January 26, 2019

Feeling left out of the 'jobs miracle'?
You're likely not alone, despite bullshit from journos

I may be accused of compiling anecdotes rather than data, but I could easily hurl the same back at someone like Chip Cutter of the WSJ, who writes of a waitress in his lede of successful job switching. And, I wouldn't be alone in doing that.

Several others on LinkedIn did as well. (That's how I came across the piece; Linked In's suggestions of weekly reads. "Coincidentally," after losing a job at another newspaper, Cutter worked for LinkedIn for a couple of years.)

Michael Fabris is definitely right in noting that new hires are rarely given paid training. (Unless it's Center for Progress type canvassing, or "sports minded persons" with display booths at Costco. And, done on hourly rather than salary, those jobs don't pay 30 percent more than waitressing in many cases.)

Geoff Hushaw, in a sub-comment, notes she had connections. The "work-around" link, per the full story, says she's an office manager at a fast food chain's headquarters. He adds that these are very specific job changes.

Robert Choquette notes this is nothing new to the tech industry.

Other than the minority woman overcoming single motherhood and tattoos?

Every other person has at least an undergrad degree if not graduate work. All are in tech; one double-dipping by being in tech in the medical world.

Second, they're job hopping, but not really career hopping. The story does say "job," not "career," in the header, but you have to remember that. You see none of these people becoming teachers, professors or social workers. This is a thin slice of the economy.

Third, on how old his anecdotal people are? Cutter doesn't give age on one. But, all but one of the others are under 30 and that one is under 40.

So, you're being fed more bullshit, if you think: Hey, I'm 46, or 51, or 53. Maybe this TrumpTrain (since one of Cutter's commenters specifically saluted him) "jobs miracle" will come to me, too.

It likely won't.

ProPublica has covered this in non-Chip Cutter detail. Sadly, if you're over 50, a job, or career, jump, is likely to be forced, not voluntary, and not so good.

If it does?

Please don't make yourself part of a cherry-picking logical fallacy newspaper story.

(Oh, I tweeted Cutter a nickel version of point 3 plus penny version of points 1 and 2, and of course — yes, the "of course" needs to be there — have not gotten a response tweet.)

Oh, and definitely don't think you'll be like Jodi Dean, hired without a personal meeting to be a Tulsa school teacher.

And, the same gummint claiming we have 1 million surplus jobs continues to lie about how fast the economy is growing and expected to grow.


Finally, believing the tech world's "hustle and grind" repackaging in secular terms of the old Protestant work ethic bullshit shows that those who do have jobs are self co-opting into a less than miraculous jobs world. After all, there's nothing miraculous about likely burnout. (At the same time, reading that piece by Anne Helen Peterson, if you make choices that are ill-informed, the older you are when you make such choices, the less leeway you get, both in margin for error and in sympathy level.)

And, why should one hustle and grind for a promotion without a raise, reportedly becoming more and more common?

Maybe people who fluff the company on Glassdoor reviews get raises as well as promotions? I have seen this with small companies as well as the bigger ones detailed here. As part of that? Definitely take Glassdoor reviews with a huge grain of salt near the month of October.

January 25, 2019

If the Internet is fake, what about all the Net-based jobs?

New York Magazine, reporting on a recently unsealed federal indictment, notes that 40 percent or more of "traffic" (sic on scare quotes) on the Internet is non-human — bots of various sort.

Most of it is NOT Russian troll farms trying to get Donald Trump elected.

Rather, riffing on one of the forks of interpretation of Stewart Brand's "Information wants to be free," it's good old bad old capitalists ripping off other capitalists, and to a lesser extent, you and me as collateral damages.

(Brand himself claims he's blamed for a lot of tech-neoliberalism stuff that is not his fault. The rest of that interview indicates he's lying to himself if he really believes that and lying to the rest of us anyway.)

A fair chunk of it is certainly American, but, especially per video "like farms" and similar preying on YouTube (and probably Facebook videos and more) another fair chunk of it is Made in China. In turn, this again underscores Donald Trump's idiocy on tariffs. Had he not pissed off the EU and China with steel tariffs, he had ready-made allies on intellectual property. And, cultural liberals in Hollywood and NYC, as well as libertarians in Silicon Valley, ready to ally with him domestically.

Indeed, the story notes that for a period in 2013 — ancient history on the Net! — more than half of YouTube traffic was bots. YouTube employees feared that their anti-spam programming might then reach what they called "The Inversion," and start to see bots as people and people as bots.

There's "good" reason this has happened. Measuring video interaction and engagement is even tougher than that for pages in general. And, it seems to have evolved less slowly than mindsets to try to measure general page involvement. One suspects this is behind Facebook's gross misstatement of video interactivity there.

In turn, bot companies, per the lede to Max Read's story (great name for a story like this, right?) have used these clicks and more to harvest money from programmatic advertising and to suck money out of the Internet in other ways.

Beyond all that, Read thinks we've reached an Internet-wide Inversion, and that in essence includes us real people. He notes that Facebook's metrics for what counts as "watching" a video, for example, aren't even close to what actual people would consider "watching." (This, in turn, adds to the idea that Zuckerberg himself is a cyborg, does it not?)

However, the modern Internet botverse is, in my opinion (and I think that of many others) a symptom more than the cause of us reaching a functional Inversion that likely has long been cooked into the modern Net since capitalism got its tentacles into it.

Read would seem to agree, on Twitter:
Read goes on to note that many businesses associated with the modern Net, and often with spinoffs of such bottery, are themselves fake. Amazon resellers are a prime example. Now, before somebody pulls a No True Scotsman about other sites, I'm sure an eBay has some degree of such problems. Look at human fraudsters such as former Skeptics™ object of phallic attention, and now convicted fraudster, Brian Dunning. Dunning, in addition to being a cookie-thiever, got crap-produced overpriced swag for sale that people wouldn't buy if they weren't Dunning cultists.

Related, is George Monbiot's lament of the alliance of advertising and academia. Though he doesn't directly address this, if so much of the online world is fake, including its marketing jobs I note above, then also fake are the sheepskins offered in these areas. And an increasingly business-modeled academia, both at traditional universities but even more at modern, online-first, explicitly profit-modeled ones, will be clad to take its cut of the gravy train.

And, that leads back to Steward Brand's "information wants to be free" and whether in the Net world,. that should be "libre" or "gratis." It should have been "gratis," as in capitalism-free. People like Tim Berners-Lee have long said that capitalism in general, let alone modern late-stage capitalism, wasn't meant to be wedded to the Net. 

But it has been.

I tied a wrong idea from Brand (I say wrong idea because he's given at least a fair indication that he backs "libre" but not "gratis" himself) to .... well, to Amazon plus Google and Apple. (That was seven years ago; writing today, I'd surely have included Facebook.) In a more in-depth piece a month earlier that focused on Google and Apple, I said that guru Jaron Lanier was almost as much problem as solution, something I do stand by seven years later.

Read's own conclusion is partially true — that the Internet has a problem of trust.

But, it also has a problem of too much capitalism behind that. Just as the fakes are more symptom than cause, so is the lack of trust.

That said, I take this situation a bit personally. I don't make a bunch of money here on Google ads, but I do make a little bit. I make an even smaller bit on link click-throughs from major news organizations, though that has tailed off hugely with Facebook Stories. In both instances, though, the bots are stealing from me.

That said, many "creatives" are going back to not only a pre-social media but a pre-blogging time. Paid-subscription emails by authors publishing books on installment is a growing issue.

January 24, 2019

Ichiro and Dirk? Wake up, smell the coffee, retire

Decades ago, NBA legend (and co-GOAT with LeBron James; how's that?) Michael Jordan just couldn't hang it up. Call it addiction or whatever, but he wound up semi-embarrassing himself, or at least his legacy. At least in baseball, Jordan accepted he could't hit the curve and moved back to the Bulls.

Kobe Bryant was more than halfway to that point by the time of retirement, even allowing for the Achilles recovery.

And now, and speaking of in the first case, in basketball and baseball, we have parallel cases.

Dirk Nowitzki is at semi-full embarrassment. He may just not want a league-wide retirement party, or maybe he wants to play next year, too, but he has yet to indicate he's going to retire after this year.

And, it wouldn't surprise me if he wanted to hang out another year, saying that he hadn't rehabbed enough from his Achilles injury to properly go out of the Association this year.

I can understand that. But ... that's reality. (I now have an updated version focusing on him needing to join D-wade in going out with him.)

Meanwhile, in baseball, the Mariners have signed Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league contract that will pay $750K if he makes the big club. Why?

The man had a 33 OPS+ last year. Arguably, he hurt the Mariners simply by occupying a roster spot.

I know they're in a quick-rinse rebuild and this is in part to attract fans. Let's be honest, front office. Nonetheless, if he is called up, he arguably hurts the rebuild timetable. And, if he's not? Does he get butt-hurt down at Tacoma?

It's easier to do this in baseball than hoops. Nonetheless, the vanity appearances of Minnie Minoso and Satchel Paige didn't float my boat either, plus I think Ichiro doesn't see this as a vanity appearance.

Dallas Keuchel to the STLCards:
Because you never have enough pitching

The St. Louis Cardinals don't need to overpay for one of the top two position player free agents, one of whom is massively overrated anyway.

That said, they COULD still stand to upgrade the rotation.

I previously suggested trading for either Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber, assuming that Jose Martinez and Jedd Gyorko from the big-league club would be parts of that. (Kluber, not being a jackwagon, is preferred.)

Option 2?

A medium-sized dip into free agency with Dallas Keuchel. (I have now updated my thoughts with this post.)

I'm thinking 3/$50M base with innings and awards incentives for each year and a fourth-year option at $15M plus same incentives structure.

I am not sure if that's enough to land him, but it's certainly enough to be a good starting point. And, at the same time, it certainly doesn't feel like an overpay.

That said, he IS a Scott Bore-ass client. And MLB Trade Rumors reported on Feb. 10 that Keuchel was wanting 6-7 years at $250-30M per annum.

Per George H.W. Bush? Not. Gonna. Happen. (MLBTR, in November, predicted 4/$82 for Keuchel. My number, if he hit a reasonable amount of incentives, would be somewhere between $55-$60M for the three guaranteed years plus $17-18M or so for the option, so I'm not far off.)

But why, you may say, would I be interested in Keuchel at a more reasonable price.?


Per the header, you can never have enough pitching.

First, contra the Mike Shildt bullshit, Adam Wainwright not only is not a sort-of No. 1 starter, he's really not a starter period. Michael Wacha is not a No. 1 starter; he's a recurring injury waiting for a new outbreak. Alex Reyes should not be pencilled in for anything until he hurdles his two serious injuries for more than 25-30 innings.

A rotation that starts off with Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez and Keuchel has a solid foundation. Mikolas should eat a lot of innings, too, and Keuchel can. (And I wrote this before the Birds shelved Carlos for two weeks at the start of spring training due to shoulder issues — and player-management issues about his offseason prep and more lying behind that.)

Jack Flaherty is your No. 4. Luke Weaver, John Gant and Daniel Poncedeleon fight for the No. 5.

Waino goes in the pen for long relief, spot starts to stretch out the four young'uns early in the season and to mop up. Maybe use Andrew Miller as an occasional "opener" on a lefty-heavy team and have Waino follow. Reyes also spot starts after rounding into shape in Memphis. Reassess the 4-5 spots by or before the All-Star break.

A rotation like that also stabilizes the pen a lot.

Besides, as Derrick Goold notes in his latest baseball roundup on Feb. 6, Wacha is almost certainly gone after this year, and as he also notes, you can never have enough pitching. In addition, Goold expects Waino to do a midyear retirement if he can't cut the mustard at all.

But, we need another starter, IMO. Waino isn't one and what I said on Wacha. The Reds adding Sonny Gray further underscores the value of good pitching arms. I got into a fairly friendly, but somewhat heated, Twitter discussion on this last Friday with a group of Cards fans, in the hipster / bro / lumberjack division of male Millennials, perhaps, who can think of nothing beyond the imperative of signing Bryce Harper. See more on that here.

I know that DeWitt / Mozeliak are making noises that, other than adding relief help of presumably moderate cost, they're done. Rick Hummel pretty much confirms that, while noting that Mo "expects" Reyes to make a serious contribution this year.

Well, they shouldn't be.

January 23, 2019

TX Progressives talk Lege, coal ash, state budget

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with federal workers and contractors and their families as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff took a look at the elections we have in store for 2019.

Socratic sees the Tulsi Gabbard presidential announcement and examines the Tulsi Kool-Aid and who's mixing and pouring it.

And here are some posts of interest from other progressive blogs and news sites.

Jim Schutze says upcoming Lege debate on education issues “could make a liberal nostalgic for the bathroom bill.”

Better Texas Blog takes their first look at the opening budget proposals.

Juanita provides an update on the Blake Farenthold story.

The Texas Observer reports on how Trump wall money funded last March will affect a Texas family, a state park, two national wildlife refuges and more. (The piece also notes the silence of wingnut Texans who worry about state eminent domain but say nothing about the federal, steroid-amped version.)

Sarah Martinez reports on Dr Pepper's effort to become the Official Soft Drink of Texas.

The TSTA Blog explains the problem with merit pay.

Raise Your Hand Texas has a toolkit to navigate the legislative session.

In a second Texas Observer piece, Navenna Sadasivam details lies the Texas Public Policy Foundation is telling about wind power and subsidies.

Robin Paoli spells out why Houston women keep marching.

BuzzFeed reports Sheila Jackson Lee is in trouble over a sexual assault lawsuit against the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and her alleged retaliation.

The Texas Trib reports on the problem with coal ash.

January 22, 2019

Alternative history: Ronnie is nominated in 76, loses general to Carter

This is the third in a series of counterfactual history articles about Ronald Reagan's presidential quest having an alternative timeline from what happened in reality. All are based in part on thoughts stimulated by Bob Spitz's new Reagan bio, reviewed by me here. Here's the first and here's the second posts.

This one presumes that Reagan beats Gerald Ford for the 1976 Republican nomination — and then loses the general election to Jimmy Carter just like Ford did.

Both portions of that occurrence are quite possible.

Reagan lost New Hampshire, as Spitz notes, for entirely avoidable reasons. Lyn Nofziger bragged to Gov. Meldrin Thompson about how big a lead they were piling up and he then went public with it.

That right there is the alternative history change point.

Imagine that Nofziger keeps his mouth shut. Or that John Sears or whomever never gives Nofziger such info in the first place.

Sears, instead, when any rumored leaks comes out of the campaign, does negative spin.

Reagan wins by 10 points. Turns the heat on in the South more than he actually did. Sears tells him, to like Carter, play up the outsider stuff and make a reference to cleaning up Washington. Keep it subtle while hinting about Ford's pardon for Nixon and distancing himself from his past blank-check support for Nixon. Sears' moderate-conservative GOP centrism is sold in a way to appeal to Reagan.

Reagan narrowly wins, by slightly more than Ford did. He, as Ford actually did, names Dole his Veep.

And, all of this is not enough. Sears, as in the start of 1980, has trouble keeping reins on a fractious campaign, both in terms of general organization and also political message organization. Despite his attempts to moderate Reagan, Carter makes him look like a new Goldwater and wins the election.

Carter faces the Shah-and-mullahs trouble he did in reality, but not to Reagan's benefit. In 1980, moderate-conservative Republicans pick back up on the "new Goldwater" claims of Carter. Hints of age issues also get dropped here and there. Reagan bows out after failing to corral sufficient support in the South.

January 21, 2019

States miss regulatory golden opportunity on pot legalization

I've seen plenty of articles like this, originally in the WSJ, that note that the THC level of modern commercial marijuana is far greater than many moons ago when I was in high school and college.

That alone should give blank-check pro-pot advocates pause when they claim it's not addictive, period. Or when they claim that "pot paranoia" doesn't exist.

For the record, I believe it is addictive, physically and psychologically, and that such a problem of "pot paranoia" is real. However, the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, former Big Tobacco shill, overstate that. Aaron Carroll specifically calls him out for making unjustified extrapolations.

Contra the Reefer Madness crowd, I don't believe marijuana causes cancer, no matter how ingested. Contra the blank-checkers, though, I do believe that smoked marijuana can cause COPD.

So, marijuana is certainly less dangerous than opiates. May or may not be as dangerous as alcohol. Is NOT danger-free.

And, hence, states could probably better regulate it than they are now, in places where legalized, especially full recreational legalization.

Namely, I think states should have a cap on max THC levels, and should also bar any adulteration that would increase addictiveness. Were I a state legislator in a state considering legalization, my vote would be contingent on either a max THC or max THC/gram cap, as well as a taking a listing from adulturants Big Tobacco added to cigs and barring them from being added to any smokable form of marijuana.

Would commercial pot companies do that? You bet your ass they would, just like Philip Morris added ammonia and other stuff to Marlboros.

Second, states need to work — to the degree possible under current federal marijuana laws — on devising a standard measurement for, and field testing of, marijuana intoxication levels. I'm thinking of the marijuana equivalent of a breathalyzer for DWI. Per Carroll above, current tools measure just THC in the body and not impairment.

Given that Altria, the former Philip Morris, just bought e-cigarette maker Juul, and just before that, up in the new Oh Wooowwww Canada, bought into the pot industry, the possibility that pot could be tampered with not only to further boost its THC, but through the addition of other chemicals, to further boost the addiction potential of THC already in it, should be something that is considered in advance. Carroll, without mentioning Big Tobacco by name, also wars about that. Read his piece.

That said, states would find all of this much easier to do if marijuana were downscheduled by the Drug Enforcement Administration from its current Schedule 1 to no higher than Schedule 3.