Not Having a Job is Keeping You From Having a Job

In news that will possibly make your head explode, several states are considering legislation that would prohibit employers from exclusively seeking candidates that already have jobs:

State lawmakers say they see the bias turning up in a nation with an 8.3% unemployment rate: Companies that explicitly advertise that they won’t hire someone who isn’t currently employed.

The proposals from Connecticut to California range in scope from banning advertisements that require current employment to allowing unsuccessful job candidates to sue businesses under the same discrimination laws that apply to bias on the basis of religion, race, gender or national origin.

Yes, in order to get a job you must currently have a job. Apparently, employers regard the long-term unemployed as shiftless layabouts with an atrophied brain:

Employers often worry that job skills erode the longer people go without working and may pass over unemployed workers because they assume other managers didn’t hire them for good reason, said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former U.S. Department of Labor economist.

“The longer you’re unemployed, the more likely you are to be perceived as a risky hire and the less likely you are to get a job,” Mr. Burtless said.

Ah, the beauty of a vicious cycle. Predictably, companies are none too pleased to have Uncle Sam forcing them to hire the unflushable turds of America’s workforce:

“We are challenging this. As a private employer, the government has no right in legislating how you hire and what’s in your business’s best interest,” said Robin Lord, an attorney for Crestek, Inc., a Ewing, N.J., maker of industrial cleaning systems.

I can certainly appreciate a company’s unwillingness to allow their human resources department to become an unemployment center; however, there must be some way to balance the needs of a company with the needs of those people who have been unfairly shuffled out of consideration for present employment. While some of the long-term unemployed might lack specific skills, surely not all of them do; requiring a person to have a job before they can even apply is patently ludicrous.

Unfortunately, since this is America, there’s little doubt as to who’ll win out on this issue. Compromises are dumb, anyway.

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This Parliament of Owls Won’t Make Your Friends Think You Have Bad Taste in Music

Something is afoot in Anchorage, Alaska, and it involves owls. And probably sorcery and haberdashery. A parliament of owls is sitting near the Anchorage International Airport,* my friends, and our fates may be in their hands! Or, more likely, some nerds who love owls will get excited and talk about it:

What’s even more unusual, birders and biologists say, is that the species — grand, reclusive great gray owls, nocturnal boreal owls, Northern saw-whet owls, Northern hawk and short-eared owls — are almost never found in the same area.

“It is definitely unusual to see smaller owls hanging out with larger owls,” said Sue Guers, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Bird Observatory in Fairbanks.

Who knew that owls were such size queens? And this isn’t the only instance of owls acting weird; apparently there have been strange owl sightings throughout the winter–snowy owls have been spotted in Oregon, far south of their usual range.

While explaining the parliament is proving difficult, researchers know a few things at least; for instance, owls actually like airports because the landscaping nearby attracts voles, which are reputedly delicious.

Owls, not surprisingly, have a keen sense of hearing; they can hear a vole under a foot of snow, and they can definitely hear when you’re talking shit about your boss. Some researchers are speculating that Anchorage’s snowfall this year might be an explanation for the behavior; according to owl expert and birding guide Bob Dittrick, the depth of the snow could be forcing them to hunt more hours per day due to the difficulty in catching prey.

What remains to be seen is whether the judgment of the owls shall be in our favor; if not, expect an owl rebellion, or at the very least, a bunch of shitty stories written by goths about how owls are elder gods of the earth and they have magical powers and blah blah blah.

*I am fully aware that the airport is now named “Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.” I just don’t give a shit.

And Now for Some Completely Unsurprising News from Utah

Utah’s House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would severely limit the scope of sex education in schools. Apparently, the bill allows schools to skip sex education entirely; however, if the school chooses to offer the course, it must be designed in consultation with parents, and not discuss contraception.

Curious democrats inquired about the content of an abstinence-only sex ed course, and Bill Wright (R), penned a curriculum on the spot:

“…the course could include lessons on friendship, dating and love…a lesson on the consequences of sex outside of marriage and a lesson on how to teach people to say no to sex.”

“Why don’t we just be honest with our children and tell them right up front that sex outside of marriage is devastating?” Wright said.

Pressed further, Wright offered the following list of devastating occurrences brought on by people having sex outside of marriage. It’s not an exhaustive list, either; that dude rambled on for hours. According to Representative Wright, the following events should be blamed on people having sex outside of marriage:

  • The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake
  • The cover-up of the Roswell spacecraft landing
  • The assassination of JFK
  • Your mom’s souffle failures
  • Fraggle Rock
  • The publication of White Ninja, by Eric von Lustbader
  • The Yankees losing to the Red Sox
  • The slow decline of polar bear populations
  • Global warming
  • People wearing socks with sandals
  • Flared jeans
  • Cat memes

As you can see, Utah is clearly doing us all a favor.

For the Moment, General Relativity Will Continue to Describe Spacetime

Sadly, it would appear that CERN jumped the gun when it claimed that two neutrinos broke Einstein’s theoretical barrier on speed:

Last September, CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, based outside Geneva, announced a finding that, if true, would throw a large monkey wrench into physics as we know it. Ghostly subatomic particles known as neutrinos that were generated at CERN and beamed through the earth 453 miles to a detector in Italy appeared to be arriving at their destination about 60 billionths of a second faster than a particle of light would.

Recent analysis of the findings led CERN to believe that there were at least two problems with the equipment used to measure the finding. The first was an electronic GPS component meant to record precise temporal data, and the second was a circuit–part of the relay that received the data from the experiment–that apparently introduced a delay significant enough to account for the record breaking speed; once fixed, the neutrinos’ speed would be within the barriers described by Einstein.

This is indeed sad news for those of us who have been waiting to colonize other worlds while subjugating their lame alien populations. Space imperialism is impossible without FTL travel!

I, for one, cannot stand the thought of a planet like Pandora. Goddamn blue alien hippies.

Being Gay for Gay Marriage is the Latest State Government Fad

With Maryland’s state senate voting to approve legislation that would legalize gay marriage, it would appear that being gay for gay marriage is the hottest trend in state government. The Governor, Martin O’ Malley, promised to sign the bill into law, but it still awaits House approval and a battle from reactionary morons:

As part of the conditions agreed to in order to get the bill passed through the House, opponents of the new law will be given an opportunity to put the issue on the ballot in November, raising the possibility of a major public fight this summer and fall. The law will also not go into effect until all legal challenges have been exhausted, which could be a matter of years.

It would also seem that opponents are going to attempt to draft President Obama for their cause; he has stated in the past that he opposes gay marriage but his administration has not come to the aid of DOMA, which was recently declared unconstitutional.

Regardless of what happens, it would seem that various state legislatures are sending a message to America, and that message is this: it’s time to get gay for gay marriage!

Wanted: Seatmate to Discuss Art, Film, and Politics; Quick Handy Over Nebraska Optional

Given the pervasiveness of social media, it was probably inevitable that the airline industry would attempt to use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to serve their customers. Predicting the manner they’d employ those platforms, however, might have proven more difficult:

This month, the Dutch carrier KLM began testing a program it calls Meet and Seat, allowing ticket-holders to upload details from their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles and use the data to choose seatmates.

The concept is a step beyond the not always successful efforts a few years ago by some airlines — including Air France, Virgin Atlantic and Lufthansa — to build “walled” social networks out of their existing frequent flier memberships.

Yes, now you can select a seatmate based on your shared interests as expressed within your Facebook profile. Do you love cats, Jesus, your mom, and America? Well, so does Jason F., from Des Moines! Get together and annoy the shit out of that third seatmate by talking about which type of cat Jesus would find cutest (mackerel tabbies, obviously!).

And KLM isn’t the only airline getting in on the action, either:

Last year, Malaysia Airlines introduced MHBuddy, an application that allows users who book and check in via the carrier’s Facebook page to see whether any of their “friends” will be on the same flight or in their destination city at the same time. The platform, which claims 3,000 monthly active users, also enables existing friends to select seats together.

Also:

Planely, a Danish start-up, allows registered users who submit their itineraries to view the Facebook and LinkedIn profiles of others who will be on flights with them. Since it began in late 2010, Planely has connected more than 1,500 travelers, according to its chief executive, Nick Martin.

Perhaps more useful is the service Satisfly (a Hong Kong based company) provides, whereby you set a mood preference; for instance, my mood is “shut the fuck up” (paraphrased). Theoretically, this will allow you to control what type of asshole you’re confined with–no more Saskatoon Dan the Cattle man and his ribald tales of a Montana beef auction! Although that story about Big Red Jim, Marco the Teat, and Jenny Loo was pretty awesome.

On KLM’s service, once you sign up you’ll see the profiles of other members; simply pick a seatmate and it sends your profile to them! It’s like a friend request, but somehow dumber! Thankfully, KLM is offering a “defriend” type option, as well–you can change your seat again within a certain period of time (if, for instance, you discover that Mandy in 17B is not DTF).

As we all know, this service will inevitably be used solely to find people who want to fuck in tiny airplane bathrooms. I love the future!

Your Waiter is Pretending to Like You

Determining the needs of a table is a skill that requires an attentive eye, a certain boldness of character, and a general desire to earn more than 15% on the check. It’s also a skill that can be taught; at least, that’s what restaurants are betting on when they train their waiters to provide the kind of service you’d expect at a Waffle House (they’re Zagat-rated, right?):

Called “having eyes” for a table, or “feeling” or “reading” the table by restaurant workers, it’s how the best waiters know what type of service you prefer before you tell them. From fine dining to inexpensive chains, restaurants are working to make service more individualized as the standard script (‘I’m so-and-so and I will be your server tonight”) is sounding dated.

Even chain restaurants like Denny’s, T.G.I. Friday’s, and Romano’s Macaroni Grill are focusing more on personalized service by training staff to note body language, eye contact and offhand remarks, hoping to make service feel less mechanical. Traditionally, eateries taught waiters to follow a script and push add-ons like desserts and drinks.

Waiters are trained to read a variety of table types, the better to respond to the needs of the customers. The following is but a sample of the sorts of tables a waiter might find:

Table 1: A douche at an airport Chili’s with a bluetooth, laptop, and wrinkled suit from Men’s Wearhouse (“You’re Going to Regret the Way You Look”).

Ricky Richardson, COO for Carlson Restaurants Inc. (which operates T.G.I. Friday’s), suggests that when “diners have a laptop open on the table, they might not be interested in appetizers that are best for sharing or learning a lot about the cocktail menu.”

In other words, just throw a blue margarita at the guy and try not to stare at his off-centered lapels.

Table 2: A couple that’s giving off so much hate toward one another that Emperor Palpatine’s balls would shrivel (even more!).

This table is clearly waiting to murder someone; the best strategy for a waiter is to alert the other waitstaff to bring their food promptly and with as little intrusion or flair as possible. And if someone’s crying, GTFO. Also, stand clear of whatever side of the table the knives happen to be on.

Table 3: A party of four, and one of them clearly hates the other three, which is obviously why she keeps drinking.

According to Mark Maynard-Parisi, managing partner of Blue Smoke (a couple of BBQ joints in NYC), it’s necessary with parties of four or more to “read the dynamic between the group.”

Alcohol (who is ordering more or less) is a potential point of contention. [Maynard-Parisi] reads eye contact and body language to see if a group is friendly (looking at each other) or less secure, like an uncomfortable work meeting (glancing around the room, fidgeting). “Am I approaching the table to rescue them or am I interrupting them?”

Why is Sally drinking so much? Probably because Tom and Becky, two of her dining companions, are so Goddamn annoying. Also Jim, her husband, keeps casting sideward glances at Frederique and Jacques, the two hot bartenders. In other words, do Sally a favor and don’t make a big deal over her fifth glass of cava and St. Germain. And definitely don’t tell her what Jacques and Frederique just told you about Jim.

So You’re Going to Interview for a Job

Congratulations! You’ve somehow beaten the odds and landed yourself a job interview. But now the pressing concern becomes succeeding in the interview and getting hired; to do that, you’re going to need to follow some simple advice on how to behave during an interview.

1. Pretend that you’re interested.

Maybe you’re lucky, and you’ve got an interview for a job you care about, and in that case you won’t have to pretend. But that’s not likely in this economy, Mr. Philosophy Major! More likely, you won’t give a shit about this job–so you’ll have to feign interest. Just like you used to when a cute girl from Campus Crusade for Christ was talking about…well, whatever the hell those people talk about.

2. Don’t update your Facebook during the interview.

I know this will be hard for many of you, but entering status updates in the middle of the interview is probably not the best idea. Especially if the employer checks Facebook. Because they will not appreciate your “This dude smellz like cheeze lol” witticism.

3. Don’t wear a Boy Scout uniform and then not explain why you’re wearing it.

Perhaps it’s best to avoid wearing a Boy Scout uniform altogether, even if you can explain it. Other uniforms to avoid: circa 1942 German military uniforms, your McDonald’s polo (even though it’s your only collared shirt–buy a new shirt, dammit!), or anything that screams “my parole officer loaned this to me.”

4. Don’t get arrested during your interview.

Obviously, it looks really bad. Unless you’re an undercover cop and you’re interviewing for a job with Jimmy Fingahz, the Butcher of Boise. Because then it might look pretty good.

5. Bring your own beverage.

As delicious as your interviewer’s coffee might smell, don’t ask for a sip. Bring your own beverage, or, if they offer you coffee, do not assume that they mean from their own cup. That’s just bad form.

6. Don’t bring a book on interviewing techniques.

Unless you wrote the book on interviewing techniques, in which case, yeah–you should bring it in.

7. Don’t vandalize the company’s property when they tell you they’ll get back to you.

You never know–they might have actually meant it. Wait until they hired someone else and then vandalize the property.

8. If you’re interviewing on the phone, don’t place your interviewer on hold.

And if you do, do not offer as an explanation “Sorry, it’s just that someone just answered that swinger party ad I put on craigslist! I know what I’m doing this weekend!”

9. Keep your clothes on.

Save the harassment-bait behavior for after you’re hired–the lawsuit will be stronger if there’s a pattern of harassment!

10. Refrain from cutting someone off in traffic and then shouting to them “Eat my ass, bitch!” before the interview.

Because if you’re unlucky, that person you cut off will be your interviewer. And with that new power dynamic, it certainly won’t be the interviewer who eats some ass.

Ron Paul Kenobi and Romneybot Tag Team the GOP Debate, Smearing Santorum Everywhere

I’ve always found it odd that Republicans compete with one another over political rigidity; seemingly, they believe that the candidate who is most inflexible will be the best president. Because no president has ever had to compromise, ever. Also, in their competition they seem to forget that they also govern those who did not vote for them. But fuck those guys, am I right?

In any case, last night’s GOP debate was no different, save for the fact that Ron Paul Kenobi and Romneybot’s budding bromance turned into a WWE-style tag-team effort, which definitely ran wild over poor Rick “The Trick” Santorum:

It was Mr. Santorum’s first time in the cross hairs as a leading candidate, an uncomfortable position that has set back other Republican challengers. He did not recoil or wither under pressure, but he was placed on the defensive again and again, with Mr. Romney and Representative Ron Paul of Texas acting as a tag team in critiquing his record in Congress.

Their power moves were varied:

They criticized his earmarks [BIFF!], his vote for a provision that financed Planned Parenthood [POW!] and his support of the No Child Left Behind law [CRUNCH!], President George W. Bush’s signature education plan now out of favor with conservatives. By the end of the night, the scrutiny seemed to wear on Mr. Santorum, who was taunted with boos when he said he had voted for the education program even though “it was against the principles I believed in.”

Since Santorum has been surging all over Romney’s face in recent weeks, this debate was critical for Romney; thus, he wasted no opportunity to point out Santorum’s flaws. Moreover, despite the fact that most Americans are worried about finding a job, or whether they’ll be able to send their children to college (they won’t), the Republitards took this opportunity to sound out their conservative bona fides on immigration, healthcare, and Romney’s ability to balance a budget:

Mr. Romney played up his status as the only candidate on the stage who had never served in Washington, but Mr. Santorum would not let his rival take credit for balancing the budget as governor of Massachusetts, which is required by state law.

“Don’t go around bragging about something you have to do,” Mr. Santorum said. “Michael Dukakis balanced the budget for 10 years. Does that make him qualified to be president of the United States? I don’t think so.”

Personally, I don’t think a man whose claim to fame is a humorous neologism has much to stand on when criticizing other people’s credentials, but who am I to judge?

Santorum didn’t stand much of a chance against the Iron Bromance, and the night’s most hilarious moment came when Ron Paul Kenobi defended his television ads criticizing Santorum’s legitimacy:

When the moderator asked Mr. Paul why he was running a new television advertisement calling Mr. Santorum “a fake” conservative, Mr. Paul answered simply, “Because he’s a fake.”

“I’m real, I’m real, I’m real,” Mr. Santorum said, shaking his head.

Somehow I don’t think he was quoting J-Lo. Cogito ergo santorum, Rick the Trick.

Hipsters Will Now Ruin Your Dad’s Favorite Hangout

I know how it is: you’re sitting with some friends in a gin bar, wearing your finest flannel and skinny jeans combo, your Ray-Ban eyeglasses freshly polished and your sweet Aramaic tattoos catching the dim light just right, when suddenly, it breaks. The hipness floods out; too many people who look like you; and also, gin sucks! The tipping point has killed this gin joint, and your tattoos are going to have to find a new place to cool their incomprehensible heels. Well, look no further my trend-spotting, ukelele-playing twee bearded hero: the Elks lodge is over that next hill.

Just a year ago, the sight of 20- and 30-somethings inside Seattle’s Elks lodges — places long known for secret meetings, bingo games and square dancing — was fairly uncommon. Membership in fraternal clubs across the nation has been plummeting for decades.

But the Elks club is cool again in Seattle.

Yes, it would seem that hipsters are now going to ruin your dad’s favorite social spot. Just listen to what Jesse Calixto had to say upon discovering the Queen Anne Elks Lodge in Seattle:

“I didn’t think it would be as cool as it was,” said Calixto, 29, who lives on Capitol Hill. “You think of these things as stuffy retirement homes, but when I showed up it was this awesome building that has so much potential. It was a great party.”

That’s right–it was a great party. Cheap drinks, great views, and actual membership criteria (be a God-fearing American, and also have a friend in the club) to keep the riff-raff out! It’s a place where you can actually turn someone away! Not like some shitty gin bar where they’ll let any asshole wearing a polo shirt hang out. Polo? Has he never heard of Obey? Also, that Kelly Kapowski shirt hasn’t been cool for weeks. But I digress.

Elks clubs, with long plummeting memberships, are naturally pretty excited about this new wave of members. And since Elks clubs perform a variety of community services, this will undoubtedly be a win for whatever community chooses to allow hipsters to join their clubs.

Sadly, it will not be a win for your dad, who will simply not understand how to wear flannel ironically, or say with any feeling the phrase “I loved Lana Del Rey before she was cool.”

Tough break, dad. Now get the hell out–there’s pinball to be played and PBRs to be enjoyed. And is that a vintage High Life sign? Cool.

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