"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 24 June 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Dining with Cannibals

"Soylent Green is people!"

- Charlton Heston,
Soylent Green

The computer industry eats

people, consumes them whole, and

spits out bleached-white bones.

While corpulent, sickly-white

pre-public CEOs masturbate over

their vested stock, their

lackeys, their


minions, push and push and push

the people who do the actual

work until stomachs writhe in

acid and sleep disappears and

skin goes bad and teeth ache.

The people who do the actual

work rarely push back. Instead

they snap. They freak out and

they crumble like a freeway in

an earthquake.


If only they could manage to

crush those who are just along

for the ride.


This industry is sick, sick to

the core. Apps, games, the Web,

all of it. People who work eight

hours a day then go home to

families and lives are derided

as not being "team players."

People who throw themselves into

criminally unreasonable

lumbermill schedules (part

buzz-saw, part log jam) are

rewarded with more work. People

who point all this out are

threatened with the loss of

their jobs and labeled attitude




If you think the blatant greed

and stupidity that Wall Street

has demonstrated where tech

stocks are concerned is

disgusting, try sneaking into

the boardroom or CEO's office of

a company that's about to go

public. From the cubes in

Development, you can hear oily

hands being rubbed together and

fat, dripping tongues smacking

wet lips, just waiting for the

cash to rain out of the sky.

Human costs aren't considered,

families don't exist, there is

no Outside (only, perhaps,

Outside). "Tell them they have

to work weekends," the boss says

to his winged monkey. "Tell them

that they're not working hard



And the winged monkey, just to

show you what a wonderful guy he

is, offers to buy you a burrito

and a Coke because you're

missing dinner at home. Gosh,

Brad, thanks.



The days when it was worth it are

over. There used to be a time,

long ago, when killing yourself

for the company was worth it. I

believe that. I read Hackers and

Show-stopper! and fell for it,

fell for it hard. I believed

that you could eat shit and say

it was porridge for a few years

and come out of it with a huge

number of neurons fried, but

with enough lucre in the bank

that you could spend the rest of

your life working it out in a

hillside bunker (or, better yet,

a yurt filled with high-tech




But that doesn't happen any more.

Kill yourself now and the only

thing you are is dead, and all

you'll get is a gold-plated

coffin. For the people who can

make it through the entire

vesting period, the shares

almost never add up to anything

significant: Yes, yours for just

the cost of four years of your

life - friends, sex,

contentment, peace, and an

apartment free of that sickly smell

it gets when you haven't been there

in a long time - a new car!



Whoop-de-fuckin'-do. The

equivalent of, what? A ten

percent raise? At the cost of a

stomach lining? A decent night's

sleep? A full head of hair? A




Never before in history have

nerds, as a class, become

economically viable. It was

never worthwhile to exploit

astronomers. But computer

programmers can actually

make something people want,

something people will pay for.

And they over-focus anyway!

Convince them that The Product

is somehow important to their

lives, more important thantheir

lives, and hang a turd from a

stick and call it a carrot. And

bang! Coding machines!

"Machines" being the operative




It's sick and it's immoral. A

friend of mine was beeped to

work - they made him carry a

beeper - on a weekend, on his

wife's birthday, and he didn't

return home until 2 A.M. The video

game he was working on had a

bug. The video game. The manager

who called him in probably got a




Something is desperately wrong,

wrong and evil. Butchers and

bakers and candlestick makers

don't have to put up with this

kind of shit, so why should we? Why

is it expected? Demanded? Why is

it given? Why is an eight-hour

day a "good start"? When did the

job become the end instead of

the means?



Why should I make that evil

bastard in the corner office

rich? Why should he get a

million dollars for the product

I architected? For my product?

The product he's too stupid to



Because that's the way it is.


Fine. At least I don't have to



I quit.

courtesy of POP