Oct 20


Seeing more and more help desk jobs ads that require a computer science degree.Julian_Onderdonk_-_Early_Spring—Bluebonnets_and_Mesquite_-_Google_Art_Project

For help desk.

For those not familiar with IT, that’s like requiring a master’s degree in international relations to work at Hollister.

Or requiring a degree in chemical engineering to be a short order cook.

Help desk is a difficult job. But it’s not all that intellectually challenging. I know – I used to do it. It requires mainly patience and self-control and a little bit of research skills.

Fastidious fifth graders could do the average help desk job. Probably better than many adults, actually.

When every job requires a PhD and 10 years of experience, what then?

Oct 20

Pyrite Bray

The first comment on Google censoring their search results really said it best.

Censorship in the name of privacy bad. Censorship in the name of corporate interests good.


Google is one of the few companies who actually would have the power to tell the RIAA and MPAA to get lost. But that it might temporarily reduce profits 1% makes that untenable.

By the way, entire domestic movie industry revenue, 2013: $10.9 billion

Entire domestic music industry revenue, 2013: $7 billion

Google revenue, 2013: $57.86 billion

In short, Google alone is 3.2 times larger than the entire US music and movie industry combined.

So, yep, it is a choice to censor and yep, it’s also a bad one.

How the people who make this decision live with it, I can’t even begin to imagine.

Oct 19

Dystopia Now

This is the sort of dystopia I’m talking about that we are building right now.1285008623422576

Now, in many states, the law also extends to cover less well-defined knowledge, such as employee know-how, customer relations, and knowledge that is not used commercially. It gives firms control over employee knowledge that goes far beyond true trade secrets, reaching into basic knowledge that employees need to do their jobs. While most employers don’t push the limits of these powers, an increasing number have done so.

The combination of expanding trade-secret law and the growing use of employment contracts covering post-employment activity has a huge impact on the career trajectories of many workers.

The intent is to lock workers into one job, thus reducing salaries.

As for me, I will never sign a non-compete agreement. If one is suggested in an interview, I will walk right out the door (I’ve done it before).

There is little more thrilling in life I’ve found than when someone thinks they hold all the power over you and you get up in the middle of an interview and say, “Well, I am leaving now” and confidently stride out.

I’ve done that twice in my life.

I’ll probably do it again.

You might get the wrong impression from what you read here sometimes. In real life, I am very imagescourteous and accommodating to a fault — until there is no reason to be. Ignorant people take that for weakness. But I grew up being bullied. When I feel like someone is attempting to bully me, or going down that path, they are shocked at the change it causes in me. Then, I am done. Just done. No more chances.

I am lucky to be able to do that, walk out like that, or to tell someone to fuck off. I know that, so no need to remind me. But I use my luck, too, and refuse to be a punching bag.

And I’m a really good IT worker. Why be modest? I know I am good at what I do. Experience proves it. That companies beg me to stay when I resign proves it.

So, employers, some notice in advance: I will NEVER work for you if you make me sign a non-compete agreement. Salary is irrelevant. A million a year? NOPE. My self-respect and freedom is worth more to me than that.

I was talking with my girlfriend last night about how corporations these days have far more power over individuals than the government. Just another bit of evidence for that.

Oct 19


A society that decides the merit and worth of everything by its utility is not a good society.enigma-callie-fink

And yet that’s the sort of society we are choosing to live in – because it makes the rich richer, which has become the actual de facto goal of just about everything no matter what platitudes are mouthed on the news.

There’s evidence of this utilitarian focus everywhere: common core, diminishment of humanities studies, running universities as businesses, our mediocre budgets for arts, our disdain for fundamental research.

Nearly the entire flood of public-facing propaganda is designed to facilitate this as it busily informs us that if you aren’t directly in the service of making some rich white man richer, you are contemptible and have no reason to live.

Teacher? Parasite. Artist? Worthless. Research scientist? Garbage. Scholar? Shouldn’t get paid for doing something you love! Astronomer? Hope there is some hard currency on Alpha Centauri!

Perhaps a society can operate long-term like ours. Perhaps. But it won’t be a very joyful or interesting place to live.

People won’t read sf of dystopic fiction, and yet will resignedly live in such an environment with no complaint. I must say that fact does puzzle me.

Oct 17


I am not at all blaming those caught in this terrible situation as it’s a systemic problem and imagesdemands societal-level solutions, but I’m very mercenary when it comes to employment.

John Scalzi and I share the same mindset: Fuck you, pay me.

Again, it’s not these people’s fault they they are attempting to do something they probably love and are being exploited in the process.

However,  it’d only take me about a year doing that before my FYPM gene kicked in and I boogied on out of there.

It’s why I switched from being a proofreader to going into IT. Yeah, I like IT a lot but I loved proofreading and if that field paid as much as I can make in IT or even near it, I’d still be a proofreader or editor today. I wish in a better world I could’ve kept IT just as a hobby.

But check this out. I charge as much for my hourly rate as I made in an entire day as a proofreader.

That’s right. I can work for an hour now and make as much as my otherwise-great proofreading job.

Fuck you, pay me.

In an economy like ours, that’s the only way to do it. Have to be as mercenary up to the limits of your power as you can be.

Oct 17

Lost it

Re-watching the first few episodes of Lost, I realize again what makes a good TV show is more even than well-considered dialogue or plot, at least for me: it must spend time with its characters.

Not in the sense of even the direct interactions of the characters, or even the time spent on screen, but how the director holds the shot to reveal crucial information.

Too many directors, perhaps raised on the hyperactive jump-cut MTV video culture, cut the shot much too soon. That rarely happens in Lost. There is always some little flourish or grace note that reveals facets of a character that would be omitted from most TV shows and movies.

Being that it pervades each episode of the show through multiple directors, this must have been a diktat from the producers or show-runners.

And it really works. Lost would not have been really as good or as compelling without this. It’s one of the reasons Lost feels like Lost.

In many parts, it’s more like a play than a movie or show. It has such a different atmosphere for just this reason.

Oct 16


Apple just released a 27inch iMac with 220ppi, on a 5210×2880 screen.



That’ll be the best thing ever for reading on the desktop.

Apple basically said, you commoners, you can have your 4K. We’ll have 5K.

And to those who will inevitably say it is useless: I can use it, right now. Good fonts are really important to me. The high-PPI screen on my iPad changed my reading immensely. It is far far better than a physical book. The fonts are perfect.

This will do the same thing for the desktop.

Oct 16

Nigerian Pidgin

The poster below is in Nigerian Pidgin. Though it’s called Nigerian Pidgin, in this form it’s probably actually a creole.

I love this. Stuff like this makes a language geek high.

Don’t worry, I won’t geek out too much but the poster has one of my favorite language features and that is reduplicative intensification.

*takes off language geek hat partially*

The words “well well” are a good example with this. Especially tending to emerge from chimeras of languages that have very different intensifier formations, you’ll often see doubled words used as intensifiers. In this sense, it means “extremely well.”

I’ll often use reduplicative intensifiers in my own speech with people I know well. In the instances that I’ve accidentally done so in the presence of strangers or acquaintances, that hasn’t gone so well.

But check out the poster.


(Yes, this poster is real and yes it is an official language of Nigeria. And it’s also awesome.)

Oct 16


This is not hyperbole, though many people will describe it as such.point

It’s a fact that’s often been minimized, denied and made fun of, but in our society which runs foremost on information and access to it, the one who controls this information controls the society.

Absolutely self-evident, but people will quibble about it, not realizing or perhaps not wanting to realize out of mental self-protection just how much their life is ruled by this reality.

Which is exactly why the Comcast-Time Warner merger is so dangerous.

The pending acquisition of Time Warner cable would give Comcast control of almost half the cable television households in America. The pending destruction of net neutrality by the FCC would provide Comcast, the largest broadband provider in the United States, total control over the use of the Internet by the American public.

Yep. With more than 50% share, the baleful monstrosity that would be Comcast-Time Warner could and would dictate internet policy in the US.

What’s left of the free and open internet would be shredded posthaste.

Oct 15


When someone is described as a “small farmer” or self-describes that way, I picture Tinkerbell in overalls with a pitchfork.

English is very ambiguous.