It Starts
July 29, 2005

The Bay Area is a trip. I arrived in Santa Clara and barely stepped out of my rental car before I got into an argument with protesters. It figures.

I've been in Northern California for most of the week for work, but since the conference is in Santa Clara, I switched hotels today in order to be closer and so that I can more effectively roll out of bed and into my clothes in the morning. Whenever I travel and hotel accommodations are necessary, I prefer to stay at the Westin. Call me bourgeoisie, call me whatever you want, but I don't like having to guess if the hotel room I'm walking into will look and smell like it rents by the hour.

The Westin is a member of the Starwood Hotel chain, which is apparently being boycotted by some workers and some trustafarians who've burdened themselves with the cause of the disgruntled workers. A little googling has shown me that this same group has issue with Wal-Mart, which automatically puts them on my bad list (even though I can't stand Wal-Mart.)

I pulled up to my hotel, only to be greeted by two white (but tanned), hapless, college students, handing out propaganda. They gave me a flier which I decided I'd least glance at to see what had their panties in a punch. That was, until I walked through the doors and heard them yelling behind my back, "They don't deserve your money...You need to go somewhere else!" Since I don't do well with being yelled at, I made a mental note of their idiocy and quietly checked into my room.

Once I got settled in, I read the flier in its entirety, only to see that it was a union negotiation issue; employees wanted better health care. At surface, it sounds like a worthy cause, but I've always been skeptical of unions because I believe they have too much power. While they were once necessary, many have gone bad. Sort of like the NAACP and Burt Reynolds' toupee.

When it comes to common issues of protest I generally use one guiding principle:

  • Don't be manipulated by emotional attempts to gain your support, especially when backed by vague details.
With that, I went downstairs outside the hotel lobby and handed the protesters back their flier. They weren't happy and I didn't care. When they realized I didn't buy their cause, they began booing and slinging insults at me. The girl even tried to hand me back the flier. When I didn't take it, the paper dropped on the floor and she accused me of littering. In my less patient and uncivilized days, I would have had to let the chick know, but this time I calmly looked both of them in the eyes and said,

"If you think that yelling and slinging insults is making anybody listen to you or your cause, you are sadly mistaken."

After that, I left. Yes. BlogHer has gotten off to a grand start, I'd say. Tomorrow...we talk politics.


Posted by Ambra at July 29, 2005 5:35 PM in Life
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Go get 'em Ambra. Nice line re- the NAACP and Burt's rug. I'll be blogging on the fall of unions on Monday.

When on business in Santa Clara, I used to stay at the Westin. I know that hotel like the back of my hand. It used to be the Doubletree and was fantastic. The first night they left a wondrful homemade chocolate chip cookie on your pillow.

They also had two really nice restaurants. Then it became the Westin and no more chocolate chip cookie or nice restaurant, although the cafe was still good. Haven't been there since the early 90's though so don't know how it is now. Is the conference going to be in the convention center next door? I know that place like the back of my hand too. They have scads of tech conferences there as well as other types.

I think unions are good in principle, and still necessary, but they need to use their power differently. Hopefully the Teamsters and friends movement is a step in the right direction. The major teacher's unions I've been a part of (Inglewood and CTA) were basically evil. But at the same time, the teachers would have been completely robbed by the equally evil schoolboards if the union didn't have power. How do you balance that?

And why is being against WalMart bad? I was a small part of the movement here in Inglewood that voted down WalMart's proposal to move in, and I'm happy about that. Why isn't it good to think that WalMart's done some things that are kinda bad?

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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