Saturday, December 04, 2010

Changes

On November 15th, I received a call from a recruiter. He was looking for a contractor, really a subcontractor for a Linux security position in Arizona. By Wednesday, I had passed the two phone interviews, though it was obvious that they were desperate for a body. The money was good, $50/hour rate for the first three months. It may go down a bit if I am hired as a contractor instead of being a subcontractor after that period, but it beats unemployment benefits. I have been unemployed for over 15 months and it was beginning to wear me down. There are few IT jobs in the DFW area and those that are available are in the defense or financial sectors. I don't have a clearance for the former and certain financial security qualifications for the latter. I start work Monday. I am not sure that this is the right move, but only time will tell if I have made a mistake or not. I plan to stay silent, do my job to the best of my abilities, and see what happens for the next 6 months.

Arizona is a rather ultraconservative state, not unlike much of Texas. If I can't have earnest discussions with my Dad over economic and political policies, then what chance do I have with a stranger almost a thousand miles away from my home in Dallas? I tried to tell my Dad that I didn't argue with him to win, but to make him think. I got a lecture from him about how he grew up poor, the struggle he's had all his life to earn money, and how life is all about survival. It's kind of sad. Dad is not starving. His house is paid for. I do not know if he is having trouble paying bills, but he does not appear to be. It is as if he still sees himself as economically poor in some way, or he's economically insecure. It may not be the retirement he envisioned, but it is the retirement he has.

I tried to tell him that these are scary times and that I'm scared as well. He tells me that I am reading the wrong things and wrong people rather than rebut my factual retorts. He doesn't believe me when I tell him that he's being manipulated by Fox News and that he shouldn't watch so much television. The corporations behind the media are pushing their own subtle agenda, especially in television, and it is not to help anyone but themselves. Television journalism has deteriorated severely since the Cold War ended. It is obvious. I tell him that the world will not end literally like Revelations states and that any of the Bible based sects believe at the end of any century. Psychological worlds may end, but not this planet until some time in the distant future billions of years from now. I know that nothing I say to my father matters. My arguments and convictions fall on deaf ears because his mind is made up. I know that whatever opinions I have will not matter in the long run. They are just fragments of one person's assessment of what he perceives. But, I was trained in academia to find the truth and to argue for the evidence and facts in a case. It is one way to learn, and old habits die hard. Unfortunately, I am beginning to understand that people will defend invalid ideas and theories, and ignore the evidence that contradicts their belief systems. I used to think that only ignorant, simple men were that foolish, but it appears to apply to supposedly intelligent and sophisticated men who should know better. We see this with elite economists, bankers, and politicians who appear to favor the Wealthy over the Middle Class and Poor. Such obstinance may be due to cynicism by the latter, however.

So, I tell myself that my political opinions don't matter in the hope that I won't open my mouth and get myself into trouble with my new employers. I can't afford to lose a job due to an idle comment even if it does not pertain to the job, does not break any laws, and is essentially free speech. Contractors are at will. They can be released on a whim. I must remember that almost all fears are illusions, but it doesn't hurt to be cautious in a new situation or job.

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Comments:
Hello! It's been a long time since I've commented -- or opened Google Reader. Glad to catch up on your news.

If I may ask, in what town are you located?

Forgive my cynicism but I refer to Arizona as "the other redneck state". However, I find Flagstaff to be an island of sanity. I don't know for certain but I think Tucson may be another island.

You identified my predicament. It's hopeless and useless to attempt to discuss politics, religion, economics and some other subjects with many people. A simple solution is silence and personal reading and thought to look for truth and viable solutions. This may not be the safest solution. I'm always wary of discussing issues with like-minded people due to the lack of challenge and the danger that my prejudices and wrong thinking will be reinforced.

Welcome to Arizona. I hope our paths cross for at least a few minutes.
 
Dear Paul,

I'm in Sierra Vista, AZ. It's about three to four times bigger than Pecos, Texas, where I grew up. The area reminds me of Marfa, Texas in climate and geology, though it's about 10 degrees F warmer here than Texas. The town seems to have all the comforts of a larger city. I see a lot of cars from Mexico in parking lots around here. I'm trying to re-acclimate to the pace of life in a small town with slower speed limits and such. I'm also getting used to all the new taxes I'm having to pay in this state. The people here are nice. The new gun law allowing any one to carry a concealed weapon came as a bit of a shock. I suppose civility will be making a comeback. The no handgun signs seems to be unique to Arizona as far as I can tell.
I think we are beginning to see cracks in society. Capitalism is seen as an ideology or religion rather than as a means to conduct commerce and transactions. Any thinking human being must be appalled at the nonsense coming out of our elites' mouths, and the nonsensical excuses they are giving for the latest economic crisis and policy failures that led to it. It doesn't help that people are believing the world will end because a calendar ends in 2012. Is the lack of predators making humanity lose our intelligence?

Happy New Year,

John
 
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