Up for Discussion

Things have been busy, busy, busy, and the chum has been piling up. I’m spending this morning clearing out the backlog. Here are a few articles that didn’t categorize, but I found extremely interesting and worthy of discussion:

  • Employee Loyalty. At work, one of the big ongoing discussions relates to the company’s proposal to move from our long-standing defined benefit pension plan plus 403(B) to a 401(K). For some employees, it has been reported this could cost them up to $1 Milllion. For others, like me (I’ve been there almost 30 years, I’m on the original retirement pension plan, and have at least 10 years to retire), the impact is significant, but not that high. The proposal has raised questions on the commitment of the company to its employees, and thus this article on “Where Have All The Loyal Employees Gone?” is quite fascinating. It explores why more employees aren’t like me: at one company for 30 years. Employees today don’t find a company and stick with it, unlike our parents or parent’s parents era. The conclusion of the article: There isn’t employee loyalty because employer’s aren’t loyal to the employees — they are just in it for the profit. As the article writes: “Why should anyone be more loyal to you than you are loyal to them?”. It suggests five ways to get employee loyalty: (1) give them long term incentives like you give yourself; (2) give long term employment contracts; (3) pay them market rate or better; (4) give them visibility into the future of the business; and (5) Make your employees’ retirement plans as rich as your own retirement plan. This is great advice — something more companies should heed. Take care of your workers, and they will be there for you.
  • The Eviction Experience. We’ve all heard stories about people being evicted. But what is the process? This is especially true as folks get evicted as part of gentrification. Here is an interesting tale about someone who has been evicted, through a series of bad circumstances. In this particular case, it was bad circumstances created by Internet Conservatives who directed their political anger at a journalist who was just doing their job — and they destroyed his life. As he wrote: “The salacious news—the black guy who suggested Romney was a racist also beat his ex-wife—ricocheted around the internet, and my job prospects evaporated. I suddenly became unhireable, even for bottom-rung media jobs. The modest severance package I got from Politico drained away in a few months, along with my ability to pay my bills and child support.” (This seems especially interesting now that Romney has rentered the political fray as he campaigns for a senate seat). As for the process itself, it is dehumanizing: deputies show up, pack up belongings in black plastic trash bags, and dump them at the curb. Further, this process disproportionately affects minorities. All sorts of questions get raised, worthy of discussion.
  • Bodies Are Awesome. The extent to which people are judgmental about others is incredible — certainly, in the Internet echo chamber. This bullying is serious business. Look at many of the mass shooters, and you’ll find they’ve been the target of bullies at some point in their life. No where is this more visible in how people are bullied for their looks. This is an interesting article that celebrates all bodies, shapes, and sizes — by looking at photos of the wide variety of Olympic athletes — all shapes, sizes, and you name it — all making the best of what they were given. The photos alone are fascinating.  As the article says, “Bodies are awesome. Everyone should get one.”. I find, as I watch people, the bodies I find the most interesting are not the perfectly airbrushed, plastic surgery ideas; the ones with silicone everywhere. What makes people interesting is not their perfection, but their imperfections. That dimple. That unique look. We must celebrate our differences and stories.
  • Crafters and Hoarding. If you live with a fabric artist, you know hoarding and craft rooms. Here is an interesting blog post exploring the broader question of “artist as hoarder”. Just consider the opening paragraph: “As an artist, you’re bound to collect stuff. After all, how can you create art without lots of paint, paper, canvas, clay, stone, metal, fabric, thread, and yarn? But how much stuff? Has your textile stash migrated into every part of the house because one closet won’t hold it all? Is your garage so packed with recycled materials for assemblage that you can’t park your car in there? Do you have any space left for yet another bin of plastic pieces in the barn?” Oh, this sounds so familiar.
  • Comicsgate. If you’ve been on the internet at all, you’re likely well aware of the bullying that goes on — especially towards minorities and women — often coming from the Conservative, sometimes White Supremacist, side. To put it bluntly, the haters. You might recall the Sad Puppies incidents from the Hugos which worked against women and perceived “leftist” authors. You might recall Gamergate, which targeted women in the Video Gaming industry. Both were horrid incidents, reflecting the growth of hate in our society. [As an aside, you want a reason we have so many shooting incidents? The answer is simple: We let hate grow, and we allow weapons to be an outlet to express hate.] There’s a new campaign now: Comicsgate. A campaign by bigots to attack minority and women writers and themes in the comics industry. Recently, as the article notes, “Comicsgate proponents on social media released a public blacklist of names for their followers to boycott. The names are organized under inflammatory titles like the “Pravda Press” and the “SJW Vipers” (“SJW,” for social justice warrior, a derogatory title for progressives). Those attacked are major figures in comics like Larry Hama, Mark Waid, Alex de Campi, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and others. Nearly all of the people singled out are either women, people of color, or left-leaning.” Don’t let the haters win. Support minority and women artists. Fight against the growing intolerance in society: be it intolerance against the immigrant, the intolerance against women and minorities; the intolerance against non-Christians; the intolerance of the non-binary or non-heterosexual. We need to embrace and celebrate difference, what makes us unique, and our unique viewpoints.

As I say when I post my highway headlines: Ready, Set, Discuss.