VACUUM

for 1 July 1996. Updated every MONDAY.

 
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Loyal Suck readers may have been
somewhat disgusted with the
obvious pandering to the lowest
common denominator last week -
which we've since dubbed "Salon
Week." While many readers might
think taking on Slate, Hating
Techie Jobs, and Loving Techie Men
in one week might be the very
definition of living dangerously,
we've certainly been Living
Dangerously in Eudora's world,
thanks to unprecedented amounts of
email from readers near and far.

 
[Prisoner]

POP's rant on loathsome tech jobs,
"Dining with Cannibals," inspired
the highest quantity and quality
of vitriolic prose. Jason Osgood
<jason@parcom.com> writes:

During the last six years I worked
at two MegaCorp, USA jobs. The
last one, for "Lowbucks"
Starbucks, was easily the worst
experience of my life... My
solution was to never, ever work
for a corporation again ever,
period, no exceptions. My
self-employment is fulfilling, I
have all the free time I need and
I can manage to pay my bills. It
sure beats the alternative: dying
young with no friends hunched over
my keyboard.

Three women in my department at
Starbucks had severe health
problems, which I believe were at
least worsened (if not actually
caused) by the stress. Having a
lot of experience with that type
of problem, I simply asked them:
"Is your job worth your life?"

Or, their health problems might've
been caused by those triple
cappuccinos, forced down every hour
to avoid depression.

The question is: Why are we forced
to choose between life and job?
Can't we have a slice of each?
Maybe a part-time job with half of
a good salary, a sometime
boyfriend, 1 or 2 friends, and
maybe a semi-amusing hobby or
preoccupying pastime? What's this
hunching and squinting for 12
hours, mumbling over a beer for an
hour, then bedtime for gonzo? We
want The Life/Work Sampler,
featuring a taste of a social
life, a career, and a modicum of
intellectual fulfillment! What's
the big problem? It makes perfect
sense, damn it!

Anyhoo, back to work...

Till Steinmetz <til@mme.de>
writes:

i am working as a "media producer"
for a german company... i just
wanted to express my consent to
the picture you draw of the whole
online business. i am frightened
not only by the self exploitation
of the people working in this
business, but also by the
uselessness of the whole
www-thing... Just recently i
visited an exhibition about a
strike of german workers in the
late '20s. They showed pictures of
workers holding banners with "No
more than 9 hours a day!" written
on it. Ok, our work cannot be
compared with the shit people had
to do back in the '20s but the 9
hours are back i guess. I hope
people will continue to talk about
that topic.

Nine hours a day! (Loud, manic
laughter.) It is to dream! Around
here we carry banners that say "No
more stale Marshmallow Munchies in
the Snack Box!" No reason to waste
time pounding your head against
the wall for unattainable
demands... Aim low, brother!

Someone (name withheld to protect
the innocent) writes:

Thanks for cutting to the chase on
the total abuse that folks in
startups go through to make some
idiot either rich or gratify an
ego. I put in 6 years of my life
in one startup and just came off 2
1/2 in another. In the first case
I missed my oldest child growing
up and actually thought I might
get some money out of the deal in
exchange for my life being
trashed. Instead, we hired some
asshole to give us "management
experience" who managed to take a
company 1 quarter away from going
public into the tank while all the
while the board of "directors"
(synonym for gang of thieves)
voiced confidence in his
direction. This direction included
losing money in every quarter
following the one he took charge
in, proclaiming that there was no
future for remote access products
(in 1993!!!!!!) and then moving
the company into expensive offices
with pretty carpet that no one
needed and putting out a family of
products that no one wanted to buy
at a price twice the competition's
with technology that was 2 years
out of date. Gee, thanks a lot,
asshole!!! We then find out that
he was in cahoots with the VC's to
tank the company cash position so
they could completely dilute the
common shareholders (read, the
folks that worked on building the
place) and take over the company
completely for a song. Note that
Mr. Asshole did not have a dime
into the company himself. This guy
is gone now but has moved on to
become a vice president at a large
internetworking company.

Of course, these are my opinions so
if any of these assholes actually
read this DON'T SUE ME ;-) On the
other hand, they probably don't
read Suck.

You'd be surprised, considering the
quantity of assholes that work
here...

One of our pals from c|net writes:

You have no idea what a nerve you
hit with me today. I spent all
weekend feeling this way and come
into c|net this morning and quit.
I gave up my options, my employee
stock purchase plan, the soft pats
on the head for a job well done
overtime on a weekend.

Thank god that someone has the
freedom and the guts to publish
this kind of sentiment... From now
on I work for me.

We'll have the freedom and the guts
just as long as our soft pats on
the head don't turn into brutal
smacks upside the head. Then we'll
have to work for "me" too.
Unfortunately, "me" isn't a very
good boss - gets abusive, tends to
go on long vacations, doesn't pay
very well...

We had so many great responses to
POP's piece, in fact, we just have
to give you a heart-wrenching
montage (you provide the schmaltzy
music):

"...Now that the overachievers are
burning out like so many vacuum
tubes, maybe they'll pick up red
flags and start fucking with The
Man. Either that or quit, rip open
another Tagamet and enter the Void
Formerly Known As Consulting...
Fucking with the minds of a CEO
MBA dork is much easier than you
might realize... Based on your
recommendation, I quit MY job and
am now homeless. Can't wait until
the next installment to see what
I do next... Geexploitation works
on the promise of the golden
carrot. Those who fail to grab it
the first time raise capital
enough to borrow their own carrots
to bait even less fortunate
geeks... I don't believe their
lies about stock options, but I
also don't know how to break
free... Meanwhile, my old
coke-snortin' sociopathic boss
continues to pull in a big
salary... I don't for a minute
believe that the cyber-proles are
at any level close to the
conditions confronted by
coalminers, or even early Ford
factory workers, but if POP wants
to portray himself as the poor
man's Norma Rae, then go right
ahead and get organized..."

[Robot Squirrel]
 

Finally, Robert Sinful
<sinful@barn.com> writes:

nice attitude there, but you forget
that as a class of humans, nerds
are the most passive and the
easiest to control. my friend
charlie who lives in oregon and
collects guns to shoot at nerds
with always referred to them as
"overpaid and underworked
squirrels" unhappy? buy them an
old asteroids machine and they
will be happy once again. are they
trying to go home? mention the
shit hole of a place where they
live in sunnyvale, or the 2 hr
commute to SF, and the low vacancy
rate in the oh so hip SOMA
district where the lame people of
SUCK and WIRED are housed.

Hey, chumpy! You've sure got our
number! You're so wise, you could
probably come down to oh-so-hip
SOMA and single-handedly rule
bastions of passive,
easy-to-control nerds with just a
few words and a simple gesture!
Until then, we'll be here, living
in fear of your arrival, the
occasional game of Galaxian our
only reprieve from sheer
terror...

 
[Neanderthal]

In response to Justine's "Sex and
the Single URL
," rioT
<two@zoom.com> writes:

Boy, no *wonder*! Thanks for
clearing up a few mysteries for
me...and here I was naive enough
to think that if I just bought
some Urban Decay cosmetics and
picked up the check he would be
mine forever. Used to be a girl
could just club 'em over the head,
drag him back to the cave and then
feed him to the bears when she was
finished. But dating has become so
complicated! Oh, for those
sensitive types. Men in tune with
the true female persona...

Indeed, Judy Blume novels aside,
"Forever" takes more than
"Uzi"-colored nails and goat
cheese ravioli. But dating is
complicated because it's
frightfully ineffective. The
modern equivalent of clubbing him
over the head is feeding him
martinis and carrying him home -
not that he's useful in that
state, but the morning-after
breakfast (the two of you, crusty
yet giddily hungover, sucking down
strong coffee and insulting each
other) is much more real than that
polite "so what do you do again"
dating crap.

Someone writes: Wow, you're the
only woman who's ever really
understood me. Doing anything
tonight? My cryo-suspension
contract payment is made for the
month and I think I still have
enough left over for eats and a
flick.

Gosh, sorry, I'm too busy.

 

Regarding Ann O' Tate's take on
Slate, "Disappointed" Doug Lee
<dougl@thorn.net> writes:

How could you defend and even
compare the fine semi-corporate-
but-at-least-corporate-bashing
product that is Suck to the
worthless stupendously boring shit
that is Slate.

I'll admit that after Wired got a
hold of you guys, I was worried
but I a) renewed my subscription
with Wired and b) am delighted at
the interface and content format
changes.

In all my years of extensive web
searching/surfing (I work in the
industry also) Suck remains the
only site I consistently visit
that is predominantly text-based.

I kinda think you're debasing your
own fine work by lauding and
favorably comparing yourselves
with Slate.

Well, we knew the Gates of hell
would fly open the second we
defended a MSFT-funded project,
but we assure you, Kinsley's not
lining our pockets with tall
dollars. In fact, he probably
thinks we're debasing HIS fine
work by comparing ourselves with
Slate! But it's like comparing
humans to fish - sure, the human
has opposable thumbs and all, but
the fish is slimy and quick. And
the fish was here first, damn it!
Yeah, it's time for more Lithium.
Garcon?..."

Neal Johnson <njohnson@uop.edu>
writes:

As to your general comments on
Slate, I would only add the
following, though I will confess
that I only spent around three
minutes looking at Slate courtesy
of your links to its door. Having
a distinct dislike for most, if
not all, Microsoft products, I am
not surprised to read that it is
recycling other people's ideas,
just as Microsoft recycled a whole
series of other people's
software... I am surprised that
you didn't make the seemingly
obvious comparison - Slate is the
Reader's Digest of the Web, a more
fitting comparison for a Microsoft
endeavor, a rehashed, unoriginal
distillation mistaken for quality
by people who really don't know
any better. If Microsoft continues
Gate's quest for total world
domination, all we have to look
forward to is the birth of the
largest virtual trailer park,
cable fed with 500 channels of the
Home Shopping Network.

You might want to revisit Slate.
Money may not buy you love, but it
will buy you skilled editors and
quality writing - as long as you
know enough to look for quality.
If MSFT's people have their eyes
on the right prize, content-wise,
a trailer park is hardly in the
making. For the real trailer
trash, look no further than
Spim/Stiv - sites that have the
cash, yet the content is
alternately either decent or
laughable. But then, no one on the
Web is irreproachable, as far as
consistency goes...

Besides, though Reader's Digest can
never effectively distill good
books into an easy read, a
Reader's Digest of the Web can
effectively distill 95% of the
content online and in magazines
and newspapers. You can always
seek out the stuff that interests
you, but you don't have to waste
your time on the same old
worthless rehashed crap day in and
day out.

 
[Fish]

And in other news... Daniel
"Jacques Kitsch" Margolis
<margolis@hsc.usc.edu> writes:

I'm not certain if you are the
proper person to ask, but I was
just wondering how many inquiries
you've gotten as to why the
graphic of the gun at the top of
the left panel is not smoking. So,
what's the deal? The other two are
definitely a fish and a barrel (as
much as resolution will permit).

In adoration (no, not really)...

Here's the deal: Once, in the early
days of Suck, the gun smoked, and
let me just say, it smoked quite
nicely. But then Joey decided to
quit smoking. He was doing pretty
well, too... but every single time
he pulled up Suck (Pathfinder is,
of course, his default Home
setting) there was that damn gun,
smoking away. He began to believe
that the gun was actually jeering
at him, smugly sucking down smoke
and blowing it in his
nicotine-starved face... finally,
he cracked, and ended up weeping
piteously (and chainsmoking) for
several days.

So, we apologize for any
inconvenience it might cause you,
but, when it comes down to it, our
dear Joey's health is a little
higher up on the priority list
than your aesthetic discomfort.

 

courtesy of
Polly Esther
and you