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Competition Redux!

The Laundry HR competition is now closed, and I have some winners to announce!

I make no apologies for this announcement being a couple of days late. There were a lot of entries, and while some of them were easily eliminated, others were much harder to wrap my head around. How, for example, do I judge the epic multi-author thread, amounting to a story in its own right, that started here and sucked in half the next 200-odd comments?

Administrative note: I am still waiting to receive a postal address for:

Nils Bruckner, Grant Privett, Mark Draughn, and the entities known as rk.radiohill, BigJay2K

(I can't mail you prizes if I don't know where to send them! Please email me!)

Also, there's just one of me and after reading 500+ entries my brain kind of melted. Trying to pick ten winners out of that many entries is hard work. So I used my initiative to throw a bunch of what I considered noteworthy entries—about 30-50 in all—at my long-suffering editor and marketing person at Orbit to see if they could help, especially in light of their experiences of meetings with HR being much more recent than mine. What follows is therefore mostly my fault, but with an [in-]sanity check by others (who shall remain nameless, both to spare the guilty and to reduce the risk of gibbering apprehension and dread among the readers of this announcement). I'm also favouring those who got their entries in first: it's always hardest to come up with an idea when working in a partial vacuum, so I'm rewarding the folks who shouted into the void first.

Note: Publishing folks aren't generally software startup veterans, so Haskell type system jokes tend to fall flat. I have therefore exercised my whim of steel to pick a couple of hardcore techie-only entries.

What follows is an unadorned list of 12 (rather than the original planned 10) winning entries. The first five will get signed copies of "The Rhesus Chart" by mail; the others will get ... something or other, via Zazzle. (I'll work it out when I recover from judging the entries.) If you're the author of one of these squibs, please send me an email via this link with the subject "competition" (and your username on this blog) so I can get in touch about where to send your prize!




The winners for the Laundry's worst workplace disciplinary problems follow below:


  1. koprivicamarko

[CENSORED]'s manager failed to realize that the employee in question took a day off from work for their grandmother's funeral on 13 different occasions.

Grandmother finally neutralized after a pitched battle with [CENSORED].

  1. rk.radiohill

Unacceptable number of bees.

  1. Anaxagoras

Upon review of security footage, former mainframe technician Galvin Galbraith was discovered to in fact be a chicken under a Class 4 Glamour. Mr. Galbraith was instructed to report to the commissary for debriefing.

  1. windypundit

"Two Girls One Cup" is NOT surveillance video of a demonic entity exchange between possessed persons. Please stop telling the new employees that they have to watch it as "training." It wasn't funny the first time.

  1. BigJay2k

The "Abyss Staring Contest" posted in the break room last week has been cancelled. Any attempt to reschedule it will result in offender(s) being reassigned to "Human Resources" staffing.




And now for some runners-up who I judged to be just slightly too meta, technically involute, recondite, or just downright squid-in-mouth to hit the same laugh-out-loud sweet spot, but whose sterling service to Human Resources horror stories will be memorialized in the shape of an official Laundry health and safety (or Magic Circle of Safety public information awareness) mug:




  1. danoot:

Stored a small but inconveniently curious extradimensional entity in the bitcoin blockchain.

  1. FaustHDr

At this point (159 comments so far) the management would like to remind staff, that copying one's own or co-worker's workplace disciplinary problems, then posting it on a public accessible blog in order to win trivial merchandise in a competition organized by a so-called author, who seems to know just a little bit too much, is not an appropriate use of time and resources.

  1. Jay

BILLION CORPSES is not an acceptable project codename. Please choose a less accurate one.

  1. flippac

Proposed a variant of Roko's Basilisk on LessWrong which induced a number of members to knowingly form a cult. Said cult attempted to perform a summoning to engage in acausal computing. All known members have subsequently been institutionalised after their ritual merely left a mysterious glyph behind that appears to read "YHBT".

  1. Ian Mackenzie

Appeal denied.

The tribunal strongly reaffirms its previous ruling that screaming "Fuck! Nyarlathotep! Run!" at a departmental SportsBall game without an objectively valid reason to do so is in violation of laundry policy not only due to Naming an Old One, but also inciting unnecessary panic. Even if your side is losing.

The Auditors want it emphasised that anyone found responsible for causing an objectively valid reason to scream "Fuck! Nyarlathotep! Run!" - whether or not at a SportsBall game - will receive their intense and hostile attention.

  1. Grant

[REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED]. [REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED], [REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED][REDACTED].

This is your final formal warning.

  1. Randolph Carter

Strategically arranging Residual Human Resources on sidewalks so the Google Street View vehicle mounted cameras pass by and record "the world's largest lemon party" is unacceptable.

Additionally, the Liaison Officer from the Black Chamber reports that Google has purged the related images from all of their servers and backups.




Final repetition: if you're the author of one of these squibs, please send me an email via this link with the subject "competition" (and your username on this blog) so I can get in touch about where to send your prize!

42 Comments

1:

Email sent.

Again, thanks!

2:

Curiously, Harvard Law School's collection of Oliver Wendell Holmes's papers include early drafts of his opinion for Schenck v. United States which include the phrase "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting 'Fuck! Nyarlathotep! Run!' in a theater and causing a panic." Rumor has it that Herbert Yardley, who founded the Black Chamber in the same year the opinion was published, prevailed on him to change the example threat to something more mundane.

3:

Email not received. (Are you sure you sent it to the right address?)

4:

Reasonably certain it was the correct address. It looked correct...

Just for giggles, I forwarded it to you again.

Both attempts were with my Yahoo webmail account, I'll follow up with Thunderbird and a different account.

Ah, technology again making my life easier...

5:

I hope you enjoyed the Amy story, at least; I wouldn't know how to judge it either.

6:

Email sent.

Also, woohooo!

7:

Congrats to all the winners!

8:

I think my mistake was not realising it was supposed to be fiction.

9:

Well, this is very pleasant news to receive! I'll send the email out in the morning. Congrats to the other winners; I really liked the Grandmother one.

10:

Email Sent.

Thank You and congratulations to all winners.

11:

Heh, I'm just happy the break room fridge is finally going to get replaced. :D

12:

Congrats to all the winners! I had a lot of fun reading them, and trying to come up with some entries myself.

Hope you run something similar in future!

13:

Heh, I'm just happy the break room fridge is finally going to get replaced. :D

Yeah, lost equipment replacement forms are standard. You can get them from Amy.

14:

I would have given top place to

BILLION CORPSES is not an acceptable project codename. Please choose a less accurate one.

That just broke me up.

15:

I've sent the email with my information. Let me know if it didn't come through.

16:

Congrats to everyone, had a great time reading all the entries. I'd just finished a re-read of *Angelmaker*, so
rk.radiohill's entry really cracked me up. Hats off to all involved, and the best beings won.

17:

I'm now wondering what an acceptable amount of bees is.

18:

Rather worryingly, I actually had backstory for the paperclip chain entry. Still, I guess I can cope with ducking LWers on IRC for a while!

Many thanks to Charlie both for helping keep me entertained through an otherwise crappy few weeks and for making some effort to save the irredeemably techie among us. And to everyone else who posted - it's been a much-needed good laugh.

19:

Oh, and I should probably confess: not only am I not a startup veteran, I've never been paid to write code in my life! Just don't ask about the time a kernel hacker mistook me for a fellow kernel hacker...

20:

>BILLION CORPSES is not an acceptable project codename. Please choose a less accurate one.
That just broke me up.

On codenames, I thought highly of #187: "It is difficult to take a threat to reality seriously when it has been classified THROBBING SHAFT. Please remove those words from the random codename generator." But it can't top BILLION CORPSES and the explanation.

Then there's #48: "Used Langford Fractal Parrot as a Livejournal user icon..."

21:

Pardon the awful digital handwriting, combining bad handwriting with the use of a video game controller as a mouse does not do well, but I figured I'd give it a shot because it amuses me every time I read it.

Unacceptable number of bees.

22:

I think an approriate reward/punishment for the multi-author "Amy" thread is Tuckerisation the next time you need a list of casualties in a Laundry book.

23:

I like the hearing being scheduled for Friday, at 4:53 PM. My guess is that HR doesn't anticipate a long hearing :)

24:

The bees one is unimprovable.

25:

Email sent on Sunday.

26:

ADMIN NOTE

Today I was offline due to being at a wedding instead of hanging out on the internet. I've received most of the contact details now. Tomorrow I'll collate them, make sure I've heard from everyone, and get stuff sent out. It may take up to 10 days to arrive with some of you (trans-Atlantic air mail takes a working week, and there's some lead time on stuff I need to order in first). If you're one of the winners, keep watching the skies, in other words.

27:

My experience of disciplinary hearings is that they're arranged for a Monday and you get told about them on a Friday, so you have all weekend to fret and three sleepless nights to soften you up.

28:

"Keep watching the skies" - now I'm worried.

29:

This was one of my favorites:

Employees are reminded that the book "A New Kind of Science" has been added to the destroy-immediately list created subsequent to incident ETERNAL GOLDEN BRAID. Said book actually describes a very old kind of science.

Disciplinary action in this instance is redundant. Funeral and welcoming party to be held next Monday.

30:

Administrative note: I am still waiting to receive a postal address for:

Nils Bruckner,
Grant Privett,
Mark Draughn,
and the entities known as
rk.radiohill
BigJay2K

(I can't mail you prizes if I don't know where to send them! Please email me!)

Once I get addresses for BigJay2K and rk.radiohill, the winners' signed hardcovers will go in the mail (or next Monday at the latest, if I don't hear back from them first).

The runners-up are all due to get ceramic "Magic Circle of Safety" coffee mugs -- but these take 1-2 weeks to manufacture and deliver to me, so they'll get sent out later in the month.

31:

Can I ask for a T shirt to be done ?
Surely I'm not the only one to want this ?

Black t

Saying :
CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN (in green obv)
When
The Tentacle
Hits
The Pentacle

on the front in regulation HM GOVT font.

OK a bit of dicking around to make it work (CNG bit especially )
but that would be fantastic.

32:

Aaaccckkk! Many humble apologies for the delay...work, work, and more work! Glad I thought to check back on the updates.

Email sent (included proper handling instructions for USPS deliveries involving "Things Man Was Not Meant to Know", just in case...last thing I want is a real-life Laundry situation with a Postal Inspector, black bag over my head, and a Shoggoth down my pants!); added reminder to check mail more often.

Honored to be recognized, but still think there were superior entries. May just be my inferiority complex swelling up again (need more meds). Can't wait to start in on the new book.

As always: "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" and keep watching the stars!

33:

Want! Want! Want! *drool* (repeat ad nauseum)

34:

Eh, if we're talking merch I'd love a "count the cows" t-shirt with artwork? I suspect such things are a PITA to organise though.

35:

The disciplinary meeting isn't scheduled for 4:53 on Friday afternoon. That's when the alleged infraction is alleged to have occurred.

36:

Terrific contest, thanks to everyone who contributed - lots of laugh out loud entries, and a few groaners. For next year, how about: 'corporate best practices: firing the client from hell'?

37:

In case he's still looking:

Charles,
Wanted to confirm you had received my physical address email...if not I can resend it. Will follow up via email as well.

Brain. Melting.

38:

I know it's been a while since this ended, so within a conventional understanding of time there's no way it's at all related, but when I tried to go to work this afternoon my car was covered in bees. It was the only one in the parking lot covered, and there were like 50 of them.

39:

...when I tried to go to work this afternoon my car was covered in bees. It was the only one in the parking lot covered, and there were like 50 of them.

But is that an unacceptable number of them?

The next memo might read: Painting your briefcase "nightmare green" is not as amusing as you think.

40:

if ($Car.size > LookUpType("Smart").size)
$AcceptableNumberofBees = true;
else
$AcceptableNumberofBees = false;
}


41:

dammit it won;t compile - missing { at line 1

42:

I think it was: I was too scared to get in the car, and had to get my partner to help. She, apparently, decided that it wasn't, and braved the bees to get into the car. She then drove it around to shake them off. (My plan if she agreed that it was too many was to call out of work on the grounds of excessive bees.)

I parked somewhere else when I got home, and there were bees (and a lot of flies) on my car this morning, but few enough that I was able to skittishly charge into my car -- so, I think the distinction is, in this case, meaningful.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 12, 2014 3:00 PM.

Some rambling thoughts on region restrictions was the previous entry in this blog.

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