Linky Friday #181: Bull’s IQ

Latin America:

Buenos Aires photo

Image by nestor galina

[LA1] That’s definitely a Hell of an amusement park!

[LA2] A 2,000 square foot house, built as a cave under ground.

[LA3] Tough times for some of the endangered tribes of Brazil.

[LA4] Written in 2014, this rundown on John McAfee’s adventures in Belize is some interesting reading.

Crime:

ramen photo

Image by [puamelia]

[C1] Walmart’s cutting corners and police departments are having to pick up the slack.

[C2] In Revolutionary France, going to prison was cool because it meant you weren’t a rat.

[C3] This seems significant.

[C4] How bad exactly does food have to be in prison for ramen to become a luxury item? (Though actually, a little Ramen sounds good right about now. I’ll have to add it to the shopping list.)

[C5] Unsurprisingly, Reason’s Steve Chapman is not a fan of the burkini ban, though Nervana argues that it’s more about giving women the right not to wear one free from the social issues. Whatever the case, a problem with such laws is that they gotta be enforced.

Media:

[M1] Mother Jones spent $350,000 on a prison report that may be responsible for a change in federal policy. They only made $5,000 in ads off the ads.

[M2] Joining some other sites, NPR is getting rid of comments. It seems weird that places like NPR ever had them. The larger a site gets, the more that a sense of community is required to keep things from going crazy. Despite our (and your) periodic frustrations, we do have that here. I don’t think a news outlet can, for very long.

[M3] Jay From Brooklyn’s post on Pro-Trump reporter behavior is a good and important read. The plausible deniability is going to come in important later.

fired photo

Image by ed100

[M4] Skye Cooley argues that Louisiana is getting less attention this time around because it has its communal act together.

[M5] Simon Dumenco argues that Gawker died of autoerotic asphyxiation, while Sonny Bunch speaks of gawker employees and monsters of history and how they come to terms.

[M6] Keepin’ an eye on the clickbait clusters.

Education:

Harvard photo

Image by angela n.

[E1] Student protests may be hitting their university bank accounts, as alumni donors feel alienated. {More}

[E2] It’s come to this. Sigh.

[E3] “Richard Weissbourd, a child psychologist and Harvard lecturer who has studied the admissions process in the interest of reforming it, recalled speaking with wealthy parents who had bought an orphanage in Botswana so their children could have a project to write and talk about. He later became aware of other parents who had bought an AIDS clinic in a similarly poor country for the same reason.” -NYT
(via Jaybird)

[E4] Public School Review compiles a list of the most diverse schools and states with the most diverse schools.

[E5] Before they loudly ban the laptop, professors should perhaps consider the disabled.

[E6] According to some, if you’re Jewish and off to university, prepare for anti-semitism.

Labor:

fired photo

Image by sun dazed

[L1] How to go about firing people.

[L2] I was sent this from Greg, and the gender gap in physician payment. From up close… it’s really rather difficult to detangle what might be sexism and what might be professional decisions on the part of women. There were some very high-paying jobs that my wife could have applied for, but didn’t because it wasn’t the sort of practice she wanted to have, but the vibe we got was that they weren’t looking for (birthing-age) women anyway.

[L3] JT O’Donnell looks at three reasons 43 year old white men think they’re more qualified than their boss.

toxic photo

Image by eek the cat

[L4] A GM plant in Tennessee has voted to unionize – almost unanimously.

[L5] I have a friend who is a voice actor. He’s paid more for ten seconds of instructional audio than for being in an anime production. You can probably guess as to why this would be the case. So yeah, I could expect being a sponsored content writer to be both more lucrative and less satisfying than writing what Jacob Silverman wants to write. I sort of expect those geniuses who make fast food fries get paid a lot more than most photographers.

[L6] This is a pretty amazing interactive map of what jobs are where for just about anywhere.

[L7] Turns out, it’s a bad idea to hire toxic people.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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68 thoughts on “Linky Friday #181: Bull’s IQ

  1. E2: Allegedly*, the rather Brutalist-lite Admin building on the University of Michigan campus was a response to the protests of the 60s- I was told the interior was hard to navigate, and also there were tunnels below it to get the administrators out in a hurry if necessary

    (* I also heard that that story was untrue, and the building was being planned long before the protests. I never was in there so I don’t know how much of a rabbit warren it actually was)

    So I wonder if we’ll see another wave of that kind of building – concrete bunkers with slit windows – in response to campus unrest. That is, on the campuses that have the funds to actually build stuff…

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    • This building near UC Santa Barbara was originally a Bank of America branch, built after its predecessor was burned down in a student protest. They lit fire to a dumpster and rolled it in through the front doors.

      I’m not sure, but I think this building has been prettied up since I was there. It was still a BofA branch when I first got there, but the branch was closed and the building has been repurposed several times since. Based on the signage it appears that the university owns it now. I don’t remember it having the pretty red tile roof. The rumor at the time was that the roof was extra heavy duty to allow for a helicopter to land on it, just in case.

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      • The state government buildings in the blocks around the state capitol in Denver are connected by a network of underground tunnels. (The original purpose was to move coal, as local dealers refused to deliver to more than one state government address. The tracks for the little coal cars are still there.) During the 2008 Democratic National Convention, when several organizations were threatening violent demonstrations, the state police put a hundred officers trained in riot control in the building where I worked, with the intent of using the tunnels to deploy to wherever they needed to be. It was kind of disappointing that nothing happened that week.

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    • When I was in graduate school at the University of Texas in Austin in the 1970s, the story was that the limestone walls of varying heights used in the landscaping along the west edge of campus had been designed partially with the idea of breaking large mobs of rioters entering from Guadalupe Street into smaller groups.

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    • Universities in Japan got rid of dormitories because of the student protests of the 1960s. At a particularly strident one at Tokyo University, the students occupied the entire campus for several months and no teaching was done. To prevent this from occurring in the future all Japanese universities got rid of dorms.

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  2. L7: Not disputing the harm of employing toxic workers, but this piece looks suspiciously like a sales pitch for consulting services, in particular the pre-employment questionnaire intended to spot applicants who will be toxic. These questionnaires have been around at least since the 1980s, when I had to take one to get hired to manage a convenience store, had to give it to applicants to work there, then a few years later took the same questionnaire to work at WalMart. It was a joke. Any sensible person figured out that the idea was to give the “correct” answer, and this wan’t hard. From the linked article: “Another factor could be more Machiavellian applicants trying to “game the system” by providing what they think is the more strategic answer, he adds.” It is to laugh.

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  3. C1 – and if Walmart took on a serious effort to police itself, people would (very rightly) complain that it was privatizing law enforcement & engaging in extra-judicial activities that adversely affected poor and minorities the most.

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    • Not necessarily. Simply having more blue-vested employees on the floor would be a disincentive to shop lifting. It would also result in tidier and better-stocked shelves. But those employees insist on getting paid, don’t you know?

      WalMart’s secret sauce in its rise from a regional five-and-dime to a retail behemoth, back in the 1970s and 1980s, was its early adoption of computerized inventory management systems. This allowed it to undercut other stores while still turning a profit. The second phase was to leverage its size by bullying suppliers. It was wildly successful at this, at least in the short term, yet further reducing costs.

      But at this point the competition has caught up. So the past couple of decades it has reduced costs by cutting labor expenses. Even back in the early ’90s when I was working there, store managers were under pressure to keep payroll down. By all accounts, it is far worse today. This is why the stores are so sloppy and dirty. More shoplifting is an unintended, though entirely predictable, consequence of the absence of store employees on the floor.

      See also this piece about door greeters. WalMart billed door greeters as a hospitality thing, but they always were really a shoplifting thing. Then they were eliminated because they insisted on getting paid. WalMart is bringing them back in high-theft stores.

      In other words, a willingness to spend a little money can reduce theft without this meaning hiring jackbooted thugs. Though that also happens. There is always a market for jackbooted thuggery.

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      • “WalMart billed door greeters as a hospitality thing, but they always were really a shoplifting thing. Then they were eliminated because they insisted on getting paid.”

        Or, more likely, the government insisted that since they were wearing Wal-Mart uniforms and standing around saying “welcome to Wal-Mart” and had specific shifts and times assigned by store management, then they counted as employees and Wal-Mart would be charged hefty fines if they didn’t pay them. I doubt the old folks cared either way, but it’s not really about them.

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  4. Hot Take: Gawker’s tone and complete lack of boundaries seeking to embarrass rich or notable people by any means necessary (almost always some flavor of insufficiently woke or oblivious white male so it could be couched as “punching up”) is just an Acela corridor flavor of the same ressentiment that animates the Tea Party (now Trump) right wing.

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  5. L3 – ah I see you got a new filter, very clever. Because I thought it was going to be an article about how soon to be middle age men roll their eyes at young guns brought into be ‘the boss’

    Which does happen. In fact, the US military has a weird design quirk where the 30ish year old people that have been doing the job for 10 to 15 or more years have a 22 year old right out of college, but who is on the executive track, as their boss.

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      • One of my friends was a staff sergeant in the Air Force (Colorado Springs) and I asked about the relationship between new officers and senior NCOs. He told me this:

        “You’d better believe that the senior NCO is going to salute the lieutenant, but if the lieutenant tries to tell the senior NCO to do anything, the lieutenant will find himself as the recipient of a mentoring opportunity.”

        He paused for a half second before saying “mentoring opportunity”.

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        • Well, the new officer is still going to have to give orders, it’s a matter of which and how. My uncle used to tell a story about the Officers Candidate School exam. Supposedly, one question gave you a detailed bill of materials available, a list of available men, a small topo map showing a stream, and asked how you, as an officer, would quickly build a bridge across the stream. Plenty of room for a detailed answer. The correct answer, according to my uncle the Colonel, was “Sargent, the Captain wants a bridge across this stream. Take these men and this pile of stuff and build one. I’ll be back in two hours.”

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        • The Lieutenant’s role is to be dumb enough to think something is worth doing.

          The Sergeant’s role is to be smart enough to figure out how to get it done.

          The Captain’s role is to be smart enough to know which Lieutenants will be the kind of dumb he needs in the place he needs it.

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  6. E3 – though isn’t running an orphanage in Botswana a better public good than the usual way of buying your kid’s way into elite schools – getting your name on a building at the school itself?

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  7. JT O’Donnell looks at three reasons 43 year old white men think they’re more qualified than their boss.

    I’m confused. The article is about Millennials who think they’re more qualified than their bosses. Are 43 year olds millennials? Even 33 seems a bit off. (That’s 82 or 83, right?). 23 yeah.

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  8. LA3: This is a problem with no good solution. There are various isolated tribes in the remotest places of the earth. Many still live in the stone age. Dragging them forward towards modernity is going to require a lot of things that would constitute human rights abuses and will almost certainly cause more harm than benefit to them. Brazil and other governments with such tribes can’t protect them forever though. Different forms of modernity are going to force their way into the places where the tribes live. Maybe the areas where the tribes live can be declared no-go areas but that still needs to be enforced.

    C2: Probably the first manifestation of Revolutionary Chic in human history occurred during the French Revolution. Seems almost natural actually.

    C3: It seems like great news.

    M1: This is a good example on why the Internet has been brutal on investigatory journalism. Investigatory journalism takes time and is expensive. During the age of print, radio, and pre-Cable television ads and classifieds paid for the investigations. Today they do not.

    M2: The comments sections of the more professional blogs like Slate or the Atlantic are always more trolly because of the size of the commentariat.

    E6: Anti-Zionists like to complain that they merely hate Israel and not Jews but classic Jew-hatred always seems to get in and most Jewish people know it when they see it.

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    • Activists like to complain they merely hate police brutality and not cops but classic cop hatred always seems to get in and most cops know it when they see it.

      See how easy it is to shift whatever you want in that sentence, @leeesq?

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          • You are happy to define whatever you want as Jew hatred, the question is whether people will believe you or not.

            And bluntly, let me ask you, just like I ask conservatives when they say things about social justice activists, how many “anti-Zionists” do you think believe in stuff like the Protocols of Zion? 5%? 10%? 25%? 50%?

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      • “Activists like to complain they merely hate police brutality and not cops but classic cop hatred always seems to get in and most cops know it when they see it. ”

        You say this like it’s obviously wrong…

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  9. LA1: Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks of Buddhism as being more peaceful and kind that Western religions!

    C2: hasn’t “don’t snitch” always been a thing?

    C5: As far as I know, women in France have the right to wear whatever they want to the beach or on the streets. The issue seems to be how to encourage secular assimilation and perhaps allow Islamic women to say “Hey, I am in France and not in Saudi Arabia. I can wear what I want and don’t need to listen to the Imam.” What is an interesting comparison towards me is that France’s attitude has always been towards assimilation. When Napoleon liberated the Jews and granted them full civil rights in the 19th Century, there was a sort of “Please shave the beards now” assumption to it. During the 19th Century when Jews were assimilating to Western life and society, it led to the creation of Reform Judaism in Germany and the United States (imported from Germany). Reform Judaism was kind of a high church protestant version of Judaism at the time. Temple Emanu-El in New York even used to conduct services on Sunday! (They have since changed back to the original Friday night to Saturday night). Many Jews felt like they needed to abandon the strictness of Hasidism and Orthodoxy to fully participate in Western life. More assimilated German Jews looked down on their Eastern European counterparts as superstitious.

    I’ve always wondered why there is not really a reform Islam variant.

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    • Saul Degraw: As far as I know, women in France have the right to wear whatever they want to the beach or on the streets.

      Then why are there pictures over the wire services of a police squad forcing a woman on the beach to disrobe under the color of law? Has the story been mis-reported?

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      • I read it. It is a fascinating and frustrating thesis that many suspect is true. Shadi Hamid was not the first person to articulate this thesis. Islamists and their critics in the West have been arguing it for decades. I’m not sure if it is completely true. Judaism like Islam is supposed to be a strict religion that governs all aspects of life including clothing, sex, food, grooming, and more. It didn’t prevent the emergence of some very liberal forms of Judaism that dispatched with these things. Hamid’s theory might make sense in Muslim majority countries where Islamic conservatives and theocrats possess political power but it shouldn’t prevent the emergence of Reform Islam in non-Muslim majority countries.

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    • We went over why Reform Islam hasn’t developed. There isn’t a social need to develop the Islamic equivalent of Reform Judaism for a variety of reasons. The West was still religious enough during the 19th century that Jews who wished to assimilate either had to get Baptized or develop a form of Judaism that would not freak out their Christian neighbors. Muslims who want to go totally Western can just jump straight into secularism.

      Reform Judaism also developed because the Jews as a group were assimilating and needed a group assimilation method. Society is much more autonomous now and the need for a group assimilation is much less. Developments in liberal thought also means that there is more respect for multiculturalism and pushing for assimilation is meeting with much more resistance. Its seen as imperialist.

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      • I don’t know a lot about where this goes in terms of formal religion a la reform Islam vs. personal interpretation, but I have Muslim friends (who do consider themselves really Muslim, not atheists of Muslim background or whatever) who are very liberal on a lot of the sorts of things that would probably hold back non-reform Jews.

        One lady I’m thinking of for example doesn’t wear a headscarf, wears (longish) shorts and short sleeves in summer; she doesn’t wear a burkini to swim, but men’s trunks and a tank top. She fasts at Ramadan, doesn’t insist on halal butchering but only eats meat of halal animals. Islam is very much party of her identity, but you wouldn’t pick her as Muslim out of a crowd.

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        • There are many individual Muslims who are basically the Islamic equivalent of Reform Jews. I drank alcohol with them on several occasions. There do not seem to be a formal movement though with Reform Mosques.

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    • LA1: When I took Religions of the East as a college freshman, the professor told the class that anybody who believes Buddhism is a pacifist religion needs to speak to a soldier in the Thai military. They are very devote Buddhists with no problem with violence. According to Buddhist scripture, Buddha’s last meal was roast pork.

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      • C.f. Major League II, where Cerrano has converted to a hearts-and-flowers Buddhism, and is confronted with the new Japanese outfielder, from a place where Buddhism and the Samurai tradition go hand in hand. “Buddha would break up a double play!!!”

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  10. Re: Gawker

    I don’t get your attraction to Sonny Bunch pieces. I find him obnoxious Milo Y lite for people who are afraid to associate with Milo Y and the alt-right.

    That being said, I am conflicted on Gakwer. Hamilton Nolan is an overrated fourth rate hack but the Slate piece reminded me that Gawker (including Nolan) were capable of truly great journalism for the web and off the web. Yet they were too addicted to their own snark.

    The big dividing line on Gawker seems to be whether you think snark is more necessary than ever or whether you think snark for the sake of snark is dragging the net down.

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  11. L3: I suspect that each generation has somewhat different management techniques. My girlfriend and a lot of her friends work in tech. When they have heard about some of my old bosses management styles and techniques, their response was “That is so old school!” Tech is really young compared to many other industries. C-Suite tends to be people in their 40s, not in their 50s or 60s or older.

    I think the underemployment/freelancing thing is spot on.

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  12. C3 – The fellow was arrested fordrunk walking? How is that even a thing? If someone is drunk, isn’t that exactly how you want them to get around?

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  13. L3-
    “these kids today” is just as annoying when it is laudatory of them as it is when it is critical.

    Millennials prefer to be busy and have their talents utilized?
    Stunning!

    Millennials like to have input into their work?
    Why, next thing you know a bunch of them will stage an Occupation of their workplace and demand a say in how it is run!

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  14. The Union vote: 192-1 for unionizing. Wow! I’m curious if things were that bad, or the union had that good of a pitch.

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  15. Re Millennials and Workplaces:

    When I have spoken with recruiters about permanent positions, I am always told that my freelancing is a problem because my resume is a few months here, a few months there. Employers want to see “committment.”

    I have been told this by recruiters who were in the same situation as me until they became recruiters!

    So it seems to me that a lot of employers want it both ways. People are not dumb. We can pick up on this.

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      • I’ve changed jobs every 5 or 6 years on average. But due to the nature of my work, I’ve either moved inside the company, or from one company to another inside the same contract.

        So as far as my current employer is concerned, I’ve worked for them for almost 20 years. Despite the fact that I became an employee of theirs about 10 years ago. (And have changed jobs once in the last decade).

        It does make my resume look a little more varied than it is. Also, great vacation time. Raises not so good.

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    • Saul,
      learn to hear what they’re really saying. A company doesn’t want to hear you leave in a year. So, sing their praises. Come in knowing enough details about them (assuming you can dig) that they’ll believe it.

      And sing the praises of where you live, too. “I love san francisco, I love my fiancee, and your job sounds exciting and fun” is a great way to start to show committment. (Along with that say “I am sick of no job security”)

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    • Today’s dynamic forward-leaning company is all about Just In Time sourcing, Independent Contractors, Flexibility, “Who Moved My Cheese”, Move Fast and Break Things, Disruption!

      Oh, but we also want stability and dependability and commitment.

      No, no, not on our part.

      Just yours.

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        • I work in a large company which has embraced (along with many other large companies) many of these principles, especially around using independent contractors and outsourcing. Precisely no one I know of in senior management is a millennial; it’s all younger Boomers and older Gen-Xers.

          I’m not even complaining; this way of doing business has its pros and cons just like any other way of business. Nonetheless, so many of the complaints about “millennials” in the workplace boil down to either, “They lack the perspective which generally comes with age,” or, “They are responding rationally to the incentive structure we’ve set up.”

          Someone who is expecting to be working at a totally different company in 18 months doesn’t want to do scut work as a way of “paying their dues”? Well hold the goddamned phone!

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          • Pros and cons, is exactly it.

            How many of the buzzwords I listed above became buzzwords because they were sold as magic beans for eternal risk free profit?

            I recall reading lots of breathless articles in places like Fast Company extolling the virtues of speed and dynamism. but don’t recall very many at all about the cost of giving up lifetime careers and the slow in-house development of talent.

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        • I need proof of thesis. How do so many millennials drive this?

          I am not opposed to dues paying or working your way up but I think and have it right here. The Great Recession caused (or finalized) a change in hiring procedures and shift from permanent employees towards independent contractors and/or more frequent layoffs.

          This just happened to coincide with when millennials and late Gen Xers graduated from college/grad school. I don’t think millennials are driving these changes as much as rolling with the punches.

          Now we can have a debate about whether we are regressing to a mean or not in terms of employment/wealth and whether the relatively stable but growing economy of the mid-20th century was a freakish exception to the rule.

          Honestly, I feel like I am sort of between the left and libertarians when it comes to economics and job issues. I find that the “End of the Middle Classes” arguments that you find on LGM are too hyperbolic and dystopian but this might be because of my own relative privileges. On the other hand, I find that libertarians are kind of missing the point when they say stuff like “A lower-middle class lifestyle in 2016 would have been science fiction in 1960! Cell phones! Video games! Flat Screen TVs! Quit your belly aching” also really miss the point. Yes those things are great but not when you are going from gig to gig instead of slowly growing at a company/firm and those gigs can wildly range in pay for the same work.

          There are benefits to freelancing and benefits to regular employment. I’ve discovered that freelancing makes it much harder to take vacation because I have to do double planning/saving for rent/necessary expenses because I am not getting paid as a freelancer during that time.

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          • Short-ish argument:

            My generation and younger have expressed a desire to have more flexibility & work/life balance, and to have much greater opportunity for career development[1]; especially if you have the relevant education[2]. Companies being run by the corporate old guard failed to answer those desires, and talent started to flee to younger start-ups that did respect those desires. The old guard tried to pivot, but, being the old guard, couldn’t quite get there. Luckily for them, there was more talent than there were jobs at young start-ups, so they were still able to retain enough talent to keep going, despite not really caring about what the younger generations wanted, and the younger generations, despite still wanting the ideal, settled for what they could get at the moment. Which is where we are now, in a place that is very much in transition from old guard attitudes about what constitutes a valuable work ethic to what the younger generations value.

            One of the side effects of all this generational transition is that the old idea of corporate loyalty is unmoored and evolving. The old guard expected normal employees to stick with a company until retirement or layoff, and they controlled career development, choosing who they thought worthy and fostering those careers up[3]. And I think they are all very irked that younger employees, having seen their parents shown little to no loyalty from companies, and offered limited opportunities for development except to the politically favored, have very little loyalty to a company, and demand equal access to development opportunities so that they can actually compete for advanced positions as they come open.

            I think, within the next 20-30 years, as the old guard finally gives ground, you’ll see the transition finish and find a new stability form (unless the next generation comes in with a whole different dynamic in mind).

            Note: much of these observations come from watching my wife navigate the large old-guard corporate culture she works in (and that I used to work in), especially as people try to groom her for upper management/executive work.

            [1] be involved in interesting work much, much earlier; it isn’t the scut work anyone objects to, it’s when all your work is scut work, and you are expected to do only scut work for years in order to pay your dues, before you start being able to develop your career.

            [2] this actually follows from the growth of degrees as credentials – you can’t insist an employee spend thousands of dollars and years of time on school, and then turn around and tell them they have to pay their dues as if they were an uneducated apprentice

            [3] I think this is why a lot of companies like trying to import workers from countries that are still working their way up – such employees still have older, more traditional values regarding the employer/employee relationship – at least, if the folks I work with are representative (lots of people from China & India).

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  16. OK, this link kinda falls into Crime. The reason a parent leaves a child alone strongly influences our perception of the risk to the child.

    So a parent leaves a child alone for 30 minutes. If the reason is because the parent is rendered unconscious, the perceived risk is low; whereas if the reason is so the parent can get some nooky, the perceived risk is high.

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    • Well because we aren’t actually judging the risk the child actually faces, but are making a moral judgement about the parent’s decisions.

      A child left alone is probably always at greater risk than a child with a responsible adult providing supervision. The difference might be small but it exists. So a parent allowing this risk for something we see as bad or which should not be prioritized over the child makes that parent an awful parent who needlessly put their child at risk. A parent allowing this risk for something noble is a good person making a tough decision.

      Now, the trouble is, there is some truth to this type of thinking, but it too often gets abused to moralize about matters of preference.

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  17. Man, what is it with the Right and satire? Sonny Bunch’s Gawker piece starts out really well, and then… well, good Lord. Utterly cringeworthy.

    Most of the Red State/Blue State cultural core competencies comparisons I hear people make online ring both flawed and forced, but the Right somehow finds a way to keep proving the “conservatives don’t quite understand how humor works” complaint over and over.

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    • Part of it is that nobody believes that conservatives don’t actually believe what they’re saying, and “the person saying this does not actually believe what they’re saying” is the whole thing that makes satire work.

      The other part is that the Liberal Realtalk Break is so common in modern entertainment that it doesn’t come as a surprise anymore when it happens, but the conservative equivalent knocks us out of the flow.

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