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.


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Gammy’s Special Moment

Via Insty (who should know better), we learn that yes, Grandma’s still having sex.

Okay, all my usual admonitions about TMI (Too-Much-fucking-Information) [sic] apply here, but as someone who isn’t (yet) a grandfather but who is well into the demographic, I can’t for the life of me see why this is news, or of any possible interest to anyone. Everyone (except, it seems, for Millennial reporters) knows perfectly well that people can and do have sex well into their dotage, but the only difference, now that the ghastly Baby Boomers are old farts, is that they feel a need to tell everyone they’re doing it, compared to their own grandparents (most of whom must be mercifully deceased by now) who in all likelihood had geriatric sex too, but didn’t broadcast it from the rooftops.

Modesty, people.

All that said, however, I think that this is one of the sweetest pictures ever taken:

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Turning The Tables

We’re all familiar with those tiresome magazine or newspaper articles which tell you “How To Ace That Sweet Job Interview” or suchlike nonsense. I’ve sat on both sides of the desk many times, and I am still amazed not just at the stupidity of interviewees, but also at the still-greater idiocy of the interviewers — and I mean the “screening” interviewers such as Human Resources (or as we used to call it, Personnel, a more honest term in that it involved persons as opposed to resources). Mostly, interviews with the people who are going to be your future boss are hundreds of times more productive because the manager has a better idea of what he needs from a subordinate, than does some drone with an English degree who can barely understand the corporate mission statement, let alone the specific needs of an engineering or marketing department.

So, with all the usual caveats — following my advice is something you need to do with the greatest suspicion and/or trepidation — allow me to present Kim’s Ultimate Answers To Interviewers’ Dumb Questions.

“What skills will you bring to the company?”
– You mean, other than what’s on my resumé?

“Can you explain some of the gaps in your resumé?”
– I don’t consider them to be gaps. During one of those “gaps”, as you call them, I learned to speak a foreign language. During another “gap”, I learned basic HTML. I used those opportunities to improve my marketplace value.

“Are you a punctual person?”
– For me, five minutes early is on time. But the converse of that is that unless it’s a client, I don’t tolerate unpunctuality in other people.

“Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.”
– You need to define what you consider “difficult” first. What some people might consider difficult, I might consider unremarkable or inconsequential. (Then examples: I once turned a competitor’s best customer into one of our best customers. I turned our cost-center department into a profit center.) Avoid any mention of how you dealt with office politics — these discussions are poison because HR, having no actual marketable skills themselves, will be well versed in those Dark Arts.

“What would you consider your biggest strength as an employee?”
– Managing expectations. Generally, I try to under-promise and over-deliver, and always under budget or ahead of the deadline.

“What would you consider your biggest weakness?”
– You mean work-related weaknesses? Can’t think of any, off-hand, other than perhaps a dislike of unproductive meetings. I get very impatient when my work time is wasted.

(Follow-up snarky question:) “So how would you classify this meeting?”
– This is a productive meeting. From my responses, you’re trying to decide whether you want to employ me; and from the corporate culture you’re showing me, I’m trying to decide whether I’d want to work here.

“Are you prepared to work weekends and holidays?”
– Of course I am. By the way, what’s the usual compensation for doing that: longer vacations, flexible hours, or overtime pay? I don’t mind any of those as exchanges for giving up my personal time. I’m not a clock-watcher by any means, but I do value my spare time. (Unless you’re applying for a management position, this is a perfectly acceptable response, by the way.)

“Do you get along with people?”
– Most people.

(Follow-up question:) “What kind of people don’t you get along with?”
– People who confuse input with output. Also, people who don’t understand the Iron Triangle (cost, time and scope). [If you have to explain the difference between input and output to the interviewer, you may wish to reconsider your job application.]

“What do you know about our company?”
– Other than what’s on your corporate website? Not much. I do know quite a bit about your competitors, though, because I did some homework on them so I could start work as productively as possible.

(Follow-up question #1:) “What do you know about our competitors?”
– I really wouldn’t feel comfortable divulging that except to my future boss, as his subordinate.
(Follow-up question #2:) “Have you been in contact with any of our competitors?”
– Not yet. I wanted to see how things went with your company first.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” (Mostly, this question has disappeared from most interviews, because today’s would-be employees have little idea where they’ll be in five days, let alone years. Still:)
– It really depends on how my job changes, or what happens to the company over that period of time. With the rate of change today, what with companies starting up and failing, or being taken over by competitors, I think that five years is too long a period in which to make strategic career decisions at this point.

“Will you take a drug test?”
– The minute you can prove to me that the CEO and all the other senior executives have taken the same drug test. Then, sure.
[HR will say that they can’t show you that for privacy issues, but repeat that you don’t want to see the results, just proof that the test was taken. When they say, “It’s corporate policy; everyone has to take the test,” insist on proof. If they say, “you have to take my word that everyone has taken the test”, then your response should be that they should have no problem about taking your word that you don’t do drugs. By the way, if senior executives don’t have to take the test, then it’s not corporate policy. If the drug test policy only applies to lower echelons, ask how they’ve avoided being sued so far.]

“Do you have any bad work habits?” (I swear, I was once asked this question, a variation of “What are your weaknesses?” which has now been excoriated so often that it’s no longer asked.)
– I don’t know what constitutes a “bad habit” in your opinion. Could you give me a few examples? (Then answer those, and only those, with responses like: “I’d never do that” or “I’ve never done that” or “People do that?”)

“Do you have any questions for me?”
– Only about the salary (hourly rate), which seems a little modest for the skills and experience you’re asking of an employee at this level. But I’d prefer to discuss that topic with my future boss here, rather than at so early a stage in the process. (Unsaid: I don’t want to hear all that bullshit about salary grades from you, but from the guy who has actual budget authority.)

I should probably point out that if you actually use the above examples in an interview, your chances of getting the job will drop faster than a Kardashian’s panties. But at least you’ll have had some fun along the way. I should also point out that I have used some of these, or at least variations thereof, on my own behalf. Quite often, amazingly, I made it past HR to the boss’s interview because it appeared that the HR drone saw quite clearly that they were out of their depth, and like all good bureaucrats, kicked the problem over to someone else.

Use with caution.


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“Dear Dr. Kim”

“Dear Dr. Kim,

I’ve been happily married for nearly forty years, and I love my wife dearly. However, I find that I seldom feel much sexual desire for her these days. It’s not that she’s ‘let herself go’ or anything like that; in fact, she’s quite a looker. And it’s not erectile dysfunction, either. On those rare occasions when we do have sex, I have no problem ‘rising to the occasion,’ as it were. I’m not looking for sex outside our marriage, either – but the fact is that I just couldn’t be bothered to have sex with anyone. What’s the matter with me?”

– Uninterested, London.

Dear Uninterested,

Nothing. Unless you have a health issue – and you may have, so get a doctor (a real doctor, not a shrink) to check you out – it’s quite normal for men’s sex drives to diminish as they get older, but sometimes a health issue like high blood pressure is at fault.

I suspect you’ve fallen prey to feelings of sexual inadequacy after reading one of those tiresome surveys which remind us that the “average” married couple has sex 7.5 times a week or some such bullshit. You need to know two things: people lie like dogs on those surveys, because no man wants to admit to a stranger that he’s not bursting with sexual energy – even if that researcher is seventy years old and looks like Hillary Clinton. So he lies and brags, and now we have to live with those fantasies. The other thing you need to know about those surveys is that the only people who are comfortable talking to researchers about their sex lives are either old braggarts or young people – and young people, as we all know, have the sex drive of rabbits.

Let’s face facts, here: the Duke of Wellington once remarked about sex that “the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” Note that he said this at age 65 and not at 25, when his comment would likely have been quite different.

Finally, don’t listen to the supposed “experts” or any kind of therapists, who have a vested interest in keeping you feeling insecure. Ask your wife if your decreased sex drive bothers her. My bet is that it won’t, especially if you’ve been a faithful and loving husband in all other regards. If it does bother her, then ask her to be more aggressive about asking you for it, non-verbally. If I may be indelicate about this for a moment: few men are going to say “no” when they wake up in the middle of the night to find their wives’ mouths buried in their groin playing “find the weasel.” And please feel free to ignore absolutely everything you’ve ever read about this issue, including what I just said, and go with your gut instinct.

—Dr. Kim


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Au Nom Du Peuple

Apparently, even the prospect of a Front National win in France has got people wetting their panties.

Two weeks before the French cast their first presidential ballots, the spectre of victory for the far-right leader who promises to crack down on immigration and outlaw gay marriage sends shivers down many a spine.Pollsters say the anti-EU firebrand can count on the unwavering support of about one in four voters to get her past the first round of voting on April 23.
Although they also say the National Front (FN) leader cannot win in the decisive May 7 runoff whoever she faces, a great many pundits were wrong about Brexit and Donald Trump after failing to feel the populist pulse.
And with one in three voters still undecided at this late stage, pollsters would be wise to hedge their bets.
Predictions of a “nightmare” Le Pen presidency abound in bookstores and the media.

Oh, please. “Nightmare“? The Left believes their own propaganda too much. Over Here, God-Emperor Trump’s victory has led to the same kind of overblown idiotic prophesies: gays in concentration camps, women’s wombs exploding with unwanted babies, mass deportations of illegal immigrants and [fill in your favorite Leftist nightmare here] — none of which has happened, nor will it. Yet still they believe it, and as in France, media reportage and bookstore gossip support their pathetic little fantasies.

And as for Marine Le Pen’s party being “far-right”… the FN is far-right only by comparison to the screaming meemies of the Left in Europe and the alt-Left over here. By comparison to the group known as Kim’s Loyal Readers, the FN is actually about center-left (wealth super-taxation and pro-abortion: not so popular on my back porch).

Seriously: go read the FN’s party platform. Only Lefties, academics, journos and similar assorted loons [some overlap] would find anything remotely objectionable. My guess is that apart from the two issues above, not one of you is going to strenuously oppose anything the FN stands for; I sure as hell don’t.

To the the FN and Marine Le Pen I say therefore: “En avant, mes braves! et à bas les sales marxistes! Vive la France!”


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Sinking Ship

So it seems that Japan’s Kubota is leaving California for… tada! Texas, thus depriving the Golden (or really, Moonbeam) State of over 500 jobs. The new building will be in Grapevine, just north of DFW airport.

In the comments section under the article are the usual warnings to arriving Californians to leave their bad voting habits behind — I don’t know how many of them are going to make the switch, maybe about two hundred — but the most priceless remarks were about California, e.g.:

Kubota claims that the move is “to be closer to their customer base”, but left unsaid was the rest of the sentence: “…and far away from those lunatic California laws and politicians.”

Allow me to add my welcome to Kubota and their employees, as well as my advice that they leave their terrible California voting habits back in California.

As I’ve said before: Texas is a good state to live and work in because we’re not like California, so don’t try to change that. We have lots of room for people, but no room at all for Lefty politics.


Update: I originally referred to California as the Sunshine State, when as any fule know (except for me, at 6am) that it is the Golden State. My sincerest apologies to the real Sunshine State, Florida. And thankee to Reader mns for the correction.


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