On why a multiethnic Europe is nowhere near. Microsoft does Warsaw

So this is what Microsoft Poland (or they advertisers) considered a bit too much for their consumer base:

Error_publicitario_Microsoft

Lacking a better word, doesn’t it look glorious?

At least, they were tactful enough to do a poor Photoshop job… but come on, couldn’t mighty Microsoft Europe spare a few thousand euros to do a Poland-rated version of the ad?

But see, I learnt something today (it was worth waking up this morning then). First, Poland is as much a racist country as any other country in the world. Nothing bad with it (we are talking civilised racism here, not Hitler or Apartheid style racism discrimination as the UN chart calls it), but they are realistic about their market.

Second, apparently in Poland, if you are going to be different, you can be Asian, but not black (something to do with Polish builders, plumbers, electricians and other tradesmen moving to Western Europe and being replaced by Chinese I have heard…)

See, I am as racist as the next, and I do have a network of global friends. Asian, Caucasian, Latino, black, and the like. I’ve got good German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Black and Coloured South African friends (yes, they come in even more versions.) Also Moroccan, Nigerian, Japanese, Filipino, French and some other flavours but we talk of races as what they are, points of anatomical and anthropological difference, not something to stigmatise or never speak about. We are all open about it, and we all agree that being tolerant is the key, reality can never be superseded by good intentions, affirmative actions or bill of rights.

No, it is not representative of the sports fun base to have women sports presenters in the UK. Just go see a game.

No, it is not representative of the estate agent crowd to have a black presenter in Location Location.

No, no matter what you say, Jennifer Lopez doesn’t speak Spanish or represents the Mexican-Americans (but epitomised the American dream).

No, call it what you want but a 45 year old black South African cannot have a degree in engineering because under the Apartheid regime they couldn’t go to uni (as much as I despise it, it is true.)

No, no matter how fast you run, if your family tree has been based in Beijing or Dublin for the last ten generations, you will not overrun a black athlete on the 100m.

No, you can try to bake yourself as much as you want and you will still look like a lobster if your name is Andrew McCain and you like the tanned colour of a Thai man.

And, I have never been to Poland, but I would bet my hat that chances are, one out of three Poles is not black or Asian.

When will we all accept reality as what it is real?

.calvin

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On what you cannot do in a public park, is general public madness taking over or what?

Remember when you use to through stones to each other in the fields and hope that “the enemy” wouldn’t catch you? Well, remember no more, I was peacefully strolling Hyde Park when I got to the Knightsbridge side and so this “peculiar” but serious poster:

HydePark

Oh, Come on! What else? Is that what the Home Secretary is being paid for? Perhaps I had a violent infancy, but no one got ever (seriously) hurt.

But I guess I was overreacting after reading the news on the Daily Mail where more than 270 pupils from four local primaries took part in the East Beds School Sports Partnership Athletics Day at Sandy Upper School in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire but (and here comes the interesting part) parents were banned from attending an inter-school sports day to protect pupils from kidnappers and paedophiles (and parents you morons!). Ridiculous or we should throw the towel in?

.calvin

On the end of the rule of law in the West, another case study: MPs expenses

I am growing more and more worried about the raising populist anger spiralling out of control.

First, it was the “outrageous” (but legally binding by contract) golden parachutes of failed investment banking executives.

It followed the popular clamour against sky-high (but legally binding by contracts) executive pay.

Then it came poor Sir Fred Goodwin and his pension (legally binding by contract), and his public grilling by the British government and puppets who have nothing else to do sadly reminding me of Dr David Kelly and the alleged sexed-up report on Iraq’s WMDs.

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On how not to run a bank, don’t trust Barclays online banking to work every day

There was a time when if your competition made a fool of themselves, you would storm in and get their customers. Market mistakes translated into a drop in market share.

But that was in the old days, my friend. We have reached such a level of mediocrity, that not only businesses don’t learn from their own mistakes, but neither take advantage to learn from their competitors’.

Paraphrasing Peter Griffin, what grinds my gears today is not other than Barclays online banking. Expecting some cheques to be charged today, I have been trying to unsuccessfully log on since this morning at 8am. With the usual routine (HSBC), I’ve tried with all computers, operative systems and internet browsers at home and I couldn’t log in. I gave up and went for a short run to check on the newly born lambs that pepper our backyard. Continue reading

On saying NO to paperless banking, don’t fall in the guilt trap

As a principle, I refuse to change to paper-free statements, not only because the banks themselves don’t accept online statement print-outs as proof of address (ironic!) but because again, I don’t get anything out of it other than feeling less guilty for saving a piece of a tree. But let’s remember, it is the banks who want me to feel guilty about not saving paper and then they turn and mail me unsolicited advertising printed in non-recyclable paper.

I never felt guilty for getting paper statements, as a matter of fact, since I am a geek and keep my accounts to the minute using MS Money software, I never even looked at them. But then, I started having problem after problem after problem with banks and it became clear that keeping the paper statements was a sensible thing to do.

A good old marketer trick, is to create a need that didn’t exist before, and then harvest the profits. The immorality of using fear, guilt or customer stupidity as a means to higher corporate profit lead me to get my BA in Market Research and move out of the industry (not without the knowledge learnt and a permanent interest in the matter though).

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On HSBC fighting ferociously against online banking convenience

Hobbes, I guess by now you must know I try to keep my paws away from the planned incompetence and limitations of nowadays branch banking.

In a number of occasions I have denounced how by planned sheer incompetence banks are pushing us towards online and telephone banking while making online and telephone more and more difficult and inconvenient for us.

The most ridiculous in-branch lunacy I can find so far is the open air telephone banking booths at HSBC branches, no staff member can discuss your credit card issues, but you are addressed to use the phone in the middle of the branch, right by the queue, where every idle person in line will have no other thing to do, but listen to your credit matters while looking the other way. So much for privacy. So much for customer care.

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On how not to run a bank, don’t trust HSBC online banking to work every day

Hobbes, I think I have already mention it before, but it beggars believe the sub-standard online service that HSBC offers.

I cannot handle banking staff at any branch of any bank (someone told once that Barclays trains their staff not to make decisions, not to think, I cannot say it is true, but surely is very close). Yesterday I spent 1h getting £10,000 from my Lloyds account to my HSBC account.

I had to go to a Lloyds branch, but the more they could give me was £5,000. I paid in the amount in a HSBC branch, where after over 10 minutes queuing, the icing was the clerk at the window telling 7 times (another customer and me counted them) to a customer who obviously didn’t understand English and wanted to pay in £700. “You need to write the amount” (on the pay in slip). Continue reading