Racist Is No Family

Anyone who is racist is no family of mine. Let’s be clear on that point. Former co-workers, blood relatives, people on the street: if you want to hold on to your racist thoughts and words, you can let go of me and I am better for it. Anyone who has said a single racist comment that I’ve heard, we will not be speaking until you 1) change your thoughts and ways, and 2) convince me that you have changed your thoughts and ways. This includes an aunt and an uncle of mine, and an uncle’s wife. I’m serious y’all. You want to keep your racist thoughts you will not have me in your life. That’s how fucked up I think you are. And to my racist aunt and uncle with children :: you owe it to them to bring your thoughts out of the 1800s. That’s tough love, and that’s the kind you’re going to get from me today.

Racist Is No Family

Let Me Tell You What I Really Think

from: Matthew Temple
to: [Company Owner], [Jackass Employee Josh English (Who Unfortunately for Them is their Chief Software Architect)]
cc: [The Entire Fucking Company, Pragmatic Solutions, If They Haven’t Blocked Email From Me Yet (Which, In My Farewell Note, I Suggested They Do, And Offered to Do For Them, For Free)]
date: Mon, Nov 9, 2009 at 11:25 PM
subject: your ex-employees are emailing me cheering me on in my childish farewell note
What does that say?
As mean as you might think I am, you should know that it doesn’t make me happy that when I send an insulting email about a truly jackass employee, that other employees are giving me “right-on”s in email, etc.
This is people who no longer work there, which means your current employees are forwarding them the note.
If that’s not a sign that you guys have a problem to address, I don’t know what is.
Wow. No thanks to either of you for wasting three years of my time.
Let Me Tell You What I Really Think

Call a Spade a Spade

From a former co-worker who is no longer with that company:

“btw I was just forwarded your parting email thread, lol that was hilarious!”

Glad I could oblige.  That was the first time I ever did the parting-email thing with a company.  Lol.  Totally childish but I have to say, it made me feel a whole lot better to email the entire company and, shall we say, call a spade a spade.  After years of swimming in an Emperor’s New Clothes culture with respect to a certain jackass employee of theirs, I am finally free!

Btw asshole (in case the insults in my parting email were in any way unclear): you can die knowing that more people will read and love this blog post than will be at your funeral.  He who laughs last laughs loudest.  And I’m laughing pretty loud right now.

Call a Spade a Spade

Last Company, You Can Fuck Yourself

Got mail from [a former co-worker who is no longer with that company] saying “yes, yes, yes” (he’s in, for working on [a project I’m putting together]).

Last company, you can fuck yourself.  You wanted failure, and you got what you wanted.  I feel sorry for you.  But why did you have to waste three years of my time?

I frame my time with you thus: indispensible experience, priceless education.  And I remember that most of learning what to do is learning what not to do…and that is not something you can pull out of a hat.  To know what not to do, you have to do a whole bunch of things wrong.  Never trust someone for whom things have gone too smoothly.

Last Company, You Can Fuck Yourself

Can you write a book and a blog at the same time?

I think if I’m unemployed the answer may be yes. I remember reading on William Gibson’s blog, I think, that he wouldn’t be writing on the blog for a while because it was an either/or situation and he wanted to focus on a book. Maybe that was someone else’s blog. I’m going to do Nanowrimo this year though, so I may try both for a while.

Also I feel freer to write something online, something public, now that I do not have a job. This is always the case. When I had my first public site around 2000, the internet was still a child and it was interesting to ponder why and whether one would have a public site (a “home page”) to tell the world about [the private?] you.

We’re way past that now. You assume your employer or date is googling you, assume it. Specialized background-check apps exist to screen your online hookups. In ten more years, what it means to be an individual will be totally different than it was ten years ago.

I find some aspects of this ridiculous; they are ridiculous from my point of view. I remember asking, in a blog post before my last job, “Can I keep my job and my personality at the same time?” One former employer, in a phone interview, asked me “So, what’s the deal with all this gay poetry?” Gay poetry? Ohhhh…this lopsided schmuck must be referring to a poem I wrote that has the phrase “gay teenagers” in it, which he, or some employee of his, found online before my interview. I should have sued him for mentioning it in an interview (is that possible?—might be). But I’m not about suing people. My question is this: am I required to discuss poetry with a person who doesn’t read or write poetry? If that former employer had been a broad enough person to have written a poem, or to have published a poem—or even: to have been able to read a poem—then I would have much more enjoyed discussing poetry with him! (If he was able to read and comprehend poetry, he would know that that poem, while technically containing the word “gay”, was not about gayness—unfortunately this subtlety was lost on him.) Instead, from my point of view, I am suddenly in a conversation about poetry with someone who doesn’t know anything about poetry. How is that fun for me? From that guy’s point of view, he’s in a conversation trying to figure out if I’m gay, or if I’m weird enough to write poetry, or if I’m reckless enough to attach my name to a poem that might be published, because he wants to guard against too much weirdness in his company. Or he’s just a lopsided schmuck.

There’s even more I want to say about that. Do people giving interviews and running companies realize that not only are they annoying me by inviting me into conversations on subjects about which they know nothing, but that they are also cataloguing to me a set of liabilities against their company and employees? Do you think I want to work at a place where all that people understand is simply poetry, or simply programming, or simply graphic design? What sane person would want to work alongside people who are paralysingly deficient in all but one of {language skills, visual skills, music skills, technical skills}? On the one hand, you can say I write gay poetry (which, to you, is weird and scary). On the other hand, I can say you’ve never been paid by a literary magazine for the right to publish a story you wrote (which, to me, is pathetic). It’s a liability to your company that you employ one-sided people. And one-sided people are never really good at that one thing. You can’t be really good at one thing if you’re only good at one thing. It’s lauded as accomplishment in this time and place that someone is soooo good at that one thing that they are good at it to the detriment of others: the engineering prodigy who scores soooo high on the math portion of his SAT that he gets into Case Western—even though he failed the English part. (Psssst: that’s not a good sign—for the kid or the college.) I would not hire that guy, and I don’t want to work with that guy. (And by the way, I was in the science fair with that guy, and my project won.)

I’ve mainly done programming work, and I’ve never met a programmer who was any good who didn’t have other loves. The best programmers I’ve known play in [good!] bands, have Tom Wolfe books on their shelves (yes, at work), and have bent my ear to tell endless stories about how they did LSD in middle school. I don’t have among my accolades that I play in a band or have Tom Wolfe books on my shelves or that I did LSD in middle school. I can tell you this, though: people who read Slashdot every morning are shitty programmers. I love to read technical stuff. I read RFCs like a motherfucker. I happily read programming books I’ve already read—typically I read the same manual twice in a row to make sure I got it. But I also read the Superficial—I need to know about Lindsay Lohan’s blurry nipplesneed to. (That’s something that impressed me about my last employer—if we were meeting in the conference room while Britney ran over a photographer’s foot, my boss and his partner knew it instantly.) I need Foucault. I need pop psychology. Somehow, in a way that is counterintuitive to most, caring about Lindsay Lohan’s blurry nipples as well as a smattering of other subjects makes me a better engineer than someone whose most endearing conversational gambit is to quote thrust-to-weight ratios from the Nissan website (you know who you are: I love you, but you’re a fucking idiot). People like that can write code, but their code lacks QWAN. It lacks that je ne sais quoi. Those people’s code, and their lives, are like asymptotes: improvable, but with zero hope of ever getting there.

What makes people like that terrible to me is that they will always exclude me from their club. What makes people like me terrible to them is that—while they couldn’t have said it and can’t do anything about it—they know the thing about the asymptote is true. This isn’t a one-sided smackdown: those twin tyrannies (they are fraternal rather than identical twins) are two distinct types of exclusion. One excludes the unusual. The other excludes the usual.

Even if it means I’m unhirable, I’m going to write openly, as I feel like it, and employers who do not like it may fuck themselves. Do you really want to hire people who offer up no offense? The answer for many of you is yes. So many of the “successful” people I have known in corporations over the last decade—not all, but many—are the programmers, managers, and CEOs who offer no offense: the CEO who (as did the CEO of one Fortune 500 company I consulted) hires an outside firm to tell them who to lay off. No offense there: PricewaterhouseCoopers told me to do it. Or the mid-level manager who is liked by all—but who doesn’t actually do anything. You can tell these successful people by this one trait: they never openly disagree with anyone on anything. That is the tactic required to succeed in many of these companies. I call it weak political bullshit. If you disagree with nothing, you are nothing. One of my film school teachers said he would consider a real person to be “someone who someone hates.” At the time he said it I wondered whether based on that criterion I was a real person—and at the time decided that I was not. Since then I’ve racked up a couple of people in that category. When I look at those people and situations, I try to figure out whether it was necessary that those people came to be at odds with me, and me with them. I don’t want to have people hate me unnecessarily! But in the few cases where a long-term offense has stood between me and another, there is a definite pattern: the only people who hate me are the ones who think they can control me. Who think that I existed in their world for their purposes only. Who tried to fit me into their reality picture (to use a phrase I read from Gibson).

When I try to fit you into my reality picture it is wrong. Morally wrong, if anything is morally wrong. I do that, and it is a mistake when I do. I need to be aware of it and stop doing it! And so do you. To the extreme, forcing you into my picture is the agression of murder, and of the vast murder that is war. We do not control each other (and it’s wonderful!).

Can you write a book and a blog at the same time?