Monday, February 27, 2017

The very best thing ...

The very best thing I can do is nothing at all.

Writing is not "nothing at all", of course. However, these words will not be inflicted upon you. Not by me, anyway.

I am guessing that you have stumbled across this post because you are curious to know how I am. If so, then I thank you for your curiousity - I am fine, really.

There are no words that I could write that would convince you that I am over you, so I will not try. In any case, it is not true.

I once said to you that I thought you were the most wonderful person in the world. I never did get to know you well enough to be convinced otherwise.

It comes down to this: I hope that one day you will decide to contact me to say hello.

Unlikely, I know, but there is little harm whispering a wish into the breeze.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Bunch In Charge

The reality is a large party of Australia's current economic circumstances are as they are because of reasons that are way beyond the control of the Government in charge - slowing of China's economy being the foremost amongst these. Most people know this. The LNP carries on as if the problems were created solely by Labor and that they, and they alone, hold the magic keys that will ensure Australia's future prosperity.

That is rubbish. They are deluding themselves if they think they have much influence on these questions.

Yet, in policy areas where they do exhibit any control at all, they are either inactive (Negative Gearing, Superannuation) or wilfully destructive (NBN, Carbon Tax, Science Funding, Medicare, Media Freedom, Security Laws, Transparency, Accountability, Mental Health, Foreign Aid, Halal Certification, University Fees, Arts Funding, Renewable Energy, Energy in General, Climate Change, Opaque Trade Pacific Partnership Negotiations, Meddling with the Islamic Schism, The Plight of Regional Asylum Seekers, Meta Data Retention, Internet Filtering, Racial Vilification Laws, ABC Funding, ...).

With the exception of the changes to when startup options become taxable, they don't have a single other progressive policy reform to offer the electorate. All the items that are actually on their reform agenda are so politically toxic that they will not get elected again if they even admit to their existence.

This bunch are beyond useless.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Langham Hotel, Melbourne: how to destroy a customer relationship by devaluing trust

Here is the thing.

I can choose to stay in a 5 star hotel and pay good $$$ for the privilege. Or I can choose to stay at AirBNB and pay half as many $$$.

If I stay at AirBNB I get to experience the hospitality of real people who extend their trust to complete strangers for a short period of time. If I stay at a 5 star hotel, I pay twice as much and my interactions with the hotel are reduced to a series of trust-free transactions.

A case in point: a stay at the Langham Hotel Melbourne - 12 May, 2014 - 16 May 2014.

Since April 2012, I have stayed at The Langham Hotel on multiple occasions. I prefer to stay elsewhere, but in the last 2 weeks availability of the other hotels has forced me to stay at The Langham.
I don't mind The Langham. Its Internet could do with some help, but I have other ways to access the Internet so that doesn't matter too much.

Last week, I took advantage of the express checkout courtesy of the envelope slipped under my door. On the back of this envelope, I declared the tube of Pringles I consumed on Thursday night. I dropped the envelope in the box and shortly thereafter received a copy of the invoice in my mail box.

All good.

This week, I was expecting the same convenience - no such luck.

No problem, I'll checkout in person.

So, I do this. When I checkout, I declare the 50ml Hennesy Cognac and Pringles I consumed on Thursday night ($19). The cashier informs me that because I had already paid for the accommodation ($796) and bond ($400) in advance it will be necessary for me to take a seat and wait while "the refund is processed".

I have been travelling to Melbourne, weekly, for 2 years. There have never been any delays in processing my checkout. Other hotels have repeatedly applied (fictitious) $50 parking charges to my bill and I occasionally have been post-billed for mini-bar charges from previous nights that didn't make it onto the final bill. Not once have I been asked to wait.

So, unusual, but I wait.

While I wait, I notice that the cashiers are busily processing other customers. They specifically do nothing to "process my refund".

There is a man in a nice suit, walking down the line of waiting customers offering express checkout envelopes to each in turn so that they needn't be bothered unnecessarily by the delays in the checkout queue.

This starts to tick me off. Why isn't one of the cashiers "processing my refund"? Why am I waiting for these other people, who arrived after me, to be serviced?

So, I naturally ask: why are these people being serviced while I am being forced to wait?

The answer I get is this: "Last night you posted a Do Not Disturb sign on your door. It is hotel policy that in such circumstances we must perform an audit of the contents of the minibar before issuing a refund".

Are you serious?

I have stayed at this hotel many times in the past. I am due to stay at this hotel again in the week of May 19 to May 23, 2014. You are forcing me to wait so that you can perform a physical audit of the honesty of my declaration to you that I had consumed $19 from the minibar the previous night.

Are you f*cking serious?

You have already charged my card $400 to cover expenses that cost $76. You can take your sweet merry time to issue the refund to me of $324 at your leisure. But you expect me to wait.

Are you, really, f*cking serious?

Apparently so.

So, I did what every pissed off customer does. I file a "customer comment" on the website form allocated for the purpose.

As of 19:15 on Friday, 16 May 2014 I had not received a response.

So, Langham you fully deserve all the opprobrium that is rightfully coming your way.

I will be staying at The Langham again next week. All I expect is that they take account of my note, and issue a suitably contrite apology on their FaceBook page.

If they do this, I will publish a link to the apology here.

And, lest there be any confusion, I will not be consuming any items from the mini-bar next week.

I will, however, post a "Do Not Disturb" notice on my door which says something to the effect of:

"Please do not disturb. Customer integrity officers may, of course, enter at any time".


update: On June 3, The Langham posted this response to Facebook

We’re delighted that you found our express check out helpful on previous visits and disappointed to learn that our procedures and policies ended your experience on a bad note. I understand that you met the Front Office Duty Manager upon your return on May 19 in order to resolve the issues from your previous stay. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. 

We pride ourselves in delivering high standards of hospitality, which has made this hotel very popular. We will make every effort to know your preferences as a valued guest and to meet them on your future visits to The Langham Melbourne.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A misunderstanding

This post documents my view of a misunderstanding that caused another person to block me from Twitter. I would have liked to explain this to the person concerned, however, all attempts to do so have been aggressively rebuffed with insults and threats of public humiliation for my alleged shameful deeds.

I don't plan to identify the correspondent, since I am not interested in embarrassing that person. I don't plan to reproduce the discussion in detail since the topic being discussed was somewhat sensitive and not appropriate for public discussion. So, in the text that follows I will redact some details of the conversation and replace them with salient abstractions.

The situation arose a few days ago when I retweeted a tweet by a correspondent I have corresponded with in the past. The tweet was about a possible political event that might occur in the future. I was concerned about how this event may unfold in light of allegations that had recently been reported in the media. 

When it became apparent that my correspondent was unaware of the allegation, I tried to provide him with a link to the report of the allegation in a newspaper. Again, the purpose of doing this was not to assert the truth of the allegation but to provide some context for my opening remark.

Unfortunately, my correspondent misinterpreted the intent of my DM and apparently concluded that I was trying to enlist him in peddling the allegation itself, something I have no interest in doing. The conversation went something like this.

me: {Y} is no doubt looking to use the {allegation against X} because otherwise he has no fucking hope {of winning a potential political battle) 
correspondent: {i have heard something about X, but no other accusations} 
me: {I tried to provide references to an existing public record of the allegation in order to provide context to my opening remark} 
correspondent: anyway i don't really care you keep your dirty laundry or post it to the public feed
correspondent: but leave me well out of it if you please 
me: hey, I am not saying there is any veracity - I hope there isn't
me: all I am saying is the allegations are out there, potentially {compromising X} 
correspondent: what did i just say? 
me: sorry, {correspondent}, I am not asserting the veracity of the allegations, just pointing out that people are making them
me: please understand the difference 
And so I was blocked without any adequate opportunity to correct what I believed to be a misunderstanding of my intent. This was literally the extent of the conversation.

Having felt slighted by what I felt was his misjudgement of my character  I  naturally wanted an opportunity to correct what I thought was a misunderstanding on his part. However, having made his snap decision to dismiss me, he rather hotly and angrily decided that any further utterance from me was necessarily a hostile act for which blocking was the only suitable punishment.

He didn't ask me to stop DM'ing, he rudely demanded it without giving me the slightest opportunity to clear up the obvious misunderstanding on his part. The possibility that he may have erred did not cross his mind then, or apparently, since.

Attempting to rectify the situation in public wasn't an option because I didn't want to air the sensitive nature of the allegations about X publicly and he had, in any case, blocked me. 

I thought a better option would be to engage a distant acquaintance of mine (and a close friend of his) with a view to asking her to pass on a message to my correspondent and therefore hopefully help my correspondent view our conversation in the light I had intended it. I DM'd her and she agreed to review a transcript of the conversation and my explanation of what I thought had occurred and if she thought it appropriate, forward it onto to my correspondent.  I did not ask her to argue my case, merely to act as a go-between.

After reflection, she did do as I requested.

I seriously thought this was a mature, adult way to resolve the misunderstanding. Unfortunately my correspondent interpreted my actions as an attempt to harass his friend. In response he threatened to publicly humiliate me if I continued such 'harassment'.

Having exhausted every possible, adult way of dealing with the situation, I am left to document it here.

I feel I have been unfairly misjudged by this person who, having made the misjudgment in error, left me with no possible way to defend myself. 

I do not accept that I have done anything in this episode about which I should be ashamed. I never asserted or assumed the truth of the allegations, merely their existence. It is not wrong to (privately) speculate about the potential for political blackmail given such circumstances exist. It is not wrong for me to respond to my correspondents rude and immediate demand that "I leave him out of it", by trying to correct his misunderstanding of my intent. Having so abruptly denied me the possibility to communicate directly with him, it is not wrong for me to try to find another avenue to calmly try to correct his misunderstanding by approaching a disinterested third party who he trusts to act as a mediator.

Admittedly, I do not know this person well, and my attempt to converse with him (in private) about this subject was uninvited. On reflection, it was unwise to have opened the conversation with a supposition about how one party in the political events may have used an allegation about another party for political advantage. Coming out of the blue, it may have looked like I was asserting the truth of the allegation when all I meant to do was assert the existence of the allegation and my opinion of the likelihood of that allegation being used to influence the unfolding of subsequent political events. I can see how this lead to the misunderstanding and I can only apologise for my clumsiness.

My thanks to his friend for agreeing to mediate, and my apologies to her for any embarrassment I may have caused her.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

The statements of fact in Ewin Hannan's report about Gillard, Hartigan and Mitchell

... and making a cameo appearance for added rhetorical flourish, Andrew Bolt

The following is a presentation of the facts reported by Ewin Hannan's article in September 3 edition of the Australian: "8am call that put Julia Gillard's old news on front page".

The presentation here is given in the dry chronological order of the events as they occurred, rather than in an order better suited to The Australian's rhetorical purposes.

Hannan's article does include several assertions by Mitchell about Gillard being "apoplectic" and "furious".

It also contains a denial by Andrew Bolt that he had any contact with Glenn Milne and his assertion that there "is no vast right-wing conspiracy against the Prime Minister". Interestingly, on the same day this article was published, Bolt claimed -- with zero evidence -- that the ABC's dropping of Glenn Milne from this week's "The Insiders" was evidence of a conspiracy to "protect Gillard".. He also stated in that article that this conspiracy was so "sinister and shameful" that there "should be a riot". To which I say: #nochaffbags.

The rhetorical point of The Australian's article -- from its title through to its conclusion --seems to be that Gillard has only her self to blame that "old" allegations "hit the front page". Presumably, in News Limited's universe Prime Ministers are not entitled to seek to protect themselves from libel.

These elements are not further discussed here; the interested reader is referred to the original article.

In the remainder of this presentation, I have tried to refrain from making any statements of my own opinion. Perhaps that is not how one is meant to present facts. But then what would I know about journalism? I am merely a software developer.

On Saturday, September 3, The Australian published an account by Ewin Hannan of conversations between the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the chief executive of News Limited John Hartigan and The Australian's editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell that took place on Monday 29th August. The report also referred to earlier conversations that took place between Gillard and Hartigan two days earlier, on Saturday 27th of August.

According to Hannan, Gillard rang Hartigan on Saturday. Hartigan stated that:

"She brought to my notice that she had information that Andrew Bolt or Steve Price or both were likely to publish assertions that were first made public in 2007 and she was very concerned by this because she said, when they were raised at that time, they were wrong and inaccurate and damaging,"

Hartigan made inquiries of Price and Bolt and then called Gillard back. Hannan reported:

"I gave her an assurance that, were something to be published, we would give her an opportunity to respond before it was published", he said.

Hartigan had made inquiries at the Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph. He made no inquiries to The Australian because he said Gillard had not nominated the newspaper.

On Monday, August 29, The Australian published an opinion piece by Glenn Milne in which Milne stated: "What the lawyers would not allow to be reported was the fact that Gillard shared a home in Fitzroy bought by Wilson using the embezzled funds.". Note that Hannan's report of September 3 did not include full text of this statement, presumably in deferrence to accepted journalistic practice &/or an understanding between News Limited and Gillard. Hannan's report states "The unproven allegations, in political terms, are ancient, and have been rehashed numerous times by critics of Labor and Gillard over the past 16 years." and outlines the circumstances in which the allegations had been raised publicly in the past.

As a consequence of this publication, Gillard rang Hartigan around 8am on Monday. According to Hartigan, Gillard said on Monday: "This has broken the deal we had.". Hannan reports that "Hartigan rejected the claim, insisting The Australian did not cover his original undertaking. (sic)"

When Gillard called Hartigan on Monday morning, Hannan reports:

According to Hartigan, Gillard put a series of demands that she wanted addressed in 15 minutes. The deadline was later pushed back to 9am.

As well as a public apology and the Milne article being taken offline, she wanted a commitment that the allegations never be repeated again in The Australian. This demand was later extended to all News Limited newspapers and their websites.

"She said they were very damaging accusations," Hartigan said. "She wanted some action and she wanted it quickly."

Hartigan told Gillard he would speak to Chris Mitchell, The Australian's editor-in chief.

Hannan reports that Mitchell then rang Gillard but does not report the substance of any conversation between the two. He then reports:
Asked yesterday for comment regarding the accounts given by Hartigan and Mitchell, a spokesman for the Prime Minister released a one-paragraph statement last night that read: "Those accounts of the conversations are false and inaccurate. Considering what The Australian has already published this week, that's hardly surprising."

According to Hartigan and Mitchell, for an hour on Monday morning there was a flurry of phone calls, emails and texts between them, Gillard and lawyers, including News Limited's chief general counsel, Ian Philip.

Hartigan said he had six conversations with Gillard during this period, as well as exchanges of text messages and emails.

Hannan also reports that:

Mitchell, who was not working on the Sunday, said the column was not sent to lawyers before publication.

He said the column should have been legalled, particularly given it contained the above-mentioned paragraph.

Given this admission by the editor-in-chief, it is perhaps not surprising that:

By 9am on Monday, Mitchell had emailed a suggested form of apology to the Prime Minister, which Gillard agreed upon. Her demand that the allegations never be repeated in any News Limited publication was rejected.

Milne's column was removed from The Australian's website and replaced with an apology.

"The Australian published today an opinion piece by Glenn Milne which includes assertions about the conduct of the Prime Minister," it read.

"The Australian acknowledges these assertions are untrue. The Australian also acknowledges no attempt was made by anyone employed by, or associated with, The Australian to contact the Prime Minister in relation to this matter. The Australian unreservedly apologises to the Prime Minister and to its readers for the publication of these claims."

Friday, September 02, 2011

#notruckwits - a call for #CalmerDiscourse

Sent as a letter to the SMH, Friday September 2.

On Thursday, we yet again saw an angry crowd of anti-carbon tax protesters waving placards that depicted a dog with the words "Ditch Gillard" and another that said "Tolerance is our demise". Some of these protesters screamed "maggots" at Anthony Albanese who addressed the rally.

Marching in solidarity with these protesters was the Liberal Party MP, Sophie Mirabella. In her speech, she reportedly called on protesters "not to be intimidated". By what, it is not clear . Perhaps it was the crowd of smiling carbon tax supporters up the road who chose to avoid an angry confrontation by staying away from the protest rally.

I call on Sophie Mirabella, MP to publicly and strongly repudiate the uglier sections of the crowd that she chose to support yesterday.

I also call on supporters of the Liberal Party who oppose the carbon tax, but are appalled by the angry mobs who turn up at such rallies to urge their MPs to issue similar public repudiations. Liberal Party MPs should refuse to attend such rallies until the organisers do something concrete about defusing the heat from the crowds they attract.

Finally, the Liberal Party should be strongly repudiating its supporters in the media, such as Alan Jones, who repeatedly foster such disturbing, anti-democratic tendencies with incendiary rhetoric such as his call for elected politicians to be dragged out to sea in "chaff bags".

Updated 16:10, 2 September: On reflection, the call for Sophie Mirabella to repudiate the entire crowd is, of course, quite wrong so I have amended my call. However, she should be asked to repudiate the uglier elements of the crowd in the interests of encouraging calmer discourse.

Open Letter To Sophie Mirabella, MP to repudiate degradation of the political discourse

Today I wrote an open letter to Sophie Mirabella, MP calling for her to repudiate the disgusting tactics used by the people she marched in solidarity with during Thursday's anti-carbon tax rallies.

Australians, particularly Australian voters, deserve better from their politicians.

Copies were also sent to Anthony Albanerse, Tanya Plibersek and Malcolm Turnbull.

Dear Ms Mirabella,

In the press today, it was reported that yesterday you marched along side and in solidarity with an angry mob of protesters against the Government's carbon tax policy.

The fact that Liberal Party MPs voluntarily associate themselves with angry mobs that carry signs such as "ditch the bitch" and "tolerance is our demise" astonishes me.

This is extremely degrading to the political discourse in this country.

I call on you to strongly and publicly repudiate protests of this kind and also statements from your supporters in the media like Alan Jones who have called for Gillard and Brown to be dragged out to sea in "chaff bags".

How the Liberal Party expects to survive the next election campaign with ads that portray the compatriots of the Liberal Party as a blood thirsty, irrational mob is beyond me.

As a courtesy to you, I point to a blog posting I have written about this issue.

If you feel "intimidated" by this post, please act.

jon seymour.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Pro- and Anti- Carbon Tax Rallies - Marrickville 2011/09/01

In Marrickville today there were two rallies.

One for the carbon tax

One against.

Which group of protesters listens to the likes of Alan Jones and reads the commentaries of Andrew Bolt?

Which group of protesters looks happy? Which looks angry and hateful?

How can the Liberal Party, and @SMirabella in particular, associate themselves with an irrational mob that carries signs such as "ditch the bitch" and "tolerance is our demise"?

Is this "decent" political discourse or is it cynical hate mongering by an Opposition party that has never relinquished the conceit that they are the natural party of Government?

Where are Ms Mirabella's repudiations of the disgusting, "intimidating" behaviours from the ranks of her anti-carbontax peers? Where is her repudiation of the call by Alan Jones to drag Gillard and Brown out to sea in "chaff bags"?

An MP of any political party claiming any legitimacy to rule, any concept of decency would loudly decry these outrages against the democratic discourse before slandering her opposition with false claims of "intimidation".

If, as Andrew Bolt outageously claims, Julia Gillard should be judged by the company she once kept 16 years ago, the Liberal Party MPs should be judged by the company they keep today.

How could any thinking, rational voter entrust the reins of Government to politicians who use irrational denial of science and hate as a political tactic? Or don't such voters matter to the Liberal Party, any more?