dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

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We’re All Losing Ground

November 2nd, 2022 by dk

The results are in and things don’t look good. I’m not talking about the College Football Playoff rankings, or even the latest polling for Oregon’s tightening race for governor. I’m looking at something more important and much more difficult to reverse. Student test scores have plummeted in Oregon and pretty much everywhere else.

Football rankings and election results reset themselves on a regular basis. Test scores show our children have lost roughly a full grade of learning since the pandemic began. If we don’t develop significant remedial plans, we face a future with less collective knowledge and the earning potential that comes with it. It will dent the competence and confidence of an entire generation.

I’m afraid it’s even worse than that. I believe the arrested development isn’t limited to our schoolchildren. Students are tested and scored regularly. We can accurately gauge their progress from a documented baseline. Why should we assume that online learning isn’t failing all of us to a similar degree? The Bureau of Labor Statistics just recorded the sharpest decline in worker productivity since measurements began in 1947.

You and I are not learning our multiplication tables or the state capitals or the Pythagorean theorem. But we are learning — or we should be! And just like those over-tested youngsters, we’re trying to progress without a set of reliable tools.

We don’t bump into others when everyone’s tethered to their screens at home. We don’t overhear snippets of information that others don’t know we need. We don’t drop in unexpectedly on friends and neighbors. Heck, we don’t even pick up the phone without first making an appointment to avoid an intrusion.

I’m afraid we’re losing the skill — and maybe also the appetite — for unscripted conversations. We learn best collectively and organically — the same as schoolchildren. Instead, we’re learning only about the things we know we don’t know. Our digital tools offer us new efficiencies. But we’re seldom learning about things that we don’t know we don’t know. (And that’s most of what’s unknown.)

Did you know there’s more flavor in a cilantro stem than in its leaves? Or that Bill Watterson named Calvin & Hobbes after a dour theologian and a conservative philosopher? Or that cold summer nights make fall colors deeper? All that information is available, but only if you ask.

Conversations can convey information that we’ve sought, but that’s the least of it. Conversations create connections. They pique interest. They rebuke assumptions. They form stories. They share intent. They elicit commitments. Each participant leaves with more questions than answers, leading to more conversations.

Without a modicum of skill and intent, our verbal exchanges will not always naturally rise to this level. We exchange needed information and go no further. Or we report only information that originated with others — movies, books, websites, controversies — never revealing why any of it matters to us.

We don’t share sadness as easily as anger. We talk more easily about conformity than about surprise. Our sameness is simple. Our sorrows never are. How much ground have we all lost over the past few years? No one is measuring that.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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Spare Sunday Sup-Sags

October 30th, 2022 by dk

Spare Sunday Scraps, Syllogisms, and Superfluous Sagacities:

  • Don’t expect sharp knives in an Airbnb kitchen. That’s a metaphor for something, but I don’t know what.
  • I wonder how AP writers would rank the Ducks, had they played PSU at Autzen instead of Georgia in Atlanta to start this football season.
  • What is unbeknownst to me vastly outweighs what is beknownst to me. (This no longer includes the fact that “beknownst” isn’t actually a word.)
  • I saw “Watch Batteries Changed Here.” I asked for show times and they looked at me like I’m weird.
  • A Costco rotisserie chicken costs about the same as a car air freshener and it works just as well.
  • Bicycling would double in popularity if the headgear looked cool. “It’s not what you do. It’s how you look doing it.”
  • Any suggestions how I can progress from a condition to a syndrome and ultimately to a full-blown complex?
  • You call them opinions. I call them insights.
  • Lanyards are not part of Eugene’s usual dress code.
  • I popped a button the other day. I wasn’t proud of it.
  • Nobody told me that people have stopped using craigslist.
  • I can draw more than conclusions.
  • Allspice didn’t replace all others.
  • Why doesn’t my bottle of non-aspirin contain a little bit of everything (except aspirin, of course)?
  • Hardly anyone calls anyone “dumb” anymore. In my childhood, we regularly used the word twice as an appellation.
  • It’s a sham that an “e” can be silent but still essential.
  • Politically speaking: The left adores being right. The right abhors being left.
  • We can become so obsessed with what something means that we can’t see what’s true.
  • Does every thin person have an eating disorder? Is every ascetic hiding shame? Are all overachievers compensating for bad parents? Is every deviation from the mean a malady?
  • “No problem” has slowly replaced “you’re welcome” but it can still mean “I forgive you.” This isn’t the first conflation of pleasantries. For generations, “I’m sorry” has meant both “I’m sad” or “I’m regretfully responsible.”
  • When you eat portions of leftovers, do you put the remainder into ever-smaller containers? (I do, even if my fridge isn’t overstuffed.)
  • We’re running so many tests on people that we may run out of litmus.
  • The dime is our best coin; the nickel’s the worst. Fight me.
  • I swear no one ever told me that removing water from the tofu brick gives it a more familiar mouthfeel. And a third of my friends are vegetarians!
  • Does enduring design come from deep authenticity or deep empathy? Both.
  • Sometimes we have to say something out loud to find out whether we believe it.
  • If you’re not curious, you are failing to use the factory-installed equipment.
  • I’d favor a leaf-blower tax with the funds subsidizing rake prices. Keep increasing the tax until rakes are free.
  • Anything that’s paid for by someone else should cost more. If you’re paying with your own money (with no intent to get reimbursed) — whether it’s a car or a lunch or an iron lung — you should get the lowest price.
  • Bowling alleys shouldn’t require you to rent their shoes if your sneakers cost more than $100.
  • Automobile manufacturers should add a second horn that conveys, “Oops, I’m sorry.” This small technology could eliminate most road rage.
  • Not to brag, but I invented the self-fulfilling prophecy. Or I meant to.
  • We should give base-12 a try. We’d all like to be younger and most of us would like to weigh less. A 65 year old who weighs 200 pounds would instantly become a 148-pound 55-year-old, just like that.
  • Exploregon. You’ll adoregon. Who could ask for moregon?


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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Campaign Promises We’d Like to See

October 26th, 2022 by dk

November ballots are in our hands. Political ads are expanding the definition of ubiquity. Debates are over and voting has begun. Campaign promises seem to grow more and more outrageous. Here are some campaign promises I’d like to see, ones that would actually improve our lives.

Every candidate promises to eliminate waste and inefficiencies. How about these?

  • Repeal “lather, rinse, repeat.” Ban shampoos that fail to do their job the first time!
  • No more dialing one before long distance calls. Americans have better things to  do with their time. And if you’re dialing a number with the same area code as yours, you should be able to skip those first three digits, just like the old days.
  • The Internet prefix “www” should no longer be spoken as nine syllables. Americans should say “triple w” (five syllables) or “trip-dub” for short, saving everyone’s breath and time!
  • Address prison overcrowding by arresting smaller people. Problem solved!
  • America should have only one fireworks show on the 4th of July, but make it so large that it can be seen from both coasts. Iowa owes the country this.
  • Some efficiencies are too much. Single-ply toilet paper? Outlawed on Day One.

Many inefficiencies come from confusion. A real hero of a candidate would promise to make modern life less confusing. Start with these:

  • Serial numbers, confirmation codes and other strings of random numerals and letters may no longer contain zeroes, ones, or the letters O, I, or L.
  • Every machine alert must emit a unique sound. Annoying ones must be changed. (Fun fact: the Internet was invented because fax machines’ connection handshake sounded so creepy.)
  • Medicare and Medicaid funding will be withheld if medical professionals report test results as “negative” to convey good news and “positive” to mean bad news.
  • Every grocery store must have the same layout, with a printed catalog of every item listed alphabetically available in every aisle.
  • “I before E” — always. No exceptions.
  • All child custody arrangements will follow the same schedule. This way, all divorced fathers will have their kids on the same weekends and single moms will have the   same weekends free. (Same sex parents will flip a coin to determine roles.)
  • Shoe sizes must be recalculated. Use a scale that goes to 100, giving consumers more precision and mending the gap between the halves and the half-nots.

We love candidates who endorse term limits. I agree there are terms that should be limited — or abolished altogether. For example:

  • “Datum” can follow “whom” as unnecessary, elitist, and condescending. “Data” is already singular with regular people.
  • Swap the meanings of “man” and “human.” Human will now refer to males in particular and “man” will refer to our species more generally, just so we can have a “chairman” or a “spokesman” again.
  • “Farther” and “further” aren’t both necessary. Let the American people decide which one to keep. Same with “capital/capitol” and “principle/principal.” And can we just admit that “its” looks better with that apostrophe that Americans insist on giving it?

If politicians ran on promises like these, voter turnout would vastly improve.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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Horse Race Coverage Misses Us

October 23rd, 2022 by dk

I dislike horse race coverage of political campaigns. It conveys that only winning matters. The backstory of each participant can be overlooked, unless they win. The betting odds give horse racing a powerful narrative. Who will get rich from this horse’s performance? (OK, that might be the most appropriate parallel.) Still, politicians are not horses and shouldn’t be covered as if they are.

There’s an important difference. We’re active participants in political races. Or we can be, if we take the trouble to vote. No candidate can win without support expressed by voters. The race is not about the candidates. It’s about us. How well do they understand us? How clearly do they respond to us? Do they inspire us?

The candidates who meet most of us in our moments are the ones who succeed. We’d rather read a careful critique of them, but the outcomes provide a detailed analysis of us.

Examinations of who voted and why usually come after the election, first from the losing party and then from media. They always pledge to learn from mistakes and do better next time. But when the next time comes around, the horse race once again dominates the coverage.

Elections tell us much less about the candidates and much more about ourselves. With that in mind, let me try to explain why I think Republicans are likely to succeed beyond expectations this cycle, but without referencing any candidates directly. The risk I run is that if I’m completely wrong, I’ll have nowhere to hide. So be it.

Political polling has become more difficult and less reliable for several reasons. Fewer people have landlines. Most are not willing to talk to a pollster. Bigots don’t usually identify themselves as bigots. (There are ways around this problem, but it takes more questions and analysis than political campaigns give it.)

When pollsters are viewed as part of the establishment — the “deep state” — respondents may lie to them, just for the fun of it. (Everybody needs a hobby.) Some of these difficulties are acknowledged as a margin for error, which we mostly ignore. Taken together, polling doesn’t accurately reflect us. They’re even worse at predicting our (voting) behavior.

Issues get plenty of poll-driven coverage, but some issues drive people more than others. Abstract concepts — for most of us, that includes war, unemployment, and election integrity — don’t tug on us like issues that impact us directly, like inflation or crime.

Some issues are static. Others are cumulative. In all but a few states, abortion is as legal and available now as it was several months ago. We don’t tend to vote based on something that happened four months ago. Even if what happened was bad, it affects behavior that it hasn’t gotten worse.

Contrast that with consumer price increases. If a gallon of milk increases 20 cents, that is on top of last month’s increase, and the increases from the months before that. It’s bad news that’s getting worse. Same with housing availability, job security, and most economic issues.

Some issues are statistically static but emotionally cumulative. Homelessness and property crime don’t have to get worse for it to feel like they’re getting worse. We just get tired of dealing with some problems more than others. Even after problems are being solved, our emotions can keep us wary and worried for a long time. 

Conservatives have learned to channel their disgust into angry activism. Disgusted liberals tend to become hopeless and apathetic. Which group of disgusted citizens is more likely to vote?

Taken together, conservatives are more likely to be undercounted and extra-motivated. The eventual vote tally and the candidates themselves simply reflect our moods and motivations back to us.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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Selling EWEB HQ Requires a Better Process

October 19th, 2022 by dk

I don’t blame EWEB’s commissioners for declining the purchase proposals they received for their former downtown headquarters. I blame them for something else.

Eugene Water and Electric Board had high hopes when they issued a Request for Proposals early in the summer. A waterfront building adjacent to downtown with 100,000 square feet on 4.4 acres was bound to attract interest from developers, philanthropists, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs, far and wide.

It didn’t turn out that way. They received four proposals. Each had portions that were disappointingly vague. None came from far or wide, unless you consider Veneta out of town.

Start with Olympus Academia, a private school for witches and other pagans. Their GoFundMe campaign hoped to raise $300,000. So far, they have raised $356 from three donors. Olympus Academia probably won’t be transforming itself into a full-fledged university, with the former EWEB headquarters as their international campus.

The other three proposals came from some of the building’s closest neighbors. Brian Obie is the only one of the three who has a track record that fits the scale of this project. Obie Companies has grown the 5th Street Public Market into a regional magnet by expanding westward with the Inn at the 5th, and then the Gordon Hotel.

Jeff and Victoria Wilson-Charles submitted a proposal for the property that they can probably see from the stainless steel roof of their ultra-sustainable (and ultra-expensive) Watershed Building at 3rd and Mill.

As co-owners of Territorial Vineyards & Wine Company and active philanthropists, their commitment to the area is unquestioned. If they are ready to tackle anything on this scale, their previous projects haven’t shown it.

The EWEB building’s neighbor to the east also submitted a proposal but it was never completed. The Eugene Science Factory would love to have a larger and more permanent home. As the University of Oregon expands Autzen’s athletic facilities westward, that wish may become a necessity.

Science Factory supporters hope to replicate Portland’s beloved OMSI, attracting families from across the state. Of all the proposals, this one offers the clearest and widest public use for the waterfront property. Unfortunately, the proposal contained no financial commitments. Civic Stadium proved what’s possible, but who will be able to champion the project as fervently as Bev Smith?

EWEB’s commissioners have authorized General Manager Frank Lawson to continue negotiations directly with respondents, seeking a sales agreement that balances intended use, economic benefit, sale price, financing and the proposers’ qualifications. That’s an awful lot to ask of Lawson. He already has a day job, running Lane County’s largest utility.

The commissioners should examine why their RFP process failed to attract wider interest. Maybe hanging a “for sale” banner all summer was not enough outreach. Projects with a similar scope often begin by asking only for applicants’ qualifications. Negotiations for intended use and final price can follow as a separate step.

Consultants specialize in large-scale sales like this one. EWEB should hire one. Or sell it to the city, the way the Eugene 4J School District divested Civic Stadium. And call Bev Smith.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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Parody Often Gives the Best Defense

October 16th, 2022 by dk

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky continues his master class on resisting authoritarianism, but similar lessons are also available closer to home.

Last Saturday, a bridge linking Russia to Crimea was partially destroyed by a truck bomb, damaging a key Russian supply route and a symbol of Putin’s resolve to dominate Ukraine. The bridge is — was! — an engineering marvel, built after Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. The 12-mile stretch is the longest bridge in Europe.

Shortly after the explosion created a fireball over the Kerch Strait, Zelensky gave his nightly update on the war. He ended his report to Ukraine and the world with a mock weather report. He declared that it was sunny throughout Ukraine but quipped that conditions were “cloudy in Crimea — but still quite warm.“

Imagine how that mockery must have rankled Russian President Vladimir Putin. His response came a full week later. He called for a special government commission to investigate the matter. (He then ordered a Kyiv schoolyard to be bombed in retaliation, but he’d already made his point.)

Eugene comedian Leigh Anne Jasheway links humor to stress reduction, telling her students, “If you can laugh at it, it can’t hurt you.” That might not be literally true for Zelensky, but Putin won’t be able to extinguish the courage of Ukraine’s people. They will have the last laugh.

Meanwhile, another police state can be studied near Cleveland, Ohio. Anthony Novak in 2016 created a fake social media page, mimicking his local Police Department’s Facebook page. The Parma Police Department charged him with disrupting police operations, even though his parody page was up only for a few hours. 

Novak was arrested, jailed, tried, and acquitted. He then sued the police department for violating his free speech rights, testing the limits of qualified immunity for government agencies. The Institute for Justice, the civil rights law firm, described his case as “both humorous and very serious. If the police can use their authority to arrest their critics without consequence, everyone’s rights are at risk.”

Novak’s case is currently on the Supreme Court’s docket, prompting a hilarious and important Amicus Curiae by The Onion, a parody newspaper based in Chicago.

The brief wastes no time demonstrating its intent. It begins, “The Onion is the world’s leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage … [It] has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history, maintaining a towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires.”

“The Onion cannot stand idly by in the face of a ruling that threatens to disembowel a form of rhetoric that has existed for millennia, that is particularly potent in the realm of political debate, and that, purely incidentally, forms the basis of The Onion’s writers’ paychecks,” the brief continues.

The 23-page brief ends with similar verve: “The Onion intends to continue its socially valuable role bringing the disinfectant of sunlight into the halls of power. See Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 67 (1976) And it would vastly prefer that sunlight not to be measured out to its writers in 15-minute increments in an exercise yard.”

It all reminds me of my decade-long tenure as publisher of the Comic News. We once endorsed John Kitzhaber over Bill Sizemore for governor after interviewing four expert stylists to determine which candidate had the better hair. It was a populist approach — giving people what they really want — just like war-weary Ukrainians really wish they could hear about their weather.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at The Onion’s legal brief can be viewed at

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Are We Ready to Create a Sharing Culture?

October 12th, 2022 by dk

Hundreds of local households rearranged their domestic affairs this summer to make room for visitors to compete in or watch the World Championships at Hayward Field. For many, it was their first foray into the sharing economy. Are we ready to build on that sharing economy to create a sharing culture?

I believe in the sharing economy. Decades were spent trying to convince Americans not to over-consume. But cars and trucks and houses kept getting bigger, even though families were getting smaller. Acquisitiveness is how Americans gauge stature, so having more stuff proved to be an irresistible urge.

But then, along comes Airbnb and others, implicitly congratulating you for your achievement and then asking if you’d be willing to share it with others. Now that Airbnb is a behemoth that has made its founders billions, some worry that Airbnb in particular has become too large for our own good.

But the idea remains a good one. Smaller start-ups deserve your attention. Home Share Oregon, a nonprofit program, hopes to increase access to affordable housing. They link people with more room than they need with people who need a room, focusing on fixed-income seniors.

Some have tried hosting with Airbnb (or its lookalike cousins like VRBO), but don’t really care for the rooming house vibe. They also don’t want a full-time housemate. There’s a sweet spot in between, used primarily by short-term travel nurses, called Furnished Finder. PeaceHealth also maintains their own short-term lodging list for travel nurses.

If you’re planning a vacation, but don’t feel comfortable asking neighbors to water your plants or feed your cats, Trusted House Sitters screens people who are looking for temporary housing and can provide those services in return. All of these commercial services perform background checks on applicants before sending them to your home.

The sharing movement is now expanding options for movement itself.

You know about Uber and Lyft, but did you know there are ways to rent your neighbor’s car? Turo is becoming the Airbnb of car rentals, along with smaller outfits like DriveShare and GetAround. You can rent a car through HyreCar and drive it for Uber! They handle the insurance and verify the renter’s identity, leaving the sharing to you.

The city of Eugene maintains a page for those who would like to carpool together. EWEB has partnered with Forth Mobility to rent electric cars on an hourly or daily basis. PeaceHealth continues its sponsorship of Eugene’s bike rental program.

There are sites that facilitate peer-to-peer sharing of garagesgardenscampsitessailboatssurfboardsbicycles, and airplanes. Surfboard-sharing may never be big in Eugene, but you can see where this is headed.

Why does each of us need a lawn mower when we use it for only an hour or two each weekend? Can Internet connectedness make it easier for us to share a cup of sugar with a neighbor? How quickly can we get used to sharing how many things? That’s the question the future is asking.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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Should Pac-12 Stream? Yes!

October 9th, 2022 by dk

We’re told that USC and UCLA bolted for the Big Ten because they wanted part of a richer broadcast rights package being negotiated. The windfall for each school looks to be at least $20 million per year and possibly double that.

Pac-12 responded by accelerating negotiations for their next broadcast rights package. Most anticipate an announcement in the next month or two. Apple and Amazon have both been willing to open their checkbooks for a seat at the table. Other streaming services may also have interest.

American soccer fans will have to enter the Apple ecosystem to watch their favorite teams. There will be an app that streams with Apple TV. Some games will be included with Apple TV+. Highlights will be available on the free Apple News app.

Meanwhile, Amazon paid billions for the exclusive broadcast rights for NFL’s Thursday Night Football. Their first broadcast delivered a healthy audience. They also sold more Amazon Prime memberships in those three hours than ever before.

Should the Pac-12 conference entertain offers from streaming services? Should they consider giving them exclusive rights if the price is right? Or is it too soon to deny ESPN and FOX the nighttime inventory that only comes from Pacific Time Zone match-ups?

Answering the last question first, no. “Too soon” applies only when the trajectory is uncertain. Streaming will overtake cable and broadcast television. They want to hasten their conquest.

Don’t forget that FOX had only “The Simpsons” until they added live sports. Cable TV was considered a luxury until ESPN earned it legitimacy. Don’t forget, because the negotiators haven’t forgotten. Pac-12 could instantly become a leader again. To think otherwise is nothing but a failure of imagination.

Broadcast outlets deliver more households right now, but for how much longer? What can streaming services do better than any broadcast outlet? I’ve started a list:

– A memorable play can be turned into an instant meme for social media, including avatars of successful players.

– Click here to buy your favorite player’s jersey right now. Add a little extra to the purchase price and we’ll deposit all the extra and a little more into that player’s NIL account.

– Dr. Pepper’s Fansville commercials (and others) can be digitally altered to show the good guys wearing your team’s colors, based on your account preferences.

– Don’t feel like watching the commercials? You can skip them for 99 cents and get extra analysis from your favorite personalities. Or an instant video game that puts your avatar in the same predicament your team just faced. Can you do better? You have 90 seconds!

– Should they go for it on 4th down? Instant polling can show immediate results. Do all your friends agree? How about all the friends of your friends?

– Show current game and season stats for each player whenever they touch the ball.

– Play-by-play can be made available in any language through crowdsourcing, including sign language.

– Bid on a signed jersey or an NFT from one of your team’s former greats. Fifty percent of proceeds will be given to that player’s favorite charity.

– Put your friends on your screen, watching the game with you, with their sound on or off. It will feel like a Zoom meeting, but an enjoyable one.

– Alexa remembers you ordered a pizza at halftime last game and asks if you want to do that again.

When Pac-12 popularity explodes onto social media, SEC and Big Ten will wish they hadn’t locked themselves into legacy broadcast deals. If the Pac-12 is really shrewd, they will negotiate a 10% commission on all future deals with other conferences in return for proving the concept.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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Quiet Quitting Answers Loud Layoffs

October 5th, 2022 by dk

I have a friend back East who was recently laid off from her job. A new executive had been brought in to implement the dreaded euphemism, “corporate restructuring.” She could see the writing on the wall. The difficult decisions in that case may even have been overdue. But what often comes next is what concerns me most.

We know our economy is slowing. We’re told that’s mostly a good thing. It’s painful nevertheless. Just a few days ago, local EV manufacturer Arcimoto announced it was immediately cutting its payroll 32 percent. More than 100 employees are being furloughed or their positions are permanently eliminated.

That means a few hundred neighbors are looking at life differently this week than last. That contains a mix of anger and fear, but also sometimes relief and curiosity. “I wonder what my next chapter will look like,” my friend mused. She’s one of the lucky ones.

Here’s how those decisions are often enacted in the workplace. This is what bosses should rethink and workers should no longer accept. Immediately after giving the news to a worker that their job has been “restructured” away, the boss has a final paycheck already prepared, including any severance and often the last two weeks of salary.

When the worker returns to their station or office, a security guard is there to meet them with a cardboard box. They are told to surrender their employee badge. Assistance is provided to “restructure” their workspace until all personal affects have landed in the box. They are then escorted out the door. Remaining workers try to avoid eye contact.

I once worked for an employer who was even less humane than that. My co-worker had a meeting with the big boss at 9:30 that morning, but was not told why. He tried to check his company email for any news but was unable to log in. Some of us knew what that meant. We watched for the cardboard box to arrive shortly thereafter.

Layoffs may become more common very soon, so I hope everyone can see how this termination procedure looks to those who have not (yet) been called into the boss’s office. It’s demoralizing and demeaning — unnecessarily so. No wonder “quiet quitting” looks attractive to some.

Business owners and managers often liken their company or department to a family. They work to create an atmosphere where relationships can thrive. But when the time comes to subtract from the system, everything becomes ruthlessly transactional. Quiet quitting answers loud layoffs.

Certainly there are instances where somebody is fired for good cause where these procedures are appropriate. Terminations that are respectful and appropriately painful for everyone involved show strength and health instead of only power and policy. Forcing restructured ex-colleagues out the door in a perp-walk does nothing for the morale of those who remain.

Even if they have been paid for their final two weeks, an abrupt physical severance creates unnecessary trauma. Terminated employees deserve time and space to exchange well wishes with former colleagues. They may need to do some restructuring of their own.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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Three Soft Landings, Not One

October 4th, 2022 by dk

Policy professionals inside the U.S. government are attempting to engineer what we’ve learned to call “soft landings” in three separate arenas. A sudden collapse of the economy would be painful, but the consequences for abrupt change in the geopolitical or cultural realms could be catastrophic.

We’ve all heard about the concerns of the financial sector. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates three times in the last three months, aiming to slow inflation without causing a spike in unemployment. Rising prices on groceries and gas hurt everyone a little. Losing a job hurts only some people but it hurts them a lot.

The Fed is trying to slow the economy without throwing it into reverse — a soft landing. The same objectives apply to policies regarding Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

Putin gave western democracies a gift when he paraded into Ukraine and exposed Russia’s military as suitable mostly for parades. The show of force was more show than force. We understand better now, thanks to Putin’s face-plant, that open societies display their weaknesses and hide their strengths. Ukraine stands tall and Putin loses stature.

Diplomats and State Department strategists are trying to nudge Russian forces back. President Biden has asked Congress for just enough weaponry to keep Ukraine’s momentum. The unstated goal: avoid chemical or nuclear warfare from a humiliated Putin. Putin’s gradual defeat can strengthen and clarify the world order — another soft landing.

Federal and state agencies are also hoping for a gradual defeat of Donald Trump, his business interests, and his most rabid followers. We’ve watched the painfully slow pace of Merrick Garland at the Justice Department, Letitia James in New York, and Fani Willis in Georgia. Why not bring down the hammer quickly?

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman may have uncovered an important clue. Trump is often asked whether he would have run for president if he knew all the trouble the scrutiny would invite. His answer: “Yeah, I think so. Because here’s the way I look at it. I have so many rich friends and nobody knows who they are.”

Over Trump’s career, one lesson came clearly into focus. Fame can make you money, but money can’t make you famous. Money is the water Trump drinks. Fame is the air he breathes.

Trump (and his alter-ego publicist John Miller) have crafted three very different personas of Trump. During his real estate career, he was a womanizing cad. On television, he became a ruthless tycoon. On the campaign trail, his populist appeal turned him into an aggrieved victim, targeted by elites.

Stay with me here, because I’m following this trajectory beyond the land of common sense. Here we have someone who wants to be well known more than anything else. His throngs don’t validate him unless they teem. And nothing riles them more than tales of victimhood. 

Why did Trump refuse to return the documents he took with him from the White House, especially after several urgent but quiet demands? Because there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It’s a short step from victimhood to martyrdom.

Surely no narcissist would sacrifice his freedom for the sake of an ideal. But famous people often lose everything in an attempt to become just a little more famous. If Trump gets rebuked by government authorities too quickly, martyrdom and the movement it could spawn must be a real concern.

Authorities must enforce the rule of law without making Trump into a martyr. They must work slowly, carefully, and with great transparency. It’s tricky having as much power as the U.S. government does, especially when greedy stock market investors, wounded world leaders, and petulant former presidents are looking for any advantage.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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