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Comment Re:Oh noes! (Score 1) 736

Nevermind the increases in safety. Nevermind the new jobs that this will enable. Nevermind the greater standard of living this will bring to all people. We've got to be concerned about potentially lost jobs above all else.

Nevermind the strawman. Nevermind engaging the non-debate, when the real debate is difficult, even for serious minds. Nevermind that throughout the animal kingdom, the unemployed are soon tagged on the ankle or wrist to become unwilling organ donors. It's not like employment has any bearing on survival or mating opportunities. I suspect one testicle well employed outperforms two testicles unemployed. But don't scream too loud when your first nut is clipped.

The point here is not that the swelling ranks of the unemployed and the under-employed moan loudly, it's that they moan badly, as ignorant gits tend to do. Still, even a bad moan is appropriate when your left one is severed by a rusty plutocracy (stored in damp basement wrapped in seven layers of oil cloth for about three hundred years after everyone in arrived in America fleeing this very same thing). Johnny Appleseed didn't fall far from the tree.

Greenspan held this quaint notion that the superpower quants would self-regulate due to interlocking competition of interests. What actually happened is that the superpower quants looked around the poker table and spotted a trillion dollars in Uncle Sam's pocket while he as stupidly wearing an "aw shucks, too big to fail" quasi-libertarian grin on his face. If there's any business that Government should not be in, first and foremost, that business is libertarianism. Of course, once government takes the first fatal step toward libertarianism, they begin to resemble exactly the straw man that libertarians wish to portray it as being. Call it the straw man death trap, and a fine business this is if your agenda is to lead government into the noose swaying above the trap door.

If the hollowing out of the middle class isn't giving plutocrats everywhere a raging boner, I don't know what would. This observation alone ought to give people pause for thought about committing Greenspan's error with regard to Schumpeter's gale of naively presuming that if it ends well once (or any finite number of times), it ends well in all cases.

After the fiscal crisis, did any of the elites go "my bad" and volunteer to repay the public rescue purse for emergency rescue rendered? Have they clucked about government intervention in their affairs so loudly as to set up a private rescue fund with a twelve digit cushion to tide them over their next salivary mishap? Oh, nooooo. That would never happen.

I can't see far into the future on this one. The one thing I'm fairly certain about is that filthy rich old bastards will require small standing armies of man and woman servants to cater to their every whim. So there will be jobs after all, no matter how this tempest in a teacup finally shakes out.

Comment Re:the wisdom of youthful folly (Score 2) 329

That came off slightly more cynical than I intended. In truth, I have nothing but gratitude for much of what hippie Google chose to do. My point at this juncture, however, is that that was then, this is now.

In much the same way that the terrorists succeeded in reshaping America in their own image (two crushed fingers was all it took), Facebook has succeeded in reinventing Google in their own image. Zuck, like Bill, was way ahead of his time right from the get go.

As far as I'm concerned Google+ is hardly any different than America+. Any symbol that leaves you asking "plus what?" is not to be trusted. What of this unary additive? Those who know are not entitled to say. Happily, that's as much as we need to know to guess what shape that mark will take once it reaches adult height, wreathed in flames.

Comment the wisdom of youthful folly (Score 1) 329

Corporations grow up, just like children.

If you're not a liberal when you're 20, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 40, you have no brain.

This much-laundered sentiment originated with Francois Guisot (and not as widely believed the sock-prophet Winston Churchill). The genius of Bill Gates was being twenty years ahead of his time. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of a brainy conservative is twenty to thirty years (tops), before the grizzled Ebenezer-in-Chief is forcibly defenestrated.

Roughly twenty years from now, the legacy of Brin and Page will be facing its own mop reduce. Brilliant strategy on their part to postpone the day of reckoning with a youthful sojourn into saccharine Dr Evil.

Comment kudos to Vanity Fair (Score 2) 406

I read that article yesterday. It's an extremely well done article. Unfortunately, it doesn't actually say what the summary claims.

At the center of the cultural problems was a management system called âoestack ranking.â Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewedâ"every oneâ"cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees.

When the millionaire mint ran dry, the problems began:

And so, the bureaucratization of Microsoft began. Some executives traced the change to the ascension of Ballmer, but in truth Microsoftâ(TM)s era of fast cash was almost certainly the actual driving force.

Empowered by a dysfunctional incentive culture instigated by His Billness, though some defend it.

The Case for Stack Ranking of Employees

From the posts I read, the stack ranking at Microsoft is political and not based on valid accepted metrics that define performance. But Iâ(TM)m inclined to fault the measurement system more than stack ranking.

What a complete idiot. He presumes that such a metric must exist, and completely misses the boat on absolute rather than relative performance norms. As soon as the norms become relative, you're tying your sneakers to outrun your team mate. If that's not political, I don't know what is. There are people who might not be star performers by any specific metric, but who enhance the productivity of any team they join. Guess what other company adopted stack ranking? Enron.

I believe I once read an essay by Drucker where he said if the person who was worth hiring in the first place is underperforming, most likely that person's boss has failed to put that person into the right context.

And software is the worst of all industries to institute such metrics. Any crank an employee can turn at 1000 rpm is better off scripted. The surest route to efficiency is repetition (the athletic model from he cherry picks his favourite aspects). Human repetition is bad repetition, yet metrics never catch up to non-repetitive cultures.

Comment Re:Hugging and Stretching (Score 4, Interesting) 406

they never excelled at anything

Bullshit. They excelled in maintaining backwards compatibility with BINARY legacy applications coded with all kinds of brutal behaviours under the hood. Often almost beyond the bounds of reason. This was one of the big reasons Apple had so much trouble clawing itself back into the game. MS worked very hard never to give visionary CIOs a good pretext to clean house of horror show legacy applications.

Embrace, extend, and eternalise.

Comment Hanlon's razor (Score 1) 154

Wow, that was a tortured vortex. I was losing track of which puppet hand had grabbed the microphone, or if it was just one especially wishy-washy devil's advocate.

If the bar is bad faith, we've got a problem, commonly known as Hanlon's razor:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

The party being sued just needs to slit their own throat with Hanlon's razor (duh I'm stoopid) and your case melts away. Unless it takes confessing to a level of stupidity sufficient to get the other party's lawyer disbarred. Then things get interesting.

However, I don't think Hanlon's razor properly belongs in the court room in the first place, where it would more likely be the other way around: never attribute to stupidity, faulty memory, or the dog eating your homework what can adequately be explained by malice, tactical dithering, and premeditation. The line between culpability and incompetence in the courtroom is more gerrymandered than FLA. 5.

Imbalance of Power

By comparison, the dividing line between pornography and naked flesh seemed so obvious that some judge muttered to himself absent-mindedly "I know it when I see it". I suspect that same judge would give his right arm to be able to reliably discern when the defendant protests too much about his own imbecility.

It's an extremely tricky business to write laws which boil down to where having a clue self-incriminates. It's pretty easy to flush clue down the toilet for the duration.

In my opinion, a standard of abuse needs to be set such that ignorance of the law is no excuse, reducing the scope of honest error to where the nuance of the law itself is hark to grok as applied to the relevant circumstance.

Wikipedia informs me of N.C. 12 that `The Wall Street Journal called the district "political pornography."` Note that Democrats holding a huge majority in one seat benefits the Republicans in every other seat they win by a narrow margin.

But your honour, my hand slipped!

Do have medical records to show that you've sought treatment for this dangerous condition?

Uh, no. It only happened just that once.

Fascinating. I've heard that three times already this morning. What I have here (pulls out Hanlon's razor) is a very sharp and heavy blade which you shall hold above your own head for ten minutes. If it slips out of your fingers during that interval, you will receive my sincere apology and a favourable verdict to go along with your stitches.

Comment he who weilds the lickable hilt (Score 1) 357

could out-innovate knowing that was the one thing they could do that M$ couldn't

Did you buy that four-digit ID on eBay? You've combined Microsoft's favourite word into the same sentence with the most geriatric of all derisions.

Microsoft innovated a metric butt unit, but very little of this advantaged the end consumer. They innovated business methods more so than technologies, especially the business method of crossing the legal and ethical line and getting away with it long enough to sip fine Champagne with one foot on Netscape's corpse while confined to the corner of the room wearing a pearl-crusted dunce cap. Vlad the Impaler tips his hat.

Speaking of Vlad, are you man enough to tell Vlad he can't innovate? To his face? Do you wish to wear the outcome of that assertion? Just because he's never much bothered to tweak the recipe for making Damascene steel or grafted on a lickable hilt (one that actually looks attractively lickable)? No, he just sits there thinking "no matter the sword, they all bleed the same way". Admittedly that's not the hallmark of innovation as celebrated among the proletarian ranks, but it works the gutters and coffers just fine.

One would think given his methods that more of the population would elect to somehow slip between his masochistic fingers. And yet they didn't. That's not what happened. Tell me it doesn't take innovation to become that sadistic and not have your entire empire relocate itself to the next valley over. Are your heirlooms and golden geese locked away in a proprietary chest for which only Vlad possesses the master key? You might have suspected something sooner, but you really liked the gaily-painted wooden wheels and the decorative hollow horse head. Steve never managed to sell that, yet somehow Bill was manning triple shifts under the lash to slake demand.

Wolfram Alpha just made me this nice chart in under sixty seconds and a permanently shareable link. Innovation, or just trying harder to please because you catch more flies with honey than vinegar? [when lacking Vlad's henchman army]:

appl msft profit over time

Microsoft had Apple's number for pretty close to twenty years, and without ever suffering cardiac arrest. Apple is cool like Lance: it's amazing what one can achieve sans so many testicles when clad in relentlessly promoted, well-branded apparel. Apple burned through five heart-lung machines before they regrew their permanent hair, but what flowing fleece it was.

Tell me what company in their right mind would deliver innovation to the end-user riding on top of a such a long, gracefully ascending line? Yeah, it faded a bit over the past five years. But Microsoft had it coming. Boy did they have it coming. A hectare of discarded Champagne bottles began to cultivate a mirulent strain of black mold. And right in their own back yard, less than a stone's throw away. Dang, what a mess to have to clean up.

Apple's time is coming, too. The migrant consumer is already beginning to scout valleys even further afield. People only pay through the A$$ for so long before they wise up, unless they're fleeing from fresh horrors of ruthless innovation in the sprawling valley of the damned.

A kinder, gentler Microsoft won't do anything to help Apple sustain its insanely high profit margins. At the same time, a return to form of the old ruthless Microsoft could turn into an expensive tactical nightmare, with the Koreans nipping at their other flank.

Much depends on the new Khan. Personally, I hope their first agenda item is to take a giant bite out of Oracle's rapacious backside. Later they release M$inx in a master stroke of branding genius with all the tedious and uncool APIs of XP's cooling corpse completely open sourced and unencumbered. Just think, you can continue running your old copy of Turbo Tax 2005 all the way to the next Y-who-cares epoch meltdown.

Forget about games, though. Warm drool is greeted with open arms (not open source) by the primary stake holder. Thus it will always be, whether the cape's clasp is festive fashion or fossil forged.

"Innovation, my friend. What a quaint notion. [Giant oak door thuds shut.] Allow me to show you to your room. Do you prefer to sleep in a saggy bed or hanging from your ankles in a snug cocoon? Ah! You're a traditional man, after all. I knew it the very instant you arrived. The other method is so much better for the posture and ... circulation but people such as yourself rarely change."

Comment Re:Yes, and? (Score 1) 237

which amounts to exactly the same thing

For a glib value of "same thing". I understand the Americans and the British are pretty tight, but I bet there's friction at every other point of exchange, even if it's just the petty little-brother/big-brother dynamic between Canada and the US.

When you're in the thought-crime business, all boundaries are porous. The correct question to the NSA is this: Do you access information on American citizens who have not yet committed a crime? And the obvious answer is: "Of course we do! Isn't the whole point of anti-terrorism to catch terrorists before their crimes are committed?" There's your thoughtcrime mandate signed, sealed and delivered.

The net immediately widens to include anyone with a legitimate or perceived beef with any social institution, and access to a car, an internet connection, or a hardware store.

Comment eternal life equals infinite mortgage (Score 1) 625

If people can live for a thousand years, interstellar travel becomes easier.

Interstellar travel accelerates aging, and thus it must be regarded as a disease not a cure. Besides, you'll be among the five billion people employed in sequestering all radiological sources in the earth's mantle into some deep pit in Nevada. If you survive your 10,000 years term of service at this biologically hazardous occupation, with luck and good behaviour you'll be eligible to take out the one billion dollar mortgage on a 400 sq ft condominium of your very own somewhere in free-wheeling Singapore a full fifty floors above the prison levels exposed to god-knows-what in the lower atmosphere.

Comment merely (Score 1) 351

The links are merely speculative at this point and provide a framework for a human study, Borjigin said."

Where merely means "all you superstitious, paranormal-guzzling wankers can leave the room now, a scientist just showed up and shed the first useful photon on the matter".

This provides a "framework" for directing a second useful photon upon the matter, the framework mainly amounting to bathing less often in warm blood. But you have to start somewhere.

Comment Re:Not a new concept (Score 1) 461

The concept is pretty simple: To lose weight, eat fewer calories than you burn. To not gain weight, eat only as much as you burn. You can increase how much you burn with exercise, or you can decrease how much you eat, or both. Anything else as far as dieting is concerned is window dressing.

This gets moderated insightful? Have you people lost your minds? Visit earth much?

Okay, sale at Macy's on thermodynamic bounding boxes. Dioxans, I hear, from the thin aliens on the squishy planet Dioxan Monohydride, eliminate long term weigth gain with a single dose. There's just this tiny issue with life expectancy and expectation of quality of living.

OMG! A system with two criteria that doesn't boil down to a pocket protector inscribed with the zeroth law of thermodynamics. But, as usual, we have a class of solutions to problems with living smug with living less. Not that your average geek would notice.

Let's see here. My cellphone battery only holds a charge for 15 minutes. What should I do? The math is simple. If electrons in exceed electrons out, the phone won't run out of juice. Basic electron caloried counting. Next question? I could do this all day. What, you don't want to plug your phone in every fifteen minutes? Sucks to be you. My fat metobolism works just fine. I'm young and stupid. You should have bought a Samsung. All problems in life are solved by correct brand allegience.

The actual problem with diets is that many people have disregulated fat metabolism. This is hard to fix once it happens. All arrows point to excess consumption of simple carbohydrates, especially in liquid form, and particularly the sugar fructose. Sound familiar?

Even the people who state categorically that HFCS is exactly the same as sucrose (they live in the same thermodynamic bounding box, after all) are ignoring the possibility of HFCS interacting hormonally with the intestinal wall.

Unfortunately, Gary Taubes is an idiot. For a while it was looking like a bandwagon with my name on it. But he just wants to take the debate way to far in the opposite direction, where he pretends that net caloric balance isn't even worth discussing. There's no room for that attitude in science, Gary. Try again.

Here's the real reason your cell phone battery won't hold a charge. It's because you charge it too often. Avoid rooms with wall outlets, and your problem will go away.

Comment take a look at meeeee (Score 1) 106

Just about anything that applies the special snowflake formula to the entire human species tends to win these things. We're total suckers for anything that affirms our special-snowflakeness, even if it's our epic fascination with beating the shit out of each other.

Vulcans? Too evolved. If doesn't count if you're good all the time. What matters is that once you were bad, but now you have risen. Otherwise you're just too smart for your own good and you don't really understand the shit that goes down.

Another typical science fiction plot:

Evolved race gives up on humans after 10 ms of initial observation. A billion years later, we prove them wrong. There's just no holding back special snowflakeness.

Comment jarhead Puritan pride (Score 2) 335

Incorrect. I will not die if I don't have sex, and it is not essential to me.

Why do you even bother to post? Oh I get it, you're anonymous. Because ya know, by the time this exchange of fish tails ends, the universe itself will be considered optional. Space time? Who needs it? I mean, really needs it.

I think this is a right the troops need to sign away during the recruitment process. Explicitly, not as part of an omnibus bill. Okay, just one last form: sign here to consent to being court marshalled for engaging in sexual activities with a consenting adult.

Prospective recruit: Whoa, run that one by me again. No shit? You know what, I'm going to sleep on this. See ya tomorrow ... or the next day ... or the second Tuesday after not in this lifetime ...

Whatever my morality about sex, I don't this should kept under the covers in the fine print on the application form. Shout it loud, shout it proud if you've got jarhead Puritan pride. Informed decisions before the first lock is shorn, that's the only democratic system there's any reason to protect.

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Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith