high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We don't need no Human Resources

Nate and I are sitting here both using our laptops in the living room.  I was listening to O.A.R. radio on Pandora (yes, again) when sounds started coming from Nate's computer at a volume that drowned out my music.  Giving him an annoyed look, I said "Unless that's a trailer for The Hobbit, this is inexcusable."  Well, it wasn't a trailer for The Hobbit, but my anger faded as Nate informed that it was (quote) "a trailer for an adaptation of Moby Dick that looks so bad I'm not even sure it's real."  My first thought was that some new Moby Dick movie was being made in which Moby Dick wasn't even a whale, or something crazy like that.  Nate indicated that Moby Dick was indeed still a whale, keeping that element of the story is intact, but that (quote) "it looks like Moby Dick is being chased by the captain of a submarine with nukes."  Oh Ahab, you old swashbuckler!  Did you go and get yourself some nuclear fucking weapons?

I need these kind of light-hearted moments tonight, because tomorrow night I'll be knee-deep in some real, heavy, got-something-to-prove HR bullshit, and I will no doubt want to slit my wrists.  It will be the start of the second half of a class I have this quarter.  The first half was great, as we discussed extremely relevant employment law like the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.  I'm expecting the second half to be completely different.  To give you a taste, our assigned book for the quarter is titled The HR Value Proposition.  For our first class (of the second half of the quarter), we were told to read chapter 1.  By page 10 - page 10 - I had already been presented with 6 implications of the HR value premise, 5 elements of the HR value proposition, and 14 criteria for HR with a value focus!  Oh....my.....god.  The book is written by the foremost HR guru, David Ulrich, of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.  Now, Ulrich is probably a really nice guy, and probably a really interesting guy, and obviously a really smart guy, and many other positive adjectives, but the man has made a name for himself by turning out these books that are stocked with these lists upon lists upon lists of do's and don't's (how do you make "don't" plural?) and the key strategies and the core elements and the fundamental principles and on and on.  I mean, c'mon!  And I'm a list guy!  I'm just not into those kinds lists.  Because you know what?  If you go around trying to remember the 6 ways to do this, and the 7 ways to do that, and the 12 things you should always remember, you will be incapable of real action.  You spend all your time looking at your list and never do anything right in the end.  The successful professionals and successful businesses aren't successful because they've constantly checked themselves against some list.  They're successful because they do the things on the list (which they don't have) naturally.

I feel like I should be in one of those Dr. Pepper "doctor" commercials, except my tag line here is "Trust me, I'm a list guy."


(Btw, if you clicked on the University of Michigan link above, you got a glimpse of the very type of classroom in Fisher I'll be sitting in tomorrow.  And no, the guy singing off-key is not me)

Perhaps I'm feeling a little extra passionate about this don't-try-to-fill-my-brain-with-your-corporate-approved-jargon perspective because last Friday Sayak and I went to see Roger Waters perform The Wall.  It's the 30th anniversary of the album, so Waters is doing a tour around North America, and one of his stops was in Columbus.  Here are just a few thoughts and impressions from the experience:

  • The best performance of the night, in my opinion, was Comfortably Numb.  The guitar solo was incredible, and among the whole set this was the one song that made me think "I wish all my friends were here to listen to this right now, it's so good."  The performance of Mother was also pretty cool, as Waters played live accompanied by a video of him as a younger man playing the song.
  • In addition to the two songs noted above, it was an interesting experience to hear many classic rock songs that I'd heard hundreds of times before, and to hear them played by the artist who wrote them.  It was like getting hearing the song for the first time after years of just the recordings.  This may sound like a "duh" statement, but I'm not sure how else to say it.  For example, most people are familiar with Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2), having sung along with it on the radio in any number of contexts.  But to all of a sudden be there hearing it live makes you stop and say "Wow!  This is the real thing!"
  • As the first half of the show progresses, a giant wall is constructed between the band and the audience, with the final "brick in the wall" being put into a place as the first half concludes.  Then, as the second half begins, the band starts with Hey You, which contains the line "Hey you, out there beyond the wall."  The effect is really cool here, as the band is literally singing to the audience beyond the wall.  It would be interesting to see the band on the other side of the wall, because even though they're performing for a live audience, nobody can see them at that point.  Is the band just standing there like they would in a recording studio?  Do they do anything different? Do they sit down to play, just because they can?
  • Roger was wearing extremely tight pants.
  • I actually didn't own a copy of The Wall album until a couple weeks before the show when I picked up a copy to listen to on the way home from a trip up to Lansing.  Since it was the 30th anniversary of the show, the CD came with a bonus t-shirt.  In very un-Pink Floyd-like fashion, I was mildly self-conscious about wearing the t-shirt to the concert, thinking that I would be too obvious as a pretender, especially to other pretenders wearing their Pink Floyd t-shirts they had gotten with their newly purchased CD's.  
  • Roger Waters is kind of an anti-government, anti-establishment, can't-trust-what-you-hear type of guy, to say the least.  In the past I scoffed at these stances for the most part, thinking that people like Waters were overly dramatic and overly paranoid (he actually introduced Run Like Hell by asking "Are there any paranoids in Columbus tonight?!")  However, my perspective on this has changed a bit since the concert.  The day after the concert, Sayak sent me this article, which reports on how the Anti-Defamation League is criticizing Waters for anti-Semitism in his show.  The article explains how scenes in the show depict the Star of David appearing in connection with dollar signs, suggesting that Jews are all about money, etc.  It is true that the video images presented in the performance show the classic Jewish symbol being dropped like a bomb from a plane flying overhead, followed by another plane dropping dollar signs like bombs.  But the article fails to mention that symbols of Christianity and Islam, the hammer and sickle, and the logos for both Shell and Mercedes-Benz are also depicted in the same way!  Anyone reading the article without having seen the show would naturally think "Hmm, Roger Waters may not be anti-Semetic as suggested, but he at least is making a statement here."  Well, maybe, but that's not the whole story.  The truth is that he didn't single out Jews.
What I'm saying is, Waters may be right!  You really can't trust the media, or the teachers, or the government.  You can't trust anybody!  Argh.

Except me, of course.  Thanks for reading :-)

One time I was hanging out with Jaws, and he was like "Yo Mobe, how did you get your name?"  And I was like "Well, at first I thought about going with Pink Floyd, but that was already taken, and it just happened that the next thing that popped into my head was Moby Dick.  Must have been a good choice, because Zeppelin wrote a song about me."

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