Howl

Tonight the coyotes are howling in response to nearby sirens.

One sounds like it’s about 50 feet from the back door. Since wolves and mountain lions are gone in these parts – and most parts – they have taken over as the top predator.

Well, kind of. Alligators here in Florida are the top predator, but those mostly stick near water. Everywhere else, it’s the coyotes.

Sterility

I just don’t think human relationships can be made as sterile and antiseptic as many people seem to wish they could be.

Using one’s authority in improper ways is obviously bad, but lately it seems that any showing of human emotion in even intimate relationships (and if you think a mentor/mentee relationship isn’t intimate, well, you’re wrong) is absolutely verboten.

If I notice this, being fairly emotionless about most things, then it must be really bad out there. I understand, though, that it is a reaction to past and present very real abuses.

Yes, it is bad for male or female professors to harass their students. Etc.

I think where I differ or at least where I lack fear is I don’t much care about my so-called “career.”

I would burn it to the fucking ground for someone I truly cared about in an instant. If I loved someone, or even to help them if they needed it, I would not give a single shit about what anyone else thought or any rules in place.

The difference is, I wouldn’t do it to get my jollies as some vile scumbags seem to do, but denying that human emotions exist (gasp!) even at work is fucking daft, in my opinion.

That’s why I am dangerous, I guess. My principles are non-negotiable, irrational, and I’m not easily cajoled, threatened or bought out. That is a privilege I have for various reasons, but even when I didn’t have jack shit it was still true.

It’s why I got in so very many fights when I was a kid.

In other words, I will go along to get along, but I’d rather die than violate my core principles

Projection

Looks like for the project we’re about to do that I keep cryptically alluding to on the site, we’re about to get fucked over by Obamacare.

No surprise – it was always designed to fork more money over to insurance companies. That’s the only reason it became law; it was a bug, not a feature, that it helped anyone at all. That was absolutely incidental, no matter what Obama intended. That my fellow liberals act all rapturous about the ACA disgusts me since it’s such a corporate handout.

For us, given the amount of money we have vs. the yearly fine vs. the risk of of a bankrupting injury at this point it’d make sense to just pay the fine and pay any doctor’s expenses out of pocket since we can afford everything but, say, a kidney transplant and the like.

That’s a risk/reward scenario a lot of people our age are making now, and that’s how it’s going to come out for many of them.

Smart

Why are so many Americans so worried that someone might be smarter than they are, or as it usually is put, “acting smart?”

There are millions and millions of people smarter than me. So what? Why do Americans have such a problem with that? It seems some sort of weird pathology that is peculiarly American in my experience.

People said what they liked about George W. Bush is that he seemed like a regular guy they could have a beer with. That’s not who I want to be president. I want the smartest and most clever damn person we can dig up.

I guess I am just not smart enough to understand this oddity.

Toil

I’ve been using Firefox since it was called Phoenix, and it was at version 0.3 back in 2002.

Over a decade now. Sad to see it going down the toilet, catering only to users who can’t find their start menu with both hands, the assistance of two IT people and a laser pointer directed right at it.

But that’s what’s happening. I do most of my personal projects using Firefox or working in it in some way – those that don’t make some use of Firefox involve photography, mostly.

There really isn’t an alternative, either, as Chrome is a privacy-thieving, slow*, uncustomizable piece of gutter crud.

I just downloaded Phoenix 0.3 and fired it up in an XP VM. Most pages, unsurprisingly, don’t work very well, or at all. Here’s my blog for instance:

image

Still, it was so much better than anything else at the time. Is a bit disappointing and sad to see Mozilla catering to the LCD for no reason, as there already is Chrome.

*Slow with add-ons that actually do anything useful, like block ads, etc.

Adulthood

I was an adult since I was about 10. Maybe 12 at the latest. I was certainly wiser, smarter and more able to reflect on my own situation and life than the adults around me even when I was that young.

Perhaps that is because I grew up in rural North Florida (very much a part of the Old South, and all that entails), or perhaps it was something inherent in me and it would’ve been true anywhere; I don’t know. What I do know is that I was an adult, wiser than almost all of those around me, from around 10 years old.

So it bothers me when I see statements like, “Oh, she/he is only 22 – still a baby.” Or asserting that college students are still children.

Completely idiotic I find that sort of thinking.

Wages

About the piece I wrote below discussing compensation, I don’t think my job is special. In a sane world, jobs would be compensated based on unpleasantness and difficulty.

I don’t feel like faffing about in Excel to make pretty graphs, but here’s what I am talking about.

For instance, take a job like I do*. On an ascending 1-10 scale, I’d give it a difficulty of 8.5 and an unpleasantness rating of 6.

But on the other hand, take a job like janitor*. I’d give it a difficulty of 5 and an unpleasantness rating (for most people) of 9.5.

In a fairer world, say if an IT person makes $100,000 a year (for a nice round number), a janitor would make about the same amount or more due to the more unpleasant nature of the job pushing it up the salary scale.

I’d be perfectly fine with a janitor making $120,000 while I made $100,000. Seems about right to me.

Same for fast food workers. It’s about the equivalent in unpleasantness as being a janitor in my view – maybe worse. Personally, there is no amount you could pay me to be a fast food worker so each one clearing $120,000 a year sounds fine to me.

Don’t tell me that this is impossible. How economies are arranged is a choice. That the above will never happen is irrelevant. There is nothing in nature or economics preventing any of this. You can arrange societies and economies in a vastly different number of ways and still have them function.

Read some history if you do not believe this.

And it’s also worth noting that our society is vastly more wealthy than it was in 1960 when pay was more fair. We can afford to compensate everyone fairly, we just choose not to. (Later, I will probably go into a rant about how much I hate the “inevitable forces of history” teleological explanation for everything.)

That people cannot imagine another way doesn’t mean there cannot be another way.

*My former job as a proofreader, I’d give it a difficulty (for me) of 2 and unpleasantness of 1. It was a very easy, very pleasant job, as jobs go.

**I have never been a janitor, but I have been in the US army. Approximately 50% of the tasks you do in the first year or so is some variant of janitorial work.

Reason

I can’t think of any reason in the universe that any one person ever needs to make more than a million dollars a year.

There just aren’t any, the practical enforceability of that limitation aside. If a million a year isn’t enough to motivate you to do something, it probably isn’t worth doing – meaning that only extremely unethical or sociopathic people are likely to do what’s necessary to exceed that threshold.

I don’t think however that everyone should make the same amount. Some jobs are objectively harder than others. Being an IT generalist in a fast-growing, acquisition-based company is much harder than being a proofreader and that should be reflected in compensation.

I know, by the way, because I’ve held both jobs. If I could make what I make now by being a proofreader I’d go be a proofreader again in a damn second. Without even a thought about it other than concentrating on how fast I can get the word “Yes” out of my mouth.

Conversely, if I were to make what I made as a proofreader now, I’d quit immediately. It just would not be worth it in any way.

So from personal experience I can tell you that compensation does matter, but I think it ceases mattering somewhere probably around 500K a year given how human nature seems to work.

Current conditions

It’s Sunday and I am too lazy to link to the numerous studies which show this to be the case, but it is amazing how current conditions – even for adults – cause them to change their perceptions of how the world should be, and always has been.

I’m old enough – just barely – to remember when it was really, really easy to get a job.

Like, you pretty much showed up and you had a job.

I got out of the army in the late ’90s. Literally the first place I interviewed at hired me. I worked at an internet startup for a little while as a copywriter who did some tech work on the side. The company seemed doomed so I only worked there a few months. (It was doomed – went out of business a short time later.)

I had another job in a few days. Etc. That never happens now.

I have a great deal more experience now than I did then, so finding jobs for me is still relatively easy. But when I got out of the army many companies considered me to have no experience at all (even though this wasn’t true) and still hired me anyway.

You just cannot find that today.

The world of work has changed so much that at least in most people’s minds the old world where finding a job was fairly easy has been completely expurgated and retrogressively replaced with the new steady state of spending months even getting interviews.

I find it odd that even people who lived when jobs were plentiful and easy seem to have forgotten that time. But this seems to be how most human minds work. I recall that other world, though, where finding a job was frequently as easy as just showing up with a pulse.

I was wrong

I was wrong about this.

Strangely, Gravity helped to change my thinking. It and Stone in the movie reminded me of the many interesting and awesome women I’ve met over the years who deserve a fair chance. That’s what art can do, and does best – changes your thinking. If it doesn’t, it’s not art.

(And I will never understand those who claim that movies and TV shows are not and cannot be art.)

I think I was mostly reacting to the fact that I am for radical equality, and even though I understand and agree with why as a male I am always looked at with more suspicion and distrust than I personally deserve, there is a good reason for that – women have to manage risk as well. And many more risks than I do, at least in daily life.

Something else I was reacting to is something that most women probably aren’t aware of, because just like sexual and street harassment for men, most women never, ever see it.

I’ll illustrate by a specific example, though this happened more than once.

I used to be in charge of night shift production at a company. I hired people. Quite a few people as it was a high turnover type of job (not because it was terrible, but it was monotonous and hard). One time we were looking for another staff member. I interviewed a few people. I had wanted to hire an older woman – probably 60 – for the job, but she ended up not accepting.

So I hired my second choice, who was also perfectly qualified for the role. Unlike my first choice, however, she was a strikingly attractive, tall blonde woman.

The very first time someone saw who I’d hired, he came up to me and said, “Man, it’s good to be king” and walked off.

Everyone, everyone — even the other women on my team – assumed I’d hired her just for her looks. Never mind that she was good at her job and very diligent.

Yes, that absolutely sucks for her and I didn’t realize how much beauty can be a curse until then (though, on balance, it’s better to beautiful than not I’d wager) which was just another difficulty in her life she had to deal with.

But from the other side, when as a male you show interest in and hire an attractive woman, even if it’s just to hire for for a job, you are assumed by your male peers and many if not most women to be doing it for the worst of reasons. That is, to attempt to sleep with her.

It gets old. And if I were a less stubborn dude, maybe it would have made me question even my own hiring decisions.

My post was a reaction to everything – right or wrong – that I could possibly do as a male being questioned for motive* by everyone all the time. I was just trying to avoid it. But I don’t really think there is any avoiding it, for women or for men, at least not until there is a better world.

I still don’t have any good answers. I want to treat my female colleagues exactly the same as my male ones. But society in general makes that difficult if not impossible.

But I’ve done difficult things all my life, and ill-advised ones, too. Why stop now?

*This is not a normative statement – this is just a fact that it is done.