Wednesday, November 15, 2017

 Here's an interesting thing, when and how it'll show up in a story, I dunno.

It will. It's just that when these sorts of things occur to me, in many cases
they're divorced from context.

Any rate, consider an experienced ruler, boss, whatever. Think 'head honcho',
in a context to be determined.

Now, an experienced hand, I think, will start to build up some self defenses
over time. Rules of thumb, maybe thought out and analyzed to a fare thee well,
maybe just hints and instincts and 'common sense'.

Suppose you're an experienced hand. Been around the block, maybe just a couple
times, maybe as many orbits as there are stars in the sky. You might hope
someday to be wise. But most mornings, sitting there miserable over your
cuppa joe and the newspaper, wondering what the nitwits who work for you are
gonna find to screw up your day this time...

Here's a rule of thumb that el jefe might keep in the toolbox. As you work
with someone, read their reports, hear what they have to say in meetings, one
on one or everybody crammed in eating rubber chicken, read their scrambled egg
emails at 1am...

You start to keep track of their bugaboos. Their predictions, and their
complaints. And maybe you recognize their predictable responses. Maybe you
start to know what they're gonna say before they say it.

And then one day, you stumble onto something. You realize that some of the
long term reports you've been reading are mutually contradictory, in terms of
the way some particular underling thinks.

No single report could be wrong, or right, standing on its own. It's only
when you put all of them in a pile, all the reports that this particular
person has written over years of report writing, that you realize something.

Take the last report, where so-and-so is being oh so careful to tread the
fine line, giving all caveats and quid pro quos, dotting the eyes and crossing
the tees...

But then there's the report a couple years ago, where so-and-so was fired up,
gangbusters to go after something, ready as hell to fire up the barbecue and
get ready to rumble.

Then you realize, all you had to do was go back to your instructions, change
a single thing (a name, a particular place, maybe a particular brand), do the
equivalent of replace 'coke' with 'pepsi' in your instructions...

And so-and-so would have handed the reports in exactly switched. The careful,
oh so careful, fine tuned and precise report would have been handed in a
couple years ago, and the fire-breathing, hell on wheels report would have
been handed in yesterday.

And then you go back through all of so-and-so's reports, and realize that
you could pull that string, and get the same pattern, any time you want.

'dr. pepper' for 'mountain dew'. 'root beer' for 'ginger ale'. 'beatles' for
'stones'. Any way you cut it...

so-and-so isn't providing any information. The content, the *new* information
content of any one report, is precisely zero.

Because you can see it coming. The only thing you're getting from so-and-so
is a carrier signal, background noise that can be precisely filtered away
leaving... zero signal. Zero noise, nothing but static otherwise.

Oh, the writing occasionally makes up for it. But after a few years, even that's
tiresome. You know so-and-so's tricks. So even style-wise, that's a bust.

Now, what does the experienced hand do at this point?

Depends on context. The benevolent queen maybe shuffles her minister off to
a corner where he can fill out reports 'til kingdom come. She can always
recall him if she needs him.

A sergeant, maybe shuffles the corporal in the same way. Parks her somewhere
where she won't get into too much trouble.

A not-so benevolent leader, on the other hand... Well, in that case, so-and-so
might better hope there's the equivalent of Siberia, or Perdition, to be sent

The alternatives are usually worse.

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Please keep it on the sane side. There are an awful lot of places on the internet for discussions of politics, money, sex, religion, etc. etc. et bloody cetera. In this time and place, let us talk about something else, and politely, please.