October 28th, 2012


Work and Politics

This article about CEOs emailing their employees about Romney makes me wonder: what exactly is it that makes this so creepy? That is not a rhetorical question; I am not disputing this point. It is creepy. It is the sort of thing creeps do. I think less of Mr. Romney for having suggested people do it.

But why? I will think this through in writing, because I think better in writing.

I'm not talking about ordering one's employees to "Vote for X", which would go from "creepy" to "is that even legal?" (Although really, how is your boss going to know who you voted for? Still.) This is CEOs sharing their political opinions with their employees , and is the sort of thing I would have no objections to in a context other than "CEO directly to employee". People, even CEOs, have the right to express their opinions on politics. I would have no qualms about a CEO writing a blog post or a newspaper op-ed about who he thought should be elected. But sending it as an email to his employees? Ewww. Creepy.

It's an unfortunate truth that politics affects business in many ways; I expect that the CEOs who tell their employees that Obama's re-election would "threaten your job" genuinely believe it. They think that Obama's policies will have a negative impact on their business which will cause them to lay off employees. It's not meant as a personal threat -- "vote for Romney or I'll fire you" -- but gosh, kinda sounds like one, doesn't it? Especially when it's part of a direct message to you. That's a big part of what makes it so creepy. It bugs me that the Huffington Post wrote the article and headline as if CEOs were making personal threats to their employees, but frankly, it's not hard to make that leap.

It also feels terribly unprofessional. This is not a business communication. The business climate in America maintains the polite fiction that business and politics are separate and that a person's political decisions do not affect their job. This is patently false on a macro scale -- of course the government we elect affects the businesses we work at -- but it more-or-less works on a micro scale. My ability to create reports or balance accounts is not impacted by who's president, or by the way I vote. I can understand business communications opposing or favoring specific laws targeted at their industry -- "this is how this proposed legislation on bankruptcy will affect our bank" --but talking about Democrats or Republicans in general is too far removed from any business purpose to be professional.

And if there's one thing a CEO ought to be, it's professional. Sheesh.

Desolation Island by Patrick O'Brian

#5 of the Aubrey/Maturin series, and like most of these books so far, a solid 8 for me. Let's see what I can say that isn't spoilery for the earlier books.

Most of the story takes place at sea, which is always a great relief in this series. (Nothing good ever happens on land in this series.) The main plot revolves around transporting a number of convicts bound for the penal colony in Australia. This is surprisingly complicated. It is also amusing how annoyed Jack is at having to transport prisoners. Stephen: "But you take prisoners all the time, when you capture a ship and imprison the crew." Jack: "THIS IS DIFFERENT. What's worse: some of them are WOMEN."

... The misogyny in the series does wear on one, even when it's clear it's the characters' views and not the author's. c_c

There is a breathtaking, brilliant section where the crew is dealing with the effects of a major storm, one crisis after another, where I was struck by how real it all felt. Like, this is the story that shows you that 'ship caught in a storm' is not just a trope, but a real thing that happened to real people and this is one (of many) ways that it could turn out. Eye-opening and gripping.

I have 8 books still out from the library, but I really need to either read or return the one that's due back on Tuesday. There's no possibility of renewing it -- it's ridiculously popular and I had it on hold for a month before it showed up, so of course yet more people are waiting for it. I haven't started it yet because (a) I've been reading other books that were for the most part also due back soon (too many books checked out + 5 days of not reading while I was in Seattle = not enough time to read them all) and (b) I do not have high hopes that I'll like it (which is also why I am not naming it here). Despite being popular, most of what I have heard about this particular book has been bad. But I am curious, so I'll at least crack it open before I return it. Anyway, three days is plenty of time to finish it if I actually like it.


ursulav posted a list of a few days ago of all her works-in-progress, which reminded me that I wanted a list like that of my own. Only not just works-in-progress, but everything. The stories I'd finished, the ones I'd definitely abandoned, the ones in various states of "maybe I'll work on it again some day". A list of my oeuvre.

To make it a little more interesting, I decided to write brief descriptions/teasers for each, no more than a couple sentences. A kind of "elevator pitch", except that since I was writing one of these for every story that I have or have not finished, I didn't fuss endlessly over 25 words.

This made it take a lot longer.

When I was about 90% through, I discovered this was not the first time I'd decided to do something like this. In 2009.


Really, you'd think I'd remember doing this before, but I didn't. o.o

When I did it in 2009, I listed only titles, dates, and page counts. It was more comprehensive in that I included a category called "stubs": generally bits with no apparent plot that I wrote in one sitting, for a page or three, with no particular intention of ever writing more.

This time around, I only included completed works and incomplete ones where I had (a) written about the same idea in more than one session (b) I'd had some kind of conception, however vague, regarding a plot, and (c) for novels, if I'd either written 3000+ words, or done a significant amount of word-building/wrote out most of an outline. There were at least 21 separate bits of fiction that appeared on the 2009 survey that didn't make this cut. I also only included solo fiction: no RP, no collaboration, no gaming background material.

The end result of my latest survey:

I have written thirty-five complete short works (13,000 words or less, in my case) and two novels (200,000+ words, again in my case). No, I have never completed any fiction in more than 13,000 but less than 200,000 words. No, I don't know why.

I have begun work on six short stories and twenty novels without finishing them.

This suggests that the odds that I will complete any given novel are 1 in 11, while the odds of completing a short are more like 6 to 1.

Total word count: 928,470. I am almost to my million crappy words! Or well beyond my million crappy words, if you count any of the categories I excluded, like the collaboration I worked on with ladyperegrine over the summer, or the hundreds of thousands of words in text RP, or the backgrounds I wrote up for various RP games, or my myriad nonfiction essays on LJ and elsewhere.

I did the oeuvre in a Google Drive spreadsheet. If I can find some convenient way to convert it to an html table for LJ, I'll put it up here for y'all to marvel at. I am not sure what else I am going to do with it. One reason I wanted it was for the same reason Ursula did hers -- I wanted a reference of all the incomplete stories that I would still like to finish someday. Because that list is long enough that I can no longer remember it off the top of my head. (It's not all six shorts or all twenty novel ideas, but it is nearly half of those.)

But I do begin to understand one of the responses to "Where do you get your ideas?": "It's not 'where do I get them'. It's 'how do I make them stop.'"