Monday, October 22, 2007

This haiku was approved by the legal department

Two tires fly. Two wail.
A Bamboo grove, all chopped down.
From it, warring songs.
--Bobby Shaftoe's first Haiku from "Cryptonomicon"

It seems only fitting to open my blog with this poem, given that my blog title so blatantly co-opts Stephenson's masterpiece. Suffice it to say, if you have not read this book, go do it now and come back here when you really don't have anything better to do with your time.

So this post represents my first timid steps into the murky waters of electronic ego gratification, or as the hip kids call it, blogging. I'm currently on contract writing software for a very large (Fortune 50) American corporation. Last week they laid off 10% of their workforce or about 8,000 people. Being a contractor in this situation is something akin to being a mercenary in a reserve branch of the Roman army as elephants crest over the hill. I sense with an instinctual certainty that some of those poor saps on the front line are going to get squashed but watch from the side secure in the knowledge that I will not be a member of that ignominious group. Far more likely is that I will be part of the lackey crew impressed into cleaning up the mess of swords, trunks, blood and elephant dung that is the battle's aftermath.

Tortured metaphors aside, there is something a bit twisted about a system where the lowly contractors can go about their business with not a care in the world while the regular employees get to endure (for weeks in advance) the anguish of wondering whether they will wake up tomorrow unemployed. This post could easily devolve into a simple-minded rant about the ills of capitalism (of which there are certainly many). Alternatively I could assume the role of devil's advocate and argue that regular layoffs merely represent a selection pressure to ensure the overall health of the global business ecosystem. Instead, in the spirit of Bobby Shaftoe, and all of the (far more) poetic grunts that came before me, I will distill my thoughts on the issue into a Haiku.

Early fall, leaves shed.
Red victims of ritual,
Broken underfoot.

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