Bureaucratic Alchemy

In all cases, how developers prove what they can afford to pay for comes down to the dark art of “viability”. The silver bullet of planning applications, the viability appraisal explains, through impenetrable pages of spreadsheets and fastidious appendixes, exactly how a project stacks up financially. It states, in carefully worded sub-clauses, just why it would be impossible for affordable housing to be provided, why the towers must of course be this height, why no ground-floor corner shop or surgery can be included, why workspace is out of the question; indeed, why it is inconceivable for the scheme to be configured in any other form. Presented as a precise science, viability is nothing of the sort; it is a form of bureaucratic alchemy, figures fiddled with spreadsheet spells that can be made to conjure any outcome desired.

Wainwright, O. (2014, September 17). The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/sep/17/truth-property-developers-builders-exploit-planning-cities


Loosen Your Grip

Daughter went off this afternoon on her bike to hang with besties, a new development compared to previous years. Before it would have been: arrange, drive, deposit, pick up. Now it’s wave-farewell and out the door. The rope in your hands starts to play out faster.
It’ll burn if you don’t loosen your grip.

Lileks, J. (2014, June 11). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0614/061114.html


I Hope He Had a Nice Snack

I once navigated a call [to cancel Comcast service] by letting the guy spiel for one minute and then saying approximately: “I am more stubborn than you. I am more patient than you. And I am lying comfortably on my bed in my pajamas with plenty of food and water, and have no qualms about taking the phone into the bathroom with me. Your options are to continue harassing me for as long as is required by your job guidelines and then cancel my account, or to just cancel my account immediately, and possibly have a snack. How long should I hold the phone near my ear until this call ends?” The call ended two minutes later. I hope he had a nice snack. I guess it’s all about luck of the draw.

Mizu (2014, July 14). Re: After a Decade [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/140932/After-a-decade#5638970


The Door Close Button

To-be-fired employees will likely be told that they were picked not just based on job performance, but rather through a combination of factors. There will probably be a paper “appeal” process they can try, but it will go nowhere and do nothing, like the “door close” button on an elevator. Managers responsible for choosing employees to be laid off can blame an inscrutable “process” rather than their own judgment. Everyone passes the buck.

Courtesy and decency: Not in this e-mail

In the end, the e-mail’s key ironic sentence is this one:
     “Everyone can expect to be treated with the respect they deserve for their contributions to this company.”
This ersatz expression of thanks could be cloned from every other layoff e-mail from every other company ever—it manages to be both patronizing and vaguely malevolent at the same time. What, precisely, does an employee “deserve” in this instance? There’s an argument to be made that employees deserve to be spoken to rather than spoken at, but down that path lies the potential for liability.

Like an unreadable, thick EULA, companies almost invariably choose to use the kind of messaging in this e-mail rather than normal-person talk.
Companies should “align their synergies” with the humans they’re firing and do them the courtesy of not pissing on them and telling them it’s raining. There’s a decent way to let people go, and this ain’t it.

Hutchinson, L. (2014, July 17). Op-Ed: Microsoft layoff e-mail typifies inhuman corporate insensitivity. Retrieved from https://arstechnica.com/staff/2014/07/op-ed-microsoft-layoff-e-mail-typifies-inhuman-corporate-insensitivity/


Quality Remodeling

They covered up one store front, and put in windows, and then covered up the windows. I’m reasonably sure the newer stuff isn’t stone, but pressed metal, painted over. Did the guy who finished the job step back and say “now there’s some quality remodeling, right there. Right there indeed.”

Lileks, J. (2014, May 8). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0514/050814.html


Fools Fish

Not for nothing does the movie run on the metaphor of fly fishing—of the crafted adornment that, by imitating life, fools fish into swallowing the hook.

Brody, R. (2014, March 21). Lars Von Trier’s Joyless Sexual Tantrum. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/lars-von-triers-joyless-sexual-tantrum


No Guilt

BARISTA: Can you be a complete douche and sit, typing on your laptop and only ordering one drink, all night at a bar?
CUSTOMER: Conceivably I could, but I’d rather not.
BARISTA: Voilà! Here you can do that without feeling guilty.

Stokes, C. (2014, April 30). Introducing the Starbucks Evenings Menu. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/shouts/2014/04/introducing-the-starbucks-evenings-menu.html


Not Exactly

This is about where we’d expect him to be at this point. Not exactly down and out, but living the days of a man without urgent purpose.

Roeper, R. (2006, December). Review: Rocky Balboa (2006). Retrieved from http://www.richardroeper.com/reviews/rockybalboa.aspx


Hundreds of Times

And I think we must have had this argument hundreds of times before and I finally had to stop because I couldn’t be in that situation anymore where we were making each other feel bad about ourselves.

Jonze, Spike. Her. Film Script. 2013. 13 July 2017. <https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/t711fe3u47rgkr1/HER%20%282013%29%20Spilke%20Jonze%20-Final-.pdf>


Intellectual Firepower

On Los Angeles: Locals report the combination of plentiful bud, babes, and sun only serves to dull the intellectual firepower that brought you and your screenplay out west in the first place.

Gallagher, B. (2013, March 15). 10 Most Overrated Cities in America. Retrieved from http://www.complex.com/city-guide/2013/03/overrated-cities-in-america/los-angeles



The inability to make important distinctions because the mind reduces everything to broad similarities is a trait of a smug, adolescent intellect that mistakes cynicism for insight.

Lileks, J. (2014, July 1). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0714/070114.html


Greed and Stupidity

I’ve never been a conspiracy theorist: I believe human greed and stupidity are simple explanations for all that’s wrong in the world, and that we don’t need to concoct a shadowy Illuminati organization to take the blame.

Woligroski, D. (2015, January 27). The Real Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 Specifications. Retrieved from http://www.tomshardware.com/news/nvidia-geforce-gtx-970-specifications,28464.html

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