Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What if I DON'T Get My Own Job?

So, a week ago today was the deadline to apply for my own job.

Background: I work, of course, at the Radioactive Waste Management Complex. Have done for the past 10 ½ years. But I’ve done so as a subcontractor. Fluor Idaho LLC (the main contractor) is looking for two tech writers to replace retiring writers, so I applied for one of the job. Essentially, it would be (if all went well) a move from company to company, not into a new position.

But the thought struck me this morning on the way to work: What if I don’t get picked?
First thing: I would not lose my current job. I would remain a subcontractor.


Second thing: Does that mean I’m not as valuable to Fluor, or cheaper in some way to be kept as a subcontractor, rather than as a full-fledged employee?

It could all come down to question of ego. And as I have an ego already used to bruising, maybe things will work out okay. But the go may shrink if I don’t get even called in for an interview. That could be a low blow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Two Boston Grads

These two Boston grads have me worried.

I’m not so much worried about their data mining or whatever they’re doing to make the insurance companies so nervous. Because to tell the truth, insurance companies being insurance companies, not even atomic holocaust  makes them nervous.

No one will have the endurance to collect on his insurance, Lloyds of London will be loaded when they go.

What worries me about these two Boston grads is that the folks sponsoring their content – or at least putting their ad campaign together – can’t decide if the grads are two ladies or a woman and a man.

The Investigation by Stanislaw Lem

The InvestigationThe Investigation by Stanisław Lem

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

December 2013

So maybe this is the book Franz Kafka could have written if he'd finished "The Trial." Then again, even the fragments of The Trial are more gripping.

I wanted to like this one. An interesting hard sci-fi premise, but one that came completely without resolution. Intentional I'm sure. But infuriating. Read it, but be ready to be a bit let down at the end.

UPDATE (November 2016): I re-read it. I thought I'd read it before, but when I got to the end, I had no recollection of it. So my review on the resolution stands. Now I've added the following:

In Star Trek the Next Generation, they call it technobabble.

And by and large, the writers didn’t write it. They left it up to the actors to come up with some pseudoscientific, star-trekky gobbledygook to maybe explain something about the ship or the aliens or the situation they were in.

That’s what I feel like I’ve just read in Stanislaw Lem’s The Investigation.

This isn’t my first foray into Lem’s writing. I heartily enjoyed Solaris, for example. But I leave The Investigation highly unsatisfied. Then again, I’ve never been much for metaphysics. And maybe since this is a science fiction novel hidden within a police procedural, I was waiting for the neat ending tied up with a bow. Not what I got. I think I know what’s going on, but I’ve got that squinty Fry look about me that maybe isn’t satisfied that I’ve got it right.

It’s Sciss (spoilers). But why? Because he’s nuts? Because he wanted to play around with the mathematics and be proved a genius? I guess so. I’m almost happier to believe the fabrication of the truck driver. Or even that resurrection is caused by cancer bringing cancer-resistant folks back to life.

I’m not sure I appreciate the metaphysical dump – separate ones by two characters, no less – in the closing pages of the novel. I needed that spread out a bit, cleverly, so I could examine it for clues. To get two dumps in a row, well, I have to admit I skimmed them. So maybe it’s my fault I didn’t enjoy the book much.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Again with the Revisions . . .

I know I keep saying things like this, but I’m going to say it again:

I’m taking a new approach to editing Doleful Creatures.

This next time through, it’s just to read the story. I’m going to try to put the pen down as much as possible, only taking it up to ask the book or the characters or the book’s idiot author questions. I’m also going to re-read the synopsis – of which I’m proud – each time I pick up the book to read. That’ll help me focus on keeping the story moving as it should. And, hopefully, identify the fluff.

Good things:

I’ve already eliminated a lot of fluff. I’ve killed characters and story arcs.

I’ve got a good bead on a few things that need to be added to complete some character development, and to bring some hope to the characters at the end. (It has been trending to a rather bleak storyline, even  though the good guys win at the end. (Maybe that’s where I need to go, to bring in a little happiness at the end, when the itch for writing more hits me.)

I can feel the book coming closer to completion. I’m nine-tenths of the way there.

First Post-Press President

So, which statement below is the most shocking:

Statement No. 1: President-elect Donald Trump has not held a formal press conference since July.

Statement No. 2: The press expects the formality of a press conference in order to disseminate news.

We’ll get on to the shocking bit here in a moment, after an aside on sides:

I’m not taking the side of Donald Trump. I did not vote for the man. And while he is the president-elect, I’ll be watching what he does with a wary eye.

I’m not taking the side of the press either. Much of the national press has been openly hostile toward the president-elect, both via righteous indignation and bitter spitefulness.

And, eh, the title probably already gave my opinion away. That the press expects the formality of a press conference in order to disseminate news is the more shocking statement.

One of Trump’s campaign platforms – and this is likely to be carried through his presidency – is disdain for the media. His supporters love his disdain, for both good and bad. And given his proclivity for self-aggrandizement and Twitter, the man likely sees no reason to have the press filter any of his news or ask any pesky questions, when he can go straight to his voters via Twitter, YouTube, and other direct means that let him control the message and yet still get it out to a mass audience.

He wins.

And he makes the national media look like a bunch of losers as they have to report on his tweets or his YouTube videos as news, or leave the front pages or news segments empty.

And with Steve Bannon (yuck ick ptoo schveinhunt!) as a presidential strategist, Trump will have no shortage of Internet outlets willing to present his news unvarnished, just as he wants it.

Trump, in short, does not need the press. And his ardent supporters will love him for not using it, seeing his disdain for the press as part of his promise to draining the DC swamp, which is just as full of journalists as it is of bureaucrats in their mind.

This will, of course, annoy the national press to no end. Trump’s fans will love it.

This will, of course, annoy the liberals to no end. Trump’s fans will love it.

This will, of course, lead to even less accountability on the Executive Branch, which is a terrible, no-good, awful thing to happen.

Or will it?

I think it won’t.

If Trump’s press disdain continues, leakers will abound and revel in sneaking tidbits and bombshells to the national press. Leaking is a DC tradition, and isn’t likely to stop if the Big Man in Charge doesn’t like the press, because the same venues that a press-hating president can use to his advantage also lend advantage to those within the draining swamp to focus light where it’s needed.

Richard Nixon’s disdain for the press was legendary. He blacklisted many a reporter and news organization. He really wanted to be the first post-press President, and we saw a precursor to that with his “Checkers” speech and the many appeals through the press and outside of it to the Silent Majority. Technology just wasn’t yet on Nixon’s side. Despite his disdain for the press, news still got out.

Today, it’s a different game, with the fractured television news landscape but more importantly with the Internet. Trump can turn to Twitter or YouTube and get his message straight to the people who want it, without interference or filtering or gatekeeping or curation or hostility from the press.

And the national press need not be hamstrung if there are no formal press conferences to attend. If they are, they’re the Wusses of the Swamp and deserve to be driven out.

The national press folks are not wusses. They are the Madame Medusa of the Swamp:

Trump’s position on the press, of course, will not endear him to them, because to DC journalists, it’s all about access. So they’ll be even more openly hostile to him. For good and bad. And we’ll get ourselves into a feedback loop that’ll be just as disastrous as when the wizards at Unseen University discovered that hole that led to another universe and built a privy over it. Turns out the hole didn’t lead to another universe, but led instead to a disused University cellar, which quickly filled.

So the lesson here: Trump does not need the press. And if the press needs Trump, they need to make him – or his supporters – need them. Trump may help them in his own erratic way, but I wouldn’t count on a full suck-up from Trump to the press on any account. How they national press will get Trump or his supporters to need them is a mystery.  But pouting over the lack for formal press conferences isn’t going to do it.