91 year-old has “great work ethic,” says governor turned celebrity


Work: We all have to do it, except for rich people, who don’t. Even those people do a kind of work, though, by stewarding their family fortunes and encouraging the rest of us to cultivate strong work ethics. Sarah Palin participated in that second kind of work today, when she shared this story from usa.sarahpalinnews.com. I wish there were a news site that had my name and the name of my country right in the URL, but that’s beside the point. The point, in the words of USA Sarah Palin News, is INCREDIBLE! You’ve Got to See This 91 Year-Old’s Attitude About Working, It’s Perfect.

Elena Griffing is a patient relations coordinator at the Sutter Health Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley. At age 91, she’s been working there 71 years—ever since she came in with a hemoglobin disorder at 19 and stayed four months, until a lab technician told her to “get to work.” She took a job as a secretary and has been at SHAB Summit ever since. In all that time, she’s only taken four sick days. It’s an inspiring story, especially if you are a human brand who went from local newscasting to executive government to vaguely monetized celebrity. If you are a person who has been working in medical billing for 40 years, on the other hand, it’s a glimpse of a nightmare from which you might never awake.

USA Sarah Palin News describes only taking four sick days in 71 years as the “perfect” attitude toward work. Perfect for whom? If you run a hospital, that’s exactly what you want from your workers. But if you work in the hospital, one day off for illness every 18 years does not describe your ideal working life. Yet the Yahoo piece from which this article was aggregated frames the relationship between Griffing and her employer in terms of ethical obligations on her side and her side only. Here’s the lede for their recurring feature, called Lifers:

In current culture, millennials move from job to job in order to climb the ladder. The average time spent at a company is just two years. For baby boomers and other generations, this was not the norm. Loyalty and dedication to a single company or career drove, and still drives, many of their careers.

Damn you, current culture! Another way to look at the statistical differences in employment length between millennials and baby boomers is in terms of what employers are offering. Compared to older generations, millennials are much less likely to find jobs that offer benefits or even a living wage. You can see their propensity to move from job to job as a failure of “loyalty and dedication to a single company,” or you can read it as a failure of those companies to give them reasons to stay. Millennials change jobs because the jobs available to them suck. Maybe that’s because nice old ladies refuse to retire, perhaps because the same economy that forces young people to move from job to job also forces older people to work until they’re dead.

But that would require us to think that businesses owe something to their workers. Businesses owe nothing to anyone; their sole obligation is to make money, and the rest of us should thank them for what jobs they create in the process. USA Sarah Palin News skirts the question of why Griffing didn’t work for the same company for five decades instead of seven and then enjoy a posh retirement. Instead, they hit us with some statistics about how unreliable millennials are. Quote:

According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, American workers often changed their employment after just 4.2 years, but one 91-year-old woman looks to blow that average out of the water as she is celebrating 71 years working for the same company. The employee tenure saw a noticeable difference between age groups, with workers ages 25 to 34 years staying with the same company for 2.8 years, workers ages 55 to 64 stayed 10.1 years on average.

Yeah, it is bullshit that the average 25 year-old hasn’t been working at the same company since they were fifteen. It’s a rare editor who looks at these numbers and does not point out that people who have been working four times as long stayed with their companies, on average, four times as long. That’s the kind of ace USA Sarah Palin News is hiring, though, and I assume they’re getting great pension plans.

Teens think Google is cool, Google reports

A typical teen between the ages of 25 and 40

Good news for brands: Google has released a comprehensive guide to what teens think is cool. Perhaps you’ve heard of Generation Z, the cadre of Americans younger than Millennials who will apparently be this country’s last generation. There are about 60 million of these 13 to 17 year-olds, and they spend $44 billion annually. “But it could be close to $200 billion annually when you factor in their influences on parental and household purchases,” Google’s new Coolbook assures us. It’s called It’s Lit: a guide to what teens think is cool, and it is every bit as edgy, disruptive and authentic as that title suggests. I quote page two:

Gen Z has an enlightened definition of what it means to be cool. Teens feel that being cool is about just being yourself, embracing what you love, rejecting what you don’t, and just being kind to others. The activities they think are cool reflect their generational struggle between technology and RL (real life.)

You know you’ve hit on a useful definition of cool when it contains the word “just” twice. Terrifying chart after the jump.

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US millennials far below average in literacy, numeracy, problem-solving



The nonprofit Educational Testing Service has released the results of its 2012 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies among millennials, and the United States appears to be in trouble. American millennials ranked dead last in numeracy, behind Poland and the Slovak Republic in literacy, and second-to-last in “problem solving in technology-rich environments.” That third category finally gives the lie to “at least they know how to use computers.” It appears that American millennials don’t know how to do much of anything, despite achieving higher overall levels of education than any generation in history. Wrestling with declinism after the jump.

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On the usage of ugh


Because not enough forces in my life push me toward failure, I recently downloaded the new version of Words With Friends, which includes a Word of the Day feature. Yesterday’s word was ugh. Before we embrace despair, let’s remember that two- and three-letter words play well in a Scrabble- scrambled letter-type game. If the word of the day were “caprophagy,” it would not quite constitute a feature. Besides, short words lead more interesting lives. When I sedulously compared the Words With Friends definition of ugh to the one in my Oxford American Dictionary, I learned it was not the word I thought it was.

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Meghan McCain triumphantly returns to television


Meghan McCain has overcome setbacks in her life—her father not being President, her increasing resemblance to the animatronic mask Arnold Schwarzenegger wears in Total Recall—but those setbacks have only made her stronger. Now, her political acumen and magnetic personality nepotism has earned her a talk/reality show on Pivot, the network for millennials. Somehow, she has named it Raising McCain, a title that encourages even viewers her own age to think of her as someone’s kid. But maybe that’s the point. Besides setting up Paul Begala, Me-Mac has contributed exactly zero ideas to American discourse. From a certain uncharitable perspective, she embodies the confidence of a generation. As Daniel D’Addario complains in Salon, her insistence that she is a pundit “is the hauteur that only a millennial could possibly possess.”

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