Cartoonist Rob Rogers fired for skewering Trump

Cartoonist Rob Rogers was fired over a cartoon he made where he skewered Trump:

Things really changed for me in March, when management decided that my cartoons about the president were “too angry” and said I was “obsessed with Trump.” This about a president who has declared the free press one of the greatest threats to our country.

Not every idea I have works. Every year, a few of my cartoons get killed. But suddenly, in a three-month period, 19 cartoons or proposals were rejected. Six were spiked in a single week — one after it was already placed on the page, an image depicting a Klansman in a doctor’s office asking: “Could it be the Ambien?”

It’s shameful. According to Michael Moore this is the cartoon he was fired for:

Conservatives are worried liberals are trying to take away their guns, meanwhile, I’m worried about conservatives taking away our First Amendment rights. It’s bullshit.

“Only after experimenting with that joke 25 more times, she said, would she know if it works.”

The Strategic Mind of Ali Wong:

So perhaps it’s no surprise that anxiety about success is also a theme of her new work. This is part of the reason she returned to the stage early this year, five weeks after giving birth, against the advice of her doctor. She’s terrified of becoming unfunny. “I’ve seen it happen to people who got famous and seduced by it,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s work ethic or if they’re delusional because the audience loves them so much.”

Two months after giving birth she slipped out of the house and drove to the Upright Citizens Brigade here to make an unannounced appearance, walking onstage in sweatpants and a puffy jacket to roaring applause. She told a new joke about #MeToo and got a laugh, though she wasn’t sure she could trust it. U.C.B. crowds are notoriously generous. Only after experimenting with that joke 25 more times, she said, would she know if it works.

I’m always interested to hear the creative habits of successful artists, because the successful ones always have creative habits. If you don’t know what creative habits are, they’re goals with work ethic applied to them.

If you’re into this topic check out The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.

Categories:

Career, Process

Overworking in the Age of Technology

Silicon Valley would be wise to follow China’s lead:

These topics are absent in China’s technology companies, where the pace of work is furious. Here, top managers show up for work at about 8am and frequently don’t leave until 10pm. Most of them will do this six days a week — and there are plenty of examples of people who do this for seven. Engineers have slightly different habits: they will appear about 10am and leave at midnight. Beyond the week-long breaks for Chinese new year and the October national holiday, most will just steal an additional handful of vacation days. Some technology companies also provide a rental subsidy to employees who choose to live close to corporate HQ.

In California, this sort of pace might be common for the first couple of years of a company, but then it will slow. In China, by contrast, it is quite usual for the management of 10 and 15-year-old companies to have working dinners followed by two or three meetings. If a Chinese company schedules tasks for the weekend, nobody complains about missing a Little League game or skipping a basketball outing with friends. Little wonder it is a common sight at a Chinese company to see many people with their heads resting on their desks taking a nap in the early afternoon.

Fuck the editor who wrote the title of this article, and fuck Michael Moritz for writing the article.

Silicon Valley or anywhere else in the first world would be wise to not follow China’s lead. The whole (empty) promise of computers and the Internet was that we would be able to work remotely! And work more efficiently! Oh joy of joys!

It’s a cliché but it’s true: the goal is to work smarter, not longer. It’s also true that humans fill their work week to the allotted number of hours. If we worked four 8-hour days per week (32 hours) instead of five 8-hour weeks (40 hours) the vast majority of people at desk jobs would get just as much work done.

America would be wise to follow the lead of a country where tech companies installed safety nets to save people trying to commit suicide by jumping out of windows? This is a load of shit.

Categories:

Career, Humanity

Holden Shuts Down

Australia Mourns the End of Its Car Manufacturing Industry:

Kane Butterfield started working for Holden at 19 in a small South Australian town built around making the distinctly Australian cars.

But on Friday, after 17 years with the company at its Adelaide auto plant, he and hundreds of other employees bid it farewell, as the factory officially closed, putting an end to car manufacturing in Australia.

“I think it’s pretty tragic really that we’ve let go of one of the best cars around the world,” Mr. Butterfield, 37, told a crowd of reporters gathered outside Australia’s last functioning car factory.

Business people love to talk about innovation and “disrupting” but you don’t hear them talk much about the working class employees getting “disrupted” out the doors of their companies.

Categories:

Business, Career

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A Price Worth Paying

A product manager and Kalanick apologist is leaving Uber:

Chris Saad, a product manager of Uber’s developer platform, is leaving the company after close to two years, sources tell Recode.

Saad, who worked on creating technology tools for developers looking to integrate Uber services, has been vocal about his disappointment with former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s forced resignation.

“Travis embodied (and in some cases taught) me these things,” he wrote in a Facebook post in the hours after Kalanick’s resignation. “There wasn’t a moment or a minuscule detail that he noticed that he didn’t immediately spring into action to help me solve — with that wry smile and enthusiastic glint in his eye. The cost of losing him as Uber’s CEO will be incalculable.”

If there’s a huge cost because of Kalanick’s ouster, so be it.

When Kalanick was CEO of Uber they used their technology to evade law enforcement, maintained a hostile, sexist work environment filled with sexual harassment cases, and didn’t (and still don’t) want to pay their drivers as employees.

Categories:

Career

Dickheads in Tech

The latest dickeads-in-tech news comes from Google this week:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company’s diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley.

James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” He said he’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”

The imbroglio at Google is the latest in a long string of incidents concerning gender bias and diversity in the tech enclave. Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick lost his job in June amid scandals over sexual harassment, discrimination and an aggressive culture. Ellen Pao’s gender-discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2015 also brought the issue to light, and more women are speaking up to say they’ve been sidelined in the male-dominated industry, especially in engineering roles.

It’s good Sundar Pichai fired Damore. Too often we see tech companies remain quiet (at least publically) on these issues and when you remain quiet or don’t take action, it sends a message to the rest of the company that sexual harassment and discrimination is okay. It establishes entitlement. It’s not unlike a parent establishing behavior patterns for their children.

We need not look any further than the President of the United States. We’ve heard him on tape brag about his celebrity status allowing him to grab women by the pussy.

It’s no surprise then to find out Fox News is a close ally of Trump. It also shouldn’t be a surprise to find out the former CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, sexually harassment women at the company. This week Fox News suspended Eric Bolling for sending dick pics to female coworkers and of course we can’t forget Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment charges and the women to whom he gave millions to so they would remain quiet.

I’ve heard people talk about wanting to “empower” their employees to do great things and establish a great culture at their company, but these things have to be implemented through actions at the top of the company.

It’s only through actions at the top that culture and behavior patterns can cascade down throughout the rest of the company, it can never happen the other way around.

Humans, Still Animals

The first sentence of the first paragraph from the front page of the Sunday New York Times:

Men and women still don’t seem to have figured out how to work or socialize together.

Hey! We’re humans. Animals pretending to be professionals. We fancy ourselves logical beings not affected by our hormones and emotions.

The front page story continues:

For many, according to a new Morning Consult poll conducted for The New York Times, it is better simply to avoid each other.

Many men and women are wary of a range of one-on-one situations, the poll found. Around a quarter think private work meetings with colleagues of the opposite sex are inappropriate. Nearly two-thirds say people should take extra caution around members of the opposite sex at work. A majority of women, and nearly half of men, say it’s unacceptable to have dinner or drinks alone with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse.

The Times also published a story a few days ago on women in tech on the culture of harassment in the Silicon Valley tech world.

I currently work in Sunnyvale, but I lived and worked in Manhattan for 10 years, so the bro culture out here on the west coast is still kind of new to me.

Are guys in Silicon Valley not masturbating enough? What the fuck is wrong guys out here?

Categories:

Career, Pyschology

Training Your Replacement

These Truckers Work Alongside the Coders Trying to Eliminate Their Jobs:

Economically speaking—that is, in the most brutal terms—truckers are disposable. Almost anyone can become a professional driver with a month or so of training, and most don’t stick around for long; median pay is about $40,000 per year, and the work is often unhealthy, painful, and lonely. Software engineers, on the other hand, are some of the best-paid, hardest-to-hire employees in the modern economy. The variety that Seltz-Axmacher employs—specialists in AI and machine learning—are even better paid and even harder to hire. Google has been known to pay its self-driving car engineers millions or even tens of millions. Starsky’s coders don’t make that much, but the point remains: In its cabs, side by side, are representatives of some of the most and least promising careers in America.

Self-driving tractor trailers are replacing truck drivers, but truck driving is an under-paid, unappealing job. In this respect, it’s a perfect place for AI, but it doesn’t address the 3.5 million Americans who drive trucks for a living and need income.

Apple’s $1 Billion US Manufacturing Boost

Apple just promised to give US manufacturing a $1 billion boost:

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that his company will start a $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing jobs in the United States.

“We’re announcing it today. So you’re the first person I’m telling,” Cook told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer on Wednesday. “Well, not the first person because we’ve talked to a company that we’re going to invest in already,” he said, adding that Apple will announce the first investment later in May.

The fund comes as President Donald Trump has made bringing back manufacturing jobs a big part of his agenda, and it fits into Apple’s larger effort to create jobs across its spectrum, from its own employees to app developers to its suppliers.

This is potentially good news.

I know very little about business and manufacturing, but I do know there’s a difference between starting a fund and paying directly for the creation of manufacturing plants which employ people.

I believe Tim Cook to be genuine in his intentions so let’s just see what happens.

Categories:

Business, Career

Overtime

In 2015, five San Jose police officers each made more than $400,000:

“It is routine now for firefighters to be up over $200,000, $300,000,” said Mark Bucher, chief executive officer of the California Policy Center, a public policy think tank. “Look at just about any city and you’ll see the same thing.”

Take, for example, the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, which covers a portion of southern Contra Costa County.

More than half of the district’s roughly 150 full-time workers — among them battalion chiefs, captains and firefighter paramedics — earned more than $300,000 in total compensation in 2015, according to data collected by Transparent California, a nonprofit watchdog.

The county’s median household income is roughly $80,000.

One reason for the high compensation: It can be cheaper for jurisdictions to pay big overtime — at 1.5 times or double regular pay — than it would be to add staff because of the pension liabilities attached to each new hire.

For San Ramon firefighters, every dollar of salary means roughly one more dollar in pension contributions, said Paige Meyer, the fire chief. “When I’m paying over $2 for a full-time employee and I can pay a dollar and a half for overtime,” he said, “I’ve got a substantial savings.”

I’ll say this: I’d much rather see a guy or gal running into burning buildings make a six-figure income than some asshole at Goldman Sachs gambling with other peoples’ money.

The article does point out some pension programs are or will eventually be untenable for many cities.

Categories:

Career

Working was never our forte.

Let’s face it, jobs have always been a necessary evil. A means to an end — unless you’re one of those people who has a career and loves what they do. Showoff.

Don’t fret!

Computer scientists, programmers, engineers, and all the other smart people on planet Earth have been working hard to ensure we don’t have to work hard anymore.

Over at Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow describes a study done by university economists who concluded these jobs ain’t coming back:

In Disappearing Routine Jobs: Who, How, and Why? economists from USC, UBC and Manchester University document how the automation of “routine” jobs (welders, bank tellers, etc) that pay middle class wages has pushed those workers out of the job market entirely, or pushed them into low-paying, insecure employment.

The study links the phenomenon of unemployment with automation — an obvious-seeming connection — by establishing a causal relationship that goes beyond mere correlation: people stop working because robots take their jobs. Robots don’t just co-occur with unemployment, they cause it.

The share of Americans working in routine jobs has fallen from 40.5% in 1979 to 31.2% in 2014, according to the paper. The federal government’s official measure of Americans age 16 and over who are working or seeking work has fallen from a recent high of 67.3% in 2000 to 62.7% in November 2016.

“Routine jobs are disappearing and more and more prime-age Americans aren’t working,” said Mr. Siu. “These things are two sides of the same coin.”

Last week the Guardian published an article by Justin McCurry on Japanese insurance firm Fukoku Mutual Life replacing 34 employees with IBM’s Watson Explorer AI:

A future in which human workers are replaced by machines is about to become a reality at an insurance firm in Japan, where more than 30 employees are being laid off and replaced with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate payouts to policyholders.

Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance believes it will increase productivity by 30% and see a return on its investment in less than two years. The firm said it would save about 140m yen (£1m) a year after the 200m yen (£1.4m) AI system is installed this month. Maintaining it will cost about 15m yen (£100k) a year.

Productivity, what’s that? Work extra hard so I can make the same salary and my boss can get a bigger bonus? Ha! Yeah right!

The problem with artificial intelligence and automation is that we’ve only solved half of the problem. We’ve figured out how to replace a human with a robot or a computer.

What we need to do now — what should have been done in tandem with the first part — is figure out a way to allow these redundant humans to stay employed through alternate means.

Some people say job automation and AI are necessitating a system like universal basic income while others said it’s not economically feasible.

I don’t know what the solution is, but we have to figure something out because shit is going to get real very soon.

Universal Basic Income

Free Cash in Finland. Must Be Jobless.:

Now, the Finnish government is exploring how to change that calculus, initiating an experiment in a form of social welfare: universal basic income. Early next year, the government plans to randomly select roughly 2,000 unemployed people — from white-collar coders to blue-collar construction workers. It will give them benefits automatically, absent bureaucratic hassle and minus penalties for amassing extra income.

The government is eager to see what happens next. Will more people pursue jobs or start businesses? How many will stop working and squander their money on vodka? Will those liberated from the time-sucking entanglements of the unemployment system use their freedom to gain education, setting themselves up for promising new careers? These areas of inquiry extend beyond economic policy, into the realm of human nature.

Like climate change, we’re beginning to understand how robots and artificial intelligence will affect us and our employment on Planet Earth (at least those of us who don’t have their heads buried in the sand).

We can’t just automate every job, lay millions of people off, and expect things to just work themselves out. It may mean universal basic income and it may not, but countermeasures have to be made to ensure we’ll be ok.

And for all those people who say, “Sure, but a computer will never be able to do my job doing [insert your trade].”

Never say never.