Bloggers on JetBlue's meltdown.

Bloggers on JetBlue's meltdown.

Bloggers on JetBlue's meltdown.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Feb. 20 2007 6:29 PM

Mayday

Bloggers react to JetBlue's disastrous delays, shudder at the conditions in Walter Reed hospital, and giggle over the word "scrotum."

Mayday: JetBlue resumed full service Tuesday after last week's ice storm meltdown. CEO David Neeleman apologized to customers via YouTube, saying he was "humiliated and mortified" by the breakdown. The company has also promised a customer bill of rights that guarantees vouchers for delayed travelers. Bloggers are mostly impressed by the airline's last-minute save.

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Ben Popken at Consumerist calls the mea culpa a "[f]ine showing of contrition and immediate action. We would fly JetBlue again." Shel Holtz at marketing blog a shel of my former self gives props to Neeleman for the apology. During times of crisis, most companies revert to "corporate-speak" for one big reason: "They're called 'lawyers,' and they believe the imperfect human voice of a real person could leave the company open to liability. I wonder, though, if that liability is greater than the cost to an organization's reputation when it responds to emotionally-charged circumstances with such stilted, impersonal language."

JetBlue loyalist Louise Crawford at Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn is still "shocked and upset" by the collapse: "Jet Blue was the airline that made it possible for me to fly weeks after 9/11. It's the airline that helped me overcome my fear of flying. Why? Because they did so many things right. Now this."

At the aptly named Crisisblogger, Gerald Baron lays out a four-step recovery plan for the airline. He says Neeman's solution—to train 100 corporate office staff—isn't enough: "I think I would have been more comfortable with something a little more substantive addressing specifically the lack of staff, or inadequate training, or inadequate communication infrastructure than just saying we have to train some more corporate staff."

At Signals vs. Noise, Matt draws a few lessons from the debacle and suggests that bosses "take it personally" when their company screws up: "When people are stuck on board a plane for eight hours with no clean toilets, they take it personally. And when your company promise is to 'bring humanity back to air travel,' you better take it personally too."

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Read more about JetBlue's woes.

General hospital: The Washington Post recently ran an investigative series on poor conditions in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, home to many soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Officials have begun repairs and the hospital is launching an investigation of its director, Michael Wagner. (Disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Conservative Michelle Malkin salutes the reform, but worries the criticism of the hospital is political: "The mess at the VA and in the military health care sysm is systemic and complicated. Political grandstanding on both sides of the political aisle has impeded reforms for years.  …  I do hope all the left-wingers who are now newly enraged by problems at the VA sustain their interest beyond the time frame in which these stories maximize embarrassment of their political opponents. Supporting the troops takes much more than exploiting their neglect."

Liberal Melissa McEwan at Shakespeare's Sister argues that it's another example of the administration's poor planning: "As usual, perhaps the worst part about this is the sickening propaganda for which parts of Walter Reed are used, while Building 18 and its occupants are hidden away from view like the flag-draped caskets of their brothers and sisters. Who, exactly, is helped by celebrating wounded veterans as heroes in photo-ops if they're then treated like shit for the next two years of their lives? It ain't the veterans; that's for sure."

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At AmericaBlog, Joe in DC chastises the administration: "The Bush White House takes NO responsibility for what's going on at Walter Reed. They take no responsibility for fixing things. The White House didn't need to say it was their fault, they simply needed to say 'this is outrageous, we're taking over.' But they didn't."

Read more about the Walter Reed fiasco.

Going nuts: Librarians in some schools are refusing to stockThe Higher Power of Lucky, a children's book, because it contains the word "scrotum." Bloggers debate whether the move is utterly defenseless or merely idiotic.

At Rationally Speaking, Massimo Pugliucci argues it's the job of schools to help students distinguish good books from "trash"—not to decide it for them: "But a book that wins the Newbery is not trash, it is in fact part of the best of what's out there, and shielding children from talk about body parts is an irresponsible abnegation of our duties as adults."

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Bridget Crawford at Feminist Law Professors thinks the ban might have some unintended effects: "I'm no expert on book banning, but it seems to me that censoring the book will only increase its popularity.  At least that's what happened with Judy Blume's Blubber and Deenie in my grade-school."

One librarian referred to the offending passage as "Howard Stern-type shock treatment," according to the New York Times. John at By the Bayou begs to differ: "Honey, Howard Stern would have said 'ballsac.' "

Blogging at the Huffington Post, journalist and screenwriter Patricia Zohn wonders what decade the librarians are living in: "Do these librarians know the current statistics about boys and girls? That girls experience menarche, the onset of menstruation, often between 10 and 12? That there are reports of oral sex in elementary school? That children begin to masturbate as early as the age of 5?"

The Annoyed Librarian declares herself "puzzled" by the whole controversy, especially claims that not buying the book constitutes censorship: "What sort of bonehead thinks that a librarian has the power to 'deny a child' access to this book if the parent wants their child to read about scrotums? As with the 'banned books' nonsense emanating from the [American Library Association], we've entered into some parallel universe where the library is the only place where books are available and where a librarian not buying a book is somehow the same as government suppression of information."

Read more about the scrotum flap.