The problem with human resources.

Human Resources. On page 289 of the hardcopy of A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, I tripped across the following description of Russian life in 1938 in a footnote:

“*Stripped of their names and family ties, of their professions and possessions, herded together in hunger and hardship, the residents of the Gulag — the zeks — became indistinguishable from one another.  That, of course, was part of the point. Not content with the toll exacted by means of incarceration and forced labor in inhospitable climes, the supreme authorities sought to efface the Enemies of the People.

But an unanticipated consequence of this strategy was the creation of a new polis. Having been stripped of their identities … would move in perfect unison, sharing in their privations as well as their will to persist. Henceforth, they would know each other whenever and wherever they met. They would make room for each other under their roofs and at their tables, addressing each other as brother and sister and friend; but never, ever, under any circumstance, as comrade.” 

Aha! There it is. Comrade. Stripped of their identities, reduced to comrade.

In a past life as a Project Manager, I wondered why I railed at referring to individuals — people, co-workers, employees — as “resources.” How many “resources” does it take to get a project done? Individuals with work habits and knowledge ranging from novice to master or expert stripped of their identities. Reduced to a number expressed in units of FTEs. Full-time equivalent or full-time employee. How many?

Remember Einstein’s observation? “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”  

Employees reduced to ‘resources’ are a numbers game, commodities, objects. One can be swapped for another. Widgets. They can be counted but they no longer count.

And see also, Orwell: “All pigs are not created equal.

Be kind to one another.


Footnote:

A Gentleman in Moscow is an engaging and delightful read! The first half moves a little slow but by novels’ end, it feels like flying down a hill on a bicycle with no helmet and no brakes.

As I read, I folded the corners of so many pages that my book almost looks like a Reader’s Digest Christmas tree.  Folded pages on top of folded pages … oh well. Mr. Towles is very quotable. Page 68:

“Here, indeed was a formidable sentence — one that was on intimate terms with the comma, and that held the period in healthy disregard.”

Sounds like a description of the type of sentence Viva aspires to write.

A Gentleman in Moscow

– Viva’s hardcopy of A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Sundry Assortment: BOLD News

Celebrating Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)!

Oh, so much to woW!

First, congratulations to Senator Duckworth and family on the birth of Maile Pearl Bowlsby this week. Wow! Senator Duckworth is the first US Senator to give birth while in office.

Second, Senator Duckworth is 50 and Maile was conceived via in vitro fertilization. I understand that IVF is time-consuming, painful, and expensive, but what gives me pause is fifty (50). Infants and fifty? Combine the two? I just wouldn’t.even.ever. So, woW.

And woW is just Mom turned upside down.

Finally, Senator Duckworth lost her legs in Iraq in 2004. The Black Hawk helicopter Captain Duckworth was piloting ¹ was shot down.

2020? I could vote for a President Duckworth².

Michael Cohen

A search warrant was carried out in the offices of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer. Lookin’ for crimes:

“There is no “deep state” conspiracy against Donald Trump. Law enforcement officers, federal included, tend to lean right. If they are finding crimes, they are finding crimes.  It’s not ideological (which frankly, can’t necessarily be said about Hillary Clinton).” (@JoyAnnReid, 09 Apr 2018 08:40 PM. Tweet.)

And in his defense, Prescedense Trump blew public kisses Twitter gaskets:

“Attorney-client privilege is dead!” (@realDonaldTrump, 10 Apr 2018 04:07 AM. Tweet.)

“A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!” (@realDonaldTrump,10 Apr 2018 04:08 AM. Tweet.) NOTE, ALL CAPS WAS PRESCEDENSE’s IDEA!!!

And Twitterers responded:

“It’s actually doing just fine unless a federal judge believes there is likelihood that you and your attorney were committing a crime.” (@Judd Legum, 10 Apr 2018 04:24 AM. Tweet.)

The federal judge, in this case, is a Trump appointee.

And with humor.

And with Tang:

“I see Tang the Conqueror hasn’t tweeted since he unraveled at his Syria photo op. We’ll see how long that lasts.” (@eclecticbrotha, 10 Apr 2018 2:30 AM)

I hate that I know immediately the ‘Tang’ in the above reference is not to a drink the early astronauts took into space but refers to the sitting POTUS, President of the United States. And I hate that it makes me laugh.

Ugh.

S*it Looks French.

In an effort to return some class to the public discourse, I would like to propose that instead of editing the ‘i’ in ‘shit’, we edit the ‘h’.  Thus, ‘shit’ becomes ‘s*it.’ It looks French and like the French, we can drop the sound of the ‘t’ at the end of the word thereby softening the whole sound.

S*it would be pronounced: ess-EEE.  There. Fixed that s*it.

Likewise, ‘shithole’ would become ‘s*it*ole.’

‘Shithole countries’ would be pronounced: ess-EEE ol-LAY countries. A musical international mix of French and Spanish meaning so much worse spelled out in actual English.

Bitter Southerner

New York Times editorialist Charles Blow recently tweeted:

“Ppl often comment to me: “You need your own show.” My opinion: Never going to happen. I’m unapologetically black and unapologetically southern (which is markedly diff from northern/western/urban blackness). America doesn’t even believe that the intellectual black southern exists!” (@CharlesMBlow, 14 Mar 2018 03:27 PM)

And so it came to pass that I tripped across the website Bitter Southerner and specifically, the gorgeous photo essay Blue Alabama on the site.

Mr. Blow’s comment combined with the recent spate of southern writers who offer reading alternatives to J.D.Vance’s widely panned Hillbilly Elegy, has made me think a bit more critically about the voices that are misunderstood, caricatured, and drawn as cartoonish buffoons by the media.

In addition to mainstream news alternatives like The Root – Black news, opinions, politics and culture – I share The Bitter Southerner. A quote from their first inaugural membership drive:

“I have yet to find a publication that so capably and gracefully captures the nuance, soul, tragedy, and beauty of the region like yours does. I just wanted to thank you for that.”

And from the About page:

If you are a person who buys the states’ rights argument … or you fly the rebel flag in your front yard … or you still think women look really nice in hoop skirts, we politely suggest you find other amusements on the web. The Bitter Southerner is not for you.

The Bitter Southerner is for the rest of us. It is about the South that the rest of us know: the one we live in today and the one we hope to create in the future.”

My bold in the above. I confess, I wondered. Enjoy!

Or not.


¹ Note to self: Read all three Parts of this story.

² Senator Duckworth was born in Thailand. This might preclude her being President but her father was a US Army veteran who could trace his family back to the American Revolutionary War. (Source: Wikipedia. Web. 12 April 2018)

Maybe you ARE the answer.

Well, in this day and age of I has been busy, there has been so much news that has spilled over the edge. It’s hard to keep up, so I’ll start here.

March 24, 2018 – March For Our Lives

“What [injustice] would move you enough to get you to march?” I was asked this at book club years ago during the George W. Bush Administration and although I was outraged at much going on at the time, I was hard-pressed to think of anything I felt so strongly about that I would put my feet in the street.

Well, fast forward less than 20 years and here we are! February 14, 2018, Nicholas Cruz, a lone gunman entered the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 students, wounded 17 more, and sparked a movement.

So I marched.

My sign, Ann’s sign¹:

And while I’m reassured that the Stoneman Douglas students who SURVIVED a mass-shooting are kicking it — putting walk to the talk, engaging parents, veterans, and gun owners, including people of color marginalized in discussion of gun violence, the all of it  — this time is different.

And it hit me. The survivors of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting look like the younger brothers and sisters of the Stoneman Douglas high school students because age relative, THEY ARE! Five years after Sandy Hook, the six- and seven-year-olds are eleven and twelve.

Already through a mass-shooting once, they are not even in high school.  Ugh.

Boom. There it is. Gun control. March For Our Lives has put my feet in the street.

(My take on bump stocks, gun violence statistics.)

March 28, 2018 – MFOL: #50MilesMore

At noon on Wednesday, March 28, Traxler Park, Janesville, WI there was a meet-and-greet rally for the group of students who extended March For Our Lives by 50 miles and marched from Madison, Wisconsin to Janesville, Wisconsin — hometown of Paul Ryan.

The student speakers were impressive. Recounting their 50-mile walk, I expect #50milesmore was a formative experience. It will be a jumping off point in their lives to bigger things.

So today I restrict my comments to the speech by Pardeep Singh Kaleka.  Mr. Kaleka’s father was killed in the mass shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012. As his father died on the floor, he prayed. But his father didn’t pray for himself.

His ‘thoughts and prayers’ were for the living. For those that remain. And here I am. Thoughts and prayers put my feet on the street.

Finally, from Mr. Kaleka: react in peace.

React in peace. Not rest. React.

React in peace.

I can get behind that.


Live in a spirit of relentless optimism. Here is video of Pardeep Singh Kaleka relating the story of his father’s last words at the TEDxMilwaukee. (Video starts at 15:00 although the whole is IMO, worth the watch):


¹ Our signs were lettered, colored, and the AK-15s drawn freehand by a professional to whom we say ‘thank you’!

A Sundry Assortment of I has been BUSY!

Well, this is certainly interesting. I’ll kick off this sundry assortment with a diversion. Oh, look a bird!

Grammarly, not Grammarly.

Grammarly offers a free writing assistant, a plug-in, that checks basic spelling, punctuation, and grammar as you write.  Given that my writing is given to breaking the rules, Grammarly also offers to clue me into my advanced yellow mistakes for $139.95/year.  On a per-word benefit and an average of $11.66/month, this is probably a pretty good deal.

Oh, but what Grammarly doesn’t know. Style. Mine. Well, maybe.

My Freshman English professor had no problem with broken rules as long as they were asterisked on paper.  I’d asterisk the incomplete sentences. Well, they weren’t sentences really. Phrases missing a noun. Or a verb.* And I’d asterisk sentences that kicked off with a connector.*  And truth be told, although I could use a refresher on the rules, it seems like self-abuse to pay Grammarly to correct my “style”.*

Well, maybe.

Today, Grammarly suggested that the title of “I’ve been BUSY!” should be corrected to “I has been BUSY!” and I’m given to pause and consider. It would seem Grammarly has style of the “I haz cheeseburger” variety. I could get behind that. Maybe I should invest in the advanced Grammarly checker.

And while constructing the above, Grammarly reverted to “I’ve been BUSY!” as the correct form which we knew all along. We were entertained by Grammarly’s flair which was fleeting. Back to asterisks and yellow.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Anews privilege.

By “anews” privilege, I’m using ‘a’ in the ‘not’ form.  Atypical is not typical like atheist is not a theist.

I missed blogging last week. Wholly immersed in things other, I traipsed and tripped through my daily adventures and didn’t really catch up on all the news that’s fit to holler until the end of the week.

The current events going on in our struggle toward a more perfect union are overwhelming — Russian influence in social media, the Mueller investigation, civil rights assaults, the Dreamer debacle, the Prescedense and the Porn Star¹ … it’s a long list.

And my life, my movements, my actions were not impacted one whit.

And that is privilege.

A rumination on Pi Day, (03.14).²

Pi (Π). Pi describes the circle, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, ≅ 3.14.

But pi’s true superpower is in getting us out of the clock-time domain and into frequency. And the frequency domain is where the magic happens.

Think of Alice through the looking glass. Pi opens a door labeled ‘Fourier Transforms’ and all the convoluted filtering functions perk up their ears and run like multiplied gazelles. Because they are.

And thanks to Pi, a mathematical constant, we have telecommunications. Just think of it.  I can throw a text up and into the air and down it falls on the phone of my friend sitting right next to me.

Like magic. And no one else saw our lips move.

Just a whisper.

Wow.


But Pi doesn’t wait for anybody.

I’m not sure what that last statement means but I feel it to be true. Intuition. Pi is constant and a constant.  Whether or not you find the value in pi, pi doesn’t care.

And as someone totally agog at the capability of technology, it is good to step away from Pi. From technology.

Eat some real pie.

In Men in Black II, the Young Agent K : “Pie don’t work unless you let it.”

And here is my shout out to CaityPies in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mmmmm, try pie. It doesn’t wait for anybody.

RIP, Stephen Hawking (1942.01.08 – 2018.03.14)

I miss knowing that someone so brilliant and so funny as Stephen Hawking is not with us anymore.

I need to read his books and I need to watch the movie, The Theory of Everything.

He also predicted the end of the universe recently. Thankfully on a time scale that doesn’t look to scale to us humans. We don’t need to mark our calendars. Next week is secure and scientific notation will be required to describe the time to reach zero energy.

But what if the approach to zero energy happens like the big bang?

So many questions. After the real scientists review his paper, I need to investigate. What if we drop to zero in the amount of time it took to blast it all apart into the free-wheeling solar systems and galaxies we currently enjoy? And if the stars run out of energy, whut? What about entropy? Enthalpy? Where will that energy go? Conservation. Conservation of energy.

And I remember how confused I was in Thermodynamics. Oh dear.

Stay tuned.

Or not.

Strange Bedfellows

Oh the glory of the diametrically opposed yet bedfellows!

For your consideration:

Dr. Willie Parker & Satanists

Dr. Willie Parker is an evangelical Christian who defends abortion.

And so do Satanists.

Diametrically opposed on religious beliefs. Bedfellows in women’s rights and agency over her own body.

NRA & GOP/Trump Administration

The NRA uses the 2nd amendment to defend gun ownership – “being necessary to the security of a free state.”

And the GOP & Trump are all about those guns too!

Bedfellows on gun ownership, if ever there was an administration tending towards dictatorship and a non-free state possibly requiring citizen intervention, it is this one!

Go figure.


¹ Yes, I’m capitalizing ‘Porn Star.’ If Stormy Daniels gets Prescedense OTUS out of the office, she deserves all the capitals.

² This is for the maths. And I may not have all the words right, but the poetry is there.

 

Crazy Congregations!

“Men go crazy in congregations,

They only get better one by one.

All this Time, Sting

And so goes. In the struggle for a more perfect union, it turns out that we the body politic, have gone crazy in congregations.


I have been skeptical that the Mueller investigation into Russian interference and collusion would turn up any prosecutable malfeasance. Well, I was wrong.

This is old news. February 16, 2018. Nearing a month. But, in Mueller v. Russians and their BOTS, thirteen Russian nationals and three (3) companies were indicted.  A link to the 37-page, full indictment is here until it gets yanked …

I was, and am gobsmacked at how ably the Russians used our own systems to manipulate the electorate, enlist US citizens to act as boots on the ground, and quickly adapt to exploit existing divisions using our own systems when their tactics weren’t working.

Again, it must have pissed Putin off mightily back in the 1980’s when Gorbachev cried ‘uncle!’ to the Star Wars dished up at Reagan’s table. But the lathe of heaven turns and Putin’s dreams have come true! He groomed a trump card. And here we are. All the worse for it.


In Twitter, I tripped across Baratunde, a futurist comedian, writer, and activist who read Mueller’s whole indictment, highlighted specific texts and summarized with lively observations and conclusions. I’ll skip his summary of Russian intrigue and jump right to the conclusions.

From Baratunde:

“We build a giant deception machine called marketing and advertising, and an adversary used it against us.

“We build a giant influence machine called social media, and an adversary used it against us.

“We left open, unreconciled divisions in our society, and an adversary used it against us.

“We weakened our press such that all the phony conflict inspired by this information warfare campaign was reported in real-time with little to no vetting, and an adversary used it against us.

“We allowed our democracy to become so corrupted by money and self-serving, power-hungry folks that we already didn’t trust it, and an adversary used it against us.

“If the election had turned out differently, would we even know half of what we do? We only got Robert Mueller because Trump is president but also bad at wielding his power.

“And even though the Russians amplified divisions to be greater than they are, those divisions are real now. There is a basic level of trust we have to have in our environment to act appropriately, and that’s severely broken.

“On top of that, one-half of the political establishment (the republican half) is completely uninterested in acknowledging, investigating, or responding to this sophisticated act of information warfare.  They’ve done NOTHING to prepare us for the next campaign.

“The president still hasn’t imposed the Russia sanctions that Congress passed overwhelmingly. And everybody’s just acting like, “Meh. TRUMP WILL BE TRUMP! Undermining national security is just his THING ya know?”

“And Facebook. Oh Facebook. So happy to monetize the destruction of our civil fabric. They made $7B in the 3rd quarter of 2016. Zuckerberg smugly said 99% of posts are “authentic.” We cannot trust this company to do what’s best for us. Not just FB btw.

“This indictment isn’t just about Trump. It’s about us needing a better vision for how we do this whole “society” thing. What forms of power get held accountable. What voices we listen to. This is ultimately about reality and our collective agreement on what THAT is. /END”

16 Feb 2018 01:10 PM. Tweet.


We, the US electorate-body-politic, went crazy in congregation.

And at lunch with a friend, as I expressed frustration and big feels of estrangement and distance from friends and family members who were congregants, I was reminded that we only get better one by one.

And to get better one by one requires work.  Engage in hard conversations. Be the alternative voice. Speak truth to crazy. Practice kindness, patience, presence.

Persist.

We only get better one by one.


Read the entire Twitter thread by Baratunde! Until it gets pulled, here’s a link:

Baratunde: unrolled Twitter thread – re:Mueller indictment of Russians

 

A Sundry Assortment: It’s drafty in here.

Ah so! Here I am circling up to my first year of Viva blogging and Happy Birthday! Or something-something and given the events of the last three weeks — I mean, doesn’t the SOTU address when the Prescedense Shouts Out to Us All, already seem a lifetime ago? — I am woefully behind.

My DRAFTS folder is full of shits and farts fits and starts. In remembrance celebration of a year spent on the crate of holler-into-the-void, I’m cleaning out my DRAFTS over-sharing.  Where is, as is. Enjoy! Or not.

From December 2017

I was particularly taken by the senate race between Doug Jones (D) and Roy Moore (R) in Alabama. Even though Roy Moore dropped loads of turds in his basket of deplorable behavior, the GOP backed his run. 

White Women in Alabama

Well, how’s this for news? 63% of white women who voted in Alabama voted for Roy Moore.

I feel their fear.  It’s palpable. It’s contagious.  After all, who wants to upset the status quo? “I feel more comfortable with my future in the hands of a Republican, no matter how bad he is.” Hmmm, instead of “hands of a Republican” substitute “Roy Moore”, and substitute “my daughter” or “my granddaughter”, for “my future” and the statement becomes “I feel more comfortable with my daughter in the hands of Roy Moore, no matter how bad he is.”

I fear their fear.

And they claim they fear abortion. I fear for them that the Roy Moore’s of this world make abortion for unwanted and unplanned pregnancies due to rape necessary.

But I reject their worldview. And that’s part of their fear. The fear of rejection. The fear that when all is said and done, they won’t have a horse to ride in on. And they don’t. It was not a horse. It was an ass. An old racist ass.

When did they learn to hate themselves?

Madeleine Albright: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

GOP: RIP; RIP: GOP

Roy Moore? Really? He was the best the GOP could pull from the swamp to represent Alabama in the Senate?

GOP: RIP Mitch McConnell

So Mitch McConnell sat on Merrick Garland’s confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice for 10 months. It was about a principle and not about a person.

Well, I’ll bite.  It was about a person. Barack Obama. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland. See also, Mitch McConnell is a pro-civil rights racist.

And now? The current Prescedense federal judge nominees can’t answer basic legal questions.

And I’m not opposed to a federal judge with a federal election committee background, but from the video, it looks like Matthew Spencer Petersen would be getting lots of on-the-job training.

Just like Jared and Ivanka. Oh well.

And I’m smdh.

Black women in Alabama

Oh man. All glory, laud and honor.

On Tuesday in Alabama, black women voters got out the vote and voted in their best interests for Doug Jones delivering a dose of smite² onto Roy Moore. I want to say ‘healthy dose of smite’ but the margin of victory was still within 2 percentage points.

¹ The noun becomes a verb.

² The verb becomes a noun.

Black women elsewhere

Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, Karen Bass (D-California, 37th district) continues to punch in the mouth challenge administration officials — here, the FBI Director — on the fictional historical black identity extremists identified in a report issued by a ghost at the FBI to law enforcement agencies around the country. “The harm that document is causing.” Continued praise.

Just for the record, if black women could round up Millenials and form a viable party, I could get behind that.

Paul Ryan

Since this ‘Paul Ryan’ snippet was written, Robert Mueller has indicted Russians, Russian companies, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates. This observation holds true.

Well if ever there was a reason for Robert Mueller to stop the investigation of Russia involvement in business conducted from the Oval Office election meddling it is the US Presidential order of succession chart. 

But that’s just choosing to keep the Prescedense of incompetent evil over a President practiced in evil exercised and honed. Oh well.

And given that Paul Ryan is 2nd in line, reports of his stepping down after the 2018 elections are in my opinion, wildly optimistic. If the Russian investigation removes Trump and Pence from office, Paul Ryan will be #46.  Sit with that for a moment. Breathe.

He is a big fan of the writer Ayn Rand giving everyone in his office copies of Atlas Shrugged for book discussion. But I prefer to consider Paul Ryan in light of The Fountainhead, for many reasons. Primary is that it is the only epic brick weighty tome Rand wrote that I ever read.

Consider the definition of fountainhead (noun): An original source of something. 

Howard Roark, the protagonist of The Fountainhead, is an architect with a singular vision, the source of a building blueprint so good, so perfect, that it has to be built his way or no way. He works outside educational institutions, outside of the mainstream. He is his own man loosely and accurately based on Frank Lloyd Wright.

And plot: Howard has a vision so pure, so right for the construction of an apartment building that he is unwilling to modify his design one iota. He would rather his building be blown up than built. At Fountainhead’s end, Howard Roark is sitting on the pile of rubble of his own design, his own making, that he didn’t purchase and he didn’t pay for. He’ll make rubble of it all because he can’t compromise.

And so I submit Paul Ryan for the real-life role of Howard Roark, an uncompromising architect to oversee the rubble of the US economy.

Explain to me how Medicare and Medicaid trickle down. How do roads get built? Infrastructure created and maintained? A healthy populace? Children educated? It’s a long list.

Paul Ryan, a lifelong hypocrite. Benefitted by birth with white male privilege, he wants to remove the social safety net for everyone else.

From October 2017

Different seats

When I picked the tagline “Honey, I’m a real live writer …”, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to report on the action from my bleacher seats.  Things and stuffs happen so fast. In the last week:

  • An attack on a concert crowd in Las Vegas with a weapon of mass destruction raining down from on-high killed 59, injured more than 500.
  • The Prescedense OTUS pitched paper towels to Puerto Ricans as if they need to merely wipe up a coffee spill after hurricane devastation.
  • Although early reports of his death were exaggerated maybe even greatly, Tom Petty died. In the process, social and non-social media fell all over themselves in the quest to be the first to report. There is no shame.

And the year in DRAFTS is littered with post-it notes — titles, phrases, links strung together with a nod, a tilt of the head toward an idea. Perhaps they’ll spark a complete thought eventually. Where is, as is they are unreadable.

I’ll end this clearing session with some love for OWGs.

OWG

Old White Guys.  I saw a pic of Jim Sensenbrenner and someone asked: “What can I say?” And all I could think of was “Old White Guy like these OWGs?

And this is hard.  Most, if not all of the OWGs I know, actually want to change the world for the better for people who are not OWGs. Which is sweet.

I attended a meeting of feminists on campus in the early 1980’s. I left with the feeling that in order to participate, I would need to get angry and stay angry and sever relations with 80% of my family and I actually love and even like a couple of them.  That just didn’t seem right.

So what are we left with?  How do we distinguish good OWGs from the bad?

And then this year I  discovered that the divisions between us, between US citizens struggling a more perfect union, is more complex than individual age, color, sex, etc.

I look in the mirror and whaddaya know? 53% of OWLs (Old White Ladies, yes, this is a bit pejorative) are not so sweet either.

OWLs. Profiling.

A visual: The Genesis of a blog post.

I start blog posts with the best of intentions, but I swear every time, every time, every.time, Michael Palin as the Boring Prophet in the Monty Python movie, Life of Brian, kicks off the festivities in my head:

… rumors of things going astray, and there shall be a 

great confusion as to where things really are …

Things and rumors of things and stuff and perhaps

I could be a little more general.

A little less specific.

The struggle is real.

Enjoy!