Thursday, August 5, 2010

Exxon Valdez Judgement Not A Good Sign For Gulf Residents

Remember the Exxon Valdez?

One Amazon customer reviews a book by John Keeble regarding this 11-million-gallon oil spill.

Newspaper stories about the oil spill created the impression that the cause of the accident was simply that the captain was drunk. This book shows that the real situation was far more complex. The captain was definitely not drunk. He did have a few drinks, which is against regulations. Even after all the analysis it is not clear what exactly went wrong. The fact that the captain had a few drinks was not the only breach of regulations. None of the officers had a six-hour off duty time in the twelve-hour period before departure.

The ship was single hulled instead of double hulled as was foreseen when the oil terminal was built.

When Congress granted permission to build the pipeline and the terminal one of the conditions was that there would be a state-of-the-art contingency plan for oil spills. There was nothing of the sort.

A Vessel Traffic Services station was supposed to monitor the movement of the ships through the strait. Due to cost cutting measures the station was unable to monitor the movement of the ship.

A major cause of inefficiency in the clean up was the lack of clarity about who was in charge, the Coast Guard or Exxon.

It is not just the captain that acted irresponsibly, so did all parties concerned. This is described in one part of the book.

The second part of the book describes the impact of the oil spill and especially of the clean up on the communities affected. Each of the communities split in the middle. Half of the members took the position of trying to squeeze as much money out of Exxon as possible whilst the other half did not want to have anything to do with Exxon.

Exxon did not succeed in engaging the communities in a positive way.

The third part describes the nature in Alaska. These descriptions are wonderful and make you want to go there. These three parts are interwoven.

The advantage is that the reader gets a three dimensional understanding of what happened: the responsibility for the disaster and the clean up, the impact on different members of the community and the impact on nature.

The author places the ultimate responsibility on the consumer. He writes,

"the American population prefers to live in a fog and is willing to accept almost anything in return for the opportunity to keep its gas tanks topped up" (with cheap gas).

The reviewer concludes:

The combination of corporations maximising short-term profits and consumers closing their eyes to the consequences of their behaviour makes one worried. There must be a better way.

The book is here:
More reviews of Out of the Channel: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill In Prince William Sound.

NOW that we've been warmed up.

Some observations:

1st. "Spill?!!!!"
words are powerful and this word is propogandy fer durn sher.
rupture? volcano? nightmare? toxic plume?


2nd. This toxic oil catastrophe was only the 53rd largest in history, says Wikipedia.

3rd. What happened afterward.

This is why Gulf residents are in for a sucky time.

The Exxon toxic plume savaged Prince William Sound in 1989.

In 1991, a jury recommended a 900 Million penalty for Exxon.

In 1994 a judge added a 5 Billion punitive judgement against Exxon.

In 2008, SCOTUS slashes the award to 1/10th of its size: 500 million
to the residents of Cordova, Alaska.

But what else was going on with Exxon in 2008?


That's right.

The very same year the Supremes reduced Exxon's cleanup cost obligations for this most horrific, toxic event, Exxon reported record profits for the previous year -- 40.61 Billion, or 1,300.00 per second, during the year 2007.

Congratulations, Exxon.

Also, by 2008 the price of gas had skyrocketed 60 per cent.
Cordova residents found themselves gouged coming and going just
for wanting to drive their petrol-guzzling conveyances to work and
wherever else they needed to go. Because what else do we have, Mr. Keeble?
Without reliable mass transit, is it really so much about
consumers driving the economy? Or maybe Mr. Keeble should read up on the history of the highways, the auto makers, and the development of cities, and then tell us
just how much our car-centered infrastructure is the fault of people who are in a fog.

I'll agree about the fog, but not the fault.

Here's a glimpse of how long oil stays stuck in all the trillions of nooks and crannies that it can get stuck in, in ocean habitats. This is the Exxon Valdez spill, 20 years later, as documented by National Geographic.

20 Years After The Exxon Befoulment.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

AT & T Customer Service Rep Comments On Job

Comments from an AT&T customer service rep:

August 30, 2007 5:03 PMModerate |Flag for review

There is nothing shocking or secret about the AT&T customer service policy. The policy was put together years ago by a platoon of lawyers in order to protect AT&T and the customer (believe it or not.) I know because I have been a Service Representative with AT&T for over 20 years. What I have seen happening in those years is this: what was once a true Service oriented mentality has become a Sales oriented / bottom line mentality. Within the company, Sales and Service are synonyms. One is said to be servicing their customer well by causing that $20 monthly POTS line account to become a $150 - $300 monthly bill by adding "Bundles" (which the company claims the customer wants, when in reality they don't), second and third and fourth lines, adding Cellular, Dish Network or U-Verse, DSL, or whatever else they can possibly think of to cause that customer to be paying as much as possible on a monthly basis. But there is still nothing particularly "wrong" with that either. AT&T is a publicly traded, for-profit company. The real problem is the people who work there. From the CEO down to the lowly CSR. With few exceptions, their sole motivation is the bottom line. How many DSL's, Dishes or Packaged services got sold that day? AND THEY DONT CARE HOW IT HAPPENS. If the numbers are good, you might get lucky and have a great experience with your CSR on a given day. But if the numbers are bad, and the Division President is coming down on his GM's, then the shit trickles down from the GM to the Sales Managers to the Team Leaders down to the CSR's whose performance numbers may not be that great. Threats are made. Insults hurled. Pressure is brought to bear. Then you hear that saccharine greeting on the other end of your phone..."Thank you for calling AT&T, how can I help?" YOU are toast. In many cases, like it or not. I cant tell you how many customers I have talked to...angry customers. YOU will be lied to. YOU will be presented with promotions and gimmicks that either don't exist, or are "embellishments" of actual promotions. In many cases, the CSR is acting on orders from his/her Manager, who cant get chewed out again by their Sales manager or the GM again. In other cases, its the CSR's lack of Training that is to blame, as AT&T views training as a drain on the system, and would not do any of it unless the Unions which represent the CSR's and Technicians insisted upon it. But there are still other cases of simple greed. CSR's get a nice commission in addition to their excellent salary. Any method that can be used to boost their bottom line while not getting caught is OK with them. And if you make your numbers reliably, Management has been known to turn a blind eye to questionable, sometimes highly questionable sales practices, in spite of the multitudes of customers, many of whom have been loyal to the company for decades, calling in to the Customer Care Center 3, 4...8 times to have some package removed that they didn't ask for, or were unaware they had alternatives to because the CSR never offered it to them. You donut offer the most affordable plan to the customers; you offer the plan that costs them the most so we can collect $600 a year for a service that costs the company $10 a year to maintain. Multiply that out by the millions of customers AT&T has and what do you get? Then imagine all the other customers...the ones who donut call us. They just assume that we wouldn't steer them wrong and they pay their phone bill for months...years...decades...never realizing they are paying for services they donut need, donut want or donut even know that they have because they donut read their bill. You may be thinking that I'm shilling for the Unions. Far from it. The union spends all of the dues it collects from me and all my "Brothers and Sisters" defending and in many cases, getting fired employees who were fired with good reason, back on the job. Why? Because the company has to make a case against the person they want to fire. And if they messed up some minor detail of that case, they will lose their Arbitration hearing to the Union and the CSR who paid for his brand new Escalade with the money he made from lying to you over the phone, gets his job back, in many cases, WITH BACK PAY. In the meantime, the people who go to work everyday and bust ass and remain ethical are lost in the morass. The union is obsessed with this kind of bullshit, while the rest of the employees are forced to work overtime, which is a clear violation of our Union contract. But because the union thinks it ensures job security, they donut put up a fight. But I digress...Ultimately, if AT&T ever ACTUALLY put their own policy into effect, they think they would lose profits.

source: comments

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Staring Into Screens Replaces Actually Living Life For Millions

The Average American Adult Spends 8 1/2 Hours a Day Staring into Screens
Author: Mark Alvarez 31

The average American adult spends eight and a half hours a day in front of a screen, whether it’s on a computer, TV, mobile phone or other gadget.

Users who spend the most time in front of a screen are those in the 45-54 age group, who dedicate nine and a half hours to this per day.

These are the results of a new study by the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence (CRE) and Ball State University’s Center for Media Design (CMD).

TV is still the main media activity, followed in descending popularity by computers, radio and print media.

The report finds that the average American spends 142.5 minutes daily in front of a computer, which is dwarfed by TV’s 353.1 minutes. PC users spend almost as much time working with software (46.1 minutes) as they do on the Web (48.8 minutes).

The report doesn’t make clear if the software is installed on PCs or in the cloud.

The biggest computer users are those between the ages of 35 and 44, who spend a half-hour more than any other group in front of the computer, 199.3 minutes.

While the report doesn’t focus on social networking per se, you can see its influence, especially on younger users.

While those in the youngest age group, 18-24, spend the second-highest amount of time on the Internet (67 minutes), their email usage of 20.3 is significantly lower than the average of 37.4 minutes across all age groups, and is only higher than one group, adults 65 and over.

Since we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift in advertising, and are concerned that all the old models are breaking (or have broken) down, it’s fascinating to see CRE report that, despite DVR and channel-surfing, the average American adult watches 72 minutes of TV ads a day.

The CRE study is most interesting in its methodology and what it might have revealed about the accuracy of survey-based studies - it observed users and reported their actions at 10-second intervals, and found that users’ habits were different than what the users themselves reported.

One of these findings flies in the face of most reports about the increases in computer video watching, as it found that the average American does this for a little over two minutes a day, or just a few seconds more than they text.

Of course, Ball State has admitted members of my own family as students, so you might want to question the intellectual standards of the institution behind the report, though they’re surely higher than Purdue’s. To this we should also add: Go IU!


and comments--one from someone unknown and the latter is by me.

Like A Population of Over-Stimulated Newborns | Rich Harris
June 10th, 2010 at 8:19

[...] The average American adult spends 8 1/2 hours a day staring into screens. We have gotten down on our knees and ripped the faucet off the water main of information with mouths and hands wide open. By majority, we are a culture of people in a constant state of waiting for the next thing to do, the next thing to react to, to eat, to drink, to socialize, to attend, to take care of, to engage on whatever level enough to prompt us to feel like we know what we’re supposed to do next while we are awake. I truly believe it’s NOT human nature that we are control freaks with how much idle time we allow. I believe we are taught by our environment how to, and why we should limit our solitude, deviate from it, stay misinformed on how to leverage it for personal growth. We do this out of fear. To us I think deep down we know that solitude is the ultimate place of vulnerability, where we are forced to face the truth, ourselves, with no distraction, and it’s uncomfortable. [...]

August 3rd, 2010 at 20:39

Silence, slowing down, refusal to admit advertising into my personal space, and hours of the day spent not staring into screens, but actually doing and experiencing things—rather than observing life through the screens–has become my main objective.

It’s lonely here in the actual world, though. I’m amazed to even find this article. There is so little material on this phenomenon. During my 40-hour work week I am chained to the computer. That is where I am right now. This is the “land of the free,” right? But I’m not free to not use computers.

Computers have really messed up my sense of time, space and physical focus. I appreciate the flow of information. But I fear the cost is too high, for me, personally, anyway. I get a lot of crap for this. But after my 8 hour day where I am only virtual—all my skills used in my job come from my head and through the computer –I am more and more feeling disembodied, unreal, and I fear I will have to quit my job, because I don’t know how long I can take it.

I am also very tired lately and have been sleeping far more than I used to. I have never had to interface with machines so much. Plus all customer service is on the phone. Little to no human voice contact. Very unnerving. I honestly don’t know how people aren’t going mad.