Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Relationships at Work

First, a new Heartless Bitch classic: "A Girlfriend or Carry-On?"

That link leads to a post about the many ways a relationship status eclipses the individuals involved. It's written from the female perspective, though I suspect guys go through their own form of it. It is particularly fitting because it describes something I went through, and something a friend at work is going through right now.

We'll call her FAWcett, both for Friend At Work and because she's pretty and blonde. She's lovely, a divorcee, and met a rather cute and sweet guy in the company where we work. (He's also divorced.) We started at the same time, so we're both still pretty new, but they've hit it off.

The problem is, everyone knows and everyone has an opinion. Being a sweet guy, Sweet Guy has lots of friends, all of whom fervently diss his ex-wife and feel the need to come up to Fawcett an explain how happy they are that Sweet Guy "finally found someone" and how happy they are that Fawcett seems so nice because Ex-Wife was a bitch and Sweet Guy deserved so much better and they really only pretended to like Ex-Wife because Sweet Guy liked her and on and on and on.... Nearly everyone Fawcett's met since the two of them decided to date has given her some version of this speech.

This blows. First of all, it tells Fawcett that all of these people are firmly in Sweet Guy's camp, and should the two of them not work out, she won't have any kind shoulders here. Secondly, it tells her that they don't really care who she is as long as she is "nice" to Sweet Guy. Thirdly, it means her identity in the company has already become Sweet Guy's Girlfriend. WTF?

Now, the name "Sweet Guy" is not meant to be ironic; he really is pretty cool, if a little- ah- rebound-y acting. I've heard him say that Fawcett is the first really nice woman he's met since the Ex-Wife. And he acts accordingly- as if Fawcett will restore his faith in womankind. So, no pressure.

In any case, I'm rooting for them, but not as much as I am rooting for Fawcett. She deserves to been seen as her own person- and she is fiercely independent, which means the attention and the pigeon-holing is getting to her. She'd like to take things slow, to see how they develop, but everyone already has them married off in their heads and it is making her crazy.

So, to everyone else: back the hell off! Give the kids a chance, for pete's sake.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Does this look obscene to you?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Social Engineering > Hard Engineering

I saw a talk by Clay Shirky on YouTube about the coolness of Perl (a programming language). Now, I am not a programmer. I follow hackers and programmers the way some people follow sports; I like the game, I can even commentate, but really, I've never played. So rest assured, the geek level of this post will be moderate to low.

Shirky's talk is about the community that Perl has; if you program in the language and are confused, you can go online and talk to other programmers who use Perl and get pretty reliable help. This is not surprising to me, but I get the feeling this is a talk aimed at people who haven't had google search for literally half of their life. In any case, the point is that a community of people who love a Thing is a better predictor for success of the Thing than, say, the existence of a corporation selling the Thing.

What all this is really saying is that, gee, I guess people did have a way to work together before capitalism. Huh. In his defense, he argues that this isn't a new thing, just something that has been given new life and breadth via the internet, but I think that is even a bit much.

The pyramids weren't only a feat of civil engineering, but social engineering. The Egyptians and the Mayans had to convince enough people to show up for it to happen; otherwise, all the math in the world would have been useless. They convinced them through a combination of religion and force; the carrot and the stick. The medieval cathedrals in Europe are similar; built over hundreds of years by generations of archetects and laborers, they were complete money and resource-sinks- unless you count the "spiritual" benefits, the "squishy" stuff Shirky refers to towards the end.

I'm quibbling over details; I know people matter and devoted people matter even more, and so does Shirky. (A darker example would be terrorist organizations- capable of great chaos more thanks to the fervency of their beliefs than the strength or legitmacy of their backing). I simply want to point out that none of this is new, unless that's what he needs people to believe to get on board ;)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Playing Smart

I'm a huge nerd... I applied to refinance a loan the other day to get a better interest rate. And it worked! Yay money.

It makes me feel better about buying the car- I know I need it but it sucks to go into a dealership and know you need to walk off the lot that day, even if you don't tell them. Bleh. But now I have a pretty car AND a good loan. Sweet!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I love marzipan!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Down and Dirty Linguistics

Stephen Fry has a brilliant bit over about language and freedom and pretty words and angry ex-grammar teachers here.

And if I sound as if I've been reading his stuff for hours and mentally absorbing bits of his accent, well, I have. Which is rather interesting in light of the post.

What are you doing still here? Go forth!

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