Forensic Anthropology

By Al Schumann on Wednesday April 4, 2012 07:59 AM

That's my fancy name for dumpster-diving. Although I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there really is a profession called forensic anthropology. Dumpster diving is sometimes called salvage or even rag-picking, but the basics are the same. It's the reclamation and reuse of things no longer subject to police-enforced claims of ownership. And dumpster-diving, as SMBIVANs surely know, can yield treasures. If you have gear and can call on some help, it can be part of a livelihood.

The reward to effort ratio is an iffy thing. Local knowledge is important. I've found the odds of finding something worth the expenditure of labor resources can be somewhat improved by reading the classifieds and ads. They give clues to concentrations of activity that may yield salvageable items. The signal to noise ratio is high, in both print and online, but it's still worth a shot. Examples of things that help include notices of demolition and factory and warehouse job openings and sales.

While browsing ads and looking for finds, in recent years, I've come across thousands of managerial help wanted and services offered ads. They grow like weeds in abandoned industrial parks. The managerial language is depressing. The employers are almost certainly full of shit about actually giving a job to any given applicant. They're covering their asses by nominal openness. The jobs will go to someone who fits their "eligibility profile", which means favors will be exchanged and useful social emollient will be spread—passive voice used advisedly. The seekers are even sadder. There's little they can do to differentiate themselves from the millions of similar schlubs. They have core competencies that have been and could be positive assets in exciting environments. They're self-starting, team-working, revenue-enhancing customer relations superstars. The "digitally savvy" achievers offer LinkedIn URLs for anyone who wants to see their CVs. The CVs are loaded with keyword and keyword phrases designed to act as search engine optimizers. The seekers have been tossed on the rubbish heap and they're hoping to flag someone who will pull them out. I'd do the same in a heartbeat.

The ones who don't have to worry about getting hired, in my personal experience, are the ones who can allude to a knack for recruiting scabs, union busting, cultivating stakhanovites, aggressive collections practices and facilitation of rent seeking efforts. To paraphrase, it's snapping turtles, all the way down.

I took a few of the vicious CVs and did an unscientific cross referencing of employment dates, corporate bankruptcies, regulatory disciplinary actions, corporate name changes and opprobrious mention in the news media. Sure enough, the snapping turtle core competencies correlate with corporate grief. They bust out a niche, devastate a community, a job class, the customers, clients, inmates and suckers; they leave the cleanup to the state and move on.

Comments (15)


signal to noise ratio that is high => a lot of signal relative to noise.



signal to noise ratio that is high => a lot of signal relative to noise.



Bite to ankle ratio ......high ?


I can never capture the highly complex Hindu like riff
That comes so easily to our Al hombre

But speaking about
busting a niche for one's self
in the rock face of the great american market

it fills me with Lomanian weltsmertz
every time I see a reference
To how some wretched geef is

"now doing independent
or free lance accounting
or such like

When this dimmed spirit was still
in corporate claws
He was prolly
" liked..... but not well liked"

Al Schumann:

Our anonymous friend's eagerness to nip has a trigger happy quality, Owen. I usually delete double posts, as a courtesy if nothing else, but I like the signal to noise ratio this one provides.

"They bust out a niche, devastate a community, a job class, the customers, clients, inmates and suckers; they leave the cleanup to the state and move on."

And they're the ones running the country.

I don't know the future but I know a nation that proudly breeds sociopaths isn't quite headed down the primrose path.

Al Schumann:

There are unexploited weaknesses in sociopathic management. It doesn't take much to bring them down. Ridicule and shunning would do it. Walking away in boredom would it too, just as well, if not better. Alas, a nation that cultivates anticipatory deference to sociopaths is fucked.


In Boston, posting with thumb. Elbow constantly bumped by long haired brunettes in stiletto heels... posting with their thumbs and moving at high speed. Clack, clack, clawmp.

Post, bump, re-post. An accidental double ankle bite.

Al's biggest fan, as Kathy Bates might say.

Al Schumann:
Al's biggest fan, as Kathy Bates might say.

That's not very reassuring. But if you're in Boston, and you're there to help Vermin Supreme, then my ankles and I forgive you.


Anklebiting, how I love it. I recently referred, on the Henwood mailing list, to 'the notorious Blue Dogs'. Some poor fool promptly responded with a list (obtained from Wikipedia) of individual House pests identified as Blue Dogs. He hotly -- and correctly -- insisted that nobody has ever heard of any of these nonentities, and therefore he wanted a retraction of the word 'notorious'.

Al Schumann:

Wikipedia is an ideal destination for the febrile ankle-centric correctors. It has lots of lists for them to point to.


Sociopathy is a job requirement and much to be desired for management. But achieving some level of sociopathy, or at least suppressing any hint of empathy, has survival value for wage grunts. I cannot tell you how many times inside the belly of the corp beast I have seen lives and families abruptly disrupted if not devastated without warning, and for the flimsiest of reasons. I refer in some instances to people whom I have come to love, summarily dismissed via email or, worse somehow, being notified via email that their fate is TBD, and then left to twist anxiously, ulcer-makingly, in the wind for weeks on end.

To function as a wage grunt in that environment --- to not feel perpetually devastated, to not feel that one is continually being hit, 10 hours a day, by an 18-wheeler --- one has to shut down to a great degree. To show "compassion" in the most go-through-the-motion ways, but ultimately to shut down, to create a mental/emotional distance, to lock into a better-them-than-me mindset, to even --- in the darker recesses of the less-than-conscious --- somehow rationalize why it happened to them, not me.

Such is the insidiousness of the corp beast. It's not a monster, really it's a virus or a cancer.

It's all made worse as when happened recently when one very recent victim --- who, along with her husband working for the same company, faces either termination or a "rightsizing" (yes, that word was used) of their pay; rightsizing about 1/2 of it --- extolling to me the virtues of "rich people" and what good they do for all of us. Stockholm on steroids. Deeply depressing from all angles.


You nailed it CZ. We want to believe it's all for the best, even if it happens to fall rather heavily on us personally. The alternative is too scary to contemplate.


MJS, yes: God's plan, the Invisible Hand.....


Many of the faithful would rather think believe God hated them than believe that God may not exist. Workers, and citizens in general, have the same idolatry about the rules of procedure. "Without these rules, our lives would be a chaos." Don't you feel your life is a chaos right now? "Well, yes, but that's because they're not following the rules..."

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