Ode to Work

The dynamic of domination intrinsic to work tends over time toward elaboration. In advanced work-riddled societies, including all industrial societies whether capitalist or “communist,” work invariably acquires other attributes which accentuate its obnoxiousness.

Bob Black

One of the “other attributes” of my job is the yearly employee performance review.  I mention this because I just had mine the other day.  Those of you unlucky enough to work in an office will know what I’m talking about.  Those of you fortunate enough to have no idea what this is, let me break it down for you.  If you can remember as far back as elementary school, it’s sort of a cross between your report card and the parent-teacher conference, except now you’re both the parent and the child, and you’re the one who gets to sit and talk to the “teacher” about how well, or not well, little Johnny or Jane (in this case, you) has performed during the recently expired grading period—or, as they put it in office jargon, “appraisal period.”  It’s a demeaning and degrading little charade in which you and your manager both pretend (because it’s in her interest that you appear to be succeeding, too) that you’ve satisfied your “developmental objectives,” a bunch of hazy goals set forth by your boss to ensure that you continue to “grow” within the job.  You sit there and smile and nod and emit various noises meant to indicate affirmation and agreement, all the while trying to not allow your face to betray the utter boredom and disgust you’re barely managing to conceal behind the silly mask of compliancy you have on.  The apparent point of this exercise is to remind you that you’re supposed to continue to earn what they’re paying you, as opposed to sitting in a cubicle for seven or eight hours a day, killing time, which is what you’re really doing.  From your perspective, the point is just to get through it so you can collect your 4% raise and get back to the article on tomato gardening you were busy reading on the internet before you were interrupted by the Outlook meeting reminder popping up on your screen.

LeBron Hate

I’m not a basketball fan, but I listen to a fair amount sports talk radio on my way to and from the job, and for the past few weeks it’s been pretty much all LeBron James all the time.  For those who don’t know (or care), James left Cleveland after seven years to play with two other stars in Miami because he wanted to win a championship and didn’t think it was going to happen if he stayed where he was.  Nothing unusual here.  Happens pretty much every day in professional sports.  But you’d think, considering the amount of bile spewing in his direction, that he was John Wayne Gacy or something.

Here’s a perfect example, from the comments section of this article:

Besides the insider trading that had to conspire between LeBron, Bosh and Wade while they were in China which set a horrible precidence where NBA players can now decide where they can all team up together I hate LeBron because he kept his home town in suspence and screwed them by not letting them know the whole year that he was leaving. They could have planned for it. I was 100% sure he was staying just because he didn’t say otherwise, I thought, what kind of scum would not tell his team mates and fans he was leaving until the last second. No matter who was playingMiamiI would have rooted for them. Kidd and Vick had nothing to do with the integrity of the game, they made bad decisions in life that was destructive to them and their family, not the game, that’s what fans (of the game) care about.— BentLogic

“Bent logic” about sums it up.  This pretty much encapsulates everything that’s hilarious and pathetic about hardcore sports fans, among whom it’s a badge of honor to care passionately about things they have no control over and which have no bearing whatsoever on their lives.  The popular explanation for the hatred seems to be that it has something to do with envy or racism, or some combination of the two.  No doubt there’s some of both involved, but the reason most of the haters give, when pressed (as in the quote above), is that it’s because he left “hometown” Cleveland for glamorous Miami—as if Cleveland’s the high school sweetheart he left standing at the altar while he ran off with a Hollywood starlet.  (If pressed further, many, again like the guy above, will hedge—essentially admitting their irrationality—and say “it’s the way he left,” but the common theme is always the leaving.)

Of all the silly ideas sports fans cling to, this may be the most ridiculous—the notion that athletes who play for a professional sports team owe some kind of allegiance to that team, or “the city” or “the fans.”  The last is the best: “We made you what you are by buying tickets and slavishly devoting all of our free time to watching you play a game; you owe us a championship, dammit!”  This mindset falls solidly in the realm of childish delusion.  Not to mention that if your life is so hollow and devoid of meaning that your emotional well-being hinges on the success or failure of the local sports franchise, you may need to reevaluate a few things.

In which Pakastani general assures de facto US state media outlet that he has no qualms about killing “terrorists”

Malik insists he has no orders to go easy on the network.

“As a military commander, let me assure you, I have no orders to spare anybody, and I don’t spare anybody,” he says.

But when asked if his troops are specifically targeting the Haqqani network, Malik says: “We don’t specifically target anybody. You see, there’s no such thing as a good terrorist and a bad terrorist.

“Anybody who challenges the writ of the state, or who is working against the interest of Pakistan, we target them.”

Malik never quite says he is or is not targeting the Haqqani network.

“I don’t give names to the terrorists, you know,” he says. “I don’t differentiate. My issue is I ask questions later, I shoot first. … We target them very, very indiscriminate, if I may say so.”

Listening to this on the way in to work yesterday, I couldn’t help thinking that Steve Inskeep was auditioning for a job at Hillary’s State Dept.  His tone was all like: “Well, are you gonna kill these Haqqanis or what?  Huh?  I can’t hear you!”

Conservatives like to rip NPR as though it’s some sort of bastion of “socialism” in the heart of freedom’s land.  This is your typical Hannityesque critique of the “librool media” pushing its insidious, American character-eroding pro-government agenda.  As usual, they’re only half right.  They’ve got the pro-government part correct, but the “liberal” bugaboo is nowhere to be found.

Proud to be an American

I saw the following on a T-shirt while at a party over the weekend:

Join the Marines

Travel to Strange, Exotic Lands

Meet Unique, Interesting People

And Kill Them

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