Still Falling Down

Still Falling Down

March, 2007

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Hiring and Applicants from Mars (or they might as well be)

Well, it’s time for me to start hiring again. And slowly, despite years of experience, I convince myself that it’s OK to post jobs on craigslist and dice and to allow the job posting pages on our website to be indexed and scraped. And I hold my breath. Because I don’t have a database backend for the application process yet (number 43 on the list of projects that were due yesterday). Because my Inbox is about to be flooded with applications. Some of them might actually be from people with a glancing, occasional relationship to the requirements in the posting. Some of them might even be within commuting distance of our offices, although most will be from a minimum of 4000 miles away.

Please, please don’t start thinking that this is some anti-immigration rant. The only person I ever met whose family has been in this country for more than 150 years was Sue S., and I think they were the advance scouting party for the Mayflower. Her family had houses (there were a bunch of them after 350 years in the same town) with 5 foot high ceilings. Immigrants are the core, the backbone, the vitality of this country. If we want to end up like Europe, as a bunch of mouldering, inbred, half-wits waiting for Doomsday, then the current trend against immigrants is a brilliant move.

Sorry, I go off like that sometimes.

Anyway, it’s not about where they’re from, it’s about where they are, and whether that location makes it even slightly possible that they could show up in the office for more than 2 hours a day a couple times per week. Oh, yes, I’m a dinosaur, a relic of ages past. I have heard that with this modern Internet thing, nobody needs to go to work anymore. We can all sit at home, jacked into a computer and it’s like the whole world is one giant virtual office.

What a load of crap. Aside from the fact that I don’t want to create a race of eyeball-radiated, anti-social, speechless robots who never have direct human contact, people work better when they are in somewhat close proximity. They talk, they enjoy each other’s company, they gain a real sense of community, and are motivated to consider themselves part of the group.

Gee, there I go again.

The job posting says we want people with multiple years of commercial, hands-on PHP and MySQL experience to work full-time, on-site in our Manhattan office. So naturally, I get resumes from Romania, Dallas (not sure which is farther away), India, and Canada from people with no experience in programming, or extensive experience in VB and Access. Some of these are readable, thoughtful applications. I try to turn them down politely. Most however, are illiterate (aside from the language differences in, say, Texas), and don’t come close to responding to the instructions in the posting, or have ‘’ as the From: address. They’re just awful as attempts to get me interested in the human behind the email.

It’s very frustrating. It shows how incredibly broken the whole hiring process is. This should be a time when you meet people who will be an asset to your organization, where you make the process of selling your company as a place to work a joy and an exciting experience for the applicant. Wait. You don’t think that the hiring process is a selling process? You sit back in your web and wait for your victims to beg appropriately for the privilege of working for you? Wow. First day on the job must be a blast with all those beaten, humiliated new employees shuffling in to their drab workplace, dreading first contact with the Dark Lord of hiring.

The person/company/extra-terrestrial invading army who can fix this horrible, demeaning, counter-productive morass will change the world. Too bad I won’t live to see it.

The Ambassador of Lindy Hop

A new book is due out this May chronicling the life and career of Frankie Manning, the “inventor” of the air-step in the Lindy Hop.

Manning was a dancer at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem in the early 30’s. He toured with a dance troupe and appeared in films. When the popularity of swing faded, the troupe disbanded and Manning went to work at the Postal Service.

A revival of swing in the 80’s brought Manning back into the dance scene as a teacher and choreographer, where he won a Tony for Black and Blue.

The book is written by Manning with his collaborator, Cynthia Millman. Cynthia has a passion for researching Jazz dance and music. From archival records and interviews with the originators, she has amassed a wealth of knowledge, as well as a superb collection of photographs, film clips and memorabilia. Cynthia has written extensively about dance, including articles for Oxford University Press’s International Encyclopedia of Dance, and has served as consultant for numerous documentaries including the PBS Swinging with Duke. Through her presentations and demonstrations, she has also shared her passion directly with audiences in both the U.S. and Europe. Cynthia also happens to be the extraordinary librarian at the Town School in Manhattan.

Buy it here:

Barnes and Noble

The PATH and the Second Avenue Subway

When the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad was laying out where its tracks and stations would go, the plans included a connection to the East Side via Astor Place and then on to Grand Central Station. This segment of the lines was never built, although a short stub of maybe 50 feet was built just east of the 9th Street Station.

Now comes the Second Avenue Subway with construction contracts about to be awarded. How about completing Mr. McAdoo’s plans and building the extension out to Astor Place with transfers to the number 6 line and then Second Avenue?

That’s a pretty short line from 6th Avenue to 4th Avenue and 2nd Avenue. Even the Port Authority should be able to manage a project like that.

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