No [Summa] Cum [Laude] Allowed - Liberal Resistance

No [Summa] Cum [Laude] Allowed

Okay, this isn’t news. But it is metaphorical.

First, we have to mention that there is a scene in Apocalypse Now where Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) complains that certain idiots in high places are punishing pilots for painting “fuck” on their airplanes, while ordering those same men in the same planes to drop napalm on children and burn them alive.

Well, folks, we are sort of back with Krutz at the moment. The Washington Post is reporting that a proud mother in Charleston, S.C., Cara Koscinski, ordered her son a cake from her local grocery store chain to celebrate the fact that he’d graduated summa cum laude from his program. In fact, she wanted to put “summa cum laude” on the cake in question.

The problem, her local grocery store chain is modern and efficient, and has been carefully structured by highly trained MBAs, and is run by algorithms imposed from the central office. Or, in other words, it is inflexible and lacks any common sense.

So, the computerized system the store chain uses to process pastry orders spotted “cum” in the “summa cum laude,” and decided it was (gasp) a swear word referring to, well, er, ah, ejaculation. And, you guessed it, the day of the boy’s graduation party, the family opened up the newly arrived cake box and found… “Summa _____ Laude.”

That’s right. Just Summa. And Laude. With a guilty looking space in between.

The Post reports that Ms. Koscinski got a refund for the cake, but, apparently, nothing has changed in the way the store chain in question handles cake orders. It seems that when you request “cum laude” the cum doesn’t, well, cum(e).

Why are we making such a big deal of this? Well, not just because of the sheer stupidity of situation. It’s because more and more, corporations and other large businesses are relying on algorithms and rules imposed from above to run local offices. What that means in practice, though, is that more and more the powers of decision-making are being extracted from managers in the field.

Which, given the apparent intelligence of most corporate algorithms…

Is terrifying.

The Little Professor