Why amazon.com’s $5,000 offer is bullshit

Amazon has recently made headlines by saying that they are offering their employees up to $5,000 to quit, leaving everyone to conclude “Gee it must be great working for Amazon if all those employees don’t want that money.” This is bullshit, and I’ll tell you why.

#1. For employees who’ve been there at least a year, the offer is up to $5,000. It starts out as 2,000 for employees who’ve been there one year. Then after two years, it’s $3,000. After three years $4,000 and after 4 years it’s $5,000. They keep harping on the $5,000 figure but that’s the high end of the scale. Most of the employees who get this offer are offered a much lower number.

#2 The majority of Amazon employees aren’t eligible for the offer at all. There are plenty of stories about Amazon employees who get fired after 60 days for not working fast enough. Meanwhile, the lucky ones who manage to run the gauntlet of constantly being harassed to work faster have to make it all the way to the one year mark before they finally get an offer.

#3 Convincing people to quit (instead of firing them) means more profit for Amazon. Lots of companies offer severance pay when they fire somebody. It’s pretty common. This works out even better for Amazon because they can say they aren’t firing you, you are quitting. Which means you aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits. If they fired you, you’d get unemployment, and the more people that file a claim, the higher their premiums go. This way, they are getting themselves off the hook.

This is a publicity stunt. Amazon knows there are fighting a losing battle in the world of public relations. 100 people surveyed, top 6 answers on the board, “Name a company which makes huge profits by treating their employees badly.” Wal-Mart hold the number one spot and Amazon is rapidly gaining on them. This is Amazon’s way of fighting back and trying to make all those disgruntled employees look like a bunch of whiners. They want you to imagine that the vast majority of their employees are smiling happy faces.

Hey, this gives me a great idea for my own business. I should send out press releases saying that I’m giving away a free diamond ring to my unhappy customers. The fine print says that the offer only applies to customers who have used our services at least 12 times in the last 4 years. Anyone who tried us once and hated us isn’t eligible for the offer. And those few who do get the offer are obviously people who liked us the first 11 times and kept calling us back. Also the fine print will say that first we offer you a brass ring, then a gold-plated ring, and then you only get the diamond ring after 4 more years. So I’m not really risking much here. And anyone who takes a ring has to sign a contract promising to never sue me. But I still get to issue a press release saying I’m giving away free diamond rings. Brilliant!


How old is John Connor?

In the second Terminator movie, how old is John when the Terminator shows up?

This seems like a simple question, but the truth is that, no matter what answer you give, there are contradictions. One of the problems in making this determination is that nowhere in the second movie do they explicitly say what the date is, or even the year.

Here are some facts from the first movie. I’ve marked each with a letter to describe the source: A=captions B=props C=statements by computers or terminators D= statements by humans. It seems clear to me that A’s would be the most reliable information whereas D’s could frequently contain mistakes.

1 (A) Opening sequence shows HKs rolling over skulls in the year 2029

2 (A) Scene two shows a trash truck in 1984 (specifically, 1:52 am)

3 (D) At gunpoint, Kyle asks a cop what the date is; he says 12th, May, Thursday.

4 Fact: In 1984, May 12th was a Saturday. May 12th fell on a Thursday in 1983.

5 (B) Later that same day, Sarah’s time card says “PAY PERIOD ENDING 5/19/84”

6 Fact: In 1984, 5/19 was a Saturday.

7 (D) That same day, Ginger says “He can’t treat you like this, it’s Friday night, for christ’s sake.”

8 (B) Sarah’s university ID card says “Spring, 1984”.

9 (D) Sarah says cyborgs can’t exist, to which Kyle replies “Not yet. Not for about 40 years.”

10 (D) Kyle says the nuclear war will be “a few years from now” and that he grew up after it.

11 (D) Sarah says it’s November 10, just before the photograph is taken. She’s obviously pregnant.

12 (D) Sarah says that Kyle is John’s father and they were only together for one night. 38 weeks after May 12th, 1984 is Feb 2, 1985.

And here are some facts from the second movie.

13 (D) Sarah says “3 billion human lives ended on August 29th 1997”

14 (D) Sarah says the first terminator was programmed to strike at her in the year 1984, the second programmed to strike at John “when he was still a child”.

15 (C) The police computer says John is age 10 and his DOB is 2/28/85.

16 (D) Dr. Silberman says Kyle was from the year 2029.

17 (C) The second terminator says he was reprogrammed “35 years from now”

18 (D) A cop says the incident when 30 cops were killed took place in 1984

19 (C) The second terminator gives a long list of things that will happen between now and judgement day, such as Miles Dyson creates a revolutionary type of microprocessor “in a few months”, Cyberdyne becomes the largest supplier of military computers “in three years”, all stealth bombers are upgraded to Cyberdyne computers after which they fly with a perfect operational record, the Skynet funding bill is passed, Skynet goes online August 4th 1997, and Skynet becomes self-aware at 2:14 am, eastern time, August 29th 1997.

20 (D) John says he sent Kyle back in time to 1984. Presumably he got this information from Sarah.

COMMENT: While it is possible that the computer has incorrect information about John’s DOB, presumably the computer knows the current date and can do simple arithmetic, hence the second terminator appears some time between March 1995 and February 1996.

THEORY: John is 10. The simplest explanation is that the cop who had a gun to his head made a mistake about the date. He knew it was Thursday night, going into Friday morning, but he mistakenly said it was May 12th when really it was 2 am on Friday morning, May 11th, 1984. This doesn’t contradict 5 & 6 if the pay period is every two weeks. John was conceived on Saturday, May 12th, 1984, and born on Feb 28, 1985 (more than 3 weeks overdue–unlikely but not impossible). The Second terminator appears in March of 1995, shortly after John’s 10th birthday. It’s less than 2 1/2 years to judgement day, which contradicts 19 by a few months. This might contradict 17 but only by a few months.


John is only 9. The cop was wrong about the date, and John was conceived Saturday May 12, 1984 and born February 2, 1985. The second terminator appears in February of 1994, just after John’s ninth birthday. This contradicts 15 but it doesn’t contradict 17 or 19. I don’t like this theory.

John is older, possibly 13. The first movie takes place earlier than 1984. This contradicts 2, 5, 8, 14, 18, and 20. The second movie takes place in 1995, when John is 13. This contradicts 15, unless the computer was given faulty information about John’s DOB. It also contradicts 19 but only by a few months. I don’t like this theory either; it requires way too many contradictions.

My conclusion is that John is 10 years old in the second movie.