Last year about this time I had a post on Angry Overeducated Catholic’s favorite topic, credentialism. (I say it’s his favorite because it’s first in his nom de plume, but that’s probably just a quirk of the English language that forces adjectives to be first.) Well it’s time for graduation again. I could be lamenting the fact that I’ve been pestered into participating in the graduation perp walk—a vestige of the academy’s long ago connection to the Medieval church—as a faculty representative… at my own expense no less [grumble, grumble]. AOC is the kind of person who enjoys that sort of thing, not me.

Rather than lamenting further, I found this little gem in the Washington Post. It’s about the problems that the “MySpace generation” are having with, well, their MySpace and Facebook pages. It seems that one of the big problems these days among young teachers is a lack of understanding that MySpace is a public web page. Pictures from your senior year spring break showing you and your friends licking tequila off a hooker’s tits in TJ are, as they say, “not professional.” This is something schools are bothered by, amazingly enough. So, as part of my mission in higher education, I figured I’d put up something on this issue for the recent graduate.

I know for fact I got Googled before I went to interviews…. Now that I’m on the other side of the desk, I assure you I Google any potential candidates I’m asked to evaluate. You will be, too. The lack of acceptance of your party pictures on the net is going to apply in nearly any industry that goes under the general rubric of “professional.” It’s probably going to apply to elite higher education opportunities such as highly selective law or medical schools, where nearly all the candidates are super-qualified and decisions are often made on fundamentally arbitrary criteria. It may well apply further down the great chain of being, the employment edition; that will require checking on your part. So what is a sinner to do?

  1. Choose a career where it doesn’t matter. Recognize and accept that this will limit your options and, hence, earning potential, quite possibly A LOT. Of course this depends a lot on your chosen career and the location: As the old knock-knock joke says, jazz musicians are probably already delivering pizza for a living. They are expected to be at least a little eccentric anyway. Baristas at Starbuck’s can have lots of tats and piercings, but I bet you don’t see the district managers sporting that stuff much. Many careers are reputed to be more tolerant but, in fact, are not, at least not unless you are God’s gift to your field, which, most likely, you are not, no matter how smart you think you are with that new college degree of yours.
  2. Do what generations of gay men have done until recently: The closet. That’s right, sanitize your internet presence. Forget about who you really are (whatever that is). More specifically, forget about your burning need to tell others about it. The more esoteric and difficult to understand or accept for outsiders your pastimes are, the deeper they should be buried. If you have thousands of posts to a Usenet group like rec.arts.bodyart about the unmentionable things done to your unmentionables under your real name, first of all I applaud your honesty but have to say: WTF? Are you insane? Then I’ll say, JUST STOP. The riskier things are, the earlier you have to stop.

Assuming you choose (2), start sanitizing your internet presence BEFORE you plan to go out on the workforce. Once you go out, it’s too late. While things are forever on the net, in the mind of your employer there is a “statute of limitations.” Venal sins of a few years back can be swept under the rug with “Well I used to do that stuff but decided it was high time to get serious about my career….” That your employer will understand. Even the US Government forgives things like personal drug use for security clearances. Mortal sins, on the other hand, will not be overlooked so easily. Chances are you won’t even get an interview if you are public enough about it. What’s going to be venal and what’s going to be mortal, alas, is not easily discerned, but for the record, here’s my ballpark guesses of a few:

  • Being on the local board of NORML or Operation Rescue. Probably mortal.
  • Being on the local board at a food co-op. Probably venal (if a sin at all, but watch out for hidden political affiliations).
  • 13,000 posts on Gleemax about the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons (WTF? Gleemax? What marketing genius thought of that?). Venal, unless you plan to work for Pat Robertson and aren’t awfully good at repentance.
  • 13,000 posts on ESPN.com about the Cubs or Yankees. Venal, unless you plan to work for Sox fans, White or Red, respectively.
  • Your name associated with warez sites. Probably mortal.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have an internet presence when you go on the job market, but it does restrict what you can and should have. So here goes….

Stuff that’s OK:

  • A small photo album of your family (kids, siblings, wedding, mom and dad, kittehs, etc.). Avoid the risque: A picture of you and your dad sharing a manly beer on the boat after a day at the lake is just fine. A picture of your cousin Jennie—the one who’s been working as an escort for the last few years—showing off her new bra from Vickie’s is not.
  • Brief info on your hobbies, so long as they’re not too “weird,” a mind-numbingly vague and domain-specific word requiring you to know the industry to which you are applying.
  • Preprints of your past work, a portfolio, etc.
  • Your vita/resume. (But make sure to go to a resume doctor for cleanup. Please.)
  • Light to moderate participation on professionally relevant forums.

Stuff that’s definitely not OK:

  • Visible online presence on anything remotely risque: Porn, heavily ideological politics (lay off the Daily Kos or WorldNetDaily posts), “alternative” lifestyles, etc.
  • A strong online presence in general isn’t good for most “professional” jobs, even ones involving The Intarweb. It’s a sign you put work at a low priority. The exception: If your job is to be interacting online with customers.

Stuff you’re going to have to make a judgment call on:

  • Social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. In my kinda bitter and conservative late thirtysomething view, dump them. At minimum cut WAY, WAY back on what you’ve got there and make sure you’re not being “friended” by anyone you wouldn’t want your grandma to meet. Sure, the whole “six degrees” of separation thing means you’ll be friended by some dubious people, but that’s why I suggest getting out while the getting’s good. Upper management simply won’t care to understand.
  • A blog where your name and confessions about how you feel is revealed on a daily basis. IMO, dump it.

If you are at all uncertain, it is best to err on the side of no presence at all. You can’t be hanged for something that doesn’t exist and you can always put it back up later… assuming you’re not interested in promotion. 😛

As Kafkaesque as many workplaces have become in the days of zero-tolerance policies and litigation, most administrators aren’t fascists (ObFascism tag 🙂 ) or, more correctly, totalitarians, in that they don’t really care what you do in your free time—be it crocheting socks for orphans in India and volunteering at your local church, or hanging with hookers when in TJ and horses in Washington State—so long as they don’t hear about it, nobody among their stakeholders hears, and it doesn’t affect your job performance. That’s right, it’s really, truly about the risk of scandal and getting the job done. Beyond that, you are a cog in the wheel, especially if you are a noob. The one exception is if your life outside work makes them look warm and fuzzy by association and even this is a big “maybe.” Remember, administrators, above all else, value peace and quiet, and are trying to head ’em off at the pass. The best way to head off such incidents is to not let you in the door in the first place. The more effective you are, the more they need you, and the fewer questions will be asked, but don’t count on being viewed as a “scarce commodity”—even if they say you are. Even early computer genius Alan Turing and Shakespearean actor John Gielgud had problems in their careers because of socially sanctioned (at the time) out of work activities, aka “the love that dare not speak its name.”

In short, part of your job search is to look moderately boring in your personal life, and save your activism for later, or be willing to pay the price now. Is it fair? It depends on your perspective—more traditional conservatives say absolutely positively, more socially libertarian types might say not—but, ultimately, who cares? It’s the reality of being supervised by people who are a generation or two older than you. That’s right: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” applies more broadly than just the military. Earth to twentysomething new college graduate: Posting stuff on the intarweb is called “telling.” When you sign the checks, you can make the rules.

Readers might be asking “Where are the Angry Men?” Well, the answer is “busy” with various things. But dead air sux, so here’s a little thing I just noticed on a $1 I was about to spend on my daily coffee.

It’s been said many times that the web has added all sorts of things to our lives that nobody would ever have guessed, be it good or bad. Where’s George? is a web page that lets you track where the money you have has been. You enter your ZIP code and the serial # of the bill. If someone else has already entered it, you can see where it’s been. “Small used bills” might not be quite so safe for criminals anymore… scratch that, along with phone booths, as a plot device.

  • Got any other cool things the web lets you do you wouldn’t have thought of before? (Discussion boards don’t count, that’s just globalizing the office water cooler.)
  • Got anything the web does that really yanks your chain?

Discuss!

Spinal Tap once again proves that truth is stranger than fiction:

Recently, ABBA’s former drummer died in a bizarre gardening accident.

The late, great Jeff Porcaro‘s widow claims to this day that her husband died from a heart attack brought on by an allergic reaction to the pesticide he was using in his garden, not a drug overdose… that’s right, a bizarre gardening accident. (Decades of drug use must have counted, though.)

Jim Hodder, also a former Steely Dan drummer (he and Jeff both played with the Dan—at the same time—back in the mid ’70s), drowned in his swimming pool. Not quite a bizarre gardening accident but within spitting distance since the backyard is what the Brits call “the garden”….

So what is it with drummers? Or is it musicians? Or is it all “man bites dog” publication bias? Discuss!

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ObFascism Tag: If it were up to those hateful fascist safety regulators—who Hate America and Everything It Stands For!—there would be no more bizarre gardening accidents.

The Soviets loved their “five year plans,” much imitated by other Communist nations back in the day, though often with slight variations like the “seven year plan”. (ObFascism: Five years was too long for Germany: The Nazis had four year plans.) It seems that some Democratic primary voters are touting the “sixteen year plan.” This is a plan dreamed up by people who say things like:

Imagine the possibilities…

  • A generation of progressive leadership in the White House
  • A new era of global cooperation to combat poverty, hunger, and AIDS
  • A lasting commitment to protecting the environment and combating global climate change
  • A new progressive balance of power on the Supreme Court
  • Enough time to begin undoing the damage caused by 8 years of George Bush

In other words, people who are blowing as much sugary sunshine the back door way as a delusional modern progressive can stand without going into insulin shock, in a nice way that makes Barack Obama look Rush Limbaugh-mean.

In a nutshell—which is about all there is here, and it’s one of those disappointing empty peanuts—the Sixteen Year Plan is:

  1. In 2008, HRC runs for President, BHO runs for Vice-President.
  2. In 2012, HRC runs for Vice-President, BHO runs for President.
  3. In 2016, HRC runs for President, BHO runs for Vice-President.
  4. In 2020, HRC runs for Vice-President, BHO runs for President.

This plan, therefore, neatly side-steps that 22nd Amendment, which states that a person is eligible for two terms as President, c’est tout, you’re done. I admit that it sounds “hinky” to me (thanks Abby) and probably violates some constitutional thing or another, but it’s on the edge of plausible, legally. I recall seeing this touted on the Washington Post forum by a poster (not one of the columnists) and thought it was ridiculous then but, it has taken on a life of its own on the intarweb much like other dumbass ideas. It’s the sort of plan that a smart high school civics student might dream up, with no notion of just how amazingly damaging to the all-too-fragile system and the norms that hold the entire electoral edifice up it would be. Such an idea was bandied about on the Republican side in 1976 when they were facing a split convention… Ronald Reagan wisely rejected such a deal, and waited four years to win a legitimate victory. We don’t need plans like this, not after the 2000 election, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, invented notes about George W. Bush’s service record (thin as the real one was), Karl Rove’s shenanigans such as accusing John McCain of fathering a black child out of wedlock in the 2000 South Carolina primary, and whatever other sleazy shit from the pile of digested Alpo from the last several years you want to pick up. No, right now what we need is a nice, clean “by the book” election, not this is freakin’ stupid and profoundly anti-“little d” democratic idea.

It’s wrong but not close to wrong enough to be “so wrong, it’s so right.” No, it’s just plain wrong.

W-R-O-N-G.

W-R-O-N-G.

Never mind the fact that this would be a clear case of “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” (two too many, given the unelected presence of Bill Clinton throughout the whole process).

Never mind the fact that it’s ludicrous to believe it would be a “credible commitment” for whomever went first—Hillary, obviously, given that this is a cheesedick way for wavering HRC supporters to get Obama to back down. Sure, I believe that you’re going to step down after being president, sure. It’s with that property in Florida and the Brooklyn Bridge….

It makes a total mockery of the electoral system and is, in essence, a throwback to the smoke filled room in the worst sort way. And I’m somewhat a fan of the old days of the smoke filled room, but this is pathetic.

It’s the kind of scheme that elected dictators of the likes of Vladimir Putin dream up when political pressure gets high enough that they need to step out of the office. Wait… Vladimir Putin IS ENACTING it!

It’s the kind of thing that shows up in Latin America, cf. Puntofijismo. It might have been OK for a while but lead to the inevitable stagnation down the road that gave the world my buddy Hugo Chavez.

I’m sure Karl Rove got semi-hard when he was hanging in Dick’s secure, undisclosed location thinking about this sort of thing, but then laughed when he realized that one’s never going to the altar with him….

This is America. We can, and should, do better than this pathetic scheme.

It turns out that The Atlantic—a magazine to which I have subscribed for the last ten years, though I really doubt I’ll ever make enough money to be in their demographic (at least based on the market research surveys I saw and the ads in the magazine)—recently decided to open its web page to everyone. This is really nice from my perspective because I can send people links to articles without wondering if they’ll be able to read them. Whether they will read them is, of course, a separate question, but I’m not kidding myself. It’s not like I read everything people send me either.

Not too long back, as Angry New Mexican noted, the New York Times dumped TimesSelect and opened up things to everyone. After NYT went to TimesSelect, I confess I stopped reading them and ended up moving to the Washington Post, which I prefer (with the exception of Science Times). I wonder how many other people went in similar directions and simply stopped reading the Times?

Salon.com also dropped most of its pay-to-enter (I recall the days before pay-to-enter) and allows viewers in if they watch ads. You can pay not to watch ads.

Rupert Murdoch—ever the conformist contrarian—seems like he wants to keep his newly acquired Wall Street Journal as subscription-only. Murdoch seems to make piles of money riding herd over contradictions such as Fox News, purveyor of culture-warriors like Bill O’Reilly and sleaze-shows to offend more schoolmarm-ish viewers on Fox Network so maybe he can make this work.

Seems like advertising is paying more than the subscription fees these days and that many popular writers chafe under firewalls.

  • Are the days of pay web sites disappearing?
  • What are the upsides?
  • What are the downsides? I can think of a few, most notably the fact that advertiser influence may grow and make many media sites self-censor.
  • What fee sites, besides WSJ (and the huge number that are NSFW which we will leave to Angry Biologist to examine), aren’t likely to switch?
  • And the real question I want to know the answer to: Is Obama, the second political candidate to which I’ve ever given money, going to vanquish the Billary? 🙂 Having given money to McCain in the 2000 primary, I can be like all the fat cats who cover their basses by donating to both sides, only in slow motion and with a lot less $$$.

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ObFascism Tag: Well, much like other political groups out there, fascist ones, don’t usually charge… in coin. But you will pay with your soul…. (I won’t give them the satisfaction of the click-through, though not much shows up under the Google search for “fascism”.)

Once upon a time, news trickled out into newspapers or magazines. Then radio brought news bulletins out on a twice or three-times daily schedule. Television merged the fast pace of radio with the graphic content of photographs but didn’t really accelerate things further. Over many years we doubled or tripled our daily dose, but that was about it.

Until cable. With the advent of CNN and Headline News, and all their successors we now had news on an hourly basis. Naturally the Internet would only take that further, with news now literally “on demand.”

So it was only a matter of time until some clever news agency merged various technologies to give us this: a fully embedded, Google map-based, interactive display of currently known hash houses in Florida:

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/php/specialreports/index.php?report_id=791046

Can a full merge of all this with Google Earth be far behind? Will we soon have “breaking news” layers for Google Earth allowing us to zoom in as events unfold? Will Google eventually stream live satellite coverage to allow us to watch police chases and shootouts in real time?

Is there even any downside? (Well apart from the unfortunate inevitability that some poor sap will have his house displayed for national scorn due to a mistyped address…)

Pretty soon will this scenario be not clever fantasy but simply the way it is?

If so, is that good or bad?

Discuss!

The most complete human being of our age. —Jean-Paul Sartre, about Ernesto “Che” Guevara

“Tengo una remera del Che y no sé por qué,” —Argentine saying (“I have a Che T-shirt and I don’t know why.”)

Fatherland, socialism or death!El Presidente Hugo Chavez’ rallying cry.

So I was reading Gmail the other day and saw one of those really Twilight Zone-esque ads that Google puts up above your inbox along with the news crawl, such as advertisements for golden-crusted Brussels sprouts, tips on caring for cocker spaniels, top-dollar custom-made guitar picks, or The Circumcision Center, a urology practice in Atlanta specializing in fly-in snip-snip to your willy. Don’t eat gas-inducing Brussels sprouts before your visit or attempt to pay in expensive boutique guitar picks while your manic cocker yips at the good doctor’s heels….

No, those are just ordinarily weird(?) but this ad was for Radical Jack’s T-shirts, which was downright ironic. Radical Jack, it seems, is an aging ’60s radical (ex-SDS, etc.) who has embraced capitalism to bring merch to the progressive masses… merch bearing the smiling likeness of Chairman Mao, Fidel Castro, Subcommandante Marcos, etc., anti-Bush merch, etc. This is the place you can get the acne-pocked face of Leftist dictator du jour Hugo Chavez along with a bunch of guys that are handy with red, blue and yellow face paint printed on a t-shirt of your very own. Note to Jet Set Leftists: Good old Hugo has been showing his true colors in the coming Dec. 2 capstone of his autogolpe, taking plays straight from the playbook of Stalin and Hitler: Shooting student protesters, widely intimidating voters, calling for the execution of former allies, etc. (Bolivár in the end ruled as a dictator, too.)

Well there is a place in Marxist thought to make use of the techniques of the enemy against him and I would be hard-pressed to think of a more crassly capitalist mushroom than a online merch store, well except maybe this. From the “about”:

Welcome to RadicalJack.com – A place for radical T-shirts, books, films and gear. Most progressives and revolutionary activists agree that putting messages on T-shirts is a very effective way of popularizing the movement’s message. At RadicalJack.com we are seeking to offer a broad selection of progressive t-shirts and other cultural items designed to get your message across and stimulate discussion. Please browse our site and let us know what you think! All of our proceeds go to support the progressive movement, so the money generated by your purchases will be used to support the struggles you believe in!

That’s right, folks, if your cause is, oh, mass death of tens of millions by famine induced by collectivization and crazy forced industrialization followed a decade later by a fit of pique which lead to a million and a half additional deaths, do we have a T-shirt for you! A notable asymmetry: While the classics of Lenin, Trotsky, and Chairman Mao (“Mao More Than Ever“), appear all over Radical Jack’s, Comrade Stalin, defender of Marxism from 1928 (or so, depending on how you count it) until he dropped dead in 1953, gets no love, no love At All…. =>:{( (That’s a sad Stalin smiley, in case you were wondering.) I didn’t see a shirt for Zimbabwe’s strongman Robert Mugabe, who’s managed to turn what was arguably an African success story into a hellhole in less than a decade, but I’m sure that’s just an oversight. Like Chavez, Mugabe had his foreign jet-set claque (not so much these days). He also had his Night of the Long Knives/Dirty War mashup in Ndebeleland. No love for Middle Eastern anti-American tyrants either, or either of the Kims, père or fils—I guess Kim Jong Il’s official biography and Elvis ‘do is just too weird even for Radical Jack’s. Challenge to readers: Post your favorite oversights in the comments!

Naturally there is much Che to be had. Che was incredibly photogenic to be sure—he had a Brad Pitt boyish handsomeness about him—but not a nice guy, having been, among other things, commander of La Cabaña Prison in Cuba which made the likes of Abu Ghraib look like summer camp… we’re talking about a place where an unknown number of “enemies of the revolution” went in to receive a bullet to the back of the head. Che’s tenure there makes George W. Bush’s exercise of clemency, or, rather, lack thereof, in his years at Texas governor downright lenient. He also managed to run the relatively thriving Cuban economy into the ground during his brief tenure as Minister of Economy through the ever-popular collectivization (though I bet anyone likely in that position would have done the same). In other words, Che was Castro’s Lavrenti Beria or Heinrich Himmler and wearing a T-shirt of him should be seen to be roughly similar to wearing one of those fine gentlemen on your chest. Suffice it to say that Che—like famed Waffen SS member Otto Skorzeny or ringleader of the 911 hijackers Mohammed Atta—is proof-positive that courage is a tool; it matters to what end you put it. (Oddly enough, Skorzeny was, in fact, banging Eva Peron when Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Che was supposed to have been interacting with Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Evita. I should also note that, so far as we know, Skorzeney fired his guns at combatants, not helpless civilians.) Che is, as a recent stories indicate, so protean a figure that I hear tell even German neo-Nazis carry signs with him on it claiming he was “a nationalist,” which is patently ridiculous. (I can’t seem to find a reliable link, sorry.) You used to be able to buy Che stuff at Target and he is, of course, nearly ubiquitous coffee shop decor. And a lock of Che’s hair goes for big bucks these days. He’s even become Saint Ernesto in Bolivia. Sainthood, it seems, is pretty darn protean, too. I’m quite certain Radical Jack makes most of his money (“used to support the struggles you believe in!”) on Che (and anti-Bush stuff). Remember, Che urges you to Chenge the World… in a fetching powder blue scoopneck T. Even Marxists it seems are not immune to the lure of a stupid double ententre… a sure sign they’ve embraced their inner retailer.

Now, if I were getting a T-shirt, I’d want two:

  1. Two dead radicals, thereby giving Stalin his due.
  2. The Hoff in, unarguably, his finest moment:

I have to say, though, this one, this one, this one or this one—all available on Radical Jack’s—would do pretty damn well. (There are others.) Too bad they’re up with a bunch of megalomaniacs and murderous rogues….