Vested Interests and Cancers

Vested interest.  It sounds so solid.  So respectable.  So endowed with authority.  Like a three-piece suit with a watch on a chain.  But what does ‘vested interest’ mean?  It means ‘self-interest’. A vested interest is nothing less than a self-interest.  And nothing more.

But say ‘vested interest’ and, well, say no more.  Literally.  If I object to a zoning bylaw change that will probably lead to more traffic and tourists because that will destroy the silence and solitude of where I live, well, I’m just expressing my own personal interests.  But if the guy who runs the gas station says the change should be approved because it will be good for business, well, that’s different.  He has a business – he has a vested interest in the zoning bylaws.  So suddenly his opinion, his desires, count more.  It’s magic.  It certainly isn’t rational. Read the rest of this entry »

The Freedom to Shop

In a not so recent, but largely unnoticed decision (Daishowa Inc. v. Friends of Lubicon), the Ontario Divisional Court said that boycotts are illegal when specifically intended to cause economic damage to the boycott target. Isn’t that generally the point? Boycotts allow us to put our money where our mouths are; they allow us to hit a company where it hurts, so it smartens up and changes.

I often choose brands according to Read the rest of this entry »

Combining Family and Career

People say that women can’t have, can’t combine, a family and a career, that it’s having family responsibilities that keeps them from advancement – the inability to work late or on weekends, the tendency to need time off to tend to kids…

I’m not so sure.  I’ve never had such competing obligations, and I don’t have a career.  I think the family thing is a red herring.  Women just don’t get hired into career-track jobs nearly as often as men, and when they do, they don’t get advanced.  (And not because their family responsibilities get in the way.)

In fact, it might be an advantage to be a mother, because you’re seen as more adult then, you’re seen as an authority.  Certainly one carries oneself with more authority, I notice that a lot: as soon as someone becomes a parent, the authority they are to their kids spills over, and they start acting like they know everything with everyone, like they have a right to tell everyone what to do.  It’s especially obvious with women because it’s the first time they have, or are seen to have, authority. Women without kids aren’t grown up yet, they aren’t granted any sort of authority, certainly no position of responsibility.  It’s as if becoming a parent proves you can be responsible.

But of course it does no such thing: witness the very many irresponsible parents; indeed, becoming a parent in the first place is, for many, due to irresponsibility.  And, of course, there are many other ways of demonstrating responsibility.

Being There

I recently read a lament about work attitudes, about how more and more people seem to think that just being there is enough, that their paycheque is for putting in time rather than for actually doing anything, let alone for doing a good anything, that people feel no guilt about the mistakes they make, nor do they feel any desire to do better.

I’d like to offer some comments in defense, or at least in explanation, of that position.  Read the rest of this entry »

Supervisory Responsibility

I have come to realize that the corporate definition of ‘responsibility’ is very different than the common definition. I am thinking, in particular, of ‘supervisory responsibility’.

Consider this situation. Read the rest of this entry »

King of the Castle

Octavia Butler got it right in Xenogenesis when the aliens identified one of our fatal flaws as that of being hierarchy-driven (they fixed us with a bit of genetic engineering) – but she failed to associate the flaw predominantly with males.

And Steven Goldberg got it right in Why Men Rule when he explained that men are genetically predisposed to hierarchy (fetal masculinization of the central nervous system renders males more sensitive to the dominance-related properties of testosterone) – but he presented that as an explanation for why men rule and not also for why men kill.

And Arthur Koestler got it right in The Call Girls when, recognizing that the survival of the human species is unlikely, a select group of geniuses meet at a special ‘Approaches to Survival’ symposium (and fail to agree on a survival plan) – but I’m not sure he realized (oh of course he did) that one of his character’s early reference to a previous symposium on ‘Hierarchic Order in Primate Societies’ was foreshadowing.

The reason the human species will not survive is simple: Read the rest of this entry »

Leadership?

Some time ago, I attended a “Women in Leadership” conference put on by one of Ontario’s larger unions.  Wheat I learned there disillusioned two parts of me: the labour part and the feminist part. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sexism Compensation Index (SCI)

I suspect that even with today’s rigorous interview and job performance appraisal techniques, which require that all applicants be asked and scored on the same questions, multiple standards still interfere with merit as the sole criterion for hiring and promotion.

How? Well suppose Read the rest of this entry »

Wedding Leave

I recently discovered that my workplace has ‘wedding leave’: apparently you can get up to three days off—with pay. What the fuck is going on here?

I mean, what’s a wedding? It’s just a big party. Should employees be allowed to have personal parties on company time? I think not.

Oh, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime party. Well, no, Read the rest of this entry »

No Advertising

Imagine a “No Advertising’ rule. Whenever you wanted to buy something, you’d just look it up in a central directory with a really good search engine that enabled you to see all of your options (a select few based on your preferences) accompanied by product information. Or you could just choose from the selection offered by whatever store you went to.

Most magazines, newspapers, radio stations, and television stations would die. The ones that are just tools of the companies who use them for advertising. The ones supported by people genuinely interested in reading, listening, and watching what they have to offer would live on. Read the rest of this entry »