It’s been a long time since we’ve done this, so let’s take a moment to lighten the mail sack, which this time of year does double duty, what with Christmas around the corner.
Regular readers know we have been collecting silly and demeaning euphemisms that companies foist upon workers receiving layoff notices.
Two of the better have been “synergy-related headcount restructuring” and “force management plan.”
Darin Bush writes in with another: “I worked in IT for Coca-Cola Enterprises in Atlanta for five years ending in 2005. During that year, they laid off about 300 of us technicians. I was called into a meeting with my manager and his boss. She looked at me across the table, and had the gall to say with a straight face (as Dave Barry says, I am not making this up): ‘You have been chosen to not be part of the go-forward team.’ ” And you thought it was bad being picked last for dodge-ball.
A recent column suggesting that “wallet phones” are unnecessary because wallets and their contents already work well was met with both derision and applause.
Bruce Burke, a member of the former group, writes: “Every day when I leave the house I make sure I have the following items with me: wallet, keys, phone and sunglasses (I live in Florida). What if my phone interacted with my car and identified me, as well as my house? Another part of the wallet you did not even examine is the identification functionality. I think you should rethink your stance on mobile wallet. . . . I’d love to leave my house every day with only my phone and my sunglasses.”
Leaping to my defense, however, was Bob Fately, among others:
“I heartily agree with your assessment of the complete lack of compelling reasons to have a cell phone equipped to make payments. I have thought this same thing about the contactless cards being foisted on consumers recently as well — what’s the point? For the virtually negligible ‘advantage’ of not having to physically swipe a credit card it seems to me that a certain amount of security is lost.
“In fact, I predicted a couple of years ago that wallet manufacturers would come out with RF-proof accessories to give the owners of these technological marvels a sense of security from ‘wireless pickpockets,’ and in the past couple of months I have seen ads for just such items.”
A column about Google’s peculiar habit of keeping lots of products in “beta” — for a long, long time — drew plenty of reaction, too, but there was more of a consensus in this case.
Scott MacPherson writes:
“Could it be that Google is hesitant to remove the beta label because then it implies that the product is done, finished, complete, bug-free and/or ready for prime time? That is, it releases them from liability since, ‘after all, it’s still just the beta version?”
Techno-artist/open source developer Evan Roth inspired mostly understanding and admiration when he explained to me his “TSA Communication” project, which goes like this: Take a metal plate, stencil and cut out a message — words (“Nothing to see here”) or an image (a box cutter) — place the plate at the bottom of your carry-on bag, and watch to see if a TSA employee operating the airport X-ray machine notices.
Not everyone was amused, however. Writes Chris Kleefisch: “As a former TSA screener this will not go over well for long. TSA does not have a sense of humor about such things and this could backfire in such a way as Mr. Roth could be charged with intentionally interfering with TSA operations and wasting valuable time and resources.”
Artists are so often misunderstood.