Disgusting People

Screwing Americans

Back when I still cared about this kind of thing, I was browsing through the job boards just to see what was going on out there in my specific field of work — you know, just to keep abreast of things — when I saw a want ad for my job.

Upon further investigation, it wasn’t for my actual job — the advertiser was a different company from mine — but it could have been:

Database management and report design / writing, competent user of XYZ software, able to make effective management presentations up to Board level, five years experience minimum, seven years industry experience.

That, in essence, was what I’d been doing for about the past ten years. All well and good. Then came the kicker:

Salary: $45,000

Considering that I was on a salary in excess of $95,000 at the time, and I knew at least half a dozen other guys earning about what I did (small industry, we all knew each other), this ad made no sense. Either they were going to get a glorified data entry clerk who couldn’t really do anything close to what the job needed, or the job had been filled already — inside job, nepotism, whatever — and the company was just going through the motions to satisfy some government hiring regulation.

The point was that I knew how much experience and know-how was necessary to do that job properly — I had it, and so did my contemporaries — so I was curious to see how the thing would shake out.

Some time later (maybe even a year, I don’t remember) I called a friend who was a corporate head-hunter, and asked him to find out what had transpired. He did, and found out two things: the company hadn’t found anyone to do the job for that compensation (as I suspected they wouldn’t), so after nine months they’d gone overseas and hired not one but two people from India or Sri Lanka to fill the position.

Now I know what some people are going to say: the position was paying far more than the job was worth, so that’s why the company ended up getting cheaper labor. But that wasn’t the case at all: for someone to have acquired the experience necessary, they would have had to have spent a minimum of two years in a junior- to midlevel management position in the industry, and then at least three years experience with complex database management, and another year or two on the report design aspect of it. (This was a very complex skill set to have to acquire, and it wasn’t taught in business schools either, so there was no shortcut.) Considering that the new hires were in their mid-twenties, there was no possible way that they could have filled the experience/expertise requirements of the job.

My head-hunter friend told me that what the company had essentially done was lie on the H-1B visa applications, or at least show that they hadn’t been able to fill the position domestically, in order to get the visas cleared. In essence, the company had hired two trainees for the job, thinking that they’d be able to get at least one of them to perform the function, eventually.

Fast forward about four years. I’d since left my job and hung up my shingle as a consultant in my field, with a reputation as a guy who could fix things and get programs to work as required. So one day my head-hunter buddy calls me up and asks me if I’d be interested in taking on a yearlong project with a company who’d run into serious trouble with their management information systems. They’d gone to the usual suspects (Andersen, PWC, McKinsey, Bain etc.) and were told that the fix would take over two years and well over two million dollars to fix. The company had neither the time nor the money to do that, but they were being crippled by the broken system. Rock, meet hard place.

Well, you can guess who the company was: the cheapskates who’d gone H-1B rather than hire someone like myself to run their program. The H-1Bs themselves had long since disappeared (either fired, or quit after no doubt seeing what was coming), leaving behind a poor guy promoted from within, and who through no fault of his own was completely out of his depth.

Of course, I went over to see the company to scope the project to see if what the Big Dogs told them was true; and it was, except for the cost and the time. You see, most consultancies don’t know shit about specific industries, and their people (freshly-minted MBAs from Harvard, Cornell and Wharton) know absolutely nothing about anything — so they need training just to get them up to speed (paid by Client, duh), and only then can they begin to address the client’s problem — and it always takes longer than the period quoted. Always.

If you knew what to do, and I did, the fix was radical but simple (I told the company): it would take about nine months to a year, a new software package (which, ahem, I’d helped the software house to design) and would require firing the people responsible for the screwup.

So I got the gig, fixed the system, trained the guy and got the whole thing working in eight months, then arranged an “oversight” consultancy — part-time hours, full-time pay for another year — to monitor the operation and ensure that the system would keep working.

I have no idea what the screwup cost the company in total (lost productivity plus my repair job), but just going on my bill, they would have saved well over half a million dollars if they’d just hired someone like me at $100k at the beginning.

My advice to you all is that if you see a company doing stupid shit like thinking they can get ten dollars’ worth of output from a one-cent investment: short the stock.

The Internet Of No Things

In Michael Mann’s excellent caper movie Heat (Pacino, De Niro), there’s a scene in which mastermind criminal Nate (Jon Voight) is talking to De Niro’s character McCauley, and shows him architect’s blueprints of a bank’s electrical system which McCauley will need to rob it. McCauley asks (and I’m paraphrasing this exchange from memory), “Where do you get all this stuff?” and Nate answers vaguely, waving his hand, “It’s all out there, in the air… you just have to reach out and take it.”

Note that Heat was released in 1995, when the Internet was still in its relative infancy.

Now we have this so-called “Internet of Things” whereby (heretofore stand-alone) technology can be controlled remotely via the Internet — and it’s not just “autonomous” cars (about which I have ranted before), but the most mundane stuff like stoves, refrigerators and similar kitchen appliances. Insty has been on a tear about this phenomenon recently, linking to articles about smart TVs being compromised, wi-fi in refrigerators and expectations of privacy in cars’ black box data-collection devices, to name just those in recent memory.

I hate all this shit. I understand that there are going to be times when controlling your oven from outside the home (like, when you forgot to turn it off) can be helpful, even life-saving. I understand why your home security system should be remotely deactivated when the maid service comes to clean your house — and no, I’m not going to deride these situations as “First World Problems” either. I don’t even like that annoying little beep that “reminds” you that you haven’t put your seatbelt on — and just try to disable the little bastard: you void you car’s warranty. (See how this works?)

What I’m really concerned about is that your remote control of things is, in Nate’s words, “in the air” — and if you can turn off your gas oven from your hotel room in Bali, who’s to say that some asshole can’t turn it on from his mom’s basement in Poughkeepsie? Having this ability to control your stuff remotely is fine, provided that you are absolutely, 100%  certain that you, and only you, can do the controlling. Me, I don’t believe that, and I do not trust this situation because for fuck’s sake, every single system in the known world, from Target’s customer file to the IRS taxpayer database to Iran’s nuclear development program has been hacked. I don’t care who did the hacking (Mossad, NSA, Russia’s FSB, or Gregory The Geek), the fact that these systems can be hacked at all makes me leery of ever adopting them and the appliances they control.

I know, these systems make your life easier. “Convenience” has sold a ton of ideas and stuff, just not always with benevolent consequences. Remote garage door openers, for example, have been a blessing to lazy drivers, and also to burglars, who now use handheld decoders which can open any garage door inside fifteen seconds — and these decoders are sold quite legally at any serious electronics store. I bet everyone here can think of others — I can’t be bothered — which only makes this a much bigger deal than we think.

And no, I’m not one of these conspiracy loons who think that all this is an international conspiracy of Bilderburgers, Battenburgers, Double-Cheese Hamburgers or the perennial favorite, the Jooooz. (I’m going to say it now: conspiracy nuts are paranoid fucking morons.)

But I am intensely suspicious of any system which takes away my control of my own life, and of the things in my life, simply by telling me that it makes it all more convenient for me.

Here’s a simple question: if the Internet of Things allowed for the remote control of, say, handguns, how would you feel about it then? Why are you against it? Don’t you want to render your gun completely safe and inert so that your child can’t hurt himself if he plays with it? Or wouldn’t you like the police to have the ability to disable guns in the hands of criminals? Or wouldn’t you like the government to be able to render all guns inert in the case of a national emergency, so people couldn’t be robbed or killed?

Do you see how reasonable and how convenient all the above questions sound? [And let us pause here while Chuck Schumer shares a post-orgasmic cigarette with Dianne Feinstein.]

Oh, and please don’t tell me that guns are different because they aren’t the same as microwave ovens or refrigerators. It’s the Internet of Things, not the Internet of Some Things. What is added to one can be added to others; as we all know, airliners have long had “black boxes” to record their movements and data — now try to buy a car which isn’t fitted with an EDR (and rulings like this are rearguard actions, which will eventually fail).

And as the title of this post suggests, I’m supporting the Internet of No Things. A pox on all of it, and on the people who are trying to foist this shit on us, even though their reasons are oh-so reasonable and altruistic. Never mind, as Megan McArdle points out in her article above, that this added technology adds considerable cost to products, to the manufacturers’ benefit. (It’s the same with cars: you could lose 50% of all the new technology from cars, and while things might be a little “inconvenient” for the driver, the car could still perform its most elemental function without skipping a beat. Just for thousands of dollars per car less.)

People who are opposed to technology are generally called Luddites (after their apocryphal English founder Ned Lud) or saboteurs (after the French textile workers who threw their wooden clogs — sabots — into mechanical looms). I am neither of the above, nor do I fear technology. What I fear is that one day soon we’re going to find out that while all this technology has freed us (from what?), we’ll be shackled into immobility like Gulliver by the Lilliputians — not by just one device, of course, but by all our possessions which are no longer under our control.

Cue George Orwell: “Freedom Is Slavery” — only in our case, it will be “Convenience Is Slavery.”

Go ahead and laugh, call me crazy or sneer at my apparent Luddism. We’ll see how all this shakes out; but I’m not wrong, and it will give me no pleasure at all to say “I told you so” (while I’m firing up a home-made flamethrower to use on my microwave, which won’t let me nuke a pork sausage because I’ve exceeded my government-mandated weekly hot dog allowance).

If this is to be the future, I want no part of it, and I will actively resist it. I won’t be standing athwart the tide of Convenience shouting “Enough!”; I’ll be behind a barricade with a loaded AK-47 which, I need hardly tell you, will not be remotely-controlled.

More Inclusive

I see that the Black Livers Matter protesters have banned Whitey from their planned riot in Philadelphia on April 15, to nobody’s surprise except perhaps the New York Sodding Times. Oh, did I say “riot”? I meant “meeting”, of course. (Anyone have a line on the over/under on a riot happening anyway? Or is nobody taking that bet?)

Now, I have heard rumblings from certain quarters that not having any White people at this “meeting” will be a Good Thing, because then when the BLU-82 “daisy-cutter” is dropped, there’s less chance of collateral casualties.

I have to say, I think that’s short-sighted thinking, and might even be rayciss. Perhaps. But here’s why I think that idea is flawed: considering the kind of White people who would attend such a “meeting” to show their solidarity with the BLT Movement, would you not want their molecules to be part of that daisy-cutter’s smoke cloud as well?

 

To ask the question is to answer it. Because inclusivity.

Bill Clinton, Terrorsymp Asshole

Like just about any normal person, I was sickened at this picture of Bill Fucking Clinton standing over the coffin of dead Murderous IRA Scum Martin McGuinness, offering his condolences and a touching eulogy. Why would he do that? From Peter Hitchens comes this little nugget (scroll down towards the end of the article if you follow the link):

 

Mr McGuinness was beyond doubt one of the heads of Europe’s most successful terrorist murder gangs. We cannot know what he may have done with his own hands, but we do know that he repeatedly ordered the killings of others. There is little doubt that he also approved acts of torture and kidnapping.
He did this for many years.
He did not stop doing so because he was sorry. Nor was he defeated. Delude yourself as much as you like, the widowmaker McGuinness was the conqueror of Britain. It is our army that went home. It was our surveillance equipment that was dismantled on IRA orders. The IRA kept their guns. We were the ones who had to disband the Royal Ulster Constabulary and its devastatingly effective Special Branch, because the IRA hated them. It was we, the vanquished side, who released scores of gruesome terrorists from just jail sentences.
It was we, the losers, who granted a de facto amnesty to any such killers we had not yet caught. It was we, the beaten, surrendered side, who had to remove the symbols of our former power, the Union Flag and the Crown of St Edward, from cap badges, flagpoles, official buildings and documents. It was we who agreed to pay the widowmaker McGuinness a salary of more than £100,000 a year, much of which he handed over to ‘the movement’. Why, we even forced the poor Queen to smile at him.
In the end, as we have agreed, we will also hand over a large piece of our sovereign territory to a foreign power. What sort of idiot calls this victory?
McGuinness was aided in this by the US President Bill Clinton, who happily travelled to this terrorist killer’s funeral. This is a piece of history I witnessed personally: Mr Clinton, trying to win back Roman Catholic working-class voters disgusted by his views on abortion, took money and backing from Irish America.
And when they came and demanded payback for their help, he kicked Britain in the stomach and welcomed Sinn Fein into the White House. And the British Government, seeing which way the wind was blowing, wavered in the face of terrorism. My, how it wavered.

The sooner the Clintons — all of them — vanish from the face of the planet, the better we’ll all be.

No Kind Words

I see that former IRA honcho and murderous bastard Martin McGuinness has finally died. Good. There have been several eulogies given about him, but Norman Tebbit’s is by far the best:

“I’m just pleased that the world is a sweeter and cleaner place now. He was not only a multi-murderer, he was a coward. He knew that the IRA were defeated because British intelligence had penetrated right the way up to the Army Council and that the end was coming. He then sought to save his own skin and he knew that it was likely he would be charged before long with several murders which he had personally committed and he decided that the only thing to do was to opt for peace. He claimed to be a Roman Catholic. I hope that his beliefs turn out to be true and he’ll be parked in a particularly hot and unpleasant corner of hell for the rest of eternity.”

Amen to that. Now it’s that smooth little psychopath Gerry Adams’s turn. Hasten the day.