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Ethics & (Un)employment

Published 12 months ago • 5 min read

What a ride.

What I've been up to

  • It’s been a wild few weeks! Elephant first, after six fulfilling years of working with startups and mid-sized companies at my agency, I was fired for my moral opposition to working on a contract for the military-industrial complex. I’m proud of how I handled myself, and got a sizable Twitter boost from Mike Monteiro when I credited him for largely being the voice in my head that reminded me that using my labor to facilitate and proliferate violence is just wrong. Even if you’re not directly making bombs, contributing to how efficiently they can be produced makes you responsible for the deaths of others, and I don’t need that on my conscience.
  • All that said, I’m going to be fine! I’ve already got interviews lined up, and having a break from the 9-5 has been sort of a relief.
  • The local tea shop is closing its tearoom, which is sad news, but I got to use my new free time to help the owner pack up the shop. It’s nice having a project that involves me moving my body and using a screwdriver. If you’re in the market for tea, order some from Elle at dobrateame.com. Before packing, we shared some Bai Bing Cha, a white pu-erh tea, which was delicious. I definitely intend to get a cake of my own. If you've never worked with a pu-erh cake before, you'll need an ice pick (or small screwdriver, etc) to loosen the tightly-packed leaves, but this class of tea is really interesting and absolutely worth exploring.
  • Oh, I’m back to writing this newsletter after a three-month hiatus! After Revue shut down, I decided to take a break from publishing newsletters, but I put in the work a few weeks ago to migrate to another service, and it's not quite the same, but it'll do. I never exported my last email in December/January, so that one's not in the archives, but you're probably not missing a lot.
  • Also oh, I contracted COVID-19 in January. I was inconsolably devastated that I lost my perfect streak after dodging it for three years, through deliberate caution and sacrifice. Here's to hoping it doesn't affect me in strange, unexpected ways for the rest of my life.
  • After that, I got really nerdy about HEPA filters and CO2 monitors, which was going to be the main topic of this newsletter until Recent Events derailed me. I'll collect my thoughts in blog post eventually.

What I've been into

  • I’ve been working my way through Kubrick’s filmography lately, and Paths of Glory (1956) and Dr. Strangelove (1964) were both particularly relevant to my current situation. I’d like to draft up a full blog post about bureaucratic violence, because Kubrick is incredible at expressing how atrocities are committed by bored men doing paperwork over pastries and coffee, and none if it is fair or makes any sense.
  • After listening to the Blank Check podcast on Lolita (1962), the guest mentioned the incredible prose of Nabokov, and referenced Pnin as a lighter read than Lolita, so I picked up a copy from the local library and started reading that.
  • I also finally got my hands on Marx in the Anthropocene by Kohei Saito. I've only finished the first chapter so far, but I'm looking forward to spending more time with it.
  • A former coworker works at Bluesky Social and invited me to the private beta that only had a few hundred people on it. I honestly think it’s the most fun I’ve had on a social networking platform since I was moderating a web forum in 2007. The community is incredible and everyone is so eager to make friends and build meaningful connections. It warms my heart and I’m so grateful I stumbled into it.
  • My listening habits have been all over the place in the past few weeks. I've been cycling between Otis Redding, MxPx, Terror, and Dead Kennedys, and this weekend I've been listening to the new records from Can't Swim and Real Friends on repeat. I also want to shout out the new Rebecca Black record for being too catchy for its own good.

Musings

  • This is my first time filing unemployment claims, and the whole process is god-awful. It’s paternalistic and infantilizing, not to mention unintuitive and inefficient. The website is barely functional, forms are long and inflexible (good luck finding the address and phone number for remote-only companies, unless you know how to look up the DUNS information), and the overhead required to do this much babysitting and means testing is an inconceivable waste of resources. I got my first “warning letter” for not meeting the minimum requirements during my second week—talking to several recruiters, scheduling meetings with professionals in my network, and preparing a portfolio and resume just doesn’t count, but if I had attended a virtual job fair with jobs with “wages ranging from $15 - $30 dollars an hour!”, I’d have been fine. The whole thing should be scrapped, alongside other horrifyingly wasteful welfare programs, and folded into a UBI that benefits everyone.
    • Since drafting this, my claim for unemployment was denied, claiming "personal reasons/quit," so all this work has been for naught. I've filed an appeal, but genuinely, this system is egregious.
  • I can barely see through my glasses. They’re scuffed and the coating is peeling after four-ish years. It’s awful. The next available appointment with my optometrist isn’t until mid-May though 😩
  • This section got kinda bleak, but otherwise life is really good—I promise! I got a bunch of art supplies yesterday and will be painting more right after sending this 🎨

What about you?

Up to anything interesting? Have any thoughts or feelings after reading this? Just wanna say hi? If you want to reach out for any reason, just reply to this email and I’ll write you back ✉️✨



understated

A cozy personal newsletter of creative projects and life updates.

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