Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mike Bloomberg and Me on Telecommuting

Boy, am I in trouble. If Mike Bloomberg had his druthers, telecommuting surely would go the way of the 30-ounce soda. Mr. Bloomberg is quoted in both the New York Daily News and the Daily Mail as saying, “telecommuting is the dumbest idea I ever heard.”
Now, granted he’s a mayor and an entrepreneur and a very, very rich guy which I suppose makes him smarter than I am. But surely he’s heard dumber ideas somewhere. For one thing, he has been known to associate with Republicans. He must have heard some of their “ideas.”
And he’s a philanthropist and a great supporter of the arts. Have not any Damien Hirst or Christo projects wafted in his direction?
He laments the fact that when you work at home you don’t get a chance to hang around the water cooler. And that, as everyone knows, is where all the great ideas come from – – the chance meeting, the exchange of confidences, the meaningful arched eyebrow. It’s a wonder anybody has time for an office pool.
It doesn’t matter that the classic water cooler seems to have gone the way of the stagecoach. Oh, water coolers still exist; but they are not oases at which nomadic office workers gather. They are in kitchen hutches that also contain microwaves and fridges. The better to eat at your desk, my dear. One would think that the idea-generating, random, colliding trajectories so revered by Mr. Bloomberg and that Yahoo lady were some kind of CERN supercollider. Ha!
Furtive little runs to the kitchen hutch – – I mean the watercooler – – are not likely to yield the great synergy that, on previous occasions, rewarded us with the startling concept of combining peanut butter with chocolate.
But what about the poor homebound, isolated telecommuters. Well we know they’re more productive because they are not enslaved by the 9 to 5 shackles. (Instead they’re enslaved by the 8 a.m. to midnight shackles.) It’s true they are deprived of seeing their colleagues hydrate themselves, and thereby miss the inevitable inspiration. But they get to be in the world, walk in the park, listen to music, see and speak with people who have entirely different world views and experiences. Also, many successful telecommuting programs encourage the remote personnel to come into the office one or two days a week. Why, it’s almost like combining peanut butter and chocolate.
A lot of resistance to telecommuting has come from those managers who aren’t comfortable with supervising people they can’t see. The grand spectacle of people at their desks for the proscribed period of time means more to these managers than timeliness, quantity, and quality of the work. Now that’s a dumb idea.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Judge Sandra Day O’Connor’s New Book, Out Of Order, Not, Lest Ye Be Judged

I've finished reading Sandra Day O’Connor’s new book, Out Of Order. I wanted to read it because I, too, have a book called Out Of Order. This is not the first time I had the honor and privilege of sharing a title with another author. My first book, Your Home Office, was a guide to working at home. Two other people who tried to write guides to working at home also chose the title, your home office. And the phrase also appeared as a subtitle for several DIY home project books.
I found 12 books entitled Out Of Order on Amazon. I know there are more. I just got tired of clicking to the next page. The essential question is what, aside from title, to Sandra Day O’Connor’s Out Of Order and Norman Schreiber’s Out Of Order have in common?
Of course, comparisons are odious. It’s all apples and oranges, pomegranates and kumquats, etc. etc. Hers falls into the history category. Mine is a funny, some might even say delightful, novel. I truly enjoyed her book. While Robert Caro and Doris Kearns Goodwin have nothing to worry about, Justice O’Connor’s book is a breezy history of how the Supreme Court started as a nearly ad hoc workaround and evolved into a mature, significant institution.
Okay, Sometimes it has the whiff of a cheerful after dinner speech. Sometimes it reads like the narration of a travelogue they made you watch in middle school auditorium on a rainy day. But mostly it is a collection of “did you knows?” And “imagine thats” about the Supreme Court. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a rigorous or scholarly or encyclopedic study. It is an engaging, pleasant, well-constructed history that is modestly offered and gratefully received. While not aimed at, or needed, by the serious jurisprudence aficionado, Sandra Day O’Connor’s Out Of Order provides background and context for the rest of us.
She mentions that “… Justice Breyer drew particularly ‘raucous laughter and Howls’ for a remark he made in a fourth amendment case.”  the subsequent explanation did not seem like a real knee–slapper to me, but I guess you had to be there.
And now for the comparison part of our program. Her book recounts the stories of presidents, generals, senators and, of course, judges. Mine is mostly populated by the residents of a Prospect Heights, Brooklyn co-op apartment building. Her book starts on page 3 and runs to page 165, and there is a seven-page introduction. Appended to the book are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, back notes and an index. These all run to page 233. My Out Of Order starts on page 1 and runs to page 221. Hers mentions many legal cases inspired by a goodly number of crimes. Mine has a few crimes and the intimation of court proceedings to come. Her Out Of Order was on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list on March 24, 2013. My Out Of Order is a funny novel. Sandra Day O’Connor’s Out Of Order is available in hardcover, Kindle and audio. My Out Of Order, the funny novel, is available in trade paperback and Kindle.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Saga Continues.

A copy of Sandra Day O’Connor’s new book, Out Of Order came into my hands. It came through a tortured, circuitous route – – sampans, caravans, tramp steamers and the like. Actually it just involved a trip on the M15 bus. Her book, a nonfiction work about the Supreme Court, intrigues me because it has a wonderful title. Which just happens to resonate with the title of my novel, Out Of Order.
The New York Times reviewer, Adam Liptak, gave the retired Supreme Court Justice a less than charitable verdict in his summation. He is the paper’ s Supreme Court correspondent and I suspect he was looking for something incisive and illuminating rather than the cheerful chat it apparently is. My next task is to read the book – – not for the purpose of judging it, but just to see how her Out Of Order compares with my Out Of Order.