The Hermit Shrimp

2021.08.27

Let's Make Everything Even Worse!

Just fun musings about shit.

I had an unfun thought of how they could basically mandate vaccines without ever mandating them just by using the two most corruption-riddled industries in USA. Health and Life Insurance. Would be pretty damn easy too. I'm sure I'm making plenty of logical fallacies, but hey, why not just strap in for Mr.s Bones' Wild Ride on a Friday night.

So let's start with Health Insurance. This one is pretty cut and dry. Most Health Insurance in this country is little more than welfare queens getting gibs from the states then churning around and getting more gibs from the customers then spending all of that to not have to pay out any claims. A fun little racket. So federally, the government really can only do so much to hurt them, however, the federal government can threathen to cut off the gibs to the states unless they make their state's health insurance companies start requiring vaccinations. (Note: most states do not allow buying health insurance across state lines.) A handful of states might stand their ground but most would eventually give in. They are all welfare queens as well. So they'll turn around and require it of the health insurance companies who will do basically anything to keep the gravy train rolling. There's two ways of attack for them here.

The first way is to require comapnies to prove 100% vaccinations or they will jack their rates. If all the insurance companies do this in lock step, the business will have little choice but to bend the knee considering health insurance is already a brutal saddle to bear. So from here, you'll get some BS reasoning and some vaccination mandate from businesses to their employees.

The other attack is pretty easy. For individual insurance, it's already absolutely ridiculous how high fees can be for even the worst insurances. Here all they have to do is start jacking up rates until people have nowhere to go. Sure some people will just go without insurance as many do now, but that's okay. They're poor. They don't matter anyway.

Now let's look at the Life Insurance angle. Once Health Insurance has got their games implemented, Life Insurance companies (who are wormy in their own ways) can just say, "going without a vaccination without a legitimate reason (which currently none are acceptable) is akin to attempting suicide and any death that can be attributed to Covid in any way will be ruled a suicide and there will be no payout." Those without families or who are young will just roll their eyes, but this is devastating for anyone older or with a family. This would basically mean you are paying for nothing (which you are more or less already) due to the fact that your death will probably be ruled a suicide (and they will go to any extent to prove it).

But that's a pretty flimsy stance to make and could probably be turned over in any legitimate court so you have to add some validity to this statement. Have a useful victim die of Covid and then have their family sue the company to enter the legal system. Also make sure this is in a particularly liberal circuit court (9th would be preferable). Have a nice well-paid lawyer there to lead the case. You can also set up a gofundme for the family so you can suck some money off the last horrible anti-vaxxers while you're at it. Now have him bungle it a little. Not much yet! Just enough to lose over and over again. Keep appealing it. Don't forget a nice dosage of media news so that the tv watching cattle can watch the hopelessness unfold. Go all the way up to the curcuit. Now this is where you crush everything. Bring in the shit witness. Bring in the evidence made of swiss cheese. It's a kangaroo court we're running here so they whippings need to be obvious. Once this falls flat on it's face, it's time for the two to the head. Appeal to the Supreme Court and have some useful stooge such as Amy Coney Barret just dismiss it saying there's not nearly enough evidence to even take it. Now every single judge in the country will lock-step this decision for fear of messing up their future career prospects because most of them are only there for the power-boner anyway.

So that's that. If any do resist, they'll have no safety nets for their life and well-being anymore so they'll be dead soon enough anyway.

2021.06.15

The Post-Wonder Society

A world without hope

Brace yourself for an opinionated rant. If you were born before 2000, you probably still have memories of true wonder and fascination. I'm not talking about the wonder in the wild science clickbait you see on the internet or what is coming in the upcoming patch of a video game. I'm talking about the true wonder of just not knowing how something is to be. It's truly hard to put into words honestly without sounding insane, but here goes.

As a child, you probably at least once looked up to the sky and thought, "why is it blue?" In the pre-to-early-internet world, you'd go ask your parents. Maybe they didn't really know. You'd ask a teacher. They could give a vague answer, but they are also a first grade teacher and they really have no knowledge about those kind of things. If you really wanted an answer, you'd have to go to a library and look through various tombs of knowledge and stumble over the big words until you could sort of guess what really caused the sky to be blue. Even then, you wouldn't be 100% sure because the best you could do is make some inferences and guesses and the mystery of the blue sky would remain until you're old enough to learn about. And that two-sided sword teaches you why the sky is blue and simultaneously removes the wonder of that phenomenon from your life. Odds are, unless you had a room temperature IQ, there were many things that fell under this weird fascination where you wanted to know how something was but could not gather the knowledge of it so you had to interject your imagination to fill the blanks. That's how I define "wonder".

Now think about your every day life that you are living now. What do you do if you fall into a situation where you start to experience this form of wonder? If you're like any other human over the age of 8, you'll pop out an electronic wonder-destroying device and answer the question. Sure, you've answered your question immediately. Sure, you may greatly benefit from having that knowledge. But we're doing this for everything regardless of how important it may be destroying one chance of wonder after another.

"You're just being an old fogey. Get with the times."

Well, let me explain why I think this is such a bad trend. Without wonder,

  • There is no mystery of what could be
  • There is no hope for the possibilities
  • There is no dread for the unknown
  • There is no anticipation of learning
  • There is no imagination of why it is

These are just a few things I can list off the top of my head. And before you start interjecting that these things exist without wonder, wonder supplies them in a special magical way. Because if you don't have wonder, you don't have highs or lows and good or bad that you can control. "You" is the keyword. Wonder is your thing, the rest of the world could be burning, but you still have your own wonder. Without the highs and lows, you are just left with "eh". Floating in a grey middle of existence. Knowledge is great and all, but the unknown? That's a whole different thing.

"Well, okay. We're in a post-wonder society. Why does that matter?"

It matters quite a bit. If you have no hope for the future, do you have any willpower to fight for it? If you feel there is nothing you can do, why would you do anything? Humans thrive off of wonder and discovery. It's the purest form of dopamine the human body can produce, but it takes effort to fully harvest it. Sure you can open up I Fucking Love Science and pretend you have wonder and you're learning about great things. But you're really not, you're just consuming border-line sewer knowledge that is pumped in through your eyes to give you some half-assed easy dopamine.

We keep wondering about the youth of today being unmotivated and depressed. How they don't seem interested in anything and are just doing the bare minimum to get by. Well, there's really no wonder in there lives. The system is rigged, society is collapsing, and nothing matters. That's the message that they've learned in the absence of wonder. Kids used to dream of being astronauts, now they are more interested in being popular on social media, not because being astronauts isn't fucking cool, but rather because it seems to be a hopeless task. What? You're going to work your whole life to join NASA, then get bumped by a diversity hire on a project that does nothing for the advancement of mankind? Yeah. That's not the future anyone meaningful wants. I honestly can't blame the new generation for not wanting to work and succeed in this society. Even my own sense of wonder has been stripped to the bone and I'm rather Robinson Crusoe-like in my life compared to others my age.

This is a problem that will truly only worsen the more technologically integrated we are. Humans thrive off of the unknown as much as we fear it. We're discovers, adventurers, and conquerors, not burger flippers and office workers. How do we fix it without blowing it all up and "returning to monke"? I have no clue at this point. The society that we live in no longer looks to the horizon, but only at the nearest lighted piece of glass. As the saying goes "Born too late to explore the world, born too early to explore the universe." And from what I see the powers that be have nothing but a vested interest in making sure we never explore the universe. The cat would be out of the bag at that point. Nations and economies would be reshaped. Cultures would be rebuilt, battlefields would be remade, and those in control would have to fight like all hell to retain their power. Obviously, that's not very profittable to them.

2021.04.06

The corporate mosquito

What can be done about horrible companies with terrible policies in a post-human world? Evolution of course.

In the olden times, there was this well-respected creature called the "company man". He was the manufactured pinnacle perfect for a world in which businesses respected their workers as human beings who have families and consume food. Such an outlandish fantasy land that must have been. This creature would often be rewarded for his loyalty and determination and garner respect among even the highest heads of a company if he worked hard enough. He would pull up his bootstraps and climb the company ladder in the matter of years and his entrepreneurial spirit would be loved and adored by all.

Sounds like something out of a fantasy novel at this point. Now those who stick around are viewed as little more than "suckers" to be exploited for their manpower.

"Oh Bob? Yeah he's been here for years! He's obviously happy where he is! Otherwise he'd have left."

But don't you dare ask for a promotion or a raise. You should know already that that just makes you look greedy and unappreciative.

What's left at this point? Quite literally, "get good and get out". No matter where you are or what you do. If you have a boss, you're going to get shit on. The more bosses you have, the more insanity dribbles down through a sick game of telephone. So the only answer is to at least get enough pay to make the agony subside long enough for you to enjoy the rest of your life. (Self-employment is another option but just remember you're trading a handful of predictable idiots for bosses with hundreds of unpredictable idiots.)

Don't wait for promotions or raises. That's a boomerism; a relic of the past. Those only occur if someone above you leaves or dies and usually someone will get the position from another region first if there's an opening. Instead, find something that you don't entirely hate, Keep getting better at it, then every few years jump diagonally to another company. Never jump horizontally or you've cursed yourself to live in that caste forever. Will you become rich with this strategy? Probably not, but neither will you as a company man. But isn't it more exciting to live life knowing that you won't have to watch yourself become the company man who is stuck in his aimless rut for the rest of time when you can suck one company dry then hop to another one that will give you more?

The company man is dead. All hail the corporate mosquito.

2021.03.16

Company goals are a joke

There's nothing quite like watching executives writhe and twist to meet their own statements and goals. "But they are the company's goals". No. Not really. It's the Executives goals heaved upon their underlings without any question or forethought to the validity of the accomplishment.

"Increase sales by 5%!" Can we raise prices? No. Can we change the marketing campaign? No. Can we hire more people. No. Do we have to continue the same horrible strategy that you enforced for the past few years, continue to sugar coat a few numbers when we blow well below the goal, and then hope you don't have two connecting neurons to notice? Yes, of course.

This is truly the natural flow of thing I guess. Tribe leader says he needs more berries. Berry pickers go get more berries. "But tribe leader we live in the desert." "MORE BERRY NOW." It's almost as if that no matter your background and upbringing, once you hit a certain level of wealth, certain brain cells associated with scarcity and planning just seem to turn off. Sure we have plenty of higher ups that don't have that issue. They end up being the Bezos of the world, using their past knowledge of being less than rich to engineer a company to make full use of those who are not rich.

You just hate the rich!

Although I do have my issues with the mega rich (to be addressed some time in the future), they are absent from the discussion of glorified middle managers uplifted to making more than 6 digits a year in an area with an average income below 35k.

The workers should just work harder.

Classic boomer response. What's often missing from this statement is the ignorance of the environment and constraints which these goals are allowed to be executed on. Take for instance your standard cashier at your local big box store. Most of these stores have some sort of goal to push X amount of credit cards a month. Aside from this being a horrible and predatory practice to further the world's growing debt economy, is this really something a bottom-of-the-barrel-pay teenager working their first job should be doing? This isn't a goal that should be normal in decent human society, but in the world of executives, this is a brilliant plan to grow their 401k. So let's ask every single customer that comes through the line, "would you like to save 10% today by signing up for a Target credit card?" even though they are just picking up a couple vegetables in rush home from work to make dinner. Odds are that the cashier will be verbally assaulted at some point (and in some cases multiple times daily) by a customer for asking that damn question for the millionth time. It's not the cashier's fault. They are the last person in the world that wants to ask the question. And what customer in their right mind would be picking up a box of pasta and be like, "Hm. yeah. I DO want to save 10% on this purchase." If you think a customer would ever do that, you may be suffering from being a middle-to-upper-class manager/executive.

But aside from the fact that the goals themselves are often completely ridiculous, there is rarely any room for changes to be made to actually be able to meet said goal. For instance, instead of asking EVERY customer that comes through the line, maybe only target those that are spending more than $500 today? These customers would be "saving" $50 dollars signing up for that credit card. They could actually have a vested interest in that? No? Manager-man says ask everyone because other store does it? Okay. Now all the customers will instinctively hate this question regardless of it's worth to them. What if we made the interest rates less predatory or an awesome rewards system (that many people often forget even exist)? No? Doesn't make enough money? Another store does 40% interest rates so we should? Alrighty.

And don't you dare question the methods or you'll be targeted as the reason the goals weren't reached in the end. Black marks across the company. Special notes in your HR file. Whispers between regional managers. Next thing you know, you'll be getting slowly, yet gradually promoted to night shift until you're basically a creature of the night.

If you do not know already, in any business where's a significant enough separation of hierarchy between the bottom and the top, there is barely a way to affect change upward. I find that upward change can at most affect three layers upwards. Basically your boss's boss's boss. And that's on a good day and you're rising star employee. Most of us should be happy with breaching the first level. At this point it's up to that higher up to carry to metaphorical football up through their layers of influence. Most of the time, you'll find that since they have no skin in the game, they'll lose interest quickly, and if you remind then, you're in the fast lane to being on their shit list. Sometimes you can get lucky enough to rally your slave plantation to gain some attention, but that'll usually just end with corporation operatives suddenly making visits to your lowly establishment. Next thing you know, everyone stops talking about it and you're back to never meeting that credit card sales goal.

2021.01.30

Silence is not always a good thing.

What can you do when your end users are afraid to speak up.

I don't think this is a normal topic for a normal workplace. I also don't think any healthy workplace would ever experience this. Hell, I think this is the exact symptom of a terribly unhealthy work environment. A work environment that's so toxic that end users are terrified that they are going to get the stick if they even make a peep that a serious system issue is going down. My organization has been one that has slowly instituted this kind of fear over the past few years and the Covid layouts accelerated the issue faster than I could have ever imagined. Who would've thought that having a suggestion, idea, or issue would cause upper management to come kick in your door and give you the third degree.

The best way I can describe what is happening is with an old Japanese saying, "The nail that sticks out gets hammered." Which if you do into the backstory of the quote, the original translated meaning is closer to, "People who try to set themselves apart from the crowd will be pulled down in envy by those around them" which is still quite applicable here. (Also, almost the same definition as crab mentality if you want to dive even further.) Luckily, this isn't happening directly to my department, however, I do have to deal directly with the users that are experiencing this environment.

There's several reasons that I can percieve as what's causing this problem, but I'll just refer to the elephants in the room. The first one is everyone's attempt to not be known. At this organization, whenever there are any kinds of cuts or layoffs they almost always seem to hit those who generally are quite well known and liked by a large amount of the population that is downstream from the person. We have had (yes, past tense) a lot of really good people who did really well at their jobs and had great relationships with those around them. Immediately, any normal person would ask, "Wait, why is this person's head on the block?" The answer starts right from the top.

Executives come up with dumb ideas. Yes-men formulate these ideas into dumb plans. Executives approve these dumb plans with dumb modifications. Then the dumb plan is assigned to someone who isn't in the graces of the upper echelon.

This is truly the modern corporation at work. We can all sort of guess what happens next, the person bungles the project, higher ups give no assistance, and then they are off to the guillotine in no time. This has become such a common occurance that most people are afraid to achieve anything past the bare minimum. Rarely is any form of achievement rewarded and even if someone achieves something, upper management swoops in and grabs it to curry favor with the nearest caeser. Eventually this also flowed over into fear of doing anything outside of the ordinary to almost the point that they feel shameful for just asking to get their account unlocked after forgetting a password.

This is where it starts to get messy for me. We roll out updates to our internal applications constantly and we've been sort of running on a skeleton crew with little to no QA/QC since executives thought it would be a good idea to completely axe that entire group when Covid hit. I beat the heck out of my code before I let it into the wild, but without a second pair of eyes, I still miss quite a few things that I'm left scrambling to fix afterwards. That is, if I'm even notified. A lot of our staff have just stopped reporting issues completely for fear that there's any escalation to their supervisor. This means there can be crippling issues eating hours of productivity and I'd never know about it. Some departments have just outright dropped using an application just so that they didn't have any conflict rather than make a small request that eventually took me less than an hour to implement. (You'd think this kind of behavior wouldn't be possible but it's the wild west out there for all I know.) The general populace is so focused on not making a single peep that they do everything possible to avoid any communication.

As always, this comes back to a toxic work environment. Sure, I didn't cause it. But it's my problem. But how do you work with a dysfunctional mess like this? Well, you get creative and personable. So the first thing we learned in the story is the avoid the big shakers and movers. Generally, this would usually be the opposite as you suckle from the teet of your boss hoping for him to bestow a nickle raise upon you. But in the world of Covid, none of that matters anymore. Just revealing yourself is the same as asking for a pay cut at this point. So what do you do? Well, you'll need to find someone who's willing to talk. Most are too afraid. Some are just plain incompetent. But eventually you'll find someone worth your time.

The plan is to go straight to the people who will be using the systems and ask them how they're doing. Screw the managers. They probably don't even know 90% of what happens aside from the pretty report it dumps out once a month. Screw surveys. Surveys can say that they are anonymous but nobody trusts that especially when their job is on the line. Screw meetings. People are there to eat then leave. No, what you need to do is have relationships with people of various levels who use your applications.

Sadly, a great population of my contacts have been cut, but I still have a few people here and there that I can rely on to tell me that something serious is happening. Most of them communicate outside of any sort of ticketing system and you'll usually get a direct email with nobody else on it, but that's fine.

Because they know I don't care about office politics and I don't pass info upstream unless absolutely necessary, I'm a safe haven for complaints and requests.

They're choosing to do it this way for their own safety. It might seem obnoxious or that they are jumping the line, but in the situation that they are in it's usually just to protect themselves.

"But that's not protocol." Okay and? If the protocols are causing the issue, then they are broken and just like our users, you have to find work arounds. And I'm not saying that you have to be buddy buddy best friends with these people. I'm just saying it's good to keep them at arms length where they feel they can send you something that they came across. If I didn't have that much, I'd be completely blind to what's happening outside my department. "But that's your boss's job." Why filter-feed 3-day old information from someone who barely cares? Sometimes you need to make your own destiny and if that means shifting priorities around a little, well then, sometimes it has to be done.