How the other half lives, or Michael O. Church is a scummy fuckwit

Thursday, 21 August, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

We shall be reading together (with all of #bitcoin-assets) from How the Other Half Works: an Adventure in the Low Status of Software Engineers by said Michael O. Church.

Bill (not his real name, and I’ve fuzzed some details to protect his identity)

Protect his identity from what ?

is a software engineer on the East Coast, who, at the time (between 2011 and 2014) of this story, had recently turned 30 and wanted to see if he could enter a higher weight class on the job market. In order to best assess this, he applied to two different levels of position at roughly equivalent companies: same size, same level of prestige, same U.S. city on the West Coast. To one company, he applied as a Senior Software Engineer. To the other, he applied for VP of Data Science.

I may be the only one, but barbarisms like "two levels of position" bother me. I see them as the early signs of anomie.

That aside, two companies may be said to be equivalent, but you always need some criteria. There's no equivalency in se, of the things themselvesi. From a financial perspective for instance, two companies are perhaps equivalent if they meet the same ROE values or market share or whatever other indicators or basket thereof we may be interested in. From a highway patrol perspective, two companies are perhaps equivalent if their employees get the same number of speeding tickets over a time interval. In no case I can think of two companies are equivalent because they are located in the same town, and while the criteria may be constructed that'd leave companies "equivalent" based on employee headcount or office floor space they do promise to be quite torturous. So what I want to know is, what the fuck is "the same level of prestige" ?

I'll propose to you an alternative theory, to constructively explain what's going on here. Michael O. Church is the sort of scumbag that has reached a conclusion and is trying to fit the data to it, and then claim the title of "experiment" for the dubious concoction thus distilled. You know, like women do, the sort of women that then wonder why there's not more women like them in tech. Much like dreams proceed from a final state through subjective interrogation towards "explanations" that are then presented as anterior to the "final" state that actually spawned them, much like the ignorant never educated mind proceeds to "think", Michael O. Church has decided that he'll make an experiment, whether what he's doing there has anything to do with the scientific method or not, and he's decided that for his "experiment" to be an experiment he needs "equivalent" companies, and so they will by god be equivalent, declaratively, through a scummy fuckwit's fiat (apparently these can alter reality now) and in order for them to be equivalent there shall be some reasons. They're in the same town, and they both have 95 prestige.

Isn't life inside a computer game wonderful ?

Bill had been a Wall Street quant and had “Vice President” in his title, noting that VP is a mid-level and often not managerial position in an investment bank. His current title was Staff Software Engineer, which was roughly Director-equivalent. He’d taught a couple of courses and mentored a few interns, but he’d never been an official manager. So he came to me for advice on how to appear more “managerial” for the VP-level application.

There is a lot wrong with this, not all of it directly to do with the particular glob of filth (also alternatively referred to as Michael O. Church at other places in this article). For instance, in no way is a "Staff Software Engineer" Director-equivalent. Not "roughly" in any sense of roughly and not in any other way. To understand each other : a staff tech is any one of the numerous monkeys a company may employ. If it's a construction company, a staff architect may be any one of ten thousand guys working on plans. If it's a software company, a staff software engineer is any one of ten thousand guys working on code. If it's a restaurant chain, a staff cook is any one of the dudes working the stoves in the back. Meanwhile a Director is one of the dozen or so people that sit on the board of a company. They're not the cooks the company employs, they're the fucking board. I can readily understand why any monkey would wish to present itself as in charge : to impress the she-monkeys if nothing else. Hell, every poor street urchin in Mogadishu will pretend, if only for a moment, he owns any parked car he passes by. Nevertheless : being a Director requires some skills, some particular, rare and valuable skills. Anyone can learn to monkey code. This difference is very, very important : only some people may ever be Directors. Any people, and a large majority of chimps, can learn to java or whatever the hell.

Which leads us exactly into the other problem (we're skipping the indignity of banks calling middle management "Vice Presidents" in lieu of actually paying them) : why would someone wish to appear more manager-y than he is ? Management is not a sort of a hat, it's not the equivalent of being "cool" or "hip". Management is a professional field, it's like being a doctor. Would you like to be a doctor just for the sake of the title, skipping the school and the practice ? What do you do when they bring you some guy in pain ? This nonsense is setting oneself up for disaster for absolutely no good reason. So do me a favour : if you want to be a manager, go apprentice at the foot of a good manager that'll have you. Don't just call yourself a manager like some sort of African "doctor"/shaman with dirt under the nails. It's not how this white thing called civilisation that we've got going works, okay ?

His first question was what it would take to get “managerial experience” in his next job. I was at a loss, when it comes to direct experience, so my first thought was, “Fake it till you make it”.

It is extremely expensive to learn how to open cans by throwing random items at a random selection of cans. It is much more effectual and much more effective to have someone who knows how to open cans show you how to open cans.

There's no such thing as "fake it 'till you make it be a bridge", you don't want people falling to their death because your parents didn't know when and how to beat that offensive, empty ego out of you. Moreover, the approach is offensive, my objection here isn't that this scumbag Michael O. Church is dispensing fundamentally broken advice, but the meta-problem : this Michael O. Church fuckwit actually believes that he has electricity and water piped in his house so he can shave in the morning through a process of... well... first day he pretended to shave, then he kept pretending to shave and lo and behold! today he's actually shaving. Copper wire and PVC pipe just sorta grew by itself under the ground, he dun knoe.

Could I make Bill, a strong but not exceptional data-scientist-slash-software-engineer, over into a manager? The first bit of good news was that we didn’t have to change much.

Basically, in every internet derp there's a hair stylist struggling to get out.

Bill’s Vice President title (from the bank) could be kept as-is, and changing Staff Software Engineer to Director didn’t feel dishonest, because it was a lateral tweak. If anything, that’s a demotion because engineering ladders are so much harder to climb, in dual-track technology companies, than management ladders.

It didn't feel, it didn't feel dishonest, you see. If I run into Michael O. Church's wife I'm going to push her against the wall, rip her panties off and stick my penis into her. And it won't feel like rape, you see, which should be sufficient. In fact, it'd be almost like a demotion, I usually get much better tail anyway. Right ? Getting the sort I normally get is so much harder than getting the sort he normally gets that I can just up and take his for myself.

Everything in Bill’s “management résumé” was close enough to true that few would consider it unethical.

Fancy that, a democratic approach to ethics! From what I hear, a gangbang is enjoyed by roughly nine out of ten participants, and therefore it roughly speaking meets the same standard, and... how shall I put this... is it perhaps EQUIVALENT ?

We upgraded his social status and management-culture credibility– as one must, and is expected to, do in that world– but not his technical credentials. We turned technical leadership into “real”, power-to-fire leadership, but that was the only material change.

Let's try and reconstruct the original from that :

I told her that I'm not a virgin, because it's not like girls can tell anyway.

Sounds legit, good thinking there.

We spent hours making sure we weren’t really lying, as neither Bill nor I was keen on damaging Bill’s career to carry out this experiment, and because the integrity of the experiment required it.

If you learn to awk someday changing John's name to Bill won't take hours anymore.

In fact, we kept the management résumé quite technical. Bill’s experience was mostly as implementor, and we wanted to stay truthful about that. I’ll get to the results of the experiment later on, but there were two positive side effects of his self-rebranding, as a “manager who implemented”. The first is that, because he didn’t have to get his hands dirty as a manager, he got a lot of praise for doing things that would just have been doing his job if he were a managed person.

Which happens to be exactly what he actually was. But it's not technically a lie, it's merely equivalent to one.

Why all this preoccupation with getting praise one didn't actually earn, I wonder ? Most people I know, should they find themselves in a situation where they are praised for things they didn't do will curtly point out they didn't do it and that's that. Perhaps I'm wasting my life with the wrong crowd, but I tell you... wouldn't it be kinda lame to discover this guy you know, go have lunch with, whatever is actually this fucking infantile ? What sort of manager is this going to make, some twerp who's ready to lie for a bonbon ? Or whatever they give trick dogs these days, I don't think it's bonbons anymore, popcorn or whatever it may be.

Would you do tricks for popcorn ? And if you actually did... would you think you're a manger ? I don't know any managers like that. I know a bunch of cocky kids with delusions of self importance whose careers are going nowhere that are exactly like that... but no Director I ever knew seriously takes them for managers. I guess I need new friends.

Second, and related to the first but far more powerful, is that he no longer had to excuse himself for menial projects or periods of low technical activity. As opposed to, “I was put on a crappy project”, which projects low status, his story evolved into “No one else could do it, so I had to get my hands dirty”, which is a high-status, managerial excuse for spending 6 months on an otherwise career-killing project.

Leaving aside the stupidity of this, let's try and think ahead. So I see this candidate come in, and I judge that I want some guy who seems to be easily bullied into doing something other than his job. And I make the decision to hire him. What do you expect will happen next ? I'm going to assign him to a crappy / career killing project, n'est pas ? THAT'S WHAT I FUCKING HIRED HIM FOR.

But whatever, that's not really Michael O. Church's problem, he's not paid to get people good jobs, that they like and enjoy. He's just paid to package shit and cash that sign-on bonus, like a porn paysite or whatever. Nice country to live in, that fabulous space populated by nothing but little Michael O. Church clones, running around trying to sell broken shit to each other, while pretending to be managers, businessmen, vice-presidents, directors and whatnot. You know, for all the shit people talk of the third world, people there are generally a lot less contemptible.

In fact, one could argue that Bill’s management résumé, while less truthful on-paper, was more honest and ethical. Yes, we inflated his social status and gave him managerial titles. However, we didn’t have to inflate his technical accomplishments, or list technologies that he’d barely touched under his “Skills” section, to make a case for him. After a certain age, selling yourself as an engineer tends to require (excluding those in top-notch R&D departments or open-allocation shops) that you (a) only work on the fun stuff, rather than the career-killing dreck, and play the political games that requires, (b) mislead future employers about the quality of your work experience, or (c) spend a large portion of your time on side projects, which usually turns into a combination of (a) and (b).

So this would be how the other half lives, now we finally know : they select a subset of reality that's not okay to lie about, then lie about all the rest, which is fine because hey, it wasn't in the holy set! They're objectionable racists in their day to day life, but hey, never ever have they said "nigger"! That's all it takes, formal complaisance, no substance whatsoever required. Built on these coordinates the whole of the US is practically speaking an endless fractal implementation of the exact opposite of robustness. The slightest breeze in any direction threatens to topple the cardboard-and-paint, termite-eaten echafaudage, and you can't even predict which way it'll fall, because it's not really directly obvious or all that transparent which domains were picked by which actors in this endless game of transactional psychopathology.

A sad state of affairs if there ever was one.

Was this experiment ethical? I would say that it was. When people ask me if they should fudge their career histories or résumés, I always say this: it’s OK to fix prior social status because one’s present state (abilities, talents) is fully consistent with the altered past. It’s like formally changing a house’s address from 13 to 11 before selling it to a superstitious buyer: the fact being erased is that it was once called “13”, one that will never matter for any purpose or cause material harm to anyone. On the other hand, lying about skills is ethically wrong (it’s job fraud, because another person is deceived into making decisions that are inconsistent with the actual present state, and that are possibly harmful in that context) and detrimental, in the long term, to the person doing it. While I think it’s usually a bad idea to do so, I don’t really have a moral problem with people fudging dates or improving titles on their résumés, insofar as they’re lying about prior social status (a deception as old as humanity itself) rather than hard currencies like skills and abilities.

I would say that Michael O. Church has no inkling of an idea as to what "ethical" means, but I rest at ease knowing that he has a ready "equivalency" for it. What really gets my goat, however, is the impudence of random clerks deciding actual management is "a supersitious buyer". If the manager doesn't want a house at #13, the real estate agent is not at liberty to decide that the manager is wrong. The real estate agent is also not at liberty to imagine he knows better. If I ring the hotel desk at three o'clock in the morning and order a large cucumber brought up it's similarly not the place of the butler tasked with serving me to decide I should have a tomato instead. He's there to ask if I want it warm or refrigerated and gofer presto. That's it. That's the relationship here, let's stick to it.

Moreover... it's the sign of a very poor con man to make definitive statements so easily falsified. Changing the house number definitely matters for obvious purposes, such as receiving mail. What sort of "I'm not even trying anymore" level nonsense is this ? All deception is "as old as humanity itself", what's this supposed to be ?! Who is the intended audience here, ESL seventeen year old McD chief-associate-vicepresident-supervisors ?

Bill faced five hour-long technical interviews. Three went well. One was so-so, because it focused on implementation details of the JVM, and Bill’s experience was almost entirely in C++, with a bit of hobbyist OCaml. The last interview sounds pretty hellish. It was with the VP of Data Science, Bill’s prospective boss, who showed up 20 minutes late and presented him with one of those interview questions where there’s “one right answer” that took months, if not years, of in-house trial and error to discover. It was one of those “I’m going to prove that I’m smarter than you” interviews.

In the post-mortem, I told Bill not to sweat that last interview. Often, companies will present a candidate with an unsolved or hard-to-solve problem and don’t expect a full solution in an hour. I was wrong on that count.

I know people at Company A, so I was able to get a sense of how things went down. Bill’s feedback was: 3 positive, 1 neutral, and 1 negative, exactly as might have been expected from his own account. Most damning were the VP’s comments: “good for another role, but not on my team“. Apparently the VP was incensed that he had to spend 39 and a half minutes talking to someone without a PhD and, because Bill didn’t have the advanced degree, the only way that that VP would have considered him good enough to join would be if he could reverse-engineer the firm’s “secret sauce” in 40 minutes, which I don’t think anyone could.

So out of four valley firms, one has a competent VP in a key position. News at 11, seriously. Why did you think it's called a bubble ?

Honestly that's about all the Michael O. Church I can stomach - I'll gladly skip the living wage inanity discernible under the surface, it's not surprising that scummy fuckwits think everyone should get a job no matter if they're qualified or competent, and it's perfectly okay to be neither, why should you be. After all, no work is roughly equivalent to hard work and what do those people who can figure shit out think themselves so smart for anyway! Fun discussion, but for some other time.

  1. This is a very old, and very lame cold caller/con artist trick : showing equivalency in some aspect and from that pretending to infer "equivalency" pure and simple. It's fraud, basically, and while one may excuse retired old waitresses from falling for such miserable tricks, one'd certainly expect any college graduate to be able to disentangle a skein of thought and detect what is sophistical enough to not fall for this sort of nonsense. []
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33 Responses

  1. if you're looking for dirt

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 21 August 2014

    Noty, I'm done.

  3. But the guy is such a total nutcase.

  4. As I understand, this was not a case of a shaman masquerading as a modern doctor. More like a a wannabee shaman trying to 'go pro.'

    So he didn't snort coke at Princeton. But, if he pulls off the con described above, he's met the job qualification - can bamboozle just as well as the 'real thing.'

    Notice he wasn't trying to infiltrate the board of, e.g., an electric company or steel mill - but a U.S. software co. In what sense would this fellow be distinguishable from the 'legitimate' brass at such an establishment, were he to succeed in his scam?

  5. Peter Lambert`s avatar
    Peter Lambert 
    Thursday, 21 August 2014

    I am just trying to imagine what happens when the hiring HR department does a cursory check of the resume:

    "Hello, is this company ?"

    - "Yes"

    "And you currently employ Bill as, let me see here, 'Director of Technology'?"

    - "What? Hell no, he is just some low level code monkey staff programmer!"

    "Ah, Ok, thanks"

    Crumple, crumple, resume into trashcan.

  6. Gabriel Laddel`s avatar
    Gabriel Laddel 
    Thursday, 21 August 2014

    What Baloo had said about the monkeys was perfectly true. They belonged to the tree-tops, and as beasts very seldom look up, there was no occasion for the monkeys and the Jungle-People to cross each other's path. But whenever they found a sick wolf, or a wounded tiger, or bear, the monkeys would torment him, and would throw sticks and nuts at any beast for fun and in the hope of being noticed. Then they would howl and shriek senseless songs, and invite the Jungle-People to climb up their trees and fight them, or would start furious battles over nothing among themselves, and leave the dead monkeys where the Jungle-People could see them. They were always just going to have a leader, and laws and customs of their own, but they never did, because their memories would not hold over from day to day, and so they compromised things by making up a saying, "What the Bandar-log think now the jungle will think later," and that comforted them a great deal. None of the beasts could reach them, but on the other hand none of the beasts would notice them, and that was why they were so pleased when Mowgli came to play with them, and they heard how angry Baloo was.

    They never meant to do any more--the Bandar-log never mean anything at all; but one of them invented what seemed to him a brilliant idea, and he told all the others that Mowgli would be a useful person to keep in the tribe, because he could weave sticks together for c tprotection from the wind; so, if they caught him, they could make him teach them. Of course Mowgli, as a woodcutter's child, inherited all sorts of instincts, and used to make little huts of fallen branches without thinking how he came to do it. The Monkey-People, watching in the trees, considered his play most wonderful. This time, they said, they were really going to have a leader and become the wisest people in the jungle --so wise that everyone else would notice and envy them.


  7. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 22 August 2014

    @Stanislav Datskovskiy My investment here is not "societal" so to speak - I couldn't care less if he succeeds or fails in becoming respected among the primitive horde at the outskirts of civilised society he aims to impress any more than I care about who wins the "general elections" in Somaliland or which particular chimp manages to become the alpha of the group of chimps kept at the local zoo.

    Such becoming would no doubt occur through some sort of application of some kind of ability or skill, some luck, the usual ingredients, and will no doubt be interesting for the students of the matter, and the participants in the matter, and chief of all for the participant-stundents. Nevertheless, for people who aren't either monkeys or monkeyologists this is a minor, passing interest.

    So, to answer your question, I suppose he shouldn't be so distinguishable. Nevertheless, my point is not that he is, personally, relevant. I do not think he is. My point is that look : pars pro toto, in this chimp you see all chimps. This is how it is to be a chimp, as opposed to human. Perhaps more useful than that generality, my other point is : look how easy it is to distinguish them in the field! They can't read and can't express themselves.

    @Peter Lambert This has happened to me numerous times in Romania, but I at the time wrote it off as Romanian-specific difficult relation with reality (this is true, Romanians have serious issues interfacing with things-as-they-are). The high mark of all this nonsense being when some dude applying for a job put in his CV the previous experience of regional manager for a large international corp active there. Which regional manager I knew, personally. Except we hadn't been in touch for a while, regretfully. So I dally no further but presently pick up the phone and go "dude you quit or what ? what happened there ?!" and he's just as puzzled as I am but whatever, if I feel like dropping by his office sometime we can have a drink.

    Didn't crumple the CV, which I think is the essential part here. Instead, had the dumbass over for an interview, which consisted of "why are you a liar ?" and other similar material. The problem being, you see, that crumpling the CV results in the fuckwit not getting the negative message which he, but before him and chiefly society, strongly needs and arguably deserves. Otherwise, in a society where nobody gives out negative signals and negative reinforcement, where nobody wants to say "no" to anybody because "there's nothing to gain" you end up with insanity like what's going on in Anon's 2nd link (yes, you win, you win). Look :

    michaelochurch 594 days ago

    Usually, these "about my year" posts are filler, but this was some excellent stuff. Thanks for sharing it. That takes courage.

    I’m not advocating ladder climbers, I’m not advocating jerks being jerks for the sake of jerktitude, I’m just saying, they have a place, and when you find the right asshole, they’re going to deliver and kick ass while doing it. The delicious irony will be, 5 years from now when your midsize is larger than midsize, the asshole who everyone hates will be the only executive of the lot who arguably deserves his merit badge title. Think on that.

    Yup. I call this the "DFA Light". DFA = Done Fucking Around. DFA usually means that in 6 months, you'll either be running something or fired.

    On open-plan offices:

    What you describe isn't open plan. Open plan is this horrible bullpen where everyone's visible and no one has personal space. It sucks.

    What you want is for people to have laptops, and have private offices for people who need them, and open/communal spaces. I worked at a think-tank that had 3:00 tea (with board games that occasionally went till 7:00) and it was brilliant. Let people choose whether they work in the open or in private. Work space is not to be skimped on. 150 SF per person of private and 150 SF of communal. It pays for itself, because typical open plan offices reduce productivity by 50-80%. This hybrid-plan is something Google does extremely well (although it's technically cubicle-based, anyone who wants privacy can take an office).

    On getting fired: there are good fires and bad fires. I won't share my "number" but its nonzero on both sides (being fired and participating in firing) and I've seen good and bad.

    A good fire is when they treat it as a no-fault lack-of-fit, come up with a reasonable severance (depending on their finances, this could be zero for a cash-strapped startup, or ~6 months for a rich corporation) and a positive reference. Then it's just a breakup: good people break up with each other all the time. A bad fire is when they cold-fire you and refuse to support your career recovery needs.

    For me, it's really about references. I don't need a severance, but if you don't agree on a good reference I will do everything in my power to fuck up your reputation. No or bad reference => war.


    gruseom 594 days ago

    if you don't agree on a good reference I will do everything in my power to fuck up your reputation

    But what if you don't deserve a good reference?


    michaelochurch 594 days ago

    That's never been my situation.


    tptacek 594 days ago

    Well, we'll never know now, will we? :)


    tptacek 594 days ago

    This is why real reference checks rarely rely on the references you provide.


    michaelochurch 594 days ago

    That's a huge invasion of privacy (except in national-security cases, wherein people know to expect an intensive background check) and of questionable legality, but yes, it happens.

    This is why it's a good idea to speak with someone after you're called for a reference. If their prospective employer is calling shadow references (e.g. references they didn't volunteer) they have a right to know that it's going on.

    ETA: If you're worried about shadow references, the best thing you can do is fake an offer with an "exploding" date to get a decision shortly after you interview. If they only have 2 days to make a decision, they'll stick to the references you provide and not nose around in your past where they don't belong. One can question the ethics of faking an offer, but it's no worse than calling shadow references, so do what you will.


    tptacek 594 days ago

    I disagree with you that shadow references are a huge invasion of privacy. You are not normally entitled to a private work history.

    For whatever it's worth: in almost 8 years as an employer, I've never rejected a candidate over their references. For my part, I've been rejected both from jobs and by investors as a result of shadow references. I've come to the following conclusion: I don't coach any references. Like everyone else, I have flaws that can at times make me a bitch to work with. I'd like to think deliberate dishonesty isn't one of them.


    michaelochurch 593 days ago

    I disagree with you that shadow references are a huge invasion of privacy. You are not normally entitled to a private work history.

    Would you allow a complete stranger in your house, for no other reason than a desire to know what's there? Let's assume he has no intention of damaging or stealing anything. He just wants to see what you have in your house. Would you be okay with this? I don't know you, but I'm guessing that the answer is, "no". Additionally, you have the right not to be unlawfully searched. This is considered to be a fundamental privacy protecting your domicile.

    When you volunteer a reference, you're giving permission for this person to be involved in your career. It's like inviting someone to be in your house; he's allowed to be there because you invited him in. Shadow references are a different story. The employer is, without your consent or even your knowledge, inviting people into your (metaphorical) house, and that's wrong.

    For my part, I've been rejected both from jobs and by investors as a result of shadow references.

    I hope you inflicted some Nordic Indignation on the fuckers. They effectively committed theft against you. It's a pain in the ass to chase bad guys down, but someone needs to do it to keep society from going to hell.


    tptacek 593 days ago

    Asking someone who has worked with Michael O. Church in the past about their experiences with him is not comparable to breaking into Michael O. Church's house.


    michaelochurch 593 days ago

    Fine, but let's say that a relative stranger started investigating your past in all sorts of ways you didn't know about, compiling information with no regard for whether it was valuable or true. You'd be a bit creeped out, wouldn't you?

    If you check a person's volunteered references, you get a good sense of how that person was to work with, but if you start doing shadow references, you don't know what you're getting. It could be pure falsehood and you'd have no clue. You're just snooping where you don't belong in the life of someone who didn't give you permission.


    tptacek 593 days ago

    That is (a) also not a situation analogous to a potential future employer asking questions of people who have worked with you in the past and (b) a dramatically different assertion from "effectively committing theft" and "dragging society to hell".

    What on earth makes you think that other people's experiences interacting with you in the workplace are private? There is no such thing as "employee-employee privilege".

    Additionally, concern over false references is a bit strange from the guy who just finished telling us it's a good reference for him, "or war". The reality is, whether you get your shiny reference from the candidate or a gossipy one from a former coworker, you still have to use your brain to evaluate the data.


    michaelochurch 593 days ago

    [A] dramatically different assertion from "effectively committing theft" and "dragging society to hell".

    I disagree. The shadow reference who shot you down with the investor cost may have cost you millions of dollars. How can you not be mad about this? If someone said something that cost me millions, I'd be livid.

    Additionally, concern over false references is a bit strange from the guy who just finished telling us it's a good reference for him, "or war".

    If someone fires me and won't agree on a good reference, then it's on. If you're cash-strapped and absolutely can't afford a severance, fine. I'll bounce. If you decide to fuck with my career later on or interfere with future relationships, then war has been started and for me to fight back is appropriate.

    In normal circumstances I don't "coach" references and trust them to give a decent account, but we were talking, in this thread, about getting fired. When someone is fired, he has a right to reach an understanding on what kind of reference will be provided.


    tptacek 593 days ago

    You sound like a crazy person. Nobody "cost me millions of dollars". It wasn't my money. People are entitled to make decisions based on the information they're able to obtain from conversations. I am not entitled to a private career history, and neither are you.


    michaelochurch 592 days ago

    You sound like you have no respect for privacy.

    You, of course, have the right to compromise your privacy as you wish-- I blog and post under my real name, which is a compromise of privacy I choose to make-- but not the right to make that decision for other people.


    tptacek 592 days ago

    A conversation about you with someone else is not an invasion of your privacy. People's thoughts about you do not belong to you.


    michaelochurch 592 days ago

    A conversation about you with someone else is not an invasion of your privacy.

    It depends what is in that conversation. If someone is rooting around our past in a way you didn't give permission for, that's an invasion.

    People's thoughts about you do not belong to you.

    No, but those thoughts may not be legitimate. Many people are useless idiots and their opinions are valueless.

    If I've offered someone as a person whose opinion I trust, and that person says that I'm an idiot, that's a good sign that I'm doing something wrong. On the other hand, the opinion of some random person doesn't have much legitimacy.

    Guy figures himself some sort of powerplayer or something, as if any add-addled kid that couldn't be bothered to learn English can suddenly become relevant in that sense, just through liberal application of... I'm not even sure what that's even supposed to be. Had he been ground into the paste by his parents, his teachers, his school bully, the local policeman and everyone else involved in the normal working of a normally functioning society, he could perhaps be useful, on the net. And a very, very different chimp.

    @Gabriel Laddel

    and so they compromised things by making up a saying, “What the Bandar-log think now the jungle will think later,”

    Amusingly, inasmuch as this is quite a transparent jab at the various socialist troops of the time, it has come to pass : what the bandar-log thought back then the jungle thinks now. Not on account of it having anything to do with thinking, of course, but on account of it being so very much cheaper.


    Prepare for a visit, MOC watches his google like a maniac.

  9. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 22 August 2014


  10. I hope you inflicted some Nordic Indignation on the fuckers. They effectively committed theft against you. It’s a pain in the ass to chase bad guys down, but someone needs to do it to keep society from going to hell.

    Seriously, this guy is paid to do something?!

  11. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 22 August 2014

    Five months at google, dumped out without even a review.

    He's basically a Mike Hearn, one of these very numerous kids without any personal value or importance that are however good enough at faking either or both that they end up temporarily making life more expensive and less fun for large, famed industry leaders. If google were a rifle, they'd be the fouling, an unavoidable part of any firing and 99% of all the maintenance work one has to do to keep his rifle firing.

    The only difference being that Mike OCD didn't get lucky to be early but marginally involved with an important group like Mike Hearn, and so he has nothing to "convincingly" misrepresent as his own and try to sell down the river. But who knows, right ?

    (PS. Yes dear USG agents : you're being defrauded. Yet again. You know, right, but gotta do something, right ? Yeah, I know. This is why you suck, by the way : because of a job like that. A job where you suck, you know you suck, but "nothing can be done". Might as well whore in rural Thailand, don't you find ?)

  12. (yes, you win, you win)


    They effectively committed theft

    Is he saying it's equivalent to theft?

  13. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 22 August 2014

    Yes, actually, I suspect he is.

    Which suggests to me that this is probably the hole the night came through, this broken equivalency function.

    You don't suppose that the current universal corruption of US society, proximate reason for its by now unavoidable downfall & utter ruin, actually started... in school ? By kids being taught to not solve the problem at hand but "an equivalent" problem that's much easier to solve ? And by this behaviour being rewarded, regarded and esteemed ?

    I always suspected the start of the change from civilisation to Africa is marked by the shift from "if you encounter a new word and don't look it up in the dictionary I will beat you" to "if you encounter a new word you don't want the ~great~ effort and ~immense~ expense of looking it up in the dictionary ; instead, try and "guess", with your own stupid child mind, on the basis of your complete lack of experience with the world, what it "may" mean". Not even "might", you know ? Outright "may". As if words may not fucking mean anything a ten yo retard can't readily imagine within the half second he's even capable of considering the matter.

    Now this may be true, but look how neatly it folds into equivalency : "why solve the problem at hand ? solve a so-called equivalent problem instead".

  14. Why should fouling of the company bore be unavoidable, though? What's the purpose of the decried lengthy interviews, the tests, the very HR department, if not to prevent such scum from getting in? What he is is evident in a mere sentence; you sayin' he's such a good actor his nature is obscured in an hour of face to face? Something bigger must be afoot. Such as for instance "large, famed industry leaders" qualifying for such on the basis of their acceptance and encouragement of this sort of crap. Five months is a long time.

  15. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 22 August 2014

    Well the purpose may well be to not let them get in, but nothing man ever made worked well for its purpose.

    What he is is evident in a mere sentence; you sayin’ he’s such a good actor his nature is obscured in an hour of face to face?

    I'm saying two things. One is that he makes a concerted effort to hide who he is, which may succeed as well as anything. The other is that the anti-fouling mechanisms, inasmuch as they're mechanisms, also become fouled. So take HR idiot that can't be bothered, or that's happy to hire more idiots just like him, mix with this guy as a candidate, get the unavoidable failure of all large government (which is what US corporations are, anyway).

  16. ThickAsThieves`s avatar
    Monday, 8 September 2014

    Great read.

    My favorite line is "Basically, in every internet derp there’s a hair stylist struggling to get out."

    Also, the quoted conversation with tptacek is pure gold.

  17. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 8 September 2014


  18. blimey you're extremely pretentious. with your persistent animal allegories you're like one of those boring sermonizers. and what about the casual misogyny and racism!

    my suspicion is that you diss michael o church because of politics: i.e. he's pro unionising and pro group-action, which i'm assuming goes against your interests as 'landlord'. you dissing him is therefore nothing more or less than expected behaviour.

  19. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Tuesday, 28 October 2014

    You know, this "you point out X idiocy in Y example because of K personal reason to do with Y not X" is perhaps the oldest and most common stupid response commenters here made. Five years ago I was raping and pillaging among the Romanian "bloggers" and "press" (not so unlike the Pacific Islander Aerospace Technicians or the Iroquis Artillery Field-Marshalls), their equivalent idea was that oh, no, "I am jealous of their success". Let that sink in for a minute, shitheads in Shitland actually thought people point and laugh because people would wish to be shitheads in Shitland themselves. This is how the stupid brain goes.

    This is how your stupid brain goes. Go away.

  20. Good to see the opinions of people who don’t kiss your ass get on here.

    Anyway, so what you’re saying is ‘my god, everybody says the same thing.’ Well I think that’s called an epiphany and I’ll leave you to yourself to deal with that.

    Just to be clear: I didn’t say you’re jealous of Michael o Church. I suggested that your motivation is political. And in fact, if I didn’t think there was more than enough animal-motif insights on your website I’d say something like ‘discrediting political opposition is what our ancestors first swung down from the trees to do’ and then I’d sit back in a halo of blah-wisdom.

  21. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 29 October 2014

    Trilema is somewhat of a citadel of free speech. Always has been. Too lazy to go into a review of how it's lead the Internet on that score over the years, but anyway. Learn a language, do some reading.

    What I'm saying is that you don't seem to know much of what's going on here, yet feel compelled to make a judgement, either because you're emotionally invested in this particular topic or because you're the sort that feels so compelled without investment. In this circumstance, all you have to go on is your own self, and obviously your own self is not significantly different from all the own selves of all the other dudes who feel compelled to discuss things they don't understand. Basically, what you're left with is "I wouldn't feel safe to get on the bus with you". I don't particularly care, but I will point out that it's stupid.

    The notion that a bunch of nobodies without a clue all arriving at the same "conclusion" is somehow "an epiphany" is pretty stupid. I don't care what the multitude of idiots thinks on any topic anymore than the wolf cares what the sheep consensus looks like. Is it bad to be eaten ? Seriously ? Whodda thunk it. Such epiphany.

    Finally, this proposition that intelligence, wisdom and knowledge are somehow "political" (hey, at least you didn't say "raycis!!11", right ?) is beyond amusing. Seriously, that's what you got to protect you, the unvoiced hope that maybe you'll never have to think because that's what evil white guys do, and there's going to be a government somewhere to affirmative-actively-protect you from it ? Good luck with that, really.

  22. @Mircea Popescu
    It’s pretty clear that you have a personal problem with Michael O . Your assertion that he is the sort of scumbag that has reached a conclusion and is trying to fit the data to it is ironic - your entire article does the same thing.

    "If it's a construction company, a staff architect may be any one of ten thousand guys working on plans. If it's a software company, a staff software engineer is any one of ten thousand guys working on code. If it's a restaurant chain, a staff cook is any one of the dudes working the stoves in the back. Meanwhile a Director is one of the dozen or so people that sit on the board of a company. “

    The over simplification in the paragraph above is deeply flawed and shows you have a poor understanding of basic corporate culture, to think that director, in this context, could possibly mean someone sitting on the board of directors. It’s also very clear you have no idea about the difference between a staff, senior or entry level engineer, not to mention a principal engineer or technical fellow. If you don’t understand something as basic as the hierarchy for different career tracks at a tech company, I have no idea why you’d feel the need to write a response to an article that deals with exactly that and more.

    The internet is full of people intent on publishing useless/misleading content on a variety of subjects beyond their depth. It is not surprising to find this kind of content on your blog, the more interesting question is: why bother?

    It’s a great blog post if your goal was to publish pithy, snarky, tabloid style click-bait.

  23. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Saturday, 17 January 2015

    I thought the "pretty clear you have a personal problem with" device is currently in use re Gavin Assassinsen.

    Better check with the various groups specialising in "pretty clear" before making that sort of determination, you know. There's a whole lot of you and just one of it.

    PS :

    MirceaPopescu on 1/17/15 at 12:58 AM: How do you feel about a trip to Buenos Aires ?

    sweetheartslave on 1/17/15 at 1:01 AM: To meet someone who is completely disrespectful of people with different perceptions of gender? Absolutely not. Proud to call myself a progressive feminist, and someone who cares deeply for the several transgendered friends I have.

    MirceaPopescu on 1/17/15 at 2:04 AM: Large world out there. Mayhap one day you get a chance and grow up.

    sweetheartslave on 1/17/15 at 2:09 AM: Since you're the one who has yet to grow up, clearly (since you had to resort to insults instead of an actually intelligent response), I would suggest not even bothering to continue since you clearly can't express yourself effectively. Or maybe that's just because I've had a 4.0 all my life and am attending a top college.

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