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Comment Hitting all the checklist items (Score 3, Insightful) 225

* Young -- because you can't trust anyone over 15
* Hip-hop savvy -- shows your street cred
* Long hair -- because personal grooming is political
* Unpronounceable name -- you have to be ethnic to be taken seriously
* Filed a lawsuit -- This shows you mean business and are willing to take the law into someone else's hands
* Coloradan -- Dude, you can hook people up, ya know.

I'm sure he's a total hero with his brave, hip-hop flavored anti-authority, not to mention probably getting more dewy-eyed hippie chicks than even a 15 year can handle.

Comment Re:You really want cheap? (Score 1) 152

Is there a central way to do this versus "the surplus depot" or FleaBay? The only way I've ever seen to get anything useful surplus is to know somebody inside. In my experience, the reasonable used hardware get re-purposed at least once internally before it gets turned loose as surplus, and when it does it's often so old as to be handicapped by old hardware standards which make performance fairly useless.

I bought a used Cisco 2960G two years ago for $200, which is still a low price even by recent Ebay standards, but I knew the guy and got the bare-minimum price the money people needed to make their books balance.

Comment Re:Translation: People are Getting Desperate (Score 1) 208

I went into consulting with the idea that I could go freelance once I had some exposure to it. The company I work for was small at the time, so it seemed ideal.

My impression (still) is that succeeding as a pure IT freelancer is difficult -- there's all the overhead work that's tough to get any compensation for, a fairly unfriendly tax system, healthcare costs and so on.

And then there's most clients who want IT support but don't want to rely on a single person and prefer a company. Some of the clients I worked with left one-man shops for this very reason.

I think it might be viable for some narrow types of IT work -- software development or certain types of infrastructure projects that demand one-time-only high skill sets.

My wife worked marketing freelance for about 5-6 years. She was really only able to build up a pretty small recurring business portfolio, the bulk of her income came from essentially infill and project work.

Comment How much of "college" is really necessary? (Score 2) 214

FWIW, I think people are better off with the eponymous well-rounded education, but I also think they're better off with 5 years of global travel, too, but that isn't the kind of hoop-jumping social standard (yet) that a 4 year college degree currently is.

So much of "going to college" isn't about the well-rounded part for probably 90% of the students -- it's about achieving some vocational credential that employers want before they will hire someone. In many cases, the vocational education really has no bearing on the actual vocation. A degree in marketing doesn't actually provide you with the specific education to do any specific marketing job.

And even where this is some kind of specific vocational skill being learned (engineering, medicine, etc), how much of even those educational experiences are spent on classroom instruction that's actually vocationally beneficial? Could we train civil engineers in 3 years instead of 4 by cutting out the crap? Could we train doctors in 6 years or even 5 if we cut out the nonsense? Is it REALLY vocationally beneficial for a doctor to have a semester or year of organic chemistry?

There's so much hand-wringing about the cost of college but almost never does anyone question the underlying assumption that the college experience as we know it is actually beneficial. Much of it seems to be a way of socializing the costs of corporate HR screening and training, much of which would be better for the corporations to do themselves, so they can focus on the specific attributes and skills they want.

And if you think about it, it doesn't even socialize those costs well -- the in-demand jobs demand higher salaries, so where there is demand for workers the corporation is paying some of the inflated educational costs themselves. It all seems to be a giant pork barrel for Universities, who manage to jack of tuition relentlessly without ever reforming a sclerotic educational system that doesn't really produce well-rounded graduates anyway.

Comment Re:Probably (Score 1) 197

Income inequality in the USA has increased since 1970 but is far below historically normal levels. The poorest in America are demonstrably better off today than their grandparents ever were. This is true based on housing, sanitation, health care, education, life expectancy, nutrition, entertainment, transportation, clothing, and safety from crime, natural disaster, or accident.

Kind of a mixed bag, isn't it? Historically worse income inequality suggests that whatever present gains we have made are likely to slide back to more historical norms. Given the likely trends in automation globally and trends toward outsourcing to low income nations (which may be an aggregate benefit for global growth, but in the short term tends to undermine gains in developed economies), income inequality is likely to get worse.

And there is some scholarship ( that suggests inequality is as bad as it's ever been -- it's estimated that even ancient Rome had a better GINI coefficient than modern day America.

I've heard economists make similar arguments about *qualitative* improvements that measurements of relative inequality don't represent. Much of material life even for poor people is better than it was 100 years ago -- housing, clothing, food, transportation, are all better made and more durable than they were. Foods that were expensive luxury items even when I was little in the 1970s are commonplace and inexpensive, and compared to 100 years ago it's like a dream -- fresh fruits and vegetables available year round, meat safe, cheap and abundant, including items exotic and unobtainable in many places, like fresh seafood.

Comment Is the news cycle the only explanation? (Score 1, Interesting) 197

Or are there other interpretations that explain why it *seems* bad?

Enduring and worsening (I don't know about the worsening part) income inequality, with automation and globalization likely to make income inequality even worse, and automation predicated by many to lead to widespread under/unemployment?

The environment getting much worse -- mass deforestation, global warming, declining fresh water supplies, much of it abetted by ever-spiraling population growth?

While it's true we don't actually worry about a US/Soviet nuclear exchange every day, the number of states with nuclear weapons has increased and the newer states that have them or are working on having them are less stable or have chaotic or messianic motivations.

The nature of some of our conflicts seems more intractable due to the lack of state actors involved and in some cases leaving states that are marginally viable or stateless altogether (Libya, parts of subsaharan Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria).

It seems too simple to just dismiss a sense of pessamism as human nature and media styles.

Comment Re:How do they measure the dosing? (Score 1) 442

Because a "tab" is a known quantity?

Back in the day you kept track of the picture on the blotter because experience suggested that it might take 3 hits of "globe" to get the job done but if it was "orange sunshine" you really only needed one. And that windowpane? You either got nothing or you lost track of the next 36 hours completely.

Fixed dilution makes sense if you know what you're starting with, but my experience was you didn't really until you had sampled the batch a few times to figure it out.

I read of guys into powdered drugs with good lab skills who test and refine everything they buy so they can get the dose right, but that's almost practical with stuff dosed in the 10-20 mg range. At the microgram range? You'd need a decent starting quantity and a mass spectrometer.

Comment Re:Keto (Score 1) 156

It would be nice to have a low carb replacement for flour that would provide a convincing replacement for bread, chips and pasta. You can kind of do some stuff with almond flour, but I haven't always been impressed with it.

I'd like to see something more interesting done with pork rinds, even. They're not a bad replacment for crunchy chips, but it seems like the only kind you can find are really bad BBQ or "spicy" flavors. It would be nice to have some kind of yellow corn or neutral flavorings that could be used with guacamole or salsa. I stumbled across a decent nacho cheese flavor on a trip -- you can order them online, but there's like a 2 case minimum and that's a lot of commitment.

Comment What happened to Pascal, anyway? (Score 1) 132

I remember in the 1980s it seemed like kind of a big deal, an "advanced" programming language that required a compiler and a more real computer than an Apple ][ (although, yes, there was a Pascal system for the ][, IIRC it was worthless without two disk drives and really not an ideal platform). I knew people writing commercial software in Pascal. They taught it when I was in college. I think "Inside Macintosh" Vols. 1-3 that documented the Macintosh used Pascal.

It was kind of everywhere, and then it wasn't. What happened to it? Was it not really meant to be a "practical" language and meant to be kind of an advanced educational language? Did the growth of Unix-like systems on x86 push everyone into C? Did stuff like the availability of maybe Visual Basic or something grab the users who would have used Pascal?

Circa 1986 or so, you wouldn't have thought "kind of a dead language, nobody uses it for anything anymore" and you wouldn't have thought it would get that way any time soon.

Comment Re:he should know better (Score 3, Insightful) 316

It is incredible how many people bring "free speech!" up in conversation where it is not warranted.

It's actually more incredible how many people think that freedom of speech is only a concept in relation to governmental restrictions on communication.

Obviously private party restrictions on speech aren't a violation of 1st Amendment rights, but it should be more than obvious that freedom of speech can be threatened by private restrictions on speech by refusing access to media, venues or physical places which are commonly accepted as public spaces.

Comment Re:Education (Score 1) 494

I think part of it is a mindset that every problem has a solution, and that existing problems remain problems only because whoever gets to decide doesn't like the solution.

I'm sure everyone in IT has been at the point where euphemistically the solution to a problem is just to nuke the old system and start over because the problems in the old system are so complex and intractable that fixing it isn't practical on any timescale and replacing it is more time efficient.

I think applying that kind of thinking to political and social problems is probably a very easy step for a lot of people to make.

I also think that engineers are prone to thinking of "correct" and "incorrect" answers -- I've known plenty of IT people who once they latch onto "the correct" answer can't see any other solution -- even ones that solve the same problem -- as correct. There's one right answer. 1 + 1 = 2 and everything else is *wrong*.

All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing without thinking.