Thursday, April 28, 2011

A realistic look at war

My take on war is that the winner is the one with the most sustained resources.  The North had the industry and population to outlast the South.  The Allies had the industry out of reach of the Germans and the Japanese plus a much larger population.  This last component of resources was forgotten in Vietnam and in Palestine.  The Vietnamese had many more people willing to die for their cause than the U.S. did, despite the latter's greater access to industry.  The Israelis are aware that they are surrounded by a much larger population that does not share its interests; the more the Israelis make war, the more enemies they create.

You can find a much broader perspective on how war rarely accomplishes its ends in "War and Truth in Libya and Palestine", Tarak Barkawi, Al Jazeera English, 2011-04-28.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Attention, a second Fukushima is possible

This is my quick, summary translation of highlights of "Attention, un deuxième Fukushima n'est pas exclu" by Miho Matsunuma, LeMonde, 2011-04-27.  She was a professor of Western History and French Language at Fukuoka Women's University and is now a senior lecturer at the University of Gunma in Maebashi, Japan.

Although the Japanese media is now criticizing the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), they have long colluded with them on the benefits of nuclear energy.  First, they too often accept the pronouncements of the government and TEPCO about the safety.  Second, the operators of the power stations are big advertisers.

There is no excuse for the Japanese not knowing of the dangers.  Japan is neither a soviet regime nor a dictatorship, but a country with democratic institutions, elections, and a free press.  Fukushima is not the first nuclear accident.  Citizens and scientists have sounded the alarm many times without being heard.  In this country where order and conformism reign, the minorities have difficulty making themselves heard.  The Japanese, in their majority, have voluntary believed the official speeches on the necessity and the advantage of nuclear energy perfectly mastered.

What do we do with the power stations operating in the country?  Japan is situated at the juncture of three great tectonic plates and, given the lack of competence and credibility of the Japanese nuclear authorities, the probability of a second and a third Fukushima is not unthinkable.  And the problem is not only Japanese: our planet lives with time bombs.

She goes on that Japanese democracy is not going to solve these problems.  It is necessary that the international community puts pressure on Japan to not drag humanity into a collective suicide.

The political authorities and international industrialists, who are involved in nuclear energy, have good reasons to support the power stations and admire the Japanese "dignity".  The citizens of the world must, themselves, draw lessons from this shameful accident.

And the "Free Market" Party keeps opposing free markets

The Democrats are often wishy-washy on issues and often beholden to corporate interests, but the Republicans take the blue ribbon on hypocrisy.

The Republicans claim they are for free markets, but an economist's definition of a free market and the Republicans' definition of a free market are polar opposites.

The economist's definition of a free market includes that both buyer and seller should have all the information they need to make a decision.

The Republic's definition is that big corporations should be free to do what they want, including hiding or obfuscating information buyers need to make a decision.

A case in point is the opposition to Elizabeth Warren to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.  She is called "controversial", but what is controversial about true free markets in:

“We’re trying to make the price clear, the risk clear, and make it easy to compare products,” Warren said. “If banks can’t build a business model without fooling people about the price, or hiding the risks, or obfuscating the products so nobody can make any direct comparisons, they’ve got a problem.”

This quote is from "Warren tells the controversial truth", Al Lewis, MarketWatch, 2011-04-22.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tort reform, but only against the little guys

Tort reform is one of the "conservative" talking points, meaning that individuals shouldn't get seven figure settlements, or even six figure settlements, against doctors and corporations.

It's very strange that we hear nothing about tort reform regarding seven figure settlements won by large corporations.

Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, was a jury foreman in a case against a dealership where a woman slipped on spilled diesel fuel and was injured.  She was awarded $472,000.  See "Larry Ellison's latest job: jury foreman", Yahoo Finance, 2011-04-26.  When will she collect? Will the dealership appeal?

The same article mentioned that Oracle won a $1.3 billion verdict for copyright infringement agains SAP.  SAP is appealing.

An even bigger suit was won by St. Jude Medical, $2.3 billion for theft of trade secrets. This suit was against an individual and another company.

Does or should tort reform apply in this case?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Often you really can't go home II

Last August I wrote a blog about how many of the dwellings that I had lived in as a kid didn't exist anymore.

Well, I struck out again.  I used Google Maps to look up a duplex in East Cleveland that I lived in shortly after I started school until I was nine.  Like the house that we moved to, it no longer exists.  In its place is a vacant lot.

Interestingly, I can see the "cottage" that we lived in before that.  It was a small brick house behind another around the corner.

The neighborhood is in a mixed state.  As I went around the corner, most of the lawns were uncut, paint was peeling, and boards were rotting.  But as I went down the block, lawns were mowed, some houses were freshly painted, and they were in good repair.

The house that I had looked for conjures up a pleasant memory.  I had had a few friends over for my birthday in March and we were sitting on the porch.  I can still see the fresh green leaves in my mind.  Now in Duluth MN, I turn my head in late April and see bare branches everywhere.

The school that I went to then is there and it is not there.  The old building is gone and it has been replaced by a sprawling structure.  The playground where I was a budding hydro-engineer at recess is now a parking lot.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Right on with the Write-In Party

Are you tired of elections being determined by big pandering, big lies, and big money? 
Are you tired of the so-called two-party system that gives you a choice of electing a party that is in the pocket of big business and a party that is in the pocket of big business?  Are you tired of a choice of electing a party that claims it is for freedom (of big corporations from any regulations) and a party that claims it if for the people (as long as big corporations are given subsidies to "create jobs").

Now you have a choice, join the Write-In Party!  The Write-In Party seeks no contributions from any interest group.  The Write-In Party is open to anyone who seeks change.  The Write-In Party has no big circuses (aka conventions) and no long-winded speeches that promise change and deliver nickels and dimes to the average person.

How do you join the Write-In Party?  It is both easy and hard.

The first requirement is that you have to promise to vote in every election.  You can't bring about change if you don't vote.

The second requirement is that you have to think about who you really would like to represent you for any particular office.  We won't go into what you should think about; that's your choice.  But you have to think outside the box.

Will the Democratic candidate represent your interests?  Will the Republican candidate represent your interests?  Will some other candidate on the ballot represent your interests?  If you find that a candidate represents your interest, place your mark by that candidate's name.  Do not be swayed by polls!  Almost every poll is biased in some way.  Do not worry about "throwing your vote away" by voting for a "third-party candidate".  Third-party candidates who came in last in the polls have won.  Think Jesse Ventura, last in the polls, became governor of Minnesota.  The only thrown-away votes are those not cast.

If none of the candidates on the ballot represent your interests, write in the name of somebody who you think does represent your interests.  Write-in votes are not thrown-way votes .  Think Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska beating a Tea-Party candidate who won the Republican Primary.

How do you choose who to write in?  That is the hard part.  Not the actual writing a name in, but writing in a name that many other people will also write in.  Talk with your family and friends about the choices you have.  Talk in coffee shops.  Post ideas in forums.  Write letters to newspapers.  Maybe your suggestion will catch on; maybe somebody will make a suggestion that you feel is better.  But without this give and take, we'll be stuck with the same old revolving-door politics.

Now comes the third requirement.  VOTE!  If you don't show up, other people are going to decide for you.  If you don't show up, we will probably once again have candidates claiming a mandate when they receive the votes of less than half the eligible voters.

Which leads to the only slogan of the Write-In Party - 90% turnout!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fight big banks! Use cash!

Banks claim they need to increase the swipe fee on debit cards to maintain their profits.  Currently many merchants pay a minimum of about 25 cents each time a customer used a debit card.  Many banks want to raise this to over 40 cents.

I talked to one merchant recently, and he said that he also gets charged two percent of each debit card sale.  Gosh, what a sweet deal for the banks.  In two days time, they have taken the money out of the customer's account and put the money in the merchant's account; all done electronically without human intervention.

If they are charging two percent on other people's money for two days, that means they are earning about 180 percent per year!  And they begrudge paying their own customers one percent on savings!

I still use my debit card and credit card for online transactions, but as often as I can I pay cash for bricks and mortar purchases.  It means that I have to visit my bank or one of its ATMs more frequently, but I am helping the local economy my keeping more money in the local merchant's pockets.  Maybe one of these days I may return to writing checks for purchase larger than the cash I want to carry.

Why do I write?

A friend asked me this the other day.

I have a lots of reasons to write: I read a lot; I respond to what I read; I'm a performer; I like to share what I think.

I know I'm not the world's greatest writer.  I can tell because this blog has not gone viral; on a good day a couple dozen people check my "headlines" via a feed.  But I do know that my writings resonate with those who have "open" minds; that is, minds not locked into a certain world view.

Yesterday I thought of another reason - to protect freedom.  Nope, I'm not on the battlements fighting against an invading army.  But I am expressing my thoughts in a way that I hope gets people to think beyond a certain limited view.  When we have a limited view, we think our way is the only right way, and when we do so, we keep making the same mistakes over and over.  That deprives us of the freedom to "think anew."

How to know "sound science"

"Sound science" is a set of opinions that confirm certain politicians' agendas.

"Junk science" is that which scientists have shown to be true but is contrary to the agendas of certain politicians.

Quote of the day

"The stock market is as emotional as a hockey fan during a game-seven triple overtime of the Stanley Cup finals."
- Motley Fool Email update

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tort reform? Let's cover all the bases

Many are calling for tort reform, meaning that judgments against corporations should be limited in what is payed to individuals.  However, there are three other kinds of tort cases - corporations vs. corporations, corporations vs. individuals, and individuals vs. individuals.

The amounts that corporations ask against each other dwarf by a couple orders of magnitude the amounts that individuals ask against corporations - billions against millions or less.  The amounts that corporations ask against individual often exceed the individuals ability to pay.  And suits of individuals against individuals are often settled in small claims court (or by Judge Judy).

The judgments against corporations in favor of individuals are not completely paid to the individuals.  Yep, much of the money goes to "greedy trial lawyers".  But why otherwise?  Many suits against corporations are done on a contingency basis; that is, the lawyers only get paid if the judgment is made in favor of their client.  On the other hand, many corporations have deep enough pockets to hire legal firms outright on an hourly basis, both for court time and research.  Aren't the trial lawyers for corporations as greedy as the lawyers working for individuals?  Isn't one of the reasons for a democratic government to give the Davids a chance against the Goliaths?

Monday, April 18, 2011

There oughta be a law?

This blog entry was triggered by the latest "Ask a Trooper" in the Duluth News Tribune, "Common sense, not law, rules against 'short cuts'", 2011-04-17.

A reader wrote about people who cut through gas stations and parking lots to avoid waiting at controlled intersections.  The reader could not find any law or statute prohibiting it.

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Mark Baker, who writes the column, could not find any either.  He wrote that reckless and careless driving laws could apply and that he too found this behavior irritating.

I found his conclusion irritating though: "we all know that this is not the proper way to maneuver vehicles on our roadways and through our cities.  Do we really need a law to tell us this is not proper?"

His question can be taken one step further; do we really need any law to tell us what is not proper?  The answer is that it depends.

My thought is that we have laws for three reasons.

First, laws guide us in getting along with each other.  We have lines painted on roads to guide us.  We have laws to remind us that it is improper to cross solid yellow lines.  Many people can't be bothered by these laws.  Just look at the faded yellow lines on curves that hundreds of drivers have crossed.

Second, laws guide law enforcement people in stopping offenders as a deterrent for others.  Unfortunately, many offenders blame law enforcement rather than themselves.

Third, laws help establishment responsibility in crashes.  The driver who crossed a solid yellow line may bear more responsibility for a crash than someone going five miles per hour over the limit.

Sgt. Baker, the writer, you, and I know that we do not "need a law to tell us this is not proper", but we certainly need laws to be enforced to remind all the drivers who speed, tailgate, text, talk on cell phones, and otherwise engage in other anti-social and unsafe behaviors that their behavior has an effect on the rest of us.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More examples of corporate inefficiency

I know and you know that many corporations are not perfect; after all, they are run by imperfect people.  I know and you know that many governments are not perfect; after all…  However, because there are so many commentators who forcefully state the second statement and deny the first, I feel the urge to provide examples of the first.

In addition to the "Star Tribune can't live within its means", I found that the Star Tribune is very inefficient in collecting its money.  Over two weeks after raising its price 33-1/3 percent, it still has not fixed its boxes to reflect the price increase.

Every morning I go out with seven quarters for the Duluth News Tribune (still 75 cents for its few sheets) and for the Star Tribune.  Every morning I come back with one of the quarters because the Star Tribune box still says 75 cents and still opens when I put in 75 cents.

Hewlett-Packard, with its multi-million dollar CEOs (see "Talk about boards with conflict of interest"), can't seem to write documentation that matches its products.

For years, my printer periodically makes horrible ratcheting sounds as it feeds paper.  For years, I've looked in vain on the HP site for a solution.  The only references are a cleaning kit for PCs (not Macs) and pictures and directions that don't look like my printer.

Today I gave another try at finding a solution.  Yay!  I found a page that tells about using the HP Utility for OS 10.5 and 10.6.  It lists:

Paper Feed Cleaning : If the product is not picking paper correctly, this procedure cleans components inside the product to improve paper picking.

Boo! "Paper Feed Cleaning" is not in the items displayed in the HP Utility window on my computer!

Ah!  The fine print at the bottom of the web page says, "NOTE: The availability of these features depends on the product model."

But, I found this page by searching the Hewlett-Packard website with the model number of my printer.

Go figure!

Do we have these Orwellian people in our midst?

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake.  We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power.  Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness; only power, pure power.

The German Nazis and the Russian Communists … pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.  We know that no one ever seized power with the intention of relinquishing it.  Power is not a means; it is an end."

- "1984", George Orwell, p. 263, Signet Classic paperback edition

Friday, April 15, 2011

Supreme Court reverses itself on property as person

In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Dred Scott was property and therefore not a person.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that property is a person!

My!  How times change!

In 1857 a mostly conservative (slave owners) Supreme Court declared that the slave Dred Scott was property and was not a person.  A Republican President was disgusted by the decision.

In 2010 a mostly conservative (business ties) Supreme Court declared that corporations (property) are persons.  Have any Republicans been disgusted by this ruling?  Poor spinning Abe!

What hasn't changed is that "conservatives" are more concerned with property than with people.  Of course, the more property you have, the more rights you have over those with less property.  I'm sure you've heard of eminent domain and its use to take houses and land from small property owners and give it to large property owners.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Important ally in the fight against terrorism?

The above phrase is used over and over again in many stories about the popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.  But how important were these so-called allies?

The U.S. and other countries aligned themselves with dictators in the fight against Communism.  For many people in these countries the result was often worse than a Communist takeover.  "When will they ever learn" is still a valid question in the "fight against terrorism".  Instead of squelching terrorism, the fight increases terrorism, often state terrorism against the people of the countries who are "important allies in the fight against terrorism."

See "It's Arab and it's personal", Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera English, 2011-04-12.

The conspiracy against children and the public education system

1984 has arrived with more newspeak than we can keep track of.  No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is one of the diversions supposedly to promote improved education while actually destroying public education.

What are the reasons for NLCB: Lower taxes? Lowering the ability to think critically?  Pretending to do something productive without having to do anything substantive?  Destroying the public education system?

Supposedly one of the benchmarks is improved reading scores, no matter how good or poor previous scores were.  One improves reading scores by providing lots of reading material.  However, the budgets of the most accessible sources of reading materials are being cut, especially in schools with already low scores.  See "ALA Report: Poor Middle, High School Libraries Suffer the Most Budget Cuts".

But standardized tests are not the measure of critical thinking and creativity.  They measure the ability to give correct answers to tests.  It's like supposedly being skilled in a foreign language by knowing many details of grammar and having a large vocabulary.  Passing tests based on these two aspects mean nothing without lots and lots of practice in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

For example, I have spent many classroom hours on German and French and practically none on Swedish and Italian.  I read French OK because I've read dozens of books in French, but speaking French and German is difficult.  Speaking Italian comes easier to me because I lived in Italy and spoke it more than I ever spoke French or German.  Swedish comes even more easily to me because I spoke it at work for three years; sometimes I even think in Swedish.  Even then, these two languages are still a struggle because I don't practice.

What is really a pity on public education is that much research has been done by educators on better methods.  Politicians don't want to follow through on these ideas because they cost money, and politicians are better scientists and educators than scientists and educators.

An excellent view of what's really needed has been presented in many ways be Ken Robinson.  See an animation of his lecture, "Changing Education Paradigms".

One of his key points is "divergent thinking is an essential ingredient of creativity."  Divergent thinking is the ability to see many ideas at once rather than regurgitate the one "correct" idea.  He cites a longitudinal study of children in kindergarten scoring an average of 98% on divergent thinking and dropping dramatically as they grow older.

See also "Do Schools Destroy Creativity".  Ken Robinson says that George Harrison and Paul McCartney were not recognized as musicians by the music teacher!!

He also says that there is more money to be made by large corporations in the correction system of California than in the schools of California.  That is, short-term corporate profits are more important than long-term investment in people.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Taxes - burden or cost of civilization

My latest published letter is "Taxes aren't big in world of financial burdens".  See

Newspeak in action!

Apropos the manipulation of reality, check out this video that Al Jazeera English gave a link to:

The kids are very animated and engrossed in their "dialog".  Does their dialog make any more sense than the captions that have beed added about Libya?

It was a story supposedly about the media manipulation in the Ivory Coast, see

I was disappointed in the text of the page.  It seemed to barely touch the Ivory Coast, but listed stories in many other areas.

But then I discovered that I was only being teased to listen to and watch a 25 minute program - Listening Post.

BTW, Radio des Nations Unies has been covering Côte d'Ivoire extensively on its 15-minute daily podcast.  Unfortunately, my French is not good enough to get more than a general sense of what is being said.

Has this prediction become true?

"In a way, the world-view of the [Manipulators] imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it.  They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening.  By lack of understanding, they remained sane.  They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird."

Who are the manipulators?  In George Orwell's "1984" it is the Party.  Who would it be in our world: corporations, the military-industrial complex, the national security establishment, the Tea Party, …?

Could the attack on public education be an attempt to ensure that people are incapable of understanding the manipulations?  Could the attack on true health care be an obfuscation to cloud understanding.  Could the use (or misuse) of words like patriotism, free market, tax burden, job creation, and on and on be used as "flagrant violations of reality"?

Could all this manipulation be a means to confuse people so that they became "not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening" and therefore not even show up to vote?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Good and mediocre corporate bureaucracies

We have had a dripping faucet for a while and I finally got around to trying to fix it this week.  The story about disassembling is long, but I did disassemble the faucet to the point of pulling out the cartridge.  No matter how much or how hard I pulled, it wouldn't budge.

I called Moen's customer support and arranged for next day delivery of the cartridge.  The support service person said the package would include a tool to dislodge the cartridge.  All I needed to pay was for the shipping!!!

It had not arrived by two this afternoon, and so I called Moen back.  The customer support person told me that it was shipped by FedEx and gave me the tracking number.  She told me that it had arrived at the FedEx location and would be delivered by three.  No package at three.

I went to the FedEx web site and checked the tracking number.  The latest item is that it arrived at 12:25 a.m. at the FexEx location in Memphis TN from Las Vegas NV.  Memphis TN?  Is it on its way to Duluth GA?

I crawled the FedEx web site and found an 800 number.  I got a voice activated computer.  It said that the package would be delivered by three.  I could not break out of the cycle of getting the same response.  Maybe I should have said that I would like to speak with a person or punched zero.

This latter is another example of corporate efficiency at the cost of effectiveness for the customer.

But the story doesn't stop there.

I did find a feedback email form for FedEx and sent a message about the runaround and stalled status.

I also checked a Memphis paper and found that there was a big storm on Monday in Memphis, with thousands of homes and businesses still without power this morning.  Does that mean that some aspects of FedEx were not functioning fully?

I called Moen back to check if they could tell me more.  Not much, but the person told me she would send another, then I might have a spare.

Later yet, a FedEx representative called me to tell me that I would receive my package tomorrow.  I brought up about the storm and he said it was Monday but that lots of places had no power.  He did seem a bit harried, and so I didn't say much more.

Other than having to punch a few numbers to get to a live Moen representative, I would give them high marks for customer service.

In general, I would give FedEx low marks.  Probably in normal times, their tracking system would be a great help, but the computer voice recognition system needs lots of work.  FedEx does gain a few points for the phone call follow-up.  But they lose them for not having a backup for their tracking system, including a notation of problems out of their control.

Deadly spin on taxes - a modified Coffee Party petition

The Coffee Party has a form letter at to send to Congress to ask them to work for the taxpayers and not the large corporations.  I sent the following modified version of the suggested form letter.

As too many members of Congress work for a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations, please consider that it is people who cast the votes and that you were elected by a minority of the eligible voters.  Please also consider: you are fighting over how to spend our money.  We the People pay 33.7% of the Federal Fund while corporations pay 7.2%. Many corporations pay no taxes at all.  Yet your entire focus during this budget battle has been on how much to hurt the people.

If you haven't read it yet, I hope you can read "Deadly Spin" by Wendell Potter. The author just gives example after example of how big corporations are giving anti-factual spin to anything that hurts their overly generous self-determined compensation.  And they often do it under the smokescreen that they will create jobs. About the only jobs they are creating are jobs for their lobbyists and tax accountants

We did not cause the recession, the deficit, or the national debt.  We know this, and we need you to know that we are aware of a corrupt system in which corporations spend their vast wealth to lobby and manipulate you.

We know that's why the tax code so unjustly burdens us while favoring them. We know this is why Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are under attack from the US Chamber of Commerce and other powerful lobbyists. We know that is why your policies reward multinational corporations, including those that DID cause the recession, with bailouts, bonuses, and tax benefits.

Congress should work together on how to help us, not fight over how to hurt us.

P.S. to Congressional staff.  Please do not respond with boilerplate to this semi-boilerplate.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A geography lesson - Japan and Minnesota

We keep getting questions about how our son is doing in Japan after the earthquake near Sendai and the nuclear reactor problems in Fukushima.  To me, it's like others asking how we are doing if a tornado hit the Twin Cities or how we're doing with the Red River flooding in Fargo ND.

Sendai is about 225 miles from Tokyo and the Fukushima plant is about 150.  Fargo is about 242 from Duluth and Minneapolis is about 150.

Oh, yes, there are two nuclear plants near us.  Monticello is about 150 miles away and Prairie Island is about 224.  Prairie Island has far too much spent fuel stored on the premises.  If any of those casks are breached and we lived downstream in LaCrosse WI, then maybe you should worry about us.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Phishers are phools, but the phished are bigger phools

Most of us have heard that phishing and other scams are big business.  Given many of the errors of grammar, errors of spelling, and so on, it is hard to believe that enough people take them seriously.

I just started getting phrench phishing, and I think it is because at least one of two French speakers I've recently exchanged email with have had their address books hacked.

Even though I generally recognize spam from just the title or sender, I often take a peek at the contents.  I was surprised to see that one email supposedly in French may have had a Russian sender; it had securitй instead of sécurité!!

P.S. I did a search on securitй and got 598 hits.  It seems to be common usage in Russian to use this blended spelling of Latin and Cyrillic characters, both in a French context and a Russian context.

Friday, April 01, 2011

More on corporate bureaucracies

I don't write these little nasties because I think all large corporations are bad.  I write them because there are too many commentators who think all government is bad and all private enterprise is efficient.

Sorry, folks there are also efficient governments and inefficient corporations.  The determinant is not the organizational type, but management.  There are plenty of good managers in both government and corporations, and there are plenty of bad managers in both government and corporations.

Anybody who thinks otherwise doesn't read "Dilbert".  Scott Adams bases his characters on real-life people in his various corporate jobs.  See  I couldn't find it on his website, but I understand that he gets many contributions from readers about crazy situations that they have encountered.  I do know that I've seen Wally, the slacker, as a co-worker many times in large corporations.

Wow, that was a long introduction to a single minor observation.

I just paid my Verizon Wireless bill online.  At the top of the page is a weather report for Two Harbors MN.  I live in Duluth, a larger city about 25 minutes down the shore with quite different weather.  Several months ago I sent a comment to Verizon Wireless about this, and I received some waffling comment that really didn't bring about any change.