Tag Archives: Dystopia

“Six days shalt thou work …

and do all thou art able (on the seventh the same, and sweep out the stable)”

One doggedly persistent concept that keeps getting knocked about and kicked in the shins is the legendary 40-hour work week.  Legendary, because there are documentable instances of individuals who have achieved and maintained such a lofty goal (it would be mythical if no mortal being could achieve such a condition).  Knocked about and kicked where it hurts because for the vast majority of people I am aware of the work nearly always exceeds the limits of five days at eight hours each.

Usually more like a minimum of nine hours each day for six days out of seven, and something more than that on at least one additional day.

Where’s my proof, you ask?  Consider the modern “knowledge worker”, required by an employer to inhabit an office for purposes of control and security (we’ll come back to the security aspect in a bit…).  Is our paragon of productivity housed on-location?  Almost certainly not, so we add a required commute to the office and back again to the living quarters.  Let’s be generous and only give Paragon thirty minutes for each leg of the commute.  We’ll stick with the 8-to-5 daily schedule, with an assumption of one hour allowance each day for lunch or other personal (non-work) break.  Now, factor in the expectation for accessibility 24x7x363 — we’ll be generous in this exercise and designate Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day as non-working holidays.  Include the probable requirement for mandatory-in-all-but-name company functions at night or on weekends:  holiday “parties”, “retreats”, “volunteer opportunities”, etc.

We’ll allow half-credit for vacation time actually scheduled and taken (full credit only if no expectation exists for the vacationing worker to check email, remain reachable by telephone, or be on conference calls during the time away from the office).  Additional kudos and partial credit for coffee breaks, with double credit if the business provides the coffee / tea / snack service and reduced credit if pay is deducted automatically whether or not Paragon actually drinks coffee.  (We’ll remain neutral on “smoke breaks” for now, OK?)

Wipe out three-quarters of any credits otherwise earned by the workplace if the current workload requires “take-home” work, reduces available training time during the normal workday, or makes overtime hours mandatory outside of traditional “busy season” timeframes.

Calculators at the ready?  Naw, no real need to add to brain-strain.  If you can find a modern, effective, productive knowledge worker who spends less than 50 hours a week in work-related activity, show me where they are working — I wanna apply there!

Bad news, and there is some:  a “creative” worker on average will be logging something closer to 70 or 80 hours in that same week in order to produce anything like an equivalent income.  Maybe more, if they are conducting their own marketing efforts.

There are REASONS that people are reporting more fatigue in their lives now than in my parent’s generation.  You wanna try and legislate a “living wage” and in all likelihood take away good entry-level jobs from the available pool?  Good luck, my friend, and in the most direct Southern manner “Bless your heart”.

Yer gonna need every advantage you can get when the villagers show up with the “bricked” cellphones they can’t pay for and the burning-resume torches for the jobs you just made disappear.

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Emerging Trends In Writing — The Downside Of Drivel

I’ll probably be strung up by my thumbs, figuratively, if Certain People ever actually read this particular rant.  However, I have opinions.  Strong ones.  Sometimes I even express them in written form, as opposed to simply shouting them into an empty well…

I don’t like bullies.  Never have, never will.  Does not matter one bit in the slightest whether it is a matter of brute force physicality or sharp-witted intellectualism.  Bullying is bullying, regardless.  Along the way, this attitude gets me in trouble.  That falls into place along with my other sterling quality of an inability to resist pointing out that the truth is other than some nitwit might be claiming.  “Flamewars”, “Blog Battles”, and the not-so-honorable art of “Trolling” in forums, boards, or newsgroups all — I repeat with emphasis ALL — deserve to be held up to the real light of honest truth and discarded as “not worth my time”.  Will they be?  Unfortunately for all of us online, not very damn likely.  Among other reasons that I propose they must continue is that we must each and separately aggressively preserve our rights to freedom of expression.  Ignoring the ignorant and the deliberately, willfully erroneous just is not where my heart lies in the fight for Truth.

Hmmmm.  Truth.  Sticky concept there.  There are self-evident Truths out there.  Trust me that this is indeed so.  Whether they are necessarily the same for you, me, or any other individual remains an unprovable position as long as we continue to operate under our current universe’s rules for proof and refutation.  What is preference for me and others born into my birth-culture may be utterly foreign to others of my species and race born into a different culture, sometimes even though both may express adherence to the same standards of morality and (substantially) similar religious teachings.  A third culture on the same spectrum may take those preferences and make them essentials of civilized behavior, treat them as self-evident law, and severely punish any who would choose a different manner of expressing the tenets.  Horrid and reprehensible wars have been fought for all of recorded history over just such differences.  We should expect more of modern human society, warts-and-all interconnected as we may be on some frighteningly final levels?  (Nuclear Armageddon is NOT anyone’s friend.  Global Winter may play favorites, but it still kinda ruins the day of the vast majority of the planet’s currently viable biomes.)

“Politically Correct” had a time and a place in polite conversation.  The egregious overuse of the term, the certitudes, and the mindset have all contributed to a distinct and urgent need to kick all three to the curb with vim, vigor, and carefully-applied velocity.  YES, with politeness too.  Politically Correct changes to the way we write have taken hold, whether good, bad, or indifferent.  Those changes should not necessarily be abandoned utterly.  It is the combative attitude of “Politically Correct” that has become less than truly polite and has edged far too closely into the thought-policed fringe leading toward Orwellian or Huxleyian dystopias.

There comes a time in the writing of fiction when the writer must choose the degree of verisimilitude to be applied to the “world” being created by the words being set forth to bring the story to life.  (Yes, Virgil and Virginia, this also applies to non-fiction writing of most coherent types I’m ever likely to put my own attentions to…)  For the best of the authors out there, now and in the illustrious (HAH!) past of human literature, the STORY came first, the “real” and desired systems of the non-story world that we live in have nearly always been secondary.  (Yes, even in the midst of a rant I can demonstrate tempering consideration.  Wouldn’t do to ignore Ayn Rand or that Sinclair fellow, among other counter-examples.)  I am encouraged by the extent to which most of my peers seem to understand this.

I am discouraged by the extent to which some of those willing to rant AGAINST the practice have apparently been gaining traction and radicalizing otherwise sane and sober folk through various means.

I write on both sides of the fiction divide for a number of reasons.  Some of those reasons directly relate to my desire to make fiction “better” in some way.  I’ve written about the history of weapons, the historical Bard (and modern descendants of the type), and about how to create more-believable corporeal undead.  My article on the last has even been reprinted (in a paying market, no less!), so at least one editor out there seems to think I can get an idea across.  I also wrote a column on grass-roots activism for a size-rights magazine a decade ago.

Does any of that make a difference when I sit down to write a fictional account of the next apocalypse to threaten human extinction?  Well, maybe a little — my zombioid critters may not have active mentality, but they also Make A MESS as they thrash across the story-scape, and the human survivors facing them don’t suddenly all have swords available to lop off the squishy bits.  Does my understanding and background mean that any of the human survivors will be anguishing over whether or not their gender/sex role choices are the “right” ones?  Not likely, unless / until they have some time to relax and think about anything beyond personal and perhaps racial survival.

Does my emerging culture of survivors care (much) what the remaining technologically-blessed enclaves are opining about politics in blogs written on the pitiful remnants of the Interwebsnet they have managed to keep running while the rest of the civilized world collapses into howling chaos?  Not likely, at least not until it makes a difference to  personal / species survival for the band of “winners” who crawl out of the chaos into the too-temporary safety of an enclave.

Does religion make a difference to any of the survivors?  Probably, but I haven’t gotten that far in the creation of the alternate universe this set of stories will occupy.  Hey, wow, I only started writing this particular storyline three days ago.  Give me SOME time to consider what the stories need, what I need for the stories, and what my erstwhile readership wants.  Will the type of post-apocalypse government forms make a difference?  Far more likely, BUT the functions and types of government the survivors will tolerate are going to be driven by the needs of my story.  They will not be bent to the expectations of any external body.  There may be some consideration of outsider opinion on the way to publication, but that consideration will be separate from the form and choices of MY ORIGINAL story.

I’m betting on more physical and immediate survival as driving the characters that will be most interesting here, those who will be living through their unexpected descent into nightmarish conditions.  The “Politically Correct” elements will go hang on a meat-hook in the corner for now.  They don’t contribute to surviving the next night’s challenges.

Does that make me less of a (insert genre tag here) writer?  Well, as long as the genre isn’t “Women’s Fiction”, “Politically Correct”, or “Message Fiction”, I Do Not Think So.