philosophy

(no subject)

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: I usually get along with individual people. You can have decent conversations with them and civilly disagree. It's big groups I've got problems with, because (again, generally speaking) they tend towards the mob end of things and I'm not comfortable with that. I am willing to make an exception for some individuals though. Let me tell you a story as to why.

Last week you and your family were at the grocery store picking out desert. One thing's for sure: it's going to be ice cream. The grocery store has stocked up on three flavors: banana, strawberry and chocolate. All of your kids hate chocolate, so that's out. (I know, I know... but work with me here) The oldest really likes banana ice scream, but the other two want strawberry. So strawberry it is. The oldest one is miffed, but has no choice to accept this.

This week the neighbors and their kids are coming over for dinner. And because you want to be a good host you take all six kids (yours and theirs) to the grocery store to pick out dessert. Being predictable, they all want ice cream. This time the choice is between chocolate and strawberry, because the banana has sold out.

Two of the neighbor's kids really like chocolate. The other one just does not really care because he'd rather have lime flavored ice cream, but could be persuaded either way, and your youngest two, being the predictable little shits they are, go for strawberry.

The oldest one, being the little predictable shit he is, wants banana. You explain to him that he can't because he has to choose between chocolate and strawberry. Not because you don't care for him or hate banana, but simply because those are the flavors the grocery store has at the moment. Banana just isn't on the menu today.

This causes the oldest one to throw a tantrum. He goes on and on about how vile strawberry flavored ice scream is. Given his even greater dislike of chocolate, he won't have either. His friend from school, who happens to be there with his mother, chimes in and starts telling everybody how right he is. Strawberry is just plain evil and dangerous. Having heard all that, the undecided kid goes for the chocolate. So chocolate ice cream it is.

Understandably your eldest two are upset with just about everybody. They not happy with the choice of the neighbor's kids, but even more so with the youngest for not only not choosing strawberry, but being so vocal about it being nasty and vile, none of the neighbor's kids would consider it. Who then starts complaining about how we all should get along and make the best of a bad situation, because he doesn't like chocolate ice cream either.

If this were my kid, I'd give a stern talking to and tell him he doesn't get to so flippant after the stunt he pulled at the grocery store. You made this bed, don't go telling other people to lie in it. That's extremely bad form. Even worse form is saying it's not your fault, because you were only expressing an opinion. These things matter. Because a lot of small scale things add up to a big thing.

In the end it boils down to this: you had a choice and you decided to throw it away. And by doing so penalized not only yourself, because you ended up with the worst of the possible outcomes, but others as well. And as long as you don't recognize that, you've lost all your speaking privileges as far as I'm concerned.
good things

(no subject)

So I promised an update on my job situation. Here it is. The current situation is as follows:

About two years ago the university I work for decided to reduce the size of the non faculty departments (Personnel / IT / Library / Facility Management / etc.) a third in size to deal with rising overhead due to rising student numbers and less government subsidies. This meant going from about 1500 fte (full time equivelant = 40 (wo)man hours) down to a 1000 or thereabouts. This wouldn't happen in one fell swoop, but stretched out over two years or so, one department at a time.

Since you need the Personnel department to make this happen, we would be the last department to be downsized. Of course this is no longer the case because of some of the reorganizations running off the rails in spectacular fashion, but we're just about the last one anyway. This didn't stop them from telling how much fte the different subsections of the department would need to lose. For the archive the reduction meant we would go from 2,8 down to 0,8. Obligatory Highlander reference: There can only be one. Meaning only one of me and my coworkers would remain.

That was two years ago. Since then there have been several meetings to give updates about the current state of affairs. Which boiled down to: we can't tell you anything whether you get to keep your job, here's some semi-useful information. About four months ago during one of those meetings the selection criteria for those who would be allowed to stay were discussed in general. For subsections with 30 or more people in them, this didn't really meant anything. But with there only being three of us, the picture was pretty clear. And I wasn't the one. Which was confirmed to me about three weeks ago when they officially announced I'd be surplus to requirement (dutch: boventallig) as of January first of 2015.

Now this doesn't mean I'm out of a job as of that date. There will be a reassignment period of 13 months in which I will be paid in full with benefits and be supported as I'm looking for another job. This includes the university having to make an effort finding me a suitable job either at the uni or somewhere else. If I don't find a job within that period I get transferred to an outplacement agency. This will will last another 12 months. The same conditions as at the uni apply, thought the definition of what will be considered a suitable job will be less strict. So you can see why I'm not worried as of yet. I have 28 months in which to find a job, without having to worry about my finances.

But there's more: about 4 years back the Personnel Department started a digitization project to get rid of as much as the paper in the work processes and the archive. I've been involved in various forms. Yes folks, I helped the uni get rid of my own job. And enjoyed doing so, because it was an interesting couple of years in which I finally started doing the work I was taught to do and capable of instead of the alphabetizing, hole punching and filing I'd been doing the eight years before that. Yes, that's a rather gross case of underachieving and slacking, but there you go. Turned out alright in the end. But I'm digressing.

One of the people I worked with during that period tipped me the Student Affairs was going to digitize their archives as well and gave me a name of somebody involved. After sitting on it for a while, the project at the Personnel Department was winding down but still interesting enough to keep me occupied, I mailed the person in question. Who then mailed me he wasn't the person I was looking for as he was no long involved in de student one, but did give me another name. I mailed this person the same day and didn't hear anything for three months. Four weeks ago, two days after my manager started inquiring whether or not the tip had come to anything, I finally hear back from person number two. Who refers me two person number three, who's actually in charge of the project.

I mail this person my resume on a Friday, not expecting much at this point. He mails me back the next Monday, telling me my resume looks interesting and asking whether or not it's OK he'll get back to me after Thursday because that's when his next project meeting is. I don't mind at all and mail him. Instead of having to wait I get a mail the next day, meeting had been rescheduled, asking me to come in on Wednesday for a get to know you meeting. This turns out to be a euphemism for a job interview, which I survive reasonably well even though I wasn't particularly well prepared.

Two more meetings follow. Head of Project wants to talk to my manager to get a better for whether or not I'm the person they're looking for and various technical bits as they basically want me to start the next day and I'm still gainfully employed by the Personnel Department. I get introduced to another person involved in the project by him, get left alone with her fifteen minutes into the meeting because of other engagements and am told I'll hear more on Friday. This was last Friday, my last workday before my vacation. I get the call and basically get a job offer.

So after three months of nothing and three weeks of basically everything at once the idea is as follows: I get to work for the Personnel Department 1,5 day in the week and three days a week for Student Affairs until the first of January. After that it'll be full time until the project is finished which should be start Q3 next year. This will postpone my reassignment period for as long as I will be working for the project. At least that's what the Head of Project said. I don't see why Personnel wouldn't agree with that as it won't cost anybody any money they wouldn't have spent otherwise, but the terms aren't certain as of yet.

Nor is it completely certain what I'll be doing. The one thing that is sure is that I'll be developing a business case for the digitization of (parts of) the Student Affairs central and faculty subsection archives with Head of Project. These archives are part paper, part email and part digital files from another DMS than the one we'll be using. Did I mention they want all of that ready to scan in about six months? As of yet I've got no real idea as to how feasible that is, as I'm not sure what the scope of the project really is, but it's going to be a fun challenge to figure out how much can be done in that period. And that is what I'll be doing until January.

If the business case gets the thumbs up, likely given the fact they've set aside a budget already, I'll be coordinating the project and getting the people from the different Student Affairs faculty subsections to get their archives in order in the way we came up with. For fun and giggles: these people will be told if they get to stay or will be downsized come January 2016. Yes the completion of the project will at least partially depend on people who know they will be out of job. Should be interesting.

So there you have it: a rather long update on my current status of employment. Interesting things are happening. At work, but first and foremost: four weeks vacation. Which will be spent working my butt of at an open air film festival in Amsterdam ( http://www.westival-amsterdam.com/ ) from tomorrow until Tuesday next week, followed by some days off at home and six days in London with my dad. I'm going to see The Throwing Muses and Tanya Donelly play and that kicks so much ass it hurts thinking about it. Can't wait!
be mad

(no subject)

Things you don't put on FB: in about 25 minutes I will find out if I am to be downsized in the new year. Which I fully expect to be, given the fact there's three of us in the archive, they intend to keep one, the selection rules are clear and favor someone else. I'm ok with this, as I'm looking to take the next step in my career anyway. So why is that, all of a sudden, I'm humming the Imperial March to myself?
annoyed

(no subject)

You know it's getting lonely on livejournal when they release a new (and goddamn awful) front page and you can't find any update decrying it's the end of livejournal as we know it and therefor the end of the world. I guess the end of the world already happened and there's no need for it to be mentioned anymore. Still feeling fine though.
annoyed

(no subject)

I don't normally write about Justin Bieber, but when I do... I'm saying he's a nineteen year old doing nineteen year old things. And given the fact that most nineteen year olds can be a bit of prick most of the times, he's being a bit of a prick most of the times. Problem with this is is that most nineteen year olds have parents who set boundries or get they end up getting arrested by the police. Because Bieber is who he is, a pop sensation with access to far more money any ninteen year old should be legally allowed to have, nobody's setting those bondries. Nor does he encounter them himslef. Monkey gets impounded at the German border, who fucking cares, I'll get another one. Pissing in a janitor's bucket: YOLO. Spitting on fans standing under the balcony I'm on: doesn't matter I've got millions anyway so who cares about one more or less. Maybe, in a couple of years, he grows up leaves puberty behind and starts actinig more or less decent. Like oversleeping on thanksgiving and serenading the gathered relatives naked except for a big big guitar cover your wotzits. Which actually, contrary the regular Bieber news, sounds like a bit of harmless family fun to me. The way things are going right now, I'm not counting on it.
annoyed

(no subject)

ANP 12:12 PM EDT, Monday August 5, 2013

Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus on Monday warned both NBC and CNN of a possibility of losing their partnerships with the RNC for 2016 presidential primary debates in 2016. Though not much is known about the circumstances, insiders point to a disease called inflamation of the glutes as the source of possible problems. Causes include perceived biased media exposure for political opponents and other illusions of partisanship within the mean stream media. Though easily treatable by taking deep breaths and a stiff drink, if left unchecked it can cause incredible pains in the posterior and loss of all perspective. The possible source of problems seems to be corroberated by the fact that Priebus refers to a miniseries and documentary on Hillary Clinton, produced by the stations, as a possible source of contagion. It is unclear wether these are actually the source of the problem as the RNC has been really vunurable to what has become known in popular parleance as "butt hurt".
be mad

(no subject)

So color me confused. Ever since LJ began hosting ONTD and mentioning popular posts on the front page I occasionally enter the weird and wacky world of celebrity watching. My normal celebrity news fix comes by courtesy of the Hollywood Babylon podcast and therefor mostly consists of Lindsey Lohan / Amanda Bynes / Justin Bieber / that 16 year old who married that 50ish guy from lost and got huge plastic tits bashing. So ONTD is quite a bit of unknown territory. Every time I go looking I'm pretty amazed about the interests of the vapid people in other vapid people and their ability to have a animated gif for any and all celebrity occasions. But that's not what got me confused.

Back in the day, when I was a bit younger and apparently more up to date than I'm now, you dissed people. Disrespecting was the thing to do when you wanted to show people how you really felt about them. But, along with the gangsta rap life style it originated from, dissing has apparently lost traction and has therefor been jettison. According to several replies in ONTD post we drag people nowadays. In what way and for how long seems unclear as there has been no mention of how to drag in the proper way. Anybody any idea where this comes from and what dragging a person actually entails?
annoyed

(no subject)

To lend the title from a section Kevin Smith's and Ralph Garmend's Hollywood Babylon: here's some shit that should not be. For those who don't listen to this excellent podcast, Shit THat Should Not Be deals with the weird stuff that appears in movies when they're released. Even though they are seen, and checked, by at least dozens of people before they are. A rather well known example of this is the stormtrooper hitting his head while walking through a door in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Normally it wouldn't have been there, but it got missed and there it is. Now here's my musical take on it.

As part of Red Nose Day boyband One Direction released the singe One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks). What gets me about this is not that they're a boyband, though I can get a pretty hefty alergic reaction to those. It's not that they're a teenage boyband, a thing that occasionally gives me violent urges even though I'm a laid back dude. It's not even the fact they managed to turn two enjoyable, decent new wave songs into one bland and annoying poppy non entity, an act that sometimes makes this happy go lucky guy depressed. It's the lyrics that got me going.

Before we go into why I think they're a monumental fuck up and we should punish whoever thought they were a good idea by having them listen to the entire One Direction catalogue for the rest of his or her adult life: I get what the lyrics are supposed to represent in the context of Red Nose Day. I'm gonna get you either refers to roping into taking part in the fund raising or having them take out their wallet to donate; Teenage Kicks might well be about the antics of fundraising or the fun and spectacle on TV, with its love and goodwill to mankind. Or something along those lines. On the first look, or listen as the case may be, that's the kind of vibe it puts out. Specially with the happy, bouncy music it sounds like there's nothing wrong it. But lets consider what's actually being sung.

Lets start with Teenage Kicks. First released in 1978 it deals with somebody, probably a guy, observing the pretty girls walking by and thinking about having sex with them. Nothing spectacularly bad. Might get a bit pervy if you want to have the first line mean the guy doing this is (well) past his teenage years, but even than it's reasonably ok. We've all been there one way or another.

Speaking of which (see what I did there?) let's look at the lyrics to the Blondie song. Now there's no mention of sex whatsoever. So, for a given value of good, that's good. What does emerge from the lyrics is a stalker determined to get their hands on the object of their affection by staking out their house and following them around town. Yikes. THat's not good at all. For a lot of values of good.

Which brings us to the audiance participation part of this post. You get three guesses. The first two don't count. Here's the question: what do you get when you throw those two lyrics in the juicer and let it do it's magic for a minute or so?

[insert thinking muzak here]

Yes indeed: you get a nice cocktail with a roofie. Or should that be cocktale? Either way: you get a song about a stalker following you around because he wants to hold you tight get his teenage kicks. All night long. With you. And contrary to what one might assume that's not being angsty and talking about your feelings. On the contrary. That's rather a nice image, isn't it? Now imagine five boys not quite 20 singing this to their target audiance of young girls who might not even have hit puberty yet. Just gets better and better doesn't it?

So there you have it: One Direction's One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks) is Shit That Should Not Be. And not even because they're a crappy band who make really annoying music. Well not entirely anyway.