Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

The Lessons of Vietnam (as applied ever since then)

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

1) Curtail civilian oversight and control of the military.

2) Deactivate the “draft” so that bourgeois youth are not obliged to fight in the U.S.’s wars.

3) Create a mercenary force of phony “volunteers” to do your dirty work, exploiting the desires of working class youth to rise socially, educationally, and economically.

4) Hire the actual professionals historically known as mercenaries to fight for you in illegal wars but call them contractors instead, since it sounds like a guy who installs your plumbing.

5. Lie better.

“We’re not environmentalists . . . we’re citizens.”

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Or here.

Who Will Tell Francis Fukuyama that History Is Back?

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

First, some NYPD violence:

Scenes from Rome, London, Berlin . . .

Even in Tampa, Florida:

New York, 14 October 2011:

A New York protester, Thorin Caristo, explains why he is there:

And Becky Wartell joins in:


The End of Growth

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

From Richard Heinberg and the Post Carbon Institute:

Or go here.

André the Giant Has a Resumé

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

My first employment: retail sales at Sears in the Toy and Garden departments; librarians’ assistant; construction crew punk; display carpenter.

Hospital attendant: hung out for forty hours a week with high-level retarded adult males, all ambulatory and capable of self-care, with all sorts of inservice training, but basically to be a paid friend to some of the all-time losers in this, the greatest country on earth. These guys have pretty much been forgotten in the Reagan and other revolutions — as people and as examples of life’s actual possibilities — and were forgotten by the state of Georgia once it had warehoused them out in Dunwoody. I was paid less than the garbage men in the city of Atlanta to do this work, and the garbage men went on strike the year I started. Remember that the next time some rich man starts talking about “volunteers” and “points of light” and other things that he feels should do dirty work for nothing. There were thick manuals of Policy and Procedure, and I had to know a lot about covering my ass in bureaucratese, but it was fun, mostly, to be with these guys, take them to the movies, go out for coffee, play dominoes, do the laundry, dye Easter eggs, and play around in woodshop, among other real activities that made up the better part of their lives (speaking qualitatively). The downside was the professionals, psychologists and psychiatrists intent on improving things and modifying behavior and, mainly, having interminable meetings in a “team” format, which, in practice, meant a handful of hourly employees doing what the professionals wanted done. Which usually resulted in a renewal of the retarded person’s six-month commitment to the institution. (They weren’t committed, in a legal sense, but they were definitely stuck, in a real sense.)

Janitor: aka, “maintenance man,” i.e., a janitor with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. There’s very little that professionals can, or will, do to fuck up this job, which resulted in my being left largely alone and unsupervised to do my work as I saw fit, with my own priorities and on my own schedule.

Circulation manager, copywriter, editor: these positions were held at a small publishing company located at a small airport in Atlanta. It was mickey-mouse from day one, and typical small business, i.e., accountable to no one, self-centered and egotistical in the extreme, and dishonest from start to finish.

The highlight of my time here came when a representative from the then-new company of Ashton-Tate showed up to demonstrate Dbase. The Big Boss, whom I shall call “Bud,” told us to tell the rep that we didn’t have time for his demo, but to leave the software and we’d check it out later; then, after he’d left, we were to copy it and the documentation; then report that we’d decided to pass on it. These instructions came the owner, a former member of the Georgia legislature (Republican, naturally), i.e., a member of the entitled (capitalist) class. We told him the software was copy-protected, since we weren’t in a mood to commit a felony for our fearless, selfish, and egomaniacal leader. Bud also had a rule that we couldn’t freelance for anybody. Usually, editors, etc. sign agreements not to freelance for any competing publications; but Bud considered that his employment was a sort of indentured servitude, and we wouldn’t have a life until we’d worked out our indebtedness to him, which consisted of — well, just being there was all the fun, n’est-ce pas? The unofficial slogan of the company was “Don’t tell Bud,” ’cause if he ever found out that his zillions were not made in accord with his Georgia Tech-induced delusions of efficiency and purpose, he’d — what? Pop a cork or something. Plus, I guess it’s horrible to have to witness a grown man lose all his boyhood illusions about himself. The company printed trade press about the real-estate business, which Bud was some sort of “expert” at, an expert being a gasbag who, on a regular basis, swindled other people into paying him big consulting fees. “Consulting” being the giving of rather obvious advice to people who have grown too sophisticated to any longer comprehend the obvious. The high spot of my editing career came when Bud wrote a story about his trip to the People’s Republic of China in which he employed the editorial we to say, “When we were in China, we were an avid tourist.” Indeed. I got fired from this job for tardiness, which Bud and his clone business manager referred to as absenteeism; the firing itself was done by a hatchet-man/editorial director who kept a quart of scotch in the bottom drawer of his desk. Cheers!

Associate editor: this was a couple of more years in trade press, this time about the regional air line business, i.e., those little airplanes that scare you half to death when you find out what “the Delta Connection” really means. This was a parody of Big Business worthy of the Marx Brothers. The company was publicly held, but no better than Bud’s little outfit. I noticed that these guys talked incessantly of “professionalism,” which they left conveniently undefined, and which had also been a particular obsession of Bud’s. Bud’s magazines were trade press also. Trade press magazines are given away for free to businessmen in “the trade” that the particular magazine “covers,” as part of an elaborate ruse to sell advertising in magazines that next to nobody reads. In other words, it’s like our economy, a fraud at worst, and at best, plain phony. The ‘zines themselves are relentlessly positive and upbeat, which taught me that businessmen are basically what we used to call, in high school, “pussies,” guys who can’t handle the bad news that they’re not going to have to pack when they die. This first impression has only been repeatedly proven correct in the long haul, most recently in the “Bailout” of those bold corporals of industry and finance who lost their shirts and came crying to the poor people, the squares and losers, to save their candy asses. Which we did. It’s this perpetual evasion of the tragic (“Don’t tell Bud”) that keeps the American ruling class in the kind of perpetual adolescence that inspired the Global War on Terror and other fantasies of potency. Example: the Big Boss at this trade press company fancied himself an economist. He predicted a major recession in 1986, and on the basis of this profound surmise, slashed the editorial budgets of all the magazines. The recession failed to materialize, and the Big Boss chewed us out at a big meeting, telling us that we’d have to put the magazines together without, for instance, the use of Scotch tape, “because it’s your job!” Of course, if he had done his job, instead of playing the high-up “economist,” we’d have been ok. But that would have meant he’d have had adequate self-esteem, in which case it would probably never occur to him to give away the work of his days for free, all the while blathering on about “professionalism.” I was late a lot here too, and the bosses all assumed I was drinking. The truth was I suffered from major depression and couldn’t sleep. I found this out two years after I left the company, when I began taking antidepressants and suddenly could sleep; but when I passed this along to my old editorial director, he didn’t believe me. What’s interesting in retrospect is the knowledge that I was one of the best staff there, tardy or not, though they used the tardiness as a convenient excuse to avoid giving me a raise. Like I said, adequate self-esteem is lacking in this part of the magazine “industry.”

Free-lance writing and programming: I did this for four years, starting out in writing (more trade press, computer documentation, and company “news” letters) and moving over gradually into more and more programming. This came to an end in ’91, when computing went into a kind of black hole from which emerged my next job, working for a publisher of medical newsletters. I programmed for nonprofits, which I prefer — they’re more realistic than businessmen because they are not-for-profit, as life itself is, and they also appreciate help when they get it, whereas businessmen tend to toward ingratitude, also known as “self-reliance.” The writing was more of what American business (and education) likes, i.e., pablum that regurgitates the orthodoxies of the day and job in a glib manner.

Programmer and editor, medical newsletters: this is where I learned that $1,000-a-year medical newsletters are no different from air line, real estate, or grocery business freebies. The low self-esteem is endemic, maybe throughout all business, but especially in publishing. The Big Boss hired me to be his systems administrator, but he relied on his parasitic brother for the real decisions regarding IT, which were based, in turn, on a careful and studious reading of — PC Magazine, i.e. a consumer book that traded editorial for ad space in a none too subtle manner. So we wound up with a lot of the stuff that Ziff Davis Publishing advertised — computers made by cows, etc. This guy actually thought that “Netware ready” meant he could just plug them in and go! When he learned the hard way that this was bogus, he became, at least for a while, a fan of the Macintosh. “No more problems!” he said. This guy was called upon by the Big Boss to evaluate my skills as a SysAdmin and programmer. After they moved me to editorial, I reduced their “news” stories to a couple of formulae and turned in copy to the tune of 15,000 words a week, to the real embarrassment of the professional (prima dona) who’d been writing the stuff for them at a far lower rate. He also “controlled” his drinking. While working here, I wrote a novel, getting up at 4:00am to put in a couple of hours a day. I was fired after I pissed off the parasite, but the Big Boss, true to his low self-esteem, gave “lack of work” as the reason, so I could collect $200 a week unemployment for six months. Oh, joy! I wrote the data base publishing program that this company still uses, 14 years later, to produce multiple newsletters with minimal writing staff by cross-publishing stories among the “family” of medical-subject ‘zines. That’s how useless I was to the Big Boss and his ace parasite, and it’s also what is meant by the word productivity.

Bookseller for a chain book store: I got fired from this job because I bought too many books. This meant that I usually had a lot of books on hold. This was Not Good because the company figured that their employees couldn’t afford to buy a lot of books on the slave wages they paid (productivity is, in practice, the difference between the actual wages corporations pay and that mythical “living wage”). So these books on hold were judged to be lost sales, i.e., an infringement of the corporate right to more-and-more, and therefore, the store’s general manager would lose brownie points on the Balanced Scorecard by which her performance was rated. All very empirical, practical, hard-nosed, and inaccurate. At the same time, the store I worked for had two customers, each of whom bought less than I did, but for whom items were placed “on hold” indefinitely. It was explained to me that they were “special customers.” I was not a “special customer,” but an “employee,” otherwise known as “A Nigger” who couldn’t have all this “stuff” on hold. Makes perfect sense to me, but, of course, I understand American business because I have alcoholism and was raised by a prescription drug addict.

Now: do you still think the Protestant work ethic has meaning? Please summarize. Take all the time you need. Be professional, i.e., neatness counts.