Hit Coffee is the story of Will Truman (trumwill),
transplant in the mountain west with an IT background who bides his time
substitute teaching while his wife brings home the bacon.
This site is a collection of reflections
on the goings-on in his life and in the world around him. You will probably
be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the
third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.
Greetings from Callie, Arapaho, a red town in a red state known for growing
red meat. And from Redstone, Arapaho(Aw-RAH-pah-hoe), a blue city with blue collar roots that's been feeling blue
for quite some time.
Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though
if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character
and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.
This website is maintained by Guy Webster (web),
who also contributes from time to time.
Web hails from the midwest and currently lives
in Truman's home city of Colosse, Delosa. He works as a utility IT person at
Southern Tech University, their alma mater.
Also contributing is Sheila Tone (stone) a West Coaster, breeder, and lawyer
who has probably hooked up with some loser just like you and sees through
your whole pathetic little act.
I don’t fully understand the appeal. I’m not going to be one of those guys that pretends that he has (or had) “refined” (read: ridiculous) standards. I mean, she’s relatively pretty. Quite pretty, if you ran into her on the street. But by Hollywood standards, she’s rather unremarkable. Kind of odd looking. The sort of “odd” that I might have found appealing in its own sort of way in real life. But not 50 Most Beautiful People attractive.
I haven’t been this puzzled since Angelina Jolie. And Jolie had a certain mojo with bisexual or otherwise straight women that Hathaway doesn’t, to my knowledge, have.
Usually, leaked Wonderlic scores are embarrassingly low. Not so, however, for Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy, who nearly aced the test, scoring a 48 out of a possible 50 according to his hometown Fort Worth Star-Telegram. That score puts him on the high, high end of potential employees in any field, and especially among NFL quarterbacks. A 48 is twice the league average for incoming QBs, and matches the highest score for a quarterback on record, belonging to current Buffalo Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, a Harvard grad. (Here is the most complete database of Wonderlic scores by quarterbacks through 2006. Only one other starter last year, the 49ers’ Alex Smith, managed a 40 on the test; only one NFL player, former Bengals punter Pat McInally – another Harvard grad – is believed to have scored a perfect 50.)
This apparently could present a problem for McElroy, because apparently while the NFL likes them to be smarter than a rock, they don’t want them too much smarter. This apparently isn’t the first nerdity has been shown in a negative light. A Florida State safety’s decision to take advantage of a Rhodes Scholarship lead many to question his commitment to NFL football:
Rolle is a man with options and that makes NFL types, some of whom would be teaching P.E. in high school if not for the pro game, very uneasy.
“We’ll have to find out how committed he is,” an NFC assistant coach said, echoing the sentiment of five other NFL types leading up to this weekend’s scouting combine. “Committed” is a euphemism for desire, care, passion and whatever other combination of emotions goes into wanting to play football enough to make it a career.
It’s a tragedy when student athletes take that “student” part seriously.
Mark Gimein writes about The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox. It’s essentially the female equivalent to The Woman Shortage. Both of which are often nooks and crannies that our psyches hide behind in explaining Why I Can’t Find Someone That Seems To Meet My Entirely Reasonable Standards. Gimein attempts to explain this using Game Theory (as in the real kind, not the Neil Straussian version we more typically talk about):
You can think of this traditional concept of the search for marriage partners as a kind of an auction. In this auction, some women will be more confident of their prospects, others less so. In game-theory terms, you would call the first group “strong bidders” and the second “weak bidders.” Your first thought might be that the “strong bidders”—women who (whether because of looks, social ability, or any other reason) are conventionally deemed more of a catch—would consistently win this kind of auction.
But this is not true. In fact, game theory predicts, and empirical studies of auctions bear out, that auctions will often be won by “weak” bidders, who know that they can be outbid and so bid more aggressively, while the “strong” bidders will hold out for a really great deal. You can find a technical discussion of this here. (Be warned: “Bidding Behavior in Asymmetric Auctions” is not for everyone, and I certainly won’t claim to have a handle on all the math.) But you can also see how this works intuitively if you just consider that with a lot at stake in getting it right in one shot, it’s the women who are confident that they are holding a strong hand who are likely to hold out and wait for the perfect prospect.
Susan Walsh interprets it through the prism of what she calls The Carol Syndrome:
The Eligible Bachelor Paradox dovetails nicely with another game theory concept that’s been applied to dating – dubbed The Carol Syndrome, named for the author’s beautiful friend Carol. Carol doesn’t get asked out much, and she believes that she frightens men away, but she doesn’t understand why. Surely some men are willing to approach her! It turns out that game theory can explain, at least theoretically why no men do.
Let’s say that Carol is sitting in Starbucks. Cute Guy sees her and feels attraction – he would love to get her number. He figures there are three potential outcomes, listed in order of preference:
1. Approach Carol and get her number. Win!
2. Forget it and go back to texting. Meh.
3. Approach Carol and get rejected. Loser!
While Cute Guy is deciding what to do, he notices other guys in Starbucks, several of whom also have noticed Carol and are also stealing glances at her. He is a STEM guy, so he calculates his odds of success with each approach. Obviously, his chance of success with option 2 is zero. Option 1 is much more likely if he’s the only guy who approaches Carol, and Option 3 is probable if several guys approach Carol. He’d really rather not deal with the rejection. But she is gorgeous! How to know what other guys will do?
Game theory says that the better looking Carol is, the more guys will want to approach her, and the more likely that any one of them will be rejected. Since all the guys act independently, the odds are highest that each of them will conclude that it is not a good idea to approach Carol. The more admiring men there are in Starbucks, the lower Carol’s chances of getting approached at all.
If this analysis is true, it supports my favorite hypothesis about why pleasantness of personality is overrepresented among both the low and high ends of the attractiveness spectrum: that neither group is much bothered by excessive male pestering, in the latter case because the cost of failure times its probability is prohibitive for the majority of men.
My college tech classes were, unsurprisingly, dominated by men. Those women that were somewhat disproportionately likely to be second-career types or foreign. Out of nowhere in one class was a gorgeous blond bombshell* of appropriate age. One of the amazing things was that nobody - and I mean nobody - talked to her. At all. Women who were foreign, fat, or wore shorts with unshaved legs, got more attention. Maybe not of the romantic kind (I really don’t know), but none were so avoided and (if only for their novelty) tended to attract more attention. But you would have thought that this girl had a stink-bomb in her pocket by the way that she was treated. By (young, available, attracted-as-hell) me, included. By the end of the class, her only friend was an Asian guy who barely spoke English.
I’ve heard some attractive women say that they actually get more attention when they dress down than when they dress up. I have a friend that made an absolute science out of finding flaws with women (”If you look at her closely, her eyes are slightly too close together and the eyebrow waxing is slightly asymmetrical.”) because such things were necessary for him to believe that he had any sort of chance. The term we used was “attainably attractive,” which was something of a joke because they were not remotely attainable by the likes of us. But it gave us just enough wiggle room to think it might be so. Not enough to ever really follow up. It also brings to mind some of the complaints of Sheila. Less so for any physical shortcoming on her part, but rather a vulnerability due to class and social standing that gave guys that had no shot the illusion that they did. All of this is to say that guys very frequently look for a reason for their to be an opening. Even if it’s illusory, some will go for it. But if they can’t even get that, cause they’re looking at all the other guys eyeing her at Starbucks, they may well be more likely to move on.
So what about the weak/strong bidder distinction? Do some women succeed by putting themselves out there? Some guys argue that this is the case, that women should be more forward. Others (guys and girls) say the opposite. If they do the legwork, the guy will just use her for sex and toss her aside. I know that in the past I have said that the guy should at least be willing to meet you half way. If there is any truth to this article, that may not be the case. And I can think of a few anecdotes to where someone that ordinarily would not have been on my radar getting there through some rather aggressive bidding.
I remember Maya, my friend Kyle’s former roommate. They’d recently moved in together (platonically) and I was in town visiting him. She was kind of chubby and not remarkably impressive. But boy, she could talk. And she talked to me all night long. In a way, I was grateful because we went to a party and it saved me from having to meet anyone knew. But she told me nearly everything about herself and asked question after question after question about me. At one point (I think I was in a sour mood more generally, that night) I wanted to ask “What’s wrong with you?!” do to all of the attention she was giving me. Whether she was actually interested in me I do not know, but trickle-trickle it came out that what she was looking for in a guy (tall, thickly built, young**, intelligent) were attributes I had. Anyway, though part of me found it obnoxious at the time (in part because I think I was in a sour mood, in part because I just didn’t know what to do with this person that would not leave my side), by the next day I was really wanting to talk to her some more. A week later, I was kind of in to her. The next time I saw her, there was no “kind of” about it. Long and uninteresting story about what followed, but nothing ever came of it.
Then there was the Story of Libby. That one did not have a happy ending. At all. But her force of will made it so that if there was any chance of it working out, it probably would have. She didn’t get the marriage that she perhaps wanted, but she made something out of what - for lack of that will - would never have been anything. She’s not alone in this regard. I’ve largely attributed it to an attraction to strong-minded (or, absent that, outgoing) women, but maybe there is something more to it. Not that aggressive bidding will get them what they want, but that maybe I’ve historically been to skeptical of the possibility that it can get them something that they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten?
Some of this rests, though, on the notion of a Quality Man Shortage. Which I do think exists in some contexts (such as the third quartile of functionality), but I really think is more often fueled by the same thing that fuels men to carp about The Woman Shortage. But the strong/weak bidder concept is interesting. It also makes me wonder to what extent there is a strong-weak bidder in the other direction. The general view is that persistence isn’t worth much of anything, as a guy. My experience backs this up 100%. So if there is a difference, why? Is it because men are not socialized/trained to tell women to buzz off when they are not interested, thus providing women more leeway? Are men less put off by the sense of desperation?
* - I mentioned her to a friend of mine. He, like all good friends, said “Go for it!” He asked to see a picture, which I could provide because the class involved making a website. Upon seeing the picture, he suggested that perhaps I ought to move to California and try to land an actress, instead, as that was more likely to happen.
** - Younger than her, to be precise. I was older than her, but she was shocked to find that out. So during the night in question, she thought I was younger.
Arapaho is considering a vote on whether or not to do away with Daylight Savings Time. As a critic of the custom, I mostly hope they do it. I say “mostly” because, while it would be nice to do away with spring forward and have earlier sunrises, it would also be decidedly inconvenient if Arapaho did it alone. That would mean that every time we crossed state lines, we would have to deal with a time change. We go to Deseret and Shoshona periodically. More importantly, though, the last time we flew, we flew out of Deseret and decided that it might be more advantageous to drive five hours to the major airport to get a non-stop flight versus driving a couple hours to Alexandria (Arapaho) and making a two-legged flight. It’s pretty easy to imagine us forgetting that Deseret is an hour ahead of us and missing a flight.
Most likely, the vote will fail. Apparently it has been proposed before. They nipped and tucked it this time around to satisfy some of the objections (Shouldn’t the people get to vote? What if the federal government mandates DST?). But I’m a proud citizen of one of the few states applying scrutiny to this DST madness.
Liberals are often obsessed with keeping taxes highly progressive, but let’s face it - the top 1% control more than 42% of the wealth in the US. If you go to the top 5%, then they collectively control 67% of the wealth in the US. Go to the top 10%, and they control 93% of the country’s wealth.
I don’t disagree with Web that this is problematic. But as Dave later points out, there is a difference between wealth and income. Our federal government taxes the latter. And there are limits to the degree that you can rectify this (in the long, anyway) through tax policy. And it’s even more limited that you can use this in order to bridge our current deficit because any year’s income is only a part of that huge mass of wealth, and the primary form of wealth taxation we have - the estate tax - raises some money, but not huge amounts*. In preparation for a different post, I created a spreadsheet that looks at overall tax burdens of the top earners using numbers from Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ).
For the sake of this post, I am going to make a rather key assumption or two that are probably not true but that a lot of people assume is: you can tax income more-or-less directly. You can prevent the wealthy from wiggling out of it with a good tax attorney. By raising overall tax rates, you will not see an increase of people looking for deductions or else you can account for it with heavier tax rates. And these heavier tax rates will not result in people doing less work (and thereby paying less in taxes).
The CTJ numbers are looking at effective tax rates (for households) and not marginal or accumulated tax rates from which many can whittle down their burden through deductions and the like. To the right are the numbers. TAE represents Total Annual Earnings, OFTB represents Overall Federal Tax Burden. ELTR represents effective local and state tax rates. ETR represents Effective Federal Tax Rate. All are represented as percents. On subsequent charts, you will see EFMR, which is the Effective Federal Marginal Rate, and TETB, which is the Total Effective Tax Burden.
As Web points out, our tax system is not particular progressive once you get to the top 20%. Especially when you factor in state and local taxes, which are regressive. But right now we’re looking at federal. So if we’re concerned about income inequality, and we’re concerned about balancing the budget, why not just add more progressiveness to the tax code and take care of both!
The answer is that the deficit is simply too large. If you were to double the tax rates on the top 1%, you would increase the tax-base by 25%. Now, that’s not too bad… but it’s a first step. It also means that you’re taking over 60 cents on each dollar in the top pseudobracket** if you account for local/state taxes as well. You can extend this downward, but then it starts getting really problematic for people earning money in between the low, existing tax rates, and the higher, new ones. For instance, you can close the entire deficit (almost) by doubling taxes on the top 10% and raising taxes on the next ten percent by 10% by 50%, but now you would be taking over fifty cents on every dollar made over $66,000 (if we include state and local taxes) and almost seventy-five cents of every dollar between $100,000 and $141,000 (after which, marginal rates go down again).
Of course, an odd thing about looking at it this way is that under the previous scenario, marginal rates go down again once you pass $141,000. So let’s say we fiddle with ETRs and make it more directly like a graduated income tax. This means tinkering with the bottom 80%, too, because you run into the same bump for the middle quintile, which pays more marginally than either the second or fourth, but I left their overall burden roughly the same. So if we try to restructure it so that nobody pays more per new dollar earned than those in the previous bracket, you can actually come across something that’s a little more fair in the broader sense. However, you would still have various governments coming after people for more than fifty cents on the dollar for everything they made over $100,000***. The end result of this is a smoother, very progressive system in which the average dollar over $250,000 has almost seventy-five cents taken from it;. And if you’re inclined to cut those between $250k and $1.3m (the average income in the top 1%), you’re going to have to take that much more from the top. That may be satisfying on one level, but exactly how much do we want to take from those that earn good money? Under this plan, the top would lose over 2/3 of their (admittedly, very high) income.****
I support a progressive tax code (one more progressive than the code we have now). And as I mentioned on Web’s post (and will mention again in a future post), I think that the Truman family’s taxes are going to have to go up even if the folks in Washington manage to cut government. Perhaps it’s merely a product of suddenly being closer to the income where people start thinking that we have too much money and if we’re not turning it into Washington we’re essentially hoarding it, but it’s seeming unreasonable to take three out of four dollars off the top (if you include the state’s cut). The “off the top” does matter, I should add, because I can guarantee you that should something like the above come to pass and the tax burden off of new dollars made reach two-thirds of our income (as it would in the last table), then Clancy and I do start making decisions involving her working less and my not working at all even if more permanent employment does make itself available. And the further down the income line you start the hikes, the higher the marginal rates have to be to make up the difference.
The alternative, here, is to tax wealth itself. Local and state governments do this with the property tax. The federal government does it with the estate tax. I would have to think more about this, though my main concern would be that if it’s too high, you run into a situation where people build companies that they can no longer afford because it’s an asset being taxed. So they’re having to dig into their own pockets just to keep what they’ve built. So while you could do it (and to an extent, it is already done), I don’t know how much revenue you can actually raise from it. Raising the estate tax is another possibility. However, as mentioned in * below, the estate tax doesn’t raise all that much revenue. Too few rich people and they don’t die with sufficient frequency.
This isn’t an argument against raising the taxes on the wealthy (or closing loopholes or whatever). I support the graduated income tax and, as much as we can, targeting taxes to those that can most afford it. But it’s not going to end there. My above assumptions, that we can accurately target these taxes, loopholes will not be created and exploited, and that significant numbers of high-earners will simply trade the thirty-five cents on the dollar that they would otherwise get in favor of more leisure time. Ultimately, unless our economy rebounds in spectacular fashion, the tax punch is going to have to go further than the top 10% or even top 20% of earners, spending is going to have to be cut, or we have to start confiscating wealth/assets.
Which is the main problem with looking at how much the top earners are and thinking that we could close the gap just by taxing them more. The problem is that the top 1% only qualifies as 1% of the population. The top 5% as 5. Meanwhile, the middle quintiles constitute 20% of the population a piece. It’s hard to look at the deficit without also looking at that third of the national income. And at spending. The current deficit, if it continues*****, is not a problem with a simple solution. Nor is it a problem that will be accomplished without pain, as though we can somehow cut huge amounts of spending that nobody will miss or we will simply be able to tax the other guy. (more…)
It has always been disheartening when good movies flop; it gives endless comfort to those who would rather not have to try to make them and can happily take cover behind a shield labeled “The people have spoken.” But it’s really bad news when the industry essentially rejects a success, when a movie that should have spawned two dozen taste-based gambles on passion projects is instead greeted as an unanswerable anomaly. That kind of thinking is why Hollywood studio filmmaking, as 2010 came to its end, was at an all-time low—by which I don’t mean that there are fewer really good movies than ever before (last year had its share, and so will 2011) but that it has never been harder for an intelligent, moderately budgeted, original movie aimed at adults to get onto movie screens nationwide. “It’s true at every studio,” says producer Dan Jinks, whose credits include the Oscar winners American Beauty and Milk. “Everyone has cut back on not just ‘Oscar-worthy’ movies, but on dramas, period. Caution has made them pull away. It’s infected the entire business.”
For the studios, a good new idea has become just too scary a road to travel. Inception, they will tell you, is an exceptional movie. And movies that need to be exceptional to succeed are bad business. “The scab you’re picking at is called execution,” says legendary producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network, True Grit). “Studios are hardwired not to bet on execution, and the terrible thing is, they’re right. Because in terms of execution, most movies disappoint.”
With that in mind, let’s look ahead to what’s on the menu for this year: four adaptations of comic books. One prequel to an adaptation of a comic book. One sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a toy. One sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on an amusement-park ride. One prequel to a remake. Two sequels to cartoons. One sequel to a comedy. An adaptation of a children’s book. An adaptation of a Saturday-morning cartoon. One sequel with a 4 in the title. Two sequels with a 5 in the title. One sequel that, if it were inclined to use numbers, would have to have a 7 1/2 in the title.1
And no Inception. Now, to be fair, in modern Hollywood, it usually takes two years, not one, for an idea to make its way through the alimentary canal of the system and onto multiplex screens, so we should really be looking at summer 2012 to see the fruit of Nolan’s success. So here’s what’s on tap two summers from now: an adaptation of a comic book. A reboot of an adaptation of a comic book. A sequel to a sequel to an adaptation of a comic book. A sequel to a reboot of an adaptation of a TV show. A sequel to a sequel to a reboot of an adaptation of a comic book. A sequel to a cartoon. A sequel to a sequel to a cartoon. A sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a cartoon. A sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a young-adult novel.2 And soon after: Stretch Armstrong. You remember Stretch Armstrong, right? That rubberized doll you could stretch and then stretch again, at least until the sludge inside the doll would dry up and he would become Osteoporosis Armstrong? A toy that offered less narrative interest than bingo?
I am going to expand on some thoughts I outlined here. Different media have different requirements. Anything that drives down revenues is going to hurt a content-producer and content-deliverer. However, depending on the media involved, the result of this for the end-consumer is going to be different.
For instance, if it ever were to come to pass that making records wasn’t profitable on a wide scale, there would still be records. Some people are born to create music. There’d be garage CDs and at least some people that eek out a living for a while playing live shows and selling a few CDs until they have kids and need a more reliable income. The consumer (or at least some of them) could still be hurt because they would lose the primary pipeline through which they are regularly introduced to music without having to seek it out. The record labels select the artists, spend lots of money on advertising to get the songs on the radio and in the ears of the populace. This would be inconvenient for most people that prefer to have music presented to them. You would also have less professional sounding recordings. There would be a lot less in the way of auto-tuning and so the singing itself might be somewhat worse. But… there would still be music. All the music you could ever afford to buy tenfold. Enough music that you would enjoy being made by some aficionado somewhere.
The same goes for the publishing industry. Even if they weren’t getting paid for it, a lot of people would still write. Enough would be competent that while the end-product might be worse than before and they may be more expensive (no economies of scale), but they would be there. While you may have to seek out books rather than having a natural pipeline to your local bookstore, books (like music) do not require all that much in the way of capital these days. Books and music can be produced with passion and a couple or a few thousand dollars.
Movies, though, are a different bird. They require huge investments. Millions upon millions of dollars. Some aficionado in Minneapolis is going to have a hard time putting together that kind of money without investors. Investors are not going to invest unless there is a good chance on a return of their investment (or, if the article’s Chris Nolan example is correct, staying in the good graces of someone that is going to deliver for you in the future). If the revenue streams dry up, nobody will invest. Of course, in this case the revenue streams have not dried up (yet), but it has become so that studios have to be really conservative as to what they greenlight. So you’re stuck with assured successes, like the next Batman movie, or movies that, if they fail, won’t have cost all that much. If the Batman movies ever cease to make a profit, we would be stuck with a product (unlike with movies and records) radically different from what we have now. Every movie is inexpensive. Every movie is Clerks.
I don’t know if this will ever happen as it seems that there will always be room for generalist entertainment. Though said entertainment will get increasingly conservative and uncreative over time. While Clerks is (in my opinion) a good movie, it’s not what I would want every movie to be. The difference in quality and scope with inexpensive equipment would be severely limiting.
On the other hand, with technology getting better and better, between now and then we could reach the point where people could make their own animated or CG productions with a more manageable level of effort and investment. There are people that make their own productions using anime footage, for instance. They are hindered by having to conform to existing footage. So consider something like Red vs Blue writ large. Red vs. Blue is a production based on footage from Halo, a first-person shooter game. Its story is constrained by its setting, but imagine a “game” specifically designed for the purpose of making movies. You actually don’t have to imagine it because it exists. The movie-making ability appears to be pretty limited, but it’s not hard to imagine someone picking up where they left off, as that program did with the ones that came before it. (Update: There is apparently an application called iClone that’s more specifically devoted to this sort of thing)
I don’t expect actual movie-quality productions to be able to be made through that any time soon, but it holds definite potential. The question would remain whether people would be that it would almost certainly be perpetually behind Pixar. On the other hand, South Park is eons behind The Simpsons. And whereas where movies like Clerks are plot-limited by where they have access to shoot and such, these movies could become far, far less limited. It would be as possible to make a science fiction movie as it would a character drama or comedy, so long as you were willing to invest the time in it.
Yesterday was Freshman Science class. In the first period, there was these group of guys snubbing this other guy. The thing is… all four of these guys looked almost exactly the same. Same chubby build. Same shaggy hair. Same disaffected facial expressions Essentially, they all look like Jake Harper (the “Half” from “Two and a Half Men”).
I wanted to say “What are you snubbing him for?! He is you!”
If there was a distinction that made the first three sufficiently more “cool” than the fourth, I could not for the life of me discern it. I expect this kind of thing from girls, but not so much for boys.
Best Buy is looking at taking a page from Walmart. A good page, though:
Shoppers at Best Buy”Every Day Low Price” is the mantra at Walmart, and now it seems Best Buy is considering adopting the concept as it tries to compete with online retailers and get consumers to shop during non-promotional events.
“We have to move rapidly in recognizing the transparency of pricing,” Mike Vitelli, executive vice president and co-head of the North America division at Best Buy told Bloomberg News.
According to a Best Buy spokeswoman, any shift in pricing strategy is in the very early stages of discussion, and there are no more details to share at this time. Why then, tell a national news agency during interviews conducted at Best Buy’s Minnesota headquarters?
I go to Safeway about twice a week and then Walmart about two weeks of every three. When I was living in Cascadia, I went to Safeway or Fred Myers once a week and then to Walmart once a month or so. A lot is made of Walmart’s low prices (some suggesting they are illusory, others that they are real, others conceding the latter point but arguing that they are low for bad reasons), but cut-throat price-point is never really why I shopped at Walmart. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s mostly about convenience. This includes price in a couple of ways. For instance, Walmart carries inexpensive options for those times when I don’t need something of real quality. But another thing is, independent of the actual price-tags, the pricing structure.
I have a Safeway card and used to have a Fred Myers card. With the Safeway card, prices on Safeway products are often competitive with - or maybe even better than - Walmart’s. However, it creates the problem where when I go to Safeway, I don’t know how much I am going to actually pay for anything. So I end up buying things based on whether they are on sale rather than whether I need them on a given trip. I have a utility room filled with softdrinks from a 2-for-1 sale from when they were really cheap, but if I were to have gone up there yesterday they would have been twice as expensive. All because of when I purchased it.
Walmart is not above that sort of thing (and somewhat recently has been getting worse about it), but at Safeway it is more often the rule rather than the exception to the rule. Walmart’s pricing has historically been blissfully straightforward. Prices fluctuate as they do with everything, everywhere. And when they are trying to get rid of something they will mark it down, but you don’t have to worry about time-consuming coupon-clipping, stocking up on things when they’re on sale and having to bite the bullet when they are not, or things like that. At least, you don’t have to worry about it nearly to the degree that you do at Safeway and the like. There is, to me, a value in (relatively) transparent pricing.
And then, of course, there is Best Buy. Never a company I hated more than nonetheless managed to get my business. And one of the big reasons I hate them is their opaque pricing. With Best Buy, it’s less to do with a “Best Buy card” (I don’t know if such a thing exists) and more to do with mail-in rebates (you can get a good deal, but only if you jump through these pointless hoops where we increase our margins by betting that you forget!) and huge markups on convenience items. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Best Buy’s way of doing things. Such things are uniform with restaurants that charge you $2 for a drink that costs them 10 cents while making considerably less margin on the food you actually went there for and with theaters that make their money on charging a lot of money for cheaply purchased and/or produced goods like popcorn and coke.
To some extent, it’s the nature of the beast. But it’s really nice to be able to buy something and so rarely notice that if I had waited a week it would have cost half as much. To be able to go in, get something, and get out without feeling like I had been ripped off because I did something wrong. It’s, perhaps oddly, something I am willing to actually pay more for. When I was in Cascadia I gave Costco a try. They had some really good prices there, but the pricing seemed particularly erratic depending on the deal they got on a particular product on a particular week. That, combined with the fact that I had to tailor what I purchased to what they had in stock, made the whole experience pretty off-putting for me.
There are a lot of things not to like about Walmart (Made in China, underpaid staff, pricing out the competition), as Web and others are quick to point out. But this (along with their generous hours and the convenience of having so many things at a central location) has definitely been a plus. And I hope that Best Buy follows through (and Walmart reconsiders its drift in the other direction). I shop there because it’s often my only (one-stop) option, but when I can I shop at Fry’s because they seem to price much more consistently and transparently. Yeah, there’s a pretty good amount of price-fluctuation (wait a week, save a bundle) because it’s technology, but there’s not nearly as much of it. And anything that makes Best Buy more like Fry’s is a winner, in my book.
Here’s an L.A. Times article on sexual harassment in Egypt. It describes two other groping incidents in Tahrir Square around the same time as the Lara Logan “aggressive pinching” incident (still no named sources for any of it, anywhere), and both of the women were pinched. Pulling and ripping clothes is also common, but none of the assaults included rape (including Logan’s, let us remember, despite the manipulatively misleading CBS press release).
In the square, Doha Alzohairy, 33, was celebrating when a group of men abruptly closed around her. She is convinced they didn’t know one another. They kept their hands low and their faces blank. She tried not to panic.
“They all started to touch me and grab me and pinch me all over,” she said. “The arms came from everywhere. It was terrifying. I worried that if I fell on the ground, no one would see me. So I started to shout and punch and scream and swear. But I wanted people to hear me.
“It was so humiliating,” she said. “I looked like I was crazy. Finally a man grabbed me from behind. I struggled against him, but he said, ‘I will help.’ And he helped me escape.”
My day was salvaged when the call-out clerk found a $7 day for me at Redstone High. Even better, it was teaching American government! A subject on which I am both highly interested and knowledgeable about!
Of course, that makes it all the more frustrating when the students couldn’t care less. They didn’t even flinch when - by way of example - I mentioned the Detroit was closing half of its schools.
There was, however, one kid who seemed very interested in what I had to say. He watched me very intently.
He kept it up even after I gave everyone their reading assignment. Just watching.
I try to go to bed early every night so that I am ready for a 5:30am call. None came this morning, but one did come around 8. I reminded the call-out clerk that I lived in Callie, but she said it wasn’t a problem. It was a little bit of a longer drive than usual (ice on the roads), plus it involved refilling the gas tank and drive-thru breakfast (there was, fortunately, no line) so that I wasn’t dying of hunger throughout the day.
But when I got there, the principal told me that they had cancelled me because it had gotten too late. I told him that I hadn’t gotten the call until 8 and I had to drive over from Callie, but he told me that the clerk said she called at 7:30, making me look like a liar. It didn’t occur to me to look it up on the phone until I had already left, but the actual call-time was 7:54.
It wouldn’t bother me (what’s one school among 8 or so?) except that this is the school I like most. It’s the one that, if we relocated to Redstone, I would want to move into the jurisdiction of. Now I’m a bit worried that I may have burned that bridge. My hope is that the principal remembers that the last time (my first-ever assignment), I showed up quite early.
In the market to hire someone? If you are like most others in business, you place a high priority on the amount of experience that an applicant has. Everyone looking for their next hire seems to look for the “best” employee, as defined by the applicant’s experience. Obviously, someone with 10 years of experience is better than someone with two years, right? Not so quick.
Realize this — the thing that you can give someone is experience. You can provide all the skills and experience that you want to. But there are other things that you cannot give them, which makes those things far more important than just having experience.
He goes on to list work ethic, attitude, energy, intelligence, and values. I have a few conflicting thoughts on this. The first thing that jumped out at me was that most of the things he is listing are things that are rather difficult to ascertain during an interview and do not go on a resume. You don’t know someone’s work ethic or energy (though you may have a better clue about that) until they’ve started working for you. The others can be faked. Intelligence is dicey territory, from a legal standpoint, though you can take the approach that some employers do and have a sort of “working interview” and sidestep that somewhat.
But it’s these ambiguities that make experience so good. It’s the thing you can ask about, investigate, and appraise. The same goes for education, which is one of the reasons that college degrees have become required for jobs that college degrees probably shouldn’t be necessary for. Unless they’re simply lying, you know that if they have a college degree (particularly from a traditional university) they were able to at least jump through a series of hoops over a period of four of five years. When there’s so much you don’t know about them, that’s… something, at least.
On the other hand, I think that his insights are valuable when it comes to job-specific experience. I’ve complained in the past that it seems like employers everywhere not only want you to have experience, but they want you to have experience doing the exact same things that they want you to do. Exact. And, of course, due to the job market they can often (though not always) demand just that. But even when things were better last decade, it was becoming more and more common. The new “experience requirements” for my job at Falstaff essentially said I was no longer qualified for the job I had held - and done well at - for a year. On the other hand, they did hire me as did my two subsequent employers despite having an imperfect alignment of experience-to-job. But I think Michalowicz does make a good point here.
I would also add to that something else. Employers should also consider that if you have someone that has the above traits, hold on to them. It seems that a lot of employers view their employees as being somewhat interchangeable. If they don’t like their salary, or the working conditions, or whatever, they can just leave. Cause there are more where they came from. And it seems that there always are more. However, new employees (regardless of what their resume says) are a gamble. You’ve had to invest a fair amount in pay and training before you have any idea whether things are really going to work out. Meanwhile, you’ve got this guy where you know all of the intangibles asking for a 10% raise and scoffing. These days employers seem to scoff at cost-of-living increases.
Yet employer heartlessness can end at the oddest places. They’re often unwilling to let employees that aren’t working out go. For all of the talk about how employment at will leaves employees vulnerable, I’ve always worked in EAW states and have seen with a fair amount of frequency employees who aren’t any good, who management knows are not any good, and yet are held on to until the next round of layoffs. In one sense, this quasi-loyalty is admirable. On the other, it’s kind of inefficient and if you know someone isn’t working out then it’s less of a gamble to hire someone new. But I’ve seen employers - the same ones that think a cost-of-living increase (or even in correspondence with an increase of responsibility) is outrageous - bend over backwards to keep mediocrity around. The only real exception I’ve had in my own work history is Wildcat, which was a small company where one (perceived) bad employee could (perceivedly) slow things down for everyone. Beyond that, though, the end result is that you seem to keep mediocrity around while contributing employees with other options pursue them because that’s the only way they’re going to get a raise).
It’s not just the lack of corroboration that makes me suspicious of Logan’s sexual assault claim. It’s her own reaction, or lack thereof. Forget the twaddle about sexual assault victims being too depressed and terrified to “come foward.” That may be the average victim. But Lara Logan is absolutely not average, and certainly not a timid, powerless little nobody who has to fear the police, idiot neighbors or sneering classmates. She is a wealthy, sophisticated 40-year-old woman who has spent 10 years in war zones, who saw a soldier’s leg blown off next to her in a tank, who has a huge machine of support behind her. She’s not your 12-year-old daughter. She’s not even you. She wasn’t embarrassed about the Baghdad Love Triangle, she wasn’t embarrassed about having the baby of a still-married man with a toddler, and she wouldn’t be embarrassed about this.
Lara Logan is clearly not one of those people who feels like bad treatment is her fault. And she may be a lightweight, she may be a bimbo, but she is not a weakling and does not lack confidence. No way do I buy that she’s too traumatized to talk. She talks for a living. She exposes other people — many much less wealthy and famous than she is — to public scrutiny for a living. And we’re just supposed to swallow the minimal misleading press release that has made her a household word, wish her well, and “respect her privacy?” Any self-respecting journalist would roll her eyes at the hypocrisy.
And if this really did happen to her, she is, above all else, furious. Ever talked to a real sex crime victim? They want heads on pikes. And they talk, oh yes, given an opportunity they will talk until their throat dries out. Even kids (I have seen them testify. “How did that make you feel?” Ten-year-old witness: “I want to punch him in the nose!”) They welcome the opportunity to bear loud and angry witness.
So why is none of that happening? She has one of the biggest voices in the world right now, and the perfect opportunity to help locate and punish her attackers, reward her rescuers, and focus attention on sexual harassment and assault of women, and female reporters, in Arab countries. Yet she refuses comment.
Here’s what CBS should have sent out immediately:
This evening [because we’re not going to conceal this news while a thousand other reporters are potentially in danger!], correspondent Lara Logan suffered [major? moderate?] injuries during a mob attack in Tahrir Square. Ms. Logan was attacked when she was separated from her crew and surrounded by a mob. She was rescued from further harm by a group of female Egyptian protesters and a group of Egyptian soldiers. Her injuries required hospitalization, for which she returned to the United States immediately.
I could see where it might take a few days to sort out and figure out how to handle the sexual battery element. Logan herself should have followed up with a clarifying statement, something along these lines:
“I want to thank the public for the outpouring of support and concern I have received regarding the incident at Tahrir. I also extend my gratitude to the brave Egyptian woman and soldiers who offered their assistance. I understand their have been rumors that the attack against me was sexual in nature. Those reports are true. I was surrounded by a mob, struck multiple times, had my two front teeth knocked out [I’m making that up for example — ST], and was grabbed and battered sexually and had my clothes torn. Thankfully, I was not raped, due to the intervention of those brave female protesters. They deserve the gratitude of their countrymen and ours.
Unfortunately, as many of us who cover foreign wars know, my experience is not unique. Many reporters have suffered similar attacks. Some were not as lucky as I was. In addition, the women of may of the countries we cover suffer worse fates every day. Women’s rights, yadda yadda yadda they should be treated a lot better, I only hope I’ve increased awareness so others may be helped etc. I and my producers are reviewing tapes of the square that night and will bring forward any leads we have to U.S. and Egyptian authorities, and will be very grateful for any assistance from the public in stringing up these bastards by their balls.” [I hate press releases, but you get the idea].
Yet for some reason, Logan is choosing to act like a fictional sexual assault victim. Precious, delicate, traumatized into silence. Recovering in private. Letting the concerned public assume the worst about her condition and her injuries. Stoking the buzz. Maybe she just doesn’t want to invite the scrutiny that the other approach — the real, angry, public approach — would bring.
Update: Finally, some independent reporting, although it’s unsourced. The Times of London (through the NY Daily News, because it’s behind a paywall) indicates the mob actually attacked the entire crew, calling them spies and Israelis, and Logan was separated at that time. This should be extremely verifiable (so let’s hear from some named witnesses, dammit!). The attack doesn’t sound nearly as sexual in this story, however. Apparently some or all of her clothes were torn off, and she was beaten with fists and flagpoles, and suffered welts from “aggressive pinching.” Sounds pretty bad, but I’ll bet it’s not what all those sympathetic readers envisioned when they read “brutal and sustained sexual assault” in the CBS press release.
The world can now rest easy. Toyota has officially embraced “Prii” as the plural of Prius. The Japanese automaker made the announcement over the weekend at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show after inviting the public at large to vote for the phrase that best fit the company’s new gaggle of hybrids. The voting kicked off on January 10th at the Detroit Auto Show, and while Priuses, Prius, Prium and Prien all surfaced as possibilities, Prii took home the majority of votes with 25 percent of the more than 1.8 million ballots cast.
I’ve loved to hate Lara Logan ever since CBS fired an older, more experienced female reporter to bring her on (here’s me and TL going at it back in 2005). Before she became the poster girl for sexual harassment in the Middle East (link is to a South African publication with more info than the press release - she wasn’t actually raped*), Logan was known for an unprofessionally sexual persona at least as well as she was known for her war reporting. It’s not that she was completely worthless as a reporter — at least she has a long reporting resume — but her behavior and personal presentation suggested, well, bimbo. Her low-cut tank tops, breast implants, and her groupielike attitude toward the military made her seem more appropriate for Fox News.
I could count on Logan for a good pissing-off at least every couple years. Last year, she sucked up to the military by publicly castigating another war reporter for scooping her daring to report disrespectful things soldiers said about the administration (see another Rolling Stone reporter’s response in Lara Logan, You Suck) ; in 2008, the still-married Logan got proudly pregnant with a married high-up military contractor’s baby (they are now married and have a second child). His then-wife and mother of his 3-year-old was so distraught she overdosed on tranquilizers. In response to the scandal, Logan told the Washington Post a poor-me story about how people just don’t understand how it is when you’re overseas on assignment, and she’d lost a fallopian tube to an ectopic pregnancy so, gee, she’d thought at the ripe old age of 37 she wouldn’t get pregnant. (Remember this example of how when her actions are in question, Logan tells a sad story about herself with graphic detail.**)
But last week I read this CBS press release, and my distaste for Logan went temporarily on ice. That’s how we women are; when we hear about a “brutal and sustained sexual assault,” we identify and empathize. We dislike it so much that even when it happens to someone we dislike, we still get really mad. And as I searched Google looking for more information, I felt even worse for Logan, because every site that linked to the story had male commenters sneering about how she deserved it, and using her misfortune to grind their axes against just about every type of woman who exists. They meant me, too.
So let’s review my political options: 1) Scheming bimbo TV reporter; 2) The pro-rape lobby. It’s not hard to pick my side.
But that’s in public; on the Internet, “Sheila Tone” can voice her nuanced suspicions without fear of getting her eyes clawed out. It’s ironic that my feminist views are why I dislike Logan, but now they’re why I have to support her (inasmuch as being a “feminist” means “I REALLY don’t want to be sexually assaulted.”) . Ironic, but perfect sense. And it’s ironic that the same sexism I think is responsible for Logan’s rise (if we have to have a woman doing this job, let’s pick a youngish hottie with fake boobs) is now directed against her due to her alleged mistreatment by men. As I was combing Google for more information, I got suspicious of the one-source story. I wrote a post about my suspicions, looking for clues or additional insight. You’d think at least her detractors would be interested in discrediting her, but I still got some of the same piggish treatment the bro-net gave Logan.
It seems there is no group of people interested in questioning Logan’s story. If she is lying, she’s picked the perfect lie. It’s got something for everyone. Let’s review how her story validates the feelings of some diverse groups:
1) Jewish people. Jewish people fear anti-Semitism, especially from Arabs. And although it wasn’t in CBS’s press release, some nameless source told the NY Post that Logan’s Arab attackers were yelling “Jew!” So even though Logan isn’t Jewish, now she’s got their unquestioning sympathy. Her story supports the view that even average Arabs are dangerously anti-Semitic. I’ve got a Facebook friend from the college paper, another feminist former reporter, who would usually smell bullshit in such an uncorroborated, convenient story. But she’s also really scared of Arabs. She says even if there were lots of witnesses and good Samaritans, no one would speak of it publicly because they’d be terrified of being identified as someone who “helped a Jew.” Even soldiers. Even though they were willing to actually help herpublicly. A lot of feminists and reporters are Jewish, and those are the folks we’d normally count on to scrutinize Logan.
2) People who don’t like Arabs. This one’s self-explanatory.
3 ) Sexist pigs. So why wouldn’t they challenge Logan’s story? Apparently because it’s more fun to think it actually did happen. Also, to challenge her truthfulness is basically admitting it is a big deal if it did happen, and a lot of these guys have the agenda that sexual assault is no big deal. Finally, many of these guys fall into category No. 2.
4) Women, especially female reporters. Apparently sexual harassment and assault of women in public, especially reporters, has been common in the Middle East and in war zones. Usually it consists of catcalls or groping, but there have been rapes and attempted rapes of foreign correspondents. Often it goes unreported because the women are embarrassed, or fear they’ll lose assignments. Logan’s story benefits them by drawing attention to their plight. And if we question her account, we’re criticizing her, and we’re siding with the sexist pigs and against all the real victims.
But here’s one of the suspicious things: While this may be true about war zones in general, it doesn’t appear this is how it was in Egypt during the protests. Here’s something by a female Slate reporter who was there: ).
What happened to Logan is every woman’s nightmare, but it’s also atypical. Most cases of sexual assault in Egypt are not as gruesome as Logan’s experience, they are instead much like what happens to Hussein—a near constant stream of verbal harassment and the odd groping.
But according to Hussein and from what I observed, Midan Tahrir during the 18-day Tahrir encampment was different. Logan’s assault is even more demoralizing for Egyptian women because it comes at a time when they truly believe things are changing for the better.
Harassment was at an all-time low during the protests. … Other women I spoke with inside Tahrir at the time remarked on the same thing. Many hope their role in the revolt that removed Mubarak’s 30-year regime has changed attitudes toward their gender.
And here’s a Jewish Journal commenter, “MLE,” who claims to be an actual Jewish woman who was also in the area that night, speaking as to the supposed anti-Semitism leading to Logan’s assault:
This is absolutely false. I am a Jewish female and I was in Midan Tahrir that evening and there were no problems. Everyone was celebrating and the xenophobic tones of the past few days were completely absent. I actually was surprised how safe I had felt because I had bad encounters in other massive crowds.
I didn’t cherry-pick this stuff. There just isn’t much out there. Which is, again, why I’m suspicious. Where are all the other women agreeing “Yeah, it was really creepy there that night?”
But why would Logan lie? Well, women lie about rape (or unspecified sexual assault) for the same reasons people lie about anything else. Usually it’s 1) for personal gain; or 2) to get out of a bind. The fact that fear of sexist pigs makes most women feel they have to believe the claimant makes it an especially effective lie.
As for personal gain, I conditionally agree with Chuck of “Piggy.” If you think Logan isn’t going to benefit from this, you’re either naive or stupid. It’s average women who don’t benefit from sexual assault. Average victims — average reporters — legitimately fear bad social effects from sexual assault. But not criminals ***– and not rich famous women. Lara Logan gets a phone call from Obama. Lara Logan, former tabloid-fodder bimbo, is now a bulletproof hero, a cause celebre. Only someone with a heart of … stone … would dare to bring up her weaknesses as a reporter and her questionable sexual past. Her critics only increase her public sympathy.
As for No. 2, getting out of a bind: A real possibility. Remember, Logan and her crew got tossed out of Egypt on their ears at the beginning of the protests. Meanwhile, the other networks were getting the story. I could see this causing some problems with CBS. Logan finally came back, and unrelated to any stories she reported became the most discussed reporter from the event. She accomplished little in Egypt, yet her name is now a household word.
Victim or not, she sucks. But you guys suck even more, because you’re the reason she’ll get away with it. She, of all people, gets to be compensated in spades for your misogyny.
* Her clothes were torn off her and she would have been raped, but for Egyptian female protesters throwing themselves across her body! So moving … yet so unsubstantiated.
** After she and her crew got detained in Egypt and then kicked out for allegedly spying, and she felt she’d failed, she told a story of being cruelly interrogated, so sick she was vomiting in her cell and needed an IV. She’d been sick for days before, you see, and the poor brave dear didn’t tell anyone because she was so dedicated to her job. But yet again, our only witness to this extreme suffering is Logan herself.
***Because I talk to a lot of them in my job. “I disappeared for two months and couldn’t drug test … because I was RAPED! Yeah, that’s the ticket.” (Did you call the police?) “No, um, I was scared he’d come after me.” Most of the excuses I heard have nothing to do with rape, but the excuse is more frequent than I would have expected. Doesn’t work though.
The story of how three roommates (though not concurrently) worked at two and a half companies (though not concurrently).
Back when I was in college, my then-girlfriend Julianne’s mother helped me get a job at Orion Technologies. I was hired for the sole purpose of the company being able to tell other insurance folks that they had Y2K under control. All I did was some light clerical work, responding to requests on Y2K compliance and sending out requests to some of our vendors. It was a pretty sweet gig, but it was obviously pretty temporary. However, while I was there, my supervisor Alan started working overnight. When I asked him why, he said it was because the night operator had been fired. He gave me a rundown of the job, asking how the hell anyone could screw up something so easy. It took me a couple of days to work up the gumption to ask my official boss if I could have that job. I could do the “Y2K” stuff in my off-time. Or something. By that time, there really was no Y2K stuff anymore. Everyone was just waiting for the hammer to fall and crossing their fingers hoping that everything worked*.
If one has to work a full-time job while attending class full-time, you couldn’t ask for a better job. Orion was a computer reseller, acting as a middle man between (say) Dell Computers and (say) a local school district. This was not a particularly good field to be in as suddenly it was becoming easier for entities to simply order computers online. The company was struggling and, before long, they sold their computers division and sales division to a company called Providence that was looking to get a foothold in Colosse. It was something of a relief initially, except that without a computers division and a sales division, I didn’t know what the company did anymore.
Orion and Providence worked out a deal where Orion would call dibs a certain percentage of its employees but beyond that Providence was free to try to hire away anyone they wanted. I was not on Orion’s protected list, but Providence tried to hire me. They were offering me a 20% raise. Alan talked me out of it, though, saying that Providence may offer me more money, but they only needed someone for a very short transition period while my position was a part of Orion’s org chart and so I wouldn’t have to lose my job. Staying seemed like the more prudent thing to do, though looking back (even without hindsight), that may have been a mistake. At least I knew what Providence’s business was and if I had proven myself there was a decent chance they would find another position for me.
But, I stayed. Meanwhile, Providence needed their own Night Operator. And as it turned out, my roommate Hubert needed a job very badly (his mother was divorcing his step-father and all of their assets were in limbo). So I recommended Hugh, he got the job, and we were, for a brief time. I trained him on what to do and we argued about who got Ethnack’s Chair. But then Providence’s operations moved over to their own building and I was working solo again. Orion was struggling more and more and there was round after round of layoffs until, lo and behold, I was laid off. Meanwhile, the “six months” after which I had been told by Alan that I would be laid off by Providence had come and gone but Hugh still had a job. It was just as well, though, since he needed the money a heck of a lot more than I did.
Hugh went on to get a job at Bregna. I told him not to do it. I told him that Bregna was one a notoriously bad employer. I didn’t know it at the time because I had never worked there, but as of a couple years ago they stood as the third worst employer in the entire nation according to an employee satisfaction survey. He ignored my advice and went to work for them anyway. For reasons that I cannot recall**, Hugh offered up Karl for the job instead of me.
I was working at Wildcat by that point, but my new roommate Karl needed a job. And so, he recommended Karl and so Karl became Providence’s new Night Operator, a full year and a half after I had been told that the job would expire.
Hugh did not last at Bregna long. Even though Hugh had the kind of personality that would ordinarily cotton to being employed by a very… structured… company, Bregna being the type of place that believes structure includes (no joke) monitoring frequency and duration of bathroom breaks, he was looking for a new job in pretty short order***. This created a bit of conflict when he applied for a job that he knew I was angling for****. But then, out of nowhere, he got a call from someone at Orion that had remembered him and offered him a programming position. Even though I was still unemployed, this did not bother me as the four-asterisk job did since (a) he didn’t find out about it through me, (b) they never posted the job, and (c) it was a job he was obviously more qualified for than I was. So suddenly he was working for my ex-employer.
The axe finally fell at Providence and Karl was unemployed again. He ended up getting a job at… Bregna. Then I lost my job and got a new one at… Bregna. The job at Bregna was every bit as awful as advertised and despite the three-asterisk optimism Karl decided that if this was the kind of job that college dropouts got he needed to go back to college. I hadn’t intended to be there long, but even then I left early because I thought it was unhealthy to work for an employer where the highlight of my evening (it was an overnight job) was urinating on the side of the building while the cameras weren’t looking*****.
Hugh, meanwhile, has made his career at Orion. He’s a VP now. The company has changed its name twice and relocated once since I left (which makes its inclusion on my Work Histories a pain in the rear). I still don’t know what the company does even after visiting the website. Last time I was in town, I asked him and got a string of buzzwords I didn’t care enough to quite make sense of. It’s something cutting edge. And, of course, I am unemployed in Arapaho. Karl went back to school and is now a PhD candidate in physics at a somewhat prestigious midwestern university.
There are two downsides to subbing, particularly in Redstone.
The first is that, since it is not an insignificant drive and school in Redstone starts on the early side, I typically have to get up at around 6am. So if they call me at 5:30am (when the machine starts its calling), there’s not enough time to go back to sleep. This means that I have to go to bed on the early side in anticipation of a possible call. And since I never know if a call is going to come, I need to go to bed pretty early every night.
The second side is, on account of the drive, the fuel efficiency of the Forester, and taxes, “peanuts” is almost an overstatement of what I make. The two half-days I worked, once you take out taxes and gas, netted me $7 each. Less than I spent on dinner. Full days are the jackpot… only a little under $30. I would make more working minimum wage here in town. I’m not really doing this for the money (obviously), but that still stings a little.
Maybe this semester of maybe over the summer I will start seriously applying in Callie so that I can at least keep the gas money and save the time from the commute. One of the reasons I applied in Redstone was so that if I made a hash of it, I wouldn’t be burning any bridges within the community. Also, because their school system is larger, I figure it would be a way to gain some experience before I inflict myself on the community.
Of course, even if I apply at Callie and am put on their roll, teaching jobs would be fewer and I may still end up going to Redstone anyway. And really, in some ways having an excuse to go to Redstone is a good thing. I was going up there two weeks out of every three anyway. Now I’m going there twice a week (or so it seems). On the other hand, having fewer substitute teaching gigs wouldn’t be a bad thing in itself. I half-dodged a call when I was driving back from my Monday assignment because I needed Tuesday off to take care of a few things. The other reason is that I was on the road at the time. But it’s a thin line because I don’t want to dodge too many calls or (I suspect) I will be moved further down the queue. Which wouldn’t be bad because there would be fewer jobs and that’s fine, but could be bad because I may get fewer of the jobs I want (basically, the ones that I have a couple days notice rather than the ones I am receiving calls at 5 in the morning).
Part of me feels like I should get paid just for making myself available, if I’m going to be punished whenever I am unavailable.
But the other part of me keeps reminding me “this isn’t about the money.” It’s more about having something to do with myself, getting an idea if teaching is something I want to do, the learning experience it provides for me, and lastly when I start subbing in Callie becoming more a part of our community through a type of (lightly paid) community service. I had previously tried to volunteer at a “community center” which apparently is a domestic violence hotline. Part of the reason I was going to do it was to get out of the house, so you can imagine my disappointment when they excitedly told me “and it’s something you can do completely from home!” (it turned out that I was out of town when they had their orientation, which was probably just as well.)
Maybe one of these days I will be fortunate enough to get called to Jury Duty…
Supposedly a group of women and about 20 soldiers dragged her to safety from this public sexual assault of unspecified detail (some reports have called it “gang rape,” but I’ve seen no claim of that). This was six days ago.
The story is an international sensation. Yet we’ve heard absolutely no information except that contained in CBS’s press release (via Associated Press):
Separated from her crew in the crush of the violent pack, she suffered what CBS called “a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.” She was saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers, the network said.
All these witnesses, all these heroes — not a single word out of any of them? Maybe they’re twittering and blogging in Egyptian and it just hasn’t hit the English-speaking world yet?
I’ve been scouring the Internet for days, and nothing. Does anyone have any links to help out?
The manosphere is full of the expected crap about how she deserved it (you know, because she’s a woman hanging around Muslims, a woman with a job, a woman with blond hair, a woman) but nothing else. My concerns are forensic. If my suspicious are at all founded, then and only then will I consider it fair to expound about how I think Lara Logan sucks as a reporter in ways completely unrelated to this. If my suspicions are unfounded, then please, please direct me to the relevant information.
And, no, I don’t consider the fact that she’s reportedly been in the hospital for four days proof she was sexually assaulted. She could have injuries from other sources (lots of reporters got clobbered over there). And if a person as famous and wealthy as Lara Logan wants to stay in the hospital for four days, I doubt doctors are going to kick her out.
Here’s an interesting tidbit further down in the AP story:
However, in the final days, and especially after the battles with pro-Mubarak gangs who attacked the protesters in Tahrir, women noticed sexual assault had returned to the square. On the day Mubarak fell, women reported being groped by the rowdy crowds. One witness saw a woman slap a man after he touched her. The man was then passed down a line of people who all slapped him and reprimanded him.
So it’s not as if people just stood by and accepted this. But maybe Logan just wasn’t as lucky.