December 22nd, 2015

Registration renewal

Last night's snail mail included holiday cards. Lovely! It also included a registration renewal for my car. I've done this online more than once now, and it seems like every single time there's something that goes weird: it's slow, it's down, there's a weird error message, it bounces me back to the beginning.

Not today! It worked smoothly the first time and all the way through. Here is hoping the stickers arrive similarly.

I notice that there are a LOT of words on the registration renewal (well, in general, too! Too damn many, imo) about DO NOT COME IN, and a long list of options to avoid visiting them in person. I'm starting to get the feeling that Mass would be happier all around if all the people who were inclined to visit in person would just become AAA members so they wouldn't need to ever see anyone again (you can do nearly everything at a participating AAA that you can do at an RMV office). This is, of course, an exaggeration. But not much of one.

Chipotle and Wild Speculation

Chipotle has been under all kinds of rhetorical attack for some years now. The chain has been the focus of pro-gun groups, for their ban on guns in the stores. The chain has been the focus of larger and more diffuse group which would prefer that there were Zero national chains that serve gmo free, etc. food, as opposed to one.

More recently, Chipotle has suffered from publicity associated with a significant, western states e. coli outbreak, a Boston area norovirus outbreak, and finally a different strain of e. coli outbreak in Oklahoma/Kansas/etc. area.

I have a theory, and I bet you can predict what it is. But on the off chance it has not occurred to you yet, allow me to remind you of this earlier example of domestic terorism:

Until members of the cult came forward with confessions, despite quite a lot of suspicion, public health officials in Oregon persisted in treating this as a hygiene issue, rather than as a bio-terror attack.

The disparate nature of the incidents at Chipotle, and their persistence in the face of the chain engaging at all levels with the problem, suggests to me that this isn't a process problem. Well, _it is_ a process problem, but it's more in the nature of the "process problem" that was exposed by this attack:

We never did figure out who did that, altho we made a bunch of changes (caplets vs capsules, foil and similar tamper resistant and tamper evident packaging) to make it harder for that to recur. (I had no idea until I read that that the FBI was thinking it might have been the Unabomber.)

I'm poking around to see if there's any media speculation on this topic and not finding any. If you can find some, please shoot me a link either via email or in the comments.

ETA: You don't need to tell me _why_ there might be media silence on this theory. I can imagine those reasons all by myself.

The Grass Actually Is Not Greener: Dutch Train edition

So the next time you're sitting around complaining about how we haven't kept up on maintenance on the train system or how full public transit is or whatever, and you want to say, "In Europe ...", well, the trains are full in the Netherlands, they are deferring less needed maintenance and pulling old trains back into use in an effort to keep up with demand, as well as trying to get people to travel other than at peak travel times.

Looked at one way, this is an indication of economic distress: people aren't driving, they are riding. Looked at another way, this is an indication of economic boom times: more people are going to work. I'm not sure which is the the case, altho I suspect more of the latter than the former.