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Deficit of Attention is a blog about nothing which is a fancy way of saying it's about everything; politics, corporate life, religion, personal rants, you name it, I blog it.

Make Believe for Fun and Profit

Monday, June 27, 2005
In Which Grouchy Neocon opines about business fads:

Met with the Dark Lord today. Other than our discussion of Total World Domination and how I can accomplish that before my next review, nothing very interesting happened. However, it reminded me of something that's been bugging me...

For quite some time now the Dark Lord has been preaching the virtues of the latest business book he read. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but business books are a dime a dozen. If the advice given in them is really all that great then why isn't the author out doing things the way he recommends in the book? Possibly, the authors of these books just want to share their knowledge for the good of all mankind. Or it could be that everyone has an opinion and for every opinion there is yet another book on business and yet another author who wants to write a bestseller and retire.

Not that all of these books are bad. Right now, I've got this book sitting at home waiting to be read. It looks interesting but I doubt it will change my life. It probably won't change anything.

The reason for this is simple. Consciously or not, I'm only attracted to those books that coincide with my worldview. (or at least my view of business) Like most people, I enjoy reading things that reinforce my existing biases. Even though I try to be open-minded, it's really difficult for anyone to honestly do so.

Which brings me back to The Dark Lord. He's proclaimed that the concepts presented in the book are holy writ. The way we do things at our company from this day forward. He wants us to have our employees read this book. He wants us to preach it's merits at staff meetings and to develop activities which reinforce it's concepts. He reassures us that this book is no mere fad but a new and different way of doing things!

On a regular basis we've been asked to report on our progress in regard to prosyletizing this book. My peers dutifully talk about all the different activities in which they've engaged. All fine and good. Except my peers are lying like the scum sucking lapdogs that they are. In reality, no one is doing anything any different than before. More than just a cursory conversation with those employees reveals that all of these spiffy activities are merely vapor. At best any changes are window dressing on activities that would've occured otherwise.

No one is doing anything any differently including the Dark Lord. I imagine he convinces himself that he is, but it isn't so. He's using the contents of the book in order to reinforce his perfectionistic tendencies. He wants to squeeze just a little more juice out of this orange that is his company.

I haven't named the book because this is an anonymous blog and the exact title is unimportant. It's actually a fairly good read and the concepts presented seem sound to me. I suspect, though, that anyone who agrees with the book is already doing the things it recommends or something not too different.

I suppose I'll have to spend some time inventing my own little activities as part of this whole charade. I enjoy receiving a paycheck and I don't want to rock the boat. (Boat rockers don't last very long.) Right now, I'm wondering if this is how the people who work for Kim Il Sung feel. (On a grander scale and with more severe consequences for failure to follow the party line.)

I hate having to play make believe so the emperor won't realize he isn't wearing any clothes. This is exactly the sort of thing that gave me nightmares in my 20's. Yes, that's me, a corporate sellout. Reminds me of that commercial from monster.com that has little kids saying things like, "I want to be a paper pusher when I grow up."

Enough whining for now.

Moving Mountains

Friday, June 17, 2005
If a man's imagination doesn't even begin to stretch the limits of God's creativity, then anything that can be imagined can in fact occur; time travel, manipulation of the physical environment with conscious thought - even life after death.

Lying on my back in a moonlit field near our house, feeling the soft breeze as it rustles through the cornfields, it isn't difficult to imagine.

Running with The Cows

Wednesday, June 15, 2005
I would never walk across an empty parking lot late at night. I tend to cross streets away from the corner instead of right at the corner. I walk on the left hand side of the street so I can see oncoming traffic and if a car full of punks pulls up to give me trouble, well, at least one or two of them better be ready to go to the hospital.

Not matter how hard I try I'll always be a city boy.

But here in Mayberry there aren't any savage gangs roving the streets. It's unlikely anyone would try to run me down in the middle of a parking lot and there isn't much traffic late at night.

As far as I'm concerned, it's the perfect time for running. That's right running. You know, jogging. Up until this point in my life I've had three rules that I set for myself: 1. Never tell anyone my IQ. 2. Never tell anyone how much money I make. and 3. Never ever go jogging. Recent events have convinced me to reconsider #3.

There's this guy I know who lives a few blocks from me. In the evenings I often see him jogging. He was never horribly fat or anything to begin with, but like me, he had a little bit of a belly problem. He doesn't have it now. He looks great and when I spoke to him about it he told me he's lost 40 lbs. running 3-5 mi most evenings. Then there's this other guy I know. He lives out in the desert somewhere near LA. He's shown me how jogging can become a metaphor for life. It seems to have helped him to feel more in control of his life and maybe even a little more confident.

So if you stop by Mayberry on one of these pleasant summer evenings and you see a jogger who looks just a little too paranoid, it's me getting skinny and confident.

Paddling Big Muddy

Saturday, June 11, 2005
I had to drive out to the hinterlands the other day on an errand for the dark lord. On the way out there, I conjured up an idea... here's how it goes:

I quit my job then my dog and I take a kayak and paddle it the length of the Mississippi River. Along the way we take pictures and write thought-provoking and history laden text that we sell in a book at the end of the trip. I would research most of the places we'd stop beforehand so we'd know where to stop and be able to work in all that knowledge. For instance, near our starting point in Minnesota we could talk to Chippewa Indians about their ancestors relationship to the river and the way the French fur trappers changed it. In St. Louis we could talk about the founding of the city, how it changed hands as the French, then the Spanish, then the French again and finally the Americans claimed it. We could stop in Cairo and make some socially responsible comments about the poverty the people there face. There's tons of material available for this book along the way.

I'm guessing the trip would take about three months. Most of the book would be written by the end of the trip as I would write about the day's experiences nearly every evening on a laptop. After the trip I would have some editing to do then, voila! a bestseller. Then we'd go back later with PBS and do a documentary -- they eat that kind of stuff up.

I only have a few small problems to work out. First of all I've never been in a kayak in my life. (How hard could it be?) Secondly, I doubt I have enough money to live for three months without a job. Possibly, the wife could support me but that's a little bit of a gamble. The dog has never been in a kayak but I'm certain she'd adjust.

Later on, after I arrived home from my road trip I thought about it. Three months living in a kayak and sleeping on muddy river banks. Well, it would be an adventure.

Personal Mantras

Wednesday, June 08, 2005
You love the things you pay attention to."
* -- Dirk Knemeyer's poetry teacher

Hmmm...and this blog is called deficit of attention.

It's from Personal Mantras and it's kind of interesting.

Just Enough

Tuesday, June 07, 2005
To many people it comes naturally. They examine something then decide to believe it and that settles it for them. They never doubt again.

I'm not one of those people. There are times when I find myself thinking that Religion is nothing more than a vast rationalization projected onto a non-existent God. It seems like there's a complex reason complete with circular logic for everything connected with religious belief. For example, God claims to answer my prayer - yet he obviously didn't. The explanation: God did answer your prayer - he just said "no" or "not yet". Or another example, Why did X happen? The explanation: It wasn't God's will. How do we know it was God's will? Only after the fact.

Let's look at a few other things. Supposedly God created everything and evolution didn't happen. Yet, would someone tell me what is the purpose for body hair? Surely, it can't be to keep us warm. Could it be a remnant of our evolutionary ancestry?

Keep in mind that I'm not a skeptic, but a true believer. But I'm a true believer with a brain and a mind that doubts everything. I'm not sure why. When someone tells me something my first instinct is to disbelieve it unless I see it for myself. In fact, in my mind I have a category for those kind of things. When I'm told something I put it into a little category in my mind that I like to call "Provisional Truth". That is, I'll act as if it were true for now but I won't truly believe it until I see or experience it for myself.

From time to time, I have to force myself to re-examine my faith. Is the bible trustworthy? And I have to remind myself that God isn't a short-order cook, willing to just whip something up for me at a moment's notice. God is not tame. Instead he's sovereign and knows that best plans for me and everyone else.

Of course, there are still some things that trouble me about my beliefs but I haven't found an alternative that comes even remotely close to being as believable. I have a real problem with people who cherry-pick the Bible, keeping what they like and throwing out things that are too inconvenient to believe or are otherwise problematic. (On a side note, it seems odd to me that some so-called religious people vigourously point to the Bible to justify their pacifist inclinations, but are also the ones most likely to deny that Jesus is the only way to salvation. Jesus clearly says this and yet these progressives choose to ignore this and focus on the passages that seem to justify moral cowardice in the face of evil with the hope of keeping the peace.)

When I run into crises in my personal life, I'm not one of those people who report feeling an overwhelming sense of peace or comfort because of my faith. At first, I question God and feel very much like the Israelites must've felt as they wandered the wilderness after escaping Egypt. They asked God why He led them out of slavery only to let them starve to death in the desert. I feel the same exact way.

Yet I try to remember Galatians 6:9 which says not to grow weary of doing good and not to give up. Also, I try to remember Hebrews 3:7-15 which warns of the sin of unbelief and offers hope for the future. I have to tell myself that my faith is bigger than my job situation. It's bigger than my self-centered thoughts and desires. I have faith. It isn't perfect, but I have just enough of it to make it through the day. I guess that's the best I can expect.

Something More

In Which Grouchy Neocon whines about his job situation:

I'm tired of dealing with a bloated bureaucracy, tired of dealing with a President that thinks he's a king. I'm not referring to the US Govt but to my employer. I haven't been happy with my employer for quite some time now and things have come to a point where I'm aggressively searching for a new job.

Not that I have a horrible life. By many standards, my job is better than many people could ever hope. But I know I'm capable of more and that it's time to see what else is out there for me.

That's one reason for the dearth of posts here. I've just been too darn depressed to think about blogging.

The place where I work is dominated by it's founder. He's someone who has made some very smart business moves and built the company from the ground up. But his identity is inseparable from that of the company which makes for some real problems. As a result, nothing is a good idea unless you can convince him that he thought of it. No one is allowed to excel to the point where it would cast any shadows on this guy. He's almost literally king of his domain and the company exists to serve him and him alone.

As the head of the company, he's entitled to make whatever decisions he deems necessary. He deserves respect because of his position even though "it's all about him" and satisfying his massive ego. Supervision with him consists of an hour or two of him second guessing your every move and stating the obvious as if he were discovering the cure to cancer. For example, we need more business so the answer is, "just go out and sell it...our competitors put their pants on the same way as us every morning..." No kidding. You think there might be a reason we aren't selling this stuff? Maybe it's because we aren't willing to invest in the product so it's at least up to speed with the competitor. But for him, it's much easier to crack the whip and accuse people of not working hard enough.

So I've been searching desperately for another job. Unfortunately, I'm one of those guys that does a lot of things really well and not someone who is very tightly specialized and therefore, able to drop right into a position advertised someplace.
It all comes down to who knows who and I'm woefully deficient in that regard.

I know a lot of people have it much worse. At least I have a job and one that pays pretty decent too. My options seem pretty limited at this point. It's either go to work for some corporation or figure out a way to get into my own business. Working for "the man" or being the man. Right now, I'd settle for either.

I've had several instances lately where I want to tell Mr. President to f* off. I want to tell him that he's one of the most arrogant assholes I've ever met in my life. But I won't. Instead I'll search for something else and hopefully I'll find it soon. Otherwise, it could be a long hot summer.