Posts Tagged america
I thought we had stupid morons only in India to be paying taxes for the politicians to do us in the rear. It looks like even Americans are doing it in the form of Aid and British are also into it in the form of VIP Executive Committee of crap!
LONDON: The British government is spending around 25,000 pounds (over Rs.20 lakh) a day to protect former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf,
who has made London his new home, a newspaper reported on Friday.
The Times said Scotland Yard’s Specialist Protection Unit, known as SO1, has assigned a round-the-clock team of at least 10 men and women to protect the former army dictator, who lives in a luxurious three-bedroom flat in an Arab quarter of West London.
Musharraf has been using the flat as his base for about four months and also has a team of retired Pakistani commandos to protect him. He is said to be paying the Pakistanis from his own pocket.
The decision to provide him further British security was reportedly taken at a meeting of the Royal and VIP Executive Committee held at the home office.
The Times said the elite unit is responsible for the personal protection of the British prime minister, former prime ministers, certain government ministers, some ambassadors and "high-profile persons considered to be under threat from terrorist attack in the UK".
The costs are thought to include the provision of a car plus security equipment such as alarms and closed-circuit television cameras fitted to his flat. SO1 is providing the security detail.
Lord Nazir Ahmed, a Pakistani-born member of the ruling Labour Party, has written to British home secretary Alan Johnson urging him to stop spending taxpayers’ money on protecting Musharraf.
"I think the government needs to review Mr. Musharraf’s security. There are people within Britain who could do with those extra police officers rather than a man who can afford private bodyguards," he said.
Summary: A UX guy – Dustin, totally frustrated about the usability of AmericanAirlines website, decides to create a simplistic usable design and publish it on his blog. A AA UX person who stumbles on this decides to sit and email Dustin about the story behind the screwed up design of the original site!
I saw your blog post titled "Dear AmericanAirlines," and I thought I’d drop a line. Sorry for the length of this email, but let me sum up the gist of what I’ve written below: You’re right. You’re so very right. And yet…
First, an introduction. I’m Mr X, and I work here at AA.com. I’ve been doing UX design and development for about 10 years with a variety of companies in a variety of industries, and I work with a team of other UX specialists on AA.com. I like to think I’m decent at what I do, and I know the others I work with here are all pretty good. The problem with the design of AA.com, however, lies less in our competency (or lack thereof, as you pointed out in your post) and more with the culture and processes employed here at American Airlines.
Let me explain. The group running AA.com consists of at least 200 people spread out amongst many different groups, including, for example, QA, product planning, business analysis, code development, site operations, project planning, and user experience. We have a lot of people touching the site, and a lot more with their own vested interests in how the site presents its content and functionality.
Fortunately, much of the public-facing functionality is funneled through UX, so any new features you see on the site should have been vetted through and designed by us before going public.
However, there are large exceptions. For example, our Interactive Marketing group designs and implements fare sales and specials (and doesn’t go through us to do it), and the Publishing group pushes content without much interaction with us… Oh, and don’t forget the AAdvantage team (which for some reason, runs its own little corner of the site) or the international sites (which have a lot of autonomy in how their domains are run)… Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that AA.com is a huge corporate undertaking with a lot of tentacles that reach into a lot of interests. It’s not small, by any means.
Oh how I wish we were, though! Imagine the cool stuff we could do if we could operate more like 37signals and their Getting Real philosophy (http://gettingreal.37signals.com/)! We could turn on a dime. We could just say "no" to new feature requests. We could eliminate "stovepiped" positions. We could cut out a lot of the friction created when so many organizations interact with each other. We could even redesign the AA.com home page without having to slog through endless review and approval cycles with their requisite revisions and re-reviews.
But-and I guess here’s the thing I most wanted to get across-simply doing a home page redesign is a piece of cake. You want a redesign? I’ve got six of them in my archives. It only takes a few hours to put together a really good-looking one, as you demonstrated in your post. But doing the design isn’t the hard part, and I think that’s what a lot of outsiders don’t really get, probably because many of them actually do belong to small, just-get-it-done organizations. But those of us who work in enterprise-level situations realize the momentum even a simple redesign must overcome, and not many, I’ll bet, are jumping on this same bandwagon. They know what it’s like.
OK, so it’s not all bad. The good news is that we have a lot of UX improvements coming down the line, most of which we’ll incorporate over the next 12 – 18 months as new projects go live. Some of our slated efforts include improved navigation; 16 column grid-based layouts; a lighter, more airy visual design; improved user interactions; and an increased transparency to fares and sales policies across the board. We’ll work it all in organically, as the site evolves to include new features. But it won’t be done via an explicit, massive redesign. Can’t be.
So, since it won’t all get done overnight, don’t give us a bad grade if you don’t see it happening fast enough for your taste. Even a large organization can effect change; it just takes a different approach than the methods found in smaller shops. But it’ll happen because it has to, and we know that. And we’ll keep on keepin’ on, even if most of us really and truly would prefer to throw it all away and start over.
Very truly yours (and hoping I don’t get fired for being completely incompetent),
I read this whole story and felt dazed. I thought many times before putting this stuff on my blog. I know that writing stuff on to the internet always has the risk of it coming back to bite me. I have heard that some people’s blog entries have been reason enough to be denied entry into some countries. But, then the more I thought about it, I realized one simple truth. No matter which country, no matter which land, no matter which faith, a handful of people are enough to cast a bad name on the entire community.
The United States is a country that I love a lot. I respect the American citizens for how they have turned their country into. The history of America is always interesting for me. As in the History, even now some people act and behave against what America stands for. This I guess is one such incident.
At first I thought of posting an excerpt from the original post and add the link to the original post as is my usual habit. But, the sheer nature of this post prompted me to have the entire post on my blog itself. Just in case the original post vanishes….
At JFK Airport, Denying Basic Rights Is Just Another Day at the Office
I was recently stopped by Homeland Security as I was returning from a trip to Syria. What I saw in the hours that followed shocked and disturbed me.
I arrived at JFK Airport two weeks ago after a short vacation to Syria and presented my American passport for re-entry to the United States. After 28 hours of traveling, I had settled into a hazy awareness that this was the last, most familiar leg of a long journey. I exchanged friendly words with the Homeland Security official who was recording my name in his computer. He scrolled through my passport, and when his thumb rested on my Syrian visa, he paused. Jerking toward the door of his glass-enclosed booth, he slid my passport into a dingy green plastic folder and walked down the hallway, motioning for me to follow with a flick of his wrist. Where was he taking me, I asked him. “You’ll find out,” he said.
We got to an enclosed holding area in the arrivals section of the airport. He shoved the folder into my hand and gestured toward four sets of Homeland Security guards sitting at large desks. Attached to each desk were metal poles capped with red, white and blue siren lights. I approached two guards carrying weapons and wearing uniforms similar to New York City police officers, but they shook their heads, laughed and said, “Over there,” pointing in the direction of four overflowing holding pens. I approached different desks until I found an official who nodded and shoved my green folder in a crowded metal file holder. When I asked him why I was there, he glared at me, took a sip from his water bottle, bit into a sandwich, and began to dig between his molars with his forefinger. I found a seat next to a man who looked about my age — in his late 20s — and waited.
Omar (not his real name) finished his fifth year in biomedical engineering at City College in June. He had just arrived from Beirut, where he visited his family and was waiting to go home to the apartment he shared with his brother in Harlem. Despite his near-perfect English and designer jeans, Omar looked scared. He rubbed his hands and rocked softly in his seat. He had been waiting for hours already, and, as he pointed out, a number of people — some sick, elderly, pregnant or holding sobbing babies — had too. There were approximately 70 people detained in our cordoned-off section: All were Arab (with the exception of me and the friend I traveled with), and almost all had arrived from Dubai, Amman or Damascus. Many were U.S. citizens.
We were in the front row, sitting a few feet from two guards’ desks. They sneered at each bewildered arrival, told jokes in whispers, swiveled in their office chairs and greeted passing guards who stopped to talk — guards who had a habit of looping their fingers into their holsters. One asked his friend how many nationalities were represented in the room. “About 20. Some of everything today.”
No one who had been detained knew precisely why they were there. A few people were led into private rooms; others were questioned out in the open at desks a few feet from the crowd and then allowed to pass through customs. Some were sent to another section of the holding area with large computer screens and cameras, and then brought back. The uninformed consensus among the detainees was that some people would be fingerprinted, have their irises scanned and be sent back to the countries from which they had disembarked, regardless of citizenship status; others would be fingerprinted and allowed to stay; and the unlucky ones would be detained indefinitely and moved to a more permanent facility.
To me, this just shows how stupid we are to be fighting over pieces of land that we call countries… Lands that were once together, now floated apart over millions of years. We fail to realize that this land was there even before humanity existed and will be there even after humans perish. While, we can spend our life times trying to put a fence around our piece of land and clal it ours and then fight in the name of it…. I am not saying that military capabilities are stupid. I am just saying that the need for having that is stupid.
‘Frog from Hell’ that ate baby dinosaurs
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
A squat beachball sized toad dubbed ‘the frog from Hell’ has been found in Madagascar, where it it once may have snacked on baby dinosaurs and other small animals. The 70 million year-old fossil frog is likened by researchers to a “slightly squashed beach-ball” and has been nicknamed Beelzebufo.
The discovery of the creature, of a kind once thought unique to South America, lends weight to a new theory that Madagascar, India and South America were once linked together into a supercontinent until late in the Age of Dinosaurs, around 65 million years ago.
The new frog esembles living Horned frogs (ceratophryines or ‘pac-man frogs’) in having a squat body, huge head and wide mouth, containing dozens of little teeth. With a body length (not counting the legs) of up to 16 inches – longer than a rugby ball – and a weight of around four kilos (10 pounds), it is more than twice the size of its largest living relatives.
The fossil has been identified by scientists from University College London and Stony Brook University, New York. Their research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests it lived alongside meat-eating dinosaurs, plant-eating crocodiles and giant snakes, which are all very different from the present day animals of Madagascar.
Prof Susan Evans, who studied Beezebufo with Dr Marc Jones at UCL says: “This frog, a relative of today’s Horned frogs, would have been the size of a slightly squashed beach-ball, with short legs and a big mouth. If it shared the aggressive temperament and ‘sit-and-wait’ ambush tactics of living Horned toads, it would have been a formidable predator on small animals.
Its diet would most likely haveconsisted of insects and small vertebrates like lizards, but it’s not impossible that Beelzebufo might even have munched on hatchling orjuvenile dinosaurs.” The history of Madagascar’s unusual frogs has generated intense debate, fuelled by the near absence of a fossil record.
“Our discovery of a frog strikingly different from today’s Madagascan frogs, and akin to the Horned frogs previously considered endemic to South America, lends weight to the controversial idea that Madagascar, the Indian subcontinent and South America were linked well into the Late Cretaceous.
“It also suggests that the initial spread of such beasts began earlier than that proposed by recent estimates,” says Prof Evans. Earlier work has found similarities between the dinosaurs of these three regions, along with mammals, birds and crocodiles.
I got this by mail. Really amusing. Especially if you are from an Indian context you would be able to relate to most of what’s written here. It’s a bit long post, but well worth the time!!!
Grandmother was pretending to be lost in prayer, but her prayer-beads were spinning at top speed.That meant she was either excited or upset. Mother put the receiver down. “Some American girl in his office, she’s coming to stay with us for a week.” She sounded as if she had a deep foreboding.
Father had no such doubt. He knew the worst was to come. He had been matching horoscopes for a year, but my brother Vivek had found a million excuses for not being able to visit India , call any of the chosen Iyer girls, or in any other way advance father’s cause. Father always wore four parallel lines of sacred ash on his forehead. Now there were eight, so deep were the furrows of worry on his forehead. I sat in a corner, supposedly lost in a book, but furiously text-messaging my brother with a vivid description of the scene before me.