Plots and Thoughts

Toyota Loses Their Brand (Deservedly)

Posted in Observations by Captain Optimistic on February 21, 2010

A newly released internal memo from Toyota crows about saving millions of dollars by delaying and obstructing safety regulations and measures.

Toyota said in a statement: “Our first priority is the safety of our customers and to conclude otherwise on the basis of one internal presentation is wrong. Our values have always been to put the customer first and ensure the highest levels of safety and quality.”

Wrong.  Toyota’s values were based on safety and quality.  That’s pretty much Toyota’s entire brand in a nutshell.  Given that these same defects have cost lives, and the memos detail deliberate moves to obstruct or delay safety measures to secure higher profits, that brand is now dead.

Toyota, by first choosing to put profits ahead of safety, and then choosing to lie rather than accept responsibility, is crushing whatever trust they have remaining.  The above statement is so clearly false and self-serving.  How can we believe anything the company says now?

Toyota climbed to its current position in auto sales by a hard earned reputation for delivering safe cars that lasted.  Its clear they chose to coast on that reputation at the expense of consumers.  What a shameful thing to do.  The publicity, hearings and court cases sure to come are going to have a powerful impact on their brand and their sales.  And it looks like it is well deserved on their part.

A lesson for any company: putting your brand on the line is never worth the risk.

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The First Google Buzz Victim

Posted in Musings, Observations by Captain Optimistic on February 17, 2010
Google Buzz has a privacy problem.  Sometime blocking people doesn’t quite take. I’ve experienced this myself.  A friend of mine did as well, only in her case it was an ex-boyfriend.  An ex who now has an extensive criminal record (which includes assault).  So after she had blocked him, she posted info on a private party.  He wasn’t really blocked, so he found out.  He attended.  She eventually blocked him on Buzz after several tries, but by then the damage was done.  He then proceeded to find her on Facebook (which she has reasonably locked down).  She thus far hasn’t been able to block him there at all.
Privacy isn’t an abstract civil right, it is central to our reasonable expectations of safety within society.  Without privacy there is no security.  While my friend mulls a restraining order, I’m left wondering why Google launched such a dangerously broken product.  I’m also wondering what is going on with Facebook.  Facebook is nearly always buggy, but as with Google Buzz, those bugs can have deadly consequences for users.  Plenty of enterprise grade websites function daily without the host vital problems we see here.  These sorts of bugs are not a fact of web development, they are the result of incompetence.
Google and Facebook need to step it up before someone is hurt, and their asses land rightfully in court.

Using Tasers on Children

Posted in Analysis, Observations by Captain Optimistic on November 18, 2009

Feministing reports that a taser had been used on a 10 year old girl.  From MyEyeWitnessNews:

A police officer in a small Arkansas town used a stun gun on an unruly 10-year-old girl after he said her mother gave him permission to do so. Now the town’s mayor is calling for an investigation into whether the Taser use was appropriate.

Uh, NO IT WAS NOT.  There, that was a quick investigation.

“We didn’t use the Taser to punish the child – just to bring the child under control so she wouldn’t hurt herself or somebody else,” Noggle said.

If the officer tried to forcefully put the girl in handcuffs, he could have accidentally broken her arm or leg, Noggle said.

By using a taser the accident could very well have been death.

Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser, said it’s up to individual law enforcement agencies to decide when Taser use is appropriate.

In some cases, a Taser “presents the safer response to resistance compared with the alternatives such as fists, kicks, baton strikes, bean bag guns, chemical agents, or canine response,” Tuttle said in a statement.

Are we to suppose the police officer might have used chemical agents on a child of 10?!

The context in which the taser was used was complex and difficult, to be sure.  But it seems like as we learn more and more about how very deadly tasers are (to the point their manufacturer now warns about where on the body to target), we are becoming more cavalier about their use.

This when we need to become more critical, especially of their usage on vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.

Keep in mind when reading that in this case, the mother of the child consented to the taser being used.