Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
2008.08.15 : Show Me The Money
Dredging the Barrel of Suck

Yesterday I went on a bit of a Suck.com nostalgia trip. Since I'm the very modest and unassuming fellow that I am, I declined to make any mention of the fact that I myself was published in Suck once or twice back in the day. Even if I had done, I probably would have further declined to note that, in getting published in Suck once or twice, I actually had to write five or six pieces. (I had the bad fortune of having my first submission accepted straight away. "Hey," I thought, totally erroneously, "this shit is easy!")

Remembering my then-position that some of my rejected pieces were actually entirely decent, I had a poke around looking for them. What follows is the only one I was able to find (in ten minutes). So, here it is, belatedly, for posterity. (I was told by someone I respect that my published ones aged pretty well. I think perhaps this one does too, even if it is a bit of a period piece, and if I do say so myself.)

"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for October? 1998? maybe?

Show Me The Money

The results of the Fourth Annual Webmaster Survey are in.

Jesus Christ, have we been getting paid to do this shit for four years now?!

The most passed-around issue all year of Internet World Magazine (formerly, and more sonorously, WebWeek) is the Webmaster Survey – otherwise known as the Webmaster Salary Survey. This pointed polling of a few dozen Fortune 500 head webheads was one of the first opportunities for html jockeys to do any real benchmarking in "the industry." Before these puppies started appearing back in 1995 you had different guys on the same discussion lists building web sites as a thankless add-on to their $22K administrative jobs, and others getting $100/hour to write basic html (before everyone found out html is, basically, WordPerfect codes). As soon as the first hard numbers were available, you can bet those outrageous salary disparities disappeared faster than the blink tag at a W3C working group meeting, as webmasters around the country went sauntering into their boss' offices, color laser-printed pie charts in hand.

Suddenly, there were dollar signs in the character entities table – and everyone wanted to be shown some muy pronto.

If love of money is the root of all evil, and the lottery is, as they say, a tax on people with poor math skills, should we despise lottery players (and in particular lottery winners) for their avarice – or for their witlessness? Mmm, so many grounds for smug self-satisfaction, so little time. In any case, it's plenty clear that there is a whole lot of this sort of love going 'round. People smell easy money in the air, and, like blood in the water, that scent carries farther than you might think. So over the border come the Powerball Huns, presumably all entertaining the notion that high stakes make a long odds game worth playing. We wish the lottery players all the luck in the world, which needless to say won't be nearly enough.

Of course, there's gambling, and then there's gambling. Some of the tables just have the odds stacked in favor of the players. With a long investment horizon and an itchy eTrade mouse-button finger, your patient and sensible aspiring retiree can pretty much count on earning a juicy 12% or more annually on whatever he can bring himself to set aside – and not to even mention the storied magic of compounding. ("Gee, do I really need the $400 stereo component – or would I rather have $116,000 at retirement time? The stereo component, or two years off? Mmm….") For these reasons and more, 401K bingo has been the lucrative favorite crap shoot of middle America for some time now. And, speaking of long investment horizons, the most interesting recent twist on this venerable Wall Street action is that it has suddenly and unexpectedly become a young person's game. Our buddies at Salon have expended a fair bit of ink sucking the dicks of twenty-something investors, or so-called "baby bulls." With Salon and Stim both pandering to it, you just know it's got to be its own demographic.

While normally we've never met a trend story we didn't long to deflate, simple internal observation seems to bear this one up: We and everyone we know are socking it away just as fast as we can match employer contributions. Why all this frugality and foresight on the part of the nation's youth? Simple: We, as a loosely defined "generation," appear to have extremely limited interest in busting ass as cubicle-tethered automatons for an ungrateful Man for the next forty long years. Fuck all that. Or, as Silicon Alley brawler Andre LaPlume recently and unforgettably noted, "I didn't bust my ass for over 14 months to see it all go down in flames. I need to retire. I'm 31 years old."

To be fair, the appeal of making quick bank has been in force for a while, pretty much ever since the Conquistadors figured it would be easier to cross an entire ocean and grab somebody else's gold, than to earn their own. We've been fixated on this quest for obscene wealth for so long that it cries out for some penetrating explanation. One theory – which we lovingly refer to as the "belying the futility of existence" hypothesis – holds that getting ahead seems like such a great idea because, well, frankly, you can. In almost all areas of life – getting in shape, developing nice relationships with your family, achieving internal equanimity – you can get there; but holding the ground means continuing to work at it (and usually work hard at it) just about every day of your life forever. Backsliding is the most conspicuous motion in the sublunary dance. On the other hand, ever since the advent of symbolic money – and particularly in a free country with a thriving economy – it really has become possible to earn a bunch of money once, put the whole wad in nice safe Treasury issues, and never have to fuck with it ever again. Finally, one less thing (i.e. starvation) to worry about.

As the man has sagely noted: "More is more. Less is less. Twice as much is good, too. Not enough is bad, and enough is never enough unless it's just right." All we could possibly add to that is a hearty "Amen," a reminder to keep your salary survey out where your boss can't miss it – and of course our constant and by-now-grating admonition to cash out early and often. God willing, we'll see you in line at the bank.

Courtesy of Mr. Fuches

  humour     web dev     writing     suck.com  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
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