Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What the president and congress should do to "stimulate the economy"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

No wonder the Packers lost

Plummeting temperature means frozen balls, sleeveless jerseys

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Dare I say, en fuego

Kelly Dwyer was in the zone for yesterday's MLK Day liveblog. A sampling:

Former 76ers GM Billy King is guesting on NBA TV, so some intern is due to be signed to a five-year, 36 million dollar deal.

The Bobcats announcers keep calling Manu Ginobili "Brent Barry." They all look the same to me, too.

Acie Law IV is already travelling on an NBA level.

If you're an NBA fan you owe it to yourself to check out KD's blog every weekday. NBADL stud Rod Benson also posts some quality stuff at the same link, a great inside look at life in the minors trying to make it to the show.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hearts and minds

I was thrilled to hear this from newly elected (in the greatest landslide in South Korea’s short democratic history) South Korean president Lee Myung-bak:

"I assure you there will be a change from the past government's practice of avoiding criticism of North Korea and unilaterally flattering it."

It is an article of faith on the left that our alliances have weakened since the beginning of the Iraq front of the War on Terror; all of the Democrat presidential candidates (and their husbands!) have echoed the theme countless times. Thus it bears repeating that as least as many governments friendlier to President Bush and the US have been elected (France, Germany, Canada, and now South Korea) as have been ousted (Spain, Italy and Australia). Great Britain and Japan have not moved in either direction, remaining staunch allies.

Reaction in the Muslim world has been mixed, with favorable public opinions of the US having dropped in Turkey (30% to 9%) and Jordan (25% to 20%) but having risen in Lebanon (35% to 47%), Pakistan (10% to 15%) and Egypt (6% to 21%) between 2002 and 2007 according annual surveys conducted by to the Pew Global Attitudes Project. There has been a sharp decline in Muslim support for suicide bombings and al Qaida, an extremely positive development.

The bottom line here is that the standard narrative that President Bush’s foreign policies, in particular in Iraq, have weakened our alliances and perception throughout the world is unfounded. It's just garden variety partisan spin, an attempt to fool the uninformed.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sony's lousy customer service

In stark contrast to my good experience with Bank of America's customer service, I had a much less pleasant encounter with Sony today.

I had received a Sony Cyber-shot digital camera as a gift, and the box did not contain a copy of the manual. I assumed that I could contact customer service via their website, but no, it turns out that:

"Sony believes that communication regarding such concerns is best conducted through personal interaction with our dedicated customer service teams."

In other words, you have to call their 800 number, no help is available online.

And so I did. The good news is that, after a relatively short menu navigation, they answer the phone very quickly. The bad news is...everything else.

I reached a rep whose command of English was mediocre at best, I had to repeat myself a couple of times, and it ultimately took about 10 minutes on the phone to accomplish the simple task of getting a copy of the relevant manual sent out. And that's not even the bad news; the manual will be sent to me in SEVEN TO TEN BUSINESS DAYS!

You would think that they would overnight or at worst second-day ship the thing, since the (not inexpensive) product's functionality can't be fully utilized without the manual. That it will take two weeks, perhaps more, is inexcusable.

As an added bonus, the rep promised to send me a copy of the manual via e-mail in the interim, but what they sent instead was a coupon good for 15% off the online purchase of accessories, no manual.

I did manage to find it online, but I think I will pass on printing the 165 pages and just wait until the hard copy makes it to me.

As I said, the camera was a gift, so I will not bother the giver with asking for a receipt to return the camera, but rest assured if I had bought it myself I would have returned it today and bought a different brand. And also rest assured that I will steer clear of Sony when the time comes to buy personal electronics for myself or others in the future.

They obviously have no desire for my business. I would urge you to consider alternatives before giving them yours.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kudos to Bank of America

I have two accounts with Bank of America, which are of linked online and which I pay online via bank transfer. In December I accidentally made two online payments to the same account and failed to make any payment to the other. I found it out when I got an e-mail notice that one of the online statements was ready, and the balance looked wrong, and sure enough on logging in I found my mistake, which had caused a $39.95 late fee on the unpaid card.

I figured this was going to be at least a bit of a hassle to sort out, but a call to BoA customer service had me on hold for about 10 seconds, and 90 seconds later my problem was solved as the rep had the incorrect payment transferred to the correct and the the late fee waived.

It is so rare these days to get quality customer service, especially on the phone, that I just feel compelled to point out when somebody is getting it very right. Thanks to Bank of America and keep it up.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The elephant in the room

I didn't see McCain's victory speech, the Lakers having my undivided attention tonight, but Powerline notes something refreshing:

But here's the thing that struck me: McCain devoted part of his speech (and not just a passing reference) to the war on terror and, in particular, to winning it. That's not something I recall hearing in the victory speeches of Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee, nor would I expect to hear it from Hillary Clinton should she pull out a win tonight.

Nor would I, and that's a sad statement on the (lack of) seriousness of so many Americans at this point in history. How to successfully prosecute the War on Terror would be by far the dominant issue for a savvy voting public, with each candidate trying to stake out his/her own ground on how to defeat this existential threat to Western freedom. That most of the candidates in one party pay it only lip service and that all of those in the other party pander to their fringe by pretending it doesn't exist is beyond disturbing.

Yeah, yeah, whoever wins will have to actually govern and thus will be forced to start acting like a grown up, but that doesn't make me feel any better at this stage of the proceedings.

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