August 28, 2009

There Are None So Blind

... as those with their heads stuck up their ...
No, sorry, that's a bit coarse, isn't it. Better stick to the original, whatever it is:
"Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" ... agrees that this saying has its roots in the Bible, specifically Jer. 5:21 (King James version): "Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not"
... The proverb has been traced back in English to 1546 (John Heywood), and resembles the Biblical verse quoted (above)."
Of course we are spoiled for choice, when it comes to people who are determined to ignore the obvious for their own benefit:
alt-med charlatans
talentless "celebrities"
... the list is depressingly long.

Today, however, I wish to comment on a very specific example of blinkered vision - that of people who seek to justify their
own positions by assuming that everyone must want to be like them, and therefore deserves their pity or scorn, for "failing" to achieve that goal.
Such blind arrogance is counter-intuitive, of course. Those who do inspire genuine admiration and respect are never the sort of people to demand it, or to treat others as failures or, worse, as rather pathetic wannabes.

An Illustrative Case
(Details are vague for the usual reasons, but if you think that the subject
is not unrelated to a recent post of mine, I can't help that.)
Let's say someone with a rather mundane job and limited qualifications happens to be in the right place at the right time, and knows the right people. He might suddenly find himself in a powerful position for which he knows he is manifestly under-qualified, so he sensibly finds some talented assistants, maintaining his position due to the simple fact that he is the only one getting paid, which entitles him to exercise his authority in a way that would have been unworkable in a "real" job.
After a few years, however, he starts to lose interest in the project, so he creates a new management level below his own, so that his trusted assistants can take over most of his former role. However, in order to keep his salary and his position at the top, he ensures that this new level is not autonomous, and can be overruled at any time by himself.
Consequently, these new "managers" quickly discover that their initial pride at being promoted above their peers turns to dissatisfaction and frustration, so they now feel obliged to justify their own positions, until eventually they lose interest as well, and yet more have to be chosen to fill the gaps left behind. (An eerily similar situation is described in my Fairy Tale post, but please don't jump to any conclusions, will you.)

And so the cascade of condescension continues, because there is nothing that makes some people feel more important than identifying someone less important than themselves, and preferably reminding them of it as often as possible.
However, if they stubbornly refuse to believe in their inferiority, or fail to show you the respect you know you deserve, there are number of options available:
  • Start by idiculing them in public, highlighting their pathetic inability to achieve what must surely be their heart's desire - ie to be like you.
  • Threaten to reduce their admittedly trivial responsibilities even further. Because you can.
  • Persuade their colleagues that they suffer from delusions of grandeur. (Pot? Kettle?)
  • Randomly exert authority in unexpected ways, such as reversing their decisions and publicly criticising their actions.
  • Private harassment works well too, if the public campaign doesn't put them in their place.
Fortunately, most people can easily see this self-aggrandizement for what it is - a short-sighted effort to increase a sense of importance which was completely unjustified in the first place.

August 22, 2009

The Point of No Return

The title refers to the recent failure of the "Return/Enter" key on my brand new MacBook Air, and although I would love to claim the credit for such an inspired but excruciating pun, in fact it was suggested by an online friend who may wish to remain nameless. ;-)

However, that was the only bright spot in a tedious exercise involving
  1. Finding the Invoice to prove it is still in Warranty (no mean feat in itself).
  2. Wondering why this is necessary when the machine was registered with Apple - what is the purpose of that if you still need to produce the paper copy?
  3. Driving 40 minutes to the nearest "Authorised Apple Agent".
  4. Getting a phone call the next day to say there is no indication that it is still under warranty.
  5. Reminding them that they took a photocopy of the Invoice I provided.
  6. Grinding teeth while they looked for it, and grimly accepting their apology when they found it.
  7. Getting another phone call to say the key worked fine (subtext "Perhaps you are just a really stupid user?")
  8. Explaining that I had provided detailed notes on the service form about the fact the key only started to fail after repeated use.
  9. Grinding teeth again while they looked for the service form, and even more grimly accepting their apology when they found it.
  10. Hoping they can actually find the problem.
  11. Waiting, and waiting ... and still waiting. ("Estimated service time 3-10 working days.")
Meanwhile, of course, I am without my laptop. My shiny, undeniably gorgeous laptop. Above all, my expensive and new laptop. It does not seem right that through a succession of faults or errors on their part, I should be the one so inconvenienced and out of pocket.

But wait, there's more ...

Even more recently than my MacBook Air purchase, I paid Apple Store Australia a large sum of money for a new iPhone 3GS, which I bought outright to avoid the confusion of different plans. After a week or two it duly arrived, only to crush my expectations and delight by failing to pick up the wireless signal in my home, even when I stood directly in front of the modem, pointing furiously.
Another predictable sequence of events:
  1. Ring Apple Australia service department.
  2. Speak to friendly person in India who is terribly polite but completely unable to understand the problem.
  3. Get transferred to a succession of equally polite but unhelpful people in India.
  4. Finally reach someone who can actually help. Take a very deep breath and explain yet again, trying very hard indeed to be as polite as they are.
  5. Told to send the iPhone back to Apple, wait several weeks until more are in stock, and then receive a replacement.
  6. Explain that I need to have a mobile phone, so that is unacceptable.
  7. Ask why I can't keep this iPhone to use as a mobile phone until new stock arrives.
  8. Told that they will not even order a replacement until they get the broken one back, so the "only" way I can keep the phone in the meantime is to buy a second one, and when that arrives, return the first one for a refund.
  9. Momentarily speechless.
  10. Check that they actually mean for me to pay TWICE for a working phone, trusting them to refund one payment at some unspecified time in the future.
  11. Yes.
  12. Decide to accept this incredible "solution" rather than be without a phone for another month or more.

Forgive my rant, but I simply cannot see the "customer service" in all of this.
In both cases I have paid in advance for expensive items that I have to wait for, and then subsequently have to return at my own expense and inconvenience, due to problems entirely at Apple's end.

I've been a devoted Mac fan since the days of the old Apple II computer, and I still think they are wonderful machines, but their service seriously sux.

August 07, 2009

Homeopathy Rules? KO!

Essential viewing for anyone feeling "a bit poorly".

August 05, 2009

DMOZ Editor Corruption Shock (2)

When I first ridiculed the tiresome campaign against ODP/DMOZ volunteers by disaffected webmasters (and thwarted abusers), I highlighted the complete absence of any proof for their vacuous accusations, and naively hoped that it might embarrass them into admitting their fabrications and delusions.
No chance.
"There are none so blind as those who will not see"*

Sadly, the steady stream of vitriol continues, directed at volunteer editors whose only fault is not spending some of their hobby time listing the (apparently) fantastic site(s) owned by the person yelling at them. And of course these critics never have the evidence to report the "abuse" they keep alleging.

It's certainly hard to see any hidden agenda here ...
because their self-interest is so obvious.

How can anyone believe the histrionic complaints of people who have themselves tried and failed to subvert the free and open source nature of the Open Directory?
And how ridiculous do these hypocrites appear when they cannot even produce ONE piece of evidence to support their strident claims?

During a very trying year frequenting one of the forums where these people air their conspiracy theories, I was repeatedly told that the "proof" of editorial corruption (including, apparently, my own) could be found in the numerous freelancer auction sites where misguided webmasters offer to pay for a listing in ODP/DMOZ (which, remember, is free).

Of course such offers result in the permanent ban from DMOZ of all that webmaster's sites, but to determinedly unthinking types, the fact that someone tries to bribe an editor is "proof" that an editor has been bribed. Er, right.

Let's all hope none of these idiots or their followers ever does jury duty.

*There are many references. One is Jeremiah 5:21- "Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not". Yep. That fits perfectly.

ADDED in March 2011: Before you click the Comment button, please read this post. Thank you.


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