suck harder.
a fish, a barrel, and a smoking rejection.
for 8 August 1996. Updated WHENEVER we get a submission.

the fish
Dining With Cannibals II

Ball and Chain

Ah... the Internet content

business... what a lovely new way

for "Da Man" to push We The People

down. I sit grumbling and groaning

all day over my white-hot phone,

unconciously putting holes in my

stomach, irate over the massive

number of schmucks that don't know

their IP address from their area

code. I'm the guy who gets the

calls you hear about in Tech

Tales - calls like "Hello, I

can't figure out how to dial my

modem. It doesn't have a touch-tone

keypad." You see, I am the

technical support department. Me

alone. It's not a glamorous job -

fuck, it's the equivilant to a

janitor. I mop up the shit no one

else wants to deal with, and spread

sawdust around to mask the stench.

Needless to say, by the end of the

day, I have enough hate and

antipathy stored up to run Hell for

a week.

Veal Fattening Pen

But lurking in my brown-walled box -

my glorious, albeit cramped, cube -

I hear things. And working with the

exploited developers, I know things.

I was good friends with one guy in

particular... let's call him Jake.

Jake was fired because he "wasn't

being productive enough" and his

"coding wasn't up to par". About

three months prior to his dismissal,

Jake and I had a chat during a smoke

break. He told me his idea of a

good manager in this industry: a

boss who tells you what to do, and

doesn't mention it again until the

deadline... unless it's necessary.

He said, looking down upon a young

coder wannabe, that if, come deadline

time, The Project has not been

finished, you have every right to be

fired. This was the man's work

ethic, and he believed in and lived

by it wholeheartedly.


So when the powers that be awarded

him 30 days probation for "lack of

productivity", he was handed a

Project designed to both appease

them and put Jake back in his

place. But ol' Jake was doomed from

the start... such things as database

crashes, code mysteriously being

changed, and Windows 95 dying ate

precious time the way plug-ins

digest disk space. Not to mention

that there was one week right in

the middle of his probation that he

had to give to Uncle Sam (that's

what you get for "Aiming High"). I

watched as he worked around the

technical problems, found bugs in

the database that even Oracle

couldn't prognosticate, and fight

sabotage from others (how DID that

power-on password suddenly appear on

his machine?). He worked his ass

off, saw neither his wife nor kids

for a month, and put out one of the

best programs ever written here - a

program that will never need an

update or modification since it does

it all itself... and he even made

the 30-day deadline. Then he was

fired. A conspiracy of upper

management? You make the call.

It's reminicent of the McCarthy era

- just substitute "communist" with

"unproductive, unmotivated slacker".


The story has an almost Disney-like

ending -- Our Hero Jake is now

working for the direct competitor in

a position two higher than his old

boss when he worked here. The

reaction in Software was priceless...

everyone running about maniacally

trying to find all 18,472 security

holes and frantically pushing to

finally put up a firewall.

Shake Hands with the Future

I don't know that there's much of a

point to the story, except to state

the obvious: this industry sucks.

It's not anything similar to what

they told me at the Career Fair in

high school or in the glossy pages

of my undergrad catalog, and dammit,

I'm pissed. It isn't even as if one

rule is unfair -- the entire game is

bungled. Office politics have

spawned such exaggerated behavior in

the pointless strife for power that

one overhears gripes about "finding

that bastard who changed the height

of my desk chair." That's what they

want, man... they want us to battle

each other instead of realizing the

big picture, realizing that yes, it

is indeed all about them and not at

all about us. Or something. Of

course, nobody wants to rock the

boat with that IPO right around the

bend, and public stocks will make

all the yucky bad things go away,



"Yes, mas'ah."

courtesy of Ponderous Goosey

the barrel

the gun