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The Snowflake Test

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a New Boston Post article by someone named Kyle Reyes – President and CEO of The Silent Partner Marketing – that explained his firm’s somewhat unorthodox hiring practices. You see, The Silent Partner Marketing is apparently a pretty cool place to work. They have a bar, they have a personal trainer, they allow dogs – YES DOGS!!!! – in the office, which should actually alleviate stress levels and increase productivity. (Yes, I speak from experience. We employed a wounded warrior at my old job, who had an adorable German Shepherd seeing eye pup, and who acted as our office therapy dog whenever he didn’t have his harness on.) So being a cool place to work, the company obviously gets a lot of interest from prospective employees, who find the benefits appealing.

So how does a company ensure they hire the best and brightest, whose personality fits the culture?

I know what it’s like to have to wade through hundreds of resumes. Whenever my office advertises a position, we drown in a swamp of resumes – some stellar, and others… well… they might as well be written in crayon. I know we’re a great place to work, but it seems these days applicants think we need to sell ourselves to them, because they’re so smart/experienced/fabulous. Sometimes it takes all my will power not to remind the applicant that with the pay and benefits we offer, as well as the fascinating work that actually makes a difference, they should be the ones selling themselves to us. More often than not, the attitude is, “show me how great you are, and that you deserve me!”

NEWSFLASH, SNOWFLAKE! We are not here to impress you. We pay good money for good skills. We hire quality people and reward them accordingly, and we screen heavily to ensure said quality. Don’t like it? Don’t apply! We are certainly not here to adjust to your whims.

Since I can’t very well inform prospective applicants that they won’t be issued safe spaces, pussy hats, safety pins, and free days off to focus on their political activism, I weed out potential snowflakes by informing them of the true benefits of working in my office.

You get to do a truly fascinating job that allows you to challenge your assumptions and stretch your mental muscles.

No, you don’t get a masseuse or your own office, but we do have a table filled with chocolate, cookies, and all sorts of treats people bring – especially when they go TDY to a faraway place! And we do get to travel! Places like Germany, Singapore, Britain, Luxembourg, and Romania are just some of the neat places we’ve been able to send our employees! And yes, you need to learn customs and courtesies. And no, you don’t get to indulge your “I only eat organically-grown, locally sourced produce that certifies it wasn’t mean to animals” predilections. You will be polite to your hosts, always be on time, always keep situational awareness, and act like a grownup, or you don’t get to go again. Believe me, I’ve done it.

You do get to interact with senior policy makers, and keep them informed about critical issues that impact this nation. No, you don’t get to choose what you brief or how you brief it. No, you don’t get to decline because you don’t like a particular policy maker. No, you don’t get to shove your own political views into your analysis. You will, however, become a subject matter expert on various issues that are vital to our foreign policy and national security, and you will develop your knowledge and expertise. I call that self-fulfillment. You like it? Come show me why I should hire you for this unique opportunity! I won’t coddle you, but I will teach you and guide you, and I will make you the best you can be at your job.

Interested?

But back to Kyle Reyes.

When I read Reyes’ strategy for weeding out those who don’t quite fit the corporate culture at his company, I nearly squeaked with excitement! He calls it “The Snowflake Test.” Since he published an article about “The Snowflake Test,” it’s gone viral. I’ve seen him on the news, and he’s been on a ton of various radio programs!

I sent Reyes a note shortly after the first article was published with a short kudos for his work. He was kind enough to respond, and we had a brief conversation in which I conveyed to him how much I wished I could administer his “Snowflake Test” to those who apply for open positions with me!

Some of the questions are somewhat eclectic.

  1. When was the last time you cried and why? (At my son’s Army Basic Training graduation. Tears of joy)
  2. You arrive at an event for work and there’s a major celebrity you’ve always wanted to meet. What happens next? (I do my job. Duh.)
  3. What’s your favorite kind of adult beverage? (Bloody Mary)

Others are obviously designed to gauge your respect for the views and beliefs of others or your love of this country.

  1. How do you feel about guns? (I carry an M1911. My G23 is my other carry pistol.)
  2. What are your feelings about employees or clients carrying guns? (None of my business as long as they practice common sense safety.)
  3. What does America mean to you? (*Long discussion about the opportunities this nation provided me – ones I couldn’t get as a Jew in the former USSR*)
  4. How do you feel about police? (Much like I feel about others who stand up. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for your sacrifices. Your badge doesn’t come with a halo, however, so don’t abuse your authority.)

Still others take a peek at your personality and try to gauge how you would perform your duties in a marketing firm.

  1. What’s the best way to communicate with clients? (Politely, respectfully, but honestly and directly.)
  2. In a creative environment like The Silent Partner Marketing, what do you envision work attire looking like? (As long as you don’t come in with piercings all over your face, wearing leather chaps, no pants, and a tiara, I don’t care. Dress professionally. It doesn’t have to be a three-piece suit all the time, but if you come in wearing pajama bottoms and a torn t-shirt with fuzzy bunny slippers, I’ll personally escort you out.)
  3. Should “trigger warnings” be issued before we release content for clients or the company that might be considered “controversial”? (Nope. You hire us for our expertise and reputation. If you don’t trust us to release the very best content for your needs, maybe you should find someone else.)

Reyes apparently got a lot of flak from the very snowflakes he wants to avoid for weeding them out in such a rude and undignified fashion! After all, they shouldn’t be subjected to these intrusive questions or judged by their answers! They’re perfect candidates! They deserve an interview. They bring a lot to the table, and because they’re so special and perfect, the employer needs to sell the company to them. They’re special! They’re quality! How DARE he want to hire the best candidate possible for openings in his own company! Reyes’ attitude toward these entitled buffoons is the same as mine would be.

I was scolded by a woman on the phone yesterday who told me she wouldn’t take the test and “shame” on me for making people take a test to come work for us.  She “demanded” I remove the test or risk losing out on “perfect employees” like herself.

Bummer.

Well, snowflake, it’s back to the heaping pile of applications for me.

I would probably send the woman a photo of her application in my circular file, because I’m not as nice as Kyle Reyes.

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Conservatives

Rob wrote a great piece last night eviscerating David Shephard’s condemnation of conservatives who actually stand on principles on the Bull Elephant. You should really go read Rob’s fisk. He uses big words, and he didn’t drop the F-bomb even once! (Note: this is why I will never write for an actual news source or political site again. Too much effort to constrain my cursing.)

Shephard, whose claim to fame is apparently being a lobbyist in Richmond, claims that the House Freedom Caucus and its “conservative” members were never meant to be legislators, because they apparently never influence policy (Except for tanking the GOP’s shit show of a health care bill, of course. You’re welcome.) They should just hang out in think tanks and attend luncheons, proclaims a snot-nosed millennial whose contribution to the economy is lobbying and consulting.

If my eyes rolled back any harder, I’d need a pair of salad tongs and a team of Navy SEALs to retrieve them.

And that’s why, Shephard claims, Trump voters hate these guys, mmkay?

Because apparently people who want to examine legislation that has the power to affect millions of Americans and significantly impact our economy by using actual economic principles and rational thought don’t belong in government.

Rob rightfully excoriated this dick weasel.

The Trump voter, for the most part, is driven by emotion rather than logic. Trump, to his credit, seized on the undercurrent of frustration with business as usual in Washington, and rode it, against all expectations, including mine, to the White House. But let us not kid ourselves, Trump has little idea, even from moment to moment, of what he actually wants to ‘get done’. All he is interested in is ‘winning’. He is an ideologically unmoored populist. Steve Bannon, his chief political guru, has little ideological compass himself, and lacks the depth of knowledge to develop one. …And this is the guy who had the unmitigated gall to tell House conservatives in a meeting this past week “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.” This administration will never be an effective leader for conservative principles as it stands right now.

I have, for the most part, avoided partisan discussion on this blog, choosing instead to focus on particular issues objectively and examine them from both sides. There’s a reason for this. Partisans focus on party. As Shephard shows, they care little for actual principle, and care only about advancing the party brand. Even when the party elite try to advance pure shit legislation that the majority of Americans recognize as dreck, winning is more important than what’s good for the country.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not only a Republican problem. The majority of Americans also opposed ObamaCare, but the legisleeches back then cared more about passing legacy legislation than ensuring the good of the nation. But apparently Republicans have learned nothing from that disaster.

It’s apparently more important for them to appear to be keeping their campaign promises than to actually be keeping them. Winning. That’s how you win in politics. You manipulate public perception into believing you’re doing something, and you claim victory. It’s not about America. It’s about your party winning in Congress. So yes, when intelligent people step in and put a damper on your plans with actual facts and figures, you have no choice but to malign and bully them.

What really gets me is that Shephard has so little self awareness, that he actually thinks denigrating legislators who analyze legislation and consider its fiscal implications as worthless and “a waste of a desk and a chair,” while wrapping himself in the “conservative” mantle somehow reflects positively on him and the vapid establishment squishes who pride themselves on having no principles, but “winning” at the polls.

The Trump voters work for a living, he says in an obsequious attempt to lick the taints of the ignorant, as if the members of the House Freedom Caucus have done no real work in their lives.

Mark Meadows, the current Chairman, started a small restaurant in North Carolina, and later sold it to start a successful real estate development endeavor in Florida. Yeah, what a failure!

Brian Babin of Texas is a dentist. Obviously, he can’t relate to the working man.

Rod Blum – with his degrees in finance and business administration obviously has nothing to contribute to the conversation about legislation that would affect this nation’s people and economy, and neither does economist Dave Brat.

The caucus includes businessmen, military veterans, doctors, realtors, small business owners, as well as lawyers. Obviously, they have nothing to contribute to the health care legislation debate, and they certainly don’t have anything in common with those Trump voters who work for a living, right, jackass?

Conservatives should not be defined by the number of notches they carve in the “win” column. Conservatives should specifically defined by their principles and ideology, which shouldn’t changed based on the way the political wind is blowing. If Shephard is correct, and the typical Trump voter wants results that will “improve our country,” they should be thanking the members of the House Freedom Caucus for ensuring that the GOP’s dumpster fire health care legislation, which did nothing to reduce government dependence and kept much of what Americans hated about ObamaCare in the first place firmly in place, never saw the light of day.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus were elected for a reason. They were open and transparent about their views, and their constituents selected them to represent their views in Congress. Maybe they were tired of politicians who told them what they wanted to hear, and then fell right in line with the usual bullshit once they got to Washington. There’s a reason they sent the calculating, ambitious, unprincipled Republican Eric Cantor home in favor of the educated, passionate, pro-freedom economist Dave Brat, despite Brat’s considerable disadvantage in the fundraising department. There’s only so many times you can betray the principles you claim to hold, before your constituents say, “ENOUGH!”

Congress needs more ideologically committed conservatives (and liberals), not fewer. We need less notches on our political bedposts and more actual wins. We need people who stand behind what they believe and rely on knowledge and experience, not their FEELZ, and who won’t be threatened and intimidated into backing down and doing anything less than what they objectively understand to be good for the country. They shouldn’t care that some carnival barker threatens to primary them, because this shouldn’t be a career from which to profit, but an honor to serve the people who put them in office.

The fact that these are men who stood up and opposed a bill that would have been awful for the country despite attempts to threaten and intimidate them speaks volumes about their love of their country and their respect for their constituents and yanks the curtain open on the puppetmasters, shining a stark spotlight on their lack of values and respect for America.

Trump promised us during the election that we would win so much, we’d get tired of winning.

Perhaps our definitions of “winning” need a tweak.

Sex toys in school?

I think this story tells us volumes about the principal of Trinity Lutheran School in Racine, as well as the pastor and the school board – certainly more than it tells us about the kid implicated in this sordid tale.

Here’s the BLUF.

Kid gets permission to sell water snake wigglies at school.

In case you’re unfamiliar, they’re plastic toys – bags essentially – filled with water and sometimes confetti or glitter that are wiggly and hard to hold. They’re fun little toys. I’m sure at least some of us have played with them in our youth.

Sexually repressed, possibly mentally unstable principal accuses 12-year-old child of selling “sex toys” in school, and apparently yells at her at a basketball game for selling them evil,perverted sex toys.

Child is suspended for three days.

Father goes on a crusade (pun fully intended) to clear his daughter’s name, as well he should.

 

…the principal at Trinity Lutheran School accused the student of selling what she thought were sex toys.

The school’s pastor, David Gehne, said this issue already went before the school board, which sided with the principal.

Seriously, WHAT???

Now, look. I suppose anything can be used as a sex toy these days if you’re ambitious enough. There are enough inventive perverts out there to make hardware stores mean something completely different. Apparently this principal, this pastor, and this school board have some… uh… predilections (alternately, the lot of them is incredibly inexperienced and probably dull as shit in bed), if they’re considering something specifically designed to be difficult to hold on to as a sex toy.

But to ruin a kid’s administrative record with a disciplinary action, because of inexperience, personal perversions, or just plain ignorance? That’s just a no!

The school has also doubled down on the stupid and blamed students for “sexualizing” these toys, claiming this was disruptive to learning.

They claim they tried to shut down the sale of these evil sex toys water wigglies.

They claim the student had no permission to sell these toys.

Oh, and parents complained, because their kids, being kids and all, were snortling childishly at these toys, because PENIS!

So a kid who ostensibly got permission from a teacher to sell these fun little stress-relieving toys was punished because a) 12 year old kids were being 12 year old kids b) some idiot parents were disturbed that their 12 year old kids were being 12 year old kids, and c) because the principal, the pastor, and the school board are closet pervs, who think anything remotely phallus shaped is shameful! Freud would be so proud!

Add this to the zero tolerance extra stupid, I guess. So grateful my kids are all grown up!

What is this Metro fuckery?

For as long as I can remember, the etiquette on escalators in DC and other metropolitan areas has been to stand on the right and walk on the left. It made sense to me. If I’m in a hurry to catch a train or get to work, I need to be able to pass those who choose to leisurely ride the moving stairs and get to where I’m going. The rule is similar to European driving regulations. You drive on the right and pass on the left. You do not leisurely mosey along in the left lane, with some impatient douche in an Audi riding up on your ass, flashing his high beams, trying to pass you. The douche may be road raging and unsafe, but you will be the one cited. Get the hell out of the way. The left lane is for passing.

This has always pissed me off after getting back to the United States. Rob will attest, I get insanely angry when some jackass blocks the left lane doing the speed limit or even slower. There are usually choice words used, and this is why I no longer drive often. No one needs a stroke.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a rush, running down the escalator, trying to catch a train with some clueless, jibbering tourists clogging up the left side, making me miss my train. Usually a terse “excuse me” is enough to make them move over. Sometimes it’s a lost cause. Why the hell should they take anyone else into consideration?

The unwritten rule is there for a reason. Those of us trying to catch a train home or to work, and who don’t have the time to leisurely gawp at the surrounding concrete walls of the Metro station, need to get where we’re going quickly, lest we miss our train and are forced to wait for the next time, which may or may not get there on time.

But now, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld says, “Nope! Don’t walk on the escalators.”

DAFUQ, you say?

The head of Washington’s Metro system said Wednesday that the custom of standing on the right side of a Metro escalator to clear the way for people to walk on the left damages escalators.

“We do not promote, obviously, the walking on the left. These are very sensitive pieces of equipment,” he said as officials unveiled a new escalator at the Bethesda station.

It’s best for escalators when riders stand on both sides of the steps, Wiedefeld said.

Ummmm. I’m sorry, but what? We are now supposed to alter our schedules and possibly miss our trains because you lazy fuckers can’t be bothered to properly maintain your escalators?

Yeah, how about no? Screw you!

China has implemented similar recommendations this year, also claiming that walking on the escalators damages machinery. Of course, one Chinese subway official proposed a very simple solution to the so-called “problem.”

A spokesman for the Beijing metro system was quoted as saying that proper maintenance could solve the problem of wear and people walking on the left posed no safety risk.

“Routine maintenance can keep escalators in a good condition and no accident happened before because someone was walking to the left,” the official said.

In other words, if you properly maintain your system, you shouldn’t have problems.

But apparently Mr. Wiedefeld and his crew have decided that further inconveniencing their customers is preferable to properly maintaining the machinery in the transit system. After all, screw you, if you have to be somewhere! Our escalators are more important than anywhere you have to be. It is wholly unsurprising that this lazy, incompetent band of shit weasels is vying to ensure their barely literate, ass goblin employees expend as little effort as possible to maintain the capital region’s transportation system! After all, this is the same agency that wants to cut service, while at the same time raising rates, and has been falsifying track inspection records for as long as three years! Oh, and let’s not forget their assery actually resulted in a fatality in 2015.

Yeah, I can totally see how WMATA deserves more money, while cutting service! /sarc

Unfortunately, the federal government incentivizes this nonsense by offering a transit benefit to federal employees. While it’s a great benefit to have, given that the Metro fares are among the highest in the country, it also allows Metro to continue its dysfunctional, negligent, sometimes fatal system with impunity, secure in the knowledge they are guaranteed at the very least 317,000 federal workers boarding their buses and trains every day. Because, why not? The government gives them this benefit, the roads are clogged on a daily basis, parking is barely available in the city, and what lots do exist, rape their customers to the tune of $25 per day. Meanwhile, taxi and Uber rates are insane during rush hour. I’ve paid anywhere from $25 to $30 for the 6-mile trip to or from work.

Metro knows it has a secure customer set in federal employees, so why would it bother doing anything but the bare minimum to improve the second largest public transportation system in the nation?

I was riding the Metro home the other night, when the driver made an announcement to the crowded train that he was delayed requested everyone essentially have their shit all ready and quickly get off the train, so he can make up time. So, because of continued Metro incompetence, the passengers had to hurry the hell up, since it’s their fault he was running off schedule in the first place. I mean, come on! If he didn’t have to stop every few minutes to pick up and drop you peons off, I’m sure he’d be running on time! /sarc

This is the same kind of attitude that precipitates the “you should stand on both sides of the escalator” request. Since they can’t be bothered to actually maintain the system properly and run their trains on time, the onus falls on you – the customer – to inconvenience yourself in order to make the Metro run smoothly. And while you’re inconveniencing yourself, you will pay more for an already substandard service to be even more substandard!

So I will continue to run up and down the escalators as I see fit to suit my needs, because I refuse to help Metro do as little as possible to fix its systemic issues. It’s a small part, but I will do it.

Internet habits

There’s no question that the Internet has changed us. We’re much braver from behind our keyboards, challenging one another in sometimes contentious ways, relishing in the anonymity the Internet provides. While we would never barge into someone’s living room – even if the front door is open – put our feet on the furniture, light up a cigarette, and proceed to berate the homeowner about their social/political/religious views, we are certainly brave keyboard warriors when it comes to barging into someone’s website, criticizing their views, and even threatening and showering them with invective. No problem. No one will find us, right?

While in our real lives and jobs we would be circumspect about how we analyze information, ensuring that our product is of the highest quality – whatever our job may be. On the Internet, we don’t care. We share clickbait. We fail to analyze. We believe every report – even the most questionable ones – as long as they confirm our biases. We don’t mind losing our shit over said reports. Going unhinged on social media has become the norm – without so much as a fact check.

While in our real jobs we would never use political memes as part of any presentation (unless the presentation is about political memes, of course), these days, we seem to get the majority of our information from these irritating, many times badly-written, shittily-researched graphics.

The other day, some random shit weasel sent me a message request on Facebook, which I immediately deleted. In said message, he derped something about me upsetting his friends (we had no friends in common – I checked), and how I’m a “terrible person,” who should tickle his taint or something. He appeared to be a sub-millennial douche flake with a badly-groomed, patchy wannabe beard and a snively, pussy hat wearing demeanor.  Would we ever say something like this to a living, breathing stranger, who was standing in front of us? Probably not.

The message didn’t upset me, mind you. I chuckled and deleted it, as any intelligent person would. But it does point out some interesting trends I see, as I travel the World Wide Web of Stupid. In addition to the increased boldness and visceral reactions above, I’ve noted a few other things that I either observe with dispassionate interest, or am disgusted by on a regular basis.

One is failure to read. Whether it’s sharing dated news stories and failing to identify them as old, or sharing a new story based on what often is a misleading title, this particular habit makes me crazy! Knowing how quickly things can propagate via social media, one shared old news story can quickly turn into 500 or more. That’s how celebrity death stories from 2012 continue to dominate our social media feeds. And if you’re going to share 5-year-old news stories, at least let us know it’s old news and why you see it fit to share it now, so you don’t look like a fucking moron for derping over old news.

And speaking of fucking… Has anyone noticed this weird tendency to criticize people’s language? I can’t tell you how many pedantic assholes have come over here gently chiding me for my language, or outright discounting facts, because they were offended by a bad word! I have provided plenty of warning about my use of invective on this site, and the bottom line is I don’t give a rollerblading fuck about your delicate sensibilities. If you can’t get over a couple of appropriately placed F-bombs in order to read an otherwise factual blog post, I cordially invite you to fuck a rabid hedgehog and to not allow the virtual door hit you in your virtual hedgehog-sodomizing arse.

Knee-jerking seems to happen a lot more often on the Internet than it does in real life. Am I crazy? I’ve been guilty of this myself. I read something without actually READING it, and I go into DERP! mode, immediately wanting to blast it out to an email distro or my social media contacts. There have been several instances where I’ve had to physically pull away from my computer to prevent myself from hitting the “send” button. Stopping and thinking seems to be out of style these days, because it is so easy to press that “send” button! It’s easy to hit the “share” button; I mean they’re provided in nearly every news site, blog, or information site, convenient for sharing. What isn’t convenient is stepping back and examining with a critical eye what you’re about to send. Would we do that in real life? Would we stick a letter that contains false information in an envelope, and drop it in the mail? Probably not. Convenience and our desire for quick gratification is breeding a whole lot of rude, false, misleading, and outrageous information being pushed out into society without thought.

I also think we’re getting quite inured to horror and bloodshed. This conditioning is breeding callous indifference to others’ suffering. I’ve noticed this trend is on the rise in the past several years. I remember in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, a friend on the left making a comment about hoping that it was a white Christian, rather than a Muslim, so Muslims don’t get painted with that broad terrorist brush. I also see gleeful references to Muslim terrorism in the wake of any incident, as if my friends on the right are rubbing their hands in malicious glee, awaiting the inevitable “Islamic terrorist attacks” narrative. You know what’s ultimately missing? Kind thoughts about the victims. Horrified reactions about the deaths of innocent people. There was an attack in London today. I shared the latest story I could find on this topic – a story that changes as more information becomes available – and most reactions were political. They weren’t kind. They didn’t hold victims in their thoughts or prayers, even. They were just cold.

“Oh, they’re making it sound like the assailant had a gun! Guns are banned in Britain!”

“Oh, they banned guns in Britain, so now terrorists use cars and knives.”

“Oh, must be another attack by the disgruntled Amish.”

“Oh, they’re trying to hide the fact that he was Muslim.”

I consider myself quite a bitch, and there are few out there who are more dedicated to our gun rights and our national security than I am, but my first thought when an incident occurs is never, “Oh, I bet it was a Muslim, because POLITICS!” or “Look at the attack in a gun-free zone!”

My first thought is always, “I really hope everyone is OK.” And I’m not saying this to paint myself as some kind of concern troll. I’m saying this because I’m genuinely baffled at the fact that we’re so conditioned to immediately glom onto anything that provides confirmation bias to our political beliefs

For the record, if anyone gives a shit, one person is reported dead, and at least 10 people were injured. British authorities are treating this as a terrorist attack, which, by the way, occurred on the first anniversary of the terrorist bombings in Brussels that killed 32 people.

This callousness bothers me more than most other annoying Internet habits. It’s a complete disregard for the human experience. It’s indifference to the suffering of innocents. It’s cruel. No matter how much bloodshed we see, our first reaction is to wonder whether or not this incident comports with our political views. It’s on our screens, and even though those screens show unspeakable horrors, we are no longer bothered by them, because we’re so far removed and the information is so readily available, that we merely observe detached as bloodied victims and terrified families start to process their grief.

I don’t say this to shame my friends or to elicit some type of reaction I would feel appropriate in situations such as these. I say this as a not-so-detached observer, because having grown up without an Internet, I’m seeing stark differences in how people react to what goes around them.

The Internet, as anything else, brings with it both good and bad. It’s quick. It’s convenient. It can keep us informed. It can bring us vital news in the blink of an eye. We can do research, watch movies, watch cat videos, or write a blog.

But in this deluge of information and entertainment, I wonder if we’re forgetting basic customs, courtesies, and human decency.

Just some food for thought.

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