September 29, 2007

Tough Choices

I've been at my current job for over 18 months now. When I started, I actually only intended to be here for a year as the role I'm in is not exactly what I enjoy or want to be doing. I took the job knowing this, but there was a certain strategic advantage to the job, namely it got me into an agency.

The marketing and advertising industry is very incestuous -- for lack of a better term. Once you've established yourself, you make connections and you move forward by leveraging those connections and -- of course -- working on successful projects. (I don't want to make it sound like good work isn't rewarded.) If you have not established yourself, you start at the bottom.

The bottom of the marketing industry, from what I've seen, is a thankless, tedious place to be. You start doing the grunt work. The hours are long. The pay is low. Recognition is sparse. Only people fresh out of college usually accept these roles.

There are good reasons why marketing and advertising work this way. Marketing is a very appealing industry to people. Advertising in particular is rather glamorous and it attracts a lot of people without serious interest in the business. I don't mean to be uncharitable, but the ratio of competent marketers to lackluster hangers on is really appalling and the insular nature of the industry helps the good people rise to the top by insisting they work hard and work smart to get through all the clutter.

I am well past the point where I could start at the bottom, so I've been trying to wedge my way into the industry using my existing background. This tactic is not really all that unusual, but it's not the norm and it has worked this far. I'm in an agency. Woo!

I'd like to spend some time in the agency world -- perhaps the next five years -- and then I'd like to move into a brand and continue my career from there. I plan to work my way up to the C-level of a company through the marketing and client services side of the organization.

That's my strategy anyway.

The next step in my career plan requires building more client experience around directly managing marketing programs and broadening my channel experience. A company's marketing efforts are mixed in varying levels across differing "channels" like media, outdoor, print, and digital. The divisions get more granular from there. I work in the digital channel. I need to learn more about managing marketing campaigns in other channels and I think working in the agency world for a while will give me that opportunity in addition to exposing me to the marketing needs of businesses in varying industry verticals.

The question now is a tactical one. I work in an agency now, but it is an interactive agency, which means we only work in one channel. So, do I stay in this agency and move to a different team in order to gain a different type of experience in this channel or do I change agencies and hope to get that sort of experience combined with the opportunity to work in other channels?

Option 1 is pretty easy. Option 2 has far more risk.

Let's say that I decide to stay in my current company and move to a different team. First, it may take some time to move because they won't want me to move until they're ready for me to move. Once moved, I would be obliged to stay in the position for at least another year before I could consider moving to another agency so that I avoid burning any bridges with a move. The clear advantage is that staying longer would allow me to build more contacts here and it would balance my resume very well in preparation for the next move.

Option 2 will mean attempting to move into a position where my experience does not quite match. Potential employers will realize this and if they do opt to hire me, they will likely mitigate their risk by paying me less than I would like. I can accept that for the right position, but finding it will take much longer.

My annual review is coming up on Tuesday and if I decide to stay and choose to move to another team, my plan is to tell my boss then. I'm just not sure if that's what I want to do.

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Category: At My Work
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Civil Rights and the Jena 6

I really don't understand the protests from last week over the Jena 6. CNN kept saying that there was a civil rights march going on, but then they said it was in support of some hoodlums who beat some person within an inch of his life.

I am pretty sure that no part of our "rights" civil or otherwise entitle us to rousting a bunch of of friends and mauling hapless strangers.

So, I went and looked up on Wikipedia where we can always turn to complete, unbiased information on any topic:

The Jena Six refers to a group of six black teenagers who have been charged with the beating of a white teenager at Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana, on December 4, 2006. The beating followed a series of racially-charged incidents in the town. The six black students were initially charged with attempted second degree murder and conspiracy to commit attempted second degree murder.

The Jena Six case has sparked protests by those who believe that the arrests and the subsequent charges were excessive and racially discriminatory, alleging a lack of arrests and serious charges against white youths in Jena in earlier incidents in the town. U.S. Attorney Donald Washington—an African American and a Bush appointee — who led an investigation into events in the town, has concluded that there is no evidence of unfair prosecution.

Yes, it is relevant to this article to point out that a certain judge is both black and a Bush appointee. Nope, not bias there!

Anyway, the Wikipedia article, in spite of its additional information, does make clear the racial confusion going on in the town.

But what I understand from the article is that the protesters weren't there really in support of the Jena 6. They were protesting the alleged disproportionate charges against the Jena 6. From my very limited perspective on the matter, people don't seem to be protesting the idea that charges are brought against these characters.

This is certainly not the most apparent or egregious example of rights violation I've ever heard of.

If the charges are disproportionate, you challenge them in court. There are mechanisms for this sort of thing.

The argument is that the court system is biased against the defendants based on their race.

Even if we accept that the people in that area and the people in those particular courts are biased against the defendants, it doesn't follow that our entire legal system is racist. There are mechanisms for appeal. There are mechanisms for getting the case reviewed.

I am not inclined to go to the primary sources and review this case. But I don't see why no one has gone and done that, but taken out all of the references to race, just to see if the charges make sense.

What I am irritated about is the civil rights protest and, more than that, the idiotic attitudes about race that seem so popular. It's as if as an individual, I am expected to choose between the white supremacist racists or the non-white supremacist racists on the other side.

Ideas about race in the US are idiotic and I do think it is because of this whole multiculturalism thing that is so popular. As if the color of a person's skin gives them some particular insight into... well, anything. It's like that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine is dating a man that she thinks is black and he thinks she's Spanish, and they're both really thrilled about being in an interracial relationship, but it turns out that they're both regular, old white people.

Ok. I'm done with that. I do want to ask this: why are Spanish people considered non-white? I thought that was a country... a western European country, too. I know they were occupied by the Moors (See? It's not like they've never done it themselves.) and all that, but still. "Spanish" isn't a good adjective for a particular ethnicity.

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Category: In the News
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September 28, 2007

Book Review: Kinfolks

I finished reading Lisa Alther's Kinfolks the other day and I'm only just now getting around to writing my review. The full title of the book is a mouthful: Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree - The Search for My Melungeon Ancestors

And also, "Lisa" is pronounced "lee-za." In spite of what you may have heard elsewhere, Lisa with an S goes "zzz" not "sss" sometimes.

Kinfolks is a thoughtful book about the author's attempts to trace her genetic heritage in hopes of finding a personal identity.

If you're not familiar with the term Melungeon, Kinfolks will illuminate the muddy waters for you. I grew up in Georgia and I only have the faintest of memories of having encountered the word. I associate it with an image of scary circus folk, but Miss Alther reveals that there is a whole lot more to it. (After reading the book, I think there's a pretty good chance that your blonde-haired, blue-eyed blogger here has melungeon relatives himself!)

While the story is told with remarkably gentle, good humor and significant effort is described as the author strives for insight into her heritage, I found the book actually lacking in depth, but not in an unpleasant way. I'm not sure other people's relatives are all that interesting in the first place, but Miss Alther does succeed in painting a colorful, fun portrait of her kith and kin. In fact, the best parts of the book are those that focus on the specific actions and reactions of her relatives as she goes on this journey of personal discovery. I actually wish I could hang out with her dad. He sounds like a hoot!

The book talks a lot about race and what people think about race. It gently explores changing ideas about race and racial identity and does probe those ideas as far as I would care to read about someone doing such probing.

All in all, it's an ok book. I gave it three stars on my Good Reads list because it's just ok. I didn't hate it. I found parts of it very amusing, especially parts in the beginning that, like I said, focus on specific events associated with people in her family. It reminds me of David Sedaris but without so much melancholy and therefore not as much insight. I don't have any big criticisms of the book, but I don't have anything really great to say, either.

Would I recommend it to you? Probably not. It's not a very remarkable book.

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Category: State of the Arts
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Gays Spot Legal Problem, Propose Flaboyantly Idiotic Response Passage of Historic Hate Crimes Act Hailed, Bush Veto Feared

The passage today of the Matthew Shepard Act by the U.S. Senate is being hailed as a "historic moment for equality" by gay rights organizations across the country. However, President George W. Bush has threatened a veto of the legislation, which the White House contends is unnecessary as existing law already covers the issue.

I am against hate crime legislation.

First of all, it's already illegal to kidnap people, drag them to the country, tie them to a fence post, beat them, and leave them for dead. I think this is probably one of the first laws ever made by people wishing to organize themselves into a state.

Among the other things that are illegal and rightly so:
- Vandalizing property that does not belong to you
- Hitting people without their permission
- Killing people without their permission
- Threatening people
- Menacing people
- Following someone around yelling foul things at them while they are trying to mind their own business and you're being a nuisance

It is stupid to pass a law that says that not only are you not allowed to do that, but you're ESPECIALLY not allowed to do it to someone because you don't like them because you're a bigot.

I don't know what your being a bigot has to do with anything, really.

Some people argue that these so-called hate crimes are worse than regular crimes because they function like terrorism. Say some gay person is beaten up for being gay, then all gay people get scared.

Someone should write a letter. It should go something like this:

Dear Straight People:

I hope this letter finds you well and that you are enjoying your regular sex. Sodomy is great; it's pretty much the same as since it was invented a bajillion years ago and going strong.

So, I heard from a friend of mine that there are some maniacs among you and not the good kind that remain confined to the floor. It is alleged that there are people among you who beat people up.


If you're not terrified of this, you're the maniac in question. Please turn yourself in. We have you surrounded.


Gay people.

P.S. Hope you like the sodomy as much as we do.

In all seriousness, I'm terrified by the idea that there is someone out there robbing banks. I'm not a banker, but I regard that as a pretty serious problem. One that should be resolved by a high-speed chase, and ass-whuppin', and speedy and public trial, and a lengthy jail sentence. I'm sure the bankers in the audience would agree.

My point is that everyone is being terrorized when a crime is committed. As a friend of mine puts it: every crime is a hate crime.

The whole idea that your criminals get worse punishments for their crimes because they have particularly odious ideas is antithetical to the notion of freedom of thought, freedom of speech, or freedom in general.

I say, let's punish our criminals. Hard.

And then be done with it. George Bush should veto that Matthew Shepherd thing and also stop being just a homophobe, too.

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Category: In the News
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Naegleria fowleri

Yahoo! News: 6 die from brain-eating amoeba in lakes

PHOENIX - It sounds like science fiction but it's true: A killer amoeba living in lakes enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die.

Even though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it's killed six boys and young men this year. The spike in cases has health officials concerned, and they are predicting more cases in the future.


According to the CDC, the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL'-erh-eye) killed 23 people in the United States, from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials noticed a spike with six cases — three in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.


Beach said people become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose — say, by doing a somersault in chest-deep water — the amoeba can latch onto the olfactory nerve.

The amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up into the brain, where it continues the damage, "basically feeding on the brain cells," Beach said.

People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers. In the later stages, they'll show signs of brain damage such as hallucinations and behavioral changes, he said.

Once infected, most people have little chance of survival. Some drugs have stopped the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive, Beach said.

"Usually, from initial exposure it's fatal within two weeks," he said.

What a horrible and terrifying thing!

Read the article and spot the subtle endorsement of global warming.

Thanks to Orb McQuilkin for the article.

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Category: In the News
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Did You Watch the Office Last Night?

Holy cow, that is some funny stuff!

I love:
- That Michael hit Merideth with his car.
- That Merideth got to be in this episode so much.
- That Dwight put Blonde Lady's cat, Sprinkles, in the freezer
- That Jan has totally flipped her wig.

I hope:
- We get to see more of Creed.
- We get to see more Merideth, because I love her.

I like the Ryan is a total douche now, but I don't like how the writers have associated that with his reading of "Ann Rand" in the online clip of what he did over the summer.

I'm also not sold on the new tech guy they introduced.

But we'll see.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 05:08 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Category: Happy
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Actividades Bancarias de la Inversión y Trabajos en la Física Nuclear

I've been thinking more about the "discussion" that is going on around immigration.

In my last post on this topic, I said, "People are fussing and fussing about what to do with the illegal immigrants, those people who sneak into our country and get subversive jobs like picking fruit, flipping hamburgers, cleaning houses, investment banking, nuclear physics, or whatever else it is that doesn't pay enough money to lure unsuspecting Americans into sustaining the near constant verbal abuse and assault from Naomi Campbell's or Russell Crowe's flying phones."

I was being silly and hyperbolic, of course, but I was in the shower thinking about this and I realized that I have heard people use part of that as an argument supporting looser immigration policies.

They say things like, "Why should we stop people who want to come into this company and do jobs that Americans don't want to do?" The implication here is that it's OK so long as they're doing jobs Americans want to do, but if they suddenly started getting cushy jobs like web developer, QA analyst, client engineer, governor of California, or whatever, then it would NOT be OK.

The problem with the immigration policy isn't that it's keeping people from picking oranges or splitting atoms for us. The problem is that it is keeping people from exercising and experiencing freedom. There are lots of things like that around here.

It's my business if I want to hire someone to work for me. And if they want to accept low wages for it, that is their business. If they don't want to accept what I want to pay them, they don't have to accept the pay or do the work. That's how business works. And it doesn't matter what the job is -- assuming it's a non-criminal activity, of course. It's my right as an American to do that.

Naturally, our government is not here to protect the rights of Byelorussians, Danes, or South Africans. But neither should it be acting to violate the rights of those people or any other. The American government is here to protect the individual rights of Americans, but in setting up these tortuous immigration policies, it is preventing me from exercising my rights. Further, it is taking active steps to violate the rights of other individuals.

Who sits around thinking up these obnoxious plans for our government? I bet it's Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 04:17 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: Politickin'
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September 27, 2007


In the frenzy of activity that has been my work lately, I missed that National Punctuation Day was two days ago!!!

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Truth is True

In case you haven't seen it, episode 5 of Planet Unicorn has been out for a while now. Check it out! Heeeey!

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Category: Kicks & Giggles
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This I Do Not Understand

Chocolate rain? What?

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Category: Kicks & Giggles
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OMG. I'm So Bizzy!

I really shouldn't be taking this time to blog right now.

Short story: I saw Martha Stewart. It was a very interesting discussion but the interviewer was kind of lame. I love Martha so much! She's a powerhouse and an extremely smart and passionate businesswoman.

Several of my projects are going bonkers right now, but my boss has insisted that I put them on autopilot to attend some more Advertising Week events.

Ad Week is very, very cool. There really isn't much to talk about that's interesting to non-marketing/non-advertising people. It's mostly marketing/brand strategy and execution talks. Shop talk.

Because of my workload, I've missed several cool celebrity appearances like a performance by Chaka Khan at the branded music discussion yesterday. *le sigh*

Anywhoodles, I gotta run. I'll try to tell you all more later.

(No, I don't have pictures. They don't like when you do that in some of these panel discussions.)

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 06:20 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Category: At My Work
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OBloggers Carnival: Bizzy Day in which I Saw Martha Edition!

Rational Jenn is hosting this week's Oblogger's carnival!

Nelson Khan presents Five Myths About Selfish People posted at The Clear Path.

Stella presents Cancer Treatment Pricing Awareness Month posted at ReasonPharm, saying, "In which I respond to the usual charges leveled during cancer awareness months that pharmaceutical companies must be forced to provide less expensive cancer treatments through price controls." This one is well-worth reading.

Flibbert presents Movie Review: Helvetica posted at Flibbertigibbet, saying, "I spent most of the week fussing with that weasel McGinn, and while some of the points are interesting, they're kind of a buzzkill. Instead, I'm posting a link to my review of the movie Helvetica. It's actually an interesting presentation about the history of the typeface, Helvetica. Those with an interest in design will likely enjoy this film." I never thought a movie about a font would interest me, but Flibbert has me very intrigued.

Monica presents Sexual Conflict and Deception posted at Spark A Synapse, saying, "Gender bender warfare!" I'll say!

CORGIGUY presents THE AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY posted at CORGIGUY, saying, "This post takes a look at a study done in 1998 and the recent book Conservatives Without Conscience by John Dean from Watergate fame, it highlights the traits of authoritarian followers."

Darren Cauthon presents The essence of the webcaster's argument posted at Darren Cauthon, saying, "This post includes fancy computer graphics." Indeed, it does!

Rational Jenn presents Probably WAY More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About The NEA posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "The National Education Association has published its 2007-08 Resolutions! I reviewed the homeschooling resolution and the first 30 or so pages of the document. There's something in there for everyone, the color-blind, southpaws, and more! If you have ever wondered what the NEA's stance on genocide is, don't miss this post!" I've been feeling snarky this week.

Click! Go! Read!

(I saw Martha!! Eeeee!)

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September 26, 2007

Assimilation Nation

So, you all remember that I went to Miami for my birthday. While there, Mister Bookworm and our friends went to the gay section of South Beach.

"Just a section?" you ask. "I thought it was the whole thing!" And you wouldn't be completely wrong.

But we went to the gay section which was the length of a city block. My friends lamented the erosion of the gay section, though. They said that in past years, the gay section used to extend for several blocks -- perhaps as many as ten.

Meanwhile, gay specialty magazines like Out and Advocate have taken huge hits in readership and advertising over the past years. The drop in advertising and readership this has been sufficiently explained away by Tanya Irwin in her latest column for Magazine Rack, but I still have to wonder if her original optimistic hypothesis doesn't have some merit to it.

It wasn't so long ago that Joe.My.God. noted the decline of gay bars in Orlando. ORLANDO! Gays practically invented Disneyland, people. This is just too shocking for words.

Well, for more words than I am using right now.

Or the amount of words used by Joe.

Ok. It's not too shocking for words, but it's pretty shocking. It's upsetting! (But not enough to ruin my mascara. I am not a barbarian.)

And big gay bars and clubs elsewhere, like NYC, San Fransisco, DC... have been closing, too. Of course, there are other explanations available there, too, and Joe talks about those.

But still I wonder.

Is it possible that the gays are being assimilated? Would that be a good thing or a bad thing in terms of our fight for equal recognition under the law?

I can see it being a good thing because it would mean people are realizing that gay people aren't a threat to civilization. We're not trying to destroy your marriages or molest your children. We're just trying to mind our own business and experience the freedom of property that everyone else enjoys when they enter into marriage arrangements.

I could also see it being a bad thing because it would also mean our visibility is disappearing.

I don't really think the gays are getting blended into the giant American daiquiri, but it's an amusing thought that has crossed my mind a couple of times in recent history.

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Category: On Faggotism
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My Hero

I'm going to get to go see Martha Stewart delivery a talk about marketing tomorrow!


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Category: Happy
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From Mister Bookworm

"This headline is five nouns!"

Those zany Brits!

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Category: Odds & Ends
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Immigration Madness

The news is full of talk about immigration... again/still. People are fussing and fussing about what to do with the illegal immigrants, those people who sneak into our country and get subversive jobs like picking fruit, flipping hamburgers, cleaning houses, investment banking, nuclear physics, or whatever else it is that doesn't pay enough money to lure unsuspecting Americans into sustaining the near constant verbal abuse and assault from Naomi Campbell's or Russell Crowe's flying phones.

Republicans seem to be flipping out over the word "amnesty." I don't understand, but I can't control other people's blood pressure. They're also complaining that these people would have gotten away with breaking the law.

I dare say that we all break the law from time to time and it doesn't matter if you're Republican or a particularly nimble maid. The reason is because the law sucks. I need a new paragraph for emphasis here.

If you can't mind your own damn and not break the law, then the law is wrong.

These Canadians who come scooting in here trying to rhyme 'house' and 'coast' and 'about' and 'boot,' they're largely harmless. If you don't like their poems or dirty limericks, this is America. You can stage a burning of all your Canadian poetry books if you want. In your own yard. With a permit.

And these other people with rich, tan skin and dark, wavy hair and rippling muscles that glisten in the sun...


Yeah! So there!

I want to talk about the horrible, horrible mess we put our LEGAL immigrants through. It's no wonder some people prefer to do like Dig-Dug to get here rather than suffer all the paper cuts from the bureaucracy that is INS. I want to tell you a story about someone I work with.

M is a super nice lady. She's pleasant, very smart, meticulous, super productive, and overall a joy to work with. She's a developer and when she works on my projects, they rock the house from coast to coast.

Well, she and her husband are foreigners hailing from a certain country with an excess of monkeys and cobras. And they're both working here under his visa. Apparently, he HAD a visa that would allow him and his spouse to work here. Some time ago, they found out that his corporate sponsor was changing the sponsorship to be just an H1 visa which only allows one person to work under it.

So, they both had to apply for H1 visas. And apparently there was some kind of lottery or something, I don't know, but he got one and she didn't.

This means that Friday is M's last day with our company.

She is trying to be a law-abiding, contributing member of society, but due to our ridiculous immigration policies and processes, she is mandated BY LAW to sit at home all day. Oh, she can still make use of the various public services that we provide to people here in this country, but she's not allowed to contribute to supporting those services.

This is utterly and completely absurd. She is a skilled worker and an above-average performer. Her efforts generate lots and lots of wealth for our company. But she is, starting Friday, forbidden to work in this country under penalty of law.

We've been brainstorming all sorts of hair-brained ideas about how to circumvent the law, but she doesn't want to do that. If she does break the law, it could put her husband's visa at risk and her future chances for visas and/or citizenship. She also dislikes the idea of being dishonest.

It's confounding and frustrating.

Update: I mentioned INS above, but it turns out that it's not INS. It's the Department of Homeland Security. Hmph!

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 03:32 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Category: Politickin'
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September 25, 2007

Just Say No (To People On Drugs)

I sometimes wonder if my clients are on drugs. I will provide them with a timeline that says, "If you give me X it will take Y days to deliver Z." They then say, "Oh, that means if I give X to him today, I'll have it by Q day!" Then, they wait a week and send me X and ask me if I will still be able to delivery Z by Q day.

So, I was rolling when I read this over at QA Hates You:

Remember, Project Managers, No is an unlimited resource; you can use it as often as you like to deal with timeline compression and feature creep, and you will always have more for the next time.

What I REALLY love, though, is the crackhead who commented in response:

Reminder to Managers outsourcing IT Work: Remember that a company’s attitude often reflects their abilities and confidence. The more you hear “no,” the more you need to wonder if they have an interest in seeing your project succeed. The best partners find a way to deliver what you need them to deliver. Be prepared to place your John Hancock on change orders and revised estimates - but do not take “No” for an answer. A “can-do” attitude is but one attribute of a successful relationship. Some companies will work with you to “find the way,” and others will force you into their way, or nothing. The company repeating “No” is the company passing on the complaints of uninspired and unmotivated employees. Like plenty of fathers have said in the past: “Can’t means won’t.”

That commenter sounds like some of my worst clients who think that it is a matter of "attitude" when it comes to the laws of physics.

What people do not realize is that there are two types of labor resources: skilled and unskilled. If you have a task that requires unskilled labor, then you can just throw more people at it and it will get done faster. If you have a task that requires skilled labor, though, there's a good chance that more people will only make things worse. It takes as long as it takes you need to relax. As I tell my client managers, "The client has to get glad in the same pants they got mad in."

If you are a client, you need to listen to the people you hire. Yes, they might be lying, but you cannot assume that. If you do assume they're lying, then you will set up a very adversarial relationship. Instead, assume they are always telling the truth. If your needs aren't being met, leave. This is business, not romance.

If you want to build trust with the people who work with and for you, make sure that you explain what you're trying to accomplish. This goes for clients/vendors/and internal resources alike. If you have to rush something, explain why it has to be rushed. What business situation lead to the need for the rush? Even if the cause of the rush is that you dropped the ball, explain that you dropped the ball and you need a rush.

You should not expect that just because you are open and honest and trusting with someone that all the answers to your every request will be "yes." That would be idiotic to say the least.

So, whether you're the client or the vendor or some schmuck approaching an internal department with a request, don't be a person on drugs.

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Category: At My Work
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I Just Noticed...

My underwear is on inside-out.

I was wondering why the ruffles were scratching my tush.

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Category: Kicks & Giggles
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My New Stalker: Colin McGinn

Just at the moment when I am ready to be done with Colin McGinn, he begins wooing me in earnest. I got an email just this morning that said:

Sometimes people have to be called by their proper name and put in their place. You never know, you might even benefit from it. Stupidity is never harmless.

You'll note that this not a response in the traditional sense to the last note that I sent him. It's like he's just sitting there trying to think of degrading things to say to me. It's kind of sad, really.

So, of course, I responded to him.

I've named you a liar and a coward publicly. I've given the reasons why I came to my conclusions.

You, again, are asserting a position without any supporting argumentation. You hide by deleting comments from your blog and sending private emails. And now you're simply spews insulting emails over the internet. This isn't even a proper conversation. I'm asking you questions and providing you with arguments and you're just hitting reply and banging out insulting non sequiturs.

Not only are you dishonest, cowardly, irrational, and churlish, you're behaving now like a juvenile with a bruised ego

You should note that I have been publishing our exchanges to my own blog so that others might also benefit.

I'd like to discontinue this exchange, so please do not email me again.

His insults are so boring, too!

They're utterly devoid of any content that can be addressed. If he said, "I think you're a pompous fool because yadda yadda yadda," then I could say, "As usual, you seem to have misplaced your dictionary because blah blah blah. Further, you're a liar because you said X when you know that Y is the case." And, of course, we could lace these notes with all sorts of colorful invectives.

That might be entertaining for a little bit. But nooooo... His emails are the email equivalent of "LA! LA! LA! LA! LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! YOU ARE STUPID! LA! LA! LA! LA!"

I guess I have an unreasonable expectation that even exchanges of insults will progress as with any other conversation. I've spent a little too much time reading British literature, too, I think, because my expectations of their insults is quite a bit higher than anything he's managed to deliver so far. Like I said, boring.

Maybe he's in love with me and he's been driven insane with jealousy because I have a boyfriend already.

Update 1: McGinn responded to my last email. He wrote, "Excellent!"

I won't reply to this one because I am taking that to mean that he is going to stop emailing me, although if he hadn't responded I would have understood the same thing.

Given how petty he has behaved over the duration, I take this email to be one of those I-have-to-have-the-last-word things.

Update 2: In rapid succession, McGinn wrote again to say:

And perhaps you would be so kind as not to contribute further to my blog.

I responded with this:

Sorry. I can't commit to that.

You're more than welcome to comment on my blog for as long as I don't block you, though.

I've been debating whether or not I should post links to my blog with our exchanges on his site. I'm not sure if it's worthwhile since it might invite his trolls over here. Of course, I do love getting lots of comments and traffic, so I'm kind of conflicted over that.

Update 3: If I were to post links to my posts on his blog, it would look something like this:

Hey, McGinn!

I've been publishing our email exchanges on my blog. Perhaps your other readers might be interested in how you conduct yourself when no one is looking.

This is about you deleting comments: It's Like Picking a Scab

And here are some that include our email exchanges in which you bombard me with insults as apparent retribution for your bruise ego.

I'm Through

My New Stalker: Colin McGinn

I really doubt I will, though, because at this point I doubt anyone really cares. McGinn's conduct speaks for itself and his toady commenters lack an ability to be objective.

But I'll keep that handy just in case I see some sudden inspiration to expose McGinn on his own blog for the rotten little weasel he is.

Update 4: McGinn declined my invitation to comment on my blog saying, "No thanks" and I explained to him:

Well, it's a forum that is open to a majority of the public including you (for the moment), should you feel the need to unburden your conscience or engage me in someway. I don't invite the sort of foolishness you've demonstrated here or on your blog, but it is presently at your disposal. Otherwise, you have your own blog which may be used to issue statements to or about me.

I don't want to engage you in private discussions, however, because you've demonstrated that you are too cowardly and dishonest to be trusted to maintain any sort of rational standard of discourse even casually and at least in public others can see you for what you are and judge for themselves.

So, those are the only two channels through which I care to engage you or be engaged by you -- if at all.

Update 5: McGinn replied, "I, for my part, simply want you to go away."

So I said, "Then go away. What's stopping you?"

So silly.

Update 6: McGinn answered my rhetorical question saying, "The fact that you insist on contributing to my blog, obviously."

That isn't really all that obvious to me, but I responded:

Ah. So, you're emailing me because I commented on your website? That comment really didn't require a response, but you did speak your mind on that, I think. I haven't commented on your website since yesterday, so why do you keep emailing me now?

What's to stop you from just ignoring me anyway?

Also, may I suggest a change in your blogging software? Many packages do offer IP banning which allows you to block people from commenting on your site if they really annoy you or something. Word Press and Movable Type both offer this. I use MT and I would ban you if you started being "obnoxious junk" on my website.

Now, do stop harassing me by email. Be a propper blogger and write snotty things about me on your blog or something.

Update 7: McGinn's webmater has posted a new policy about posting comments on McGinn's blog.

I have to laugh because much of this new policy is inspired by McGinn's frustrations in dealing with me. But the part that really tickles me is the introduction which describes him as "an eminent philosopher [...], who has generously agreed to write and participate in this public forum."

What a pompous jackass he is!

The new rules for his blog are:

1) Comments are welcome but will be deleted if they are disrespectful or intentionally antagonistic towards either Professor McGinn or other participants. And just like in baseball, an IP address will be blocked after the deletion of three comments.

Again, nothing is mentioned about the standard they will use to make this determination. I submit that McGinn's own standards are inconsistent and capricious. He and those arguing on his behalf both engaged in antagonistic, disrespectful commentary toward the opposition, but their comments remained.

Also, although I'm not a sports buff, the last time I heard no one was punished in baseball by having their IP address blocked.

2) E-mail inquiries sent through the Contact Me window are also welcome but if the e-mail is a personal attack or deemed inappropriate by Professor McGinn or myself, the IP address will be automatically blocked.

I'm not sure if this is an accurate statement. If you use Yahoo! or Google mail, will they blog Yahoo! and Google's IP addresses? Strange. But again we're confronted with McGinn's double standards here.

3) One instance of defamatory, injurious, or slanderous comments posted on another site will automatically result in a blocked IP address.

This I know is directed toward me because I've documented every exchange (minus one comment that he deleted before I could save it) he and I have had.

I should state for the record that all of these rules are perfectly within his rights. McGinn's blog is McGinn's blog and in spite of what he says, it is not my property to manage.

I can, however, criticize the way he does manage his property. But I am pleased to see that he is taking my advice and making use of IP blocking instead of harassing people via email. I think his poor little ego will avoid much bruising with this policy in place.

Well, I think this whole silly thing is winding down. I hope not to hear from McGinn again and I dare say he hopes not to hear from me.

Update 8: One last thing! I was poking around on McGinn's blog to see what else he was saying on other topics really quick before I let him go completely and I spotted another instance of him being sneaky.

In his post on Utilitarianism, he comments on his own post saying:

The texts I'm using in my class are: Ethics: The Fundamentals, by Julia Driver; The Dimensions of Ethics, by Wilfrid Waluchow; Ethical Theory: A Concise Anthology, eds. Geirsson and Holmgren. You will find everything I've said about relativism, divine command theory, egoism and utilitarianism amply and perspicuously discussed in these books. Nothing I have said here has been original. My usage of key terms is entirely in conformity with the usage in these texts, e.g. "altruism". I invite you to have a look and see. Generally speaking, I find it boring to repeat arguments and points that can be found in any undergraduate text on the subject in question. On the question of altruism, in particular, be very careful about distinguishing the obligatory from the supererogatory, and bear in mind that altruism comes in degrees.

NOW he presents his sources. And that doesn't change the fact that his formulations in the discussion do not agree with other sources relevant to the topic.

Further, his focus on altruism in this comment seem to be clearly directed to much of the fuss made in the egoism discussion about his use of the term, which makes us wonder why he hid the remark under a post about Utilitarianism instead of just coming right out with it.

Further, he's moving the goalposts again. In his post on egoism, he acts as if he has thoroughly debunked the philosophy. Here he says that he don't care to address certain arguments that he deems beneath him.

The man is a weasel.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 04:05 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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September 24, 2007

QA Hates You

Brian Noggle has started a new blog! It's QA Hates You!

It's kind of true. Our QA department hates me. They're always so helpful, but I know they hate me because I am always asking them to hurry up and I never give them everything they need to do their job. I'm kind of their worst nightmare.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 05:44 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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New Heroes!

The second season of Heroes premiered this evening. WOOHOO!

I was really excited about this because most of the first season was such a delight. I hope that this season is as much fun, although I have to say that it's off to a slow, but intriguingly mysterious start.

The cheerleader lives in California now and she is being befriended by a new person with powers. He looks kind of weird to me. I am SO excited to see Veronica Mars show up with powers!

Mohinder is trying to infiltrate the bad guy company with the help of Bad Daddy and Cutie Cop Guy.

There are a couple of Mexican twins, one of which apparently causes some kind of massive, fatal hemorrhaging. (I've peeked at some of the teaser information and know that there is more to it than we've seen so far.)

Peter Nathan Patrelli is moping around over the apparent death of his brother. The end of the episode shows us that his brother, Peter, isn't dead, but just has amnesia and is in a shipping container in Ireland. By the way, his brother is SUPER cute with his short haircut.

Hiro is way back in the 17th century with his childhood hero, Takezo Kensei, who turns out to be a mercenary and a bit of a cad.

George Takei and Ando are waiting around in New York for Hiro to return. It's been four months, but George says he's patient. He's really old. Then he finds a picture of himself with that crazy symbol on it and he decides that a hit has been put out on his life. He's right and by the end of the episode George Takei is dead and we don't know who did it or why. Very mysterious!

Evil mom has a hit out on her, too, but we don't see what happens to her.

We didn't get to see stupid lady with the evil twin or her phase shifting husband and technopathic son. (They'll be here later.)

We also haven't seen Sylar. Sylar's off-Heroes career is taking off. He's been in all kinds of magazines lately.

So, that's about the sum of it.

I'm watching Journeyman now because I haven't bothered to change the channel. So far it seems ok, but I don't know if I'll watch it because it's kind of weird. I don't like when people accidentally start time traveling.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 05:20 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Category: Odds & Ends
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I'm Through

I've finally lost the steam to continue to pester that git Colin McGinn.

In his latest comments he remarks:

Let me make it clear that I haven't said a word against Rand. In fact, I've never read anything by her. The kind of egoism I was commenting on is the kind espoused by Glaucon in Plato's Republic and Thomas Hobbes. How Rand's views correspond to this I have no idea. However, what has been said here by "Randians" has not inclined me to take the plunge.

And then:

Wrong and confused again. Not Plato, Glaucon--Socrates rejects his egoism. I refuted a vew that is well defined and well established in the philosophical literature. Whether Rand holds exactly this view I don't know. In any case, I didn't have her in mind.

I couldn't resist one bland parting remark:

No one thinks that you did say anything about Rand directly, McGinn. But everyone can clearly see that it was your hope to address ethical egoism at large, a category of ethical arguments under which the Objectivist argument is subsumed.

Your attempt to formulate a system of ethics that balances both egoism and altruism would benefit from researching the topic further.

Those who argued along side McGinn may not realize it, but he has insulted them as well with this juvenile attempt to move the goalposts on his own argument.

I can't really dispute his assertion that he's presented a well-established presentation of ethical egoism. Clearly defined may be a different issue, I wouldn't know, but the Objectivist argument is certainly under-represented in philosophical circles.

I am actually astonished at the obvious foolishness of McGinn's argument, though. Look at it again:

The topic this week was ethical egoism. What a terrible theory it is! An action is right if and only if it's in your own self interest. That means that helping others, with no benefit to self, is immoral. Rubbish. Particularly pathetic is the argument that apparently atruistic actions are really egoistic, since you get pleasure from doing good. This just conflates the object of a want with its consequences. You might as well argue that economic actions, like buying a television, are really altruistic, because someone else benefits, namely the people you buy it from. Motives are of several kinds: egoistic, altruistic, malicious, and self-destructive.

So far this term I've dispatched the three most popular ethical theories in America today--relativism, divine command theory, and egoism. It wasn't difficult work.

Look at it. Seriously, look at it. It's so vapid and presupposing! I really am shocked by it.

The first statement is: an action is right if and only if it's in your own self interest.

The next logical step from there is: helping others, with no benefit to self, is immoral.

I am actually one of these people who holds that all actions are either moral or immoral. I've not really given much thought about what the logical implications are of arguing that some actions may not have any moral value at all, neither good nor bad, so I wouldn't take that tack.

But McGinn responds to statements one and two with his conclusion: Rubbish! There is no explanation why and where you would expect some illucidation, McGinn proceeds to address an argument that we all agree is one of the weakest arguments for egoism presented.

A commenter on this very blog cited a "principle of charity" that I agree with:

There is a principle in informal logic called the Principle of Charity [...] the principle saying that you should interpret an opponent's argument in the strongest way possible, adding extra premises, reworking order and logical structure, fixing up definitions, anything possible without contradiction. Before you refute your enemy, you must try to prove them correct first.

You don't just say something is rubbish and then turn to the weakest argument you can think of to prove your case. Not only does that fail to prove anything, it shouldn't even be regarded as starting to make your case.

Now, I realize that McGinn isn't presenting any extensive philosophical treatises on his blog. (I hope none of your are expecting that of me!) But we do have to expect more substance than this.

We go from observing his not only pitiful representation to his absolutely shameful conduct throughout the discussion.

At first, my address to him and his mob was passionate but in general good humor. When the began insulting me and the other Objectivists, I lost my sense of humor, but remained within the bounds of civility. When my comments started getting deleted, righteous rage is what I felt and I let McGinn know that he was the cause.

People tend to regard emotional responses as being weak or out of control. You may or may not be aware of this but I have a terrible temper and there have been times when it has gotten the better of me. But this time I was actually really impressed with my ability to both experience the fullness of that emotion and retain most of the clarity of thought with fixed attention to the proper cause. Although McGinn's blog fixed my attention for a while, I was also pleased at the lack of transference.

Without getting into too much detail, I'm extremely pleased with the flow of my subconscious throughout. Sadly, I can't claim that the actual debate came to a satisfying conclusion.

His most recent comments are simply cowardly. I don't know any other word for it. Not only is he willing to confront challengers to his own position directly, he even remarks that he is unwilling to challenge his own premises.

I think that was the last straw for me.

Update 1: I just got an email from Mr. McGinn which said simply:

What a pompous fool you are.

I responded, of course.

More name-calling? Really?

Seriously, professor, I'm not sure which is in worse shape: your manners, your logic, or your integrity.

Update 2: It continues.

There are a lot of fools in the world. The internet has given them a voice they wouldn't otherwise have. You are a particularly egregious example of the type. I am simply stating the facts.

So, I responded with a bit more length:

The same could be said of intellectual cowards and their university posts particularly in the case of philosophy departments.

Has it occurred to you that you're engaging a complete stranger -- one you've deemed to be obnoxious junk and a pompous fool -- with petty insults? You seem to do so without any sense of irony about it. Compounding the irony is the fact that you are again hiding your shameful behavior from others. If your conclusion is so factual, why didn't you just post an additional comment to your blog calling me a pompous fool?

I've told you why I think you're a shameful and dishonest, not to mention condescending and rude, but as usual you haven't provided any citations or examples to support your conclusions. No, you've simply ejaculated your opinion into this medium and expected others to slaver over it. To use another's phrase, it's a bukkake of stupid with you.

You disgust me.

I'm starting to wonder what the head of the philosophy department or the dean of humanities at the University of Miami would think about his extracurricular online activities.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 04:49 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Category: Importance of Ideas
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Chillingly Laughable

Readers of my blog know that I pretty much hate the present Iranian President. I think he's a whacko. (Some readers of my blog do contend -- rightly, I think -- that even though he's a whacko, he's done less harm to Americans than our own whacko, Dubya.) Well, he gave a speech at Columbia U today.

When they announced that they were going to allow him to speak, lots of people were upset by this. I think they're right to be upset.

I also think that so long as the American government allows dictators to visit our shores as they do, Columbia is within its legal rights to allow him to speak. I point this out to be clear that the question here is not a political one but moral one.

Briefly on the political question: I don't think leaders like Ahmadinejad should be allowed in the country. If I were president, I would not meet with people like him except perhaps as a plot to kill him. Of course, if I were president, policies foreign and domestic would be radically different and I would have more leisure time in which to plan the assassination of dictators. Those scenarios are obvious fantasies.

On to the moral question.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has nothing of value to communicate to any rational person. The notion that any good can come of allowing him to prattle on to Americans is an insult and, frankly, I can only imagine that it is out of morbid curiosity (and perhaps journalistic assignment) that any person in their right mind attended the speech. By the furor that many raised over his presence at Columbia, I also assume that others have made similar observations.

Even still, Columbia allowed him to speak and it was that furor that led Columbia University president Lee Bollinger to heavily qualify the presentation. Not to put too fine a point on it, he called Ahmadinejad a "petty and cruel dictator." True enough, but then he followed it with the perplexing assertion that "We do not honor the dishonorable when we open our public forum to their voices."

Now, I am assuming that the government did not in any way influence Columbia University's decision to allow Ahmadinejad to speak. In spite of receiving state funding, this was a private decision made by individuals on a quest to present the students of Columbia the broadest possible opportunities for a superb education.

I return to my point above that Ahmadinejad hasn't anything of value to teach us. He's a madman, so it begs the question of what this sideshow could possibly due to contribute to anyone's education. Surely we can get close enough to madmen through reports on CNN and descriptions in text books.

So, the claim is that it isn't an honor to address Columbia students to the benefit of their education. This is a bald contradiction.

Either presenting Ahmadinejad is of value or it isn't.

I suspect that Mister Bollinger suffers from the deplorable line of thinking that leads one to believe that everyone's point of view is worth consideration in itself simply by virtue of being someone's point of view.

Freedom of speech doesn't mean that anyone has to listen. So, do I think they should have given him a forum to speak? No. Do I think they should be charged with a crime? No.

I didn't mean to get on that rant. I really just wanted to point out this funny thing that I heard from Joe.My.God. he said.

In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you that we have it.

Joe rightly responds with this:

Of course, what Ahmandinejad didn't say was that he keeps Iran free of homosexuals by killing them.

That Mahmoud kills me.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 01:07 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: In the News
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9 of the Most Repulsive Buildings on Earth

9 of the Most Repulsive Buildings on Earth from Deputy Dog.

He's not kidding. The Westin is near my work in New York and it's really strange looking in an eye-sore sort of way. It even looks out of place in Times Square if you ask me.

Thanks to Johndavid for this link!

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 05:53 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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Movie Review: Death to Supermodels

Mister Bookworm and I pulled Death to Supermodels up from On Demand thinking that it might be a really funny satire of the modeling industry, perhaps like Zoolander.

I think Jaime Pressly is hilarious on My Name is Earl, so I was expecting it to be similarly hysterical.

The plot is beyond improbable; it's inexplicable, inconsistent, and meandering. The humor shows a sophomoric obsession with sex, farting, and body odor. The acting is simply strange and Jaime Pressly's character is surprisingly bland.

Disappointment turned to frustration and we turned the movie off.

Do not watch this movie. Period.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 05:41 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
Category: State of the Arts
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