Charlie's Blog: Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 45


Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 45

Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.


United Airlines had a guy manhandled off of a plane this week because they overbooked the flight. Naturally, this manhandling became a viral sensation on the internet. United's stock has tanked. Smart move, United.

This would be a nothing story that merely excited people for a news cycle, but I cite it as evidence of a disturbing trend in our society today. This trend is the death of customer service. It ain't what it used to be, folks.

Once upon a time, the customer was king. I remember as an employee hearing that infamous line, "The customer is always right." What did that mean? Basically, it meant that your business is nothing without your customers. Ultimately, your business exists to satisfy customer wants and needs. Customers don't exist to satisfy your wants and needs. And if the customer is wrong, that person will not be your customer anymore. And if all your customers are wrong, you won't have a business anymore.

This mindset does not prevail in the marketplace anymore. Businesses don't give a damn about customers anymore. I can't pinpoint when this change began, but I noticed the shift during the bailout years of the Obama administration. It began with the banks, and it has metastasized from there. Today, this is the epitome of customer service in America:

This is a Walmart self checkout machine. This is a device that I swore that I would never use. But then, I got tired of waiting in the long line at one of the two checkouts with live human beings. I caved in and now use the self checkout on a regular basis. Walmart has tricked me and others like me into doing free work for them. And if I don't like it, I can just suck on it.

I am willing to do things like bag my own groceries or wrangle my own carts like you have to do at Aldi. This is because I know this helps make their prices so low. But even Aldi has live human beings checking you out. As for Walmart, this self checkout relies to a great extent on the honor system as such a thing can easily be tricked. Walmart would rather eat the loss on a few pilfered items.

The death of customer service could be blamed on the increasing costs of labor such as those caused by Obamacare and minimum wage hikes. Or, it could be blamed on simple corporate greed. But I don't think those are the true reasons at all. Once you can get a bailout from Uncle Sam, it doesn't matter what your customers think anymore. One way or another, you're going to get their money.

There really is no downside to treating customers like crap. Sure, your stock may tank, but the CEO and his cronies will get their golden parachutes even if the business fails. As for taxpayer bailouts, you merely need to bribe one of the many crooked politicians in Washington, and it will be fine.

As it stands, it is a race to the bottom by banks and businesses to see how badly they can treat customers and still retain their business. We are now at the point where a paying customer can be manhandled and thrown off of a flight that he obviously had to make. And no one questions the practice of overbooking which amounts to selling something that does not exist. When capitalism is divorced from Christian values, this is what it looks like. Customers now exist for the benefit of businesses.


Donald Trump has now betrayed his loyal supporters. I was not a loyal supporter, so I feel no betrayal. I think the man is slime, and I wish we had a real president instead of this clown. But he ain't Hillary! That's all he had to do to get my vote. If he resigned tomorrow and let Pence take over, I would be a happy guy. Until then, I keep defensive pessimism in the driver's seat.

I am actually happy with Trump as he makes a decided turn to the right. His policies and actions on Syria are correct. Ronald Reagan would have done what Trump has done. Trump is displaying strength towards North Korea. Then, there is the MOTHER OF ALL BOMBS dropped on ISIS in Afghanistan. That was a thing of beauty. Peace through strength.

On the domestic side, Trump appears to be stepping away from the mercantilist trade war rhetoric with China. He has not converted to being a robust free market guy, but there is a glimmer of hope here. We will see where he goes with this.

Trump is in trouble in one glaring area. This would be the alt-right. Trump is giving the cold shoulder to Steve Bannon. I don't think Bannon has much longer to remain in the Trump administration. When he leaves, I expect Steve to enact revenge upon Trump by way of Breitbart. This is where Trump is likely to pay the price for courting these people. If Trump remains a one term president as he suggested, this won't matter. But if he hopes to be re-elected, I don't see how he will be able to do it without these people. There is also the threat of the damaging information the Bannonites could release in the interim. Betrayal carries consequences.

The alt-right are essentially neo-fascist. They are a motley crew, but they are united in their belief in nationalism and America First! They are less Hitler and more Mussolini. I need to remind the Gentle Reader that it is possible to be a fascist while not being a Nazi. This doesn't make it less problematic.

Where the alt-right differs from classical fascism is an aversion to neocon foreign policy. I think neocons are classical fascists in this regard. Where neocons favor imperialism, the alt-right favors isolationism. The Trump administration is now a battleground over this philosophical difference between nationalism and globalism. The alt-right is now losing this battle, and they know it. It is slipping away from them.

The real villains in the new Trump administration are Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. These two are neither right, alt-right, neocon, fascist, or any of that. They are something much worse. They are Democrats.

Trump has a soft spot for family. Otherwise, these two would be persona non grata in any Republican administration. As it stands, they are stealth liberals. I think Ivanka is totally pro-choice on abortion due to her secret meetings with Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards. Both have supported Democrats in the past. These two are not good.

I am no fan of either Bannon or Kushner. But I'd rather have Bannon around than Kushner. But Kushner is family while Bannon isn't. And that, Gentle Reader, is why Trump will inevitably betray us all. The man has no bedrock of principles.

I tend to divide the world into two classes of people. You have those who are loyal to principle, and you have those who are loyal to people. Ted Cruz would be one of those people who are loyal to principle. Naturally, people hate his guts for this because most people are without principle. As for Trump, he is loyal to people. Of course, this is contingent upon them being loyal and beneficial to him. Trump has already shown a proclivity to dispose of people who don't serve his agenda, his popularity ratings. or whatever. To say that Trump is a fair weather friend is to put it mildly.

I know Trump because I have a family member who has the same type of personality as Trump. I don't like people who have this personality defect. These are the types of people who swear undying devotion to a spouse until she gets in a car wreck that costs her a limb. Disfigured and a liability, sweetie pie gets tossed, and the story about her gets rewritten in the mind of the deluded narcissist. And if they are really clever, they can convince sweetie pie that it was her fault, and she becomes grateful for the crumbs that fell from Mr. Fantastic's table.

Sad to say, Fareed Zakaria tells the absolute truth about Donald Trump. The man is full of it. A man who cannot be honest with others or himself is a man who can never learn from his mistakes. Every so often, Trump shows a bit of humility. But it doesn't last long. He is utterly lacking in self-awareness.

Where does that put conservatives? Ironically, it puts us in a rare position of strength. Conservatives know the truth about Trump. His behavior is unsurprising to them. They were never beguiled by the man or bought any of his BS. Guided by principle, they either support or oppose Trump depending on the issue. Donald Trump is an orange haired clown to them. This leaves Trump with two options. He can vilify them and insult them like he did with Ted Cruz in the campaign. Or, he can work with them. As it stands, Trump represents the one thing that conservatives have never had before--a useful idiot.


I am neither a smoker nor a vaper. With that said, I support the use of e-cigarettes and vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. I think those vaping products are awesome things, and I encourage all smokers to make the switch.

The evidence is still inconclusive on vaping, but I have spoken to people who have switched to these products who report feeling better, being able to breathe better, and being able to taste food again while not having nicotine withdrawal leading to a relapse back into smoking.

The simple fact is that nicotine isn't the killer in tobacco. It is the tar. Vaping separates nicotine from that tar which can only make it safer. The only danger from these things seems to be exploding lithium ion batteries. But this is a problem for smartphones and laptops as well. Yet, there are those who would try and ride the battery issue towards a complete ban of these products.

The real danger of vaping is to the financial profits of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. Both profit from addiction to cigarettes, so they naturally want the FDA to come in and help them out by eliminating the competition from these innovative products. Naturally, the FDA belongs in the hip pocket of these industries and will cave to them unless the vaping industry bans together to protect themselves from this tyranny by regulation.

I would love to abolish the FDA. They aren't about safety at all. They would prefer that you die from smoking as opposed to living longer and healthier with vaping. This is a sad day when an agency created for the sake of public health actively undermines it and becomes a promoter of disease and death.

4. Q & A

Q: Do you have any vices?

A: This question came up the other day with a coworker as we were joking about people's vices. Then, it struck me that I had no vices. I don't use drugs and never have. I have never smoked marijuana. I don't gamble, cheat on my wife, or look at pornography. I don't even eat meat. I have three beers per week which is the closest thing to a vice that I have. There is that Twitter addiction I am fighting, but social media is not considered a traditional vice. Needless to say, I have quit that, too.

Why am I free of vices? It isn't as a consequence of willpower. The simple fact is that I used to have vices. Vices are comforts to us. When life becomes stressful or depressing, you can always light up a cigar or enjoy a nice glass of scotch. If these things don't do the trick, you can do a John Belushi speedball and hope to survive. For me, I pray now.

Prayer does the trick. Whenever I feel bad, I pray. The rosary is especially helpful, and I clutch those beads the same way a smoker holds on to his lit cigarette. Because of this "religious addiction," my real addictions have vanished from my life. It all confirms my hunch that people become addicted to things more from spiritual reasons than anything else.

One of the things that most impresses me about Jesus from my readings is how He prayed. He took time out to pray. It is the only time that He seemed selfish. Of course, Jesus was not selfish, but this was the one thing He had to do for Himself. He had to spend time with God the Father. God had to be with God.

I read a lot of self-improvement blogs but none of them tell you to pray. I like the other advice about time management, diet, and exercise. But nobody tells you to pray or go to church. Yet, prayer, confession, spiritual reading, and Mass attendance are the things that have made the greatest impact in my life.

Should you give it a try? Absolutely.


Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.

There are only two ways of telling the complete truth--anonymously and posthumously.

No one is ever holy without suffering.

Jews wait for the Lord, Protestants sing hymns to him, Catholics say mass and eat him.


--Charlie Murphy was the second funniest guy on Chappelle's Show after Dave Chappelle himself. His passing saddens me. He was not a joke teller so much as a storyteller, and his stories absolutely killed. His death is a real loss to the world. May he rest in God's peace.

--I would support the dissolution of the Society of Jesus. Pope Clement XIV did the right thing when he suppressed the Jesuits. He was just a bit early on that one.

--A friend lost his Android smartphone. The good news is that Android lets you remotely delete your information turning the phone into a brick. I recommended he get a flip phone. You don't lose a flip phone because it fits in your pocket like your wallet.

--The Dodge Demon is a pointless thing. Those 840 horses still have to obey the speed limit.


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