Monday, February 8, 2010

QBQ! Chapter Seven: "Why Do We Have to Go Through All This Change?"

Miller, usually known for his brevity--it's hard to be long-winded when you have absolutely nothing to say--takes up three pages here with a ludicrous story about a twelve-year-old girl named Stacey (no indication of who she is or why Miller would be telling, or even would know, her story) whose father is a pilot. They're flying one day, the engine goes out, the father calmly saves the day.

Along the way we get little jewels strewn about (all of them faceted like the QBQ):
Her father understood that new challenges and changing conditions often require different strategies. Conditions change, markets change, people change. What works one day in a given situation does not necessarily work the next. We need to develop a repertoire of responses so we're prepared when our engine unexpectedly quits.
So poetic. Or check out this one:
Stacey...quickly nodded her approval of Dad's plan. (This did not go off to the headquarters for a committee decision--a term that always strikes me as an oxymoron.)
Miller hates discussion and participation, and longs for the rule of an Emperor-God-King. But then we knew that.

So anyway, eventually Miller delivers the moral of the story, and of course now that he's actually attempting to make a point his brevity returns:
When faced with a new situation, Stacey's dad took action and solved the problem. But if he had resisted the change and instead spent his time whining and complaining, having thoughts like "Well, I've never done it that way before!" or asking IQs such as "Why do we have to go through all this change?" things might have turned out much differently.

Are you facing change? Any engines quit in your life lately? If so, ask a better question. Here's one that really works: "How can I adapt to the changing world?
When I first saw that one of his primary "IQs" was "Why do we have to go through all this change?" I thought it was referring to, I don't know, updating computer systems or something. But from the anecdote, and what he says about it, it's clear that what he's actually talking about when he talks about lovechange is layoffs. His story is about going from having what you need to do what you're doing to not having it. Going from having enough people working with you to get your work done to having to do the work of several people for no more pay. Going from having a stable work environment to living in constant fear of losing your job--or actually losing it. Adapt, John G. Miller tells us from the comfort of his luxurious living room, but what he really means is fucking deal with it and settle, you low-class piece of garbage.

Incidental holy shit: I was just scanning the acknowledgments page, where I had noticed earlier there was a list of his seven children (three adopted!) and their names, to make sure that I wasn't missing some kind of weird joke where the father in the story was John G. Miller, and I just noticed that one of them is named "Jazzy." I kid you not. I pray this is a nickname, fear it isn't, and wonder if that would even make it any better anyway. For comparison, the rest of the kids have real names.

QBQ! Table of contents


John G. Miller said...

Poor 12 yr old Jazzy. To be picked on by a faceless angry blogger with nothing to do. Do you hate ALL children, Ethan? John G. Miller, author of QBQ! and dad to Jazzy, a sweet sweet kid

Unknown said...

John! So nice to see you again. Once again, care to respond to the substance of the criticisms in this post? We all pity Jazzy for many reasons other than his (her?) name, but at least if, at any point in the future, little Jazzy encounters some of life's difficulties, Dad's open wallet will be there to help the poor tyke "deal with change" more effectively than those nasty poor people.

JRB said...

I think John G. Miller might be more receptive to engaging our concerns if we remain respectful of him, et al., at least on a personal level.

No one is required to respect what he does, which is apparent. But as far as who he is or what his motivations are, these are things we don't know and would probably do best reserving strong judgment about.

To learn from someone like Mr. Miller is extraordinarily useful, and I think we are lucky to have him as a commentator on Ethan's essays.

I hope he will consider writing more openly and substantively in the future.

Anonymous said...

"omg! the engines are aflame, the rudder is out, visibility is zero, the landing gear is stuck, my ulcer is acting up for some reason, & my daughter is shrieking in terror! should i call in an S.O.S.? NO! that's victim thinking. what better chance to put into practice Miller's QBQ?"

at what point does the shyster stop being a shyster b/c they have totally swallowed their own BS?

is there not a chain of causality that can be & should be interrogated? talk about your magical thinking....

JRB said...

This is another great post, by the way. You really have a talent for this, Ethan. Have you ever considered a lecture circuit to follow every John G. Miller appearance?

Ethan said...

Mr. Miller: I apologize for creating the appearance of attacking your child, which was not my intention. It's just that certain behaviors are stereotypical of wealthy white people, and giving their children names like "Jazzy" is one of them; I found it noteworthy (and, I admit, hilarious) for this reason alone. I could point out that it is typical of your victim-blaming to think that Jazzy is responsible for his or her name, rather than the people who gave it to him or her, but I'm going to attempt to follow JR's excellent advice from now on. So, again: my apologies.