Min/Max

No, it’s not that difficult to serve a burger and fries. You don’t have to go to college for it, so it can’t require that much skill. People that can’t even put a burger or taco together without screwing it up are basically not even trying – certainly they shouldn’t get paid any more money.

Although, I guess I can see how screwing up like, one burger out of the 200 or so you made that day is a little more understandable. Or accidentally forgetting that six of the twenty burritos you just put together were supposed to be meat-free, not bean-free. And of those six, half were supposed to have no cheese. Now you have to remake everything while a crabby vegan stands outraged at the inconvenience of having to wait, and your manager proceeds to crawl up your ass about keeping orders straight during lunch rush.

Actually, now that I think about it, most fast food menus are just the same five or six ingredients endlessly recombined to give the illusion of variety. Constantly churning out the proper sequence under severe time pressure actually does sound a little bit difficult to do. Or at least easy to screw up.

Ok, so maybe it is not exactly easy work. And maybe it is a tiny bit soul-crushingly repetitive. But it’s not like it’s dangerous or anything. It’s not like you have to deal with angry, crazy, entitled people all day. It’s not like you have to do anything risky, like apprehend thieves or hold back a herd of humans desperately stampeding toward savings.

Right. So, there does appear to be an element of danger which emerges at the confluence of boiling oil, slippery floors and the pressure to move as quickly as possible. And, yes, mistakes are inevitable – for any job over a long enough time period – but really, so what? I think the main point is that none if this is very important work – as in not terribly crucial to anyone. Nobody’s life hangs in the balance. Nobody will go to war or anything if a mistake is made. No economies will crash. A burger flipper doesn’t have to deal with the stress of having a job that’s . . . you know, meaningful. As such, the wage should reflect that.

But sometimes people decide that the work you are doing is actually important.

Someone trying to squeeze the maximum profit out of the industry thinks it is very important that you do your job as efficiently as possible. You manager thinks it is very important that their specific restaurant is the cleanest, friendliest and most presentable. Their McFranchise should be the best possible representation of McFranchise culture. And they want to have the best numbers on whatever scorecard determines promotions or bonuses. It’s all important to them, and they will apply whatever pressure is necessary to let you know that it is important.

And you had better believe that burger is important to the customer. Depending on the day the customer has had, prior to stepping up to that counter, it might be the most important thing in the world to them. They might have been shopping all day with their insufferable kids, or trying to get food as quickly as possible in the fifteen minutes they have been given for a lunch break. Or they just haven’t had a triple slopstack in a while, and it’s been a rough day, so fuck it, why not.

Prepare for the righteous, indignant fury that shall descend upon you if you ruin that for them, because HONESTLY IT’S JUST A GODDAMN BURGER, HOW HARD CAN IT BE?

So there are a lot of people who depend on that burger flipper, and so a lot of people are applying pressure to make sure the job is done right. Often while still insisting that you are doing nothing worthwhile with your life.

This is the case in a lot of minimum wage areas (which are not just burger flipping jobs, fyi).

These aren’t practice jobs for kids. Perhaps once upon a time they were, but it is clear that these days you are meant to treat it like a proper, for really-real grown-up job. At a practice job, you wouldn’t be pressured to come in when you are sick. You wouldn’t be on-call. You wouldn’t be fired for being unable to come in at a moment’s notice because you need to study for a test. It would be understood by the employers that these were not “real jobs”, merely training for a real job you will hold at some later date.

But that’s not the way it is. You are not expected to be a student first and an employee second – you are expected to be dedicated to the job. You are expected to work as though you anticipate sharing in the wealth you generate, with the understanding that you are greedy to actually demand more money. You are expected to be grateful to have the job and experience anxiety at the prospect of losing it.

If a wealthy industry prioritizes pushing employees to generate more wealth, they assign a level of importance to the task. If they expect an employee to take on the dedication and stress level appropriate to that importance, then they can certainly pay a wage appropriate to that dedication.

In reality though, the people opposed to a minimum wage increase (or to having one at all) do not look at it like that. From their perspective, they shouldn’t have to pay you very much because you are easily replaceable part in a machine. It is less impactful if you wear out, because there are a lot of spares.

From their perspective, you are an abundant natural resource. As such, you should be as cheap as the market permits.

From their perspective, the point is not how difficult, how dangerous or how significant is your work.

The point is simply this: Fuck you.

Fuck you, you tedious little plebs, and all the insipid things you need, desire or deserve.

People are not paid based strictly on their mastery of some skill or the utility of goods they produce. Neither are they compensated in proportion to the expense and effort involved in acquiring a skill or the level of risk or wear involved in a task. These things are only ever rewarded indirectly. We pay for skill measured against the scarcity of similarly skilled people. We pay people based on the value they provide measured against the avalability of others who might readily provide that same value. Or the willingness of others to take on the same risk.

That seems obvious. I honestly feel a bit silly stating it.

And with an ever increasing pool of people that are competing for these jobs, those hiring for them feel ever more comfortable pushing standards higher and wages lower. It doesn’t matter that you can’t afford basic necessities. So long as the overall machine doesn’t break, it doesn’t really matter if you do.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/22/pregnant-woman-robbery/26173521/
http://wdtn.com/2015/05/05/dollar-general-employee-suspended-for-failing-to-stop-robbery/
http://www.dol.gov/minwage/mythbuster.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wage_slavery
http://www.marketplace.org/topics/wealth-poverty/more-people-need-second-jobs-fewer-can-find-them
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/in-retail-life-on-the-job-often-leads-to-a-dead-end/
https://www.nytexaminer.com/2012/02/new-york-times-critiques-free-market-capitailsm/
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/03/homeless-by-choice-how-to-live-for-free-in-america/254118/2/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/27/fast-food-jobs-real_n_6028404.html
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-27/minimum-wage-increase-in-u-s-will-probably-promote-spending.html
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/06/20/503112/studies-increasing-the-minimum-wage-during-times-of-high-unemployment-doesnt-hurt-job-growth/
http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/odnirast.html
http://money.cnn.com/2014/05/30/news/economy/fast-food-educated-older/
http://www.reddit.com/comments/j55wn
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=3993076
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/04/02/3422111/wage-theft-poll-mcdonalds/

It’s a problem when you consider it a problem that I might not die in a car accident.

** EDIT **
I believe I misread the article, and as such this reaction was not really warranted. Next time I will try to wake up a bit more and have a cup of coffee before I begin my internet blathering.

Leaving it up as a note to self: I am not to be trusted.
** END EDIT **

If driverless cars save lives, where will we get organs?

You won’t get them.

By all means, work on the 3d printing thing. Bust out the stem cells. Figure out how to make mechanical replacements. Throw money and science and whatever else at the problem to get it solved. But don’t hold off on technology that will actually keep people from dying.

Isn’t this basically just saying we value the lives of people who need organs over the lives of people that the organs come from? Or is it just saying we’re already used to the problem as it is. We’re used to shrugging and saying “Car accidents, man. What’re you gonna do?”

We do this a lot. Where we have made our peace with a problem, grown comfortable with it and even found ways to benefit from it, we do not want interference. Because there’s a system in place now. If we change it, then we have to start working to figure out a different problem.

Problems are hard, and I had other shit planned to do today, you know?

It’s like when people say, “We can’t have solar and wind energy, it will put so many coal miner out of a job.” And then suddenly the push to have a safer way of obtaining energy and clean up our environment so we can continue living on the planet is a War on Coal.

Or, “We can’t legalize cannabis or end the War on Drugs in general because we’d have to fire some police, and departments would get less funding and there would be fewer prisoners to use as cheap labor, and . . .and stuff. Really important stuff would be . . . different.”

When you depend on the existence of a problem, you don’t want that problem solved. It’s one thing to try to make the best of a bad situation. But to deliberately prolong the bad situation so you can continue to derive the benefit is another thing altogether.

** WARNING: DIGRESSION IMMINENT **

While we’re on the topic, driverless cars won’t just affect people waiting for organs. It will affect insurance companies – fewer accidents and no way to place responsibility on any driver involved if one does occur. It will affect car manufacturing, because cars will be required to hold to totally different standards. Also, they might be the ones shouldering the insurance burden, if accidents would only happen because something in the car failed.

It will also affect police – fewer speeding tickets for one. Fewer reasons to stop people for another. Oh the car was driving erratically? Guess I’d better hang out and call AAA or whatever, thanks for the heads up, officer. No reason to pull me out and have me walk a line. No reason to have a look around in my car. Whatever was failing was not a result of my actions.

** Digression has passed. Please resume. **

Anyway, if we are so gung ho about holding off on life-saving technologies in an effort to save lives, what’s up with all these lazy assholes just laying around hospitals on life support. That’s basically an organ garden.

Stop taking our jobs, poor people.

My kid’s boredom trumps your kid’s hunger: Haunting Teen Unemployment Rate

So, this douchebag wants the minimum wage to stay low, so people will hire kids, so he doesn’t have to deal with his kids over the summer.

You know who actually needs these jobs more than your twat kids? People trying to support their twat kids. People with fucking degrees and student loans. People who bought into the whole “go to college so you don’t end up flipping burgers your whole life” are taking all the burger flipping jobs. Because every job is in demand – including the shitty ones.

And if you keep the minimum wage low, your kid is still unlikely to get the job. You know why? Because the adult who needs it is still there. Because at any wage, the adult that needs to take this job because there isn’t anything else is still a more attractive prospect than a kid who is literally just there for lack of something better to do. But now the adult has to take two minimum wage jobs because they go for $7.50/hr instead of $15.

nnnhhrrr, hrrmble muurrmble frrmble YOO ESS AYYYYayay!

Hung out at the nursing home this evening with my mom to watch fireworks. On tv. Because fuck everything about downtown Columbus this evening.

It may be that something of the atmosphere was lost by not being downtown1, but the fireworks were unimpressive. I wanted to say it was just explosions set to music, but that implies more attention to detail than was given in this case. It was just explosions while at the same time music was happening, with no apparent relationship between the two events.

After a ten minute patriotism megamix2, the music stopped, and a generically enthusiastic voice booms out “Now it’s time for the grand finale, brought to you by Marathon Oil!”. At which point the pyrotechnicians presumably just started blasting skyward whatever rockets and snap bangs they could lay hands on as quickly as possible. The end result of this was a cloud of smoke illuminated here and there by the now hidden display.

 

Artistry? Fuck no. This is ‘murrca. Excess.

 

Before the fireworks there was Master Chef eliminations3, Big Brother4 and we watched Egypt collectively fire their president. People getting voted off the Island left and right tonight.

 

 

 

1And drunk.
2God Bless The USA might be the perfect patriotic song – especially for rallying a sort of generic patriotic fervor that has no specific direction. Lines like “Cause the flag still stands for freedom/And they can’t take that away” call out to your identity and suggest that someone means to take it from you. It provokes a defensive mindset with the threat of the ever-present “they”. The others. You know the ones. The ones that are not like you. The ones that hate you just because they are jealous of how awesome you are, and freedom and shit.
3Macaroons are apparently the litmus test of the baking world.
4The fact that my schizophrenic mom likes the show Big Brother makes me smile my small “I shouldn’t be smiling at this” smile.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_in_the_USA_(song)

It’s not that there isn’t enough. It’s that there are so many who cannot pay.

Spotted recently, loitering in the vicinity of taxes and healthcare reform:

embarrassedmillionaires

I used an image quote because I never stopped to appreciate how awesome John Steinbeck’s hair was. Also, the look in his eyes sort of reminds me of this sloth who is flabbergasted at what unrelenting asshats people can be sometimes.
 
The words of others are wide open to interpretation (most especially in their absence), but I suspect this is in the ballpark.

“Look, fucktards, unless you have like, eleventy billion dollars*, all the socialesque programs and high-earner taxes probably won’t be affecting you.  You are not wealthy, and you probably never will be. You are not in the same socio-economic class of people whose right to decadence you are defending.”

Those who strive for the power that obscene wealth brings do not wish to assist you, that is anathema to them. And I am not talking about wealth in the sense of abundance. Wealth in this context is not a bountiful land of plenty with enough for all who are willing to put in an honest day’s work.

 
Wealth in this context is money.

 
Money is the thing which governs access to the resources people need. There may in fact be abundance, but without the tokens representing units of purchasing power, it is out of your reach.
 

Money obscures the relationship between the needs of the people and the actual available resources. Keeping the focus on the money can make it feel as though a shortage of money is synonymous with a shortage of resources. This notion grants money unwarranted influence, because so many people fail to understand that it is a made up thing.
 

A promissory note was shorthand to facilitate people actually getting what they needed when barter wasn’t working out. It used to represent something else of value that was perhaps not immediately accessible or just really inconvenient to carry around. Like, “You give me some food, or a place to stay, and I’ll give you this note that says you can have this something else which is held in trust by a mutually acknowledged third party.” It was understood that, in exchange for some item, you were effectively handing over the deed to some other item of approximately equal value.

 
A dollar (for example) is now just a note. It basically represents how awesome everyone else in the world thinks America is. It is a permission slip backed by popularity that you use to gain access to resources which may or may not actually be scarce. If it is just a stack of tokens used to move resources around, then perhaps we should try to understand that it is a bad idea to let a few greedy processes sit on the whole goddamn stack. Otherwise, money ceases to be a useful tool for the people to get what they need, and becomes a useful tool for the powerful to remain powerful. Money becomes a metric by which you may evaluate the amount of control you have over your fellow man.

 

Further, money loses all meaning if we ever reach a point where there is just . . . enough. For everyone, everywhere, enough of whatever we were previously willing to spend money to get. Money is only useful if resources or distribution methods are limited. If money ceases to be useful, professions that revolve around managing money will similarly cease to be useful. People who are powerful because they wield vast wealth will cease to be powerful.

 

Those that gather power to the detriment of all others do not want to give it up, and they do not want you to join them. The whole point for them is use the power they have to shape the world to their liking. They like you right where you are. Why? Because personalizing the world to your taste is a large task, and plebs are fucking needed.

 

But I digress. My original purpose here was to point out that, if we are going to call on Steinbeck to highlight issues of economy and society, there are far better quotes. (All from The Grapes of Wrath)

Regarding tweaking resources for the sake of profit.

“Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people come for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges if they could drive out and pick them up? And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges… A million people hungry, needing the fruit – and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains.
And the smell of rot fills the country.
Burn coffee for fuel in the ships… Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them…
And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates – died of malnutrition – because the food must be forced to rot.”

 
Regarding the disconnect between the elite and common society:

One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car creaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a single tractor took my land. I am alone and bewildered. And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another
family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squat on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlarge of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here “I lost my land” is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate–“We lost our land.” The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first “we” there grows a still more dangerous thing: “I have a little food” plus “I have none.” If from this problem the sum is “We have a little food,” the thing is on its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It’s wool. It was my mother’s blanket–take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning–from “I” to “we.”

If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin, were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into “I,” and cuts you off forever from the “we.”

 

Regarding . . . I’m not entirely sure. The limits of man. Dawning understanding that you have been taken for a fool. Indignation. Revenge. All of the above.

. . . and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

 
I am deeply grateful to the teacher who assigned this to me as summer reading. It altered the way I viewed the world. It made me angry and sad in ways I had not yet experienced. I guess that was the point. Well played, 10th grade American literature teacher.
 
It also prompted one of the first conversations I had with my grandfather where he made no pretense at behaving as an authority figure, and I managed to listen without being an impudent little shit. I feel like it has to be some mark of adulthood when you are able to consider your parents (or grandparents) as actual human beings on their own terms, and not just who they are in terms of you.

 

*estimate
http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-taxes.php
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/economy-politics-must-serve-man-pope-tells-g8-president/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/03/01/how-will-obamacare-affect-your-tax-bill/
http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-03-25/business/fl-strawberries-rot-20100325_1_parkesdale-farms-berries-farmers
http://www.milkeninstitute.org/publications/publications.taf?function=detail&ID=38801012&cat=PBriefs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_money
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodity_money
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_money

Status Update

So, I had a job interview recently at this place: Netsmart. It is possible that I applied at this place just because I feel the name settles in nicely with the likes of TruSecure and Cybertrust, which are company names already on my resume. If I get hired there, it will be like I have collected a set of something, like a trilogy. Or an evolved pokemon.

In related news, I am no longer working at Cisco. I was unhired due to the recent workforce restructuring. Not to worry though, the job offers are already rolling in.

I freaked out for about five minutes when I got an email from my boss saying she happened to be in town and wanted to take the opportunity for a face to face meeting – historically this is the sort of thing which precedes a firin’.

I didn’t really feel much loss connected with leaving the job itself, and I have to wonder if that has to do with the way I worked. I did not go to an office very often, as Cisco is good enough to allow employees the option to work from home. Pretty much all interaction with my co-workers was via email and chat. So not a whole lot has been different, except I have 10-12 hours a day free that I did not before. I have become quite skilled at Starcraft. And by skilled, I mean competent. I’m not ready for the Korean league or anything.

Also, a fat severance package has a somewhat calming effect on the nerves.

I saw a couple of articles like this one encouraging former employees not to sign the general release required for the severance package:

” . . . the severance amount may not be sufficiently paying you for what you are releasing. Consider the resources, the lack of work life balance, the time you have dedicated to Cisco. Is the severance fair?”

Maybe I should have sued?


What would I even do for a year in Canada?

No, probably not.

While there was often a lack of work/life balance, I imagine there was at least a chance that I could have alleviated that had I bothered looking for another job. I doubt being too lazy to explore career alternatives is reasonable grounds for a lawsuit.

Anyway, job searching is on hold for the week for jury duty, since a job interview is not a valid reason to miss a day. That seems reasonable if you have already been selected for a case, but thus far I have just been taking up space in the jury pool. So, instead of going to a job interview this morning, I watched half of a shitty movie that kinda looked like a remake of The Great Outdoors. It had Adam Sandler and the fat guy from King of Queens in it.

My old phone contract went away with my old job. This required a new number and fresh 2 year commitment to Verizon. It also provided me with an opportunity to snag a new phone. However, any phone that looks even a little bit like it might have a touch screen requires a data plan at this point – except this one:

Everyone seems to hate this phone – and as it was originally marketed, that’s totally understandable. It’s a phone with no apps or other significant smartphone features, but they tried to attach the same data plan required for say, a Droid. It was billed as a smartphone for teens, and so was not supposed to need all the apps. It was instead meant to integrate with social sites, such that you would more often be checking your friends’ Facebook status and uploading pictures with this phone, rather than texting or calling people.

I would not have paid $150 plus data plan for this phone. It did seem to be a pretty excellent deal at $0 and no data plan, so I think they have found the sweet spot, pricewise. And the phone itself has a decent amount of hardware features, it’s just that they are not used for anything in particular. It has wi-fi, which was the biggest reason for getting it. It also has a GPS chip (used for geotagging in one iteration of the OS). Here are the full specs, if anyone is interested: KIN Hardware Specs.

So, it’s like they’re basically expecting you to install a new OS on it, right?

Where are the three seashells?

This might be the most ridiculous thing ever.



I know I’ll sleep better knowing that the wealthy relieve themselves in total comfort. On a balcony, apparently. And why not? Because if you’re the sort of asshole that buys a $6400 toilet, you are probably the sort of asshole that thinks you are being benevolent by allowing the plebs to witness your morning shit.

At least the money isn’t going to social programs.

Oh hey, did you know they made Atlas Shrugged into a movie?



Call of Duty: Black Ops (plus bonus rambling)

Pizza guy is my favorite.



Was it racist to assume that the cook was a pizza guy? I did base the assumption on his swarthy appearance. Also, the look on the chubby girl’s face is quite possibly the most adorable thing ever.

Before anyone gets an anal cramp about all the guns, I realize that this commercial basically appeals to the worst aspects of human nature. Most of them do. It just so happens that we derive most of what we consider to be fun from our less noble impulses. Here are some other things that you might enjoy while playing this game:



Ok, everything in that image isn’t totally fair. The Devil in Miss Jones was a decent examination of how human beings more or less decide on their own suffering. The movie actually cautions against being preoccupied with selfish impulses, because that is what ultimately damns the soul. I would comfortably say that it is worthy of the label “art” – much more so than many mainstream movies.

Speaking of the damned, I started playing Dante’s Inferno yesterday. The game clearly takes some liberties with the plot. For example, I don’t think Dante was a soldier fighting in the Crusades. Nor do I remember the part where he tames a rancor and rides it around hell.

Artistic license aside, the game is a lot of fun. It is graphically impressive and plays like Devil May Cry: Here’s a room full of enemies for your ridiculously huge sword or gun or swordgun to chew through. Attain combo points. Smash benches and jars to retrieve glowing currency orbs. Finish your enemies with a sweet quick time event.

Dante’s Inferno also has a light side/dark side point system – or holy/unholy in this case. The type of points you get to purchase powers is determined by whether you choose to punish lost souls or absolve them. However, while thematically fitting, I’m not 100% sure Dante would have the authority to do that. Also, being absolved looks a lot like being stabbed in the face with a cross.

The most awesome thing I’ve seen in the game so far is in the circle of Lust. There is a screaming maelstrom in which souls are trapped, eternally at the mercy of the winds of desire. As you approach it, the sound of wind begins to clarify into the moans and gasps of the lustful. The effect is subtle and seamless and fairly creepy. Though for some reason still way less creepy than limbo, where you have unbaptized babies crawling out of a flaming womb and dragging themselves over to you on their little blade arms.