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On this fine autumn day in the United States, millions of Americans are heading to the polls for mid-term election voting. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the good work that our elected representatives have done recently. Here's a complete list of their excellent accomplishments:

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Okay, we're done with that part.

So, today I learn that there is very little pending legislation on the issue of doctor-assisted suicide.

What?

Let me paint a picture.

Millions of people in this country, mostly seniors, will be tortured until their deaths by a government bureaucracy that refuses to allow individuals, families, and their doctors to make end-of-life treatment decisions.

The government recently tortured both of my parents to death that way.

They probably got one of your relatives too.

You might be next. Or maybe your spouse is next. Medical science has gotten good at keeping old people alive until they wish they were not.

Meanwhile, nearly 100% of the public opposes having the government make the end-of-life care decision over their own wishes. The only way you get a different poll response is by asking the question like an idiot: "Duh! Hey, dude, do you think the government should be able to kill sick people?" Likely answer: "NO!!!!! I HAVE A COLD BUT I WANT TO LIVE!!!!"

In the two states in which doctor-assisted suicide is already legal, it is working as planned and without problems or reported abuses worthy of note. (No system is perfect though.)

In the "smart" world, after you test something and it works great, you do more of it.

We live in a Republic, not a democracy, so politicians have a legal right to ignore the will of the people.

The alleged opposition to doctor-assisted suicide is mostly a handful of nutbags that have cleverly leveraged the poorly-worded polls on the topic to pretend half of the country is on their side. The media totally buys into this story. The reality has been reported in this blog alone, as far as I can tell. And the reality is that there is no serious opposition in this country to doctor-assisted suicide if you ask the question right.

So, while your elected officials were voting on the state bird, or trying to totally fuck up something that is working fine, millions of innocent seniors are being tortured to death.

Those are the facts.

I am tempted to assign a failing grade to our elected officials for having such a bad grasp on priorities. But somehow that doesn't seem enough in this situation. You'll probably agree with me after your parents are tortured to death by the government, or it happens to you, or someone you know.

So let me say this in a stronger fashion, and I direct this to our elected state officials on this special day.

GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR ASSES AND FIX THIS SITUATION, YOU STUPID FUCKING ASSHOLES! I WANT EVERY ONE OF YOU LAZY FUCKERS TO DIE A PAINFUL DEATH!

This is the part where people say, "He doesn't mean that. He just wants clicks."

No, I mean it. Seriously, you guys are fucking millions of senior citizens right into their graves and you know it. You are lower than terrorists in my view because terrorists are at least operating out of principle. And I want those guys dead too.

Emotions are important in this issue. This isn't about economics or building roads. This is about human beings that are tortured to death in front of their families. And the families' lives are often ruined at the same time. So if you are an elected official, you need to know the emotional state of your constituents. I am a constituent. You just heard my emotional state. If it wasn't clear, I can repeat it.

DIE PAINFULLY, YOU FUCKING USELESS LOSERS!

Technically, that is only Plan B. Plan A is still "Dear Elected Representatives: Please do the job we pay you to do. Thank you."

I'm not advocating violence against anyone. I'm just saying how I feel. My goal is to end government violence (essentially) against senior citizens.

----

Scott Adams

Personal Twitter Account: @ScottAdamsSays

 

 
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[Update: Answered. Thank you. http://www.deathwithdignity.org/advocates/national]

And now I am seriously pissed off that there are so few pending bills. Where is California?

Let me bang out a few comics this morning and circle back to this. You won't want to miss it because I just chewed through my leash.

--- old stuff below ---

Is any U.S. state voting today on doctor-assisted suicide?

I don't follow state politics and Google is worthless today.

I might have some things to say on the topic.

Have I mentioned I'm in a bad mood this week?

Please tell me it is on the ballot somewhere.
 
Note: F-bombs aren't for everyone. Skip this post if the word offends you. I would have used a different word but for some topics there is just no substitute.

----
I have a credit card account that I need to close, and today I discover that Wells Fargo offers plenty of paths for opening new accounts but no obvious way to close one on a Sunday (when I wrote this). What a surprise.

"Fuck you, bank" I mutter to myself. I'll just call the phone number for opening a new account and then you can transfer me to the people who close accounts. HA! I am so clever! I have done this trick with other companies and they only "accidentally" disconnect me during the transfer about half the time. So I like my odds.

The recorded voice says there is a six minute hold. Shit. My phone battery can't handle that.

Where is that piece of paper on which I wrote the name of an app that calls you back when the other side is ready? I need that. Searching desk for note. No luck. Searching Google for it. No luck. Searching App store for it. No luck. Wait, an email is coming in. Ignore, ignore, focus! Stay out of that rabbit hole!

Shit, I better write down that thing I just remembered I need to do. If I don't write it down right now I will forget again. Where's my pen? Why do all the pens in my house end up on my bedroom dresser! I angrily trudge to the other end of the house for a pen.

I would have made a note on my phone but I can't decide which of the ninety possible ways to save a note I want to use. I really need to spend a day looking at apps for that sort of thing. I have little notes to myself spread across seven apps that I forget to look at. Sometimes I email myself. Sometimes I put things on my calendar or my reminder app. Sometimes I just create a note document on my phone. And then I don't look at any of it.

Wait, what the fuck is this pen for? I think I was going to write something down. Damn it.

I can't remember the last time I completed a simple task on the Internet without searching my house for some obscure piece of paper with a note or account number on it. Sometimes I have to dig through past years' taxes just to click "submit" on some fucking piece of administrative trivia. And I almost always have to search my email archive for some tip or clue about what to click or what account or PIN to use. And for some reason my keyword search only produces results about half the time even when I know the keyword is somewhere in my email. I think the problem is iCloud or climate change or something. I don't have time to look into it.

I have six-thousand passwords, a computer operating system that was designed by sadists, and seventy-five items on my to-do list before lunch. And I can't get one thing done because everything is connected via a web of complexity and missing information to every other thing on the fucking planet.

And if one more person helpfully tells me to get a password organizer, my head is going to explode. Organizing my passwords is on my list with about seventy other things I won't get to.

I'm almost certain there was a time in my youth when I could just identify a task and go do it. Those days are over. Now in order to do the simplest things in life I have to recover a lost password, get disconnected from several 800 calls, dig through old email, delete old accounts and start new ones, upgrade software, and change the ink in my printer.

My new worldview is that day-one of any Internet-related task is just discovering what information you don't have, or discovering that the software doesn't do what you hoped. Realistically, I rarely finish a task that involves the Internet on the same day I start, no matter how trivial the task.

Is it just me or has the Internet evolved from a tool to a disease?

--------------------

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com
Author of this book
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

My personal Twitter account: @ScottAdamsSays

True story: The batteries on my wireless keyboard died before I could post this. I didn't have any new batteries so I had to search my home for a device with non-dead AA  batteries that I could steal before I could finish the simple task of posting.

Second True Story: Immediately after writing this post I went to my car and the "low tire pressure" warning told me I should not drive it anywhere. I have an air compressor but no longer know which combination of poorly-labeled levers and valves controls what. And I needed an air pressure gauge, which I couldn't find after an hour-long search of car, garage, and house. I would go to the store and buy a new gauge . . . if I had a car that worked.

 
Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy for one sort of unpleasantness or another. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.

 
------------------
In my prior post I suggested that if a person lives in a hostile place, that person should leave. I think we can keep gender out of the discussion for a minute. Let's just examine the proposition that if you live someplace terrible, perhaps you should leave.

First, let me give some context. You know I love context.

Years ago, when smoking was still allowed indoors, I went after my employer to force a rule change. Given the health risks, my second choice was to leave for another job, but as some of you pointed out in the comments earlier, moving isn't easy. So in that case, staying and fighting the system (and winning) made perfect sense, at least as a first plan.

A few years later, still working for that large bank, my boss informed me that there wasn't enough gender and ethnic diversity in management and so there was no hope for a white male like me to get promoted in the foreseeable future.  So I looked for another job and left. I didn't stay and fight for my rights for the simple reason that the fight was, in my opinion, unwinnable. I had a chance of winning the indoor smoking fight. I didn't feel there was any realistic chance to win the promotion fight as long as diversity was the headline of the era.

Then I went to work at the local phone company, Pacific Bell, and as most of you know, I hit the diversity ceiling again. My boss told me in direct language that a white male could not be promoted into their all-white-guy management ranks because now the public was watching. But I didn't stay and fight the system because I didn't think it was winnable. That's when I started pursuing some entrepreneurial ideas. One of them was Dilbert.

And as I mentioned in the prior post comments, as soon as I graduated college I bolted from my small hometown that had no opportunity to the bosom of California and all it offered. That was among the best decisions of my life.

Here's my point:

The loser worldview is that whoever is causing the problem needs to fix it for you.

The problem with the loser worldview is that in many cases the only person who CAN fix the problem is you, even if you had nothing to do with causing it. A winner in that situation fixes his own problem. A loser sits indefinitely waiting for others to solve it for him, even knowing that won't happen.

When indoor smoking was my problem, the fault was clearly with the smokers and with management that allowed it. So I went after them and made them fix their problem for my benefit. That plan worked because the problem was fixable.

When I hit the diversity ceiling on two occasions, I chose to run instead of fight because in those cases victory seemed impossible. I also ran from my hometown because staying and convincing everyone to build some industry so I can get a good job seemed impractical.

Now let's circle back to the street video I discussed yesterday, in which a woman is harassed far too often on the streets of New York City. Should that woman vote with her feet and leave, which might be a huge sacrifice, or should she stay and fight the system by making videos and whatnot?

I think that depends on whether the problem can be fixed by others. If others are at fault, and they have the ability and motivation to fix the problem for you, by all means take a run at it. But if the only person who can fix your problem is you, and you choose not to do it because the fault is with others, you have taken the loser path. You literally chose the path you know will fail because of some misguided sense of rightness.

The men in the street video were obnoxious but acting within the rights granted by the Constitution. They had opinions and expressed them. And I remind you that their opinions were almost universally positive and complimentary, albeit scary and creepy at the same time.

Can that situation be changed?

I'm going to say yes, but only if the problem is approached in the proper order. So I would say that living in a bad place does make sense if you are working toward fixing it and you have a reasonable expectation of prevailing.

Expecting the men in the video to feel bad and change their ways won't work. They are operating under the laws of the land and quite clearly enjoying it.

I wouldn't expect any law changes to make public compliments illegal even when the giver is too creepy or scary. That standard could not be enforced.

And I guarantee that if any of the men shown in the video watched it, they would not conclude they were acting badly or hurting anyone. So shame is not a tool that can work in this case.

But there is one path that might work to solve this. And that path recognizes that humans modify their behavior for rewards, just like other animals.

The men in the street video are presumably repeat offenders. And that means they are getting a reward, at least occasionally, from their shouted public compliments. And I assume the reward comes from the occasional women who appreciate the compliments and smile back. Does that group represent ten percent of women? Fifty percent? I have no idea, but it wouldn't take much to reinforce the habit in men. Remember that men like to fish, date, and play baseball, so we know how to wait for unpredictable rewards. And we know from science that unpredictable rewards are the most addicting. So the men in the video are acting exactly as science would predict, given the type of rewards they are getting.

So the way to vastly reduce the street harassment problem is by removing the rewards. And only women can do that, by never responding positively to compliments about appearance. And that means all women, all the time, whether on the street or in the workplace, or even at home. Perhaps the next video on this topic should be addressed to the women who have enjoyed street compliments and rewarded the behavior. I don't think they know how much they are torturing the women who hate the attention.

Yes, this line of thinking does remind you of the horrible old-timey idea that women who dress nicely in public are "asking for it." None of us want to live in a world in which a rapist can get away with the "she was asking for it" excuse. But I think all of you are smart enough to know that that is a political and practical standard, not a rational one. A rational standard might be, for example, that it is unwise to poke a bear with a stick because that usually doesn't end well. The political standard is that the bear is at fault for overreacting. And to be clear, I fully endorse the political standard over the rational standard if it keeps women safe. In this special case, it makes sense to abandon strict rationalism because the political standard gets the job done better. So I'm okay pretending the universe only allows cause-and-effect to be a real thing when it wants to because that is the best way to keep women safe.

But every situation is different, and you wouldn't necessarily apply the same thinking that works for sex crimes to the thinking that works for unwanted public compliments.

By any objective measure, the root problem of street harassment is that the men involved are ignorant assholes. All thoughtful people are unanimous on who is to blame in this case: the men. The problem is that the guilty men have no incentive to change. And I see no practical way to influence them directly. The loser worldview would involve wishing very hard for that situation to change while knowing it won't.

The winner worldview is that you have responsibility for your own life and it is irrelevant who is at fault if the people at fault can't or won't fix the problem. I've noticed over the course of my life that winners ignore questions of blame and fault and look for solutions they can personally influence. Losers blame others for their problems and expect that to produce results.

If you want to see a good example of winners, look at the Asian and Indian population in the United States. The country handed them the usual boatload of intense discrimination with one hand and the promise of unlimited education with the other. Who's your valedictorian now? That's what winners do. No blame, just personal responsibility.

In summary, men are 100% to blame for their bad behavior on the streets. But there is no reasonable hope to change that situation as long as men are periodically rewarded for it. So a winner worldview offers two options: Either move or try to convince other women to stop rewarding the behavior. Both of those options offend our sense of rightness, but a winner sees society's artificial definitions of rightness as nothing but a speed bump.

A hundred years ago it wasn't practical to leave a shitty or sexist place because everywhere else was the same. But today you have plenty of nice places to live. So if you insist on living in New York City, please stop making videos that suggest it is somehow my problem to fix.

-------------------------

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com   
Author of this book 
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

I have a new personal Twitter account: @ScottAdamsSays

Twitter was useless in helping me fix the old and broken account. I had to create yet another email account just to start anew. See there how I fixed my own problem instead of wishing they would do it for me?

P.S. Yes, I am in a bad mood this week. Why do you ask?



 
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Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy for one sort of unpleasantness or another. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.

  -------------------

As regular readers know, I am a big fan of the feminist movement through history. A lot of brave people sacrificed and worked hard to move society toward greater equality. That was all good stuff. And the problem of sexism was so large a few decades ago that you really did need to approach it with a sledgehammer and not a scalpel.

But in 2014, sexism is not so much the "can't vote" type of problem it once was. It's more of the "Someone is making me uncomfortable" or "I think my gender played a role in a decision" or "I can't tell if this is a business meeting or a date" sort of thing.

I pause here to make a clarification for any folks who might have wandered over here from Jezebel.com, HuffingtonPost.com, or Slate.com. I will try to type slowly so you understand this next part: Scott...is...saying...there...is... still ...plenty... of ...spousal abuse...job discrimination ...sex crimes... and ...other ...horrors...perpetrated against...women.  But in 2014 that stuff looks more like crime than sexism. All women and 98% of men are on the same side when it comes to the criminal stuff.

Okay, back to the smart readers.

So today we have pockets of sexism as opposed to universal sexism, at least in the United States. That is still bad, obviously, but the point is that in 2014 feminists need to use a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer. And to use a scalpel you need some feedback on how the cutting is going. I am here to help.

One of the huge obstacles to successful feminism today is that there is no useful feedback on how their message is doing with men. Men have been trained to keep their heads down when this topic comes up. And that is a great disservice to women who need to know whether they are being heard on this topic, and whether the message is effective.

So I thought we could help out here by giving some unfiltered reactions to one recent feminist story. You might have seen the shocking video in which a young women walks around New York City for ten hours (edited down to 2 minutes) while being filmed as men continually harass her. The point of the video is (I assume) to show men how uncomfortable it is to be a woman walking down the sidewalk in a public place. The video does a great job. You have to see it.

Okay, so the video is presumably aimed at men, given that women are already aware of the situation. So in order for this video to succeed, it needs to convince men that a problem exists and that the problem needs to be addressed. Did it succeed? I'll give you my personal reaction. I'd like to see your reactions in the comments.

My first reaction is that editing ten hours down to two minutes is so overtly manipulative of the viewer that I had a bad reaction to it. I understand why they had to edit; no one watches ten hour videos. But while the video clearly states it is edited, the human brain still processes it as if it is in real time. My emotional reaction to the video is a reaction to a woman being harassed every five seconds, and that is not what happened.

So now I don't trust the senders of the message. If they manipulated me in one way, can I trust anything else? I'll call this a minor problem but it is worth calling out.

I assume the makers of the video intend me to watch it and conclude "Sexism is out of control! Women can't even walk the streets unmolested! Something must be done!"

Here's my actual reaction: "MOVE SOMEWHERE BETTER, YOU IDIOT!"

Do you want to know why my life is good today? It's because I once lived in a place with no opportunity and many disadvantages but I cleverly fixed that problem by moving somewhere else. And so I reiterate.

MOVE!!! JUST FUCKING MOVE!!!

Okay, I know, your family lives in New York City and your job is there and....JUST FUCKING MOVE!!! MOVE!!! STOP MAKING IT MY PROBLEM!!!

I'm sure the women in my polite suburban town also get bothered too often on the sidewalk. But I don't think it is anything like the neighborhoods in which the video is filmed.

So here's my personal reaction, as a man who is the intended target of this educational video.
  1. The video is unintentionally racist as hell, and that doesn't help feminism.
  2. The video editing feels manipulative and turns me off to the message.
  3. It makes women look like idiots for living in such a place voluntarily.
  4. Every man featured in the video is a creep. Isn't that sexist?
  5. The harassment was mostly in the form of powerless men hurling compliments at a woman that probably has a better job and more education than nearly all of the men in the video. Remind me again who the victims are?
  6. The creepy stalker guys were just scary. MOVE!!! MOVE!!! MOVE!!!

Did the video move society in the right direction? I'm not sure. It spotlights a legitimate issue and it hits the emotional notes to cause action. But I don't know how that gets the guys in the video to act differently. Are they seeing the video on BusinessInsider.com like I did?

I'm curious about your reaction to the video. Was it anything like mine?

-----------------------------------

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com    
Author of this book 
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

 

 

 
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Disclaimer: I own some Apple stock

After a month-long wait - and salivating the entire time - I finally got my iPhone 6 Plus. I don't know how Apple manipulates my emotions so effectively but I am thoroughly impressed at the mental anguish they put me through while I waited.

My heart was racing as I removed the phone from its strikingly well-designed packaging. Apple makes the process of opening a box feel as if you are winning a prize. Every color, shape, texture and probably smell has been studied and tweaked to perfection. Simply touching the product or its associated packaging is a tactile joy.

The experience of getting the iPhone 6 Plus was like getting a puppy. From my first touch of the sleek, sexy miracle of technology I was hooked. I loved it before I even charged it up.

It was large in my hand, and slippery to hold, but I didn't mind. That would be like complaining that my newborn baby was too heavy. This phone is pure art and emotion frozen in a design genius so subtle that competitors probably can't even duplicate it. It was pure beauty. Sometimes I found myself just staring at it on the desk because I loved it so. Oh, and it works well too.

But I needed a case. I tried to imagine my anguish if I accidentally dropped this new member of my family and cracked it. I needed protection.

So I went to the Verizon store and bought the only cover they had left that doesn't look like a six-year old girl's bedroom wall. The color of my new case could best be described as Colonoscopy Brown. It is deeply disturbing. But because I love my iPhone 6 Plus, and want to keep it safe, I put it on.

Now my phone is not so much a marvel of modern design. Nor would I say it is nourishing my soul with beauty and truth the way it did when naked.

Now it just looks like a Picasso that three hundred homeless people pooped on. You know there's something good under there but it is hard to care. Now when I see my hideous phone on my desk I sometimes think I can hear Siri beg me "Look away! Look away!"

So Apple sold me pure beauty but they cleverly put a short fuse on it so I would cherish the fleeting memory even more. They knew I would need a case, and they knew my phone would look terrible in it. But I still have that sweet memory of the day I removed the virginal phone from its packaging and saw it in all its natural beauty. Even then I knew that I would need to cover this sensual work of art with the equivalent of a phone burka just to keep my hands off it. I will not see my naked phone again until the day I upgrade and scrape away its rotting case. But I will always cherish the memory of my first look of the iPhone 6 Plus.

Beauty needs to be temporary to be appreciated. I think those magnificent bastards at Apple know that. I think they made the case slippery by design. They want you to know that if you keep your phone selfishly naked, and try to hoard the beauty that is designed to be temporary, that phone will respond by slipping out of your hand and flying to its crackly death on a sidewalk.

THAT
, my friends, is good design.

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com 
Author of this book
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

Note: I think a hacker now owns my personal twitter account @Scott Adams925. I can't get in, can't generate a password reset email, and can't get a response from any stoners at Twitter to fix it. I'll wait a week then abandon that account and start over. (Yes, I checked my spam folders for the reset email. Thank you in advance for assuming I am an idiot.)

 

 
Let's test your sense of color and design.

The new design for this blog (under development) needs a background color for my posts. Studies show that different colors inspire different emotions, and that means that picking the right background color matters. Here are six candidate background colors upon which a black text (probably) will ride.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to simply "feel" each color and tell me which sensation feels most compatible with my writing style for this blog. Do you feel your emotions differently with each color? I do. And for me it is fairly dramatic.

I have a clear favorite in this group. Which one is yours? (My answer will be at the end of the post.)



I'm also interested if you feel anything different at all. I'm not sure how similar humans are in their reaction to colors.

My preference is 5 because it registers as gently dangerous to me.
 
The new Dilbert.com site design is nearly ready for beta testing and I am doing an open call for aspiring creators who would like to join the new site on a shared ad revenue basis. You don't need to be a cartoonist. Any content that a typical Dilbert reader might enjoy would work.

Perhaps you write funny articles, or you create your own unpublished comics, or you write movie reviews for nerds, or you collect links to funny animal pictures or offbeat stories. Maybe you review electronic gadgets or talk about world events in ways others do not. Maybe you think you can write Robots Read News better than I can and you want to take a run at it. Maybe you simulate comic strip characters using Legos, like Cristiano Spiller did here.

The model going forward is that I will be making some limited "shelf space" available on Dilbert.com so other creators can test content and immediately share in ad revenue. The content that gets a lot of clicks will stay and the ones that do not will be cycled out for something with more promise.

The ad sharing model depends on what you have to offer. If you are an established creator you would earn a higher percentage of ad revenues on your page than if you are trying something for the first time. And if you update your content frequently that is worth more too. The details are negotiable.

I'm attracted to the idea of giving new creators a chance to break out while at the same time making Dilbert.com more engaging. I have no idea if this model will work. Let's call that part of the fun.

How much would a new creator earn? You would earn nearly nothing at first because it would take time for traffic to find you. But your exposure would be superb, and depending on your career ambitions it might be good experience. And I'll be contributing a light mentoring/editing touch if that has any value to you.

So please pitch me at dilbertcartoonist@gmail.com. No idea is too weird. (The weird ones might be best, actually.) Some samples plus a brief bio would be great.

My best guess is that I will get only a handful of pitches. So I can guarantee I will give my full attention to your idea. And if you think you have talent but no way to penetrate the commercial market . . . that excuse just went away. If I like what you do, I'll send a million eyeballs your way.

Background:
In 1988 a cartoonist named Jack Cassady gave me the advice and encouragement I needed to break into cartooning. That encouragement became both a blessing and a curse. The curse is that I have been compelled over the course of my career to pay forward the kindness. I have done so, as best I can, for many individual creators, but the Dilbert.com site redesign should multiply the effect. This is for you, Jack.

---------------------------------------

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com    
Author of this book 
Twitter personal: @scottadams925 (currently unavailable - hacked)
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

 

 
Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy for one sort of unpleasantness or another. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.

---------------------------------

Do you find yourself wondering how ISIS suddenly emerged as a military powerhouse in Iraq and Syria?

The official story is that ISIS has smart leaders, fierce fighters, and they resupply themselves through crime and conquest. And we hear stories that the Iraqi army is incompetent and retreat-happy.  And Syria is just a hot mess. That should be enough to explain the situation, right?

I don't hold a competing theory. I just don't buy into the official version.

And those beheadings look a bit suspicious to me. They seem more staged for the benefit of the U.S. military than the benefit of ISIS. Those beheading videos consolidated support for military action and serve to keep the U.S. even more deeply involved in the region. There are powerful elements in the U.S. who want that, especially the weapons industry.

I've described in this blog how my B.S. filter works. I look for two sources to be in agreement. For example, if the news reports match my common sense view, or my observations, or the first-hand accounts from witnesses, I tend to believe the news. But if the news conflicts with my common sense or my observations I raise an eyebrow and try to keep it that way.

The ISIS story doesn't pass my B.S. filter because it violates common sense that such a competent fighting force could suddenly emerge and bitch-slap professionally trained (or even poorly trained) military forces with such consistency. I have worked in large organizations and I know that the logistics involved - the planning, training, and resupplying are huge challenges even for organized armies. Did ISIS really figure out all of that while their communications are presumably monitored by the enemy?

Then you have the curious situation that every country in the Middle East is united against ISIS. How often have Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel been on the same side of an issue? That is mighty convenient in the sense that it turns enemies into frenemies, and that's a step in the right direction.

I said I don't hold an alternate theory to explain ISIS. But let's imagine one and compare it to the official story to see which one seems more credible. If the conspiracy theory we invent here sounds more believable than the official story, that doesn't mean anything, but it is fun to do.

Let's say one of the major military powers in the world has been secretly providing ISIS with training, weapons, and intelligence about targets. That would explain the success of ISIS, but why would any major world power help them?

One answer is that the only way to kill an idea is to transform it into something you can bomb. And you can certainly bomb a caliphate. A caliphate should act as a magnet for the worst of the bad actors. Presumably the bad guys would want to consolidate power in the caliphate before spreading it to neighboring countries. So the caliphate attracts all the bad people, like a heat sink, and puts them in one target area. Convenient! Are the troop barracks built yet?

Arguably, the best thing that could happen to Israel is the creation of a caliphate with no air force that the Sunni and Shiite countries can hate with equal passion. It is a great distraction and it makes the enemies of the enemy cooperate. And compared to the videos of innocent journalists being beheaded, Israel's West Bank settlements seem like nothing more than a real estate issue.

ISIS has also become the "brand" for Islamic extremists, replacing al Qaeda. Scrappy little al Qaeda had support because it poked the big American bear all the way over in the homeland. That's something American-haters can get behind. But can you love ISIS as it gobbles up your neighbor and threatens to do the same to you?

So ISIS has achieved several useful psychological goals for Israel and the United States:

1.      ISIS is a common enemy that puts traditional enemies in the region on the same side. Perhaps that could help get an Iranian nuclear deal, for example. Iran needs U.S. help controlling ISIS.

2.      ISIS has stolen the radical Islam "brand" from al Qaeda and ruined it by putting the focus on killing other Muslims. That should be good for America in the long run.

3.      Israel's military actions in the region seem tame compared to the beheadings and mass killings in the caliphate. So Israel comes out ahead thanks to ISIS sucking up the news cycle over there.

4.      American arms dealers come out ahead because America continues to drop bombs in a war that probably won't reach the homeland with much impact.

So if I had to put a conspiracy theory to the facts we know, I would say the CIA, weapons makers, and Israel are engineering the situation for a caliphate to form so it sucks the bad actors out of the moderate countries and puts them someplace easier to bomb while ruining their brand image at the same time. The alternative might have been to allow Iran to slowly gain control over the entire region while developing nukes. Compared to that future, creating a honey trap for the enemy and then bombing it (forever) makes perfect sense.

In the long run, I think ISIS will be the best thing that happened to the Middle East because of what it does to the common psychology of who the "real" enemy is. And it comes when the problems in the Middle East seemed otherwise unsolvable. Is that a coincidence?

(Here I will remind you that this blog is just for fun and that cartoonists are not good sources for knowledge of world affairs.)
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Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     

Author of this book 

Twitter personal: @scottadams925
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

 

 
Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy for one sort of unpleasantness or another. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.

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A recent study that got picked up by the media says that 90% of women in restaurant jobs that depend on tipping report being sexually harassed at work.

That sounds like sexist behavior out of control. But allow me to put some context on that based on my restaurant-owning experience.

I believe it is true that 90% of women working for tips in restaurants are sexually harassed by coworkers and/or customers. That fits my personal observations after working in the industry. But let's put some context on that and see if your feelings about the story change.

For starters, let's remove from the stats the folks who take jobs at Hooters and other restaurants that position the staff's appearance as part of the "entertainment." I would argue that those employees are signing up to be sexually objectified in return for the promise of easy work and good tips. You can make a convincing case that Hooters should not exist, but I don't think you can lump the servers at Hooters with the servers at Applebee's and get a good statistic on restaurant sexual harassment in general.

So let's say the non-Hooters rate of sexual harassment for female restaurant workers is something like 80%. That still sounds terrible. But I'm not done with context yet.

In my experience, attractive female bartenders and servers are completely conscious of trading their sexuality for higher tips.  They talk about it freely. They pick blouses to accentuate their best assets. And some will admit they choose jobs that allow them to trade on their looks. If I were in my twenties and could make money in a job that depended on my looks instead of my muscles I would take it in a heartbeat, assuming I had good looks.

My best guess is that if you remove from the stats the women who are intentionally using their sexuality to improve their income, you get about 50% of women in tipping jobs who get sexually harassed and have done nothing intentionally to inspire unwanted attention. That is still a horrible number.

But 50% is also the rate of men who report being sexually harassed in server jobs. In my restaurant experience, when we had handsome male bartenders or servers the female staff and customers were shameless with their non-stop sexual banter, flirting, and direct sexual offers. And if you thought all of that attention was the good kind, you'd be wrong. It was an ongoing problem for the guys. The handsome gay servers had it the worst because they had no upside potential from the female attention.

So here's the proper context, in my opinion, based on years of direct restaurant experience: 100% of attractive men and women are sexually harassed at work in the restaurant business. And nearly every one of them took the job knowing that would be the case, but they decided it was worth it for the relatively easy money.

Everyone who has restaurant experience knows that the industry attracts folks who are simply not as sensitive as the general public on this and other topics. In a typical office setting, a sexual conversation could be a career-ender. In a typical restaurant, half of the conversations are x-rated humor, and most of it is coming from the women. Comparing restaurant folks with typical white collar workers is comparing apples and oranges. Restaurant workers are self-selected as not-too-bothered by sexual banter. Or maybe they just become that way after a month on the job. I'm just saying they are not the same personalities that are working at IBM.

The ratio of harassment drops off as you move from the attractive restaurant employees to the merely average of both genders. Probably only half of average-looking employees get harassed. That is still too high, of course.

And then you have the homely restaurant employees of both genders. They have their own problems, but sexual harassment isn't at the top of their lists.

The bottom line is that sexual harassment in restaurants is not so much a gender issue as an attractive person issue. But it doesn't become a story until you layer on the sexism angle and leave out the context. Would you read a story with a headline that says, "Attractive people get more unwanted sexual attention than ugly people" or would you think you already know that story? Sometimes good context makes a bad story.

In related and not-so-surprising news, a study says attractive women get more job interviews than unattractive women. Attractive men have no similar advantage.

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Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     
Author of this book 
Twitter personal: @scottadams925
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily

 

 

 

 
 
 
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