Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Damned Are the Nice

It’s a thing that really disturbs me to the core: change you, not them!

I have been in therapy for years, upon years. The essence of which has been to accept those things I cannot change and become “zen” with it.

One solution that I have been working on with great focus is changing my own outlook, changing my own self because, well, it is the one thing that I do have control over.

There may be other ways, death, mayhem and the odd assassination come to mind. Or more peaceful methods, like poison...

Let me backtrack for a minute.

Here is an article in the, hateful MSN, world of news: “Stop Being So Nice to Your Coworkers”.

It describes how nice-guys finish last and what to do about it. It doesn’t come right out and say: “become an asshole”, but it might as well, since that is the very thing which is celebrated in the North American work industry.

I read the article and it rings about right. It brings back a flood of memories. From my introduction one can guess they weren’t all good memories.

I was never one of the really nice guys, not by a long shot, however I did very often put the needs of the corporation before my own. In fact, that’s pretty much all I ever did.

This latter is, in and of itself, really my responsibility and I own that. Misguided as it was, it is the way I was brought up and I own that too.

Now the question does come up in my mind, why should the “nice-guy” have to change to become an asshole?

Should the asshole not change him or herself to be more nice, in effect fostering a better working environment, even for themselves? The obvious answer is that they aren’t interested in a good working environment, indeed they are only interested in their advancement within it. The objective is simply different.

So we come to the crux of my bother, if I don’t like nor agree with the objective - self aggrandisement, to advance, to yield more self aggrandisement – then why should I suffer because of it, and why should I have to espouse this? I’m thinking frog becoming bull scenario.

“That’s the way it is,” is not only depressing, it’s the nice guy’s view.

Ultimately, why shouldn’t the assholes have to change themselves, and go into their own therapy to crank it back down a notch?

Really they should!

I tried to implement exactly such behaviour in my teams when I was a manager. I’d systematically value teamwork, I’d recognize the quiet workhorses sometimes thrusting them into the limelight to their great dismay! I knew too well this was the game that had to be played for their own benefit, whether they ever realized it or not. Not all managers above me had the savvy to recognize the true workhorses as opposed to the horse’s ass. So I delighted myself in pointing them out.

Anyone becoming too big for their britches would take a lapping. So there! This is why I wasn’t so nice.

A few employees hated me for it – behold I had changed the rules in favour of the nice guys! I’m proud of that fact actually, not so much for being hated, but for bringing a little counterweight to the culture. Yay me! (Oh wait, I got my ass nuked. Maybe there’s a correlation there?)

But realistically, as much as I hate to admit it, the article is correct: it befalls the nice guy to do the hard work, yet again! That is to change themselves to fit the mould. Unfair? I suppose. Comeuppance someday? Not bloody likely.

Nope. Nice guys just plain finish last. Period.

The real question is: are nice guys happy and content with their lot? Water off a duck’s back, so to speak? Maybe so, but many of us are nice guys, so why do we buy lottery tickets and count the days until retirement if we’re so fucking content with our lot?

I guess it all depends how zen we actually become, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

See the Light - Too?

(*Hit and run blog*)

I figured I'd start off my day with something light. Pun, oh-so-very intended.

Just saw a web-ad, angling for your pledge to swap out a regular light bulb to a green-bulb.


I do pray to all that is holy that people will pledge to swap out just the freshly burned out ones.

Maybe I'm being too cynical? Not putting enough trust in people's intelligence? Hmm.

So here are some - real - thoughts, please add your own in the comments section.

1) I pledge to acquire some eco-friendly bulbs, (actually I already have some)
2) But ONLY if they come in a green-friendly carton (thanks medstudentwife).
3) I pledge to swap out ONLY burned out bulbs.
4) Green-friendly ones are destined for my ceilings, for sure.
5) Move and swap bulbs where I don't need the extra heat.
6) Outdoors require a special type of eco-bulb that fires up at colder temperatures - I may get 2 of those (1 front, 1 back), assuming they will work at -40.

Anyone else have some suggestions?

Some manufacturer links (where applicable, I used the Canadian urls)

General Electric:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Damage Uncontrolled

It’s amazing, in the course of a life how much damage one can perpetrate and not know.

Once again, I am confronted with miscommunication.

It appears that I have somehow pissed off some very good friends of mine. The problem is that I have absolutely no idea what I have done,

No idea at all.


I cannot even begin to fathom what it could possibly be! And no one is telling me.

In fact, those that could help me mend, or at least understand, the issue are refusing to communicate with me.

I must have done something absolutely horrible. But that’s only an educated guess.

I can’t fix it. I can’t talk about it, and apparently, the wrong I have caused was through my talking in the first place. So why wasn’t the slight addressed while I was having the conversation? I can only surmise it happened later.

As I said before I am not perfect and I am trying to improve every single day. Faced with such roadblock though, I feel helpless and hopeless and self improvement is for naught.

I can’t shake this image: you certainly want to fix the car, now that you’ve found out it’s broken. You want to give it a try, but no one will allow you into the garage, nor tell you what’s wrong with it. All you can do is wait for the bill and hope it doesn’t ruin you.

I cannot appeal, given the delicate situation, since this would be construed as further encroachment! And I might just make things worse!

And this is where the friendship really breaks down: my intentions were judged to be malicious and deliberate up front, and therefore unworthy of further consideration. Not all friendships warrant benefit of the doubt, but I thought this one certainly would be. I guess I was wrong.

I can assure you dear readers, that I was NOT deliberately being malicious.

This is the epitome of frustration.

And then it dawns on me that this refusal to communicate is, in fact, the actual punishment for my transgression.

I have been tried, judge and sentenced, all in absentia. And I can’t get a court transcript.

I just hope that whatever the hell it is I did, I never do again.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I See the Light

... and heat.

It has been a recurring thought, whenever I see a lightbulb, that some inane special interest green group has seen fit to lobby the gubmint towards outlawing traditional tungsten light bulbs in favour of the so called energy efficient derivatives.

At first there was a question of tungsten being hard to recycle.


And finally the power savings gambit.

I can’t say anything about difficulty in recycling. I just don’t know.

Longevity is total bullshit. I used to install commercial lights when I was younger. These puppies would turn over 25000 hours easy, for a bulb that is half the cost of the energy-saver for twice the time rating!

Now the power savings issue: the evil 60-watt tungsten bulbs I use, and love, are mathematically more economical on power, believe it or not.

Ok, so I haven’t done all the calculations, nor am I inclined. I am a writer (presumably) not a mathematician, although I can explain what integrals are in layman’s terms.

My bulbs suck back some 60 watts of power and provide a goodly amount of illumination.

And I live in Canada.

So, about 6 to 7 months out of the year I need at least a little bit of heating too. Oddly enough, my light bulbs give off a pile of heat. This pile is used to keep me warm on those cooler evenings. The light is usually close-by so I don’t need to heat the whole room. How about that?

The energy saver bulb gives off light at 15 watts, which is ¼ power of the tungsten bulb, but then I have to fire up the room heater to compensate for the warmth I’m no longer getting from the bulb. The heat register will heat up the entire room, at over 1500 watts heat output.

Hmmm, the math on this just doesn’t tip in favour of the so-called energy-saver, does it?

At least my tungsten friend gives both warmth and light for my 60 watts.

Sceptics will say, but what about those times I don’t need the added heat? Summertime!

Well first we do have daylight savings time that compensates, and second, this being Canada more often than not the nights are cool enough to warrant the use of a little lighted heat.

OK, I’ll give the energy saver its due for those really hot nights. Fair is fair. But the other 300+ days?

Plus, when I’m exposed for too long to neon light, or halogen, or anything but tungsten really, I get physically ill. Go figure.

So if the law is passed that tungsten is going dodo-bird here, I’m stocking up on industrial long-lasting tungsten lights before they disappear.

I do have one question: I realize neon gas is inert, but where the hell does it go when it’s subtending bulb has expired and broken?

Mainstream Media

This is a shameless plug for my friend Martin's blog, yet his most recent post does dovetail nicely from my own post on Bushwacking - Expanded, so I'm adding it here as a worthy read: “This is CNN”

And as far as knee jerk reactions? Read his blog post on the Don Imus debacle.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bushwhacking - Expanded

Bush whacking by anyone outside the U.S. is a matter of opinion. Anyone is entitled to his or her own, I guess.

Bush bashing by anyone inside the U.S. is somewhat self-defeating, but clearly justified. Indeed a goodly portion of the American people elected him, twice. Well once and a half really. Notwithstanding the fact that many Americans feel the electoral process has failed them in this instance, I really want to look at why I said he is “the result” and not the cause.

My friend Martin brings up a good point (see comments on previous blog).

The media and American people are at fault?

Yeah, I do believe this to be true, but not in the popular manner. Or maybe it is popular but I just haven't heard or read about it yet.

First, the people of the U.S. have a history of minding their own business. I would not qualify the mass as egotistical, not at all. But I feel there is a current of thought much like the quote from a Lord of the Rings hobbit which went something like: we should not pay mind to what goes on beyond our borders, make no trouble and no trouble will come to you.

My evidence is empirical of course, yet it is consistent since at least WW2.

Mind you, and this is the utter dichotomy that the rest of us have a hard time with. The US governments, since even before Roosevelt jumped into the fray after the attack on Pearl Harbor (note the American spelling of harbour, not a mistake on my part), have come to aid countries and foreign governments in peril. One will remember the Japanese retribution on the harbour was because they felt slighted by U.S. aid to China, declared or not.

When the cause is just, and maybe sometimes when it's not so much, the U.S. government will undertake military and economic action. And now the clincher - you see this coming right? - they actually have a history of doing this despite the people's wishes!

So what gives?

We are led to believe that the typical American wants nothing to do with the outside world, yet their gubmint has foreign policies which are, shall we say, aggressive?

The easy answer is power and money. Duh. Yeah, yeah, protecting the American way of life, blah, blah. I'll leave all that shite to Michael Moore.

The hard answer is manipulation.

This is where the media’s failure comes in, to Martin’s point.

There are spin-doctors working for the gubmint. Assuming Aaron Sorkin was even 1% correct in his depiction of the workings of gubmint on The West Wing, and I suspect he’s actually not far off the mark, the media has been fed and manipulated for at least the past 60 years.

Check out Good Night, and Good Luck for a chilling interpretation of how this can happen and is somewhat avoided. Maybe.

Sometimes the media has been well manipulated (9/11) and sometimes not so much (Vietnam). The former caused outrage – and support, at least for a while. The latter caused outrage and a national pullout movement, oops.

Now I’m not saying the gubmint manipulates all media, indeed not. Even that would be a stretch for me. But consider without video cams and instant coverage, the Twin Towers debacle would have made the front page of newspapers the next day, and ugly as it was, would have lost much of it’s potency in the process.

But “right there, in your face, all the time”? Media that is too raw and so it’s way too easy to make a statement, especially if it’s the wrong one. Editors are there for a reason. Context is there for a reason.

I remember something bizarre about 9/11. I saw on TV, I think if was that very evening, Los Angeles class sub(s) in the gulf fired some Tomahawk missiles. It only dawned on me several days later that they were shooting at targets of opportunity and not so much retribution.

The bizarre thing is that I felt strangely satisfied that revenge had been exacted.

Until I found out about the whole minor detail of the wrong target thingy. Then I just felt betrayed.

My point is that raw data in the media, may or may not work in ones favour. Sure we can then have hindsight to apply, but the initial manipulation has been done. No one can take back the terror damage done by instant footage of the Tower’s crash. That’s the very point of terrorism and terrorism needs quick media in order to work properly.

An exercise if you will.

Imagine a little bit of editing, very little in fact, on the Twin Towers aircraft crash footage. Add a voice-over or caption saying this: “Civil and military authorities are conducting experiments on building resilience after attack. What you are about to see is actual footage of test missile firings on buildings to be demolished in a few days. They and surrounding buildings have been evacuated for safety.”

These are the exact same pictures, but presented in a different context. See how easy that was?

Make this kind of editing pervasive throughout modern media and you have manipulated the entire population.

So now we are scared and irrevocably so. And have been for a good long while. (Ref. many previous posts on the subject of “Fear”.)

And we feel powerless, sometimes dejected.

Some feel outright hopelessness.

And so, maybe out of anger and need for comeuppance, we elect those that we believe will defend us nice and proper.

Bush and his ilk are… the result.

I think the solution is simple, if impossible to implement. The media does need fixing, and the editing needs to be done by men and woman of outstanding social fabric - note that I did NOT say HIGHER social fabric, I said outstanding.

My grandmother was one such person. She was intelligent and had disarming common sense, life experiences untainted by judgemental attitude, a righteous set of personal beliefs and an uncanny wherewithal to separate fact from fiction. Sure she had some strong opinions, but if you wanted the straight goods? Holy shit did this woman ever tell it like it is.

My grandma was a cotton weaver, and she was deaf.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Thought of the Day

Once again I come across a Bush-hater comment. I am getting a little sick and tired of all the Bush bashing out there. Not that I am a fan of this President, indeed not.

But to all Bush-whackers out there, consider this thought for a moment:

Prez Bush isn't the cause, he is the result.