Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

11/11/2005

See you in ten days.

File under: Meta-Meta, Know Thyself, Welcome To The Occupation. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 10:01 am.

The following have been taking priority over blogging in the past week, and will continue to do so in the next:

  • These vases don’t trim themselves. Mind you, they come closer to trimming themselves than my bowls, mugs, plates, or anything else, which is why I mass-produce vases when I have things like, say, a job, taking up most of my time. Most things need to wait until they’re at just the right level of hardness before they’re trimmed on the wheel, whereas vases are more forgiving: I just have to smooth their bases; they don’t need feet. But that has to be done in the studio, which is over an hour away from the workplace, and these things take time.

  • Parents visiting. They don’t come out this way very often. My readers come this way near ’bout every single day. They’ll be around next week; parents won’t.

  • Cleaning my apartment. And before anyone says that they clean their apartment every single week and yet they still manage to blog, I’d like to point out that that’s exactly my point: I don’t clean my apartment every single week. In fact, I hardly clean it at all (see “Parents visiting”, above), which makes the process a lot more time-consuming when it actually does occur. Cleaning my apartment is a bit like going on an archeological dig: “A dried spaghetti noodle…when did I have spaghetti for dinner? Oh, yeah, three weeks ago.”

  • Work. In particular, the result of the following exchange:

    Me: Supervisor, where would I find the following data, which I expect I will have to use approximately twenty times a day from now until the Second Coming of Christ?

    Supervisor: Oh, that data? You’ll find it scattered across thirty-five completely unintuitively-named files of various formats, which are located in six different public directories. Well, except for the financial data, which was temporarily moved to the document server eight months ago during the big restructuring.

    [Three hours later]

    Supervisor: Moebius Stripper, I was wondering if you…heeeeyyyy, what’s that you’re working on?

    Me: Oh, this? Just a little database I’m designing for my own personal use. I figured it would be good to have all of this information a bit more easily accessible.

    Supervisor: Omigod, really? You’re designing a database? NO WAY! That is like TOTALLY AWESOME! We’ve always wanted a database! Could you design one for the whole office? Because that would be way cool.

    So now I’m the database person. I was originally hired as the math person. In my second week of work, I given something to edit, and I did a good enough job that now I am the writing/editing person as well. I like to think of this as “job security”.

    Oh, and also in the public directories? All sorts of stuff that I’m sure I am not supposed to see.

  • Big business trip in warmer and sunnier climes. I might be inclined to do some blogging there during my down time, if I had any, which I don’t: right after my plane lands and I’m all jetlagged, they have me scheduled for two sixteen hour days. The agenda for this conference includes businesspeak talks with titles such as Get Energized: Developing a Motivated Workforce. I anticipate that “schedule your jetlagged employees for two sixteen hour days” isn’t among the tips given in that one.
  • Sense of civic duty. I’ve been way behind on reading up on the issues. Fortunately, Declan’s done much of the legwork.

11/5/2005

I’ve known politicians, and you, Mr. Martin, are no politician

File under: Character Writ Large, Home And Native Land, I Read The News Today, Oh Boy. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 10:25 pm.

Our poor Prime Minister - even when he wins, he loses:

Canadian voters have forcefully rejected Mr. Justice John Gomery’s exoneration of Prime Minister Paul Martin for the sponsorship scandal in a new poll that vaults the Conservatives in front of the Liberals for the first time since last spring.

You know, this never would have happened under a Chretien government. Because Chretien’s bumbling-fool act was just that: an act. He wasn’t such a…such a bad politician that he’d ever openly and repeatedly declare his innocence when implicated in a scandal, offer himself to be judged by the courts, be exonerated, and then somehow get slaughtered in the polls anyway. Seriously, how uncharismatic do you have to be to have people hate you even more after they receive evidence that you didn’t do the thing they hated you for in the first place? (Mind you, there’s a simpler explanation for these poll results: Canadians aren’t favouring the Conservatives because of Gomery; they’re favouring the Conservatives because the Conservative leader haven’t been talking very much lately. That party’s failure to stick to that winning strategy during actual campaigns is what causes their numbers to plummet in the weeks leading up to elections. See also: federal elections, 2004, 2000.)

Under a Chretien government, this wouldn’t have gone to the courts in the first place. It would have spent a few days, maybe a few weeks, in the news. There’d've been some murmurs about a sponsorship scandal at some point, and then Chretien would have dismissed them. He’d have been hounded by reporters for a few minutes, and he’d have made some statement of the form, “Geeez, are you still thinking about this? Get over it! So someone didn’t keep track of some money a few years ago. Who cares? Geeeez!” This statement would have gotten a lot of airplay, and then Canadians would have spent a few days, maybe a few weeks, reacting indignantly: The arrogance! Can you believe it? Our prime minister is such a disgrace! And then something else would have bumped this complete non-issue off the front pages. No one would have even thought of calling, or demanding, a snap election. A few months or years later, there’d have been another election anyway, and Canadians from Newfoundland to British Columbia would have gone on and on about how they couldn’t stand that fool, Chretien, but then they’d have given him another majority government anyway.

The reason that Chretien had no trouble winning majority governments and (grudging) support, while Martin is struggling mightily in both areas, isn’t because scandals came to light during the Martin years, while the Chretien government was scandal-free. Oh, no - apparently there’ve been enough scandals during the Chretien years to fill a book. But the first line of the single review of that book, from one Brent Colbert, says it all: Just finished this book and couldn’t believe how many of the scandals I had forgot over the last decade. Oh, Brent, we’ve all forgotten them. We’ve forgotten them because Chretien, unlike Martin, had taken to heart the first fundamental rule of high school debating, which is this: you must concede nothing to the opposition. Even when they’re right. Especially when they’re right. When your opponents accuse you of, say, corruption or fiscal mismanagement, you obviously don’t confess. Everyone knows that. Less obvious is the fact that you also shouldn’t deny it. Because when you deny it, you’re agreeing with your opponents in that corruption or fiscal mismanagement is wrong. You’re handing them that point, and they will run with it. The best strategy, as we learned from the Right Honourable Mr. Chretien, is to roll your eyes and call your opponents stinky poo-poo heads. You’re above their stinky poo-poo head accusations, and you don’t want to talk about them anymore. And poof! Those accusations don’t spend six months on the front pages of newspapers, and you win.

Maybe I’m giving the guy too much credit. Maybe he was simply, as many people said, inarticulate. Maybe it wasn’t a strategic evasion of big questions so much as an accidental avoidance of them that kept his scandals off the front pages and his ass in the prime minister’s office.

But in that case, more power to him. Man was a born politician. You can’t teach that sort of talent.

(Looking for intelligent commentary about the sponsorship scandal and Gomery inquiry? Declan’s got it. In general, if you’re ever looking for commentary about Canadian politics or journalism from someone who knows what’s going on, and who can get through a sentence without snark, you’re a lot better off reading him than me.)

11/1/2005

Works Well With Others

File under: Welcome To The Occupation. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 8:52 pm.

God, am I ever beat. Every minute of my time has been scheduled these past two weeks, even the minutes after I’m supposed to leave to go home, but I’m told that that sort of thing is Highly Irregular and will come to an end soon. Soon - not yet: not twenty four hours after the Supervisor delivered his Importance of Not Letting This Job Take Over Your Life pep talk, came the Supervisor2’s enthusiastic invitation to Get Together for an All-Staff Social Breakfast (!) at Seven O’Clock (!!) on Monday (!!!).

And so began a tense round of Passive-Aggressive Chicken (*). You see, no one wants to get together for an all-staff social breakfast at seven o’clock on Monday, but even more than that, no one wants to be the uncommitted team member who openly admits that they don’t want to get together for an all-staff social breakfast at seven o’clock on Monday. So you get things like this, and grit your teeth as you hope that the buck doesn’t end up with you:

“Well, I’m fine with an all-staff social breakfast at seven o’clock on Monday…but doesn’t Cindy have to get her kids ready for school in the morning?”

“Oh, Fred will be back in town so he can handle the kids for one morning…but Roger, you haven’t gotten your car back from the shop yet, and weren’t you going to pick it up on Monday morning first thing after they open at eight-thirty, a full hour and a half after seven?”

“Well, it might be ready as soon as Saturday…”

And so on. ‘Round the table we went, until:

“What about you, MS?”

Oh, lord. Could I risk being the uncommitted team member during my first week of work?

Wasn’t necessary, as it turned out. “Gosh,” I said, affecting disappointment. “I’d love to get together for an all-staff social breakfast at seven o’clock on Monday, but I don’t even think the buses run that early!”

Verdict: all-staff social lunch on Monday. Thai food, even - that delectable entity that reveals Western cuisine for the hack that it is. Much better than the breakfast meats - the only type of food that makes me gag - that would have invariably made an appearance five hours earlier. Perceived lack of early-morning service: yet another benefit of public transportation! Support your local transit system today! But not too much, mind.

…And so it came to pass that I became appreciated at work: Cindy and Roger and some others came by my desk to personally thank my carless ass.

Anyway, this post is mostly for my own reference, come personal evaluations six months from now: Describe a situation in which you successfully exhibited leadership in a group situation, or whatever they put on the forms these days.

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(*) There are three I’s in “Passive-Aggressive Chicken”.

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