My remarks about “How to hire a programmer when you’re not a programmer”

Matt from Signal vs. Noise in “How to hire a programmer when you’re not a programmer” writes:

Jeff said, “When people have strong opinions about things — when they can talk at length about something — it’s a good indication that they’re passionate about it.”

SM100-SThe implication here is that being bold and opinionated is a “good” thing. But let’s sprinkle some subconscious racism on this: one man’s passionate opinion is another sub-human’s crazed raving that needs to be subdued with a net and a stun gun. The American business culture that I have experienced over the last couple decades is often preoccupied with general-purpose obedience—not general-purpose programming languages. So—unlike many elite programming environments—the rest of us have to deal with insecure cowards who can often feel (subconsciously) ashamed/threatened when faced with a passionate programmer. Some “team leaders” I’ve met (and left) in the past would have me feel passionate about them (and their f’ed up problems from bad strategy and negligence)—like how Morgan Freeman’s character in too many Hollywood movies is heaping massive amounts of attention on the lead male actor of non-color. I am quite aware that what I am writing here is difficult to “prove” so just write this off as another sub-human’s crazed raving that needs to be subdued with a net and a stun gun.

When Matt moves into “How much do they contribute to open source projects?” and “How much do they enjoy programming?”—these behaviors can also be regarded by cheap bastards calling themselves managers as a programmer being “selfish” or not doing “our” work.

The question “Do they actually ship?” can easily mistakenly imply that the programmer is in control of (or, at least, significantly influential on) the entire development process—which, again, implies we are talking about an elite programmer here. An elite programmer should not have to be in the position of talking only to a non-technical hiring manager.

“What have they mastered?” is a great question and I look forward to being investigated in this regard. But remember I’m talking about the non-narcotic subject of racism here (and I’m including racist positions held by people “of color” imposed on other “people of color”—so let’s not get into any cartoon drawings of how 1970s U.S. television dramas portrayed racism). When you are operating under subconscious racist guidance you would never ask or even think about where my mastery is located. Racist acts are often non-acts—it is often what is not done that is racist—not what is actively and consciously done.

Another wonderful chess move that I’ve encountered in the past is to actually demonize mastery and dismiss it as useless. Say, for example, my mastery of HTTP Handlers and XSLT is recognized. This skill can easily be dismissed as useless by a hiring manager looking for a person that works with ASP.NET Web Forms. Microsoft invented Web Forms as a dumbed-down way to build Web applications. Working with HTTP Handlers is far more difficult. So what: they’re looking for a Web Forms guy—and apparently I’ve “wasted” my time with HTTP Handlers (until, of course, ASP.NET MVC comes out…).

The “How well do they communicate?” bit is, I find, very subjective. I’ve spent most of my adult life in relationship stalemates. The first time I ran into a “communication problem” was when I wrote a college paper for some non-technical subject where I was accused of “padding”—you see you are padding when you stop to explain to your audience before you get to the heart of the matter. You can also be accused of alienating your audience by not “padding.” Apparently, I fail to understand my audience the older I get. So let’s back to racism (including racists of all skin colors): when your audience expects you to leap from your office chair and drive a spear through their heart they don’t really have time to listen to what you are saying.

Now some “passionate” points:

  • Everyone operates on prejudice—especially lazy-ass Americans of all skin colors because prejudice is simply easier. Few are concerned with justice. What’s essential is to ‘embrace’ prejudice and understand the style of prejudice you are encountering. Too often I find people who are ‘eager’ to misunderstand me—and this ‘eagerness’ comes from overwhelming expectations that are often beyond their control—and these overwhelming expectations fuel the engine driving prejudice.

  • I will never tire of repeating this: racism is not a specialized, minor defect in a person/institution. It is an indicator of the level of active intelligence and engaged imagination across the whole organization.

  • It is easy to mistake racism for childish cliquish behavior. Political power players in any organization of any shade of melanin will exploit The Law of Crappy People.

  • Do not waste your time in a struggle to convince another person that what they take so seriously is a bunch of bullshit. Respect yourself. Look with courage into why you may be “unloved” by people you assume are capable of actually “loving.”### Related Links

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