Tim Cook vetoes Apple Retail stores opening on Thanksgiving

Closed for Thanksgiving

Last week, over the objections of Retail Market Directors, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook canceled plans to open several stores on Thanksgiving, citing the importance of allowing retail employees to be with their families over the holiday…

Last year…three Apple Stores heavily trafficked by tourists opened on Thanksgiving: locations on the Las Vegas Strip, Waikiki Beach in Hawaii and the company’s 24/7 Fifth Avenue store in New York City.

A series of other flagship Apple Retail stores were also planned to open on Thanksgiving this year, including select additional locations in San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Miami, San Diego and Portland.

An expansion of store openings this year was reportedly lobbied by retail Marketing Directors who argued “the company was missing out on substantial holiday sales,” according to a posting by IFOAppleStore.

“Market Directors were reportedly motivated by large potential holiday-quarter bonuses based on performance targets, adding to their $400,000 salaries. The last calendar quarter at Apple retail is always the busiest and generates the most revenue, leading to the largest bonuses,” the site noted.

While some attempts were being made to account for the extra holiday hours by providing workers alternative time off, Cook acted to cancel the plans “over the objections of Market Directors,” and keep those stores closed over Thanksgiving so that employees could spend the holidays with their families.

Apple joins other retailers, including Costco and Nordstrom, who have preferred to give employees the holiday off rather than seeking to cash in on early crowds.

Attaboy, Tim. Between folks like Tim Cook and Jonny Ive, the whole Apple management team demonstrates time and again they are the class of the high tech industry.

The complete process I follow to make decisions about spending my few hard-earned bucks devolves to value and quality. An important part of that process is the long-term outlook and attitude of a firm’s politics and sociology. Worth taking the time to read and research, my friends.

I’ve worked in a couple of industries/trades that hardly ever took holidays off. The money didn’t compensate for the loss of time spent with family and friends.

Don’t blame Health Law for high part-time employment – because Republicans are lying

Don’t blame the health law for high levels of part-time employment. In fact, using the law’s definitions, part-time work isn’t increasing at all as a share of employment…

Nearly 8 million American were working part-time in September because they couldn’t find full-time work. Overall, 27 million people — nearly a fifth of all employees — are working part-time, well above historical norms.

Many critics of the Obama administration have pointed the finger for the prevalence of part-time jobs at the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 law better known to some as “Obamacare.” The law’s so-called “employer mandate” requires most midsize and larger companies to offer health insurance to their full-time employees. That, critics argue, provides companies with an incentive to hire part-timers instead…

But a closer look at the data provides little evidence for the notion that the health law is driving a shift to part-time work…

First of all, over a longer time frame, part-time work has actually been falling as a share of employment in recent years. Before the recession, about 17% of employed Americans worked 35 hours or less, the standard Labor Department definition of “part time.” During the recession, that figure rose, briefly hitting 20%. It’s been trending down since then, but only slowly, hitting 19% in September.

If the health law were driving employers to cut employees’ hours, the most vulnerable workers would likely be those working just above the 30-hour cutoff. That means the data would show a decline in those working 30 to 34 hours and an increase in those working less than 30 hours.

That isn’t what’s happening. The share of part-timers who say they usually work between 30 and 34 hours at their main job has been roughly flat over the past three years, at about 28%. (September data aren’t yet available.) If anything, it’s actually risen in the past year, though the change has been minor. The share working just under 30 hours has indeed risen somewhat, but the share working under 25 hours has fallen—suggesting that employers are giving part-timers more hours, rather than cutting full-timers’ hours back.

Other data tell a similar story. Average weekly hours—a measure that comes from companies, rather than workers themselves—have been flat for the past year, and are near their highest level since the recession. Restaurants, one of the sectors most often cited as likely to shift to part-timers, haven’t cut workers’ hours over the past year.

None of this, of course, means that employers won’t cut workers’ hours in the future…But there’s little evidence they’ve done so yet.

Editing this down to fit on the blog for commentary was a trip. The WSJ crew has never been noted for smiling over good news for American workers. Now that Rupert Murdoch owns the paper, the swing to the Right has only increased.

So, if you compare my copy to the original linked to above – you’ll see I’ve cut away the conservative crystal ball add-ons. Every time there’s a good news paragraph the WSJ plugs in an extra sentence or two to say – “this can all come crashing down and bad news might return”. Fracking hilarious if it wasn’t just repetitious ideology.

Meanwhile, if your stomach can take it don’t mute the sound when CNN or your local TV channel puts up the required clips of Tea Party know-nothings or Republican “leaders” saying exactly the opposite of the labor statistics. You’ll hear what you’re supposed to believe in – along with the Easter Bunny.

Homeless Hotspot at SXSW — stirs debate

Remove signs which offend undergrad sociologists

A charitable marketing program that paid homeless people to carry Wi-Fi signals at South By Southwest has drawn widespread debate at the annual Austin conference and around the country.

BBH Labs, a unit of the global marketing agency BBH, gave 13 people from Austin’s Front Steps Shelter mobile Wi-Fi devices and T-shirts that announced “I am a 4G Hotspot.” The company paid them $20 up front and a minimum of $50 a day for about six hours work, said Emma Cookson, chairwoman of BBH New York.

She called the experiment a modernized version of homeless selling street newspapers. All of the money paid for Wi-Fi – an often difficult thing to find at SXSW – went to the participants, who were selected in partnership with Front Steps. ($2 was the recommended donation for 15 minutes of use.)

But many have called the program exploitive. Wired.com wrote that it “sounds like something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia.” Technology blog ReadWriteWeb called it a “blunt display of unselfconscious gall.” The topic became one of the most popular in the country on Twitter by Tuesday…

Please, please, save me from middle-class psychologizers who have never spent a penniless day on the streets of their suburbs.

One of the participants, Dusty White said that the experience of talking with SXSW attendees and earning some cash “made me feel proud.”

“I felt like it was a positive thing,” said White. “They could have done this with anyone.”

Mitchell Gibbs, director of development and communications at Front Steps, said he was initially skeptical after being approached by BBH, but was won over by previous work they’ve done with the homeless. He put the offer to participants in the shelter’s Case Management Program, a step-by-step program to move people out of shelters and off the streets.

“Everybody was educated and aware about the process,” said Gibbs. “Everybody was excited by the opportunity to make some money.”

Gibbs said the shelter’s participants roundly enjoyed the experience.

Pompous, guilt-ridden, middle-class twits who complain about patronizing the poor and homeless — usually succeed at the patronizing while patting themselves on the back over their own criticism.

I used to drive a half-mile out of my way to buy my Sunday newspaper from an occasionally homeless dude whose attitude I liked. He lived part-time at a homeless shelter. But, he saved enough money to buy some tools and combining that with odd jobs – aside from his newspaper sales – he was able to start a handyman service that eventually got him into his own apartment. Since I was working for a subcontractor at the time I was able to steer some business his way – and that felt good, too.

He didn’t want charity. He wanted work. That’s what the hotspot project provided. I have nothing polite to say to the critics.

Parents faraway seeking work, baby suckles directly from cow


An 18-month-old Cambodian boy who has suckled milk directly from a cow daily for more than a month is in fine health, the child’s grandfather said.

The boy, Tha Sophat, made international headlines after his grandfather revealed he had been feeding himself directly from a cow since July when a storm destroyed his home and his parents left for Thailand to find work.

After he stopped breast-feeding from his mother, the boy became ill, said the 46-year-old grandfather.

The boy watched a calf nurse from its mother, and began to do the same thing, feeding directly from the cow each day, Um Oeung added. When the grandfather pulled him away, the boy cried, so he let him continue, Um Oeung told Reuters.

Neighbors and local officials in the village of Pheas in Siem Reap province, about 315 km from the capital Phnom Penh, say they are not happy about the nursing.

“They blame me and have told me not to allow him to suckle from the cow anymore. They say the boy will be ashamed when he grows up and that he will be naughty,” he said on Sunday…

His health is fine, he is strong and he doesn’t have diarrhea,” said Um Oeung.

He’s ahead of life for so many wee’uns in Southeast Asia. Surely looks like the cow doesn’t mind.

New Yorker jumps to save subway rider – and get to work on time

A New York grocery clerk, fearing he might be late for work, jumped onto city subway tracks to haul an injured passenger to safety after he fainted, authorities said.

The victim was taken to a local hospital after his rescue on Sunday by Carlos Flores, who said he leaped to save the man so he would not be late for work.

I was thinking, if he gets hit I can’t go to work. It’s Sunday. I can’t miss out. It’s a time-and-a-half day,” Flores was quoted as saying in the New York Daily News.

A Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman said the incident, while heroic, was dangerous.

“We do not recommend that people jump down to the roadbed,” spokeswoman Deirdre Parker said on Monday.

This dude is entirely too honest.

A new life in America no longer requires a new name

For many 19th- and 20th-century immigrants or their children, it was a rite of passage: Arriving in America, they adopted a new identity.

Charles Steinweg, the German-born piano maker, changed his name to Steinway (in part because English instruments were deemed to be superior). Tom Lee, a Tong leader who would become the unofficial mayor of Chinatown in Manhattan, was originally Wong Ah Ling. Anne Bancroft, who was born in the Bronx, was Anna Maria Louisa Italiano.

The rationale was straightforward: adopting names that sounded more American might help immigrants speed assimilation, avoid detection, deter discrimination or just be better for the businesses they hoped to start in their new homeland.

Today, most experts agree, that traditional immigrant gambit has all but disappeared…

The New York Times examined the more than 500 applications for name changes in June at the Civil Court in New York, which has a greater foreign-born population than any other city in the United States. Only a half dozen or so of those applications appeared to be obviously intended to Anglicize or abbreviate the surnames that immigrants or their families arrived with from Latin America or Asia…

The vast majority of people with clearly ethnic surnames who applied to change them did so as a result of marriage (belatedly adopting a spouse’s surname or creating a new hyphenated one) or childbirth (because they were legally identified when they were born only as a male or female child or were adopting a parent’s name)…

If you are talking about 1910, the social forces on conformity were much stronger,” said Marian Smith, senior historian of the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, “whereas now an immigrant arrives with all these legal and identity documents, a driver’s license in their pocket, a passport, with one name on it. To change this is a big deal…”

Nancy Foner, a sociology professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York, said: “Jews and Italians changed their surnames in the past so that people wouldn’t identify them as Jews or Italians, the famous cases of course being movie stars…Betty Joan Perske became Lauren Bacall, and most people didn’t know she was Jewish; whatever name she used, Lena Horne was black.”

And the fools whose understanding of humanity hasn’t progressed beyond 1910 are the bastion of forces demanding conformity to the most reactionary standard of America’s past: if you’re white, you’re right!

Some of the history is perfectly ordinary. My Italian grandfather: Eduardo Adamo Trotto became Edward Trotter. What counted over his lifetime was his skill as a tool and die maker. But, the land he owned and occasionally farmed might not have been sold to him if he was Trotto instead of Trotter.

His wife, my Italian grandmother, has always provided me with the best story I know that combines the history of European imperialism with the ignorance of America’s political police. In a confrontation with an FBI agent back in the 1960’s, the hotshot tried to threaten me with his detailed knowledge of my family – asserting he even knew my grandmother was German not Italian.

The poor bugger knew nothing of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and that the village in the Italian Alps where she was born had been overrun by grasping Habsburgian soldiers in the 19th Century. Following the naming conceits of the time – all the residents of her village were forced to acquire Germanic names. She entered the United States as Clara Fritz.

Fitting into the ideology of 1910 America.

Does money buy happiness?

You better believe I’m happy – or I’ll exterminate you!

The United States may be the richest nation on Earth, a new study indicates, but it’s not the happiest…

There are two major categories of happiness: overall life satisfaction; and more moment-to-moment enjoyment of life. And while overall satisfaction of life is strongly tied to income, meaning richer nations and individuals have more of this overall bliss, how much one enjoys life (by measures such as laughing and smiling) depends more on social and psychological needs being met. These include having social support and using one’s abilities, as opposed to sitting at a mind-numbing job.

The United States, which had the highest gross domestic product per capita, came in at No. 16 for overall well-being and No. 26 for enjoyment, referred to as positive feelings. The No. 1 spot for overall well-being went to Denmark, and New Zealand landed the No. 1 slot for positive feelings.

Everybody has been looking at just life satisfaction and income,” said study researcher Ed Diener of the University of Illinois and the Gallup Organization. “And while it is true that getting richer will make you more satisfied with your life, it may not have the big impact we thought on enjoying life…”

Overall satisfaction with life went up with both personal and national income, suggesting societal circumstances play an important role in happiness. But positive feelings, which were slightly higher in relation to higher income, were much more strongly tied to feeling respected, having autonomy and social support and working at a fulfilling job…

Some economists think money increases happiness at the low end of the pay scale as it helps people meet their basic needs, but doesn’t do much once a person is lifted out of poverty. This new study suggests the link between money and happiness goes beyond basic needs. While the steepest rise in overall well-being with money occurred in the poorer individuals and nations, there was still a bump in overall happiness at the higher socioeconomic status regions.

Of course, our politicians are happy enough just buying elections.

OK. More seriously, I have to come down on the side of lifestyle decisions which reflect satisfaction, choice, accomplishments measured by personal standards – not just the business scorecard of earnings.

I’ve lived my whole life that way and I’m a happier man for it.

Work hangovers set to rise as World Cup kicks off

The average Briton turns up to work with a hangover three times a month, according to a survey and the frequency is expected to increase during next month’s World Cup.

The charity Drinkaware found each day more than 520,000 people in Britain go to work hung over, with nearly one in five of those admitting that as a result they make mistakes and struggle to keep on top of their workload.

“An international sporting event like the World Cup will inevitably capture the attention of the nation and is a great time for people to come together, but hangovers at work are likely to increase,” said Drinkaware Chief Executive Chris Sorek…

While nine out of 10 people said they considered having a hangover at work unacceptable, two-thirds of the 1,085 adults questioned by pollsters ICM admitted they had joked with their colleagues or boss about having a hangover.

Of those who went to work hung over, seven percent have had to leave work early because they were too ill to carry on.

Then, you add in those too wasted to go to work.

Or, my style – call in sick to stay home and watch your favorite team.

Civil service scabs told to imitate answering machines

“Just pretend to be an answering machine, then hang up!”

Civil servants who continued working during yesterday’s national strike have revealed they were told to pretend to be answering machines to cope with an overload of calls from the public.

Staff at the Department for Work and Pensions in Carlisle said today they were given a brief script to read out before hanging up, in the style found on telephone answering machines.

One worker said: “To begin with, we all found it hard to keep a straight face, and occasionally, I slipped up and I ended up giving my name to the person who was calling.”

The staff said their fake-robot message was issued for peak lunchtime, between midday and 2pm. The script read: “Due to the high volume of enquiries we are currently experiencing we are unable to take your call. Please call back later…”

A spokeswoman for the DWP did not confirm the instruction but said: “Due to a high volume of customer calls yesterday between 12pm and 2pm some customers were asked to call back after 2pm. Otherwise the majority of our customers had their calls and requests dealt with immediately and in the usual manner.”

“The usual manner” when all you have is scabs and supervisors – is fairly incompetent.

Female prisoners + good behavior = raped in Governor’s mansion

Sleeping is the really important Family Value

Prosecutors are investigating accusations that…state employees at the Oklahoma governor’s mansion raped three female prison inmates assigned to work on the mansion’s grounds.

Neither man has been charged, but the Department of Central Services fired both of them on Sept. 29 for violating departmental policies after a three-month Department of Corrections investigation.

The accusations raise questions about security at the chief executive’s residence and about the oversight of a program meant in part to reward good behavior by allowing inmates to leave prison for the day and work off site.

Department of Corrections officials believe the state workers who supervised the inmates at the governor’s mansion committed sexual battery, forcible sodomy and rape against inmates from the Hillside Community Corrections Center…The department recently turned its findings over to the office of the Oklahoma County district attorney…

Janet Roloff, a lawyer for one of the women, said her client had endured a “violent, bloody rape” that left her with emotional and physical scars. It is illegal for a supervisor and an inmate to have sex, and Ms. Roloff scoffed at the notion that any sex between her client and the state workers was consensual.

My client was dragged down, held down by one and raped by another,” she said. “That doesn’t sound very consensual, does it?”

Ms. Roloff said her client had been afraid to report the attack until after her release, for fear of retribution. She said the woman had come forward to try to persuade prison officials to stop sending female inmates to the governor’s mansion.

Haven’t seen any intelligent comment from the governor, yet.

Brad Henry is a primo Republican “Family Values” advocate. All he’s said, so far, is that he feels safe in the governor’s mansion. The Department of Public Safety is taking good care of him.

We are reassured.