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Comment A return to "company scrip"... (Score 0) 1103

....accepted only at the company store. And somehow you can never get ahead because your scrip is barely enough to pay your rent (in company housing) and buy essentials. But fortunately, the company store offers you credit so that next packet of scrip leaves you just enough behind to need a little more credit...

I honestly don't see how people running a business do this with a straight face, although I suspect its one of those things where someone responsible for payroll is given some ridiculous "cost reduction" goal by an owner and figures either they keep their job by meeting the goal or they get shitcanned.

Comment RICO prosecutions are needed (Score 1) 136

There is a cost of business calculation in here that makes the fines look ineffectual, along with a generally sleazy business plan that simply reboots the business in a new office under a new name within days.

What needs to happen is a RICO prosecution which would drag in all the service providers involved with this. ISPs, financial institutions, and all the other generally legitimate businesses that enable this kind of fraud.

When these guys are ALSO getting $100,000k personal fines + 20 years in jail, along with the principal perpetrators of these frauds, it'll get to be a lot harder to run these frauds.

Comment Re:Marketing (Score 1) 334

Women don't exist as a single, collective shared intelligence, and that's not required to accept my logic, either. I'm describing the broader behavior of the entire group, not predicting the behavior of any specific woman.

I could describe the behavior of a flock of birds and never describe the behavior of the sparrow in your yard, but it doesn't mean that the flocks of sparrows don't exhibit the behavior I've described.

It's funny how people want to reject demonstrably believable, if not factually true, group descriptions because they are not perfect predictors of any single individual or don't explain the behavior of an outlier (in this case, the Dr. Who t-shirt wearing poster above).

The overwhelming statistical reality is that women ARE image conscious and as a group actively seek to enhance their appearance and leverage it for benefit (social, reproductive, mate-seeking, professional even). The magazines, the clothing lines, the people you meet on the street reinforce this time and again.

It does not mean that *some* women don't reject this for all kinds of reasons -- belonging to a religious group, being a lesbian, lack of social integration, or other specific internal variables not understood.

Comment Re:Marketing (Score 1) 334

Any time women decide they don't want to leverage their appearance they are welcome to stop doing it, but I suspect that there are several truisms that will make this unlikely.

1) The benefit is short term, while the negative is long term. In that situation, most people give in to the short-term benefit and ignore the long-term consequences (smoking, drinking, drugs, etc).

2) Women, I think, are inherently image-conscious (reproductive advantages) and usually it takes a repressive, male-dominated religious movement to suppress this. It's not something they do on their own.

3) Contemporary cultural values -- despite how much simpler it would be as a woman to have a plain, shorter haircut, not wear makeup and not wear a lot of clumsy girl clothes (pantyhose, high heels, elaborate undergarments), most women do not want to be a "tomboy". In fact, I think most women do not dress to consciously appeal to men but instead to out-compete with other women.

You can blame men for objectifying women with porno mags and videos, but nobody's putting a gun to women's heads to make them read Glamour, Cosmopolitan or other magazines that "tell" women how to behave. It's a self-imposed system, not something men tell them.

Comment Re:Have you checked your player(s)? (Score 1) 182

It's what I assumed. The Panny UI is sluggish where the Sony UI is speedy.

I found this really surprising considering how my Panny E80 DVD recorder always worked flawlessly and still works. Of course I don't use it much but I occasionally find something worthwhile SD to transfer to disc, thankfully the Tivo HD still supports analog/SD downconvert!

Comment Have you checked your player(s)? (Score 1) 182

My first DVD player was an Apex, back when it was a big deal to reflash it with region-free/no macrovision firmware (circa 2000?). At some point I ran into issues with this player when MPEG2 bitrates went over some threshold (5 Mbps?) -- the player just didn't have the horsepower to handle that data rate.

Eventually that player died and I went through a series of inexpensive Chinese players. Some failed outright after six months, but those that didn't die would often choke on some discs, freezing in the middle of playback or stuttering every 15 minutes.

I finally gave up and spent nearly $100 on a name-brand player and all those problems went away....until I got into Bluray players!

I bought two nearly identical Panasonic Blu-Ray players, hoping that a big name and higher price bought me better equipment, but these players have also been flaky, although not as bad as the Chinese DVD players, requiring full power cycling (pulling the plug) from time to time.

Usually the content (seems most common with HBO discs) freezes and won't continue, like it has a tracking error. Sometimes you can chapter skip and it will continue playing, but usually I pull the plug. Some software updates have helped, but it still happens too often. A Sony purchased in the last six months doesn't do this.

Anyway, the moral of the story is test your discs in better players. I kept home-burned CD-Rs in my car for years and was terribly abusive to them (left on the seat, jammed 3 into one slot in the visor holder, etc) without ever having problems except for the most obviously scratched discs. Other than some very early Kodak CD-Rs I burned in the late 90s optical media, whether factory or burned hasn't been an issue as much as the player hardware has.

Comment Re:Not MOney Laundering (Score 1) 109

The assumption here is that the bribe is always paid by a company offering substantially above-market pricing for commodity products and that the price differential between fair market prices and bribery prices pays the bribe.

I would argue that this form of kickbacks is much less common and less likely to happen. There almost always is intense scrutiny of costs and substantive overpricing will almost always be noticed, especially on recurring products.

I think kickbacks are probably more common in situations where pricing is opaque (complex and one-time transactions) and where pricing is relatively equal and the value to the kickback payer isn't in the increased margin but in the increased volume or market share.

In the situation where pricing is equal, it's hard to see where the crime is because the company doing the purchasing has nothing to gain or lose switching between vendors.

Comment Re:Nazi scum! (Score 1) 470

I've read that by the late 1960s many significant Klan leaders were informers, many of which were paid by the FBI to form their own "klaverns", recruit members, etc.

I don't know what it's like now, but I suspect being a high-profile right wing racist is probably only a hobby you can get away with by being an informant.

Comment Re:Not MOney Laundering (Score 1) 109

It's completely clear why this "steering" is illegal. I thought that's largely what sales WAS -- steering to company A over company B for reasons beyond simple differences in product quality or cost.

I have to believe that this goes on all the time, everywhere. I used to get free lunches and unsolicited trinkets from vendors all the time. I never changed my buying habits based on this, but maybe for $7 million I might.

I get why steering is undesirable from an economic perspective -- it's a huge economic inefficiency, but then again, so is paying your CEO a billion dollars when the company loses money. I also get why businesses would fire you if they found you doing it, but then again, they might fire you for not showing up to work, yet that isn't a crime, either.

About the only argument that makes sense is that it is "stealing" indirectly, but this would seem to depend on the product being purchased at meaningfully inflated prices versus simply from the lowest cost vendor. Even when products are identical, it often makes sense to choose a higher priced supplier for service or other reasons.

At some point, while I agree it is shady and not an ideal practice, it kind of seems like it's illegal because business management doesn't like it or get a piece of it, not because it represents material harm.

Comment Recruiting PDP-11 people should be easy... (Score 3, Funny) 336

..unless MBAs get involved.

Find some CS grads, offer them PDP-11 training and assembler training and a job paying slightly-above-average wages & bennies and tell them the job is guaranteed for the next 30 years.

Right now that sounds pretty good to me --- guaranteed employment on a well-understood platform for 30 more years (although I really only need about 20-25 more years..)

Sure, some guys would rather slave away 80 hours a week to develop iPhone apps, Metro tiles or Web X.0 apps because that's what all the cool guys are doing and it's "the future" (until those jobs are shipped off to the next up-and-coming third world country).

Of course, MBAs would manage to fuck this up by deciding that because it's an "obsolete" technology, you don't need to pay anything.
 

Comment Re:Fearmongering in 3...2...1... (Score 1) 322

The thing is, so many of our current problems -- climate change, environmental exploitation, pollution, energy scarcity, food costs and in many cases, political conflict are magnified greatly by large populations.

It's really hard to see the benefit to human civilization that a global population of 8 or 10 billion brings versus 2 billion. Many of the extra 6 billion people are in poverty, live squalid lives and contribute to political instability. Those that aren't in poverty drive resource exploitation (eg, deforesting the Amazon for commercial farmland), greenhouse gas production, etc. There's really little that can be said for a world population past 1-2 billion people.

A world with fewer people demands fewer resources. It has more space, more room for error and demands less stringent political controls to manage big populations and big population densities.

Comment Re:Great for some apps (see netflix blog) (Score 1) 172

IOPS, blah blah blah.

The more I think about IOPS the more I think it is a manufactured statistic designed to "prove" performance yet at the same time being something you can't compare to another environment.

For example, every storage environment has a different I/O size and read/write mix, rendering IOP comparisons between storage devices moot.

Comment Management, ownership, PhD but not "employees" (Score 2) 473

I would imagine that anyone wanting to earn over $200,000 per year (and not living in some of the super high cost of living cities like NYC or LA) would need to:

1) Have a PhD and a proven record in developing marketable, patentable technology. Basically advanced knowledge and experience that makes you extremely valuable AND very, very difficult to replace.

2) An ownership stake in whatever the business is beyond being a minor shareholder. This means partner or substantial investor in the business where you get to make decisions.

3) Management involvement, and this probably removes you from the programmer or "do-er" category.

I think salaries over $200k in most of the country would be extremely unusual for people who actually do work and aren't management, highly educated/professionally credentialed or owners.

I think senior management generally doesn't want to pay that kind of money for people who actually do work. I think it violates cultural norms in business by altering the status quo hierarchy. Pay is used to enforce the hierarchy and someone making that much money might feel a little too independent for his actual place in the system.

It's also an open question why you would need to spend so much money for someone in that role. I'm sure there are a small handful of "superstars" who might be that valuable, but there's only so many of those people, jobs and managers who recognize that.

And even if you found a job that would pay like that, I'm sure it would come with horrible deadlines, terrible travel, bad working conditions, etc.

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