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Comment Re:Whups (Score 1) 445

Yours is not a "more obvious and powerful truth". In fact, it already assumes the first of my viewpoints, that people who do better things are going to be more successful. If you are powerless to effect your own future, then your motive to act is irrelevant.

I'm not saying that the first viewpoint is wrong, but I'm not saying it's right either. I would like to point out that:

(a) it is a viewpoint that you're being sold, force fed all the time, by various people
(b) It is a viewpoint that will be stronger among the wealthy and powerful
(c) It's a viewpoint that benefits the wealthy and powerful to convince us all of, because it tells us that they're wealthy and powerful because they deserve it
(d) The "power of positive thinking" is likely to be a successful meme, since people are more likely to spread that idea than the alternative. That is, if you think you can change things with thinking, then you're likely to keep thinking it and spread the thought to other people. If you don't believe that, then there's no motivation to spread your ideas to others.
(e) The success of a meme is not necessarily an indicator of its truth

If you want to know what I think, it's that the "truth" is significantly more complicated than either of these viewpoints would indicate. The degree of control we have over our own futures is very unclear, and probably extremely variable. Some of us probably have much more control than others, but it depends on what you consider to be "control".

Comment Re:"Microsoft abandoning it just as Yahoo is adopt (Score 1) 204

Agreed. Doing this well would not necessarily require a 20% layoff in every group. It should, for example, take into account the individual team's relevance to overall business plans-- i.e. the team working on the flagship product should probably have fewer layoffs than people working on a floundering product that may be discontinued in the near future.

Comment Re:How about we start with Microsoft? (Score 1) 445

I'm not saying it's the worst problem. Going back to my metaphor:

It's like a man coming into your house, pissing all over your rug, and then saying he's struggling to figure out how he can improve your property value. Maybe start by not pissing on my rug anymore?

Now maybe this man is a carpenter, and he can fix your roof and refinishing your basement and do all kinds of things to fix up your house. And ultimately, pissing on your rug is probably not the biggest issue in your house. It can be cleaned up. The rug can be tossed and replaced. It's not the biggest deal. But still, if you're trying to fix up the house, stopping your habit of pissing on the rug is probably a good place to start.

Comment Re:Whups (Score 4, Insightful) 445

I think the previous poster is correct to talk about the "just world fallacy". Without getting into too much of an argument as to who is "right", we all create a world view that helps to prop up our own ego.

It's common for rich people to believe (or want to believe) that we are all in control of our own lives, and the reason they have so much is because they deserve it. They think that they're either inherently superior people, or at least that they've done better things and made better choices. To believe otherwise would induce a lot of angst.

Meanwhile, if you're poor, it's much more ego-soothing to believe that we are powerless in our own lives, and the reason you have so little is either because of luck, or because someone has screwed you over. To believe otherwise would imply that you are somehow inferior to everyone who makes more money than you.

If all that is true, then it would help to explain why poor people would give more, proportionately. You have one set of people who believe that poor people are unfortunate, and another set which believes that poor people deserve their problems. Which would you expect to donate more to charity?

Comment How about we start with Microsoft? (Score 1) 445

I don't have a magic formula for prioritizing the world's problems. You could make a good case for poverty, disease, hunger, war, poor education, bad governance, political instability, weak trade, or mistreatment of women.

All of those things are good causes, but since Gates is struggling to find a place to begin, I'd like to suggest that he starts by fixing the blight-on-humanity that he created. Microsoft screws many of us over on a regular basis. It hurts the economy. It hurts technological progress. How about pushing his company to be more cooperative? How about pushing for open standards? How about pushing back against terrible patent and copyright abuses, insane EULAs, and absurd licensing fees? How about open sourcing old versions of their software so that software from a few decades ago can be preserved for historical/artistic purposes, if for no other reason?

It's like a man coming into your house, pissing all over your rug, and then saying he's struggling to figure out how he can improve your property value. Maybe start by not pissing on my rug anymore?

Comment Re:"Microsoft abandoning it just as Yahoo is adopt (Score 5, Insightful) 204

Yeah, if you know you want to lay off 20% of a large workforce, it makes sense to take some metrics-- including some subjective evaluation-- and develop a ranking of employees from "extremely valuable" to "a drain on company resources", and then cut the bottom 20%. Do that as a one-time thing, or even do a couple rounds in relatively short succession. That could work.

But if you make it part of the company culture, you're going to end up with a company of paranoid back-stabbers.

Comment Re:Not just young folk... (Score 4, Informative) 332

Why release a simple system, when you can bloat it with a zillion tweaks of dubious value and then charge money to keep the whole mess working?

I don't think it's really as malicious as that. The larger problem is that everyone has a slightly different definition of what makes a simple, stripped down system. You only want the features you want, I only want the features that I want. You want a rock-solid server; I want a responsive and feature-rich desktop system; my brother just wants to play video games. You can't do it all without a little bit of complexity.

And look at what happens when they try. Someone proposes a new window compositing system that will make development easier and performance more responsive, and people get all bent out of shape because it breaks the X11 spec.

Microsoft is a whole other ball of wax. Chronic mismanagement, perverse incentives to sabotage any product which might cannibalize the Windows/Office products, and an attempt to maintain backwards compatibility as much as possible, going back to DOS systems from a quarter century ago.

Comment Re:Government Involvement (Score 4, Insightful) 499

This is a misunderstanding on your part, thinking that our healthcare "insurance" is about paying for only the things you need. In fact, it is, and has always been, about paying for things that you don't need in order to fund things that you do need.

It's just that when you unfuck a system for a bunch of people, some other set of people are going to lose something. Like if you abolish slavery, slave owners are going to lose their "property". If you pay the slave owners for the loss, then that money will come from the people who never owned slaves. It's not a zero-sum game, but it's not completely elastic either.

The system got a lot less fucked for a lot of people, so you, as a previously lucky-SOB, have to pay a little extra.

Comment Re:Just ignore it. (Score 3, Insightful) 208

I don't know. I feel like it's an interesting project that deserves some attention. It'd be great if the project got some support and reached a usable state, but it seems like they're learning interesting things-- both about Windows itself, and about the process of trying to reverse-engineer a complex system. Personally, I'm willing to have an occasional /. story that isn't very relevant so long as it's interesting.

Also, the potential value that WINE can't provide is if they can reach a level of running with good driver compatibility, i.e. if you have some old unsupported hardware with a Windows-only driver, there's the potential that you could use that driver and thereby still use the hardware. Sure, it's a very niche use, but I think it was part of the intention of the project.

Comment Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (Score 5, Insightful) 208

I'd suggest that the choice to retain backwards compatibility for so long is stupidity. And it hasn't even worked very well. These days Linux is more compatible with old Windows apps than Windows is.

I'd suggest that it has also encouraged businesses to think very stupidly about in-house application development, which is where a lot of the problem is.

Essentially, lots of businesses created some in-house apps 10-15 years ago, which make use of quirks, design flaws, and bugs in Windows XP (or earlier) and IE6. Microsoft sat down to fix the quirks, bugs, and design flaws, only to find that they had to choose between dropping support and pissing off a huge portion of their customer base, failing to fix the flaws, or continuing to emulate the bugs for a decade in some kind of "compatibility mode". They've pretty much chosen a middle road that does a little of all three.

The problem is, this has only encouraged a mentality within businesses to think of application development as a one-off project. Management thinks, "Oh, well we'll just pay some programmers to develop a business-critical application, and then we'll be done with it. We'll get rid of the programmers, and the application will just keep working forever, because Microsoft will keep supporting all these whacky design choices." This is a very dangerous way of treating software development. Sooner or later, you're going to have to update your app. If you treated it as a one-off project, then you end up with a decade-long backlog of bugs that were never fixed, and a lack of any expertise because you've gotten rid of all the original programmers.

Comment Re:Synthetic trans fats (Score 1) 376

The reasons for consuming trans fat are usually money and ignorance, not "lifestyle"

Or maybe not money or ignorance, but some lack of choice. People buy juice with high-fructose corn syrup because almost all juice has it, and maybe your local store doesn't have the kind of juice that you want without it. People buy Oreos that contain trans-fat because that's what Oreos have in them, and they generally like Oreos and trust the brand. It's not like they're out looking for high-fructose corn syrup or trans-fats. It's just that they're in everything, and even if you know that and you don't want to buy them, it can be fairly inconvenient to avoid it.

Comment Re:Outright bans are not smart (Score 1) 376

The government should not be deciding if a food is good or bad for you. The exception is carcinogenic foodstuffs that you may not be aware of (like red dye #2 and #4 and orange dye #1).

I don't quite agree with this. I don't think that the FDA should be in the business of forcing you to eat only healthy foods, but I don't think that a food has to go as far as being carcinogenic for the FDA to interfere. Let's say that someone invented a new artificial sweetener that was extremely cheap to create, but was found to cause sudden strokes in people over 45, as well as some birth defects when women consumed the product while pregnant. It's not cancer, but wouldn't you say that the FDA would have valid grounds to step in?

Regarding transfats, it's not just that it's bad for you, it's that it's an artificial ingredient used because it's cheap and convenient, but which has been shown to cause disproportionate health problems. To me, the fact that it's something artificially added makes a big difference. If the FDA were banning bacon because it's fatty, I'm have a problem with that. If the FDA were banning a cheap artificial bacon because it's been shown that to shorten your lifespan by 15 years when compared to eating similar amounts of real bacon, I'd probably be happy about that.

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