Friday the Thirteenth

April 13, 2007

Not so bloggy today because of real world obligations that are keeping me busy. Hey, it’s better than being chased by a maniac in a hockey mask. I’ll throw out a few links and some quick thoughts and call it a day.

  • It’s not about you: Torii Hunter and C.C. Sabathia are missing the point of having players wear number 42 to honor Jackie Robinson on Sunday. Why would it be watered down to have more teams and players join in the tribute? They seem upset that they will get less attention for being good guys and wearing the number now that so many others will be too. But this isn’t about them. It’s about honoring Robinson, and the more people involved the better.
  • He shouldn’t have messed with those hard-core hos: Don Imus was fired by CBS after the national media firestorm over his uncouth comments on female basketball players. As I’ve said before, Imus is a fool who said dumb things, but I think firing him is going too far (I agree with the Letterman take on this). He said something on par with what he and plenty of other radio hosts have said for years. The suspension would’ve been sufficient to put him on notice that he needed to be respectful from here on out. I guess once advertisers pulled out the writing was on the wall.
  • Ewww: Paul Wolfowitz in a sex scandal. Bad images coming to mind.
  • That explains the rush: Atrios posits that Bush wanted Congress to rush back so that he could veto the Iraq spending bill before extending troops’ tours. That way he could blame the soldiers’ harships on the Democrats.
  • (Not) turning the corner: The latest idiocy from Charles Krauthammer looks especially stupid in the wake of yesterday’s news.
  • Mike Nifong’s non-apology: Memphis Bengal has a good take on Durham DA Mike Nifong’s so-called “apology” to the former Duke lacrosse players yesterday. They basically responded by telling him where he could stick that apology and now they are considering suing. Corrupt DAs like Nifong should take notice that it’s only a good idea to press made-up charges against poor people who can’t fight back; wealthy people can, and they will make you pay.
  • So it goes: I am a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut’s writing and saddened by his passing. His official web site is currently adorned with a lone image of a birdcage with the door open. There’s also an excellent tribute over at In These Times, the web site that published a lot of Vonnegut’s essays in recent years.

Tom Friedman Likes Visiting Call Centers in Other Countries

April 4, 2007

Tom Friedman’s Wednesday column is another example of the man’s self-parody. In this episode, Friedman gets excited about the fact that operators in Kenya, working near an “abandoned avocado processing plant,” answer 1-800 calls from Americans.

This schtick sounded familiar to me, and sure enough Friedman wrote about an Indian call center in 2004. He also talked about a call center located in Bangalore in one of those Discovery Channel documentaries and in his book The World is Flat, leading to this response:

Friedman completely ignores the problems created by the Indian call center industry, such as the imposition of fake Western identities and the harshness of constantly working at night. He talks to timid employees and industry flacks and comes to the conclusion that all is well. In Friedman’s world, “Indian call center operators adopt Western names of their own choosing.” And the night shift fits “in very nicely with the Indian day,” as he told Terry Gross of Fresh Air. He would have had a much less one-sided evaluation if he had talked to people like Arjun Raina, a call center trainer and theater performer featured on 60 Minutes who has written a play, A Terrible Beauty Is Born, on the plight of call center workers.

None of these factors are even hinted at in Wednesday’s column either. Instead, Friedman discusses the politics of getting the higher bandwith that makes the call centers  in Kenya possible. He concludes with classic Friedman silliness in the final paragraph.

Don’t give up on Africa. KenCall is a reminder that with a little less government regulation, a little more democracy and a lot more bandwidth, African entrepreneurs can play this game too. “In the old days, ‘landlocked’ meant you didn’t have a harbor,” said Mr. Nesbitt. “In the new days, it means you don’t have fiber broadband to the rest of the world. This whole market here is just waiting for that.”

Kind of like in the 1990s, this kind of writing actually seemed somewhat original. Not so much any more.