Fear and Loathing in Human Resources

Freelance status approaches. I go to sleep excited. I wake up excited.

I also go to sleep feeling the fear, and wake up with it.

The freelance market is unforgiving in the best of circumstances. Self-funding everything from business expenses to healthcare is daunting and a totally alien experience. Up until this point some external entity worried about that. Some abstract administrator in another office, another building; conjuring access to medical care, a new workstation, a repair to the office floor. Largely unseen and working in mysterious ways. The Holy Ghost of Human Resources and Logistics.

Much of my life revolves around holding opposite tensions in a life-affirming way and it strikes me that a similar tension exists in the noncorporeal nature of coordinating the very condition in which workers find themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s also another thing I never anticipated doing myself. But it’s become another tension that must be integrated; moving some of my perspective to an Overwatch position so the me that’s running around on the ground can get the other jobs done.

Fear moves in and tries to convince me that since I’ve never done it before it will go disastrously. That I don’t have the head for it, nor the background. Which all could be true. But that doesn’t make those tasks any less crucial and it doesn’t magically conjure someone to do it for me.

What happens instead, what I hope will happen, is wrapped up tightly in the reason that I’ve held so many tensions for so many years. What happens is this simultaneously mystic and totally grounded experience of becoming that person. Accepting that I can be that tree-level, cloud-level, high-orbit presence while putting one foot in front of the other on a foundation I create for myself.

There is the fear that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing and that nearly constant nag in the back of my brain trying to convince me that I’m simply pretending at all this. But three things comfort me, among others. First, the support and love from friends and family. Second: that these fears are a nearly universal phenomenon even for established professionals. And last, that the fear isn’t going to take care of these problems and that nagging voice isn’t going to do the paperwork either, and it needs to get done, so I’ll be on top of it like everything else.

Not resigning myself to “finding a way to get it done” but becoming the way it gets done.

A sudden crispness of color and edge

There’s a certain clarity in suddenly separating from the track your life idled on for the previous decade. A sudden crispness of color and edge, a renewed inking of the lines of everything.

This is where I find myself today and it’s a damn strange, relatively unexpected place to be in.

At the beginning of the month I faced a hard choice: transition to a new job with a different department under humiliating, degrading circumstances or lose that security and move off into the unknown. Previously at least the engineer of my life’s own slow-motion train wreck, I had been relegated to shovel-wielding nobody in the coal car. I could propel myself into devolving and giving up ten years of progress. That was my only choice.

So I jumped off the train.

After spending ten years of dispatching 911 calls I felt it would be hard to hit the ground running. But suddenly the years-long knot in my chest is gone and my back no longer aches from shoveling existential coal. There are options, and lines, and edges.

You never appreciate the edges and lines of life until you realize it’s all been dull for years. Suddenly the termination of each surface is brought into sharp focus. The focus comes, surprisingly, not from the terror of impending freelance status and possible failure, but from a renewed intention to be present in my own life. Decide to show up and suddenly the world comes back in full and vibrant notes.

Readings: Methylene Blue and Fear Extension, Wet Implants, CRE Rates Rising

Am. Journal of Psychiatry, via Reddit: Effects of Post-Session Administration of Methylene Blue on Fear Extinction and Contextual Memory in Adults With Claustrophobia – “Methylene blue enhances memory and the retention of fear extinction when administered after a successful exposure session but may have a deleterious effect on extinction when administered after an unsuccessful exposure session.”

IB Times: Upgrade Your Brain: Liquid Hard Drive Implants Could Increase Intellect – “Scientists at the University of Michigan realised that digital information could be stored on colloidal clusters after observing them switch between two states – such as the 0s and 1s of traditional bits – when placed in a liquid.” – A lot further off that chip-based implants but perhaps much more viable in the long run.

Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology via Reddit: Rising Rates of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae in Community Hospitals – “The rate of CRE detection increased fivefold in community hospitals in the southeastern United States from 2008 to 2012. Despite this, our estimates are likely underestimates of the true rate of CRE detection, given the low adoption of the carbapenem breakpoints recommended in the 2010 CLSI guidelines.” – CRE is scary, scary stuff. Scarier than MRSA, and from the epidemiology folks I’ve talked to, even scarier than XDR TB.

Readings: Rpi Copy-Paste Warning, Printing Memory on Paper, WSJ Hacked

Reddit/thejh: Beware copy/paste from a web page to the (Raspberry Pi) command lineHadn’t thought of this, but a good point.

CEN: Researchers Print Electronic Memory On Paper – “Electronics printed on paper promise to be cheap, flexible, and recyclable, and could lead to applications such as smart labels on foods and pharmaceuticals or as wearable medical sensors. Many engineers have managed to print transistors and solar cells on paper, but one key component of a smart device has been missing—memory.” – Fantastic step forward and, if the war on ubiquitous computing continues, as much of a game-changer as 3D printing processes are to gun control.

Ars Technica: WSJ website hacked, data offered for sale for 1 bitcoin - “The hacker was offering what he claimed was user information and server access credentials that would allow others to “modify articles, add new content, insert malicious content in any page, add new users, delete users, and so on,” Andrew Komarov, chief executive officer of cybersecurity firm IntelCrawl, told The Wall Street Journal.” – SQLi attack, supposedly. Would be interesting to see the results of malicious content served to WSJ readers. Juicier targets and at the same time likely lower-hanging fruit among them given the likelihood that a financier is well-versed in information security.

One of the Lowly

“Becoming belongs to the heights and is full of torment. How can you become if you never are? Therefore you need your bottommost, since there you are. But therefore you also need your heights, since there you become.

To be that which you are is the bath of rebirth. In the depths, being is not an unconditional persistence but an endlessly slow growth. You think you are standing still like swamp water, but slowly you flow into the sea that covers the earth’s greatest deeps, and is so vast that firm land seems only an island imbedded in the womb of the immeasurable sea.”

Carl Jung, “One Of The Lowly,” Liber Novus/Red Book

Readings: BTK and OpSec, Facebook gets fugitive nabbed, Driverless Car Fearmongering

grugq: Don’t Take OPSEC Advice From the Police – “In his letters to police, Rader asked if his writings, if put on a floppy disk, could be traced or not. The police answered his question in a newspaper ad posted in the Wichita Eagle saying it would be safe to use the disk.” – I knew the serial killer known as “BTK” was caught over data found on a disk he had sent in; had no idea it was after he had apparently asked for and received advice from the police on whether it was traceable. (Also, if you’re interested in operational security and similar issues, grugq’s tumblr is a fantastic trove of information.

Ars Technica: On the lam for decades, fugitive’s Facebook account dooms him – ‘US Attorney Melinda Haag’s office in San Francisco said the 61-year-old fugitive was apprehended “after the US Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security researched social media websites and found Legaspi’s Facebook page. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police used the information to apprehend Legaspi.”‘ – I have no words.

Verge: The FBI is worried driverless cars will be used as bombs

Criminals could use driverless cars to evade law enforcement, shoot cops from the back of the vehicle, and “conduct tasks that require use of both hands or taking one’s eyes off the road which would be impossible today,” according to an internal report obtained by The Guardian. The last concern was outlined in a section called “multitasking.”

Another fear is that criminals will pack a driverless car with explosives and program it to drive itself into a target.


Readings: Cryptolocker Redemption, Third Intel Leaker, WiFi as X-Ray

BBC: Cryptolocker victims to get files back for free – “Now, security firms Fox-IT and FireEye – which aided the effort to shut down the Gameover Zeus group – have created a portal, called Decrypt Cryptolocker, via which any of the 500,000 victims can find out the key to unlock their files.” – Some surprising numbers in there, including the fact that only 1.3% of victims paid up. I would’ve expected it to be higher.

Schneier: The US Intelligence Community has a Third LeakerSchneier has a brief, convincing argument for not just the second leaker being talked about now but a third.

Verge: Robots can use Wi-Fi as X-ray vision – “Their method works by having two autonomous robots make their way around an unknown structure, with one sending a signal off to another. Eventually, the receiver will collect enough data about where the signal is strong and weak to build a two-dimensional picture of what it’s been looking at.” – An interesting idea to come across with the Signal Strength image still in my head. Serious implications for privacy.

Readings: Brazil Gyno Teacher Tests, Open Access Surveillance Oops, Xiaomi Phones Home

Telegraph: Brazil anger over gynaecological tests for teachers – “Women’s rights advocates in Brazil have denounced requirements by the country’s most populous state for prospective female teachers to submit to gynaecological exams or prove their virginity in order to work.” – I have no words.

Forbes: Whoops, Anyone Could Watch California City’s Police Surveillance Cameras – “The cameras used a proprietary mesh protocol to communicate but were not password-protected. Hoffman and Kinsey said that the protocol was fairly easily reverse-engineered and that tapping into the network was then easy, requiring no specialized hardware, and allowing anyone to have a police-eye’s view of the town.” – Police department became aware of the problem, subsequently “secured” the mesh network through WEP encryption…which has been entirely broken for years. This is why we can’t have nice things, Law Enforcement.

TNW: Xiaomi makes its cloud messaging service optional for users following security concerns – “However, a recent report from F-Secure highlighted that the service appears to share a range of information with a server in China — including the device’s IMEI number, customer’s phone number, phone contacts and text messages received. The idea of sharing such data to a server in China, where it could be open to access from the government, naturally raised some concerns, particularly since there was no way to opt out.” – Given that Huawei got blackballed for much less, I wonder if this has closed off the US market to Xiaomi.