Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Constant among the Turmoil

Coverage of the protests in Madison has, quite rightly, focused on the human concerns. But, every now and again, I see a picture like this one

from today's Wisconsin State Journal coverage and it whacks me upside the head all over again: "God, what an absolutely beautiful building!"

I figure even Scott Walker may wait a year or 2 before trying to sell it off.

= = = = = =
John: I can build a new [model railroad] village — an even better one! In fact I've already started to see how I'm going to do it.
Elly: You're amazing.
John: Oh, I think I'm pretty ordinary. Guys who build stuff have had to put up with vandals since the days of the cave man.
Elly: What does that say for evolution?
John: The builders are winning.

-- Lynn Johnston, "For Better or for Worse", 2000 Nov. 7

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bait and Switch

A guy comes up to your front door and shows you pictures of a handsome house covered with aluminum siding and says he can do the same to YOUR house for only a thousand dollars. It looks good, and the price is really low, so you sign up and write the check. Then the guy comes back with 50 boxes of Reynolds Wrap, a ladder, and a staple gun. "Wait a minute!", you exclaim. "THIS wasn't what I signed up for!"

Would you feel cheated? Of course you would. You're a victim of a bait-and-switch operation — promising something pretty impressive and delivering something shoddy and underhanded.

The Wisconsin Republicans are running just such a bait-and-switch operation. Review ALL of their campaign literature, their websites, their public appearances, their meetings with newspaper editorial boards, their answers to questionnaires from the League of Women Voters — essentially ANYTHING THEY SAID about "Here's why you should vote for me." Here's what you WON'T find:
• promises to strip employees of collective-bargaining rights.
• pledges to let the governor sell off state property at his own discretion using no-bid contracts.
• any sort of case for rolling back wetland protections.
• claims that BadgerCare and SeniorCare are way too generous and needed to be killed off.
• platform planks eviscerating women's health-care rights.


If you hear anyone saying that the people of Wisconsin got what they voted for, tell them flat out that they're lying. Nobody in Wisconsin voted for THIS. They voted for people who CLAIMED they'd work in a bipartisan manner to try to resolve the state's fiscal problems.

If they HAD run on the platform they're currently trying to enact, they wouldn't have been elected. It's that simple. The people of Wisconsin didn't ask for this kind of treatment, they didn't vote for it, and they don't deserve it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Deming Way

The Deming Way
by Richard S. Russell

In 1945, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was appointed regent over conquered Japan, a nation prostrated, exhausted, and largely destroyed by WW2, a huge chunk of its potential work force dead. One of his tasks was to rebuild industry. Today, in 2011, Japan has the world’s 3rd largest economy. What did MacArthur do right?

He relied on W. Edwards Deming, an American expert on business management, whose ideas had been deemed too radical for use in the United States. Deming strongly believed that quality led to long-term success. Considering how attitudes toward the phrase “Made in Japan” changed between 1950 and the present, he was clearly on to something.

But how to improve quality? Deming pointed out that it’s close to impossible to double your quality in one giant 100% leap. Instead, he said, you do it gradually, in a hundred tiny 1% increments.

And where do you get your best ideas for improving quality? Not from the CEOs or stockholders or lawyers or bankers or marketers; not even from efficiency experts like Deming himself. You get them from the 2 groups of people who are up to their elbows in the details: (1) your customers and (2) your workers.

Listening to your workers: It’s a great idea — from the management perspective!

You listening, Scott?

= = = = = =
A manager of people needs to understand that all people are different. This is not ranking people. He needs to understand that the performance of anyone is governed largely by the system that he works in, the responsibility of management.

-- Dr. W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis