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Journal: Piketty is sort of a modern false prophet

Journal by smitty_one_each

The book that is all the rage on the left is a dense economic tome called Capital in the 21st Century by a French and Marxist economics professor called Thomas Piketty. It epitomizes cargo cult economics well blended with the vice of greed and a disregard for the whole "thou shalt not covet" thing that somebody important once warned us about. It also has a lot of formulas and charts and graphs that make it really compelling the the crowd.

Ah, the zombie lies of Marx.

The Military

Journal: MOONOFALABAMA is being DDOSed Off the Net Right Now 4

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

Here's the top entry, which is being blasted.

There are some things they really DON'T want you to read.


April 20, 2014

Ukraine: The Bloody Eastern Escalation

Graham Phillips is a British freelance journalist living in Ukraine. These are tweets by him during the last three hours. The last one just 15 minutes ago.

This is very bad news. The OSCE had reported that Pravyi Sektor paramilitaries were moving to the eastern Donbass region. It looks like they have arrived.

It seems the U.S. neocons found out that they can not have the Ukraine and are responding like they always do. "Can't have it? Will destroy it!"

This is likely the beginning of an intense civil war in Ukraine. One that is sure to draw external powers into it. Let us not forget who started this. The EU made an "offer" to Yanukovich which could not accept without destroying the Ukrainian economy, especially the eastern industries. When he rejected the "offer" a "color revolution" was instigated in Kiev and the democratically elected Yanukovich was removed by force. The new coup government, a mixture of oligarchs and western Ukrainian fascists, wants to suppress the Russian affine eastern Ukraine. The east responded by calling for greater regional autonomy.

It seems it will now have to fight for such.

Easter is the highest holiday in the Orthodox believe prevalent in eastern Ukraine. Today's killings will therefore reverb deeply in the soul of the people living there. Some people will surely feel the need to "actively" respond to this incident which again guarantees even further escalation. Do not expect any "western" politician to step back from this and to call on the coup government in Kiev to calm things down. We will rather likely see more bellicosity towards Russia and the people it supports.

Posted by b at 05:24 AM

| Comments (121)

User Journal

Journal: Why I hate "business developers", part 1 2

Journal by Bill Dog

That is, "business developers" in contrast to "software engineers".

I'm at a place with them now, since returning to work after the Great Recession. (And I fear that I might be working with them, when I can find work at all that is, from now on.) I worked with them at my 2nd startup during the dotcom boom (a VB shop). During my time there I once overheard some of the senior developers talking amongst themselves and making fun of C/C++ devs for being nerds, and how in constrast they're "passionate about solving business problems", and not wanting to "get bogged down in the technology". I saw that again in the "about me" section of someone's blog years later, so I suspect it's an actual culture, that I've only bumped into a couple of times in my career so far.

They call themselves "developers", not "programmers". One person at my current shop felt the need to say out loud to the group once that she is definitely not a nerd. I concur. She's a mommie, not a technologist.

They talk about watching sports, and getting blitzed on beer. These aren't kids, some of them are early 50's, so they're not "bro-grammers", they're not the Jersey Shore of developers, they were just probably frat boys in college in their time. They're normals, not nerds They have zero awkwardness in speaking (they make BHO look like a stumbling, bumbling imbecile, in comparison, which he certainly is not), and always know what to do given the social situation.

They generally graduate with IS or MIS degrees as opposed to CS degrees. Or they get a CS degree but at one of the colleges in California's lower tier university system. Like I did*, but unlike me, they generally had to rely on a circle of friends/classmates to help them get through it. You couldn't help but notice these people; they were like wildebeests, always in proximity to their herd, for protection from carnivorous technical coursework trying to overwhelm and weed out the unfit.

*I transferered out of the upper tier system because I didn't want to pay that much/couldn't afford to (running up college debt wasn't what we did back then) . And I didn't want to work that hard, at that point in my life, since my thinking then was it was just to acquire the stupid token piece of paper to finally start my career and stuff of actual importance. (I don't totally agree with that now.)

I remember a classmate who I worked briefly with on a project I think in senior year. (At that school, sometimes larger programming projects were where you could optionally pair up with someone on it. But I never did, thinking that I'm going to have to be able to do this on my own in the real world. But some analysis & documentation assignments were sometimes mandatory pair or group assignments.) He was not a geek/nerd/pinhead/intellectual. He dressed well, spoke well, was smooth, he could be a CEO by now.

Now some people want to do something with computers in their career, not on computers. And that's fine, but they should go into QA or documentation on the way to management or whatever. For things like programmer, sysadmin, network admin, and DBA, that require real technical commitment to nerdy stuff to be able to excel at, the rest of us would appreciate if they'd stay away from those. So we can get our jobs done.

And some apparently have settled on working on computers, maybe giving up the aspirations of ever becoming a suit, but don't want to get too involved with them. A hybrid suit/developer, but 67/33 suit/programmer.

So you get what I have where I'm currently at. Managers love these people because they look and act and talk well, just like them. I hate them because I have to work with them, and on the code that they write (topics of part 2). So it's occurred to me, I'm not just a little out of place, I'm actually in a sense underemployed right now. Not as severely as if I was flipping burgers right now, but still.

In pay and also in what I can do. So I'll probably start looking in another year or so. There's a few more books I want to read to get myself at what I perceive to be a good foundation in this newer (to me) stuff I'm doing. The environment of the business developer has actually been a good place to start, as simplicity and just straightforward grunt it out coding is the rule, so it's good for someone coming up to speed in different tech for a somewhat career shift.

But like I said, since I'm doing web development in a managed language now, vice desktop development in lower-level more hard-core languages before, I fear that I'll never be working with what I consider to be my peers anymore.

Somehow, ideally, I need to find a C# shop where the propensity of them came from a C++ background and not just from Visual BASIC. And where they're not afraid of just a sprinkling of design patterns, and actual software engineering concerns like SOLID, DRY, and (gasp) OWASP. I need to think about a way of determining in an interview what kind of shop it is, without giving it away and offending in my question. (Any suggestions?)

The Matrix

Journal: What's the Difference? 7

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius
What's the Difference Between Fascism, Communism and Crony-Capitalism? Nothing (April 16, 2014)

The essence of crony-capitalism is the merger of state and corporate power--the definition of fascism.

When it comes to the real world, the difference between fascism, communism and crony-capitalism is semantic. Let's start with everyone's favorite hot-word, fascism, which Italian dictator Benito Mussolini defined as "the merger of state and corporate power." In other words, the state and corporate cartels are one system.

Real-world communism, for example as practiced in the People's Republic of China, boils down to protecting a thoroughly corrupt elite and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The state prohibits anything that threatens the profits (and bribes) of SOEs--for example, taxi-apps that enable consumers to bypass the SOE cab companies.

What A Ban On Taxi Apps In Shanghai Says About China's Economy

The Chinese mega-city of Shanghai has been cracking down on popular taxi-booking apps, banning their use during rush hour. Until the apps came along, the taxi companies, which are government owned, set the real price for fares and collected about 33 cents each time someone called for a cab. That can add up in a city the size of Shanghai. Wang says the apps bypassed the old system and cut into company revenues.

Much has been made of China's embrace of capitalism, but â" along with transportation â" the government still dominates key sectors, including energy, telecommunications and banking. Wang says vested government interests won't give them up easily.

How else to describe this other than the merger of state and corporate power ? Any company the state doesn't own operates at the whim of the state.

Now let's turn to the crony-capitalist model of the U.S., Japan, the European Union and various kleptocracies around the globe. For PR purposes, the economies of these nations claim to be capitalist, as in free-market capitalism.

Nothing could be further from the truth: these economies are crony-capitalist systems that protect and enrich elites, insiders and vested interests who the state shields from competition and the law.

The essence of crony-capitalism is of course the merger of state and corporate power. There are two sets of laws, one for the non-elites and one for cronies, and two kinds of capitalism: the free-market variety for small businesses that are unprotected by the state and the crony variety for corporations, cartels and state fiefdoms protected by the state.

Since crony-capitalism is set up to benefit parasitic politicos and their private-sector cartel benefactors, reform is impossible. Even the most obviously beneficial variety of reform--for example, simplifying the 4 million-word U.S. tax code--is politically impossible, regardless of who wins the electoral equivalent of a game show (i.e. Demopublicans vs. Republicrats).

The annual cost of navigating the tax code comes to about $170 billion:

Since 2001, Congress has enacted about one new change to the tax law per day. Pathetic, isnâ(TM)t it? This tax code is a burden and a fiasco and deeply unpatriotic. As Olsonâ(TM)s Taxpayer Advocate Service notes, this code helps tax evaders; hurts ordinary, honest taxpayers; and corrodes trust in our system.

Here's why the tax code will never be simplified: tax breaks are what the parastic politicos auction off to their crony-capitalist benefactors. Simplify the tax code and you take away the the intrinsically corrupt politicos' primary source of revenue: accepting enormous bribes in exchange for tax breaks for the super-wealthy.

You would also eliminate the livelihood of an entire industry that feeds off the complexities of the tax code. Tax attorneys don't just vote--they constitute a powerful lobby for the Status Quo, even if that Status Quo is rigged, unjust, wasteful, absurd, etc.

It's not that hard to design a simple and fair tax code. Setting aside the thousands of quibbles that benefit one industry or another, it's clear that a consumption-based tax is easier to collect and it promotes production rather than consumption: two good things.

As for a consumption tax being regressive, i.e. punishing low-income households, the solution is very straightforward: exempt real-food groceries (but not snacks, packaged or prepared foods such as fast-food), rent, utilities and local public transportation--the major expenses of low-income households.

1. A 10% consumption tax on everything else would raise about $1.1 trillion, or almost 2/3 of total income tax revenues, not counting payroll taxes (15.3% of all payroll/earned income up to around $113,000 annually, paid half-half by employees and employers), which generate about one-third of all Federal tax revenues and fund the majority of Social Security and a chunk of Medicare.

As for the claim that a 10% consumption tax would kill business--the typical sales tax in California is 9+%, and that hasn't wiped out consumption.

2. The balance could be raised by a progressive tax on unearned income, collected at the source. Most of the income of the super-wealthy is unearned, i.e. dividends, investment income, interest, capital gains, stock options, etc. As a result, a tax on unearned income (above, say, $10,000 annually to enable non-wealthy households to accrue some tax-free investment income) will be a tax on the super-wealthy who collect the vast majority of dividends, interest, capital gains and investment income.

A rough estimate would be 20% of all unearned income.

This would "tax the rich" while leaving all earned income untaxed, other than the payroll tax, which is based on the idea that everyone should pay into a system that secures the income of all workers. This would incentivize productive labor and de-incentivize speculation, rentier skimming, etc.

The corporate tax would be eliminated for several reasons:

1. It is heavily gamed, rewarding the scammers and punishing the honest

2. All income from enterprises is eventually distributed to individuals, who would pay the tax on all unearned investment income.

But such common-sense reform is politically impossible. That's why the answer to the question, what's the the difference between fascism, communism and crony-capitalism is nothing.

The Almighty Buck

Journal: Abraham Lincoln 2

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

User Journal

Journal: This should be one of those "I told you so" moments... 1

Journal by Timex

...but I won't say it, even though I'd be justified in doing so.

I was just looking through the beta for Slashdot (which I don't like, by the way) and saw a "Hall of Fame" page. I looked at it and this was one of the most popular stories of all time. It was posted when Obama was elected the first time.

It's kind of depressing, in that people were saying that Obama would not change all the things he promised he would, and the lemmings tried to shout them down. I said "depressing" because so many people, all of whom should really have known better, bought into the ideals that Obama sold to them. They honestly believed (and I daresay still believe, even now) that Obama would have the power to bring about all the changes he promised.

Well, it's been six years in. I think I am safe in stating that none of his promises have been kept-- none of them that were of any substance, anyway.

I can only hope that the process that we have in place will work as it should, and Obama will not see the end of the current term. He can't complain: he has his phone, he has a pen, and he knows how to use them.

Passwords are implemented as a result of insecurity.