About admin

Programming is what I do best. I have programmed for more than 20 years and the act of creation itself is enjoyable but what will move a job from “like” to “love” is the opportunity to use my skills to improve the productivity of others. For all my years at AT&T I created programs and procedures that allowed other people to do their work better, faster and easier. I would welcome the chance to do the same at your firm. I have more than 20 years programming experience across a wide range of languages and platforms. I am almost entirely self taught and have always brought value to any group where I have worked. Even when starting with new equipment and programs I have always quickly brought myself up to speed and found ways to increase the efficiency and productivity of my co-workers. I feel I would be a great asset to any organization. I have always produced a great deal of work and not just for myself. I have always provided programming assistance to others and, for many years, I was the “go to” guy for programming help. People would come from other groups to ask my help, sometimes just to fix a bug, other times to create programs or entire applications. At one time I had created so many utilities in EXEC2 that I wrote up a catalogue of these functions which I then distributed to everyone who might be able to use them. Each new assignment in my 24 years at AT&T brought a complete change in technology. When I started there in 1974 I had never seen a computer but soon learned to use the time-share computer terminals in my new group. I found that our programs were written in FORTRAN, so I bought a couple of used books and taught myself to program. Soon I was writing programs for people in my group and was temporarily promoted from clerk to programmer and given a major program to write. I completed all work successfully and on time. When I moved to a new group I found they used the database program RAMIS. I not only taught myself RAMIS but used my programming skills to perform an incredible feat. A man I had worked with previously came to me and said that his boss wanted an application created in RAMIS but that he wanted it done in one month. One month or forget it. Everyone, including me, agreed that by normal programming methods it would take three months to do the work. I accepted the challenge because I had an idea of how I might do it. I spent the next three weeks writing, not his application, but a program I had been considering that would write the bulk of a RAMIS application automatically. After this new program was written and tested, I turned to his project and completed all work, not in three months or even one month, but in ONE WEEK. The resulting application was not only accepted, but was considered so valuable that it was made in a corporate program and transferred to a maintenance group. That is the kind of work I do. My next assignment was for a group that used C in a Unix environment. I not only taught myself C but Shell scripting, with the same success as before. I have used C ever since in both Unix and Windows and am currently teaching myself Visual Basic and have been using Microsoft Access for more than a year to keep track of personal information. I would be glad to show you my work and even walk you through any of my applications. I have worked the entire life cycle of programming from initial interviews to design and then coding, testing, documenting, training and maintenance. I have organized and chaired walkthroughs to get feedback from stakeholders. Beyond that I have never confined myself to the programs themselves. I have made substantial changes to the way technical documents are written. I have created forms, methods and procedures to fix and improve the way business is done. I have never been content to simply do the same old work in the same old way. Everyone who has every worked with me has had their jobs improved and made simpler because I was there. At the end of my time at AT&T one of my job was Technical Support which included diagnosing trouble in our Network from thousands of miles away and walking technicians through fixes without being able to see any of the equipment. Marc Colten

Freedom For The Speech We Hate

Freedom For The Speech We Hate

by

Marc Colten

For the past several weeks I have been agonizing over a dilemma. I recognize that I am quite fortunate to live in a country where I can even have this problem. I can’t imagine the citizens of North Korea facing the same existential crisis. This is my problem:

freedom-of-speechThis is Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom of Speech”, part of his “Four Freedoms” published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943, and it is one of the few times I truly had a problem with Rockwell.

Look at the scene, reminding us of the precious freedom we had and for which our soldiers were fighting. Unfortunately, Rockwell missed the point. It’s true we cannot see everyone in the room, but in 1943 this small town (the speaker has a “Town Meeting” agenda in his pocket) was less likely to be as diverse as they are today. Look at the man to his right, looking up at him admiringly. His father perhaps? In any event, no one is trying to silence him. He is not being ejected from the room. Are we to believe that this man is saying anything other than America is great, the war is just and mom’s apple pie is a the best dessert? Rockwell was certainly not suggesting that this man was protesting sending our soldiers overseas to fight and die for foreigners and Jews. Yet many Americans had that view, more publically before Pearl Harbor, but even in 1943 there still had to be many of them.

Now, today, we are faced with the public airing of the same views and symbols of the people we were fighting back then. But would we silence these people if we could? You cannot regulate thought or even expression. Even in concentration camps the condemned prisoners created art in secret while they were forbidden to show them, or to discuss their views. We hated Trump for his attempt to silence a Latino reporter, mocking his background and his Spanish language network and for trying to replace a judge for his Mexican heritage. We were certainly, and justifiably, angered by the Right Wing response to Black Lives Matter who were reviled and ridiculed for their anger at police violence.

So what do we do when it is speech and thought we hate? Do we ban the swastika, or the Confederate flag? Do we ban speeches and marches or demand some form of ID to buy Tiki torches? We know we cannot, and should not, control thought. Or do we? Do we think that suppressing expression will isolate those people, convincing them that they are alone so that their hate dies out from loneliness? Or will it simply refine it, making it more vicious, fueled by proof that they are being persecuted?

I have been aware of these people for decades. As a Jew I see myself as the target of so much of their hatred. But what am I to do? What am I to think? I deplore these people but that is my freedom of thought. This article is my freedom of speech. But I find myself terrified by my own beliefs. Is my acceptance the same as approval? We must not be silent, but neither should they, no matter how much we wish they were.

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote:

“If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

Are we ready for where this belief might take us? Trump has proven that anger and hatred are strong selling points. Politics might never be the same again. Politicians are faced with a problem unique to their profession. Do they want to do the job, or do they want to keep the job? Trump’s form of demagoguery might very well become the norm by politicians who convince themselves that only by playing to hatred and bigotry can they stay in office to accomplish anything. I honestly don’t believe “Profiles in Courage” will be updated in our lifetimes. With only moral suasion on our side, there may be no good outcome.

I didn’t write this article to say that I had the answer, only that I was terrified by the question itself. Only in time will we have an answer.

The “Old Joe” Syndrome

I remember an episode of MASH where Corporal Klinger tried another crazy scheme to get out of the war which led to a classic exchange:

Major Burns: “Why is he trying to get out? I like it here.”
Colonel Potter: “Great. One of you is nuts and now I’ve got to figure out which one!”

We’ve come to that in the story of the dueling military moms. Cindy Sheehan protested for weeks at George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford. TX and naturally the right wing media has gone out of its way to demonize her. The most obvious way of dismissing a Gold Star mom is to point out that, in her grief, she isn’t seeing the “big picture”. Each fallen soldier leaves behind grieving families but the rest of us go on with our lives. It’s ugly and sad, but that’s the way life is. So, why not simply walk away from Sheehan? The answer is that it simply isn’t the way the Republicans do business.

Demonizing the opposition is standard operating procedure for the Bush administration. However, even by Bush standards, it’s been pretty ugly:

“Self-sainted Mother Sheehan throws acid in the face of the other grieving Gold Star mothers who don’t happen to agree with her lunatic ravings.” – Ann Coulter

“I can’t help but notice that Cindy Sheehan is from Vacaville, California, very close to U.C. Davis, very close to U.C. Berkeley, reasonably close to U.C. Santa Cruz, where I believe that a lot of those WTO protesters came from. What do the university anti-war protesters have to do with her?” – John Gibson

“To expiate the pain of losing her firstborn son in the Iraq war, Cindy Sheehan decided to cheer herself up by engaging in Stalinist agitprop outside President Bush’s Crawford ranch. It’s the strangest method of grieving I’ve seen since Paul Wellstone’s funeral. Someone needs to teach these liberals how to mourn.” – Ann Coulter

“I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There’s nothing about it that’s real, including the mainstream media’s glomming onto it. It’s not real. It’s nothing more than an attempt. It’s the latest effort made by the coordinated left.” – Rush Limbaugh

“In a broader sense, none of the particulars about Sheehan matters: not her remarks about Israel and neocons, not her lefty politics, not her divorce and not whether she’s entitled to a second presidential audience. What matters is her ability is to serve as an icon, a symbolic rallying point for an antiwar movement. And all she needs to achieve that is the moral claim she already has, being the mother of a kid who was killed in Iraq.” – Dana Milbank

“Now, look, when my youngest son’s face got blown off in Panama, Mrs. Liddy naturally was unhappy with that, but she didn’t go down and protest outside the home of the president. She went down and stayed with her son until she grew him a new face, and then with his new face, as a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, he went all the way from Kuwait to Baghdad. That’s how to do it.” – G. Gordon Liddy

“Just to be clear: although Cindy Sheehan’s campaign is a campaign of hate directed against her own country in time of war, although it is filled with unconscionable lies and slanders against her own countrymen – not to mention, by implication, her own son – it does not in my view constitute legally actionable treason. Is its intent – defeat of America on the field of battle, designation of her own country as the enemy of humanity – treasonous? It is. Allow me to say also that as a Jew I do not appreciate her attempt to make the Jews of Israel who have been the targets of 25,000 terrorist attacks in the last five years responsible for the terrorist war against us. This a hateful woman with a hateful message.” – David Horowitz

“At Cindy Sheehan’s side since Aug. 6 when she began her antiwar protest outside President Bush’s Texas ranch have been three groups that openly support the Iraqi insurgency against U.S. troops: Code Pink-Women For Peace, United for Peace & Justice, and Veterans For Peace.” – Robert Novak

“The “Peaceful Occupation of Crawford,” as Sheehan has dubbed it, seems a protest less against war than against good manners, deodorant soap and the march of time. Yet, the most heart-rending feature of the entire spectacle is Cindy Sheehan herself. She seems to believe this transient crew will help her piece together her shattered life — a dead son, a wrecked marriage, a shredded family. But how long can one lean on people who don’t even call themselves by their own names?” – Tony Snow

“Sad yet riveting, like a wreck by the side of the road, Cindy Sheehan, a plaything of her own sincerities and other peoples’ opportunisms, has already been largely erased from the national memory by new waves of media fickleness in the service of the public’s summer ennui.” – George Will

“No one in the media finds this rhetoric overheated. But just how overheated is Cindy Sheehan? In the world of politics, this woman deserves a padded cell. On her website, Sheehan wildly proclaims that “overwhelming” evidence proves the president is a traitor: “George [Bush] and his indecent bandits traitorously had intelligence fabricated to fit their goal of invading Iraq.” – Brent Bozell

It makes me feel young again to read these comments because the Right hasn’t changed its arguments since the 60’s. Once again anyone who opposes a war is a long haired smelly hippie commie who hates America and wants the enemy to win. What makes it particularly amusing (or sickening) is the comment above by David Horowitz who, in the 60’s, was editor of Ramparts magazine, which had just that attitude. He has gone from hating America to hating those who dare to disagree with him.

If Cindy Sheehan is nuts then what about Tammy Pruett, who Bush quoted as being okay with her four sons in Iraq dying in combat?

“Tammy says this — and I want you to hear this — ‘I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country. And I guess you couldn’t ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in.’ America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts.”

Pruett is a classic example of the “Old Joe Syndrome”. Don’t bother looking it up, I just named it. In the John Wayne version of “The Alamo” there’s a scene in which the Mexicans (in a 19th century romantic gesture) allow the women and children to leave so they won’t be massacred. One of the women is blind and someone suggests that her husband (“Old Joe”) should be allowed to leave because who will take care of this blind woman if (actually when) her husband is killed. Before anyone can say anything the blind woman steps forward and says:

“Oh, no you don’t! Why Old Joe is twice the man any of you are. You can’t send him away. He’s got just as much right as the rest of you to stay here and you can’t deny him that!”

I half expected a rifle butt to smack her in the head. “Oops,” says Old Joe. “I’ll just get her out of here.” Don’t get me wrong – Old Joe and Tammy Pruett’s sons have every right to stay where they are, but where does Tammy Pruett get off speaking for them? Unlike Casey Sheehan, they can speak for themselves if anyone bothered to ask. While neither Cindy Sheehan nor Tammy Pruett can truly claim to speak for their children, I believe that Sheehan is closer to the truth, since I take it as a truism that the dead would, by and large, prefer not to be dead:

Knowlt Hoheimer (from Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology)

I was the first fruits of the battle of Missionary Ridge.
When I felt the bullet enter my heart
I wished I had staid at home and gone to jail
For stealing the hogs of Curl Trenary,
Instead of running away and joining the army.
Rather a thousand times the county jail
Than to lie under this marble figure with wings,
And this granite pedestal
Bearing the words, “Pro Patria.”
What do they mean, anyway?

As for Pruett’s four sons, I’d prefer to hear it from them, not their mother (and certainly not from the president speaking for her) how willing they are to die in Iraq. I’d also like to hear from the Pruett sons’ soldier comrades. I’m betting on “Your mom’s crazy, dude.” It was bad enough for Bush to speak on behalf of America and dare the terrorists to “Bring it on!”, but I don’t know how you’re supposed to feel when your mother says how willing you are to die for the president.

The real reason the Right is trying to smear Sheehan is that they think that if you kill the messenger you’ve killed the message. This is not unlike Martin Luther King in the 60’s. It was not a good idea to say, publically at least, that you felt that blacks should remain second class citizens so instead they tried to get dirt on Dr. King. The idea was that African-Americans would prefer to continue to be discriminated against rather than follow a man who had committed adultery. With Sheehan they think that the anti-war movement rises and sets with Sheehan and that it will simply evaporate if they label her an anti-Semitic lunatic. The fact is, liberals were against the war before Sheehan and will continue to be against it whether she stays or goes.

Age Discrimination?

I just finished applying for a job demonstrating food inside CostCo stores.  If you’ve read my previous blog posts (and that’s a mighty big if)  you read where I complained about birthdates going back to 1900.  Now I’ve encountered the opposite and what might be a clear case of ageism.

I had to enter my previous employment and use dropdown boxes to choose the month and year I started.   Unfortunately the years only went back to 1980.  I wound up choosing 1992, the year I transferred to Alpharetta, and explained the discrepency in a comment box.  Still, if you are over 40, I suppose you should have waited to start working.

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor SpellCheck ….

There is a certified letter waiting for me at the post office.  It’s not good news – when is a certified letter ever good news?  But what bothers me the most is who I was supposed to contact to get my letter.  Read the first line of the address:

That’s right – the “Postamster”!  Does he run on a big wheel in the back?  Oh, sorry that the “Post Hamster”

Michael’s

With all the on-line applications in use today, you’d think there would be better communication between programmers and users.  Case in point, the following request in the Michael’s application:

Please select a position below that you wish to apply for and then click Proceed to Registration. If you are a returning candidate wanting to apply for another position, click Returning Candidates. Click Details for additional information on the positions.

Select Position Department  
All Other Positions Hourly Associates Details
Cashier Hourly Associates Details
Class Instructor Hourly Associates Details
Custom Framer Hourly Associates Details
Department Manager Hourly Associates Details
Floral Designer Hourly Associates Details
Replenishment Associate Hourly Associates Details
Sales Associate Hourly Associates Details

Yes, those are checkboxes, which allow for multiple choices, not radio buttons which allow for only one.  So, when you do what you are allowed and choose more than one job (and why shouldn’t you be able to apply for more than one job at a time), the next step tells you to choose one.

Pay by phone

I recently watched a friend pay a bill over the phone using an automated system.   This was for the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources.  It had the usual “say or press buttons” interface – with the result that she nearly paid $6,000 (how many years of water would that be?).  The truly annoying part (beyond “Enter the amount you wish to pay, using the star key as the decimal point and ending with the pound key”) was at the very end.  The final message was – “Your confirmation number is nnnnnnnnnnnnn.  To hear this number again say ‘Repeat’ or press one.”

That was IT!  No other options – not to accept, not to pay another bill, not to end the call.  Wouldn’t you like to see that flowchart?

FedEx

I was looking for jobs on the FedEx website.  Their search allows you to paste in your resume (every time – apparently they don’t save it) and then you can search by location, FedEx company, keywords and the like.  It then brings up a grid with the jobs.  Most of it makes sense – job id, title (with a hyperlink to a description) and the company.

What doesn’t make sense is the fourth column, which is untitled and contains a colored square.  They can be red, yellow, green, purple – but there is no indication or legend anywhere that tells you what the color means!