19 January 2009

Corporate Responsibility

Perhaps if some other companies took a page from this book, there would not be quite the crisis we find ourselves in today.

If you received a sub-par sandwich of pastrami this last week, Ken and I would like to extend our sincere apologies. Let me explain.

Tuesday we discovered a part on our smoker was broken. We fixed it after making a large batch of pastrami. We didn't realize it had resulted in meat cooked at a lower temperature than normal, leaving many pieces unacceptably chewy. Unfortunately, most of our customers were too polite to complain and we didn't fully comprehend the extent of the problem until this weekend. Over several days, as many as a quarter of our pastrami sandwiches may have been rubbery.

We would like to assure you we have spent many hours over the weekend working with our staff to prevent this from ever happening again, instituting procedures and working with them to better recognize unacceptable pastrami and avoid serving it.

If you purchased a pastrami sandwich over the last few days and felt it was sub-par, I would like to give you a free sandwich to make up for our mistake. Please bring in a receipt or some other proof of purchase, and we will humbly help you forget your previous bad experience. I know that some of you may not have a receipt. If you felt you received chewy pastrami this last week, call or email me and I will try to make it up to you somehow.

You may have recommended a friend or family member try us this last week. You may have overheard someone at the office complain about their meal here. Please pass along our apologies and offer of recompense. We want to hear from them and let them know that what they got was not our best and not what they can expect in the future if they give us another try.

Thank you for understanding. Once again, our sincere apologies. We will send out a normal email soon, but for now, we just want to say we're sorry.

Nick "Zuke" Zukin
Ken "Kenny" Gordon

At the risk of sounding like a DFH, "small is beautiful."

While it may seem like a spurious analogy to compare pastrami sandwiches to home mortgage loans, if banks had known early that a significant proportion of their loans might fail and took action -- and accepted the possible loss of profit -- the financial crisis would not be as broad or as deep as it currently is.

Maximization of profit for the short term creates a "extraction mentality" that is unsustainable, in either business or natural resource management. If learning from a sandwich shop is how to learn sustainability, so be it.

08 January 2009

An Open Letter to Rick Warren

Dear Pastor Warren,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Pastor Warren. Regardless of one’s faith and traditions, this season is symbolic of renewal and rebirth. Among Christians, the story of the birth of Christ is an incredibly important moment in the liturgical calendar to which every Christian is called every year.

Which is why I’m writing to you. Because of your visibility and prominence amongst Evangelic Protestants, President-elect Obama asked you to offer the invocation at his Inauguration. Many Americans – and I count myself among them – believe that Barack Obama’s election represents the first signs of rebirth and renewal for America. This renewal means America can once more stand as an example of what an idea – that all men and women are created equal, and that all have inalienable rights – can be when it is actualized in the form of a constitutional, democratic republic.

One of the ways in which our Republic ensures the rights of all people is to separate church and state. In this way, no one can be coerced into participation in a religion, nor can one religion exercise undue influence on another. This practice has created a vibrant tapestry of belief that may be confusing, but is something to which all communities can and should aspire. Your church is one such example of an expression of faith that is outside of the formal Protestant and Catholic ecumenical framework of Christian belief.

And as the leader of a church, I ask you to consider, and to renounce your public statements about homosexuals and homosexuality. Your language has deeply hurt and offended many men and women, myself included. And you have slowed – but far from stopped – the effort to extend a civil right of recognition of same-sex partnership in the form of civil (not religious) marriage.

I support, and will continue to support your church’s (and any church’s) right to profess its faith in any way it chooses – within the context of a faith community. However, when you speak as a religious leader in the secular community about political issues, such as denying civil rights for sexual minorities, you abuse the very separation of church and state that allows your church’s existence. If you continue to do so, I would have no choice to believe that your words and action are not those of a religious leader, and the organization that you lead is in fact not a church, but a political organization.

Your church can be a force for good. Many of the missionary works of your church does to reach out to the poor and abandoned reflect the spirit that Christ intended us to demonstrate in the world. I would also ask you to reflect that Christ might feel that the love that same-sex couples demonstrate in their partnerships reflect his desire to see love increase and grow in the world.

06 January 2009

The New Doctor

Having grown up as an Anglophile and with a love of science fiction, one might expect that I would have been a long time fan of Doctor Who, the peculiar BBC series that has infatuated the UK for 40 or so years. You would be incorrect: young Scott could abide neither the production values (horrible) or the RADA trained actors, preferring American sci-fi such as "Star Trek" and "Battlestar Galactica". It was only when BBC and Russell T Davis revived the series in 2004, and brought on board Christopher Ecclestone and David Tennant as the Ninth and Tenth Doctors that I truly enjoyed the series. (I confess that watching Tom Baker as the Doctor makes much better sense now.)

Alas, both Davis and Tennant's tenure as producer and the Doctor are ending. And the Eleventh Doctor is Matt Smith. I will need to be convinced. I wanted a ginger Doctor, and Damian Lewis would have been perfect. Hugh Laurie would have been good, or perhaps Chiwetel Ejioforn ("'Kinky Boots", "Dirty Pretty Things"). Somehow, I'm not getting a shoegazer Doctor - which is what I fear we'll have with young Master Smith. Hell, even Catherine Zeta-Jones (rumoured to want the role, as the production is based in Wales) would have been preferable.