Friday, December 25, 2009

Thoughts on Recruitment

It seems to me that when companies are hiring, they are not looking for the most competent person for the job; rather, they are looking for the person that is mostly likely to be competent for the job.

I have heard of the battery of tests some companies subject applicants to. I have also heard of comments on the apparent uselessness, or rather, the low correlation to working ability, of these tests. These may indeed be true, but the tests ought to be understood in another framework. The tests are not meant to measure your competence, but rather, your incompetence. A high score on a reasoning test does not grant you improved standing in the employer's eyes, but a low score essentially disqualifies you from the running.

Similarly, a university degree can be thought to be a form of accreditation. Having a university degree, or a good honors, does not imply that you are competent. However, lacking a degree, your standing in the eyes of the employer is suspect. Indeed, there may be a million sound reasons why you were unable to attain a degree, but it is far easier, and far safer, for the employer to discard you from consideration, particularly if there are multitudes of qualified applicants. After all, if you only need a good hire and not the best hire, why take a risk?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Many Years

While riding on the bus to the university today, I saw her again. She was wearing a blue long cardigan over a white v-neck tee, a style that she was fond of even then, many years ago. She seemed to have aged somewhat, and there was a hint of world-weariness in her eyes.

As she boarded the bus our eyes met and, for the slightest and yet longest of moments, stood locked for the first time in many years. Then she broke off our joined gaze, and tapped the card to pay her fare. For an imperceptible instant she seemed to hesitate, before perking up with a mustered smile and moving to occupy the bus seat beside me.

It was awkward at first, but we soon warmed up; and as we conversed, all those years of separation, of distance, seemed to melt away to nothingness. It wasn’t what we talked about, though reminiscing about our moments together was indeed nostalgic; it was the energy of the conversation, that youthful energy that we once had felt between us but then forgot, that seemed to slice past the fog of time and memory.

We didn’t notice how fast time had passed, not in our conversation, nor in our lives. Suddenly, she straightened her back and shot up her head, glancing outside the bus window.

“I’ll have to drop at the next station, I think,” she said with some tone of regret. I felt it too, for our time together was all too short compared to our time apart, which was all too long. Out of a small, tiny hope, I asked whether she would be taking the same route again tomorrow.

“No. I’m only using this as I’ve an errand to run. I don’t think I’ll be able to see you again like this,” she said before getting off the bus.

As I watched her back fade into the crowd, I thought about how similar this parting was to our last; in the end, after many years, we were once again parted by time and distance.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Better to Have Tried and Failed

It is possible to claim upon failure that it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried before, but such words seem vacuous and empty. Perhaps there is some small truth in those words, and that it is indeed better to risk risks and experience experiences. However, it is more common for these words to be invoked to provide some measure of self-comfort, to assuage oneself of the redeeming benefits of one's failed endeavor.

It is not wrong to adopt such means of preserving one's esteem or happiness, for in fact humans are apt at devising such subtle self-lies, and that without such artificial constructs to hold the harsh realities at bay our sanity would be suspect. However, in realizing the true nature behind these untruths, one is resigned to either unhappiness or self-deception. In the former case, perhaps the only resort is to reveal the piercing truths, and to engage in schadenfreude, which is perhaps the only form of joy in a miserable world.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Smoking Extends Your Lifespan

It is commonly thought that smoking decreases your lifespan. However, our research has shown that this is untrue!

Long before cigarettes were invented for recreation, smoking was used to preserve food. Logic tells us that if smoke can preserve food, it can also preserve humans (since humans are also some form of food, as attested to by various cannibals and carnivorous predators). In fact, smoke is "an antimicrobial and antioxidant". Hence, by smoking, you will be less vulnerable to diseases and illnesses.

It is noted that a major weakness of smoking in preserving food is that "the smoke compounds adhere only to the outer surfaces of the food; smoke does not actually penetrate far into meat or fish". However, this problem is circumvented by cigarette smoking, since the smoke is directly inhaled into the body. It suffices to say that the health benefits of cigarette smoking are greatly increased over that of standing in a bonfire to be smoked.

In all, one should not be convinced by anti-smoking propaganda. The health benefits of smoking are obvious; in fact, samples of organs from deceased cigarette smokers are readily available for viewing, and the fine state of preservation of such organs should readily convince the agnostic as to the veracity of our claims.