An honest email from HR

This I had to share. But I also had to bowdlerize it a bit, because reasons. If you really don’t care about salty language and think it improves things, stroll on over and read the original. I hope the writer doesn’t sue the hqiz out of me for sharing this in a mildly redacted form.


An honest email from a company’s HR rep to the employees.

Filed by Meg Favreau | Jul 07, 2015 @ 1:30pm

Hello, Kopencky Company Family! HR here. Look, I could care less about what you guys do in your personal lives, but I get paid to be your work mommy because, for some reason, a group of adults can’t manage to do things like not steal each other’s lunches or touch each other’s butts for the eight bleeding hours a day that they’re in an office. You people are exhausting, and since you apparently need constant reminders in order to be decent human beings, here are some ruddy reminders.

Company fun run

Our insurance premiums are going to go WAY up if Don has another heart attack, and we can’t tell him to his face to stop eating Cheetos (although whoever left him that anonymous note that I publicly denounced, please know that I privately agreed with you. STRONGLY). To that end, we’re forcing everyone to exercise with this company-mandated “fun” run that almost all of you will find demeaning, embarrassing, and really just awful to participate in. Except Jill. WE ALL KNOW YOU RAN A MARATHON, JILL. SHUT UP ABOUT IT.

Bring your child to work day

It’s next Tuesday. You are all welcome to bring your little chemical mistakes, except for Stephen. I know you and your pale wife are doing that “no negative reinforcement” thing, but last year, all you said was “Great stream, buddy!” when your kid peed on my aloe plant. Never again.

Vacation days

Reminder 1: All employees who started before July 1, 2015 get four weeks worth of vacation a year; if you started after, you get two weeks of vacation a year. Reminder 2: It was our jack-hole boss Mr. Kopencky who decided to cut vacation time in order to save money, not me, so taking it out on me will only make me hate you more. Reminder 3: This also means that you shouldn’t yell at me for: not getting a raise, no more free soda in the kitchen, the removal of vision and dental from the healthcare plan, and the fact that Mr. Kopencky will only let me buy a dozen doughnuts for “free doughnut Fridays,” so that 41 employees have to rush to be the first to get 12 doughnuts. (Yes, I know there are 42 employees here. Allow me to point you to Jill’s insufferable “Gluten Free IBS Runner” blog so you can also understand that she doesn’t eat doughnuts because of “the trots.”)

Glossary

Some people have told me that the HR buzzwords can be confusing. That’s because they’re a way for HR professionals to thinly veil how we really feel so we don’t accidentally yell “You’re a childish moron!” at our coworkers. Here are some definitions to help clarify things.

“My door is always open”

Mr. Kopencky won’t let me shut my door, so you guys can always walk in. But please don’t, because managing your dumb problems stresses me out to the point where I’ve had to learn how to cry silently, with no tears.

“Think outside the box”

You have bad ideas. I put your bad ideas all together in a box. Now, I want you to come up with good ideas. That means I need you to think outside of the box.

“Results driven”

Getting results is your job. So when I say I want you to be “results driven,” I’m saying “do your ruddy job.” Jill, that means do your job, not update your blog. Remember, we have tracking software on all the computers, so I know that you spent five hours researching “grain-free pizza” last Thursday.

The sign in the kitchen

I have overheard complaints that the dish-washing sign I put up is both condescending and passive-aggressive. I know it is, and I could change it to get at the real issue by saying, “You need to do your dishes because everyone else is sick of doing them for you, DAN.” I don’t think that Dan would like that, though, and he is Mr. Kopencky’s nephew. Did I say “Mr. Kopencky’s nephew”? I meant to say “Mr. Kopencky’s stupidest nephew.”

One other thing about the sign in the kitchen

Also, it’s pretty funny that the sign is for Dan, considering that I know he’s the one who drew a wang on the clipart man on it.

Sexual harassment

Speaking of that wang, we’re having a sexual harassment seminar in two weeks, and you can all thank Dan for that. Jill, you are welcome to bring gluten-free snacks again, but I swear if you bring grain-free pizza bites and they’re just globs of cheese and sauce, I will tell everyone about your IBS, which you have told me way, way, way too many details about. Remember, everyone, my door is always open!

Best,

Pamela

No, Turmeric lemonade is not better than Prozac

In current parlance, the word “woo” is defined at RationalWiki in this way:

Woo is a term for pseudoscientific explanations that share certain common characteristics, often being too good to be true (aside from being unscientific). The term is common among skeptical writers. Woo is understood specifically as dressing itself in the trappings of science (but not the substance) while involving unscientific concepts, such as anecdotal evidence and sciencey-sounding words.

No industry is more susceptible to the propagation of woo than the diet, health, and nutrition sector. Just say “trillion dollar industry” and you have the motivation to do and say anything to get a slice of that pie. Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr are all hotbeds for the dissemination of woo. Countless public figures have gotten rich by flogging woo, and in the process have led to believe that various and sundry herbs, spices, and so-called “superfoods” are a panacæa for all sorts of ills – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and even lupus.

Its-not-lupus-Its-never-lupus

I’ve blogged many times about snake oil and supplements. The industry of deception is alive and well. Even a year after her death, my mother continued to receive slick-looking solicitations for absolutely worthless concoctions like “MentaFit Ultra“, which unsurprisingly is not even sold any more. These products arise in a flash of advertising, are sold to a whole raft of unsuspecting and gullible victims, and then vanish along with their creators, only to surface with another name and a new formulation.

Newser, a popular news aggregator, is still allowing multiple clickbait ads and popups for worthless and expensive supplements to appear on their website,  even though this last particular scam has been widely debunked by multiple sources – two of note are Malwarebytes and Snopes. A percentage of this may be the result of poorly-vetted or supervised automatic affiliate marketing ad placement, but someone has got to know the kind of stuff that’s being hawked here – and Newser is hardly the only offender. I just happen to use them as the teacher in the moment because I’m sad about what they’ve allowed themselves to become in the name of monetization.

Today this showed up on my Facebook page:

http://healthinformative.net/turmeric-lemonade-that-treats-depression-better-than-prozac/

turmeric

Go to the article and they refer to two studies at PubMed:

  1. Multitargeting by turmeric, the golden spice: From kitchen to clinic, by Gupta SC, Sung B, Kim JH, Prasad S, Li S, and Aggarwal BB.
  2. Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial, by Sanmukhani J, Satodia V, Trivedi J, Patel T, Tiwari D, Panchal B, Goel A, and Tripathi CB.

In the second article, the abstract includes the following sentences:

Traditionally, this spice has been used in Ayurveda and folk medicine for the treatment of such ailments as gynecological problems, gastric problems, hepatic disorders, infectious diseases, and blood disorders. […] Numerous animal studies have shown the potential of this spice against proinflammatory diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, depression, diabetes, obesity, and atherosclerosis. At the molecular level, this spice has been shown to modulate numerous cell-signaling pathways. In clinical trials, turmeric has shown efficacy against numerous human ailments including lupus nephritis, cancer, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, acne, and fibrosis.

Forgive me, but my BS meter just redlined.

BS Meter

Even without digging into these articles beyond the abstract, and analyzing methodologies and statistical significance of the results which I don’t have the time and energy to do, there are just too many red flags to even begin to take these kinds of claims seriously. References to Ayurveda, the fact that almost all the authors are from India, the wild claims of efficacy or references to “showing potential” – nothing here can be construed as “proof” that turmeric is “better than Prozac” for depression.

A caveat: I am not wholesale against nutrition, or nutritional supplements, or natural remedies. Aspirin was once a “natural remedy,” until science isolated salicylic acid and multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, randomized tests proved its efficacy. There’s a lot we don’t know. Despite my skepticism about the studies above, there may be value in curcumin and turmeric that have not been fully explored. As with anything in science, the key is a large base of peer-reviewed studies and reproducible results.

Until then, woo-articles of this nature need to be taken with a hefty dose of salt – not just a pinch. Be very careful whom and what you trust. There are still people out there hawking “Miracle Mineral Supplement” for all sorts of things, and it’s nothing more than diluted bleach. This junk will kill you.

Depression is a serious illness and can be debilitating. While they are not a magic bullet, FDA-approved meds help many people to be able to carry on normal lives. And there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

This much I can tell you: ☞ It’s not turmeric lemonade. ☜  Be very careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

 

The Shame at America’s Borders

Yesterday on February 27th, the New Yorker published a piece about the ordeal of Mem Fox, a well-known Australian author of children’s books, who was coming to the US to be a keynote speaker at a conference in Wisconsin.

koala-lou

Read the article. You should hear her own account of the events – but I suspect it doesn’t do justice to what Ms. Fox must have been feeling – and what all the other people must have been feeling – as they were detained, barked at, yelled at, bullied, and humiliated by “professional agents.”

“When asked for comment about Fox’s account, Jaime Ruiz, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection at LAX, said,

“That is not how we treat passengers. We treat passengers with respect and professionalism. We have zero tolerance for passengers being treated unprofessionally.”

Well, Jaime, guess what – that’s how you *do* treat passengers. It happened. It was real. Any sort of statement or apology should include an assurance that steps will be taken to change things. Because it was not just Ms. Fox that was treated that way – it was an entire roomful of other human beings, many who did not even speak English and who don’t have the social status to get on the public radar.

The Greeks have a saying: “Η γλώσσα κόκαλα δεν έχει και κόκαλα τσακίζει” (The tongue has no bones, but it breaks bones.) Your dismissive statement will not heal the deep cuts to the spirit of this gentle lady, and all the other gentle ladies and gentlemen whom your agents treat with all the delicacy of a fourth-grade bully with his posse behind the school.

Another report at the Washington post states,

After returning to her home in Adelaide, Fox filed a complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Canberra and received a “charming” email in response. “I took it as an apology from all of America,” she says.

While I’m glad the embassy responded positively, and that the apology was well received, I have no doubt that the memory of the experience will never truly fade. One kind diplomatic functionary is good, but to eliminate this kind of abomination change must start at the top – because attitude rolls downhill. And from what I’ve seen, it’s the attitude at the top that is enabling this kind of jingoistic, xenophobic vileness.

Ms. Fox, I’m deeply ashamed by the actions of my government, and very sorry this happened to you.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets – from On the Media.”

On the Media is “WNYC’s weekly investigation into how the media shapes our world view. Veteran journalists Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield give you the tools to survive the media maelstrom.”

A recent segment intriguingly addresses the PEOTUS’ twitter-storm, and how the media should appropriately respond.

As we all know, Donald Trump’s tweets have become a potent force in our new era. On the one hand, a single tweet can cripple opponents, activate supporters, move markets, and subsume the news cycle. On the other, they’re a window into Trump’s wee-hours, unfiltered id. But when his tweets are full of half-truths, distortions, and often bold-faced lies, should journalists treat them as normal presidential utterances, or something else? Cognitive linguist George Lakoff believes that the press must understand how Trump uses language if we’re to responsibly report on his tweets, not just magnify their misinformation. He talks with Brooke about the categories he’s come up with for thinking about Trump tweets.

A summary of the categories:

  1. Preemptive Re-framing – Trump’s tweet stated, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” This was rated “Pants on Fire” by Politifact, but it effectively re-frames the popular vote in the minds of those who see the tweet, thus distorting the facts in the public arena.
  2. The Diversion Tweet – This kind of tweet is akin to the magician’s misdirectional “nothing up my sleeve.” While you’re busy looking at his or her sleeve to be sure, jiggery-pokery is happening elsewhere. A good example is focusing on Hamilton, as Trump did when he tweeted “The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!” In this way, people focus on Hamilton rather than the $25 million settlement in the case of  fraud allegations against Trump University.
  3. The Trial Balloon – Send up something and see how the public reacts, so you’ll know what to do in the future. When Trump tweeted, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” he watched to see how the public responded to this idea; in this case there was a brief discussion about nuclear policy which quickly faded from the public consciousness.
  4. Deflection – In which you attack the messenger. After being pointedly called out by Meryl Streep for mocking a disabled reporter, Trump attacked the messenger: “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him “groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!The video is out there; no matter how much he denies it, Trump’s actions can not be interpreted as anything other than cruel mockery of a man’s afflictions – but attacking Ms. Streep, one of the most accomplished and versatile actresses of this generation, deflect’s the public’s view from the issue at hand. This was also evident as Trump attacked Buzzfeed, CNN, and the BBC around reports on the supposed Russian dossier.

Lastly, Lakoff presents an example of a Trump tweet that uses all four strategies at once:

“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

  • Pre-emptive framing: “This is fake news.”
  • Diversion – Getting the public to discuss whether or not this is fake news rather than addressing the issue itself.
  • Deflection – Attacking the messengers
  • Trial balloon – Will the intelligence agencies be stopped, and are they working like Nazi Germany?

And, of course, tucked away in the tweet is the invocation of a corollary to Godwin’s Law: In any online discussion, whoever first brings up a reference to Hitler has lost the argument, and the discussion is ended.

Lakoff’s suggestions for the press on how to handle the onslaught of 3 AM tweets, as well as the entire podcast (it’s only about 8 minutes long) are well worth the listen.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

An open letter to Trump: Stop the hatred.

Edit: Just after posting this, I saw that Mr. Trump had said something like this on “60 Minutes.” That’s good… but it’s not enough. A targeted  and specific message is needed.

Dear President-elect Trump:

trump1

I don’t know if you concern yourself with events on the ground among the “little people.”
In the week since your election, the news has been full of some terrifying and truly disturbing events. In a list compiled on Twitter by Insanul Ahmed:

  • Students as Southern Illinois University put on blackface and posed in front of a Confederate flag
  • A group of guys yelled, “Time to get out of this country, Apu!” at a Middle Eastern-looking man at a gas station
  • A woman wearing a scarf was told, “Your time’s almost up, girlie.”
  • A Trumpkin pulled a knife on a Muslim woman near the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • A white person called a black man a “nigger” and said he should be picking cotton
  • Students at Lehigh Valley High School were chanting, “Cotton-picker, you’re a nigger”
  • A white man approached a woman who appeared Mexican and said, “I can’t wait until Trump asks us to rape your people and send you over the biggest damn wall we’re going to build. Go back to hell, wet back,” and threw his cup of water in her face while flipping her the bird
  • A group of white men followed a woman wearing a dress onto the subway, yelled, “Grab her by the pussy!” and then proceeded to do so
  • Students at Wake Forest University were running around shouting, “NIGGER!” inside the residence halls
  • A group of white men confronted a black woman at a gas station and said, “How scared are you, you black bitch? I should just kill you right now…you’re a waste of air!” and another said, “You’re lucky there’s witnesses or else I’d shoot you right here.”
  • A black woman in Queens, NY was asked to go to the back of the bus
  • An LGBT couple found a note on their car saying, “Can’t wait till your ‘marriage’ is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell. Trump 2016”
  • High school teens yelled at a black woman to go back to Africa
  • A white man told an Asian woman at a gas station, “We won. Now get the fuck out of my country.”

Whether it was your intention or not, whether you want to admit it or not, you started this firestorm of hate with an implicit message that immigrants, Muslims, or anyone who is “other” or “less than” are not welcome in this country.

☞ And only you can put it out. ☜

I’m probably not wrong to suggest that most of your supporters are as appalled by this kind of behavior as I am. That these are the acts of the lowest common denominator of ignorance, hatred, and willful stupidity.

But these acts of horror are being committed in your name. And as President of our nation, the buck stops in the same office occupied by Harry Truman. With you.

There is only one way to stem the tide of this horror, which will only increase as the bigoted and the ignorant become more and more emboldened by the message that they heard during your campaign.

You spent countless millions of dollars courting the discouraged, the forgotten, and the disenfranchised, demonizing your political opponents. It is time to get in front of those same people who voted for you and personally tell them that acts of racism and hatred are not part of your platform. That they need to stop. That if they don’t stop, they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for hate crimes.

You’ve got the money, and for you it would be chump change. Get that message out there.

Do this, and even though I didn’t vote for you, you will have taken an important step to becoming “my president.” Do it not, and there is no way you can be president for “all Americans.” Do it not, and you will reap the whirlwind in a political backlash that you and the GOP may not recover from during this century.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A compendium of hopes and fears

The election of 2016 is over, and the result I would not have imagined in a thousand night terrors has materialized. I couldn’t sleep last night, and put a lot of my thoughts out on Facebook in the hopes that I could stop feeling miserable and get back to bed. For better or worse, here’s an extended summary.

To my friends across the world, I wrote:

heart

Dear World:

I am deeply sorry. Please forgive us.
Je suis profondement navré. Veuillez nous pardonner.
Mi dispiace tantissimo. Per favore, scusateci.
Tá an-bhrón orm. Led’ thoil, maith dhúinn.
Es tut mir furchtbar leid. Bitte verzeih uns.
Jeg beklager så mye. Tilgi oss.
.אני מאוד מצטער. סלח לנו
Jako mi je žao. Oprosti nama.
Lo siento mucho. Por favor perdónanos.
Λυπάμαι πολύ. Συγχωρείστε μας.
Imi pare foarte rau. Vă rog, scuzați-ne.

I thought on this more than once:

litany_against_fear_by_kubuzetto

Donald Trump strikes me as the antithesis of all the best qualities Christ exhorted his followers to embody. In his first epistle to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote,

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous.”

If these are the qualities of a good spiritual leader, what then has America put into the White House?

A collection of tweets appeared this morning which lightened my mood somewhat:

George Takei: “The unthinkable happened before, to my family in WWII. We got thru it. We held each other close. We kept our dignity and held to our ideals.”

Michael Moore: “However this ends, that’s where we begin.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda: “Go through all stages tonight. You are allowed to feel however you like. Take stock of your heart. See you tomorrow. We are all still here.”

Stephen Colbert: “In the face of something that might strike you as horrible, I think laughter is the best medicine. You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery.”

JK Rowling: “Deep breaths. You’re not alone. There are many, many people on your side. The battle’s only over when you stop fighting. xoxox”

Kal Penn: “Stop it w: the moving to Canada shit. Double down on the country we love. If Trump becomes president, we have to get MORE involved not less”

Nina Las Vegas: “No matter who your president is, always fight for education, tolerance and quality. Votes can’t stop YOU from being good in your world.”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson: “I’m taking tonight to grieve for minorities, women, immigrants, muslims & the LGBTQ community but tomorrow I’m waking up ready to fight.”

Jessica Chastain: “The positive element from all this is that we can no longer pretend that we are free of racism & sexism. The question is, what do we do now?”

Barack Obama: “Remember, no matter what happens, the Sun will rise in the morning and America will still be the greatest nation on Earth.”

These thoughts echo what I designed immediately upon hearing the news:

trump

Lastly, I offer my own signature from the early days of email, one which I have always treasured and whose source is unknown:

Everything will come out OK in the end. If it's not OK, it's not the end.

May  God, nature, and humanity have mercy on us all.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Servers are people, not slaves

I’ve posted my thoughts about tipping before. I think it’s a bad system that allows restaurateurs to balance their budgets on the backs of their most important corporate assets, their employees. But as long as it’s the de facto standard, it’s important never to stiff a server.

But just as important as a good tip is the way you treat those who serve you, or wait on you, or help you in retail establishments, or answer the phone to help you with a transaction or a technical problem. And far too many people (witness the horror stories at places like Not Always Right) treat others in this category like something horrid that they would scrape off their shoe.

A few examples:

  1. A pastor writes on her server’s check, “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?” She later stated that this was an unfortunate lapse of judgment and felt embarrassed about it, but Applebee’s, where the incident occurred, fired another server for publishing the offending check on reddit, even though no PII was revealed.
  2. A couple leaves a “tip” for a server: here’s your tip,” they said and explained that a woman’s place is in the home, as it says in the Bible, and that she should go home, clean her house, and cook a good hot meal for her husband and children. They even said her husband “must see another woman on his way home from a long day at his work” because she isn’t home, and told her to stop looking for handouts to feed her family.
  3. Some “Christians” have taken to leaving these tracts disguised as money as “tips,” thinking they’re contributing more to their waitstaff than crass pecuniary remuneration.

assholes

People who do things like the above examples are neither Christian, nor do they understand the very religion they so publicly claim to represent – and I refer them happily to Acts 8:21: “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.”

Then there are the people who are just douchebags for no reason.

  1. One sweet lady I work with told of spending almost 2 decades as a server. One “gentleman” she waited on told her that society had failed her because she was working as a waitress, and that she herself was a failure; he flipped a $5.00 bill at her and told her to put it into her infant daughter’s bank account, but that he doubted it would get there. Needless to say, he made her cry; this is what trolls do on the internet all the time, “for the lulz,” but it is beyond my capacity to comprehend how someone can do this in person. It’s a good thing I wasn’t at the next table, I would have been hard pressed not to stand up and smash his silly face.
  2. A man with “Esq.” after his name, proclaiming to all the world that he is an attorney, calls up customer service for assistance. When discovering his problem is a bit more complex than he wants (“Just fix it!”) he demands a manager. When he doesn’t get one immediately, he launches into this shouted tirade about “Now you’ve made me really angry! I’m documenting this call! I’m calling your CEO!” His douchebag wife even calls up to abuse some more agents about the same issue. And he actually does call the CEO, wasting countless people’s time and acting like a spoiled, entitled little brat until he gets heaven knows what. I’d love nothing better than to doxx this waste of human cytoplasm, but that’s not how I roll.
  3. For more examples, scan Not Always Right for the category “Bad Behavior.” (Link for the time-challenged.)

The solution to all these unhappy situations is pretty simple. It’s come to be known on the Internet as “Wheaton’s Law.”

wheatons-law

Seriously, just don’t.

The Old Wolf has spoken.