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Journal Journal: the morality of the profit motive 32

I wrote in a post here today:

When in actuality what it really boils down to is whether one thinks that the death panel effect would be worse under the cost-cutting and profit motive of private healthcare, or the cost-cutting and social engineering motive of public healthcare.

I'm not about to say that capitalism is moral. I'm just saying it's more moral (or less immoral, for those who want it worded that way instead) than the alternative. I know that sounds lame in the sense that ideally we'd have something that's moral, but I'm just coming at this pragmatically here.

I have to assume that part of my preference for the system of unfairness that is the free market must be due to it being the only thing I've ever known. But I think most of it is that it is almost strictly predictable in the outcomes it leads to, and that I accept those outcomes. Sort of "better the devil you know...", but not exactly.

My philosophy on wealth as far as I can remember is that you're working to attain whatever levels you might be able to in life, for greater comfort in life and access to greater luxuries. You figure out how much you want to work and how well you want to live and figure out the balance that's right for you, factoring in the kind of brains, drive, and luck that you know yourself to have.

And then be happy where you are, when you reach that. I don't begrudge the richer man for having a better car than mine, because his fate in life is not mine. I feel sorry for the poorer man, but he probably makes worse decisions in life than I do. Or at least worse from my POV.

So I guess I'm okay with the inequalities inherent in life (like brains and luck) and that are a function of what each individual chooses for himself (like drive).

And consequently what I'm not okay with is forced, collective, man-made alterations to this. For example I'm okay with a rich man offering some kid a scholarship to college and possibly thereby altering his chances of attaining a higher wealth level in life than he normally would. But I'm not okay with for example Affirmative Action.

Firstly in the alternative, it can be more chaotic, being based on man's whim, for whichever kind of men are in power in that era. Today's members of a govt. death panel may decide to favor the young, but tomorrow's may favor the old. Whereas under the profit motive, directors can come and go but the goal stays the same. Profit is a uniting goal and one that's orthogonal to differences in politics/religion.

Secondly, but BD you may say, for now and the foreseeable future a federal govt. run anything will be entirely predictable; predictably Leftist. True in a way, and that's why it's not "...the devil that I don't know". But I also don't like many of the outcomes targeted, not to mention outcomes that I might like but never get achieved.

Capitalism has been very successful in raising standards of living. Leftism, not so much. (Granted, maybe it's in part a function of how corrupted that ism has been.)

In short, unproven political preferences has a large tinge of arbitrariness to me. And part of what's fair and right is that which you can count on.

User Journal

Journal Journal: How do UNIX/Linux people make web applications? 17

I'm trying to make sense of the dizzying array of languages/technologies purportedly used in the customer-facing portion of the HealthCare.gov site. I understand ASP.NET, JSP, and JavaServer Faces to be web templating engines, comprising 39 files. I don't see PHP or ColdFusion listed. And there's 1635 HTML files. It doesn't seem like all of these could be just static content.

It's possible a lot of them could get their dynamic data via AJAX, and maybe that's what a lot of the XSLT is for. But I think most people these days move JSON back and forth and not XML. But in any event, how are placeholders in the HTML files getting replaced? There's only 23 files between Perl and Python, and 248 Bourne shell files, so are they using [showing my age/what little I know] SED and/or AWK to do this? Or would the .sh's be calling the Perl and Python files?

User Journal

Journal Journal: coding rules of thumb vs. monitor size 5

I was perusing the comments under the article about a new ultra-wide 3440 x1440 monitor, and this comment sparked a side thought:

[...] I'd consider taking one of these displays and turning it 90 degrees so I can see more of my code at once without scrolling.

This made me think, as monitors have gotten bigger, maybe a certain couple of old programming rules of thumb need to be restated, in terms of something else that is:

1) Wrap your lines of code at 80 columns, and

2) A function generally should not be more than a screenful in length.

User Journal

Journal Journal: MS continues really pissing me off lately 6

(Aside from the normal level of pissing me off they do every time I have to go into Word or Project.)

1) In IE 11 they got rid of the ability to quickly test your web page with js disabled, by removing that feature from the browser's developer tools window. Now you have to drill down in menus and dialogs and past confirm prompts and change it like a normal user would in the regular browser UI. Why?!?

2) In Visual Studio 2012 they got rid of the ability to record a quick macro to for example play back a series of repetitive editing tasks, by removing the entire macros feature completely. In an IDE? Are you fucking kidding me?!? Now people are saying ya gotta get Notepad++ and copy and paste into that and back. I'm not familiar with that tool, but... WHY!!!!???

3) In Security Essentials for Windows XP they've programmed it to pop up nag screens several times an hour, ever since the OS has gone out of support. It doesn't just pop up once, and its window is always on top so it can't just be ignored. There's apparently no way to disable it and still have the protection aside from installing the previous version if you happen to have a copy of it laying around. So XP is out of support, so no more patches, but why basically force people to uninstall the security suite as well? To get XP machines pwned even faster? Why?!?

In short, WhyTF actually *remove* functionality? It costs virtually nothing to just leave it there.

p.s. I'm in no hurry to upgrade my XP-based netbook, esp. sans any real carrots from MS (and I don't respond well to sticks). So I'm not sure what to do about that, except not use it for anything serious on the WWW. Accepting all serious suggestions (from those who are visible to me here, that is). I don't have a portable optical drive with it.

p.p.s. So MS knew about a remote code execution vulnerability in IE 8 for at least 6 months, and chose to do nothing about it? Hmm, and IE 8 is the latest browser you can install on XP. Ya know, it's almost like they were dropping support for XP early.

User Journal

Journal Journal: DRM in FF 2

So nerd Lefties are getting their panties in a bunch over Mozilla supporting DRM content.

This is because to them DRM is like so-called "closed source" software, and what Mozilla has done is gone with a permissive license model instead of the GPL.

That is, zero tolerance for that which is opposed, no matter how much that marginalizes your entrant in the market, and therefore also how much you're in a position of power to effect change, does not seem to be the path for the Firefox folks.

Maybe like MS's "embrace and extend", it's "accept until it can be changed". The question is, when is it smart to compromise principles and when isn't it. (Where by "compromising principles" I don't mean "selling out" or something unseemly like that, but just biding your time and/or choosing your battles wisely.) Especially when they're very strongly-held principles.

User Journal

Journal Journal: why I won't buy Windows 8.x 1

First a parenthetical caveat: I plan on getting the Windows 8 *Phone* OS.

I've been on the lookout for a flagship-model Nokia Windows phone. I still have a flip/dumbphone, and at least for my first smartphone I want a top-end model, to explore, until I learn what I don't need/never use. A Nokia model because I was an adv amat photog in a previous (i.e. film) era, and their emphasis caters to that interest.

And I've been on AT&T (and its prior incarnations for my area) since I got my first, mini brick phone, and the call quality has always been borderline unusable. So it's going to be a Verizon smartphone, and they got a flagship Windows Phone model, the Lumia Icon, earlier this year.

So basically I'm just waiting a little longer until Nokia's "Cyan" software update gets pushed out to people with that model, which will include the OS upgrade from 8.0 to 8.1, and then I'll give it about a month and see if people are reporting success and if there's any problems.

And then I'm just hoping it won't be for mobile what I think is happening on the desktop. And that is, MS technically supporting unpopular OS versions, but not really working at it or giving a shit.

And this is what pisses me off. I bought a new PC (because I fried my previous one, and needed one) with the much-maligned Windows Vista OS, about the time SP 2 for it was being released. So of course I didn't have any problems with it. Yes I did it because I was in a pickle, timing-wise, and had to, but still, I got Vista x64 Ultimate, their most expensive version, at a time when they were probably hurting for sales.

And what thanks do I get? A shitty patch last month that screws my whole system. Works fine on all the Windows 7 systems that I've seen. So I believe the problem is that Vista is purportedly down to less than 3% marketshare, lower than even the paltry %-age that desktop Windows 8 and 8.1 have. I believe that, like Windows XP and IE 6 before that, MS wants Vista to just go away and be a mostly-forgotten bad memory.

Great, so I bought your product in good faith, and I get short-shrift support. I wasn't one of the ones decrying the OS. So what am I supposed to do then. It looks like one can no longer get Windows 7. And I'm sure as hell not going to get Windows 8.x, since people are stupid sheep and irrationally bagging on that bigtime, so MS will probably treat it like Vista as soon as Windows 9 comes out and all the morons flip-flop their tune.

So, there is no way I would get a new Windows version until 9 comes out (some time next year, is expected). That is, unless bad luck, such as an unrecoverable bad patch, befalls me again.

Luckily this one was recoverable, barely. I.e. I was still able to log in via the admin account. And while uninstalling the update didn't do anything, rolling back to the restore point it created before installing it did the trick. But I did a lot of fretting and Google searching, with no success, and was applying last month's patches individually after rolling the whole set back, to track down which one(s) was the perpetrator. I.e. a huge PITA way of spending my time that I don't need.

As it turns out, all just to fix an issue with paths that should be unreachable if someone tricks you into running a .bat or .cmd file off the Internet. I think I'll manage without this patch. I might have to set that update "hidden" in Windows Update, to not be bugged about it every month.

User Journal

Journal Journal: there is no confusing; only ignorance 12

Regarding this subthread:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=5159777&cid=47006419

my sentiment boils down to:

Learn the language; don't be a lazy ass and whine about it.

If something's part of the language, but you're not familiar with it, that does not constitute it being "confusing".

Americans these days can't cognitively separate their perspective and the more general one. If I find something hard, then it just must be hard, right? I mean, a whole host of other people couldn't possibly have a completely different experience. That's unfathomable to today's human beings.

I've decided that I don't need to live in a big house. Therefore no one does. Therefore there's no moral problem with passing a law that forbids anyone from living in more than a 1032 sq ft abode (like mine). My experience must the universal one.

I should fucking market a line of t-shirts and baseball caps with "YMMV" with a red circle and slash over it. Because no one is capable of the concept donning on them anymore.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Which is more dangerous, theology or ideology? 15

This article insists that for human beings, belief is not optional. There are two basic types of beliefs- religious theology and political ideology- but all human beings, even atheists, have some form of belief.
 
  A study of war would seem to indicate that the 20th century clearly showed that ideology is more dangerous than theology, but since fighting for religion has never really gone out of fashion, what do you think?

User Journal

Journal Journal: A geeky theory 8

The multiverse theory is as falsifiable as God himself. Therefore, I have a theory of sociology- that anybody believing in the multiverse has simply fallen for a new religion created by comic books and bad science fiction.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Inequities 15

Act I

A FA on the front page laments that more potholes have gotten fixed in wealthier neighborhoods in some city because their residents were more likely to own smartphones and download the report-a-hole app.

My thinking of course was, yeah, the squeakiest wheel tends to get the grease. That's just how it is, if there's not the gumption or resources to proactively/preventatively frequently attend to every wheel. Such as in city services.

I would think there'd still be a phone number to call to report them, since smartphones haven't always existed, and most everyone has at least a land line. So those who are bothered by them the most get them fixed first.

Doesn't sound terrible, but it's only a meant to serve (and does so very poorly) as just one example of a greater, overall concern: Data analytics could end up reinforcing inequities in housing, credit, employment, health and education.

Act II

I'm reminded of a popular, smarmy retort of the past to the accusation of Left-wing bias in the media: Life [itself] has a Liberal bias! The implication intended for conveyance, but not really believed by the utterer, of course, was that Left-wing slant in the content of reports about things in life was not actually injected, but innate. I.e. it's not a problem, it's what's normal.

Well, then: Life reinforces inequities.

Act III

But if all these naturally-occurring inequities are bad, shouldn't all naturally-occurring inequities be bad?

How about some we never hear about:

1) The number of news sources

The Left occupies 90-some percent of the news dissemination sources in the country, from news networks (like CNN) to non-news networks (like Comedy Central). Given that probably about 1/3 of the country is solid Left, that should be their quota on programming that distributes news. Or at most 2/3rds of all news-distributing media outlets, since you can also argue that the political middle has been lost to the Left.

2) Positions in (public) education

Leftism is grossly over-represented in academia. Why is diversity in the student body so important but not in the faculty?

3) Voter registration

At least in this state, even in so-called Republican areas the # of registered D's easily outnumbers the # of registered R's. And around here I've heard something to the effect that we've gotten rid of runoff elections being between the highest vote getting D and the highest vote getting R, to just the top two highest vote getters. Which will probably take that disparity and tend to make it even worse.

Maybe Democrat registration should be effectively capped at the current level of Republican registration in a district. For example lets say a city has 4 million residents with 45% registered D and 30% registered R. That's 1,800,000 expected D voters and 1,200,000 expected R voters. To make things more fair, shouldn't the number of D votes counted be stopped at 1,200,000? This still wouldn't guarantee equitable outcomes but it could be a start. Then it would be a matter of absolute turnout, on a level playing field.

4) Intelligence (that is, you never hear about this except from "racists")

Inherited wealth must be confiscated, for redistribution by the state, because it's too much of an advantage those of future generations. Well intelligence is passed down as well, and that's an even bigger factor. Maybe mandatory IQ testing should be performed at an early age, with forced dope ingestion in formative years to "equalize" the IQ of those more gifted.

5) Work Ethic

Cultural and home-life attitudes towards achievement also greatly factor in to outcomes in people in life. Jewish and especially Asian households are guilty of placing expectations and pushing their children to successes in life. Public school alone is insufficient in completely counter-acting this parental-instilled drive.

Maybe Child Protective Services' mission should be expanded. Not only do children need protection from their bad parents, but they need protection from others' good parents, who in raising their own children puts others at a disadvantage.

Some type of mandatory foster care in addition to public schooling might do the trick. Say state-run boarding schools, where you have to send your kids to go live 2 years for every 1 year they live with you, or whatever ratio is needed to eradicate the unfairness.

User Journal

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

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?)

User Journal

Journal Journal: REPOST: Brandon Eich 20

(One last edit. After constructive criticism of my style from JC I'm going to lead this with a quote from a part of a post I made previously that sums up why Eich was unsuitable to be CEO without all the "It's not about X", "Hate campaign", and other stuff that is totally right but makes it all TL;DR. Original post after the -----, you don't have to read it any more)

It's not about what you think, it's about how you treat other people and how you deal with being, quite legitimately, associated with a set of actions (whatever the motive) that many find offensive. We would not be here today had Eich not, two years ago, thought this was a good thing to write:

Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: no.

about people who might possibly think he has animosity about gays because he donated, twice, totalling $1,000, after it became obvious what the nature of the campaign was, to an organization that repeatedly ran TV ads claiming married homosexuals were a danger to children.

That was a particularly dumb thing to write. It's something most of us feel sometimes when we're under attack, but that's kinda why the job of CEO doesn't go to just about anyone. There are so many useful positions Eich could have gone to, why-oh-why did they make him CEO?

-----

(Just three additional notes: First, I've reposted this because the original was open to everyone, and it turned out the same illiterate idiots who've insisted that questioning Eich's handling of revelations of his donations to an active hate campaign is the same thing as wanting him fired for his opinion are now trolling my journal. So, regretfully, I'm deleting the old JE. Second: this was originally written before Eich resigned. Some minor updates since this was originally published: additional line about "what Slashdotters believe", and removal of comment about other Mozilla board members resigning as this appears to have been misrepresented by media. Finally: actually the situation is worse than described below. In the below I presumed Eich hadn't known exactly what he donated to, thinking it was a generic pro-Prop 8 campaign. It turns out Eich knew it was a hate campaign before he made his donations. This significantly changes the relevence of "Strike 2" below.)

Let's get a few things out of the way first.

There is no issue with Eich's private views, and to a certain extent even his opposition to "gay marriage", however backward and unreasonable such a position might be. It is not about whether he supported Prop 8, whether his name appeared on any petitions in favor of it, or whether he voted for it - again, however unreasonable and backward and pathetic such a position might be.

The problem is this.

I remember the pro-Prop 8 campaigns. Those campaigning for Prop 8 did not focus exclusively on a small set of arguments focussed entirely on some kind of practical, or even religious, argument in favor of Prop 8.

The campaigns themselves were, objectively, homophobic and bigoted. They smeared. They lied. Dog whistles about "protecting our children" (couched with plausable deniability type justifications along the lines of "If it doesn't pass, children will think gay marriages are normal" - uh, right..) were common, as one obvious example.

And Eich donated money to that.

And having basically co-funded a campaign whipping up hate against 5-10% of Mozilla's workforce, he's now in charge of them.

That's strike one.

Strike two is that he's never acknowledged that this was ever a problem. My reading, both of his 2012 "explanation" (which lacks any justifications, it's more a "Don't call me a bigot, you're a bigot" type piece of crap we usually hear from right wing nuts caught with their heads in white hoods) and his current "Let bygones by bygones, of course I'll be nice to the gheys that's Mozilla policy!" comments) is that he's pointedly refused to distance himself from the campaigning he co-funded. No "I never had any problems with gay people and I was disappointed to see how the funds I donated were used", let alone support for groups combatting homophobia.

So... what happens next?

Firefox is Firefox. It's the world's best browser, albeit one that has suffered many knocks over the last few years both with its well documented issues with memory and reliability, and the user interface changes that continue to blur the line between it and its competitors. People aren't switching from Firefox to Chrome because they want Chrome for the most part, they're just switching because Firefox is becoming Chrome anyway, leaving no compelling reason to stick with it during the periods Firefox is especially unstable.

A political boycott of the browser is unfortunate and I'm not entirely sure it would be effective. At the same time, there's a feeling of powerlessness one has a result of this.

Moreover, there is an education problem within the community that's obvious from reading and engaging in the discussions on the subject. The same points come up over and over again:

- The equation of Eich's personal views with his public actions, as if all public actions have a shield if they're rooted somewhere in a personal view somewhere, no matter how slimy or despicable.
- The assumption that criticism of generic support for Prop. 8 is the same as criticism of specific campaigns for Prop. 8 that were objectively hate campaigns, with many refusing to believe any of the campaigns that were pro-Prop 8 contained hate propaganda.
- The failure to recognize that necessary and required qualifications for leadership include a requirement that mutual respect should exist between leader and lead.
- A failure to recognize the special role of a CEO within an organization
- An obsession with supporting those accused of homophobic actions because of some perceived disagreement with "Political Correctness", regardless of context.

I have a gut feeling that if Eich had donated $1,000 to a campaign calling for the re-enslavement of blacks, a campaign which used dog-whistles like "Welfare" et al, we'd still be having this conversation. Really. I do.

Eich is, objectively, not qualified for the Mozilla CEO job. I know some people say "Well, look at all his other qualities", and I'm sure they're right and great and all, but a blind man can know the rules of the road and the layout of New York City like the back of his hand but I still wouldn't want him driving a bus there. It is difficult to get good people some times, but you have to be patient. Good CEOs need to be good figureheads, they need to be respected inside and outside the organization. Eich isn't. Maybe one day he will be.

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