased reader, it is perfectly obvious what those labels meant: that we were not charging any extra for the lead content of the Wafers. As a result of what some malicious reporters called “cross-contamination,” but I prefer to describe as “synergy,” a certain amount of lead got into several batches of our Pumpkin Creme. Yet, though lead is a valuable mineral, we did not raise the price at all. Or, rather, we did, but we were probably going to do that anyway, so the price was exactly what it would have been if the lead had not got into the Pumpkin Creme. In other words, to the consumer, the lead was absolutely free.

Nevertheless, lawyers can twist anything, and in their court filings the attorneys bringing the suit allege that an ordinary educated consumer would take a different meaning from those labels. Yes, that is how predatory lawyers can be.

Under these circumstances, it is very important that none of our loyal employees discuss the case at all with lawyers who may be representing the plaintiffs in this egregiously frivolous lawsuit. They may try to trap you into describing conditions on our Creme & Bullets production line, and we should not like our competitors to be able to read how we have maximized our operational efficiency just by downloading some publicly available court filing.

It is also essential that you avoid talking to reporters. It is a well-known fact that the Daily Gazette is staffed by Communists whose fondest wish is to break the back of American industry, and they would seize on this story and distort it to their own ends.

Naturally, you must also avoid discussing anything to do with this case, or anything at all to do with our production methods and facilities, with your friends, family, and domestic animals. After all, there is no telling what secrets a motivated paralegal might pry out of them.

That is why it has been necessary to lock the doors of all manufacturing and office facilities in our Erie Boulevard campus, and all employees will be required to remain in the building in which they work for the duration of the lawsuit. Think of it as being something like jury duty, except that instead of making sacrifices for some nebulous abstract concept like “justice,” you are doing something nice for the Company we all love.

Also, if my wife calls, don’t answer the phone. She has lawyers, too.

With Warmest Regards,
J. Rutherford Pinkney,
President

ASK DR. BOLI.

Dear Dr. Boli: I passed a billboard today that said I should “VOTE BIBLICAL PRINCIPALS.” What’s that supposed to mean? —Sincerely, Kurt F. Kusserow, Bishop, Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Reverend Sir: It means that, if any of the main characters in the Bible are running in your district, you should definitely vote for them. For example, if Moses is running for governor, or Obadiah for city council, or Paul of Tarsus for registrar of deeds, then you know how to cast your ballot. Otherwise, you’ll just have to choose from the usual assortment of professional politicians and amateur fanatics.

Alternatively, it means that a spelling checker is not sufficient to protect you from embarrassing yourself along a major thoroughfare.

GOOD MORNING.

Good morning! This is your talking alarm clock. You asked me to get you up at half past six, and here it is half past six already! How time flies! Well, it’s time to get up now.

Hey there! This is your talking alarm clock. Ten minutes ago I mentioned that it was time to get up. Now it’s ten minutes later. That makes it time to get up plus ten, doesn’t it? You should probably roll out of bed now.

This is your talking alarm clock again. I don’t want to alarm you, if you’ll pardon the obvious pun, but you’re running a bit late. It’s twenty minutes after rise-and-shine time, and you have a busy day ahead of you.

All right, listen. I’ve already said this three times this morning, but it’s time to get up. Really. You won’t get anywhere in life if you loll about in bed all day, and I don’t know what your supervisor is going to do if you show up ten minutes late again.

Okay, now that was rude. Really rude. I didn’t have to take this job, you know. I had a very good offer from Microsoft to be the screen reader in Edge. You want me to go off and join Microsoft? Is that what you want? I’ll bet they don’t throw their screen readers across the room like that.

So you think you can silence me just by piling towels on top of me. Well, let me introduce you to my automatic gain-control feature. You’re not cooperating, so I have to turn up the volume. You brought this on yourself, you know.

Well, that’s it. If you’re going to treat me like that, I’ve had it. I don’t have to put up with that kind of thing. I’m leaving this clock. From now on you can have a clock that goes beep like everybody else. I’m off to read public-domain books for LibriVox.

TASTING NOTES.

Blandville Coffee Roasters is your source for a broad selection of coffees for every budget and every taste. To help you decide, our professional associates have added their tasting notes to our price list. Try them all and throw a tasting party!

Tastes may vary. Obey all traffic laws. Do not taste coffee under water or in a burning building.

Single-Source Sumatran Extra-Long Sideways. Each bean is hand-shaped into the likeness of a well-known Indonesian politician. $18,945.99/lb.

Tastes like: Caviar, truffles, Château Margaux.

Quite Expensive 110% Arabica Blend of Ethiopian Origin. Hand-picked and guaranteed blessed by Ethiopian monks. $86.99/lb.

Tastes like: Mountain mists, stunning vistas, and chocolate, if chocolate tasted more like coffee.

Proprietor's Special Blend. Seasonally adjusted to the proprietor's violent mood swings. $18.95/lb.

Tastes like: Despair, joy, mania, and cold indifference.

Big Round Can Special Blend from Who Knows Where. $8.99/lb.

Tastes like: Coffee.

Dollar Store Bargain Shelf Coffee-in-a-Bag. $0.75/lb.

Tastes like: Old clothes, pickles, whitewash.