Victor Rozek's award-winning and thought-provoking "Out of the Blue" column was consistently one of the best things to read in any IT publication on the market. We are pleased to add his voice and thoughts about the computer industry and the world at large in this column, which runs once a month in The Four Hundred. That's Victor above with his other half, Kassy Daggett.
October 8, 2018 Victor Rozek
While Congress, by constitutional fiat, may not abridge your right to free speech; your employer can and does. Of necessity, corporations worry about being accused of tolerating or, worse, promoting a hostile work environment. And because harassment laws draw no practical distinctions between sexual innuendo and pornography, or religious advocacy and political endorsement, or insults and threats, or jokes, cartoons, or any other form of expression for that matter, corporations generally wish you’d just shut the hell up.
Legally, corporations are liable for the aggregate of all their employees’ speech.
Even something seemingly benign, if repeated often enough by enough …Read more
September 17, 2018 Victor Rozek
One of the consequences of being wildly successful is that others are eager to imitate you. In a culture worshipful of winners and disdainful of losers, nothing, it seems, guarantees credibility quite as much as raging success. Whether expounding on mangos or mergers, the opinions of the successful always receive rapt attention. Their brains are picked, their writings analyzed, and every budding entrepreneur wants to harness the secrets of their success.
So when Jeff Bezos, arguably the most successful man on the planet, says that hiring the right people is “the single most important element” in ensuring Amazon’s continued success, …Read more
August 6, 2018 Victor Rozek
Only two days in, my stay in Lassen Volcanic National Park was cut short by vanishing stars. Evidently the “new normal” knows no boundaries and has no respect for vacationers. It seems that every year now, there are fires, terrible fires, consuming the West. In Redding, California, 50 miles west of the park, 966 homes and six people were lost. More are missing. Over 90,000 acres of drought-stressed brush remain ablaze. As of this writing, 38,000 residents may have to be evacuated as swirling winds are spreading flames in all directions.
But in the distant mountains I knew nothing of …Read more
July 16, 2018 Victor Rozek
To a greater or lesser degree, we all wear a necklace of expectations – our own and those of others. As each bead is added and the expectations grow, the cumulative weight can either feel reassuring, like having an instruction manual for your life, or crushing, like a stone.
For the most part, expectations are well intended, and from an early age they serve as a social template for responsible citizenship. In Western countries, the basics include: graduating from high school; going to college; getting a degree; finding a job; getting married; buying a house; and having children. Broadly speaking, …Read more
June 11, 2018 Victor Rozek
I have a garage so full of stuff my car winters outdoors. For all I know, D.B. Cooper stashed his loot in there, which is why it has never been found. After a fruitless hour searching for a power washer attachment, I would have been happy to set the whole mess ablaze.
If the first half of my life was about acquiring stuff, the second half is about trying to get rid of it. Without much success. Abundance, of course, is not the worst difficulty ever to befall humankind, but like too much of any good thing, indulging yourself is …Read more
May 7, 2018 Victor Rozek
I’m part Neanderthal. No, that’s not just my wife’s opinion. Nor is it an unkind conclusion based on observation, although that could be open to debate. In fact, my wife is part Neanderthal, too, a data point that invites further comment but could only get me into trouble.
The bearer of this startling revelation is an organization long celebrated for its examination of such diverse, yet interconnected subjects as history, culture, science, and the environment. Its playground was, and continues to be, planet Earth. From its early days as a sponsor of exploration; to producing a publication so beloved that, …Read more
April 16, 2018 Victor Rozek
By all accounts, Neville Chamberlain was a clever man. Clever enough to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. But it turned out he was also stunningly naïve, signing the Munich Agreement granting Germany the right to annex the Czech Sudetenland in return for a promise of peace, thus emboldening one of history’s great monsters, Adolf Hitler.
The consequences of extreme cleverness and dangerous naiveté play out across the entire spectrum of human interactions, but are perhaps most visible in politics and business. The pursuit of power and money invites troves of uber-clever people who all too soon become enamored …Read more
March 12, 2018 Victor Rozek
The African continent, perhaps more than any other, has been blessed with abundant resources and cursed by relentless exploitation. From ivory to slavery, oil to diamonds, foreign powers rushed in to strip the continent of its wealth. Over the last three centuries, arguably not a single African nation escaped some form of colonialism.
The first wave of exploitation was decidedly European. Germany, England, France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, and Italy carved up the continent. America was the central buyer in the slave trade, and remained to become the principal seller in the arms trade. Today, the United States maintains a military …Read more
February 12, 2018 Victor Rozek
An editor at MAD Magazine once joked that the “E” in Alfred E. Neuman probably stood for “Enigma” because no one actually knew what it stood for. Well, maybe it stands for “Entertaining” because the magazine features some wicked satire. Whatever his middle name, Neuman has graced the magazine cover since its inception in 1961. And, as an unanticipated satirical bonus, it turned out that with his boyish-bumpkin looks and deep insights (“What, me worry?”) he bore an uncanny resemblance to George W. Bush.
One of the popular features in MAD is Spy vs Spy – a wordless cartoon that …Read more
January 15, 2018 Victor Rozek
It’s a new year and hope again rears its fickle head. Gyms are full of bulging spandex, as the clanging of free-weights punctuates the incessant whir of stationary bikes. Bad habits, so recently embraced, are once again under attack. Like truth in White House press briefings, they have become an unhealthy indulgence that needs to be banished. We’ll be drinking less, exercising more, and eating smaller quantities of just the right foods. And since we’re sober and thinking clearly, we’ll save more money and quit obsessing about how many people love us on social media.
For a few months, at …Read more