Onesie Day


Had to spend some time in the car today, but fortunately didn’t have to drive. There was a copy of the the NY Times in the car, and one thing led to another…

So I read this piece, anyway, and it actually isn’t bad; certainly much better than the usual Times thinkpiece these days:

Imagine a frat house mixed with a kindergarten mixed with Scientology, and you have an idea of what it’s like.

That’s good, isn’t it? And on the right track, but there is so much more to be said.

It’s hard to capture the feel of the contemporary tech workplace. A sweatshop, sure, but a groovy sweatshop, with artisan coffee and so on, and the inevitable ping-pong table and Foosball apparatus.

The superhero theme is indeed much invoked, and there is a great deal else that tends to the attempted infantilization of millennials.

One invariant is breakfast cereal laid on for free in the refectory. Captain Crunch and the like.

A place where I worked for a while had a pajama/onesie day. A surprising number of the kids complied. Of course they all looked very fetching. A fit and shapely twentysomething in a onesie evokes in a dirty old man like me a clenching sensation of erotic vertigo, as if one had the hots for a strangely sexy Teletubby.

I got an unspoken dispensation by virtue of age. I would have looked like Bad Santa, and seriously impaired the overall effect. In any case — though this may be TMI — I do not own a pair of pajamas, and haven’t since I was about eleven years old. As for a onesie…. I’m not even tempted.

Where the Times piece erred a bit, I think, was the Scientology note. I don’t think the kids are buying it.

Of course I hope ‘The kids are all right’ will be my last words. One may be — certainly is — an old fart, but one doesn’t want to be that old fart, the guy who’s always kvetching about these kids today.

So maybe I’m reading too much in. But I think that sense of irony that the kids so notoriously exhibit is serving them well. The kids eat the breakfast cereal, but they eat it ironically, and on a deeper metaphorical level, I don’t think they’re drinking the Kool-Ade. They understand the game too well.

12 thoughts on “Onesie Day

  1. I certainly hope so. As much as I’d love to attribute manias like Agile on non-programmers such as project managers, there is chromic bandwagon jumping-on that pervades the industry. (I despair reading many Stack Overflow comments.)* You add a method to a class and get berated for not using dependency injection. An idea that is probably worthy when applied in the right context suddenly becomes The Only Way. And anyone who doesn’t follow is shunned. My own company is fixing to dump a JEE-Oracle framework for MEAN because that’s what the cool kids are doing. Mind you, ditching Oracle is certainly the right move. And for what I do personally, Node.js is a godsend. What we have works fine. Switching from Java to JavaScript means our entire web backend gets thrown in the garbage.

    *The whole ‘reputation’ trend is chilling. Apparently the validity of SSL certificates is now reputation based.

    • Wasn’t the validity of certs always reputation-based? Even in the dear dead days of PGP keysigning meetups at IETF conclaves? I used to have one — on a floppy disk — signed by Vint Cerf. I suppose that would be worth something now. If I could find it, and a machine that could read it, and assuming entropy hasn’t dealt with the little dipoles long since.

  2. It’s wonderful how cute and cuddly capitalism has become. Curl up in your jammies on a bean bag chair for a struggle session where your bosses will use their super powers to prepare you for your impending heroic journey with the Brotherhood of Unemployed Men (BUM).

    I’ve noticed that a lot of erstwhile libertarians seem to have been employed in the tech field back when there was a severe labor shortage and workers could pretty much write their own ticket. That was when pay was good, working conditions lax, and all kinds of fringe goodies were thrown in to make the workplace “cool” without actually paying people any more. They went straight from their middle class bubble into the tech bubble and thought capitalism is the greatest thing ever invented.

    Now they’ve discovered that Cap’n Crunch is really Captain Bligh with a 25-year-old autistic neckbeard as quartermaster who jerks off to lolicon anime and thinks he’s captain of the universe. He’s the guy in the Pikachu pajamas and he’s your boss. It’s revenge of the nerds time and Uriah Heap can’t wait to flash his pedosmile at you while giving you a low grade on your performance report for lack of company enthusiasm. Hell is run by geeks who were too soulless even for the medical profession.

    But the kids see right through this bullshit. Even some of the libertarians are starting to get it now that they realize their lives are worth less than the breadfruit. It’s the middle-aged, middle-class manchildren with a mid-life crisis running around on noisy Harleys to recapture the manhood they never had who still believe in the old order and hope Stump will save them from the socialists.

    • Oh my God, this is too perfect: “It’s the middle-aged, middle-class manchildren with a mid-life crisis running around on noisy Harleys to recapture the manhood they never had who still believe in the old order.”

  3. Comrade Smith, I read your piece with amusement. This Merkin is done with Montreal and has to eat crow with tails between her legs coming back to the land of “exceptionals” while dreading to work for them Millennials! I wonder if I could show up for the interview in my onesie, which I actually own thanks to my Millennial daughter who got me one for Christmas last year. I dread using that fucking Jira with the Stories and Epics that come with it. Sometimes I think spending all day on the phone generating leads might be better than babysitting these kids. Then again, who knows if they’d even hire an old bird like moi. I certainly hope that there’s a Millennial out there with a perverted sense of humor for willing to hire her grandma only to push her around!

      • Comrade Alexander, if I were to sum up my disappointment with Montreal, it would fall under the following categories:

        1. The people are too insular and don’t mingle with outsiders. They’re incredibly helpful and polite with strangers but outside of their immediate circle, which is usually their families and people they went to school with, they don’t socialize with newcomers. Think of it as Pittsburgh of the North!

        2. Their obsession with the French language and their nationalism is similar to American’s sense of “exceptionalism”. Their Islamophobia is more acute than the rest of Canada as evidenced by the brouhaha over the Charter of Québec Values and the Niqab issue. Their self-imposed isolation has created an island nation within an island continent. Because of the language barrier, they’re slow in catching up with new amenities and innovations.

        3. Their health care system is not as horrible as the Right demonizes but it’s not the panacea that the Left makes it out to be. When it comes to ordinary care, it’s by far better than what we get in the US but when it comes to specialized care, you have to hustle a lot.

        4. Alcohol and cheese are twice as expensive as the US and when it comes to wine, you’re stuck with the government run monopoly that sells you what they can buy in massive quantities that they can charge double the price they pay for. The cheapest Two Buck Chuck hovers around 10 bucks and tastes like shit. They charge 100 percent tariff on alcohol and you can imagine what a nightmare it is on AlcoholicsRUs! Cheese is another luxury that due to “supply management” policies favoring large dairy producers is incredibly expensive.

        My apology to Comrade Smith for hijacking the topic.

        • Merci, Merkin. Very interesting, I feel like I learned some fundamental things about Quebec and Canada from this. Well, for me, I couldn’t possibly live for there for no other reason than the cold. California has spoiled me.

    • JIRA!! Slooowly I turned…

      I’m writing code these days that calls JIRA’s REST API. It’s actually not too bad, though there are some very strange gaps — places where you can do operation X on object type Y but not on the very similar object type Z, though there’s no reason why Z shouldn’t be equally amenable, and the functionality would be quite useful.

      What’s worse is that I have to do things in the GUI. Workflows. Ugh. I hate GUIs. I’m a command-line guy.

      • Comrade Smith, I’m so envious of you! Had I stayed a coder, I wouldn’t have had all this post mid-life dilemma. Unlike you, I love doing things in GUI and I always hated the command-line like that fucking Perl or Awk.

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