Some things just deserve to be shared.

I found this by chance over on Reddit, serendipitously, without looking for it, in a random discussion about Portland, Oregon. There were a lot of humorous comments – the article had to do with a dispute between passengers and a cabdriver, but then the conversation drifted into the nature of Portland as a city.

And then this gem popped up, written by /u/fwaht. I’ve corrected one or two things for spelling and style, but it’s otherwise unedited. The added emphasis is mine.

The “Successful” Person

If you’re what society calls a “successful” person, then you’re probably making more than two standard deviations above the mean, and you probably have a family. And you’re probably working a 9-5 job, or something like it, where you spend roughly ⅓ of all the waking time you’ll ever have doing it. And your employer wants your best time, the time where you’re most energetic and willing to get things done. Your other time is probably spent in a lethargic daze staring at a television (and as you age it gets worse). And why are you watching television instead of doing something you can look back on in ten years be proud of? Because only unsocialized losers haven’t seen the latest episode of American Idol or the latest sports event.

The average company is not run as a meritocracy. If you were a boss, would you want to see the person that quietly does excellent work and all but ignores you and everyone else get the promotion? Or would you want your “friend,” the guy that talks with you about football and your kids and makes you happy, to get the promotion even though he doesn’t do such great work?

No, you need to play the game. Most every business is its own Machiavellian-themed nightmare or kingdom depending on the ease with which corruption and deception and social lubrication comes to your character (and if it doesn’t come to you easily, then you will fall behind those that are better at it).

And what do you win after having beat this game? Retirement? You mean 10-20 years of low-quality life where you have the freedom that you could have had all your life if you chosen a life of less responsibility, of placing less importance in what’s expected of you than trying to do what you’ve always really, really wanted to do. Did you need those new cars, that large house and expensive furniture, the expensive meals, and so on and on? No, they made you happy for a short while, but then you just slid back into normalcy – you were on a hedonistic treadmill. Here you are, 60 years old, with all sorts of aches and pains, and remembering the senility your parents drifted into around this age. Remembering how you wished they just died quickly while feeling your intelligence diminish every year as it has since you reached 50.

And on your deathbed, what are you going to look back on and be proud of? Your children? They will die soon, and so will their children. In a short while you’ll be long forgotten as they will, and any trace of your genetic legacy will have disappeared – you aren’t Genghis Khan. Nothing of you will remain. And why should you care about such a thing after you’re dead anyway?

The “successful” person has sculpted their future and life into a hell worse than the one given to Sisyphus, and yet as miserable and meaningless as they are, they still come to think they’re better than others somehow.

While this may sound a bit negative, it’s a very accurate distillation of business and working life, and a wakeup call to those who find themselves on the treadmill. This would be a good place to share another good tidbit I found while surfing around:

Dream

In the United States, it’s getting harder to build a successful business or enterprise on a shoestring; increasing regulation, coupled with the consolidation of wealth at the highest levels, has made it more challenging to get off the treadmill than it was for great-grandpa who started life manning a vegetable pushcart in Little Italy in 1900. Harder, but not impossible.

If a person is really interested in success that lasts, they won’t be able to measure it by the standards found in Corporate ‘Murica. From where I sit, true success can only be measured by the number of people one has served, and the level to which one has raised the human condition. Efforts of this nature will ripple through time, whereas the accumulation of stuff and the generation of progeny who will walk in the same corporate rut will, as fwaht has noted, be forgotten within a span of time so short as to be insignificant in social terms.

I am proud of my children – each of them is looking for ways to make a difference rather than to die with the most toys. It’s not easy, but keeping one’s eye fixed outside the societal box of corporate norms is the only way to ensure that one’s efforts count for something after our bodies have returned to dust.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Wikipedia is suffocating under the weight of its editors.

My last post was about The Whiteboard, an online webcomic which has had an 11-year run and continues unabated. In that essay, I wanted to reference the Wikipedia article for it, but found to my chagrin that the article which had once existed had been deleted. There was only a reference to the deletion-discussion page, so I hopped over to see what the debate looked like.

Naturally, a comic strip as famous as Peanuts has no problem being represented there, but there is a decided lack of consistency about lesser-known strips; while Schlock Mercenary by Howard Tayler is well-represented, the long-running Freefall by Mark Stanley, a slow-moving but thought-provoking space drama/comedy, has had its article deleted repeatedly despite being an online presence since 1996.

The debate page I referred to is a nauseating morass of cerebral onanism, navel-gazing and self-aggrandizement. There’s only one comment there I saw which approaches my feelings about what Wikipedia has become:

In answer to the question “Why should webcomics get their own special treatment?”, user Bushranger replied,

“Because the WP:GNG fails here. While “Everybody Knows About It” is (or should be) at WP:ATA, the fact that webcomics such as this and Dominic Deegan apparently fail it despite being some of the best-known webcomics on the Internet points out that there is something not working here. They are things that the average Internet user is very likely to come across and come to Wikipedia seeking the answer to “what is this thing I heard about?”, and if they don’t find information on them here, even if the removal of that information was in complete compliance with the rules, then Wikipedia is not serving its readers. I won’t !vote Keep for the simple reason that I can’t articulate a policy-based reason to keep, but I cannot in good consience !vote Delete because of how the situation is as mentioned above.” (Emphasis mine)

Wikipedia was designed as the encyclopedia that anyone can edit. While over time, it became obvious that certain controls needed to be established in order to maintain reliability of content (edit wars are a common occurrence),

Skeletor Wikipedia

the question about what deserves representation on Wikipedia has been overshadowed by the egos of dominant editors, a large percentage of whom – it seemeth me – are using Wikipedia as a vehicle for consolidating power and inflating their own status rather than serving the original philosophy of a Wiki.

In my own opinion, webcomics which have existed faithfully and consistently for periods of 11 and 17 years are certainly deserving of an article. They exist; they have followers; they are popular among certain subsets of the population, and if someone comes to Wikipedia looking for information about something, they should be able to find it.

The executive summary: As long as information presented is accurate, it’s not up to any editor (or even a community of them) to decide for others what is relevant and what is not.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

With love, to baristas everywhere.

Most people are not aware of The Whiteboard, firstly because it’ a webcomic and the vast majority of people out there don’t follow them; secondly because it revolves around paintballing; and thirdly because it’s characters are anthropomorphized animals which all God-fearing, right-thinking people know are the spawn of Satan’s fiery ass.

Their loss.

Doc Nickel is not only a skilled technician[1], he’s also a very funny and gifted writer and artist, and I’ve enjoyed his strip for years even though I don’t know the difference between a Tipmann and a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Long, long ago, back in the stone age when the syndicated comic Piranha Club was known as Ernie, Bud Grace did a series about a marriage between coffee machines and technology. As smart as today’s young people are, even they might choke on some of the antiquated references used in this series, but to a “Knight of the Old Code” such as myself, this was hilarious (click the image for a larger version):

ErnieCoffeeMaker1

Strangely enough, the last panel is still valid for even the most advanced systems…

Well, now comes Doc with a whole new take on the complexities of coffee making (and apologies for reproducing these here – I hope the added exposure is compensation enough!)

Clicking each image will take you to the relevant page at The Whiteboard:

autotwb1677

autotwb1678

autotwb1679

autotwb1680

autotwb1682

autotwb1683

Even though I haven’t been a coffee drinker for around 44 years (Old_Wolf_Cry), I lived in Italy for a good stretch of time between 1970 and 1971, and I know what good espresso is. I also know that it’s not a brainless operation to make a good cup of joe; a lot of thought and technique goes into choosing the appropriate raw materials and the process involved.

So the next time your barista takes an extra minute to whip up your Venti 1 pump caramel, 1 pump white mocha, 2 scoops vanilla bean powder, extra ice frappuccino with 2 shots poured over the top (apagotto style) with caramel drizzle under and on top of the whipped cream, double cupped, give her or him a break. It’s not like building tinkertoys.

Oh, and tip them.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


[1] An example of Doc’s machining skills can be found here. (I hear an ominous hummm….)

Homage to the Shuttle Program

This awesome film is taken from the upcoming Special Edition Ascent: Commemorating Space Shuttle DVD/BluRay by NASA/Glenn a movie from the point of view of the Solid Rocket Booster with sound mixing and enhancement done by the folks at Skywalker Sound. The sound is all from the camera microphones and not fake or replaced with foley artist sound. The Skywalker sound folks just helped bring it out and make it more audible.

The movie both intrigues and saddens me. I honor every individual who ever worked on this project, from the brave astronauts (and their families) who went and returned, or who went and did not, to those who swept the stairs and emptied the trash. I honor the accomplishments in science and knowledge that these herculean efforts produced.

I express a deep sense of sadness and anger at our legislators over time who were not forward-looking enough to continue funding for the space program, so that a viable replacement might have been ready when our shuttle fleet had aged beyond its usefulness. There is no excuse for such obtuseness; these individuals chose again and again to throw trillions of dollars into unwinnable and futile and fruitless wars, not to mention some of the finest blood of our nation, while beneficial and inspiring projects like this program – and others which might have been – went begging.

Remembering

The Old Wolf has spoken.

An Upvote for Upworthy

Two days ago I posted here about a couple of things at Upworthy’s website that bothered me, and made it an open letter because I couldn’t find any way to contact them on their website.

Today I received a comment from Luigi Montanez, Upworthy’s founding engineer. You can read it over at the original post, but I reproduce it here because it’s deserving of it’s own page.

Hi there, I work for Upworthy. Thanks for taking the time to write out this candid feedback. It’s immensely helpful for us to read.

1a) On the popups: Have you tried clicking the “Don’t show again.” links on them? Once clicked, they’re supposed to suppress those popups in the future. If they’re not working for you, that’s a bug we need to look into. Or if you didn’t notice them, we’ll work on improving their prominence.

1b) On the Facebook friends module: We actually don’t know who your friends are on Facebook. What you’re seeing is called an iframe; it’s a way for us to embed a little bit of the Facebook.com website into our webpage. It’s like a small window into Facebook.com that’s embedded on our page. Facebook never tells us who you are, or who your friends are. Here’s more info:

https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like/

If we wanted that information, we’d need to ask you to opt-in using Facebook Connect, which we don’t do.

2) Yes, this is a major oversight on our part. Instructions for contacting us are on our About page, but they’re hard to find. Based on your feedback, I created a dedicated Contact page and linked to it in the footer throughout the site:

http://www.upworthy.com/contact

Again, thank you for this. If you have more feedback, please send it our way.

Lots of love,

Luigi
Founding Engineer, Upworthy

This made me sit down astonied.

  1. First of all, someone saw my post. This meant that Upworthy has a social media team or person that is actively scraping the Net for feedback and buzz about their company.
  2. Next, someone answered, meaning that someone cares. In any company in the 21st century, that’s a gold star right off the bat.
  3. Last, Luigi provided constructive suggestions and actually implemented one of my suggestions. I was gobsmacked.

Really, there’s only one possible response:

MorpheusUpvote

Well done, Upworthy.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

How Prices Hit Home, Part II

I previously posted about prices in 1978, and whilst cleaning out files I came across an article I had saved from my father’s archives. I present it here for comparison’s sake, and just because it’s interesting.

This was published in the Daily Compass on August 15, 1951, which itself cost 5¢ for each daily edition.

Prices Then and Now - 1939 and 1951

 

1939’s prices were, of course, depression-era; for your gratuitous enjoyment, a song from 1927 which was looking for any bright spots in an otherwise dismal economic climate:

The Old Wolf has spoken.