"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
-- George Bernard Shaw
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"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
Although this problem needs a solution, a union is not that solution. Unions are a relic of a bygone era. The core premise of a union is that employes are all the same and can be swapped in and out of work like parts in a machine (once they are trained). This leads to collective bargaining which takes back some of the power that big employers have. However it also removes individuality from the worker. If I am smarter, stronger, or more skilled than my coworkers, I want to be able to elevate myself based on my merits. A union interferes with that. You pay a union, and the union acts only in its own best interest, not in your individual best interest.
That's an incredibly selfish attitude that puts the individual interest above the interest of the collective. The irony is that collective bargaining is much more effective and is much stronger in the long run. Your self interest is great until such time that you reach a point when other, more skilled people take your place (which is inevitable, because our cognitive capabilities decline with age, not to mention that older people have more responsibilities and find it hard to work 80 hour weeks).
Even the most meritocratic of individuals can run into unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances (e.g., an accident that has you laid up, or family issues). I worked in a strictly up or out management consulting firm, and about a year ago, my pregnant wife had some issues. My son was born, prematurely, and I was in a rough place with my personal needs and professional responsibilities. My wife was hospitalized and my son was in the NICU, unable to breathe, and I was the only one who could take care of things. My employer was understanding -- for about 6 weeks -- after which things got rather unpleasant. So, I quit and joined another firm that is not only more prestigious but was also more understanding and accommodating of my needs. But I was fortunate -- I could very well have been unable to find a job, and been unemployed for a year because I wanted to take care of my family.
Union agreements ensure that in such cases, collective bargaining agreements protect everyone.
Modern skilled workers, especially in the IT and Engineering fields, are usually very specialized. This is not a good fit for a union. It would be ill advised to take a good thing and remove all motivation for creativity and the free flow of invigorating talent.
Not really. Most of what goes on in IT today is quite commoditized, and there are very few areas that are truly specialized. And it is only going to get worse as IT matures. You may think your task is highly specialized, but the truth is, there's probably someone in another part of the world willing to do it for a tenth of what you get paid. That is not specialization.
If you want real specialization, you perhaps see it in chip design, algorithmic optimization, biotech etc. You know, all those guys with PhDs who specialize in a subject?
A better solution is to simply prevent large corporations from getting away with their bullshit. No "gentleman's agreements" to prevent poaching. Stop accepting lies regarding layoffs and market performance. Reward employers for using home-grown talent rather than rewarding them with tax loopholes for moving overseas.
And how do you propose we do that? The share market is the ultimate arbiter, and the people who are rewarding the companies and the executives are the shareholders who are in for short term profit (it's the extension of the same short term myopic outlook of looking out for oneself rather than the collective).
I find that most Americans have a poor understanding of unions almost entirely rooted in propaganda, and it gets repeated again and again as gospel. The truth is, unions are immensely helpful to the labor force, especially in a service economy such as ours. Everyone thinks their skill is specialized, until it gets outsourced and commoditized.
You are not special. And despite what you may think, unions can help you negotiate agreements that would be impossible for you to go at alone.
This is a great point. When I was younger and in college, I took advantage of the fact that I could coast through my engineering classes with the barest minimum effort. So, spent them drinking, playing in a band, and chasing tail. I still graduated in the top 10, but I could have easily done much, much better. Grad school and a couple of jobs later, my philosophy changed, and from somewhere, ambition crept in.
I will say that I have accomplished a lot more with drive and mediocre application of intelligence than with intelligence and little in the way of drive or hard work.
The problem is that you need them both at the right times in your life. Otherwise, it's too late. At a different period of my life, I may have gone through with a PhD and potentially been a physicist if I had had the sense to apply both grit and intelligence.
Today, I am a management consultant, where I use my analytical skills to solve mediocre problems, but where grit and drive and many other soft skills play a role. In fact, I would argue that my intelligence has taken a back seat and I bust ass to make up for gaps in my technical skills (e.g., finance).
Sadly, I am well past the point of publishing seminal papers; but at least, I can make the best of what I have and make a boatload of money for my next generation. But you're right -- it's not coming first. It's not even coming third. It's somewhere around fifth to the tenth. Above average, if you will, but definitely not great.
I enjoy rock and ice climbing, sailing, and flying. And they are all done outside in the real world.
There's a certain satisfaction that comes from physical exertion that is not accomplished in a board game or a video game.
Although I have seen some people go crazy over flight sims. While they are good learning tools for some planes where it's hard (and expensive) to rack up hours, they're definitely no substitute for the real thing. That feeling of g's when you master an acrobatic maneuver or the joys of landing blind.
You are conflating no answer with no value in having an education on the subject.
A mathematician may not have a solution to the Riemann hypothesis, but is certainly more informed than a layman.
Similarly, people who have studied politics, philosophy, or ethics may not have a definitive answer on a particular topic; however, to argue that a layman's answer is of equal value to that of an educated expert's answer in that domain is disingenuous. Furthermore, there are certainly quantitative elements to both political science and international relations.
Yes, there are some subjects that are qualitative, with no definite answers -- however, that does not mean that all answers are equal.
However, you cannot conflate faith with these other subjects, not even theology. Indeed, theology is different from faith because it is the study of religions. It is not the same as "belief", which has no grounding in any reality.
That is not to say that faith is any less valuable -- merely that it is not in the same league as any of the other subjects that you mentioned.
I hope you enjoyed the rest of the post. I have taken a few classes under Professor Nichols, and he is a hoot. I really enjoy reading the rest of his blog as well, mostly because he has a very non-partisan yet informed worldview on a variety of topics.
Professor Tom Nichols, who teaches at Harvard and the Naval War College, has a great piece called the "Death of Expertise."
Indeed, to a certain segment of the American public, the idea that one person knows more than another person is an appalling thought, and perhaps even a not-too-subtle attempt to put down one's fellow citizen. It's certainly thought to be rude: to judge from social media and op-eds, the claim of expertise -- and especially any claim that expertise should guide the outcome of a disagreement -- is now considered by many people to be worse than a direct personal insult.
This is a very bad thing. Yes, it's true that experts can make mistakes, as disasters from thalidomide to the Challenger explosion tragically remind us. But mostly, experts have a pretty good batting average compared to laymen: doctors, whatever their errors, seem to do better with most illnesses than faith healers or your Aunt Ginny and her special chicken gut poultice. To reject the notion of expertise, and to replace it with a sanctimonious insistence that every person has a right to his or her own opinion, is just plain silly.
Worse, it's dangerous. The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. It's a rejection of science. It's a rejection, really, of the foundation of Western civilization: yes, that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.
Spying on their citizens - Check
The difference here is that we the people still have the right to question the government, and organizations like the EFF continue to fight for it.
Economic stagnation - Check
You must be joking. American economy is anything but stagnant. Between 2009-2013, the U.S. GDP growth 1.9%, which is pretty good compared to most other OECD countries.
It may be "stagnant" when you compare it to a country like China at 7.7%, but that is simply not sustainable, not without artificial currency manipulation.
Riots - Check
A few days of media blitz over a police shootout is not the same as protesters fighting for democracy.
High unemployment - Check
What on earth are you talking about? The U.S. unemployment is at 5.9% as of September 2014 and China's is estimated at ~4.5%.
Yes, there are a fair number of social scientists in consulting firms. Usually, they tend to be econ or poli-sci/IR, but you certainly have a smattering of other subjects. I once worked with a partner who had a PhD in Philosophy (not social science per se, but representative of critical thinking ability nevertheless).
I would imagine that there is a preference towards the hard sciences, but I think that is more of a self-selection mechanism than anything else. Management consulting entails a lot of number crunching (financial analysis, demographic segmentation etc), so people with hard science backgrounds tend to gravitate towards these roles.
Most back office analytics and research functions at the big consulting firms have quite an armada of doctorates. In fact, a few months ago, I worked with someone who had a PhD in Geography, which came in handy because he knew how to run geospatial analyses for a distribution problem.
This assumes getting hired into a lower level position in a larger consulting firm, rather than consulting on your own.
Did you not read my original comment at all? I mentioned that the major management consulting firms (i.e., MBB) hire PhDs and other Advanced Degree Candidates.
At which point they are back to exactly the same problem that they originally faced, which is getting hired for a job working for someone else. It doesn't matter whether that someone else hires them in order to farm them out to a third party, or hires them to do work in house, they are still facing the problem that they can't get hired in the first place because they are unable to sell themselves to a prospective employer.
Hiring in management consulting firms (at least at the junior levels) is less about selling yourself and more about your analytical skills. Such hiring is not predicated on your technical know-how per se but rather your critical thinking and problem solving abilities.
Not all consulting entails selling. In fact, in any good consulting firm, you won't be doing any selling until you're near the top (e.g., Principal/Partner). You may not even get to present anything in front of the client until you have some experience under your belt -- as a new hire, the only client facing activity you'll do is take detailed notes.
Moreover, junior resources (e.g., Associates or Consultants) tend to do a lot more data crunching and slide building than presenting content. And you're put through some pretty rigorous training before you'll ever see a client (in some firms, they call it MBA-light).
No one in their right minds will put someone fresh out of school to do anything client facing without some degree of coaching and experience.
Secondly, not every role in a consulting firm is client facing. Almost all the big consulting firms have a rather large pool of back office and analytics experts who do research, collate materials, perform analysis and so on. These are not client facing at all, and you won't have to do any selling whatsoever.
In any event, there is the perception of consultants thanks to everybody and their brother calling themselves a "consultant" and there is the truth. The truth is that in any good firm, partners will really vet you and groom you before you get to participate actively in any meaningful way.
Motivation notwithstanding, I would also suggest that you consider consulting.
I work in management consulting in one of the MBB firms, and we hire quite a few ADCs (Advanced Degree Candidates), particularly in the hard sciences.
The idea is that a PhD provides you with enough critical thinking and quantitative skills that would be extremely valuable in what you do. And you'd be surprised at the type of work that you'd get to do. As long as you have some semblance of social skills that can be cultivated and the ability to think quickly on your feet, you should be fine.
A good way to think about this is what happens when your senior client executive throws some numbers and asks you a question in the elevator -- can you quickly give an answer, and be professional and polite about it without becoming a nervous wreck?
Right now, I work with several PhDs and MDs in the healthcare payer/provider space, and their deep medical expertise is extremely valuable. We have similar profiles of folks with PhDs in mechanical/aeronautical/industrial engineering for industrial goods work, CS/EE PhDs in telecom/media/high-tech industry work and so on. You would be surprised at just how many PhDs, MDs, JDs, and the likes are hired by top tier consulting firms.
Despite what you may have heard of consulting on Slashdot and elsewhere, we do some pretty cool work. Yes, the hours aren't easy and you'll travel a lot, but consider it baptism by fire. In a span of two years, you would have worked on a wide array of projects and will have honed your hard and soft skills -- everything from building financial models to presenting to very senior executives.
And surprisingly, you will work with some very smart people. Yes, many of them may have MBAs, but just as many have other advanced degrees, and even the ones with MBAs also have pretty strong undergrad credentials (e.g., Harvard, MIT, Stanford), usually STEM.
So, whatever your motivations may have been, I will just say that consulting will teach you skills that are very hard to acquire elsewhere. It may be baptism by fire, but your value in the job market will grow by leaps and bounds.
Something to consider.
Yeah, good point on the protein levels. I have found that hydration plays a huge role in terms of how your protein workups show in your urine screens.
The creatine levels are usually high because I'm usually a vegetarian, so I tend to go through adding some creatine in my shakes (cycle through them). I think on that particular day, I was perhaps a little less hydrated than I should have been, resulting in higher levels than usual. In any event, I know I'm over-saturated with creatine and need hydration when I start having cramps.
And you're right about see-sawing on fitness. I don't necessarily see-saw per se, but I do go through bulk and cut periods (i.e., winter and summer). And so at the peak of a cut with lots of active workouts thrown in, my resting heart rate is lower. At the peak of my bulk with almost only weight exercises thrown in (usually around the winter holidays), my resting heart rate is higher. It's a good thing I can wear sweaters then to cover up my fatceps.
I've usually been fairly fit (lots of rock climbing, rowing, and general working out), but a few years ago, I was in the best possible shape of my life.
I went to the doctor for a annual physical and my resting heart rate was ~52-55 bpm. The nurse freaked out, and called the doctor and rechecked, who basically said I must be in shape (I proceeded to lift my t-shirt to show my almost abs). My thyroid levels were also slightly low because it was summer and I was on a cut. They freaked out about a few other things (e.g., creating levels in my urine, my protein consumption etc), but overall, the workups came out quite positive.
These days, it's slightly higher (low 60s), but regular workouts usually help a lot. If I am generally in shape for ~6 months, they go down by ~10 bpm. If I let go for a while, they go right back up by ~20 bpm.
H-1B visa: The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa
H1B is called a non-immigrant visa because you cannot use *that* visa to immigrate.
However, H1B is also recognized as a dual-intent visa.
That's why you can file for your green card while you're on an H1B, through your employer.
There are many visas that are non-immigrant visas that are dual intent because the visa in itself doesn't grant you the right to become an immigrant, but is used to file for a change of intent.