What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Failure to pay attention. I observe people around me. It’s as much for entertainment as it is out of the general sense that it’s just good policy to know what is or could be happening in my immediate surroundings. It’s the people who have absolutely no interest or regard for anything that extends past their own nose that I find most infuriating. They’re the ones that will pull out in front of you without noticing onrushing traffic, or throw their car in reverse to leave the gas pumps and narrowly avoid hitting the car behind them. They’re the ones who look utterly perplexed when someone asks if they’re ready to order after standing in line for the last fifteen minutes without once glancing at the menu. They’re the ones who stop short in the middle of the sidewalk and somehow look surprised when the next person trips into them. How wonderful it must be to exist in this world without any sense or interest in things happening just beyond arms reach – forget things that happen out of sight. Those might as well be witchcraft. Situational awareness isn’t just keeping an eye open for something in your environment that just doesn’t seem right. Sadly, awareness, whether situational or itherwise if apparently a bridge too goddamned far for 90% of the people living on this beshitted rock of a planet.

2. The shifting sands of Mondays. One of the big “so whats” about telework is it’s supposed to prepare us for working from alternate locations when our usual place of business is flooded, radioactive, or otherwise unavailable for doing business. When the office closes for a snow day, I’m theoretically supposed to be able to fire up my computer and do my job from home (which is a fine plan in theory, except for the part where even though I’m technically on the clock, the other 3000 people who I occasionally deal with don’t have telework agreements and are home not checking their email and phone messages). The whole theory of being able to do everything you can do in your office from a remote location is a fine one and probably true somewhere. I’ve got a situation next week that is ideal for “proof of concept” of why telework is the right answer. The meeting with high profile people is squarely in the middle of my regularly scheduled day to work from home. The most straightforward approach would be to call in and participate in the meeting as if being somewhere other than in the office didn’t make a difference. The actual approach will be to “just switch your day so you can be here for the meeting.” When we proceed from a place that assumes the quality of my work or advice on a subject is driven by where I am geographically, we’ve already lost the fight to build a 21st century workforce.

3. Accusations. In the American tradition of jurisprudence there are two concepts that we collectively seem to ignore when it’s convenient. One is the idea that the accused is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The other is that the accused has a right to confront the witness against them. In a world where the accuser either cannot or will not produce substantive corroborating evidence or identify witnesses to the alleged crime, accusations remain just that. As much as I would like to see certain crimes where punishment is dealt out first and questions asked later, it’s not a framework I’d particularly want to live under. If the mere accusation of wrongdoing is enough to decide guilt, what’s to stop any of us from seeing Lizzie Proctor talking to the devil?

Hard and fast rules…

I came across this post as a stray draft a few days ago. I have no idea if I published it before or if it’s something I wrote that has been sitting in electronic purgatory for months or years. If I have posted it previously, it’s something that bears repeating. If I haven’t, it’s a post that’s deserves its moment in the sun.

In any case, here I present the following few hard and fast rules to live by that I’ve learned while serving as a cog in the vast recesses of the bureaucracy:

1. You can do it all.

2. You can’t do it all at the same time.

3. Timelines are meaningless and largely serve just to take up additional space in a PowerPoint slide deck.

4. Planning is, at best, a work of educated fiction.

5. At that moment when things seem to be working well, the wheels are about to fall off, the engine to catch fire, and the transmission explode, so don’t get cocky, kid.

6. There’s no such thing as “idiot-proof.” The world strives to always produce bigger and better idiots.

7. There’s no good work you can do that a general officer can’t undo with an offhand remark.

8. People rarely get the justice they deserve.

9. All projects can be a combination of fast, cheap, and good… but you can only have two at any given time, so choose wisely.

10. When all else fails, when you think the situation can’t possibly go any further downhill, when not even the third reorganization in eighteen months gets the results you hoped for, look out, because things can always, always get worse.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Forgetting Thursday. Most weeks, by the time Thursday rolls around I have a laundry list of potential topics to pick from. The annoyances range from monumental to petty and all are perfectly suitable for taking up a hundred or so words in print. Occasionally though, you run into a week where nothing exceptional happens and grievances are too petty to even be worth mentioning. Mercifully they don’t come along all that often or this whole effort would come to a painfully sudden stop. It’s been my experience that good times tend to make for piss poor writing.

2. Satellite Radio. I dearly love my SiriusXM radio, but it occurred to me yesterday when they renewal notice arrived $273.22 seems awfully expensive. I’m perfectly willing to pay for the joy and convenience of not needing to change a channel from one side of the country to the other, but honest to God shouldn’t something called a “Music Royalty Fee” be included as part of the standard bill for a device whose purpose, largely, is to play music. An entirely separate $33.34 line item for this does seem a touch excessive me. I like Sirius. I want to find a more reasonable price point so I can justify keeping my subscription. As it stands, though, there’s too much competition online that’s free or cheap for me to fork over the better part of $300.

2. “Christians didn’t do anything about the KKK.” In response to the question “Why don’t Muslims do more to stop the radicals among them,” the immediate response seems to be “well Christians didn’t do anything about the KKK.” Except that’s not true at all. In 1954 President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard to ensure the integration of Little Rock High School. In 1964 the FBI under Director Hoover flooded into Mississippi to break the grip of the KKK on the local justice system. Federal agencies have continued to infiltrate and prosecute all manner of hate groups from then right through to the present day. The second half of the 20th century was never my primary area of study, but I do seem to remember a fair number of whites who went south to register voters, help organize boycotts, and generally be part of the process. With that being said I’m assuming the counter question being asked is really “what did ‘white people’ do to curtail the activities of white hate groups, I think the answer you’re looking for is “a lot.” I can’t speak for anywhere else, but when the KKK shows up “on parade” here in Cecil County, it’s mostly six old guys on the courthouse steps. They might not be dead, but they’re sure as hell defanged compared to where things stood in 1950, dontcha think?