Monday, August 17, 2009

Why work?

Why do we work? Not the most earth-shattering topic but the one in my head at the moment.

We work because we need the income to pay for stuff we want and/or need. In rare situations, the work is done because either the process or the goal are considered something worthwhile and the end result is desirable (either because it is lofty or because ultimate performance will avoid the worker's getting fired).

OK, what about summer workers who don't 'need' the money? I ran into that recently. i was stressing to summer employees how important speed was. A worker said "well...we get paid by the hour so we don't really rush." Great. I tried to explain that the work had to be done by a deadline but by that time he was busy playing Tetris.

But why did I expect otherwise? Either we pay by the hour, and since he has nothing invested in the final work-product, he might as well slack off in each hour so that he can guarantee future hours, or we pay on a set salary, and in that case, as he has nothing invested in the end work-product, he would do whatever he does when he feels like it.

I know this isn't fair but the only way to resolve this is to make summer work matter by making payment contingent on reaching an end result by deadline. These workers are contract workers working on a project. The should get their money based on presenting a completed project on schedule. Sure, that means that a worker will be working for weeks only on the promise of payment, but at least I could walk in and say "hurry up" and the worker might listen.

Other downsides? If I bring in a new worker, that eats away at the profit any other worker makes because more people have to share in the ultimate pot of payment unless I go back, count the hours and pay them a fixed per/hour based on time cards afterwards. A worker who leaves mid-project or misses days due to unforeseen problems is dependent on others' performance to get his share. If they don't finish, he gets nothing.

I don't know; it isn't perfect and it isn't fair. But the work has to get done and sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who cares.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Football has been very very good to him

I haven't been this angry in a while so bear with me -- I might have to find my way back into my anger groove.

The headline in the news is "Donte Stallworth of Cleveland Browns is suspended for 2009 season." My first reaction was "oh my fantasy felon football team will have a wide receiver for Vick to throw to." Then I started reading the articles. The first two, weighing in at about 60 words each were inoffensive enough. Articles reported that the Florida limit is .08 and he ran a .126 and that he received 30 days in prison for driving drunk and killing someone.  I was annoyed but I was dealing with it. Then I got to the LA Times, bless their souls.

In it, I learned the following facts:

1. He only served 24 of the 30 days.

2. He feels that by killing a human being he has done "irreparable harm" to the family of the man he killed.

3. Commissioner Goodall wrote that he is "clearly guilty of conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL."

4. He did what he did "even though safe and confidential alternatives, such as the 'Safe Ride' program, were available"

5. and finally..."The suspension is twice the eight-game penalty the St. Louis Rams' Leonard Little received from then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue in 1999, after Little struck and killed a woman while driving drunk."

Where should I start? Should I fume about the 30 day punishment for killing someone? This is the same Stallworth who was pulled over in March of 2006 and tried to drive off, and refused to exit the car when asked. When arrested then, "Donte Stallworth told the detectives that the incident was going to cost the policemen a lot of money and that he would have their jobs." Maybe I should point out that serving only 24 days of an insultingly short sentence is even more insulting. Can I point out how disgustingly glib and heartless it is to summarize the killing of a pedestrian which leaves behind a 12 year old daughter as doing "irreperable harm." Somehow I think that something a bit more effusive, like "I'm sure that I have given her a trauma which will adversely affect her maturation process and from which she may never fully recover" would be called for.

But for the commissioner to say that his behavior is what is calling in to question the integrity of the NFL is laughable. Anyone who is holding these athletes up as pillars of the community who make intelligent long term plans, who espouse philosophies and values which we should admire or who take their fame and celebrity within a grounded viewpoint and a context of social responsibility is a fool. I'm not saying that all (or many, or anything like that) football players are evil, shortsighted or some other deficient label, but I am saying that the league (as with most professional sports) is full of its own crises that make people rethink the integrity issue frequently. Haggling for insane contracts, behaving on and off the field in immature fashion and such have sullied sports that haven't been "gentlemen's games" for a long time. Did the arrest of Mel Gibson compromise the integrity of Hollywood? Either it is a reflection on the individual or we have to admit that the track record of people in the spotlight is so poor that one more 'event' isn't tipping the scales.

But, now, speaking as an occasional drinker (with those occasions being days that end in "y") does anyone expect a pro football player, surrounded, no doubt, by his entourage to push aside the bling and leave the Bentley in the parking lot so he can call the Safe Rider hotline and get someone he doesn't know to drive him home? Maybe the teams should assign a driver to go along with the players when they go out...maybe a floating chauffeur system. Or maybe, players shouldn't think that just because they are into the off season, their best use of a Friday night is to go out and drink.

That this suspension from 1 year's worth of football (during which one wonders if he'll secure some other speaking gigs or work out with a college team or do something to keep his hand in, or if he will volunteer to use all his free time to help raise the fatherless girl) is twice what was done 10 years ago isn't comforting. Kill a guy and miss playing a game. Considering his injuries recently, I think he'll be used to not playing. Gosh, I hope he can live on his 4.75 million dollar signing bonus. That must be tough.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Things are moviong too fast. We live at the end of history because we are too self aware of how we live, too metanalytical of our own lives so there is no incubation period. We no longer have to develop any hindsight after a period of time imbued with reflection and growth. We are instantly aware of our own position int he cultural flow.

We live at the speed of the internet. Ideas are hatched, proliferate on the fringes, are adopted by the mainstream, become wildly popular and then are overexposed faster than is reasonable. The meme is born, flares up and ends up on a mug or t-shirt before it has time to develop into anything with staying power. As such, our culture stops developing any real personality. We have become the generation that will have as its signature simply that a million unmemorable ideas began during its tenure. I remember the fads of my childhood; each new slang word stayed under the radar for long enough and only after that time did it pop into more pervasive usage. Now, a twitter fad is catalogued on the same day it becomes a trend and with a day or two it is gone. What will this generation be able to tell its children? What are we seeding our future nostalgia with? Basically nothing because we aren't giving our present time to develop organically.

Slow down and let the tension grow. Cultivate it carefully and then release it upon the world so that everyone can put it in a larger cultural context. Instead, we have so much going on so quickly that we have nothing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

so here's what I need

I like the Black Berry. I really have gotten used to it and I know the pain of having it be broken. So I know the pain of having to back it up and/or restore it. Pretty gruesome. So here's what i am commissioning (all of you with loads of cash lying around, make this happen and let me know):

I need a remote site which emulates a Berry and can sync with my real berry.

I'll give you three qualities/aspects of the online service:

1. it emulates a berry. Log on from a computer and you see a berry (this exists on the Java development site I think) and you can run all of your berry-based programs from any computer, and any changes you make to your data gets synced with your berry the next time you plug in.

2. it allows for the quivalent of a remote desktop connection when you log in to the website from another berry. I can log in to my school system and run the software and access the files as if i were at my desk. I don't have office installed on this netbook, so I log in and can work with all of my Office software from work. I should be able to do that with my berry -- use someone else's berry to connect and that berry then becomes my berry till I log out.

3. it acts as if a chunk of remote memory is dedicated to taking the exact copy of the memory of my berry including all the data, settings and installed third party apps (which is what allows numbers 1 and 2 to work). therefore, if my berry gets wiped, or i buy a new one, i can restore a complete mirror image with everything already set and installed. only subscriptions that are PIN based would require updating.

this is what I'm looking for. As far as I can tell, it doesn't exist. But the berry is very popular. Make this a service for a nominal fee and, I'd expect, you would clean up. And help out.

so? Get to it.