Monday, April 29, 2013

1167 Self Filling Forms


1167 Self Filling Forms

Frustrating. You probably know what you’re searching for. But your search engine’s new hobby is second guessing you.  Annoying.

Search for Peloponnesian War costumes, and you may or may not get a result other than “Civil War costumes” or “uniform makers.”

Finding the results unsatisfactory, you type in “Peloponnesian War,” just to get a sense of it.  Hit “enter.”  The search engine adds “costumes,” yet again and the results don’t change.

This is not limited to things like obscure old wars.  “George Jones” turns into “George Jones and Tammy Wynette.”  On the second try it becomes “George Jones hits.”  Type in “George Jones +alcohol” you get “George Jones Songs about Alcohol.”

We’re out of the habit of looking at what we type and comparing it to what the computer adds.  So when we hit “enter,” and our search comes up and seems unusually irrelevant, we’re forced to look, at last, to what the mind readers at the search engines have added.

But it’s not just search engines.  Most internet programs now have self-filling forms of other types.

Start to type your email address in an order form or a membership application, and with the first letter you type, presto!  There’s your whole address.

But along with that, the computer will try to squeeze your address (ZIP code and all) -- a size 16 bunch of information -- into a size 4 dress.

You have to undo all that and try to re-do it by hand.  A real time saver.

Then, there are the autofill passwords.  Fine and fast.  Until you change your password and the memo doesn’t get sent to the brain on your desk.  “Sorry, your username or password is incorrect.”  

Somewhere in the vast complexity of the “settings” function, there’s a way to stop the search engine and auto fill functions from playing “second guess the research” game.  Or even better, it takes you to a “forum” where others with similar complaints provide bad answers.

Shrapnel:

--The crack Bangladeshi investigators managed to collar the owner of the building in which hundreds of people died in flames.  He was inches away from crossing the border to India. The lingering question is where were the crack Bangladeshi investigators when the guy added three stories to the building without anything resembling an inspection.

--Taking a tip from the Boston Teamsters’ union, the police chief in West, Texas arrested the herd of Westboro Baptist Church protesters planning to demonstrate at the funerals for people who died in the fertilizer plant explosion.  Kept ‘em locked up long enough for the ceremonies to end.

--President Obama was to nominate mayor Anthony Foxx of Charlotte NC as Secretary of Transportation.  Ever driven in “metro” Charlotte or ridden what passes for mass transit?  Especially since the entire banking industry moved down from the north and west to enjoy the fruits of cheap labor and the famed hurricane season.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

1166 How to Apply for a Job


1166 How to Apply for a Job

A lot of employers these days are checking for padded resumes.  It’s part of the job creators’ main goal, not creating jobs.

It makes no sense to tell them you graduated from Harvard if you only spent three semesters at Moote Pointe Community College. But there are some things you can do to burnish your employment application.  (Note, application not app.)

It pays to understand the function of what we used to call personnel departments, which have morphed into human resources departments.

The function of personnel departments is to follow procedures and rules.  Generally, they have no clue about what happens under their roofs.  

It also pays to understand how employers evaluate applications.  Usually, it’s by algorithm.  So when you combine clueless and computers, what you get is a foot in the door.  A real person won’t see molecule one until the gate keeping computer passes your application to them, especially in larger companies.

Computers are almost as rigid as rule-following personnel workers, but they’re easier to game.

First rule:  don’t lie outright.  But if you’re in any number of fields, primarily sales -- anything where commission was or could be part of your income -- you were self employed even if you had a full time commitment to one company at a time.

As such, you can list your employment as CEO or chairman or president or any other title you choose, because that’s what you were.

Don’t go overboard.  Computers don’t like terms like “emperor” or “grand wizard” in places where you might ordinarily find “salesman” or “floor scrubber.”

Second Rule: The computer demands references, so give it references.  But make them impossible to contact.  Why?  Because computers don’t call references or write or e-mail to them.

If you get to the personal interview stage, you can always say your references were outdated and here is my revised list.  You thus have filled out the form to digital satisfaction.

How do you make those references hard to contact? Easy:  supply names that are misspelled by a letter or two, preferably the first letters of first and last names.  Thus Jim Dandy (real) becomes Tim Mandy.  Make sure the names scan well.  No strange spellings.
Supply a phone number you know hasn’t been in use for a while.

Again, you’re doing this to satisfy the requirements of a gate keeping computer.  Automatic forms need something in every box.

Third rule:  game the “test.”  Big companies love tests.  They can be scored electronically.  But computers don’t read essays, they read blackened circles and checked boxes, so that’s how tests are formatted.

Companies generally ask questions that lead to a preconceived “ideal” employee.  This fictional being is both a “team player” and a “self starter.”  He or she puts “customer needs first” and also puts heavy emphasis on you not stealing paper clips or flash drives or bananas.  So when answering questions like this, make sure you make it computer-clear that you’ve never even picked up and pocketed a penny on an employer’s floor.

Then there are those forms that state a situation (say, “if you know another employee who is slacking off, you report him to your supervisor, blah blah blah) and then gives you a series of possible responses starting with strongly agree to strongly disagree.

If the situation has anything to do with ways to help make a sale, always check “strongly agree.”  If it has to do with your taking home printer paper, check “strongly disagree.”

For more vaguely worded statements, stay away from the extreme responses.  But never check “neither agree nor disagree.”

Do not try to paint yourself as that “ideal” employee, because by definition you can’t be.  Just settle for something close.

Some other tips:

--Be honest about your previous pay.
--Be realistic about your salary requirements.  If you can type in “negotiable,” do so.  That gets you wiggle room when you’re called in for the interview.
--Don’t lie about your ethnicity.
--If you can fill the thing out on your home computer, do so.  The tests are long and fatiguing and if you need to take a break or spread the effort over a few days, it’s easier at home.
--Be honest about your available hours, especially if the company does business around the clock.  (If you’re willing to work overnights and weekends, that gets their attention.)
Follow this advice and you’ll get the interview and maybe even the job.  Your prospective employer probably will be a phony and maybe not even know it.  So be a phony right back if you need to be.  Remember, they got where they are by being sneaky and amoral while posing as benevolent.  You can, too.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

1165 Quote of the Era


1165 Quote of the Era

Certain people are known almost exclusively by snippets and quotes.

If you know anything at all about Lincoln, it’s “Four score and seven years ago...”

If you know anything at all about Martin Luther King Jr. it’s “I have a dream...”

If you know anything at all about Beethoven it’s the first four notes of his Fifth Symphony.

If you know anything at all about John F. Kennedy it’s “Ask not what your country can do for you...”

But each of these men and many others known for a single quotation said much more and often said it better.

So how about this one from JFK:

“The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often […] we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

He said that to a graduating class at Yale in June, 1962.

And here we have the secret weapon of the Tea Baggers, the Rush Limbaughs and that whole barrel of rotting apples and its corporate coal shovelers feeding the engine with hundreds of millions of dollars.

Granted, they are not the first or even the best at it. The early Greeks and Romans and Norsemen, the Communists in the Soviet Union and China, the Nazis in Germany all knew a good thing when they saw one.

But in today’s world, the barrel is the best mythologizer and the most dangerous.

The Truth: No one likes to pay taxes.  But these modern mythmakers are activists in finding loopholes.  They post pictures decrying the start of the federal income tax.  So while embracing the second amendment, they pay no heed to article 1 section 8.  The first income tax here was imposed during the civil war era.  Historical note:  that’s long before federal and joint federal-private research came up with modern medicines, mass production cars, national parks, wireless broadcasting, food and mine safety inspections and the never ending wars and aftermaths we take for granted today.

The Myth: taxes redistribute wealth, kill jobs, rob our children through endless debt and feed a mindless and cruel bureaucracy.

The Truth: We are, as Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman recently wrote, indeed depriving our children and grandchildren of their heritage, not by leaving them megatons of debt but by leaving them with lousy infrastructure, air and water.

The Myth:  The US was founded as a Christian country and to prove it all you need to do is look at a quarter or the Declaration of Independence and all the bad things that non-Christian Americans have wrought.

The Truth:  We have freedom of religion in this country (note to Joe Lieberman: and from it, too.)  The founding fathers were varied in their religious beliefs which ranged from devout to none.

The Myth:  All that government spending is just stealing from the rich to support the sick, the old, and the illegal immigrants.

The Truth: We have a lot of people who haven’t earned the right to be here and we have little control of that.  Trying to solve it in one fell swoop is a recipe for failure, as is trying to solve it retroactively.

Freedom, freedom, freedom.

Yelp about it all you want.  But the one and only true freedom most of us have is to select our own personal oppressor.  They don’t have that in North Korea or Cuba, China, Syria or Saudi Arabia.

And if today’s major American spinners of myth have their way, we soon won’t have it either.
---
Another quote:  “If you got it, you gotta give it.”  Richie Havens (1941-2013.) Havens is best known for the songs “Freedom” and “Here Comes the Sun.  But here’s one you might not have heard, and may want to: http://www.juzp.net/-tn2cFeja0zPL
---
I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

1164 Jernilist Lessins Fore Beginerites


1164 Jernilist Lessins Fore Beginerites

Facts for modern journalists:  If you don’t have them, speculate.  But first, memorize this list.

1.  The earth is flat, 6,000 years old and its climate is not changing.
2.  Guns don’t kill people but the government is trying to confiscate them anyway.
3.  Foreigners -- mostly Mexicans at the moment -- have invaded America and are taking it over, one school district, welfare office and Home Depot shape-up line at a time.
4.  Foreigners -- mostly Middle Easterners at the moment -- have invaded America and are taking it over one Mexican at a time.
5.  Everything is and everything has been a conspiracy or cover-up or both and your job is to uncover it.
6.  Everyone is sneaky and has it in for you.
7. The law of gravity must be repealed.
8. Gay marriage?  Well, you know who’s behind that!  You can smell the sulfur fumes a mile away.
9. The national debt is killing America and the only way out is austerity.
10.  If it’s on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ or MySpace, it has to be true.

Some other handy tips:

--Everyone is a victim and deprived of his rights.
--Society -- whatever that is -- is guilty of depriving him.
--Individual freedom from The Government is more important than, say, inspecting time bomb fertilizer factories more than once in 30 years or water-based oil rigs by someone who knows what to look for and actually looks.
--Corporate and government spokesmen, women and persons are thoroughly reliable and checking what they tell you will serve no purpose other than to get you beaten to the story by the guys across town.
--Any story with a dog or a little kid in it is newsworthy.  Especially if the dog has three legs or the kid has some dread disease, a fighting spirit and a cheerful, “inspiring” attitude.
--The race or ethnicity of an accused criminal sought in an active manhunt does not count, even for the purpose of identification.
--All tornadoes sound like freight trains.  Don’t forget to mention that if some witness doesn’t mention it in your video clip.

Tools of the trade:
--If you take notes, shred them after the story runs.  If you have sound or video, get rid of it.  These things can come back to haunt you if you screw up or someone thinks you wrote or broadcast the wrong thing.
--Record your interviews even if you’re a print reporter.  That way you can be sure you get the quotes right, unless, of course, the interviewee says something you disagree with or dislike. (But don’t forget the get rid of it warning above.)
--The English language is full of unnecessary words.  Don’t use them.  Some examples:  Whom, take, farther.
--Your editor or producer is a dummy.  Don’t listen to what he or she says.  If a change is made in your air copy, unchange it before you go on.
--Assume the mic is on so you don’t become the next Mitt Romney or Jesse Jackson.

Okay.  Got all that?  Great.  Now go out there and get working.  The public has a right to know.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

1163 The Roaches


1163 The Roaches

What’s going on here?  As of just the other evening, we were still wildly speculating and misreporting about the bombing in Boston.  “There’s been an arrest.”  No, there hasn’t.  “We have a suspect.” No we don’t.  “We have video and stills of the guys we think might be the guys.”  Maybe.

As of  post time, police say they’ve shot and killed one of the two men whose pictures they published after “black hat” shot and killed a police officer at MIT in Cambridge.  Also as of post time, “white hat” is still on the loose.

In the midst of all this comes the Detroit News newspaper which puts an illustrated recipe on its website.  It instructs you about the ways you can make your very own pressure cooker bombs, just like in Boston.  All of a sudden, everyone wants a pressure cooker and asks at Home Despot for the aisle number where they keep the ball bearings.  

Brilliant.  Also, they took it down after a wave of protests via Facebook and Twitter according to media blogger Jim Romenesko.  Good thing not a lot of people still read that paper.

Then there’s the bi-partisan ricin farmer, a Mississippi guy called Paul Kevin Curtis.  KC to his friends and the recipients of his powder decorated letters.  So far, we’re sure of only two, one to his U.S. Senator -- a Republican... the other to President Obama, a Democrat.  Even handed fellow, no?

At latest look they weren’t sure it really ricin, which comes from the same plant as castor oil but is much more effective.  The preliminary tests said yeah, that’s what it seems to be.  And the more detailed tests likely will, too.  Couple of tiny crystals on your tongue or in your lungs and you’re dead.  Fortunately, most people don’t lick or inhale white powder that comes in an envelope with the address and the accompanying letter written in crayon.

A few miles from Waco, Texas, a fertilizer plant either caught fire or was set afire.   Soon after first responders first responded, the thing blew up.  Fertilizer ingredients will do that.  Ask Timothy McVey if you find the right seance to reach him.

At around the same time in the Senate, they voted against your safety and very likely your wishes by defeating gun legislation nicknamed the Caspar Milquetoast Bill, which may somehow, some way have saved a kid from a shooting death.  The thinking in Washington is “aw, heck, we have too many brats as it is.”

Kids don’t vote.  So why do anything for them that involves actual work?  (Mommies and daddies do, though.)

In the Bronx, the most beautiful borough of New York City and the poorest, the New York Times has been telling us this week about the worst court backup in the history of foot-dragging defense lawyers, perpetually lazy and stupid judges and prosecutors. Time lags way beyond anything else in the city or most other places.

In Phoenix, a formerly pretty nutjob is trying to convince us that she was the victim of the man whose head she sliced almost off, stabbed almost 30 times and shot in the face.

In Pennsylvania, child molester Jerry Sandusky is claiming he’s both innocent and misunderstood.

From Massachusetts to Mississippi to Texas, to New York, to Arizona to Washington, to New Roses, Pennsylvania the roaches creep out of the darkness and into the kitchen.  We are their meal.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1162 Fee-Landering


1162 Fee-Landering

A friend writes with the implicit suggestion that a snippet in the previous Wessay™ makes too little of the phrase “Fee collection fees,” and is worth further exploration.

The question is why haven’t the fee collectors thought of this -- if they haven’t -- and what fees that we don’t now pay could we someday be assessed?

Here are some possible examples of future fees:

✳Taking a cue from banks that charge you to use your own money in ATMs, department and grocery stores could charge you a small percentage to use a checkout line with a live cashier instead of the self-checkouts.  Likewise, customer service departments at these same places could charge you a “consulting fee” for returning something or asking a question.  (A consulting fee is more palatable than the current “restocking” fee. And at least you get something for your money.)

✳Insurance adjusters could charge fees to come out and estimate the damage to your home or your car.

✳Medical and dental offices could charge you a fee for scheduling an appointment, cancelling an existing appointment or requesting medical information.  Lawyers do that, so why not doctors?

✳Live in a highrise?  How about an elevator fee?

Fees are the new way of raising prices without raising prices.  The candy bar industry started one trend:  shrinking the size of the bar without shrinking the package.  The cereal and canned goods folk are big time tag-alongs.

The airlines are fabulous entrepreneurs:  fees for baggage, for no baggage, for fat people for expedited check-in, for expedited de-planing.  (In this use, expedited means taking forever instead of taking forever and a day.)

In olden times, the gasoline industry charged you more for unleaded gasoline than for those with an additive -- lead.

What’s the matter with the rest of America?  TV services are masters of this art.  Basic channels for $1.  If you want HBO or USA or Al Jazeera, it’s fees, fees, fees.

The diner down the block could charge you extra to put less than usual in your coffee cup... a cream fee.

McDonald’s could charge you a no-salt fee for fries.

Some health clubs haven’t thought yet to impose a towel fee (although many have.)

Why should banks, airlines and telephone companies have a monopoly on nickel and diming you to death?

They don’t call America “the land of the fee” for nothing.

Shrapnel:

--Are you tired of the “human interest” angle stories of the Boston Marathon bombing?  And what kind of a nut job bombs a site that’s set up to handle almost 2,000 medical issues with every first responder in the city on hand?  And, no, special agent. the pressure cooker from this house is still in this house and intact.

--Call for info:  does anyone know what the AARP’s standards are for an endorsement other than paying the name licensing fee?  The group hasn’t answered many inquiries and no one else seems to know.

--If you’re male, can you imagine going through life with the middle name “Beverly?”  George Beverly Shea  managed for 104 years.  The Billy Graham baritone has died and although he was a fine singer, he put that wonderful talent into the service of a raging anti semite who conned a nation for decades.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

1161 The Mental Detector


1161 The Mental Detector

So you can buy a machine gun but you can’t take a manicure kit on an airplane?  Or a full size tube of toothpaste?  Fear not.  Times will soon be better.

Here at the Wessays secret mountaintop laboratory, scientists and security experts say they’re almost ready to test the ultimate security device, the Mental Detector.  It’s faster and more efficient than anything else.

Airport boarding lines and courthouse entry lines and schoolhouse entry lines will run at warp speed.  No need to take your shoes off.  No need to empty your pockets.  Just walk through the machine and if you’re not nuts, you’re cleared for takeoff.

If you ARE nuts, a loud buzzer will sound and the near-idle TSA people will escort you to the airport’s Padded Lounge where you’ll await your limo to Bellevue.  First class passengers will be able to opt for more luxurious looney bins after passing a means test.

No racial profiling.  No problems for Granny in her wheelchair.  Several major airlines already have agreed to offer on the spot refunds for those denied flights.  (After deducting the cost of the limo ride, the fuel surcharge, the baggage check-in fee, the baggage retrieving fee and the fee collection fee.)

Some minor glitches in the machinery remain unresolved.  The prototype of the Mental Detector could not discriminate between serious mental illness and such conditions as mild depression, PMS, enthusiasm for football, the Bible, the Torah or the Koran.

And as of now, the M.D., as we call it, cannot pick up the nut-waves of a well medicated cuckoo.

But fear not. We’re working on all that.

On the downside, we’re drawing serious fire from the American Psychiatric association which says using this device would be practicing medicine without a license, and besides, it would all but eliminate the income of thousands of shrinks who testify in court as expert witnesses and would then have to affiliate with hospitals and do actual work.

Our lobbyists will do what any good lobbyists do, pay off their lobbyists.

The pharmaceutical houses have endorsed us, sensing a whole new source of pill poppers.

The airlines have endorsed us citing the potential relaxation of tensions on what has become one of the greatest sources of stress, air transportation.

An agent of the Air Marshall Service speaking on condition of anonymity because he’s not authorized to open his mouth in public, says “this will make our job much easier.”

We’ve signed a retail agreement with Hammacher Schlemmer to sell a home use version of the M.D. so you can check yourself before you book.  It’s kind of like the home pregnancy tests you can get in any drugstore, only it’s high tech and expensive.  But it also helps lunatics understand that they’ll be labeled as such and to develop workarounds.

Like any high tech outfit, we’re looking to cash in both coming and going.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them.  ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

1160 Amoebas Gone Wild


1160 Amoebas Gone Wild

(New Roses PA.) -- Most polls show that most people have no confidence in Congress.  Most polls also show that most people are fine with the particular moron they elected to represent their district.

It’s YOUR district that’s in trouble, not ours...

But now that federal representatives can be awarded tenure, it’s time to worry.  Gerrymandering should be called gerry-meandering.  Take Pennsylvania’s sprawling 5th CD.  

If you woke up tomorrow with a skin rash of similar shape, you would run in panic to the nearest dermatologist.

If you came upon an amoeba of that shape, you’d send it to rehab.  (Bet you didn’t know there are amoeba rehab centers almost everywhere.  They try to keep low profiles.)

One fine spring Sunday finds “our” congressman in a place the displaced Native Americans who lived there called Chinklacamoose, which was shortened to “Clearfield” when it passed through Ellis Island -- or more accurately, Ellis Island passed through it.  

This is a guy who’s tall in both directions, up and down and also side to side.  He looks like a stereotypical middle American congressman.  He’s posing for pictures wearing a red t-shirt over his congress uniform (they wear those on Sundays too, especially when they want you to think they spent the morning in church.)  The t-shirt says “NRA, Stand and Fight.”  That would be fight for them, not against.

You can see the gun on his hip, right beneath that roll of ...um … tall.  This image doesn’t exactly gel with the sign at the gun shop where the rally was and which said “History Repeats:  The Redcoats are coming and they want your guns.”  Maybe the Congressblob should have looked for a shirt that wasn’t red.

Must have been a slow Sunday.  The paper featured the item on Monday.  He already has the gunslinger vote.  Plus, he has tenure. But you can’t stop these people from continuous campaigns.



Shrapnel:

--The New York Observer reports a new flap over slave labor on the plantation for writers.  It says The Atlantic magazine invited reporter Nate Thayer to contribute an article but wouldn’t pay for it.  The worst offender in this category -- the Huffington Post -- invited him to participate in one of its TV shows, and then withdrew the invitation when he said he’d bring up the pay issue during his appearance.

--The same article cites a report on the website http://jimromenesko.com/ that the University of California at Berkeley is trying to do the same.  It’s soliciting free work.  But only from authors whose work has appeared in publications like the New York Times, Smithsonian and National Geographic.  

--Getting people to work for free is not exactly a new idea, as anyone who knows anything about the civil war or Nazi Germany can attest.  What’s next?  Some major museum commissioning paintings and not paying for them?


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

1159 The Ghost in the Boardroom


1159 The Ghost in the Boardroom

A couple of years ago, the ghost of mid-price marketing genius James Cash Penney was having one of those terrible and depressing days that spirits often have.  (Where do you think we got the phrase “spirits are down?”)

So he decided to pep himself up by hovering over a meeting of the board of directors of the company he left behind.

The trip from Kemmerer, Wyoming to Plano, Texas is pretty quick and easy when you are a ghost and don’t have to bother with airport security.

Now, he has had second thoughts about the trip.

JC was a little late for the meeting and the subject on the table when he arrived was “coolness.”

“We aren’t cool,” said director Jody Plumber.  “Yes, that’s true, said another director.  “Wait a minute,” said JC, “we’re not SUPPOSED to be cool.  We’re JC Penney.  We’re dowdy and proud.”

But, of course, no one heard him because he’s a ghost.

“Hey,” said director Plumber, “let’s hire that guy Ron Johnson.  He made Target cool and then he made the Apple Stores SUPER cool.  He’s just who we need.”

At this point, the ghost was approaching apoplexy. “No, no, no!  Listen to me.  Middle aged middle American women don’t want ‘cool.’ they want bargains.  Sales.  Coupons.  They want to feel like they’re putting things over on us.”

But, of course, no one heard him because he’s a ghost.

So they hire this Apple guy and he turns the company upside down.  No more coupons. No more big sales.  No more prices that end in “.99” or “.95.”  Stores within the stores.  Woo Martha Stewart from her Macy’s contract.  Bring in the young.

Business wasn’t terrific around the time all that happened.  But not to worry, says Johnson, we’ve signed Ellen DeGeneres to do our ads.  We have slick mailers in the pipeline. “I’ll get that stock back up into the stratosphere.  They’ll love us.”

They hated “us.”

JCP lost billions and about a year and a half after they hired him, the board replaced him with the same guy he’d replaced.

Pure bravery.

Penney’s sent its customer base elsewhere and they weren’t attracting the replacements.  “Give it time,” says Johnson.  “Time’s up,” says the board.  JC applauds.

Actually, Johnson wasn’t as perceptive as billed.  When the board cut his compensation by 97% after a year on the job, he didn’t get the message.

“Now, here’s what you do” says the ghost of JCP.  “You put ads in all the big papers that say “We want you back.  We’re back to doing things the old way.  Coupons.  Sales.  Decent stuff at moderate prices.  Prices that end like everyone’s used to, like 19.99 or 29.95.

Use your JCP charge card and get 10% off on your first purchase this week.

But, of course, no one heard him because he’s a ghost.

What went wrong?  Customers didn’t want cool.  They wanted cheap.  They wanted to feel like they were getting away with murder even though they weren’t.

JC’s ghost asked a woman called Claire a question.  Claire is a 30-something mother of two making a decent living, has a college education and is blunt in her answers.  And because she believes in ghosts, she actually heard JC when he asked “where did we go wrong?”

Her answer was “you’re trying to train women to shop like men.  And that’s not going to happen.”

No, it isn’t.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013