April 7th, 2004



Current Events:

Which is pathetic. I just walked a couple of overdue videos back to the store a couple of miles away. Not only can I not watch a video all the way through any more, I can't remember to take them back, either.

This last winter seemed really dreary. It wasn't hard. It never is here. Not like in Denver or Salt Lake or, I guess, places like Minnesota where you are forced to take care of business during the winter, something I have gotten very used to not doing the last few years. But, I didn't get out much and I am in pitiful shape. Need to walk off about four months of potato-like mystery.

. . .

So why is everybody all whicky-whacky over this Iraq situation? The Israelis have been doing this for fifty-six years and it works for for them.

Some Palestinian yahoo blows up a bus somewhere, then the Israeli army goes and arrests a bunch of yahoo look-alikes and bulldozes a bunch of houses down. They rarely, if ever, arrest the actual perp or bulldoze his house because a) they don't know who the perp was or b) the perp blew himself to kingdom-come with the same bomb that he used on the bus and is unavailable for harassment. This pisses some other yahoo off so bad that he winds himself up into a suicidal frenzy and decides to blow up a sidewalk cafe in Tel Aviv and, in doing so, swats the hornet's nest that is the Israeli army and the cycle is good for another go.

You wouldn't think so, but this situation has been proven entirely sustainable. Where will it all end? It might not. Apparently there's no law that says it has to. Not till the sun burns out.

. . .

Today I got, or I should say I was informed of, a half decent raise or "merit increase" as we "associates" call them. I wasn't expecting much, but apparently our little golden boy project has inspired management to loose upon us the proverbial "incentive" to strive ever onward if not upward. Don't tell them, but they hardly need to. Everyone there is happy not to be working at WalMart, The Home Of The "Associate". Not that there's anything wrong with WalMart, mind you. I've just never seen one with a latrine trailer.

Compelling Chronicle:
(Or Another Thrilling Tale From The Workplace of Tomorrow!)

We are living in the age of the "badged employee". Excuse me, "badged associate". If you work for a company with more than ten employees (Dammit! I can't quit using the "e" word) you probably have a badge you are required to wear on the premises that identifies you as someone who "belongs", as opposed to someone who may pose a threat to the corporation, its assets or its stockholders.

There was a change a while ago in corporations' perception of their, uh - the people who work for them*. And that right there's the point, the workers were/are no longer people. They are "resources". It was marked most noticeably by the change of the "Personnel Department" into the "Human Resources Department". About the same time, it was realized that since these things weren't people, you couldn't tell them apart by just looking at them any more than you could tell one paper clip from another. So it was decided that they had to be numbered, labeled and accounted for like all of the other resources. To say that you knew it was OK for him to be in the stockroom because he's Joe and you've known him for six years and he's worked in the stockroom for the last four doesn't cut it in The Workplace of Tomorrow. The correct terminology is that you determined the presence of the resource in question to be appropriate for the designated work area because a badge issued by the corporation authorizing said presence was properly displayed on the person of said resource above the waist and below the shoulders in plain sight.

Anyway, everybody's got a badge. Another feature of the Great American Workplace these days is that the bureaucrats that run major corporations are forever trying to indoctrinate the emplociates into the "culture" of the corporation, which is a pretty good laugh in itself because the "culture" of most corporations is nothing but unbridled greed. Of course they can't say that out loud, so they have a "vision statement" or a list of "core values" that the emplociates are implored to take to heart, keep in mind and practice daily. They do not make you memorize these, probably because the bureaucrats who made them up can't remember them either.

What they do is pass out little stickers that are to be placed on the back of your badge on which are emblazoned the things you are to strive for. The point of this rant is that, a little while back, they passed out new badge stickers that looked Identical to the old ones. At first nobody could figure out why we needed new ones the same as the old ones. Then someone noticed that the goal of "Continuous Improvement" had been changed to "Continual Improvement". This sparked a lively debate on the difference between "continuous" and "continual". A pocket dictionary was no help. It defined them as synonyms of each other. Hmmmm... So somebody dug out a Webster's Collegiate, and while it still listed them as synonyms, it also made the following distinction:

CONTINUAL often implies a close prolonged succession or recurrence.
CONTINUOUS usually implies an uninterrupted flow or spatial extension.

This still didn't begin to explain why "continual" was more appropriate or in any way preferable to "continuous", but at least it seemed that a distinction could be made. Finally, a duly appointed representative of the corporation explained that "continuous" meant doing the same things over and over, making the same improvements all the time, and that "continual" meant making new improvements all the time, resulting in a net improvement over time. "Oh," we said.

The only problem was that the explanation sent everyone back to the dictionary wondering, "How do they figure that?" Indeed, many thought that if that was their reasoning, "continuous" was the better word. "Continual" connotes "repetitive" more than "continuous" does. Or does it?

The upshot of this inspirational exercise was that the emplociates walked away shaking their heads with confused looks on their faces.

One of these days when I'm feeling particularly courageous I will chronicle "Diversity Beans". That' could get me labeled a "non-team player" if the wrong people read it. Pretty risky.


*How about "emplociates"? Sort of aurally implies "imploding shit". I like it.


Current Events:
Or: No Shit, I'm Not Making This Up

I am, however, apparently psychic.

Today, in one of the little online newsletters they have at work to keep us emplociates abreast of all the hottest corporate happenings, they mentioned that they are working on a "slight" (their word) rewording of the badge stickers to be unveiled in May. If they DARE change "continual" back to "continuous", I'M GONNA HAVE A PARTY!!! They will have defined themselves forevermore. Can I even wait until May? I don't know.

. . .

This just in: Scientists Weigh Single Bacterium

What they don't tell you is that a subsequent study showed that 65-70% of all American E-Coli cells were found to be 70 to 80 femtograms overweight. 18% were more than 150 femtograms overweight which is considered technically obese. Researchers are recommending a combination of low-carb diet and a program of regular exercise.

Compelling Chronicle Chronicle:

It just occurred to me that, for the purposes of a Compelling Chronicle, these embedded links might be crap. In twenty years will they link to anything? Probably not. You could, I am told, copy the entire page to a website of your own design and enshrine them there for eternity (or until the sun burns out). Would you be considered a content larcenist? Would you answer the door one Saturday morning, hoping to have an invigorating conversation with a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses, only to find a squad of Copyright Avengers on your porch, guns drawn, warrant in hand? Better think about it some more.

My ISP claims that I am welcome to use 5 or 10MB of their server space for a website of my very own. Being nearly completely net illiterate myself and having vowed eternal estrangement from the only net-chick, html-honey person I ever knew, I'm not sure how I would do that. I think they will teach me in school, though. It's hard to imagine a modern CS graduate who couldn't set up a website in their sleep. So I guess that I, and the world at large, have that to look forward to. Might end up with a few people praying for the sun to burn out in the next two or three years, but hey, that's just one of many challenges facing the Great American Demographic.

. . .

I am currently downloading the "production video" of the DARPA Great Challenge (Grand Challenge? - whatever) from http://www.grandchallenge.org/ovideo.html. It's a 1.4GB download, so it takes a while even at warp speed. It will be interesting to see what sort of spin they put on it, all 25 entries having been declared brain dead seven miles into a 144 mile "race".

Whoa! Download Accelerator is twitching and frothing and having a stroke. Ah, there... It's poopchute will never be a size four ever again, but apparently I have a video to go watch...