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work smarter

i imagine that most people reading this have already started what would be called their "career". career now doesn't have the same connotation that it used to, given that generations past often stuck with one field of work or even a single job for much of their working life, while the average tenure of an employee in the united states as of 2015 was less than five years. among younger workers [millennials and generation z], the average is more like two years.

either way, the workaday world as we once knew it is changing profoundly: some statistics estimate that 50% of american workers will be employed as freelancers by 2027. human resources contractor randstad says that "agile workers" [freelancers, contract or temporary employees already represent 30% of the canadian workforce. such work sounds like a good deal for all: employers can recruit employees for immediate needs rather than having to commit to a permanent position that might become obsolete within a few years, while employees can have greater control over their hours, the amount and type of work they do, and can get around problems like being too old to be accepted for long-term positions.

the problem is that the groups that are supposed to be seeing the benefits from that system aren't really doing so. large, high-profit businesses are putting many of their jobs out to contractors, which means that there are fewer freelance workers available to the small and medium-sized companies who really can't afford to bring on more full-time employees. and many freelancers find themselves in competition with people who live in parts of the world with far lower wages and standards of living. even in the best case scenarios, they have to work without receiving any of the benefits that are conferred on full-time employees.

i'm a freelance worker because i need to be [i care full-time for a disabled person, which is volunteer work and saves the government over $100,000 per year] and also because it has advantages for me personally. the fact that i enjoy the work and flexibility doesn't make it easy. if i didn't live in a country that had public healthcare and a province that provides a very good pharmacare program, i [and by extension, dom] would be unable to live.

what might be most worrying about job trends, however, is what fields of work are disappearing compared to those that are growing.

here is a list of twenty-five professions that are "dying".

here is a list of the fastest-growing occupations in the united states [by far the developed world's largest job market].

the second list shows a pretty clear split: there are high-paying jobs that require university training [often training that involves multiple degrees] and others that fall below even the low estimate of what constitutes the middle class in america. those qualified to work in the higher paying end of the spectrum start their careers saddled with debt. barack and michelle obama, both exemplary students who were able to defer some university costs through scholarships, only paid off their student debt a few years before they became president and first lady. and they were lucky enough to get good jobs after graduation. start working for a company with toxic politics, or that's extended beyond its means, and you aren't going to be so fortunate.

the first list is notable because so many of the jobs listed [travel agent, mortgage broker, bookkeeper, lawyer, broadcaster, journalist, middle manager, i.t. professional, financial manager, postal worker, textile machine operator, furniture finisher, print technician, routine architect] are solid, middle-class jobs that people could get with relatively little education. some required college while others required certification that could often be gained while working a lower-level job at a company in the field. my grandfather had barely a high school education and was looking at the very real possibility of killing his lungs in the coal mine [also a dying middle-class profession but one with significant dangers] but ended up working as a print technician. both my parents were able to launch themselves on successful middle-class careers having established themselves as journalists. neither of them was held in check by student debt. [due to their gaining scholarships, but also in large part to the fact that university education was heavily subsidized in canada. it still is, although not to the extent that it was at that time.]

i'm not bemoaning the losses of specific jobs, at least not all of them: i myself have benefitted from the availability of cheaper digital book presses and i have always been more comfortable booking my own travel. what i am bemoaning is the lack of value placed on other jobs in their wake. university has not gotten more accessible- quite the opposite- but it has gotten more important for maintaining the life that many of us were lucky enough to grow up with, or to build on what past generations have done. what's killed off is either the middle class, social mobility, or both. [it's arguable that social mobility was always extremely limited but this is getting worse.]

however, amidst all the bad news, i can't help but see a small ray of light, one that seems to be ignored by certain administrations: look at the first two of the fastest-growing jobs and you'll see that they are both related to jobs in renewable energy. several others are in the oil and gas industry, however, it's interesting to me that the phenomenal percentage growth [albeit from a lower base] far outpaces any others. both are jobs that are accessible to non-university educated workers. both pay a middle-class salary. it seems that there is still a path to the middle class. so if you're not convinced that a move to green energy is necessary in order to save the world, consider the fact that it may be necessary to save the western capitalist dream. 


as long as you're here, why not read more?

presidenting is hard :: nato

oh donald, i've been slacking on my promise to help you out with your duties as president. [yes, you may take a moment to giggle at the word "duties". but make it quick.]

it's not because i think you don't need the support; you are every bit as ignorant and inept as i'd feared/ expected and the erstwhile presence of "adults in the room" hasn't made you any better. it's just as well that you've dispatched of them. you weren't listening to what they said 95% of the time and on those few occasions when you did try to listen, you didn't understand what they were saying. increasingly, we're getting to see you for the complete intellectual non-entity you are and to see how someone who knows nothing about history, geography, culture or military tactics addresses the challenges of foreign policy.

the latest development on that front is that i've heard that you're planning on leaving nato. we all know that you've never be…

making faces :: written in the stars, in lipstick [part three]

and lo the earth has completed another journey 'round the sun, passing through all of the signs of the zodiac. well, in lipstick terms, it won't have completed its journey until later this month when it moves from capricorn to aquarius, which is where bite beauty chose to start its turn of the wheel last year. i still feel a little unnerved that they followed the calendar rather than the astrological year [which would have meant starting their astrology collection in march with the sign of aries] but i suspect that that's because their financials also follow the calendar.

after some truly infuriating times early in the calendar and collection year, bite was able to get their inventory issues sorted, which means that all four of the lipsticks reviewed here are still available through bite's website, sephora, or both. hallelujah.

i have some thoughts on the overall collection that i'll share afterwards, but let's just get started on the final four shades of the …

making faces :: written in the stars, in lipstick [part two]

it's the middle of september already? i'm not prepared for that? i mean, i am prepared for it because the heat this summer has been murder on me and i've been begging for a reprieve for months but i'm still bowled over by the speed at which time passes. this year, i've been measuring time through the launches of bite beauty's astrology collection, which arrives like the full moon once a month. [the full moon arrives every four weeks, which is less than any month except february -ed.] earlier this year, i took a look at the first four launches of the collection and already it's time to catch up with four more.

the most important thing for you to know is that after several months of problems, bite and sephora appear to have sorted out their inventory planning. for the last several releases, information has been clear and reliable as to when and where each lipstick will be available [pre-orders taken for a couple of days on bite's own website and a general…