30 July 2012

Why I'll Never Rent a Car from Hertz Again (and neither should you)

Long story short:  I rented a car from Hertz when we were in Seward, Alaska on vacation.  There's a notice of a mileage restriction buried in fine print in the contract.  I had a conversation with the rental agent about where I was going, which was well over the mileage limit.  She never mentioned it to me.

I was charged more than an additional day's rent for our pleasure drive over to Kenai.  The rental agent at the desk when I returned the car admitted they messed up, but wouldn't fix the problem.

Of course Corporate just stood behind legal language rather than engaging in even minimal customer service.

Don't rent from these people...you'll regret it.  I certainly did.

And I should add how friendly and customer oriented the folks at both Avis and Enterprise were when I rented later in the trip.

23 July 2012

(Some Of) The Problems With the NCAA Sanctions Against Penn State

The recent announcement of NCAA sanctions against Penn State regarding the sex abuse scandal are very disturbing.  Here's a few of the reasons why-

1) Too soon- The NCAA is famous for taking too long to make final rulings on athletic scandals.  The complaints are not unjustified...Reggie Bush was almost to NFL retirement before SoCal got the word on what the sanctions would be with reference to the improper benefits he received.  Part of the reason they took so long on these various decisions is due to the nature of the beast: asking people with full-time 'real' jobs to meet and make important decisions affecting hundreds of other people is simply not a time-efficient process.  But part of the reason was also a good one-they were thorough. They gathered all the facts that could be gathered from all the pertinent people and made a decision based on the data, with enough time passing that emotions played no role in most cases (the SMU death-penalty decision could be argued otherwise, but that's another blog post).

2) Punishing the wrong people- A decision that involves a sixty million dollar fine will have serious financial repercussions on a lot of good folks who had nothing to do with the wrongs that occurred, and could have done nothing to prevent or stop them.  Keeping PSU out of conference championships and bowl games will cost hard-working folks their jobs. In short, what happened was, they caught the serial killer and summarily executed his family and friends as punishment.

3) Not punishing the right people- Perhaps one of the biggest problems, one that hasn't gotten much mention, is that a hurry-up-and-make-them-pay attitude not only hurts quite a number of folks who don't deserve to be punished, it may very well end up letting the very, very guilty walk away without so much as a sneer.  Allowing the hurried and not-so-impartial Freeh investigation to stand in place of a long-term, outsider-with-no-connections investigation will likely mean that some of the underlings in the system who did know about the crimes and could have stopped them but chose not to do anything, walk away without anyone ever knowing their names or their culpability.  University presidents make important decisions, and should be held accountable for what happens when they cover up a crime.  But those people in the locker rooms who allowed the crimes to continue should not get away without justice, having had their bosses stand in their place at the whipping post.

4) Frightening precedence- The NCAA has acted upon and punished a violation of criminal law.  I understand the argument about how they aren't punishing the perpetrator (who's name I refuse to put in print) but punishing a 'lack of institutional control' instead.  I don't buy it.  If that were the case, the same due process that we've seen in the past would take place, and the punishment would fit the 'crime'. (Funny how flippantly we use that word when it really doesn't apply.) That didn't happen here because retribution doesn't feel good after everybody has gotten past the emotions of an injustice.  It only feels good when there's still blood in the (shower) water.  What the NCAA did was eye-for-an-eye legalism at its finest.  I don't think the NCAA should be operating that way.  Those people are charged with stopping cheating in collegiate athletics (which they absolutely have not done, but again, that's another blog post).  Giving them the precedent to deal with criminal activity, even when restricted to a university setting, should scare the scat out of all of us.

There is a lot more that could be said, but I'll save some of it for later.  Right now, we have two sets of victims to deal with- the real victims of the sexual perversion of the perpetrator of the child rape and abuse, and now the fabricated (but real) set of victims (albeit less severe consequences) of those who are drawing blood from innocent people in the effort to cover their rear ends, stick it to 'the man', or in some way try to feel better about themselves in the aftermath of a tragedy.  And in the process, the first set of victims (the serious ones) may get overshadowed by all the brouhaha.  That would be a third tragedy, but I fear it is unavoidable at this point unless cooler heads prevail.

Let's try and focus on punishing the guilty and supporting the victims rather than hurt a bunch of folks who didn't do anything wrong in the effort to feel better about our (in)actions in light of the scandal.

20 July 2012

Playing the Piano. The WHOLE Piano.

Had to pass this one on.  Some people just play the keys.  These guys play the PIANO.

13 July 2012

Are We Abandoning Our Kids By Over-Programming Them?

This is a blurb from this blog post on The White Horse Inn.  It details some things of import to parents, and notes some bad parenting skill of which I have been guilty in the past.  It is a very interesting read. I think more parents are becoming aware of this problem, though not many of us have a lot of great ideas about how to fix it yet.  Most of us roll with the punches, learning as we go.

One thing I will say: God is sovereign even in this learning process.  While we may not want to repeat some of the mistakes we've made, we also feel grateful to have had the experiences and been able to learn from them.  Perhaps it will work out like many things did in our own (parents) lives- they'll make sure they don't make the same mistakes we (their parents) made, just like we made sure we didn't make the same mistakes our parents made.  In the process, we learn a whole new set of mistakes to make.  How's that for irony?  Anyway, here's the blurb.  Read the whole thing at the link above.

Chap Clark, in his book Hurt, affirms this trend but chooses to use the term “the abandoned child.” He writes, “We have evolved to the point where we believe driving is support, being active is love, and providing any and every opportunity is selfless nurture … Even with the best of intentions, the way we raise, train, and even parent our children today exhibits attitudes and behaviors that are simply subtle forms of parental abandonment.“[1]

Certainly people can evaluate accurately this issue from various angles (psychology, sociology, education, etc.). From a theological position, this parenting style reflects the natural result of life lived intensely under the law. When I mention law in this context, I do not refer to the moral code but to a pattern of life focused on living up to standards through personal performance and effort. A standard of false righteousness- child competence – exists in the culture, and adults employ whatever necessary means (math tutors, batting coaches, personal trainers, academic camps, intense schedules, etc.) to maximize their child’s performance that they may satisfy the expectations.

Researchers have committed much study to the trend of abandonment in teen culture.  The literature has identified an intense sense of disconnection and isolation among teens in their family and community systems.  While researchers consider high-rates of divorce and general family dysfunction as contributing factors, the primary variable among teens with symptoms of abandonment is over-programming and performance-based lifestyles.
[1] Chap Clark, Hurt (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 46-47.

10 July 2012

Need Something to Do?

I was playing with my Logos software this evening and found a little tool that makes word-find puzzles.  Here's one, taken from John 3:1-15, just for fun.  You'll probably have to click it to enlarge it enough to see it well.  Enjoy.

06 July 2012

597 Years Ago Today...

This story is worth repeating.  Go read this blurb on the Logos website about Jan Hus, who was martyred on this date in 1415.