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/

Reductio ad militum

I made a little something for the people that like to play the “troops” card. You know, the ones who pop up in conversations unrelated to the military to basically bitch about the fact that the conversation is not about the military.

These discussions typically involve praising someone for courage or expressing sympathy for a hardship. Or maybe even suggesting that we ought to readjust the system so people can afford to buy food and heat and other luxuries. Just trivial non-military bullshit, you know?

Until some patriot, some . . . true American, stepped in, people didn’t even know they were supposed to be talking about the troops. Thankfully, there always seems to be someone on hand to remind us that it is impossible to have experienced hardship, let alone faced that hardship with anything like bravery, unless you have watched your friends die around you in battle. Thank you, thank you for reminding us all that the best way to deal with problems is by refusing to acknowledge them because they are not literally the worst problem that anyone has faced, ever. I understand now that nothing has meaning until it can be framed in the context of the unrelenting horror of war. To have even one conversation that does not acknowledge that is the exact same thing as attacking the troops directly. It is utterly disrespectful of their sacrifice.

I apologize for using the word sacrifice. I . . . I have no idea what it means. Did I use it right?

Only those that died in battle deserve a living wage.

Only those that died in battle deserve a living wage.

What rankles me the most about the people that pull this shit is that they really think they are supporting the troops. They’re not doing anything to support the troops. They’re not advocating for the troops to have better conditions, they just want you to shut up about yours.

They are doing the exact same thing to the troops as the people who send them to war in the first place – using them to support their agenda. They only ever bring it up to counter a discussion about something they already find distasteful.

Like, they don’t want to hear about someone coming out as gay or having gender reassignment being brave, but they certainly don’t bust out the pictures of bloody soldiers when every goddamn parent starts talking about how brave their kid was at the dentist.

What if it’s made in China?

What if I take a photograph of a flag and set that on fire? Is that offensive? Or what if I draw a picture of a flag, and then burn that?

What if I draw a picture of the flag on fire?

What if I took a photograph of a flag on my phone, then deleted it, but using an app that deletes things with a fire animation?

What if I burn these socks? Or this lawn chair? Or this thong.

What if I burn this pizza, but didn’t mean to and just had my oven up too high?

What if the motor overheats in this super patriotic vibrator and it catches fire? Did I hate America by loving America?

For most of us, it makes a lot more sense than a harvest festival.

Profile photo of Jessica

Make Election Day a Holiday

I was discussing this earlier today after having a look at this site:

http://www.whytuesday.org/

Rather than move it to a weekend, just make it a holiday. No working on election day, you have a civic duty to perform. Followed by festivities, because having a voice in your government is something that was hard won, and ought to be respected and celebrated.

Michelle Bachmann has gone full retard.

Michelle Bachmann has gone full retard.

On Wednesday – the day before she helped kill her party’s border bill, and two days before she helped write its alternative – Bachmann appeared on a right-wing radio show. “Now President Obama is trying to bring all of those foreign nationals, those illegal aliens to the country and he has said that he will put them in the foster care system,” she said. “That’s more kids that you can see how – we can’t imagine doing this, but if you have a hospital and they are going to get millions of dollars in government grants if they can conduct medical research on somebody, and a Ward of the state can’t say ‘no,’ a little kid can’t say ‘no’ if they’re a Ward of the state; so here you could have this institution getting millions of dollars from our government to do medical experimentation and a kid can’t even say ‘no.’ It’s sick”.

I like how she qualifies it with “we can’t imagine doing this, but . . .”

Yes, yes you can imagine it, Michelle Bachmann, because you did imagine it. You imagined it. This idea sprang from YOUR heart and mind, not a liberal agenda. You are the one that can’t imagine any reason to take in and care for children that doesn’t involve profiting from them.

You imagined it, and it caused that feeling of righteous indignation to swell within you, spreading the delicious warm glow of superiority to flood through your system.

Because of that, you knew just tossing it out there like it is the only rational reason would fucking work, because you know your marks are going to do the same thing. They will hear it, the red haze descends and rational thought gets shouted down while emotional reaction thrashes and roars. You know you don’t have to provide any evidence because you know you won’t be asked for any by the people to whom you are speaking.

Fuck you, you manipulative, deplorable sow.

I dislike resorting to name calling, I apologize for that last bit. As well as this next one.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/dy7kb5ABsyk&w=500]

Isn’t every reboot and reinterpretation just fanfic anyway?

They are all just attempts to view a story through a new lens – this is how we process culture.

http://glamdamnit.tumblr.com/post/55713093884/my-sister-asked-if-the-events-of-the-labyrinth

Originally spotted here:

http://io9.com/this-amazing-labyrinth-fan-created-backstory-just-blew-978028657

Should this dude have just written his own original story? Maybe. But we do seem to love a new take something old. It’s no secret that humans crave novelty, but there also a strong need for a thread of the familiar to clue us in on how to interpret what we are seeing. Consider how much people enjoy remakes. And remixes. And makeovers. And cross-overs. It’s like, “Ok, I am really familiar with this character, but what if they were in this situation or what if they met this person? Or what if we took this story and made it darker and edgier.”

I would guess it has to do with the underlying mechanisms we use to model new situations based on previous experiences (such as dreaming or fantasizing). Or the way in which we work backwards to try to figure out something that has already happened – by speculating on what may have happened and comparing against evidence/experience currently available to us. We are essentially checking to see how tightly or loosely it “maps” to what we already know or expect.

I wonder if something about the novelty to familiarity ratio determines how “good” something is perceived to be. Or how well it maps back to what you compare it to. That has got to be something that would be entirely based on the individual. Possibly on how willing they would be to re-evaluate a concept they are using as the basis for understanding novel concepts.

For example, if my beliefs are heavily steeped in religious tradition, I might be unwilling to accept new information that contradicts what I understand – the new information does not map tightly enough back to my own beliefs. If my beliefs say “do not try to reinterpret your beliefs”, it will probably not occur to me to try to map back the other way using the new information to reinterpret . . . basically everything that constitutes my understanding of the world.

Also, if I too readily abandon my beliefs in favor of novel information, I become sort of naive or not very trusting in my own understanding. I might be more willing to try to acknowledge every single idea as valuable and believe you should never tell anyone they are wrong. My head would be a constant swirl of re-evaluation, and I might never get anything done because WHO EVEN KNOWS WHAT IS WORTH DOING?

Is this basically the difference between conservatives and liberals?

I have an opinion on the royal child.

Royals, I am disappointed in you for not using your wealth and influence to to craft a genetically modified heir.  Like lizard eyes or telekinesis or wings or something.

Like, if you took the child to the palace balcony, held him aloft over the masses all Lion King and shit, and fire began lance out of his eyes at anyone who dared to look directly at him, that can go on the news.  As it stands, it’s just another shitting, squalling infant. Those are everywhere.

Your family keeps appearing in channels I go to for actual news. I sought no knowledge about your baby, that knowledge was inflicted on me. If I have to know about this shit, I feel that I am owed entertainment value commensurate with the attention drop required to power your sense of self worth.

And don’t act like I have suggested something horrible. “Keeping the bloodline pure” was still genetic engineering, even if it was just code for “my cousins are hot”.

Whore’s Uniform

This is not about all men. This is about men given to a particular kind of attitude toward women.

I think this is something that stuck with me, because the first time I saw it, I thought he had a point. Because I thought it was a good point, I shared it with others. In the process of doing that, I realized how stupid it is.



Yes, I realize this was a bit of standup comedy, and maybe I shouldn’t take it so seriously. However, part of what makes comedy good is the commentary it provides – a keen sense of the difference between the way society tends to understand things and the way things actually are. It is a way of understanding things from a different perspective. In this case, it seems like a perspective that makes a very comfortable transition to the one held by this guy – The Death of Pretty.

The whole concept of a “whore’s uniform” is basically bullshit, because the definition of whore’s uniform is dependent on factors ranging from the overall existing standard to the personal tastes of the individual making an evaluation. Now, I think what these two men are trying to describe is something along these lines:

wu04

But maybe they meant this:

wu06

So the problem is essentially this:

If the standard is a skirt that just hits the top of your knees, a miniskirt marks you as a whore.
If the standard is ankle length skirts, a skirt that stops at mid-calf marks you as a whore.
If the standard is a burqa . . . well, you can probably see where I’m going with this by now.

If you didn’t find that very useful, I made this non-intuitive graphic to help.

HOOOOOOOERS

The brain is (in part at least) a comparison engine. It is tuned for noticing differences. When something is different – when it stands out against a backdrop of uniformity, we want to examine it. We want to know what the significance of that difference is. We want to know what it means.

Meaning is important to us – it is how we learn to interpret and navigate the world. It is also how we reconcile our impulses with the world.

You are born into the world wanting things. The world abruptly begins to tell you which wants are ok, and where and when it is permissible to satisfy them. This is important to us, because we are conditioned to be social creatures. We look for social cues from others of our own kind to let us understand how to satisfy our urges without stepping on someone else’s toes and getting banished from the village.

However, the impulses we have do not self-regulate. The old wyrm coiled at the center of your brain does not want its fair share. It just wants. Forever. So you reign it in most of the time, while keeping an eye out for when it it’s ok to  . . . indulge.  We are always looking for the special occasion – the little mini-vacation from dealing with the stress of considering others. When is ok to eat or drink to satiety? When is it ok sleep in? When is it ok to not work? When is it ok to express the fullness of my emotional state?

What situation makes it ok to see to my urges without bothering about how other people feel about it?

Sexual urges are no different – except in this case, you are not merely using up resources, such that another person cannot use them. You are not merely burdening someone else with an unfair share of work. You are using a person directly as the resource which satisfies your urges.

I get the impression that the difficulty some men have with women is inability to reconcile then notion of a woman as a person with rights, and the feeling of a woman as a resource capable of satisfying an urge1. If a man has strong sexual urges towards women, and also understands that you must generally respect the wishes of other people, then he is likely to try to find the situation where a woman can be considered not in terms of her person-nature, but in terms of her resource-nature. When is she saying that she is not to be respected as a person? What signal can I look for that tells me I am free to indulge.

Restrictive dress standards do not exist to protect women from objectification. They exist to protect the right of men to objectify some women.

Suppose you are an average male who is attracted to women. Let’s suppose also, that you have something in your system of beliefs that causes you to have a negative attitude about sex. Like you think sex is really bad, or something terrible will happen to you for wanting it or thinking about it. You are still subject to these desires even though you also feel that it is bad. You may feel a twinge of anger directed at the perceived source of your frustrations. Around that same time, your mind is furiously working out a way to relieve the stress your body is under in a way that won’t provoke so much cognitive dissonance that your mind breaks. You probably begin to see all the little ways in which females must be intentionally trying to manipulate you into feeling this way. And what right does she have to make you feel this way, after all, without expecting anything to happen to her? Why should she be so powerful?

Designating someone else as not deserving of respect is a psychological get out of jail free card for people like this. It is a way to carve out a place in both the mind and society where it is safe and acceptable to feel what they are feeling without the negative emotional state that occurs when you have the sense that you have done something wrong. The more restrictive the standard, the greater freedom there is for a man to interpret a garment (or lack thereof) as an invitation to use her as a resource, rather than respect her as a person. It makes it feel like the woman has given consent simply by not adhering to the standard. Or it removes a man’s sense of guilt because he was provoked into a reaction that “couldn’t be helped”2.

And if you feel that all of the above is reasonable, again, do be aware that interpretations vary on what slutty is.



 
 

 

 

1I also get the very strong impression that, when these sorts of men say that women have too much power, they are referring at least in part to resource control. As in, women (people) have too much control over women (resource).
2This probably also explains a lot of the homophobia that seems prevalent within the same demographic. Not just the dudes who hate the object of their own closeted desires either. Some straight dudes just have a very violent reaction to being evaluated (sexually speaking) by another dude. I suspect that the reason may lay in their own understanding of the weight of the male gaze. There is an implicit moral judgement within it. As if a gay man is saying “I am looking at you because you have done something wrong, and because it’s your own fault, I can use you.”
But honestly, wtf do I know. I have a vagina.
I obviously pulled a bunch of pictures and shit from the internet, so I don’t want to claim them as my own. However, I forget where I got most of them, so I will just credit Internet.

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)