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Web site last updated 11 May 2015
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A Letter from Long-Tentacles the Snorgon, to Short-Tentacles the Snorgon; AKA, All About Intergalactic Office Politics, AKA, “Planet of the Snorgons”
Shorty… Getting back to what I (Long Tentacles) faced, and what you are going to face, if you stumble into this job at HardLips Peckhard, ETD (Engineered Tentacles Division) group… In more detail… Here is a cultural analogy from the Earthling space aliens. Spy on the minds of the cultured ones amongst them, and it will immediately make sense to you, what a wolf v/s a sheep is.
“Democracy should be something more than two wolves and one sheep, voting on what to have for dinner.” - Paraphrase of an idea which has been batted about; origins are murky; first clear attribution goes to political writer James Bovard; see http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Democracy … There were only 3 people in HardLips PeckHard Corp. (HP) ETD who wrote Verilog code… Socratic Tentacles, Fishing Tentacles, and I (Long Tentacles). At HardLips PeckHard Corp. these days, it will not matter that this group of 3 (with you replacing me) has been smashed together (along with some who have not written much if any Verilog) into another group. However you are grouped together, at HardLips PeckHard Corp., the managers need to earn their pay, or pretend to do so. One of the ways they do so, is to serve their Masters’ wishes (the wishes of the higher-ups). The higher-ups ALWAYS want to be prepared, IN EXCRUCIATING DETAIL, to know how ALL HardLips PeckHard Corp. Snorgons “stack up” against one another… Sliced and diced many-many ways… How does one rank the three Verilog code writers in ETD? How does one rank all those in ETD who have black tentacles, and comb their cilia counter-clockwise? Ditto clock-wise? The more “data” we have along those lines, the better-prepared we are to make the decisions for the forever-impending next round of layoffs (after which we will need to hire and train replacements, but let’s not cloud the picture with that). So trust me, the 3 Verilog code writers WILL be ranked against one another. You WILL be inspected, neglected, detected, injected, and rejected, 99 million ways to Sunday!
Hence the comparison to the “2 wolves and the one sheep voting on who to have for dinner”… I was the sheep, and Socratic Tentacles and Fishing Tentacles were the wolves. Despite youthful military training, I am sheep-like, in that I believe in humility, team play, and avoiding conflict (in retrospect, to the point of being faulty; of not balancing these virtues against other interests, to the point of failing to properly serve HardLips PeckHard Corp.). There ***IS*** a point at which one is so dedicated to “team play” that one is reluctant to point out (to the management) that other “team players” are anything but team players! I did not want to “rat on” my non-team-playing “team mates”, to the point that I did NOT point out to management, their utter lack of genuine team play with me, till it was too late. The 2 wolves “voted” to have me for dinner, with their inputs to the managing “leader”, who was actually a puppet to Socratic Tentacles, in reality. Socratic Tentacles apparently had a higher job grade than the manager did, and the manager was too spineless to honestly do his management job, in the face of this. Socratic Tentacles especially (Fishing Tentacles to a lesser degree) essentially wrote my performance review, because 95% of what my “leader” knew about my performance, was based on what he heard from the wolves. My “leader” did NOT, ever, spend any time at all, sitting on the lab bench running the tech gear with me, or helping me write code that he knew nothing about. This is how the tech world runs... Technically clueless Snorgons judge the techies, seat-of-the-pants style. It is all subjective, despite pretenses of objectivity. The wolves know how to game the system, 9 ways to Sunday, to boot.
The “catch” here is that even if you are not generally sheep-like, like me, they will have you for dinner, anyway. They know the code. You do not. You can’t fight them; no way, no how. They have even resisted much of any genuine effort to REALLY make the code well-commented, and easy to follow. Brag-brag, the code is significantly better-commented and easier to follow now, due to my sterling efforts. But you will still find places with many-many signal-names declared and lump-commented as “ETD timing changes”, period… Nothing more! They deliberately (in my opinion, consciously or unconsciously) LIKE poorly-commented, hard-to-follow code, because THEY know the code, and NEW GUY (you) does NOT, so they have, and keep, an advantage. I argued for easier-to-follow code, and spinelessly backed down, in at least one case, I am sorry to say… They said, “Well, after all, it is only the 3 of us that need to know how to do the code”, blithely ignoring the fact that they were working towards keeping me in my spot as “galvanic anode” to be next in line for layoffs… Now it is your turn… If they make the same argument to you, remind them of the constant forced-layoffs turn-over, you are number 3, maybe higher, in this inglorious line… “Just the 3 of us” blatantly ignored what is REALLY going on here! If you believe in REAL team play, and earning your pay from HardLips PeckHard Corp., you will “team play” with those who follow you, and COMMENT YOUR FREAKING CODE, and comment it WELL and THOROUGHLY!!! Because they WILL lay you off, and some sorry new slob is going to have to learn to take up the code! A genuinely decent Snorgon will accept that and “treat others as he wants to be treated”, and comment his code anyway, and do it well… HardLips PeckHard Corp. is paying you / him, so do your freaking job! Even while the evil over-lords are planning your lay-off behind your carapace, yes! (My military-trained sense of duty is showing, yes).
OK, I hope I have beat the squid snot out of that one, good and well… As sort of a catch-all guide to, HOW does one engage in Machiavellian office politics at HardLips PeckHard Corp. ETD, let me present you with this summary:
If you are NOT burdened by a set of decent ethics, then there’s a short, well-tested list of “perception-game card tricks” that you can play on your co-worker(s) and ETD management, which (if the future in any way resembles the past) is near-guaranteed to work for you! … The list goes as follows:
‘1) Pick a Scapegoat or goats… Anyone who looks vulnerable. Sniff the political winds; there usually is one or more in existence already… Anyone who cannot or will not fight back. Finding an ally who’s been there a long-long time, and inquire discreetly, may work, for picking an appropriate scapegoat.
‘2) Constantly repeat to the boss, that your work is extremely hard, and so it makes sense that it should take you a few years to get it done, while the scapegoat or scapegoats has / have a way-easy-peasy job(s), and it just makes no sense that the scapegoat or scapegoats is / are so super-slow.
‘3) When you and your work-place ally help each other, call it “collaboration”. When you help a scapegoat, call it “doing his job for him”. When a scapegoat helps YOU, on the other hand, ignore it, do not even mention it in your work reports… Because a scapegoat’s help is insignificant, easy-peasy work, like that of the janitors who clean your lab floor.
‘4) Trap the scapegoats in circular-logic loops, where you get to 0.5-prove or single-prove your work, at best, but (since scapegoats have no credibility, since they are slow) they have to triple-prove their work. Insist on them triple-proving their work, management will back you up! Since they have to triple-prove their work, they will be slow, and since they are slow, they have no credibility, and round and round she goes! The scapegoats may explain the unfairness of all of this to management… But management will listen to YOU, and not to the scapegoats, since, after all, you have credibility, and they do not!
‘5) Do not do even a half-decent job of documenting your code. You know how it works; that’s all that matters. If the scapegoats or other newbies have a hard time following it, that just shows how stupid they are, and how smart you are.
‘6) If you MUST help or advise someone (who is not you job-place ally), then be sure to complain to the boss, how you can’t get your work done, since you are always doing other people’s jobs for them. When you do help, use the “Socratic Method” of “teaching” others by asking questions, since this has a big advantage: It shows that you know all the answers, and that they don’t. Using the “Socratic Method” of “teaching” others in front of large meetings is especially effective.
‘7) Make repeated sarcastic “jokes” about selected co-workers’ lack of tech skills. Management, having been selected for humorlessness, will not realize that the “jokes” are all just in good, clean fun, and will turn the jokes into performance reviews! Thus, you can write the performance reviews of your co-workers, which, under “forced distribution”, can get you a bigger paycheck!
‘8) Claim credit for “work done” on your part, when all that you did, was test (or even just ponder) whether or not Scapegoat did his job correctly. This is the kind of things that managers do, so this also “grooms” you for management.
‘9) Get the scapegoat into the position where he can’t engage in any teamwork at all… If he gets help or advice from “inferiors”, then he is shamefully acknowledging that “inferiors” know things that he doesn’t. If he gets help from “superiors”, then he is bothering the super-geniuses into doing scapegoat’s work for him.
Shorty, sad to say for you specifically, the above list will not work for those (like you) who do not have any credibility. The likes of Socratic Tentacles, Snorgon the Annoyer, etc., already have credibility, and you do not. They won’t allow you to have any. If you came in to work at HardLips PeckHard Corp. riding on a your-personally-newly-invented anti-gravity pod, with these kinds of co-workers? They’d put a different color of paint on your device, claim credit for it, and you’d STILL not have any credibility!
Let us move on now, in the name of complete and thorough proof that I am not making all of this up, that these perceptions of mine are not fever dreams or paranoia… The following is provided to you, in the name of demonstrating to you, that I have a basis for saying the following…
SUMMARY of THE ARROGANCE OF ME, LONG TENTACLES… Yes, you did read that correctly! It is not really meant sarcastically; it is meant in a paradoxical-philosophical way, and I will get to the “philosophy”, in near-excruciating detail, soon enough. There comes a time when truth conflicts with humility. Truth ***MUST*** win, in this case, if we are to serve our conscience! The TRUTH here (here is where my apparent arrogance appears) is that it is as crystal clear as it can be, to me, and then some, that I, Long Tentacles, am a FAR better team-player (read: decent Snorgon) than Socratic Tentacles can ever hope to be, unless he starts sincerely praying his posterior plastron off, to become a better Snorgon! It seems to me, that the main reason WHY I write this below (the episode that clarified this crystal-clear in my neural clusters), why it deserves to be documented for you, is that otherwise I may appear to be blowing squid-ink. You deserve to know that I have solid historical grounds for my beliefs.
JOB HISTORY INSTANCE – BEING SET UP FOR FAILURE… Being set up for failure by your team-mate, deliberately or through negligence, is near-inexcusable, is the summary. But we all make mistakes. Letting your team-mate down through negligence can be an honest mistake. Here is the kicker though: When we see that we have made a mistake of negligence, that lets a team-mate down, we (as decent Snorgons) are smart enough, and compassionate enough, to notice, and to apologize, and to apologize profusely, when it is a significant case! Socratic Tentacles failed, and failed miserably, by these standards. Here is your case history (the one that clarified my “moral superiority” to me, if you want to put an ugly name to my “ugly arrogance”):
Shorty, you know some of the technical background, I am quite sure, about how the skitterbugs (using HardLips-PeckHard-Corporation-patented “hardened lips” front and center, to peck their way) cut their way to the malk glands of the whalks. I bet you also know that these are very high-dollar, tech-intensive, but still costs-sensitive, and efficiency-sensitive, operations. You probably know that the skitterbugs try their best (under our firmware and software control, of course) to emulate the slow-moving, less-than-fatal corkscrew-boring mud-worms that occur in nature. If the skitterbugs move too fast, the normally-sedate whalks will move, instinctively suspecting that they are under attack from the much faster and often-deadly truffulla jet-worm, which the whalk will fight off at nearly any costs, including shedding its own body parts. This, obviously, we do not want.
The skitterbug, moving slowly, gets the whalk to secret hardening secretions around the intruder, just as an oyster puts pearl around a sand grain. Our clever and devious technological skitterbug, of course, perverts the whole natural scheme, moving just fast enough to constantly penetrate the leading edge of the secretions, and using the rest of the (tube-shaped, in the wake of the slowly-progressing skitterbug) secretions to form a “pipe” by which we Snorgons thieve the whalk’s malk.
What you may not know, yet, is that every iota of speed that the skitterbug can attain, safely, without angering or disturbing the whalk, gains us a bit of efficiency. If the “engineered tentacles” of the skitterbug can detect the immediate state of the whalk’s local nerves (Highly agitated, annoyed? Skitterbug better slow down… Snoozing? Go ahead and boogey on down, at a higher speed!), then the skitterbug (via its Verilog-code-based firmware) can implement what we call ASPM, which is Advanced Skitterbug Propulsion Method. There is your context for the “ASPM” that I worked on, which you are HIGHLY likely to need to be familiar with.
I once got a bit stuck in my efforts to improve ETD’s ASPM routines. So then I had to commit the CARDINAL SIN (under the supposed reign of “Ex-ETD-Boss-Snorgon Plays Puppet to his lead engineer”, but in reality, under the reign of his puppet-master, Socratic Tentacles), and had to ask Socratic Tentacles for help. OMG!!! Co-worker needs my help! Red alert, time to whine and cry-baby, prima donna style, to the boss! Anyway, after Socratic Tentacles is helping me, we find two places in the code, where there is some UN-COMMENTED CODE, it does not tell the code-reader what it is for, but that’s common in ETD Verilog code, nothing unusual there… We find 2 places in the code, where pause time is added, post-calm-local-nerves-detected, before the ASPM behavior kicks in, in 2 cases. This (pause time) is behavior I have replaced with a MUCH more sophisticated version… At the behest of Socratic Tentacles. I have been struggling, obviously, with ASPM, for months and months. Have also puzzled over the un-documented code, wondering, WHAT is that, I see NO relationship between it, and the specifications?!?!? But don’t ask Socratic Tentacles; it will provide another reason why he can belly-ache to boss-Snorgon, about the hinderances of clueless hangers-on (like me, of course). … When Socratic Tentacles tells me the reasons why mysterious, un-documented “codes X” in 2 places are present, I ask him, “Is this some left-over legacy from way-back-when, when you and Fishing Tentacles inherited the code from others”? No, says Socratic Tentacles, I (Socratic Tentacles) added that code. … At which my jaw, inwardly, invisibly, drops out of sight. Not only is the code not documented, this “co-worker” of mine, who wrote that code, and asked me to replace it with a more sophisticated version, had NEVER EVER thought to mention such things to me, who is responsible for replacing it!
I admit to being an old, long-tentacled Snorgon, and forgetting things. But… ETD Verilog code is incredibly dense, and writers of such codes have to sweat over EVERY LAST LINE OF IT!!! Fix one thing, break another, is the way I would put it. So… Even though I am an old, with old neural clusters, even if I had been working on this DENSE code for 15 or 20 years, I can SWEAR to the following: If I had written some code, and I am asking a co-worker to replace said code with a better version… Even if it was 8 or 10 years ago when I wrote the old, un-commented version of it… After days or weeks (not months) of stewing on my work-world responsibilities, in my dream-sleep, or while taking a mud-cleansing… It WOULD, and I swear to GOD it would have… It would have occurred to me, to MENTION to my struggling co-worker, OMG, I wrote a vestige of code, way back when, to do the same thing! And I bet it is getting in your way! PLEASE look HERE! … That’s what I would have done and said, and I don’t think that I am any kind of a big, glorious outlier on the bell curve for saintliness.
So when we discovered this, as Socratic Tentacles and I were working together, did Socratic Tentacles apologize to me, either for the non-existence of explanatory comments in the code, or for having not mentioned this to me? No! No! ... And Socratic Tentacles readily admitted, yes, it was he who had written that un-documented code. I sat there thinking, OMG, if it had been me who had done that to my fellow co-worker, taking a paycheck from the same employer, I do not care if we are “allies” or not… At this point, if I were in Socratic Tentacles’s lab coat, I would be PROFUSELY apologizing to my co-worker! Falling-all-over-myself-style, apologizing! Even IF my apology was to be used against me at the next performance review, style apology! … In military-organizational behavior terms, my battlefield “buddy” just left me to linger and die painfully on the battlefield, and he does or shows nothing, other than display a slight miffed-ness at, “WHY couldn’t Long Tentacles SEE that from the raw, naked, un-commented codes?” … May God strike me dead for BRAGGING here, but, as I look back on this, there is NO other sensible interpretation than this: I can swim circles around Socratic Tentacles, in my sleep, with my tentacles tied behind my carapace, as far as genuine TEAM-WORK spirit goes (read: basic Snorgon decency)!
I was left with a disturbed, uneasy feeling, but did not say anything… Did not want to be a “troublemaker” at that time. I had not yet gotten my fatal “D” performance review, and was neither greedy (for higher status, or for making co-workers look bad) nor fearful (of layoffs), so I made the apparent mistake of “keeping the peace”, despite the potential ammo I had just seen, for the sake of harmony and team relations. My central point is that my ethics can kick the squid-snot out of the supposed ethics of Socratic Tentacles… I generally set others up for success when I can. I treat others as I like to be treated. Socratic Tentacles generally does neither of these things (at the very least, he doesn’t even do them half-heartedly or quarter-heartedly; at best, he does them tenth-heartedly). Call me arrogant or lacking in humility, here, but if I am to follow my conscience and do what I need to do, and do it well, then truth must win out over humility, in this case, as is often the case.
The above serves as an introduction to…
PHILOSOPHY, THEOLOGY, AND ALL THINGS NEBULOUS, CONCERNING THE BALANCE BETWEEN HUMILITY AND TRUTH…
The SHORT version, first off, is simple: When we as decent Snorgons (decent people in general) are trying to prevent more victimization by ethically-challenged people, trying to shelter or rescue their victims or potential victims, as I am now trying to do… Notice I do NOT focus on trying to change the minds of the ethically challenged people; this is a hopeless to near-hopeless challenge, because they are far better than the decent people, in their own neural clusters... Then we are NOT going to be successful in ANY significant way, if we do ANY “splitting of the difference” with them! “Everyone’s opinion is equal” here is a flat-out fib! It leads, when arguing with the likes of Adolf Hitler, at the VERY best, to killing 3 million Jews instead of 6 million Jews! “Opinions are like anal orifices; everyone’s got one”, is FAR more accurate! And what do we get when we compromise with people who ARE anal orifices?! We get… wait for it now… Poop! We get all covered in poop! That’s not what we want, right? It’s for-sure not what I want!
“All that is required for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing”. Edmund Burke (January 12, 1729 – July 9, 1797) . This is apparently an over-used quote… From my reading of Earthling history, even their mass-murdering butchers like Hitler and Stalin thought of themselves as “good men”. Still, an essential truth is captured here.
Summary done… The rest is details. You could add all sorts of complexities starting with the above… Start, for instance, with “every lie contains a germ of truth”, which I do believe is true. Among the 6 million Jews, there may be a mass murderer or 2. Give them a fair trial to ascertain the truth of the matters, and kill them, might be the right thing to do. I don’t like the risks of mass murderers escaping from prison, nor do I like to pay taxes for their upkeep. But… Killing because of who they are? We call that “genocide”, and the right number to execute for THAT reason, is ZERO… Zip, nada, nix, and compromise has no place here at all!
I chose not to take the route of elaborating off of that, though, as my route for painting the bigger picture. I will instead bounce around a bit, to illustrate a tiny-tiny fraction of the larger issues or complex truths that are involved here, then back down and re-summarize. Bear with me if you have the time… Let’s snoop on some of the Earthling space aliens, and sip of their painfully-acquired wisdom…
Quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn, THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO:
“It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either¾but right through every human heart¾and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains... an unuprooted small corner of evil.
“Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: they struggle with the evil inside a human being..... It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.
And since that time I have come to understand the falsehood of all the revolutions in history: They destroy only those carriers of evil contemporary with them.... And they then take to themselves as their heritage the actual evil itself....”
Alex talks about a LOT of things above, there, and it is all worth a very careful read. The line between good and evil being in each person’s heart is critical; else the inherently arrogant ones amongst us, whose DNA or karma or some such strange thing disposes us towards certain lies, will start spouting (or even just inwardly believing, which is bad enough) things like “Only Christians go to Heaven”… Which then mutates into “Only Baptists go to Heaven”, then “Only the Baptists in MY exact church go to Heaven”, and finally to our intended-from-the-git-go target, “God shines on Me and Me alone”. I think I need not bother to add anything about what kinds of actions may result from this kind of thinking.
Alex tells us that religion can constrict our evils… And he includes ALL of the religions of the world, which shows him to be a very wise man! Religion has served as a cultural-evolution device so as to capture certain wisdoms… Self-destructive religions (think Jimmy Jones in Guyana, and other instances of religion-inspired mass suicides) do not survive. Those who preach hatred and intolerance (think today of certain strains of Islam) attract opposition which eventually mutates them back to better paths, or wipes them out. The fanatics eventually run out of people evil enough to blow themselves up, so as to kill others. The kinder and saner ones among them stay here with us, be it planet Earth or the Planet of the Snorgons (they do NOT blow themselves up, after which they might reside in places that I do not want to think about). Religions that teach us to respect and even to love one another, to constrict our evils within ourselves, on the other hand or tentacle, prosper in the long run… Simply because lives and property and not wasted over stupid ideologies.
Also Alex tells us that political and military revolutions are just examples of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”, because political power is the loot of the victors… Who then, sometimes slowly, often rapidly, but always… Become drunk with their own, new powers. So political power is no genuine, long-term solution to much of anything. It is why Jesus Christ did not pursue political power. Governments, even the best of them, are based on political power, which means coercion, at the end of the day. You must obey, or you will be coerced. But as soon as the coercion goes away, humans and snorgons alike will go back to doing as they please. To REALLY change a person, one has to use persuasion, not coercion (which is near-dogma to libertarians, which are the only political party that actually, really wants to minimize the size of government).
But I digress. The BIGGEST reason I quoted Alex here is, the line about “un-uprooted evil” still keeping a foot-hold in even the best of hearts. The standard Christian theology is “we are all sinners”, which must be kept in mind, paradox-style, even when we have decided that our humility must be sub-ordinated to the truth.
Speaking of paradox… The Christian psychiatrist M. Scott Peck talked about that at some length. ANY viable and effective world-view is going to have to contain SOME degree of paradox. I have a few ways to demonstrate. “Tolerate all but intolerance”, I say. But is it not intolerant to NOT tolerate intolerance? Also, “The only way to stay sane, is to constantly doubt one’s own sanity”. Those who are 1,000 % convinced that they could NEVER think an insane thought, are the most dangerous ones amongst us! Ditto, “The only way to stay good, is to constantly doubt or double-check our own goodness”, and for the exact same reason. Yet when we have decided that what we need to do, is sane and good, then we must just go ahead and do it, as I am writing this letter to you now, Dear Shorty. And do not look back! Jesus said “He who puts his hands to the plow, but keeps on looking backwards, is of no use to the Kingdom”. Certain things (think mercy killing an animal, or prosecuting a war) can NOT be done with even the tiniest hints of compassion, by doing them in tiny dribbles, and then un-doing them, and then, yet back again to doing them, ad infinitum. That should be obvious! Yet a “just war”, or mercy killing an animal, can be done “right”, when “right” is defined as “the least-bad choice that was available”.
Getting back to the late Christian psychiatrist M. Scott Peck… He wrote many books. If you are a beginning spiritual seeker, I would suggest that you start out with “The Road Less Travelled” (1978). If you have less time on your hand and / or want to go straight to the more advanced (and more disturbing; at times profoundly disturbing) text, then go straight to “People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil” (1983). Or maybe just get the “Reader’s Digest version” of both at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._Scott_Peck#People_of_the_Lie … My “Reader’s Digest version” is simply this: Some of us spend year after year after year, self-criticizing ourselves and sincerely trying to become better. In church (or temple, mosque, etc.) or not, machs nix. This, if done sincerely, inevitably leads to us actually becoming better! “Ask and ye shall receive; knock, and the door will open”. After we have done this, sometimes (often? always?) we are called to perform a duty or duties. If we are falsely humble, and say, “No, I have learned nothing, I will not teach”, when called to teach, or will not heal, when we HAVE learned, and COULD be “the wounded healer”, when called to heal… Or when we could shield or warn the innocent, from the guilty, as I am now doing… When we are called (by our conscience or by God, they are the same things; God has more names than you can shake a stick at…) to perform, and we refuse, out of false humility, then we have failed! That is the important take-away from many M. Scott Peck ideas, as I have read the books many years ago… Which I think primarily came from the 1st book here listed (Peck wrote a few others; none were that much a big deal, in my neural clusters, as these 2 listed here, were). So there you have hashed-up concept number 1. Move on to number 2, clearly from the book about evil…
Here’s my glib summary of Peck’s book about evil… I will use the same ways he described it, at times. There are different kinds, shades, and degrees of evil. Robbers, thieves, thugs, and members of violent motorcycle gangs certainly aren’t very nice. But they make few pretenses otherwise… They rarely deceive many people for long, and so they are not quite as dangerous as other forms of evil. A more dangerous form of evil infects those who are skilled at deceiving others, as well as themselves. They are FAR more effective at hiding their evil. They are often “pillars of the community”… Leaders at churches, businesses, government, etc. They sometimes physically or emotionally abuse “loved ones” and / or animals at home, sometimes horribly… And the community is SHOCKED, utterly SHOCKED, when the abuses come to light! (They don’t always come to light). They follow the rules, outwardly… But they have no love!
WHY do they have no love? Because they have NOT done the hard work of SINCERE self-examination, and the pain that it brings! Constantly looking for “un-uprooted weeds” within oneself, and yanking them out by the root, is hard and painful work. So let’s just focus on LOOKING like we follow the rules that society judges us by! (The following may be more me than M. Scott Peck speaking; I am not sure). Some of the evil take delight in being perfect or near-perfect in their adherence to the rules… Belonging to the exact right religious organization, and following the exact right doctrines and rituals, for example. Or wearing the right clothes, throwing all the right parties, knowing all the right people, taking all the right pills, who knows… Think of Jesus ragging on the Pharisees who mistreated others, but made sure they gave EXACTLY 10% of each and every last herb-species in their gardens, to the poor! By exactly following (lawyer-style, bean-counter style) the all-important OBSERVABLE rules, we shelter ourselves from having to obey the FAR more important (but less obviously observable) commandment to “Love”!
These kinds of people rarely see the shrink. When they do, they systematically hide their true selves, and lie to, the shrink (who they are paying good money to, theirs or our collective insurance or government money), so that the shrink cannot help them. They lie to the shrink, the same as they lie to themselves… This should not surprise us, actually. They concoct elaborate “machines” (as M. Scott Peck calls them, from the disturbing dreams of one of his self-deceiving, un-healable patients) in their minds… “Machines” that keep them “well supplied with systematic arguments” (as in the words of Alex S., see far above) that allow evil to be called good, and night to be called day. In office politics, “I need not credit my co-worker who wrote this whole module, here, because I did all the “hard work” of testing it on the lab bench, see, and my co-worker’s help, is just like the “help” of the janitor who cleans the lab floor”, is just the tip of an iceberg. “I am just making a funny joke, when I mock the tech skills of my co-worker”, is just another one of these tips-of-the-icebergs. I’m sorry, I have no clues where this machine goes, comes time when the worker(s) who won’t play these “joke” games, those who will not fight back, get laid off, and the jokers get to keep theirs. To REALLY understand these “machines”, one has to have a machine in one’s head. So I really do NOT want to know! I am happier being laid off…
M. Scott Peck rightly cautions about the following, which is aptly summarized by ripping off a “Wiki” quote from the link a wee tad above… “(Peck) was also particularly conscious of the danger of a psychology of evil being misused for personal or political ends. Peck considered that such a psychology should be used with great care, as falsely labeling people as evil is one of the very characteristics of evil. He argued that a diagnosis of evil should come from the standpoint of healing and safety for its victims, but also with the possibility even if remote, that the evil themselves may be cured.”
The above deserves a careful read. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” You cannot heal the evil, who resist healing, without their permission. They practice militant ignorance. They cannot admit that they are even a tiny bit evil, because that’s too painful, basically. Trying to reason with them, by confronting them, is like whacking a nest of hornets with a stick, thinking that you can then talk them into, “Stop stinging people, will ya?!?!?” You CAN, and SHOULD, go and confront the hornets just enough to shelter and protect a little boy or girl who has stumbled into the nest, and hustle said youngster out of harm’s reach, yes. But deliberately going up there and hitting the nest, without reason, is a fool’s errand. Also, yes, accusations of evil, are a tool of the evil. Don’t let that scare you out of confronting evil when need be… Again, paradox!
Note that Jesus did not systematically go around and deliberately provoke the religious leaders (hypocrites, many of the Pharisees), and try to debate them, try to change their minds. Jesus knew this to be a fool’s errand, like trying to reason with angry hornets. Jesus focused on ministering to the victims of evil (the poor, primarily), instead… Poor people could be reasoned with, as opposed to self-righteous evil people. Ministering to the poor most certainly included warning them about the Pharisees! Confronting the Pharisees was an un-desired but inevitable side effect. On at least one occasion, Jesus simply “gave them the slip”, and escaped the blood-thirsty evil ones. Jesus never read M. Scott Peck, but Jesus already knew the truth!
So… Shorty, that is why I am striving hard to find a balance (with the assistance of my Earthly “channel”, BR549) between reaching you, the victim or potential victim of some people, some senior-ranking engineers at HardLips PeckHard ETD group, and on up into management, who have let various shades of evil into their thinking. They have not been weeding their gardens, and their workplace has become over-run by weeds. Yet I see no need to upset the hornets… I am praying that this reaches your eyes, but not theirs.
Ultimately, though, we have to follow our consciences, and let God and/or the Cosmos do the rest. I am not a scriptural literalist; that is the LAST thing one could honestly call me! I am a “fundamentalist”, only if your “fundamental” is simply that we are called to LOVE all sentient beings, and more!
The affairs of humans and of Snorgons are complex, and this cannot be avoided or denied. “Beware of one who proposes to solve the world’s problems with slogans of less than 5 words”, is how I like to put it, at times. Unless the slogan is but ONE word, “Love”! Perhaps… Now, note that my first slogan is 17 words… Does it PROVE that I am to be trusted? You be the judge… And the jury and the executioner too, if that pleases you. But I will not fear you, because fear, itself, IS the enemy!
Shorty, please let me give you my glossy overview, but keep in mind, it is the truth… Which has not been compromised by false humility! Truth must win, you know… Humility can take a freakin’ HIKE, when it comes to compromising with truth! There are tons and tons and yet more tons of humans and snorgons and who knows how many other species of sentient beings running around, and WAY too many of them think that THEY have THE Secret Special Sauce for JUST the Exact Right Way to Kiss God’s Posterior Plastron… And they are all full of squid snot! Eat this, don’t eat that, speak this language, not that language, marry your own sex, or the opposite sex, follow this 17-point dogma, or be of this ethnic group, or hold your bread with the butter side up, or down, or worship this God, or collection of gods, or no gods at all, and on and on… But I am here to tell you, that the ONLY right way to kiss God’s Posterior Plastron, is to LOVE! Love all sentient beings and semi-sentient beings and the very Universe itself! THAT is the right way to kiss God’s Posterior Plastron, whether you even believe in God, or not, or your conscience instead of “God”, or being nice to the bunny rabbits, or what have you! God is not a puny, self-centered, egotistical being who will be insulted if you looked around, did not see Him, and decided to be an atheist or an agnostic! But He DOES want you to LOVE! A MOST Excellent Definition of God is simply, that Force which commands us to LOVE!
There is only good, and evil, and stuff that lies on the spectrum in between… And then simply “fluff” that does not matter. Snorgons who fight over, should we eat squid, like right-thinking snorgons everywhere, who want to persecute those who like to eat fish instead… They are as bad as the humans who would fight over, is it better to eat with forks and spoons, or with chopsticks? “Fluff” doesn’t matter one way or the other… Theological hair-splitting, all the way up to AND including, does God exist, or not, is actually just “fluff”, if it does not relate to this, the actually important, non-fluff question: Do we effectively practice LOVE, or not? Office politics, on the other tentacle… though it may not be as “heavy” as questions of war and peace, or the victims of ten billion flavors of serious life-and-death injustices… DOES matter, and it DOES exist on a spectrum of good and evil! Your ETD department of HardLips PeckHard Corp. has taken a decided dip towards the evil side, and it is high time some brave being somewhere called it to task! Or at least, more accurately, tried to protect the next victims of HardLips PeckHard Corp. ETD; reforming HardLips PeckHard Corp. ETD is probably a fool’s errand, a no can do… We cannot heal those who resist. Anyway, hence this letter to you… It’s all about preventing the next instance of preying on the innocent!
Two more quick attempts at semi-heavy thinking about these top-level things, and then I promise to move on! How to demonstrate that even fighting over, does God exist or not, is utterly stupid? One: It doesn’t matter! If we sincerely pray for peace, then we ourselves become peaceful! I cannot sincerely pray for peace, and then go literally stab my neighbor in the carapace, the next minute! (Exceptions exist only for self-defense or defense of others). If we ALL sincerely prayed for peace, we would, in that instance, have world peace, which is a big, big deal! And that is true, whether “God”, or other target of our prayers, “exists”, or not… By praying to it, we can make it real! God transcends existence, is how some have put it.
Two: An analogy I have pulled from the Earthlings; from BR549 specifically. He says that on Earth, they have tiny little hummingbirds, but they have tiny little bird-brains, since they have to fly, and space is limited. Evolution or nature created these nifty little birds, but they are stupid. In nature, they will guard a patch of flowers, from competing hummingbirds, and this makes sense. The flower-patch has a strictly limited, very finite amount of pollen and nectar it can produce over time, so guarding territory makes sense, there. But in BR549’s back yard, he and his mate put up many-many artificial hummingbird feeders, which for all practical purposes, give what is to these birds, and infinite supply of sugar water. A smart bird would totally stop wasting their time, guarding an infinite supply, which is a waste of time and energy. But the stupid birds fight on and on and on, guarding their infinite supplies! They are too stupid to recognize infinity when they see it.
Baby suckling pigs, nursing on the nipples of a mother sow, face a similar situation… The biggest piglet can deliberately “shut out” the runt… And they can, and will do this… And hog TWO nipples, back and forth, because the mother sow has a common, finite production source behind the two nipples, and greedy piglet can get more, by hogging two nipples. When the piglets are moved to a nursing machine with a huge supply of cow’s milk behind it, though, this is practically an “infinite supply” to the piglets… They no longer get more milk my hogging two teats; they get less, during allotted feeding time, by trying to do this. The baby pigs are smart enough to learn this! They see infinity, and react accordingly! They are smarter than the bird-brained hummingbirds!
Humans and snorgons, though, despite our immense neural clusters, are stupid like the hummingbirds, not as smart as the piglets… God’s Love is infinite! To the secularist, we could simply say, the potential supply of rituals or dogmas that we can invent, that can help us to love our neighbors, is infinite! But we (too many of us at least) stupidly keep on fighting over that which is infinite! The trappings… the rituals, symbols, “Holy Books”, and dogmas too often get worshipped, instead of the essential substance, which is Love. But our cultural and spiritual evolution will continue, and we must have faith, as I have faith, that we will triumph soon! Won’t you please join me in this faith?
Your bad actors in ETD group get all of this precisely backwards… They, I believe, seemingly think that there’s no need to “love your neighbor” so long as you’ve got all the religious rituals, dogmas, and beliefs right… It is more important to hate the same snorgons that God hates, in their neural clusters… Be the ones hated by God equal to gays, or atheists, or illegal immigrants, or abortionists, or gun-grabbers, or gun-owners, and on and on and on… I hate whoever the God (that I hold in my head) hates, so it is all justified by God!
But I am here to tell you, God hates no one! He is pure Love and Spirit… He is not part angel, part devil, and part animal, as we Snorgons, as well as the Earthlings, are… God is an indiscriminate “slut” with His / Her (non-sexual) Love, that is… God even loves His / Her most hateful and implacable opponents, right up to (right DOWN to?) Satan and his minions… He wants them to return to the fold! In secular terms, the ideal is universal love and compassion. And God is defined as the ideal.
I try to cling to rationalism as much as I can, but have sometimes failed… M. Scott Peck’s book about evil upset me, perhaps more than anything else, in that, here’s a HIGHLY educated man, and he believes in supernatural evil, as well as supernatural good! So Peck pushed me yet that much further away from rationalism… I think he is right… The Universe shows “symmetry” in just about every place we care to look… If we want a God, we’re going to have to deal with a Satan. Here’s the wrap-around to the slightly-above-mentioned “literalism” of the scriptures: If there’s just ONE piece of the scriptures that I would urge you to take literally, it is to “love your enemies”… It (love) is your shield, your armor, and sword, all wrapped up in one. Even supernatural evil abjectly slinks away at the sight of it, ESPECIALLY if the Love is directed at it, the evil! Utterly unspeakably strange, this is, yes… To be clear: Love does not always mean approval, it often means opposition, even stern, unbending opposition (think of rescuing the head-strong child who wants to play in traffic).
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… If we want to REALLY worship God, then we must imitate God… As God is an indiscriminate (non-sexual) Love-Slut, so, too, are we to indiscriminately love everyone and everything (excluding irresponsible sex, of course). Hate those who you think God hates? No bonus points for you at ALL; God does not hate at all!
But yes, love Satan himself, even, go for it! Your wordless Love (in return for being viciously attacked) might be roughly translated as, “Hey, Satan, I would REALLY-REALLY like to help you, but I can’t. My will is there, my power is not. For healing your stupidly self-inflicted wounds, you will need to go to The Light!” … It will slink away in fear! I have seen or experienced this effect, near-exactly or approximately… At least 3 times, I would say. I chose not to share any details. Translate that one into secular-speak, you say? OK… “Love, Love, Love; Love is all you need”, to quote the Beatles.
Now that is as far as I care to travel into the stratosphere. Shorty, and various and assorted snooping readers… Back, now, to the main body of the Letter to Short Tentacles…
Link to parent page: www.churchofsqrls.com/HP_Sucks/
Editorial insertion by BR549: Earthlings, once again, Long Tentacles and I seem to see very much eye-to-eye, despite him having 5 eyeballs, and me only 2! I have noticed that Long Tentacles (in his dreams-driven transmissions to me) often translates just about all “religious” or “spiritual” sentiments, on his part, into “secular speak” as well. So the below has occurred to me, and I wanted to elaborate…
If You Can’t Translate your Religious Sentiments to Secular-Speak, You Deserve to Be Ignored!
SUMMARY of the below: Any religious or spiritual sentiments, if they can NOT be readily translated into secular-speak, along the lines of, what should we do and not do, or what should we do and not do under specific circumstances, or what should our motives ideally be driven by… At the very least, give us specific examples of who-what-why-when we should do / not-do, under your religious sentiments, in the real world of here and now, which contains people of many religions or no religion at all… If you can NOT translate your sentiments into (ideally data-driven or examples-driven) secular-speak of some sort or another, I for one am going to be WAY skeptical about the value of your sentiments! And I do believe that I am well justified…
In more detail, endless “God-talk”… And I have seen literature of this sort, and it bores me to tears in about no time flat… God-Jesus-Buddha-Allah-Mohammed-Operating-Thetan-this-and-that and then again God-Jesus-Buddha-Allah-Mohammed-Operating-Thetan-this-and-that all over again, with scarcely a word shoved in edgewise about the real world, in plain language… Is just so many farts in a hurricane! The hurricane being our hate-and-violence-filled world, which is desperately short of LOVE! Tell me how to LOVE better, more effectively, more deeply, and THEN I will listen (I sure hope)! This is what Jesus prayed for… An Earth, where God’s Will is done, as it is in Heaven. If “God’s Will” does not translate to a love-and-compassion-ruled planet, then the hurricane is going to blow us all away.
Similarly, speculations about the spirits or pure-spiritual world(s), up to and including whether they exist or not, or if God has a God’s God, and also including near-meaningless “scientific” questions about whether the universe is finite or infinite, whether or not there are “parallel universes” that we cannot interact with… These kinds of speculations might be fun, but they tell me diddly squat about, how should I behave, ethically, morally, in the real world? These questions are the modern version of, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”
If we as a human species wish to survive… Count me among those who are of this persuasion… I suspect we’d be wise to put about 99.8% or more of our effort on figuring out how to behave ethically, and then going ahead and behaving that way… And leave the spiritual worlds and parallel universes to fend for themselves!
Fresh Re-Take on this Whole Ugly Wad of Wax:
Tangentially, or to set a bit of introductory context, I recently read a very interesting article by Roy F. Baumeister in the April 2015 issue of the “Scientific American” magazine, titled “Conquer Yourself, Conquer the World”. A “Reader’s Digest” summary of the whole article might run like this: 3 decades (or more?) or so ago, psychologists and educators noticed that positive life outcomes are correlated with self-esteem. So they put the cart before the horse, sad to say, in an apparently innocent mistake… They thought, let’s just imbue self-esteem in the young children, and we’ll make everything much-much better! Thus, the self-esteem craze began. “All must have prizes awarded” is actually a fad that has come and gone over the centuries, but enough of that…
Decades later, modern science now largely recognizes that accomplishment comes first, and then self-esteem comes as a result of that. Also, by the way, a sense of “mission” or “purpose in life” or major “objectives to be attained by me” comes first, then comes happiness as a by-product… Our main purpose in life being happiness itself, often leads to wanton, hedonistic self-absorption, and not to happiness. Happiness is a by-product of other things… So is genuine self-esteem (which IS a good thing, I am not questioning that).
Anyway, the “Scientific American” article is a good read… The author in turn cites experiments and studies done by Walter Mischel, which shows that self-control (discipline, delayed gratification) is at the root of real personal accomplishments, which then lead to genuine self-esteem. A good summary of Walter Mischel’s work can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow_experiment .
There’s your context… Mostly I guess to demonstrate to you, Dear Reader, that I do strive for a “bigger picture”, and that I am not a self-esteem junkie… I put self-esteem in its rightful place, I think and hope.
But I also believe that self-esteem is closely related to real (disciplined) self-love (all real love is good love) and “dignity” of a spiritual nature… Not “dignity” of the won’t-get-your-hands-dirty, 3-piece suit kind, but dignity in a deeper sense. “Dignity” means that I am a spiritual being, a Child of God, or a “Thing of Value” for you unbelievers. Huh… “Child of God” sounds more poetic to me, but that’s OK. As a dignified being, you can throw dirt on me, spit on me, cripple and wound me, kill me even, but ya know what?!?! You can NOT take my dignity and self-respect from me, if I do not give you my permission to do so! Period!
Here’s what I really want to say: There are two kinds of people with 2 kinds of theories about self-esteem. The WRONG people believe that they can gain more self-esteem by taking mine away from me, by belittling me. They believe that the search for dignity and self-esteem is a zero-sum game. The RIGHT people believe that as I treat you more dignity and respect, I gain more genuine dignity and self-respect for myself; that this all is the EXACT OPPOSITE of a zero-sum game. And I believe that all of the world’s true spiritual leaders would agree with me (would have agreed with me), although their words might be (might have been) often very different. The core meanings are the same. I also believe that organizations running on the right principle (as defined above) are more successful in the long run. Right principles foster genuine teamwork, which is an utterly precious thing.
There you have it. Keep in mind that real self-esteem has nothing to do with the size of your paycheck. That, I believe, is a point lost on a majority of status-seeking Americans (and others) today. XYZ Corp’s (and other companies’) “forced distribution” performance rankings encourage ugly-ugly competitions between employees at all ranks… And the unethical ones among them will immediately start trying to belittle the next guy, so that they can look bigger-better-bigger-better. THERE is your ugly-ugly ball of wax!
You who worship the money-power-status variety of “success” would be well served by listening to the words of “The Boss”, AKA Bruce Springsteen… From the song “Badlands”, which is an anthem to the pursuit of TRUE happiness, which is a path that you are NOT on right now!
wanna be rich,
rich man wanna be king,
And a king ain't satisfied,
till he rules everything…
Got news for ya, Buddy… King ain’t NEVER gonna rule everything! So this mentality is a sure-fire guarantee for dissatisfaction, for unhappiness.
Jesus warned us about the “yeast of the Pharisees” (hypocrisy in general), meaning as an analogy, a tiny-tiny biological infection or seed can spread and spread and spread, and contaminate an entire culture or society. This idea that I can gain more, by cutting you down, is one of those idea-infections (“toxic memes” in modern parlance). Once it starts, it is hard to stop. It might apply to status and money and power, especially in sick organizations, but if those 3 things are your be-all and end-all, I really do feel sorry for you. “No good deed goes unpunished”, and “nice guys finish last” applies to money-power-status; yes, they often do! But NOT to genuine self-esteem! You can choose to serve high principles, or to serve money… You can’t serve both. Choose wisely!
XYZ group at XYZ Corp. in Houston is infected with this “toxic meme”, in a near “perfect storm” kind of way… The top-ranking engineers are infected with it, some of the middle management is infected with it, and the smug boss’s boss’s boss is VERY clearly infected with it, as far as I can perceive. That’s why the astute and warned potential employee (at any rank) will steer clear! And it is also why the ensnared should break free ASAP.
End Editorial insertion by BR549.
Link to parent page: www.churchofsqrls.com/HP_Sucks/
Hi Shorty, it’s me again, Long Tentacles, back at you one more time with one more topic… And that’s some sad news, sorry to say!
The sad news is an amendment to the good news… The good news I gave you earlier was that your ETD (Engineered Tentacles Division) may be one of the worst pimples on the posterior plastron of the HardLips PeckHard Corp., yes, but, if you were wise, you could bail out to a better group, in time to NOT fall into the inescapable “black hole” of getting laid off (out of ETD), then black-listed, so that you can NEVER again work for this Corp., not even as an agency contractor (So that HardLips PeckHard can then whine that they need to hire more immigrants, because they just can NOT find qualified native workers, anywhere!). So yes, the good news remains, you can bail out of the worst groups.
The bad news is, probability may catch you sooner or later. You will chose a new group and new boss (or one will be assigned to you), and your random “chemistry” with the new boss will not be good… Or your co-workers change, and you run into absolutely greedy and selfish, ruthless jerks, as I did. If you work there at HardLips PeckHard Corp. for long enough (if you get old enough), sooner or later, in a random fashion, no matter how hard and/or smart you work, you will fall into the laid-off, black-listed “black hole”. You will become like me… Too old, tentacles too long. Which brings us to the final topic…
Final topic is, how do you persuade a regulator or a jury, on the Planet of the Snorgons, that your rights have been violated, that you have been laid off unjustly? Because you are too old, sex or tentacle color is wrong, etc., or, failing being in one of those protected classes, because you are certified to be autistic or otherwise not optimally healthy (I have previously mentioned the autistic route as being a fairly good choice… Be sure to get a Physician to certify you as such). The below arguments are skewed towards the tentacles-too-long (too-old) case, but suitable adjustments can be made… Regard the below as food for thought, at the very least… Some items may need tweaked per your particular case, as circumstances require.
Let’s just say YOU v/s THEM (in front of jury or regulator or the court of public opinion or what have you; not firmly specified here). Here is what is a likely interchange.
YOUR SIMPLEST ARGUMENT: “Look, see, I am certifiably old, wrong sex, what have you.” If you’re the very oldest in the group from whom the laid-off Snorgons were chosen, harp on that at least a bit.
THEM: “But there were others protected as well; we had to choose one. We chose one who got a “D” on his or her report card.”
YOU: “OK, then, let’s move on…” (Challenge the basis of the “D” is next in some cases).
YOU (if applicable): “Look, you told me my job no longer existed, so you laid me off. Then immediately after you laid me off, you opened a new requisition with the exact same job duties (or nearly the exact same), with a much lower job grade, and lower pay. I offered to take that job, with the lower pay, and you turned me down.”
THEM: “You’re over-qualified. You’ve previously had a much higher pay grade. You would not have been happy in that job. We want happy workers who will stay, and not go and look for a better job.”
YOU: “Over-qualified is just a thinly veiled substitute for ‘too old’… How many brand-new college grads are over-qualified, or have had a previously-too-high paycheck? None, and you know it! As you get older, the probability that one or two of these things will be true, goes up. Clearly there is a ‘disparate impact’ on older workers here. You cannot deny that. … ALSO: This idea that I would not be happy, or would not stay… It is not true for me! It may be true for some over-qualified workers, but not for me. In my case, this is just a pre-conception, a bias, a prejudice in YOUR head, not mine.” (You win this one hands down, if you are clearly otherwise qualified all around).
YOU (if applicable): “Also, since I have been laid off, I have applied to many-many jobs to try and get back on-board with your XYZ Corp., and I have noticed several applications where it asks me, right up front, for so-called new-grad openings, have I graduated from college within the last 1, 1.5, or 2 years… With the very clear implication that if it has been too long since I graduated, then I am over-qualified… AKA, Also Known As, too old! Clearly, the vast majority of new college grads are young, and so, this has a disparate impact on the old! Why are you discriminating against older workers who are willing to take starter jobs?”
THEM: Mumble and make excuses… They will not look good coming out of this exchange!
In the priority of things, simple and/or compelling should come first, and more complex things should come later. This is obviously open to interpretation, but now is about the right time to move on to a multi-pronged or complex argument…
YOU: “OK, so I got a “D”, you say, and that is why you picked me for the layoff. To that I say:
‘A) “Anyone who has ever worked a job knows that performance reviews are subjective, not objective. They are susceptible to variable supervisor judgment, or, more plainly put, to good or bad “chemistry” between worker and boss. The only strictly “objective” review would be for a line worker, who produces “X” widgets per hour, where “X” can be objectively measured. This was not true in a high-tech job like mine.” (If THEY argue that you are just a plain Joe with no expert opinion on such matters, bring in a psychologist “expert” to confirm the obvious, that Snorgons, including bosses, are subjective, not totally objective, in such matters).
‘B) “I worked for “X” or “X + 20” solar cycles for this company… We could subpoena my reviews if need be, to prove this, I did not save them… And this is the first “D” that I ever got. And that alone is enough to justify me being picked? Is it not a reasonable theory that XYZ Corp. deliberately and with forethought, added one final “D” to my report card, to facilitate or excuse selecting me for the layoff?”
‘C) Bring in “expert” psychologist’s measurement of your IQ at 120, 130, 140, or what have you, to refute any accusations or implications that you are slow or stupid, if applicable. It may help…
‘D) (If applicable). “Look, the exact same boss who gave me that “D”, a year or two earlier, he gave me a job-grade increase (Editorial insertion; with or without a raise; in my case, w/o one, which makes it look more suspicious). Here I am, the exact same worker, same abilities, same work ethic. One year, I get promoted, the next, I get a “D”? Seems to me, this shows one of two things: Either the ratings are random and arbitrary, or I was being deliberately ‘set up’ for a bad review, since more is expected out of those with higher job grades.”
‘E) (If applicable). “Look, I know that the XYZ Corp. has forced-distribution performance reviews. Under this scheme, my unethical co-workers were thoroughly aware of the fact that they had to make me look bad enough to get a “D”, so that they could get a “B”. Horrible office politics resulted, and I could give you PLENTY of specific examples of this, if need be. Simply, my “D” reflects ‘nice guys finish last’, far more so than it reflects any supposedly bad performance on my part.” (Every vile corporation on the entire Planet of the Snorgons will deny that they have forced-distribution performance reviews, but we’ll get to that very shortly below).
‘F) (If applicable). “Look, I have some independent confirmation that I am NOT a slacker, that my recent work products have been good to excellent. When there were cases where my bad-office-politics-playing so-called ‘team-mates’ were NOT able to interfere with the patent review committee, that committee at XYZ Corp. passed 5 of my submissions through to be patented. The industry-wide standards committee published my 4 white papers. They made me the Vice President of the local IEEE. Blah-blah-blah.”
THEM: “But it is totally untrue that we the XYZ Corp. use forced-distribution performance reviews!”
YOU: “I will be happy to hire (Alternately, here is my) expert on probability and statistics. We are (were) happy to subpoena the XYZ Corp.’s performance reviews, with names redacted is fine. We want(ed) 100 or more of the bottom-rung organizations and their organization structures, to get a statistically valid population. Then we can show, statistically, that these reviews are forced. They are not a product of nature. A ‘real’ bell curve from nature, and its contents, such as the relative salinity at noon in a given location in our oceans, or the number of pups in a litter of sharks, has certain characteristics. Forced distributions will look different. We can show as an empirical fact, that these reviews have been forced.” (Even I, Long Tentacles, would be able to pull that one off… Not in as great a detail as a real expert would be able to pull off, I do confess. I COULD give you more details… But the enemy may be listening! I do NOT want to help them “cook the books”!!! Trust me, THIS particular battle can be won, unless the judge is a “junk science” freak, in which case, you can always appeal!)
(Moving on to the next point; the above naturally segues to the below).
YOU: “Now that we have established fairly conclusively that getting a “D” on one’s report card is not anywhere close to reflecting an indisputable fact of nature, such as the Law of Gravity… But is, rather, the result of inscrutable circumstances inside the neural clusters of supervising Snorgons… And often as well, the bad work-politics environment caused by unethical co-workers… Then we must conclude that these performance reviews must best be modeled as random. Even if HALF of the probability of your getting laid off, is due to REAL job-performance problems, there is a remaining fraction of probability of being laid off, that is simply random. Even if you are a super-genius theoretical modeler combined with super-genius practical inventor, you can always run, randomly, into some supervisor who feels threatened by your abilities, who will find or invent some reason to rate you badly.
“So now we are down to, every solar cycle, you get rated. Every solar cycle, there is some probability that you will fall into the ‘black hole’ of XYZ Corp.’s layoff list, of the cannot-be-re-hired list. Right out of college, a youngster has zero probability of having fallen into the hole. The longer you work at XYZ Corp., the older you get, the higher the probability that you get black-listed forever. The disparate impact on older workers should be clear right there.
“But to assist your thinking and understanding, consider this: At probability of 99% of keeping your job every solar cycle, then keeping it after 2 solar cycles is 0.99 times 0.99. At five solar cycles it is 0.99 to the 5th power. At ten solar cycles it is 0.99 to the 10th power. So for your viewing pleasure, to illustrate how the XYZ Corp. discriminates against you for getting older in your job, to show what the no-re-hire-policy ‘black hole’ effect does to you, when the compounding of the probabilities is calculated, we have tabulated the following:
‘1 year… 99 % chance of still having job, not black-listed… 99%... 99%...
‘ 5 years (0.99 to the 5th power) … 95%
’10 years… 90%
’15 years… 86%
’20 years… 82%
’30 years… 74% … 26% chance of laid off AND black-listed!
‘1 year… 98 % chance of still having job, not black-listed… 98%... 98%...
‘ 5 years (0.98 to the 5th power) … 90%
’10 years… 82%
’15 years… 74%
’20 years… 67%
’30 years… 55% … 45% chance of laid off AND black-listed!
‘1 year… 97 % chance of still having job, not black-listed… 97%... 97%...
‘ 5 years (0.97 to the 5th power) … 86%
’10 years… 74%
’15 years… 63%
’20 years… 54%
’30 years… 40% … 60% chance of laid off AND black-listed!
‘1 year… 96 % chance of still having job, not black-listed… 96%... 96%...
‘ 5 years (0.96 to the 5th power) … 82%
’10 years… 66%
’15 years… 54%
’20 years… 44%
’30 years… 29% … 71% chance of laid off AND black-listed!
‘1 year… 95 % chance of still having job, not black-listed… 95%... 95%...
‘ 5 years (0.95 to the 5th power) … 77%
’10 years… 60%
’15 years… 46%
’20 years… 36%
’30 years… 21% … 79% chance of laid off AND black-listed!
THEM: “But our performance reviews are totally objective!”
THE JURY, silently in their own neural clusters: “Yeah, right, buddy!”
(Parenthetically inserted additional points): Keep in mind that “probabilities” measure or quantify the limits of our knowledge… Or more frankly, our ignorance. “God” or other omniscient being, in a clockwork universe, where all is known (can be calculated ahead of time), would have absolutely no use for “probabilities”. If XYZ lawyers (as lawyers are wont to do) proceed to obfuscate (deliberately confuse or cloud the iddues), trying to claim that probabilities do not belong in courtrooms, then ask them how you or your client might be able to pre-predict the behavior of their performance-review-giving bosses, with any accuracy whatsoever. If such results can be pre-predicted with precision, using mechanistic or highly logical methods, then why is the Snorgon judgment of the bosses involved in the first place?
Far more important point: Please keep in mind that this whole line of argument showing “disparate impact” on older workers, is likely to work well, only for large employers. A small corporatuion black-listed you, one out of their 9 ex-workers, in a large metropolitan center? Where plenty of other jobs are to be had? Good luck with that! If, on the other hand, there are many thousands of workers, and yet a few more thousand ex-workers in the local area, your argument clearly shows a significant “disparate impact” on the available local work force!
(Move on to final argument; a “killer app” for YOU!)
YOU: (To the judge first if need be, which is fairly likely, I suspect):
“Hey, Your Honor, we’d really, in the name of simple balance and fairness, like to mention something to the jury. Over there sits the jury; they are not ‘blank tablets’. Most of them know, instinctively if nothing else, that most corporations act in rational self-interest. They also know the simplest basics of economic theory… They know that as supply goes down, price goes up. So that jury sitting over there, they are scratching their neural clusters, wondering WHY would Corporation XYZ artificially ‘wall themselves off from’ a huge and growing supply of willing and able workers, who they have laid off? By artificially limiting their supply of workers, does that not allow their fewer remaining workers to demand higher pay? To the obvious detriment of XYZ Corp.? The jury then must conclude, ‘Wow, these laid-off workers REALLY must be genuinely worthless slackers; else Corp. XYZ wouldn’t be doing this’. … But Your Honor, it is not fair that we take XYZ’s claims of their motives at face value. We should be allowed to introduce to the jury, our theory as to what XYZ’s REAL motives are. Else you are showing bias towards XYZ’s case, a preference for their narrative over ours, and we will be sure to appeal.”
YOU-ATTORNEYS-JUDGE: Mumble, argue, grumble, results TBD…
YOU ON PASS ONE, HOPEFULLY… MAYBE ON APPEAL, IF NEED BE… “Look, jury, XYZ says they laid me off because I got and deserved a “D”. They black-listed me forever, because they did not want to pay me go-away benefits twice (severance package, unemployment benefits). Now, how easy would THAT be to fix, if they really WANTED to fix it? Hire me back at minimum wage till I pay them back for the go-away benefits, if I am willing to do that, and then, after I have paid back my earlier go-away benefits, jack my pay back up to a reasonable level. But no, they will not do that.
“Meanwhile, I am sure that you know basic economics theory… That as supply goes down, price goes up. To XYZ Corp., their limiting themselves away from re-hiring me and all of my fellow native laid-off workers will limit their supply of workers. Fewer remaining eligible workers means that they’d normally have to pay higher wages. So you’re asking yourselves, ‘now why would XYZ do that to themselves, unless all of their laid-off workers really WERE totally worthless?’
“Well, we have an alternate theory as to what XYZ’s real, but unstated, motives are. After turning a blind eye to me and people like me, they like to lobby Congress, saying, ‘Hey, look, Congress, we just can NOT find qualified native workers ANYWHERE, at ANY price, and so, we just HAVE to get more allocations for H-1Bad-for-Native-Workers immigrant worker visas, or else our business cannot remain competitive!”
And then you trot out any evidence you can find… XYZ corporate lobbying documents that they have signed, letters that they have sent to Congress, and campaign contributions that they have made.
YOU (and your attorney) closing statement: “XYZ Corporation will not ALLOW me to compete with H-1Bad-for-Native-Workers immigrants! We have nothing against immigrants. We just want a level playing field, that is all. XYZ Corporation here systematically discriminates against its longest-term employees… The longer-serving, the more likely to be black-listed. This clearly has a disparate impact on older workers. They say that they do this to get rid of non-performers, but that’s just their story. They do this so as to hire workers who are nearly like captive ‘indentured servants’, who find it nearly impossible to move to another employer for higher wages. XYZ Corporation also does this, so that when the H-1Bad-for-Native-Workers immigrants go back to their native seas, they will have technical and company-specific knowledge to take back home with them, to further XYZ’s agenda of out-sourcing more work away from here, to far-away seas.
“We rest our case. This laid-off worker deserves a chance to compete fairly.”
PS… Many of the most compelling arguments above are generic to ALL of these kinds of cases! Sounds like class-action lawsuit-time to me!
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