No aliens in Area 51


SR-71 Blackbird spyplane refueling from a mid-air KC-135 strato-tanker. You’d need a lot of space in the middle of nowhere to test stuff like this and go unnoticed.


What X-phile wouldn’t have wanted it to be true? A massive government plot to conceal hard proof of extraterrestrials, including advanced alien technology and by some accounts even the preserved bodies of same. Where grays meant something far less mundane than Civil War reenactment uniforms. Alas, a new a release does not confirm Agent Mulder’s suspicions.

But it sounds like there were some real cool things going on in Area 51: [Read more…]

Mars Curiosity captures the hurtling moons of Barsoom

Curiosity must have a pretty good eyeball on her, the little mobile probe phoned home with this overhead dance of the two Martian moons passing quietly in the dead of night. In fact, judging by the illumination, where half the moons are lit, that was near Martian midnight. It must have been colder than the South Pole, with stars clearer than in the skies above the highest desert in Wyoming, when those images were taken. [Read more…]

Former Sec of State George Shultz clearly does not believe in God

To someone who does not know anything about modern issues or parties, I might appear to be a raging lefty. But what I really am is anti-idiocy, anti-dishonesty, anti-stupidity, and pro-science, pro-fact, pro-reality. Forty years ago, at the dawn of my political consciousness, that made me a centrist to a middle of the road conservative. Today it makes me some kind of Marxist-socialist progressive. Even though the years have barely changed me, the primary difference being politics made my eyes glaze over then, but I have more patience for them now.

It turns out that former Secretary of George Shultz who served under Ronald Reagan isn’t just anti-idiocy, he’s non believer, too. At least according to the last post. Egad, the man even has solar panels on his house and recommends them for everyone! [Read more…]

You can’t believe in God AND believe in global warming


Update: Former Secretary of State George Shultz must be one of us! Hail & welcome to the non-believers sir!

Outside of the implausibility of religious claims about magic floods and rising from the dead, there is also the day-to-day ugliness that turns many off like a light switch. Racism, sexism, intolerance, a long history of brutal acts and justifying the most un-Christ-like behavoir imaginable, all given religious cover. And then there is the sheer mendacity. Take it away Rush! [Read more…]

If only Al Qaeda was run by a woman

There was quite a free for all on Twitter this week. Some religious nutcase tweeting on behalf of Al Qaeda suggested using an Arabic hashtag for suggestions about how to best leverage terrorism. At which point the twitterverse erupted in a magnificent fever of trolling as the hashtag was copied and added to every kind of sarcastic suggestions imaginable, thus both mocking AQ and rendering the effort worse than futile. Fortunately, the bad guys have good guys on our side working for them, or something: [Read more…]

Romney wins food stamp districts


The 2012 election was an exercise in surrealism. On the heels of massive unemployment caused by a deregulated financial sector gone mad with greed, Republicans put forth an accomplished corporate raider who had thrown untold numbers of people out of work. I suppose we’re lucky he wasn’t quite Republican enough, that he had the bad judgement to be born into a prominent Mormon family, but Mitt Romney came way closer to the gold last November than he should have by all that is sane and right.

It turns out he had allies in the most surprising of places: [Read more…]

As expected …

The job prospect I mentioned last week was looking great. It took place this last Wednesday at 10 AM, I showed up looking sharp, hair perfectly, freshly cut, wearing business casual as advised, a nice color coordinated sport jacket over new slacks and polished shoes which fit and accentuated my newly rebuilt, honed down, buffish bod like a glove.

The company is a solid, respectable outfit, great benefits, super neat story of how it developed and grew. The thing I like the most about them is, unlike so many corporations in the world today, this company has a great business; they actually help people. They make people happy. The company designed and maintains a stable online platform that allows people from all over the world, the well-off and the poor, the young and the old, the handicapped and the terminal, you name it, to buy and sell items of all kinds. collectible items, hand crafted ones, very rare or poignant things that make people smile and bring back great memories. They allow folks searching for a bargain a shot at getting great products at a price that person can afford, and in some cases people of all ages have become so adept and the platform so scalable, that really sharp people have learned to buy and sell and trade all kinds of items, making themselves a few badly needed dollars in this tough economy.

I knew going in this was a good company. But during the extended job interview I was even more impressed, by everything I saw, the building, the people, and the policies. On the latter, I can’t into detail because I signed a disclosure agreement. But I listened to  calls from people who were upset, and I can say with complete confidence I feel much better about issues like privacy protection, how they back up their customers, how they honor and resolve mistakes that aren’t even the company’s fault, how they protect their customers from scammers and data thieves, how focused they are on making the honest customer whole again at the company’s expense if possible in any way, even when the customer might and probably should have used better judgment.

You’ve probably guessed by now, the company was eBay, and from what I saw eBay isn’t a good company, they’re a great company. A company I would like to work for. The sky could be the limit for someone with my work ethic, background, and number crunching extroverted idiosyncrasies at a winner like eBay. In a few years I could be making a living wage again, after more than three years of scrapping by on near poverty pay, and rejoin the lower middle class. I might be able to once again apply for a home loan or get a car on credit and enjoy all the things I once took for granted and now can barely remember, the memories that feel more and more distant, more more and more surreal, like it happened long ago in a youthful dream.

The Austin campus is truly an impressive work environment with on site access to a four star gym. Best of all they are just now fully staffing this new, modern, spacious center, now almost fully built, just a few blocks from my apartment, I would be on the local ground floor of my department. Being a college grad, a former stock broker who has a long successful record of dealing with emotional people on critical financial matters, coming in with years of fresh customer service experience including the numero uno top performer out of hundreds of people in my current online customer service job for all of 2012 —  it looked very promising.


And I am a bad ass: I’ve been doing this so long I can now respond via live web chat by text while listening to a second customer on a live call and still scan over and close out a third web ticket all at once. I am greased lightning, no one can catch me on speed and my CSAT and FCR scores are way above average when I triple task too boot. Add in to that they are hiring dozens of people for a very large contact facility and that led me to believe, if I wasn’t a full-blown shoe in, I was at least facing way better odds than the unknown or 50-50 chances that keep defying the law of large numbers and rolling against me in past interviews.

Make no mistake, this is not a high level job, it’s not a dream job, it’s not a six figure job, or a job opening where only one or two of the best out of many applicants get hired. But even if it was I have to figure I’d still have a shot because I am one of the best qualified, most experienced applicants they’re likely to come across for that kind of starting wage. The job would have started at only 16 bucks an hour, but joining the working poor after being comfortably middle class has taught there’s a big difference between the $12/hr and change I make now after three years of stellar performance and no chance or ever moving up, and the $16/hr this would pay with room to grow. I mainly worried about being over qualified — if there really is such a thing.

Did a skills test, it was super easy, there was only one techie issue and it was basic, something I probably walk customers through 30 times a day in my current position. I carefully counted the number of words in the typing test and made sure I exceeded the threshold with zero mistakes. There were four of us taking the skills test, I finished way before anyone else and they told me I did great, that I had made it to the next step, a short interview with a team manager which seemed to go fine. They showed me all around the place like I was in and they said I would be hearing from them soon.

And they kept that promise, on Friday this was in my work email from a no-reply address:

Thank you for taking time to apply for the Customer Solutions Teammate position. We appreciate your interest and the opportunity to review your background, qualifications, and eligibility.

We have reviewed your resume and have carefully considered your qualifications. While your skills are impressive and you have met the basic requirements of the position, we will be moving forward with other candidates who exceed the basic and preferred qualifications for the position. We also encourage you to take another look at our current openings and consider other opportunities within eBay as they become available.

I’ll probably take them up on that. I got a really good vibe from the place. But my understanding is that kind of invitation to reapply is often done to ease the blow of rejection. That once you’re out, you’re out.

Worst of all, I don’t know what went wrong, maybe they hit a quota of hirees before my app came up? Maybe a reference confused me with someone else and skull fucked me? Who knows? I can only assume they’re telling me the truth about the skills test, maybe they went by total words typed per unit time instead of a pass-fail thing like I was told. I have to assume eBay is smart enough not to engage in age discrimination. But I’ll never know, so I’ll never be able to correct it if is correctable.

I’ve had a lot of let downs like this over the last few years, where I knew I was super qualified, had a great interview for a low level easy job, then either heard nothing back at all or got a form letter quickly indicating I was cut out of consideration early on.

But even in that dim light, this one was a huge let down. If I can’t get a low-level job I’m that qualified for, my future is truly bleak. I don’t know how long I can survive the way things are, it’s just a matter of time if nothing changes. I’ve spent all my non qualified savings now, I have some retirement left but I dip into that regularly to make ends meet, it won’t last five years at the rate I’m going. And all I get for slowly bleeding out my last IRA is a tax penalty and a miserable, drab, lonely life. Sooner or later I will run out of that last bit of retirement money, an expense will come along I can’t handle, and I’ll eventually become car-less, or homeless, or worse.