Quick Roundup 445

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Worse than No Help at All

Regular readers will already know what a low opinion I have of government "welfare" programs. That disdain extends, of course, to the many unforeseen consequences such programs inevitably have.

I must say, though, that even I was blindsided by the following example, which comes from an article about how some researchers cracked the Social Security Number code.

Linda Foley, founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a San Diego based nonprofit, cited another potential problem. She said many businesses have errantly rely [sic] upon or have moved to redact all but the last four digits of a person's SSN, the very digits that are most unique to an individual.

"Because of the way the SSN has been designed, asking for the last four numbers of the SSN puts people at risk because those are the only numbers that are unique to you and cannot be guessed easily by someone who might want to use your identity," Foley said.
An official from the Social Security Administration is cited to the effect that it has warned the private sector against using SSNs as identifiers, but plenty of other government entities have done the same, at least until very recently.

Nymphomania ...

... isn't terribly fun in real life.
Medication is also helping. She currently takes two kinds - an antidepressant and a birth control pill. Both are proven to reduce libido - and there has indeed been something of a breakthrough in the bedroom department.

"She even turned me down the other day," says [her husband], laughing. "I wanted to sleep with her, but she was the one who said she didn't feel like it. I could have whooped with delight."
This reminds me a little of the of Phineas Gage story -- but read this article if you've heard of it.

Religion in Fiction and in Fact

Myrhaf blogs a short story by Leo Tolstoy, ending with this:
Tolstoy dramatizes his theme perfectly. It is a powerful story. But what a theme! Tolstoy's is not a philosophy for living on earth, but a philosophy of self-abnegation and renunciation of values and happiness. In every fundamental respect Leo Tolstoy and Ayn Rand are opposites, despite their both being brilliant writers of long novels who were born in Russia.
One is tempted to ask whether his earlier use of the term spoiler is facetious!

Myrhaf's mini-review reminds me indirectly of the fact that I read about half of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel during my recent travels. At one point, she matter-of-factly describes the time she, her sister, and her brother -- all well past infancy -- were circumcised, using only enough detail for the reader to appreciate how just how barbaric the practice is.

Some may object to my filing circumcision under religion since Islam technically does not call for it. That may be the case, but Islam is often used to justify it. And besides, there is plenty to spare in Infidel for any reader to understand how vile that particular religion is.

Stupid Question, Snappy Answer

When I was a kid, I read through my parents' entire collection of old Mad magazines and recall a feature they occasionally ran, called Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions. The following excerpt, which comes from a job interview transcript is in the same vein, but even funnier:
Annoying Recruiter: How would you move Mount Fuji 1/2 a kilometre to the South?

ME: Why would I do that?

AR: Uhhhh, it's a project you've been assigned.

ME: As part of my work I've been asked to move Mount Fuji?

AR: Yes, so how would you do it?

ME: How could that possibly benefit the business?

AR: What?

ME: As an analyst, my first reaction is the project would be prohibitively expensive and take forever to complete. The first thing I'd want is to see a business case that showed how this would benefit the business.
I learned of this via professional headhunter Nick Corcodilos, who adds that, "All kidding aside, I'd use a personalized version of what he said to the interviewer without hesitation."

-- CAV


Mike said...

Oh, Lord. Those job interview canards are a particular annoyance to me, so I absolutely love the response given in that example. It's not much better when the job is in hand -- managers and executives who have their own agenda will typically shovel odd and seemingly unnecessary projects at a person they think might be just malcontent enough to grab their coattails. I actually managed to put that to a halt once, telling the manager that it would be like when Homer Simpson deep-fried his shirt. Just because he could does not mean he should.

Gus Van Horn said...

Yours is a good answer, too.

I think the Headhunter's point is that you stand a better chance of NOT getting so much of that if you "blow" a job interview like that one.

Questions like that seem to me to be about equally a consequence of the non-integrative philosophical approach of pragmatism, a lack of creativity, and ignorance about the job one is supposed to be screening candidates for.

Darren said...

A "low opinion?" For some reason, I'm having a problem with that. I know you do have a very low opinion of them, but... that phrase just doesn't seem to cover it.

It sounds like something my wife would say to someone who asked what her husband's opinion on welfare programs was. :)

Gus Van Horn said...

It's at times like this that I wish I were British.

Then I could call that, "just a bit of traditional British understatement."

Jim May said...

Ah yes, the typical "mindfark" (substitute your F word of choice there) interview question. That sort of thing seems to be peculiar to the HR profession, which is why I'm partial to bypassing HR completely when seeking employment at a particular company. Fortunately, interviewing in my line of work is almost always done by someone that I would be working with; this means I usually get sensible questions of the sort intended to determine whether I can do the job, and whether I would be a good fit for the team I'd be joining.

I have long resolved to walk out of interviews where such questions as that one are deployed, but I've not yet had to do it; my premise is that if they treat you like a lab rat to be prodded and poked in the interview, you can just imagine how they handle employees on a daily basis.

z said...

Do no Objectivists see any redeeming feature in Michael Jackson? No mention anywhere...

Gus Van Horn said...

Heh! Walking out does strike me as having the advantage of wasting less time!

Gus Van Horn said...


Sorry. Your comment initially escaped my notice in the queue.

You might find this post to be of interest on that score.

I am fairly close to C. August on that score.