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’!