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Cross Dressing is a Bad Thing

Supposedly, Thomas Edison refused to hire a man because the man salted his soup before tasting it. The same story is told of J.C. Penny. Maybe it’s true of both of them. They may have attended the same business school in the last part of the nineteenth century.
I have one for you. I was invited to interview with a company with the possibility of working for them as an independent programming contractor. When I spoke with the IT department’s leader over the phone he asked me several questions about SQL server transactions, extents,, and other things. The answer I gave him over the phone prompted him to say, “That was the best answer anyone has ever given us. Come meet with us!” I went.

I drove an hour up to Bannockburn, where I met with first the IT people, and then they brought in the president of the company. They seemed to be very interested in my ideas and abilities, yet through the entire interview I felt like I was getting ‘funny looks.’ The interview concluded with them asking if I would be open to the idea of receiving a laptop from their company and working remotely. I thought it was a great idea. They were going to talk it all over and get back to me on Monday.

I told my wife over dinner how well the interview seemed to go. She looked at me and said, “You didn’t go like that, did you?”
“Like what?”
“Go look in the mirror.”
I went to go look in a mirror, and “there it was” in the words of Hemingway. My shirt was cross-buttoned. I had buttoned the top button into the second to the top loop. I hadn’t put on a tie – bad me.

That Monday, I called the company.
“We’ve decided to go with someone else. …someone more local.”
“Oh,” I replied, “was it the cross-buttoned shirt?”
“Well, frankly… yes… You see, our president really was put off by that and the fact that you didn’t have a tie…”

I told this story to a friend of mine who owns his own company. “Wait,” he asked. “What position were you applying for? Programmer? I would think that the cross-buttoned shirt would have been a requirement for the job.”

Back to Edison. Many people don’t know that in his immutable stolid anal anger he fired the boy genius Nicolai Tesla, already responsible for developing many of the things that Edison is credited with inventing. Tesla, after a sad stint as a ditch digger ended up working for Westinghouse, where he received impressive stock options. He proceeded to invent the fluorescent light, the electric car starter, and, perhaps most importantly, he developed AC- alternating current, which ended up becoming the de facto system used in our country, beating out Edison Electric in most city by city bids to establish electric service.

Tesla’s list of patents and accomplishments are too vast for me to list here.

The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know is certainly true in some disciplines. It would of course be true in our present day Senate and Congress. Calling them a discipline is a stretch. I should have prefaced with ‘lack-of’. At any rate, it is becoming increasing evident that our government is being run, in the words of Archie Bunker, by “2 plumbers, a seamstress and a dingbat..” We have a growing technocracy with the complexities of techno-industrial decisions looming ever more saturnly over our nation and its environment, and we have an antiquated system whereby we choose our Senators. George Washington himself feared the introduction of party politics into our American system, and he expressed that party politics and factions would inevitably hamper the functioning of the system.
However, by the time of Jefferson, parties were well in place, with Jefferson’s group, the anti Federalists, pretty much opposing strong and influential central government. Washington was right. The parties have severely hampered the system. Two senators are chosen from every state, and, most often, they are from the same party, whichever way the state leans. There is no strict criterion for them becoming a senator. They don’t have to have run a company, or have a thorough understanding of Bio-physics, and the impact of disposed birth-control devices on our ground water, drinking water, livestock, plants and environment. They don’t have to have a degree in electronics engineering, and have worked with the power grid. They don’t have to have been well-published researchers in the areas of advanced horticultural, and our country’s most giving resource, our grain.
They just have to make sure that they have loads of contributors, plenty of spit and polish, and don’t cross-button their shirts. Shoot, they don’t even have to have done well in school. They can be so embarrassed of their college transcripts that they refuse to allow to have them released for the general public’s approval during campaigns.

I say, ‘let’s cut costs.’ The biggest burden on the tax-payer is the funding of the operation of the Federal Government. We don’t need two senators from every state. Let’s cut it down to one. When you consider the pensions, the pay, and the amenities senators get for the rest of their lives… that’s a drain the taxpayers don’t need. They aren’t even providing the balance that the original forefathers, like Washington, had hoped for, because they are almost always from the same party anyway. Increase their knowledge requirement in at least one area of technological expertise, and decrease the number of them that we have.

The Wall Street Journal ran an article referencing how the stimulus was helping to improve the economy. Excuse me, but there is no way that 300 million dollars to film producers to buy film, millions for the purchase of Harley Davidsons by police departments, constructuion of guard-rails around dry-lakes, and money for California swamp rats, and Florida turtle crossings has turned our economy around.

Our economy has turned around because Wall Street has pretty much always operated in spite of what our government does, and not so much because of it. While the rest of the nation is still showing poor economic signs, record job losses and unemployment, and very poor housing start indicators, Wall-Street has been rallying, in part, of course, because they have been trimming fat, contributing to the jobless numbers. Truly, it’s fairly clear that Wall-Street doesn’t need the government. We should return to Jefferson’s original concept: The Federal Government should have as little involvement as possible in our private or business affairs, and its only real job should be in providing a military to defend the nation.

…and let’s cut the number of top executives and legislators… less czars, one senator, cabinet members who actually know how to use QuickBooks to get their tax liability computation right… This is a time to bring intelligent operations to bear on a here-to-fore poorly calibrated governmental system… We need people with more brains, less nice-sounding voices and good looks, and much more knowledge to back hopeful visions…

So, if you excuse me, I’m going to unbutton my cross-buttoned shirt, take it off, even, sit in my tee shirt, read a good book on C ++, and have some soup.

Coyright 2009 by Juan Zapatero


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