05.08.09

Bed Pan Technician-Training Schools Rejoice

Posted in Phlogiston, Predator State at 11:17 pm by George Smith

“President Barack Obama wants unemployment insurance to become a stepping stone for future work by making it easier to enroll in school or job training,” reported AP today. “Whether he succeeds will depend on the willingness of states and colleges to change the rules.”

“‘Community colleges applauded the president’s plan. George Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, said Obama would remove obstacles that keep the unemployed from heading back to school. The association represents about 1,200 such colleges.”

AP noted the US Education Department will boost the maximum Pell Grant $500 to the whopping sum of … $5,350.

Currently, a year at the University of Southern Cal costs about $55,000.

Republicans immediately chided the President over costs.

“Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican Party chairman, said his state already allows the unemployed to enroll in job training and encourages them to do so,” informed the AP.

Such unemployment reforms may quickly clear the way for the jobless to enroll in community college, making courses available to train them for a multiplicity of jobs.

Such jobs will include but not be limited to: test-tube cleaning, shelving and getting reagents, learning to use a Metler balance, mucous, surgical drain and breathing pipe maintenance, teeth scraping, gram-staining, changing oxygen tanks for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, blood pressure-taking, temperature taking, enema giving, supervision of administration of Fleet’s Phospho-Soda, cleaning up messes in hospitals and clinics, airport security, turnstyle security, public transit security, frisking, pat downs and strip searching, simple detentions, immigration status checking, herding, temporary staffing, manning the metal detectors at court houses, X-ray smock fitting, checking dosimeters, wheelchair-bound patient moving, massage, bed pan emptying, restraining and strapping the old and mentally ill into chairs in various warehousing environments, bed sore monitoring, security work in privately administered prisons, embalming, corpse dressing, using word processor and accounting software, installing anti-virus software, transcribing, bank tellering, cafeteria work, how to wear a sterile smock, simple sterile procedures, transfers and transport of pees and poos in the clinical lab setting, refrigerated organ transport, transport of organs reclaimed from cadavers, preparing cadavers for organ reclamation, selling door to door, telemarketing, on-line promotion and astro-turfing, using Blogger, search engine optimization, building a network with Twitter, repeat calling debt collection, data entry and processing tax returns, using Adobe Acrobat or Photoshop and using Microsoft Powerpoint.

Robert Titman, an expert on the economic impact of continuing education at the City College of Gobble-Wallah in Birmingham, Alabama, predicted that in the next two years the US would see a big economic boom from the new highly educated and skilled workforce. The country would leap to the forefront in retraining the unemployed, providing a leading example for the rest of the world, he said.


Related: Sit Home and Rot.

05.07.09

A Most Catastrophic Nomination

Posted in Bioterrorism, Predator State, War On Terror at 4:44 pm by George Smith

Updated

Tara O’Toole, CEO of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Biosecurity,
has been nominated by the Obama administration to be the top scientist at the Department of Homeland Security. While readers may not know the name, if one actually likes their science based in reality, not scenarios which are Biblically apocalyptic and free of facts, it is a dreadful choice.

At the Danger Room blog, Noah Schachtman queried DD and others on the wisdom of the administration’s move. (See here. And in another form, echoed by Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent. And from Fox News, here.)

“This is a disastrous nomination,” Richard Ebright, a Rutgers University microbiologist and homeland security policy critic, told Schachtman.

“O’Toole supported every flawed decision and counterproductive policy
on biodefense, biosafety, and biosecurity during the Bush dministration … O’Toole is as out of touch with reality, and as paranoiac, as former Vice President Cheney. It would be hard to think of a person less well suited for the position.”

“She was the single most extreme person, either in or out of overnment, advocating for a massive biodefense expansion and relaxation of provisions for safety and security … She makes Dr. Strangelove look sane.”

More recently, O’Toole was discussed on this blog as part of a larger piece on predator state security practices. (See here.)

Predator state security ensures that nothing realistic gets done. Rather, it is simply the rapid diversion of taxpayer dollars into the hands of the private sector — in this case — the biosecurity industry. Threats are invented and the most scary predictions are publicized, all to grease the process. And this is what has happened in the United States. The biodefense industry has ballooned in size until it is out of all proportion to the nature of the threat. It has certainly increased the number of American scientists and technologists working with deadly microorganisms. And in these processes, it has escaped from rational, as well as fiscal, oversight. (It should be noted and reflected upon that the most famous bioterrorist, Bruce Ivins, came from the heart of the nation’s biodefense infrastructure.)

In the earlier piece from this blog, O’Toole was noted as “an independent panelist appointed to review the action of the super-biodefense lab called the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center when it opens in 2009.” It was a perfect illustration of a cheerleader for the massive growth of the biodefense industry being put in a position to oversee one of the best examples of massive growth in the biodefense industry.

The choice, in other words, was cooked. And that was because of O’Toole’s work as an advisor to the government, her participation in notorious bioterror wargames and her regular appearance in the media as a harbinger of bio-doom. O’Toole’s public words and actions often seemed designed to serve the creation of the belief in the imminence of catastrophic bioterror, one which led to the creation of an NBACC and many other similar defense research labs.

For example, O’Toole directed an exercise called Atlantic Storm in 2005 which purported to demonstrate effectiveness and consequences of an al Qaeda bio-attack using smallpox. It has been criticized effectively by other experts, most notably Milton Leitenberg, who listed a number of sins attributed to it — sheer exaggeration, juiced disease transmission and amplification of threat, a terrorist facility for making smallpox into a weapon that even state run biological warfare operations did not possess.

“The 2005 Atlantic Storm exercise made ‘grossly misleading assumptions’ about the ease of creating and then dispersing the same biological agent … a dry powder smallpox preparation, a feat that neither the US nor Soviet BW programs ever achieved,” Leitenberg wrote in “Assessing the Biological Weapons and Bioterrorism Threat.”

“The [Atlantic Storm] scenario we posited is very conservative,” said O’Toole, for the Washington Post in 2005. “The age of biological weapons is not science fiction; it’s here.”

For the Los Angeles Times, O’Toole was attributed: “This could have been much worse. The age of engineered biological weapons is here. It is now.”

Later that year, again for the Post, in a story on how or why the failed national smallpox immunization ought to be revived: “People are now back in dumb-and-happy mode . . . [in contrast with] when we were going into Iraq, and the possibility of a smallpox attack was seen as much more plausible.”

While at John Hopkins University in June 2001, O’Toole also contributed to another al Qaeda-delivered smallpox wargame, one called Dark Winter.

“. . . spookily prescient,” the Post wrote of it, in a story entitled “A War Game to Send Chills Down the Spine.”

However, the Dark Winter exercised used a smallpox transmission rate that was three times its historical average. The alteration juiced the contagion, one that guaranteed the simulation would end in total catastrophe.

“We intentionally picked the absolutely worst-case scenario,” said Randy Larsen, a collaborator of O’Toole’s and one of the game’s architects, to the Post. “We designed a war game they could not win,” he added later in the story.

And ” . . . suddenly, ‘smallpox’ is the threat du jour,” wrote the Post.

Other O’Toole appearances in the press, and there have been many, have always been achingly predictable emphases on the ease of bioterrorism, doom (as in “we’re cooked”) and the inevitability of it all.

From the San Francisco Chronicle in 2001: “These [bio]weapons are cheap, they are easily accessible, and they are going to get worse as the science becomes more sophisticated.”

Attributed in Investor’s Business Daily, in an article about the need for new labs to fight bioterror: “The worst-case scenario is a concerted campaign . . . a little anthrax attack here, a little plague here, and . . . a little smallpox there, then the anthrax again.”

In the Los Angeles Times in 2003: “Bioterrorism is a whole new terrain of national security that’s going to have the same magnitude of impact as the creation of nuclear weapons . . . We should increase spending [on bioterrorism] to $10 billion next year.”

And on avian flu to human flu, in 2005, from various newspapers: “Once you’re there, you’re cooked”; “You’re looking at a nation-busting event”; “[an avian flu plague would be]more difficult and worse than a large terrorist attack, bomb, dirty bomb or airplane slamming into a building” and “If we don’t drive down the costs of drugs, we’re cooked –both in healthcare and biodefense.”

In the world of Tara O’Toole, bioterror has the nation cooked.

Leitenberg added in e-mail to DD, one which had been originally forwarded to Wired but which did not make the cut at press time: “It is a black mark for an administration seeking rational fact based policies. The most absolutely catastrophic appointment conceivable, which promises to ensure continually misdirected resources in the forthcoming years. Whoever was responsible for the selection in the Obama administration should be replaced.”


“Holy Bad Nominations, Batman!” writes Jason at Armchair Generalist.


“Also of note about [Tara O’Toole] are her ties to the Democratic Party and Congressman John Murtha,” writes Ken Silverstein at Harpers’ blog.

“Since 2003, she has contributed a total of $8,300 to the Democratic National Committee, as well as a number of Democratic presidential candidates, including John Kerry, Wesley Clark, Hillary Clinton, and most recently Barack Obama. The only member of congress to whom she has contributed is Murtha. In 2004 and 2005, immediately before and after Murtha earmarked money for her center under the Strategic Biodefense Initiative, she gave him $1,750.

“As I’ve noted before, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center – O’Toole’s center is one of its projects – retains as its lobbying firm Ervin Technical Associates, which has close links to the congressman. UPMC’s PAC and employees have donated heavily to Murtha, including $192,500 in 2006. That was the year after Murtha won an $8.5 million earmark for UPMC — lobbied for by Ervin Technical — for a communications network. Ervin Technical is also seeking to win support for a dubious UPMC project which is looking for funding to develop and manufacture biodefense vaccines.”


Protecting the nation from catastrophic bioterrorist health emergencies — the biosecurity industry press release, March 18 2009

David P. Wright, Co-Chair of the Alliance for Biosecurity and Chairman and CEO of PharmAthene, Inc., testified today before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee on the critical importance of developing drugs, vaccines and other medical countermeasures needed to protect Americans from bioterrorism and other catastrophic health emergencies. Effective medical countermeasures for many of the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agents that pose the greatest threat to the United States do not currently exist, and Wright argued that the federal government should take a more active role in supporting their development to bolster the nation’s biosecurity.

“Protecting our nation against bioterror threats is no less important than ensuring that we have the tools necessary to fortify and protect our military,” Wright noted, but “funding for the development of CBRN countermeasures, particularly in the area of advanced development, has been woefully inadequate.” Wright stated that “without adequate funding, promising countermeasures will not be developed and the nation will remain vulnerable to a bioterror attack – and make no mistake, a bioterror attack is a real and credible threat.”

“Increased funding would advance the day when our nation has access to these critical countermeasures,” Wright stated, but “until that day arrives, the American people remain at risk.”

The Alliance for Biosecurity was formed in June of 2005 by biopharmaceutical companies and [Tara O’Toole’s] Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Alliance members are committed to partnering with government and promoting a new era in the prevention and treatment of severe infectious diseases – particularly those that present global security challenges – through innovative and accelerated research, development and production of countermeasures. Company members of the Alliance include: Bavarian-Nordic, Cangene Corporation, DOR BioPharma, Inc., Dynport Vaccine Company LLC, a CSC Company, Elusys Therapeutics, Emergent BioSolutions, Hematech, Inc., a subsidiary of Kyowa Kirin, Human Genome Sciences, Inc., NanoViricides, Inc., Pfizer Inc., PharmAthene, Siga Technologies, and Unither Virology LLC, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics.


Tara O’Toole predicts

U Pitt News, April 15, 2005

One hundred kilograms of anthrax dropped on Washington, D.C., would be as deadly as a one-megaton hydrogen bomb.

This is one of the many reasons why Dr. Tara O’Toole believes the use of biological weapons is “potentially imminent.”

O’Toole discussed bioweapons in her lecture “Disease as a Weapon: A New Challenge for the 21st Century.” The speech, full of cautionary words and threats of unavoidable disaster, fell upon the ears of an Alumni Hall audience Tuesday afternoon.

Bioweapons have been proven to work on a large scale; they can kill hundreds of thousands of people at one time. Generally, it is difficult to determine where a bioweapon was let loose, so an exact radius of destruction is hard to calculate, O’Toole said.

Australia Broadcasting System, September 2005

Participants in Atlantic Storm included former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright and former government ministers from Canada, Poland, France, the Netherlands and Italy.

As the exercise began, they were all meeting in Washington for a Transatlantic summit.

Tara O’Toole: We alleged that as these leaders were flying across the Atlantic for this meeting, there were reports of smallpox cases in Europe coming on to the airwaves, and by morning it was confirmed that there were smallpox cases in Turkey and in Germany, and of course since smallpox has been eradicated from the natural world, these confirmed reports meant that there had been smallpox attacks in Europe.

Tara O’Toole: We posited that we had a number of people walking through these busy airports and train stations and so forth, with a backpack on them, just releasing what would be an invisible, odourless cloud of smallpox into the air.

Tom Morton: Atlantic Storm was widely reported in the American media. There were editorials in The Washington Post, calling for urgent action to combat the bioterrorist threat.

The creators of Atlantic Storm knew which buttons to press. They’d already got the ear of Vice-President Cheney with a previous exercise called ‘Dark Winter’.

But prominent scientists have sharply criticised both Atlantic Storm and ‘Dark Winter’. But scientists say it’s highly unlikely that terrorists could mount a mass attack with biological weapons, as the scenarios depict.

One of those scientists is Jonathan King, Professor of Molecular Biology at MIT. King says that the creators of these scenarios are panic-mongering.

Jonathan King: I would say these scenarios were very deeply kind of irresponsible, almost dangerous. They present proposals out of the imagination as if they’re actually established, that some actual named al Qa’eda representatives were in the Soviet Union getting smallpox stocks. Every piece of which is a total figment of the imagination. The notion that the terrorists could grow up smallpox in hidden facilities, tissue culture facilities which have extensive maintenance requirements, this is not again a small-scale thing, it requires a lot of skill, a lot of money, a lot of people, material being delivered in all the time, sterile conditions, positive air control, this is not a low tech garage operation. These scenarios were loaded with proposals that represented a kind of misrepresentation of what’s known about these things, I would say in an extremely irresponsible way.

The Washington Post, July 2006

“We haven’t yet absorbed the magnitude of [the bioterror] threat to national security,” said O’Toole, who worries that the national commitment to biodefense is waning over time and the rise of natural threats such as pandemic flu. “It is true that pandemic flu is important, and we’re not doing nearly enough, but I don’t think pandemic flu could take down the United States of America. A campaign of moderate biological attacks could.”

Defense News, November 6, 2006

The risk and ease of a bioterror attack on either side of the Atlantic equals — or exceeds — that of low-radiation nuclear bombs and thus demands far more rapid-reaction planning compared to prevention, [said a number of bioterror experts.]

The U.S. experts addressed an Oct. 27 biosecurity workshop of European Union and NATO homeland security officials as part of their briefing tour of European capitals. Their organizations were directly involved in Atlantic Storm, the February 2005 high-level bioterror exercise involving U.S. and European politicians.

“There are a least 1 million people [across the globe] who have the academic and technical qualifications to build an antibiotic-resistant bug,” said Tara O’Toole, director of the University of Pittsburg’s Center for Biosecurity. “Ask any biologist whether they could make a bioweapon. I’ve not gotten a ‘no’ to that answer yet.

“Deadly toxins are a very appealing asymmetric weapon, and we see no obstacles to a terrorist getting his hands on them and dispersing them,” she said. “Our political leaders do not understand the urgency and lethality of this threat. And the only defense against bio-attack is post-event preparation, because all you can really do is mitigate the consequences and try to stabilize the situation.”

April 2007, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Tara O’Toole:

[Most experts] have deemed a bioterrorist attack and a nuclear attack as the two types of terrorist assaults most likely to destabilize the nation.

Only bioweapons and nuclear weapons are in the top category of lethality.

And 100 kilograms of weaponized anthrax dropped on D.C. under good weather conditions, is likely to cause about the same number of casualties as a one megaton bomb dropped on the city. No other kind of weapon is in this category of lethality.

Furthermore, we know Al Qaida is pursuing biological weapons. We know that from evidence gathered in Afghanistan and documented in the Rob Silverman WMD report.

And we also know, and have explicit evidence that it’s very difficult to attribute a bio-attack to any particular perpetrator, as we’ve seen in 2001.

That means that our traditional means of deterrence against attacks in the United States, i.e., attribution with certain retribution, are weakened.

Really, the only strategy we have for biodefense is to be able to swiftly and very significantly mitigate the consequences of such attack.

In Comgressional testimony, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, October 2007

Tara O’Toole: I think it was the ease of carrying out a biological attack, because these organisms live naturally in the world and are available in hundreds of gene banks across the world. And also because these are replicating organisms. So if you can mount one attack, you can make enough anthrax — for example, if you’re patient — to do two, ten.

So everyone is going to feel vulnerable after the first attack. The whole country’s going to want anthrax vaccine. That’s why sitting here today with enough anthrax vaccine to cover only about 3 million people is so worrisome. And I suspect part of the reason behind HHS’s reluctance to get rid of expired vaccine might not be perfect, it might not what you’d use on a good day. But it might be a lot better than nothing in the breach.

So we need to take, I believe, a much more strategic look both at these two programs that we’re discussing today. And they’re both vital programs as well as at our overall biosecurity strategy.

And I think there’s a lot of complacency and misinformation abroad in the leadership of the country about the biothreat and biodefense. I think people think the threat is much more remote and much less potentially destabilizing than in the case. And I think they believe we’re more prepared than is the case, because we’ve done a lot. We’ve worked hard and spent about $40 billion since 2001 on civilian biodefense.

But the problem is that drugs and vaccines are a lot harder and trickier to make and a lot more expensive than sensors or engineering products. And I don’t think that when we embarked on the BioShield program in 2004, the complexity of this endeavor was fully realized, either by the Congress or by HHS.

The fact is that the $5.6 billion in BioShield is a fraction of what we’re going to need. And part of the delay on HHS’s part is trying to figure out how do we get countermeasures for all the possible threats within that sum of money. So we’re not asking what do we need to defense the country against bioattacks? We’re in effect asking what can we get from this amount of money? We’re basically shopping at Costco. All right?

This is part of the reason why big pharma doesn’t want to get into the game. It’s also why we are dependent upon small, daring biotech companies [see, for example, the Alliance for Biosecurity — ed.] who’ve never made anything before. And making a new drug or a vaccine is a lot more art than science.

That’s just where we are. We’re in a revolution in bioscience. There’s lots of very tempting possibilities coming down the pike in terms of new drugs and new vaccines. But at the current pace, it’s going to take us about ten years to get there. So the whole problem of trying to get what we need for a fairly paltry sum of money, when you compare it to other national security expenditures, is one of the big problems with countermeasures.

05.03.09

Sit Home and Rot

Posted in Phlogiston, Predator State, War On Terror at 9:16 pm by George Smith

Today’s post points toward a column, written by the well-known Barbara Ehrenreich, on another uniquely American sham: That job-hunting is your new job. So get to it. (Incidentally, Ehrenreich — aside from being the most well-known author and critic on the nature of the workplace in modern America, is the public face of United Professionals, an “advocacy group to protect and preserve the American middle class.”)

It’s here — entitled “Trying to Find a Job is Not a Job.”

It encapsulates the concept — mentioned briefly here about a year ago — that Americans have been manipulated into accepting as true all sorts of rubbish about employment and their lack of it. Like: It’s your fault if you don’t have a job; your lack of skills made you obsolete; you aren’t looking hard enough for a job, you must make yourself over into a job-hunting machine; you have to go back to school many times in your life to keep yourself hep and fresh in the marketplace, and most off all, repeat it again and again — IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH, YOU WEAK SOD!

In a way, it boils down to a novel solution to the problem mass unemployment poses for national security. If the populace is being thrown out of work en masse, and it’s perceived to be the fault of leaders (rather than the people themselves), chances are they might think of going into the street in social protest. Such protests could become more virulent. They could bring down the government, or at least change it during the burning of things. Or also bring about some public facsimile of tarring and feathering for the geniuses at Goldman Sachs, AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, etc.

Instead, because most people buy into the sham, what we get is everyone just sitting at home. Perhaps all Twittering or Facebooking away in hope that a social network of strangers will dispense mercy upon them.

Journalists from business and employment sections have actually said it was good to do this. Really. See here at “Getting Fired is Now Fun.”

Or everyone can upload endless variations of their resumes to Monster or Careerbuilder because it’s been said that this must be done, along with 450 million others and one must have, oh — say, five or six, ten or maybe more different resumes to cover every contingency. And don’t forget to re-write that thing from scratch the next time you upload.

“In America, being unemployed doesn’t mean you have nothing to do but run around burning police cars,” Ehrenreich writes. “Unemployment has been reconfigured as a new form of work.”

Part of your new job is guessing what your future job ought to be. Or failing that, listening to other people, shamming as experts and asking for money, telling you what it ought to be. Then you can run off to a continuing education course or Pasadena City College, or enroll in an on-line diploma mill, and after a year get a chit or certificate in something which you were told will get you a job. And then it won’t. But that’s because you guessed wrong or were lazy or something. Do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200. Go directly to jail.

From January of 2008 of last year, when things were beginning to look dicey, DD requotes from here on “Preparing for Your Dream Job.” That’s from the old blog, the one that can’t be updated because Google Blogger fell over and crushed me.


Want to know the secret of landing your dream job? Making yourself over as a hardened job-hunting machine.

Victoria Secret has figured this out. She’s still in college at UCLA, but an up-and-coming striver, hustling to land a position in the entertainment industry. She has interned with Sony, worked pro bono one year for Walt Disney Outreach and spends nights thinking up slogans and jingles for the Bruin Ad Team, UCLA’s student run advertising team.

Secret is a skilled networker. She e-mails everyone she knows or has ever known who is still in the labor force, letting them know her talents and job interests. And she hands out business cards during her part-time job as a campus sales rep for a PC company.

Secret reviews her resume every month. You should too. “It’s a constant work in progress, like your life.”

Getting hired is all about doggedness, focus and learning to leverage contacts. No one gets anything worthwhile in the 2008 United States of America without being able to call in favors. If you haven’t got faint acquaintances who can assist in getting your foot in the door somewhere, this country is a grim place. If you’re not a persuasive bootlick, your prospects are nil.

You’ve got to throw yourself out there, reaching for any hands or legs there are to be grasped. If you can’t do that, you’ll face rejection again and again.

Here are several things you should do:

Post your resume on-line

You should buy high-quality paper and fresh ink for your printer. In these desperate days, some employers want to have the feel of a good piece of bond in their hands even as they’re tossing it into the trash in favor of the name of someone passed to them by a co-worker or superior. In the meantime, accept that there are virtues to going digital — those being that it’s easy, fast and puts you in a nice position of being immediately accessible, along with the 250 million other people who posted their resumes on-line.

Monster.com, for example, lists hundreds of thousands of jobs in virtually every category and works with 90 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies. To sift them, you’d have to be a machine. And while you are not as capable as such a machine, you must strive to be as machine-like as possible in your on-line search for a job. If you cannot be a ruthless job-hunting machine, you will fail and entropy — the dissolving of everything into nothing — will invade your life.

Other on-line sites target specific fields like jobsforandinmoneymoneymoney.com focusing on accounting and financialization services, annoyingcomputerjobs.com on the obvious, and opportunityknocksbutnotforyou.org, for employment at subsistence wages in the world of nonprofits.

Since there are so many resumes on-line you have about as good a chance at landing something decent as winning a raffle. Have you ever won anything worthwhile in a raffle? That gift certificate to Macy’s doesn’t count.

Apply directly to a company, on-line and off

Many companies post opening on their websites, but responding blind could land your application in a black hole, says Rory Kaplatt, founder of Rory Kaplatt & Associates, a Pasadena search firm. Do it the old-fashioned way: “Get the name of someone and write to that person.”

Everyone knows corporate office-workers and administrators look forward to getting unsolicited mail from desperate people they don’t know. You can check the company’s dumpster for your cover letter and resume a couple of days after you mailed it, if you’re job searching locally. This will allow you to informally keep tabs on the progress of your search. The technique is called “dumpster diving.”

Tap the hidden job-market — plead with your friends

Tell relatives, friends, friends of friends, trusted colleagues — everyone you meet during the day’s travels. Consider hiring a spambot to broadcast your need for a job. Maybe you can even get a job as a spam bot. Now more than ever, blog software employs special visual authentication traps. And so there’s a great need for jobs in which people work in a windowless room, for almost nothing, logging onto blogs, about five or six a minute, to manually upload spam and sales pitches into the comments section.

Anyway, you’re on a job hunt and only by being a ruthless machine will you succeed. For all the sweep of the Internet, only a machine-like focus will do. You must scour the Internet and shakedown your friends, even at the risk of alienating them. If you don’t know about a position, you can’t apply for it. And if you can’t find that job, your friends and everyone else will not want to know you, anyway. When you reach that critical point, which will be soon, your job search will collapse into a black hole. And after six months in the black hole of failed job search, you will be hardcore unemployable.

So you see why you must always be a ruthless job-searching machine. Do not flinch or shirk in this duty.

Being a ruthless job-searching machine worked for Diana. She started with a computer search to build a list of companies where she might want to work and wrote directly to people at each specifying the type of job she hoped to find. You can imagine how that went. The employers didn’t have any openings, but her job-hunting machine routine made such an impression that one eventually found a place for her. The 20-something Los Angeles woman doesn’t want to use her full name because that job wasn’t really a great job. In fact, she’s out of that job and hunting for a new one and if someone sees her name on-line in one of the firms she’s targetting, it won’t be good for the image.

Polish your resume — burnish your credentials, everyone else does

Putting your best self into pixels is a craft “that has to be mastered,” says Richard Bolles, author of the job-hunter’s bible, “Your Arbeit Will Set Your Free.” Job-hunting first-timers and veterans can find plenty of resume tips in the book, as well as on major job search sites. You should be spending at least two hours each day reading up, but in case you can’t get there today, here are some rules of thumb:

1. Be specific. Instead of saying “worked in a retail setting at the strip mall,” try “trained and supervised ten employees, one of whom went on to be a doctor, and handled payroll and purchasing in a firm with annual sales of $20 million.” No one can check or know how much places in strip malls pass in cash or if your co-workers were actually high school drop-outs and community college students.

2. One size does not fit all. Employers expect your resume to clearly show why you fit their specific opening, even if they don’t know what they want in an employee. This presents you with a dilemma. To be successful, you must be a ruthless resume-reworking machine, re-editing your vitals for finicky people whose nature you can only make wild guesses about. As crushing as it sounds, for every job application that you make, you must make a custom rewrite of your resume.

3. Typos or grammatical errors will route your resume into the trash. On the other hand, consider a rigorously spell-checked and elegantly composed resume in the hands of a prospective employer. Think of the e-mails you’ve received from your older college-educated acquaintances now in the corporate workplace. Recall the communications you occasionally get from said-to-be-important people in corporate America at your blog. Now do you really think having a resume that’s grammatical and well written is going to help that much? Come now, it could just as well have the opposite effect, pissing off a reader who gets it into their head you’re probably one of those who thinks they’re smarter than everyone else. So go ahead, make some mistakes. It’s all headed for the trash anyway.

Prepare for the interview — and brush your teeth

Spend time on the company’s website, even if it’s unusable. Check out their annual report and commit to memory the pack of lies that passes for their page of recent press releases. Be prepared to explain why you want the job and when asked what your biggest fault is as a worker, be able to convincingly explain how youve made it into your strongest asset, even though it’s not true. Try to convey the impression that you would give up any prospects for a social life outside work hours and that you might possibly even break the law, if that’s what is necessary to get that job done.

Be sure you come to the interview in a good-looking car or SUV. Make sure it’s clean and shiny. Everyone in America judges the worth of others, whether they admit it or not, by the size and condition of their vehicles. Employers are no different. If you have to, lease a car you can’t hope to afford. You can always declare bankruptcy and get hopelessly in arears later.

Shake hands with any prospective employer. Extend your arm, grasp the hand of the person you are greeting firmly but not crushingly. Don’t go limp. And don’t, don’t, don’t have a sweaty palm. Dry your hand thoroughly with some tissue paper before the interview.

Final resort: Study to become a public example

This involves emulating what some people do in the cities of Europe and Pakistan, environs where there are lots of young men, children of immigrants, who have no realistic hope of bettering their life.

Start hanging around on websites which cater to the distribution of texts advocating violent overthrow. Download all the texts on making poisons you can find on the Internet. Add some more on improvised home-made explosives.

Contact your local white Christian Minutemen or al Qaeda self-improvement and re-employment group.


Related: Bed Pan Training Schools Rejoice.

05.02.09

Google Blogger’s FTP Publishing Collapse

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:06 pm by George Smith

Google’s Blogger application and its infrastructure continues to fail on a regular basis. Coming into the weekend, FTP publishing collapsed, as well as commenting.

In all likelihood, this post will only publish to the mirror, which is here, if you’re reading it.

One of the reasons for this mirror is to migrate from the old blog (the one you’re used to reading, to this — on WordPress — in a different directory on DD dot com) is the regular failure of Blogger’s FTP publishing infrastructure. It is now so obvious a problem to users, one might call it a feature. (See here and here, for example.)

This adds to the April problem of Google Blogger’s overzealous spam robots regularly classifying blogs which aren’t spam as spam blogs. (See here.)

And this does not include the failure of Blogger’s syndication feeds a couple weeks earlier, one in which the application was corrupting atom and rss feeds worldwide and replacing them with 0-byte files.

Or the time, when FTP publishing failed previously for DD this year when the application simply blew away the index root file of the old blog, necessitating a restoration from snapshot backup.

These problems are not isolated. They happen to Blogger’s users worldwide, particularly if they’re using FTP publishing to deliver their blogs from Google’s servers to wherever they are hosting, usually on a small business site or an institution. And they largely go unaddressed UNTIL hundreds of people start posting in Google’s ‘Help’ forums. At which point, wheels start to slowly turn, and something gets a little fixing without anyone actually explaining much about what was wrong. And then the punters stop whining. That is, until next week’s similar failure.

One might think this would occasionally be read of in the news media. After all, Blogger is a fairly widespread and socially well-entrenched application. But no, most reporters won’t deal with Google because it has become so big no one can talk to it.

Instead, Google tells them what for. It tells them they need to shut up and find new jobs because Google is going to take their news and spread it globally for free until they no longer exist, which will be soon. So all the good little journalists on the business and tech beats at the dailies spend their time extolling Twitter and how everyone ought to use it right away or their lives will crumble into ruin.

Hey! Maybe Google could be persuaded to take Twitter over and give it that unique Blogger touch. Then everyone would really have some fun.


Update: Blogger eventually took enough ragging over the FTP issue that one of the milksop computer business websites did a story on the subject here.

However, if you read through the short piece, the reporter never really gets around to putting the Blogger rep’s feet in the fire. For the record, it’s Rick Klau.

Since the FTP problem had been so obvious, Blogger did manage a rare apology.

“Let’s start with the most important comment on this state of affairs: this sucks, and we’re sorry,” said Klau.

However, Klau also furnished the standard response Blogger has delivered during the last few years whenever there’s an FTP publishing screw up.

It’s the private domain user’s fault. And it’s his or her fault because the hosting service is always changing its FTP logon protocols, flummoxing poor Blogger.

However, anyone who has used FTP through Blogger during the past couple of years knows this song and dance is the stock reply, one delivered even after the user has run down every detail on their hosting end and determined that nothing has changed.

In another way of speaking, it’s Google Blogger’s standard excuse. And they stick to it rigidly until complaints in the help forum get so loud they’re forced to quietly fix what is cocked up on their side. When the momentary trouble with FTP abates, they go back to whistling the same tune.

It’s one of the primary reasons I abandoned Blogger. Couldn’t stand the technical faults and excuses insinuating it was always the user’s fault. If you want to use your domain to host a blog, you should not go down the road with Blogger drawing your carriage.


Related:

Another way of describing various Google apps and their general approach to failure and crack-up:

Google’s introverted population certainly knows that it’s easier and cheaper to legalese your way out of a customer’s problem than it is to hire a person to pick up the phone.

From here.

Updated

Here. Haw!

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