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Journal Journal: Respect for the individual 16

"Respect for the individual." First heard about this one about 40 years ago. One of the three guiding principles of a great company. Still around, but they dumped that idea a while back, though I'm still working on it.

Back when the company had that principle, there was a strong consensus that it was the best company in the world, at least some of the time. By the time I started working there, they were already on the down side, and one of the biggest problems was that they had forgotten what the principles were about. The other two principles were easier to understand and follow but "respect for the individual" was already on the ropes, though it somehow became something of a fetish object for me.

Seems like a simple idea, but it isn't. To really understand the meaning, you have to apply it to everyone. It's really easy to respect some folks. Many of my coworkers and customers were elite engineers and programmers with PhDs from hoity toity universities. One of them even rose above normal rankings and did me the peculiar honor of asking for a bit of minor help on a TED talk. Went well, too. Easy to respect such individuals, but you can't draw the line there, or you're disrespecting other folks and it has to be universal.

I've often suspected that my difficulty with the concept was related to my time in the service, where the rules of respect were completely codified and ritualized. Up? Respect. Down? Phuck 'em. Convenient, but mindless, and ultimately fake. Real respect for the individual has to go every which way.

Maybe my problem with the concept had more to do with self-respect? It has to go inwards, too, or maybe it's better to say that respect for other individuals has to be based on a foundation of self-respect, too. If you have perfectionist or idealistic tendencies, then it's kind of hard to practice that respect in reverse for exactly the same reason that the high-level respect doesn't easily go to lower levels.

For a while I tried specialization. I thought the trick of "respect for the individual" might involve finding the unique strength, even if it was a negative one, and then you can respect that. Can you respect someone for being the biggest liar in the room? How about respecting the greatest rudeness or stupidity, even if you have to limit the scope of the "greatness" to a slashdot journal? Actually takes me back to the military days again... Perverted version of the 23rd psalm "because I'm the baddest motherphucker in the valley [of the shadow of death]."

So how can you respect a subhuman and mindless troll? I failed again.

Oh well. Guess I need to keep studying it.

By the way I'm leaving this one open for comments just in case some trolls are stupid enough to want to prove my point. Unlikely that any of them will say anything interesting enough to merit a reply, but it might be amusing to watch them try. Of course the sad part is that they really don't have any better use of their precious time on earth.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Is Michael Moore right about Trump's victory? 43

This is my own dismayed reaction to Michael Moore's lists (one in email and a somewhat different list on Alternet) of reasons why Trump will win:

The email version was stronger, though he used some different points there. Not sure it should be in a top five list, but Mike didn't mention the plausibility threshold: The Donald has finally convinced everyone that it is actually possible for such a person to become president. Not sure when I was dragged across that Rubicon, but even I have to admit that the official nominee of the so-called Republican Party could become president. No matter what.

My worst-feeling agreement is on the enthusiasm factor, though my analysis is based on a breakdown of Trump's supporters into government haters, Hillary haters, bigots, racists, and authoritarians (fascists). Doesn't matter how wrong they are, they are all enthusiastic about their wrongness. There might be some people who have corresponding positive enthusiasm for Hillary, but I haven't met one.

Even if you do feel total enthusiasm for one (or more) of Hillary's policies, can you really be sure she'll do it? Sorry, but you know she's a realist and it all depends on the political realities. Also, even if Trump is saying that he's totally opposed to that policy, he's also said he's in favor of it, and no one knows which side he'll be on tomorrow. Do you hear that giant sucking sound? It's your enthusiasm.

Ultimately it comes down to bad economic models, but there are so many to choose from and all of them stink. For example, the mass media model of eyeballs for ads has driven the free publicity that Trump rides like a lawn tractor, mowing down everyone who has gotten in his way. Alternet is nicer, but it's running on fumes. (I've suggested better alternative economics, but I'm not a salesman and I can't push good ideas the way the Donald can push bad ones.) [Also suggested better economic models for slashdot, but they aren't interested here, either. Perhaps my ideas are so good (or bad) that they just have to be rammed down people's throats? But I'm not such a ram.]

At this point I think that America's best hope is that Trump is a big liar, and since he is, maybe we can have hope after all? No, because the secret truth would have to be that he is really a secret super-patriot and he realized that the so-called Republican Party is just a brand hijack. The secret super patriot would have decided to restore democracy in America by helping the so-called GOP finish its suicide so a rational and principled second party could emerge. I'm not saying that something along those lines won't happen after the Trump fiasco, but it ain't his secret plan. Now I'm just desperately hoping he's conned me, too.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Suggested poll for politics: How to stop Trump? 225

No, the Subject: line isn't actually my suggested poll, though someone else might want to work on that one. Actually I'm approaching a different poll from the back, but that may be because it's increasingly obvious that America's real choice this November is "backwards with Trump" or "forward with Hillary". Perhaps just a failure of my imagination, but I am unable to imagine how the country can go forward with its head screwed on backwards as it fantasizes about a glorious past that was never so glorious. (The Donald's supporters must insist that old people with accurate memories and non-conservative historians (and I'm both) are just tools of the vast liberal conspiracy.)

At this stage of the game (of sick politics), the question of stopping Trump has become equal to asking how Hillary can win. It should be a case of "How can she possibly lose?", but after 30 years of sustained, mostly non-credible, and often incredible and even insane demonization, I'm beginning the believe that it really could happen. How much of Christie's lynch mob speech were you able to stomach?

No, that isn't my suggested poll either, though I think the answers to such a poll should be measured in seconds for decent people. Lynch mobs are bad.

Here's my suggested poll:

What campaign slogan should Hillary use?

(1) Forward Hillary
(2) Stronger Together
(3) Iâ(TM)m with Her
(4) Make America Whole
(5) Love and Kindness
(6) Break Down Barriers
(7) Build Ladders of Opportunity
(8) Love Trumps Hate
(9) Donald Trump
(10) Save Us, Cowboy Neal!

As usual with my poll suggestions, I've loaded the dice by putting my favorite answer first, but most of these have actually been tested by Hillary's campaign and I haven't noticed any of them catching fire the way "Crooked Hillary" has...

In my research for this poll, I visited her official website looking for her campaign slogans, and that was massively depressing. No clear slogans to be found, though some links for some issues, for sending money, and most annoying of all, for harvesting my email address. However, that wasn't the really depressing part. That was when I decided to try to contact the campaign and was shown a webform that actively REJECTS my email addresses. WTF? Tried three, all valid, and each returned "This does not appear to be a valid email address." Has her website been hacked? WTF?

More importantly as regards this suggested poll, no mention of "forward" (or "backward") on any of the webpages I visited. Maybe the website just isn't for people like me? With a bit of imaginative effort, I can imagine that I'm not included in any of her target demographics, but it's easier to believe the website needs work...

Seems like I need to close with the usual disclaimer. Quite possible that it's contamination due to the decades of vilification, but I don't feel any real enthusiasm about voting for Hillary. Rather than the tainting, I just think it's part of my increasingly negative view of American politics. If the dictators of Texas hadn't removed my vote (different long story), I certainly would have voted for her, but mostly it would have been another negative vote against another terrible candidate from the so-called Republican Party. Honest Abe's ghost is haunted and horrified by Con Man Donald. (I think my more substantive (and less negative) reasons actually involve Hillary's personal identities, but that's another long topic.)


Journal Journal: Trump's Attack Lines On This Are Spot On 12

Trump's attack lines on this are spot on:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 7:01pm  12 Jul 2016

        Bernie Sanders endorsing Crooked Hillary Clinton is like Occupy Wall Street endorsing Goldman Sachs.


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 7:03pm  12 Jul 2016

        Bernie sanders has abandoned his supporters by endorsing pro-war pro-TPP pro-Wall Street Crooked Hillary Clinton.

Those are valid statements. I find it hard to to argue with these.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ekronomics 101

The essential notion of ekronomics is that time is much more important than money and needs to be analyzed carefully. Focusing on working time, there are three basic kinds: (1) essential time to produce (and sustain) the goods and services we need to survive, (2) investment time that improves the productivity (equals reducing the required amount of essential time), and (3) recreational time, which actually includes both the production and consumption of recreational goods and services such as music, novels, and movies. That's not to say the division is always easy, but I think that's where we need to start. An obvious example of a complexity is education. A certain amount of education is essential to sustain any society, but the rest of it has to divided between investment and recreation time, and that's going to take some thought.

One application involves comparing national development. In a developed country (where almost all of the members of slashdot live) the productivity is high and the amount of time is low. Based on productivity figures that I've read and the demographic categories of the working population, I estimate that the value is on the order of 2 hours per week, averaged over the entire population. Remember that some people spend all of their working time in the essential work while other people are not doing any of it, but just buying what they need based on other work they are doing. In contrast, in a less developed society, almost everyone may be working 40 hours per work just to grow the food, while in the least developed societies (such as hunter-gatherer tribes or failed states) people may spend all of their time just struggling to survive. Looking at the future trend of national development from an ekronomic perspective, it is the balance between the other two categories that is crucial. If two countries start at the same level, but one country guides more time into investment while the other allows more time to be spent on recreation, then the first country is pretty sure to wind up more productive. Perhaps Singapore is an interesting example of this approach?

Another application involves determining proper and appropriate salary levels. From an ekronomic perspective, it is reasonable to try to evaluate jobs in terms of the amount of time people want to spend on them. I haven't yet been able to find much hard data in this area, but the research approach is obvious. You would ask a large number of people who have worked in different areas how they feel about the two kinds of jobs. A simple example question would be "How many hours of typing would you prefer instead of 1 hour of collecting garbage?" Of course the results will vary widely from person to person, but the averages will give a reasonable indicator of the desirability of different types of work and what the proper salary differentials ought to be, though you have to adjust for other factors, such as the educational time (investment time) required to qualify for the work and the prioritization of essential work. However, if you come to the conclusion that garbage collectors deserve relatively high pay and you happen to be a person who actually enjoys collecting garbage, then more power (and pay) to you and other people are unlikely to complain that they can use more of their time in other ways.

Recreational time is interesting in several ways. As a quasi-joke, I wrote a piece called "Couch potatoes of the world, unite." The URL is and that was back in 2013, so I've been thinking about these ideas for a while... The interesting thing about consuming recreational time is that it is a bottomless pit and it usually does not actually consume the goods or services that were produced for recreation. There are exceptions like live theater and fancy foods, but books and movies can be reread and rewatched ad infinitum without destroying their recreational value.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Squishy vs Non-Squishy 4

Well, after doing all these non-squishy 1st and 2nd year pre-reqs for engineering, I'm starting to wonder if my PhD might do better in a more squishy role, since I'm better at taking tech concepts and translating them into human speak. The major question is, since both squishy and non-squishy are Doctor of Philosophy, should I resist the inevitable drift to the squishy side? Ecology, environment, energy policy are things I grok, and both the long term implications and short term changes that are most effective, a set of unique skills that few possess, and how to translate that into rural speak too.

So, what do you think? Fill up my 3rd and 4th year slots with squishy stuff and push on through? Will this lead me to (gasp) having to work in cities, or can I find a way to work in villages and towns and skype in for research meetings when there's 20 meters of snow in the pass and it ain't going to be cleared for 10 days, so relax, eh?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Good reading and writing 1

Kind of a meta-comment from a typical slashdot "discussion". It was originally drafted there, so you have to excuse any glitches in the editing for the journal environment. (Basically I'm using the slashdot journal as a scribbling pad for ideas that will be lost in the contexts of their transient topical discussions.)

How do you assess good reading skills? Actually I think you have to start by considering good writing and why I don't do more of it. A good writer understands the reader's mind, but I rarely care. Unless someone is actually paying me for the extra effort, I'm basically quite content with gentle readers who believe whatever they want to believe. In contrast, a great writer understands the collective minds of many readers and smoothly and effectively transmits even quite complicated ideas into their minds.

However, on the reader side, I think the good reader assumes the author's mindset, and I have always found that to be the most efficient way to learn new things. There's even a simple metric of how well I'm doing it as my reading speed increases. For most books, I'm really blazing by the time I get to the last 100 pages or so. However, once again I fall short of greatness. Some of the metrics of greatness are how quickly the great reader can get into the author's head and the range of authors the great reader can handle. For example, mystery novels from a hundred years ago are quite different, and translations can be quite challenging, whether the translation is close or free.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Also? 8

Where on EARTH is the /. UI for starting a journal entry? LOL!

I don't know how it's done, if you don't just know to navigate

User Journal

Journal Journal: Yellowest of so-called journalism

[Comment on article about accusations of Facebook supporting terrorism. Journal entry due to the transience factor...]

More complete Subject: Eyeballs, censorship, media pollution, and stuffing your eyeballs and earholes with garbage (and you can see why I feel threatened by the so-called long-comment penalty, but I'll try to keep it brief).

Facebook needs eyeballs to sell and appeals to freedom of speech to reduce their operating costs for censorship, even when it is richly deserved. However, this is just one aspect of broader media pollution driven by the quest for more eyeballs, best typified by the collapse of CNN's pretenses to be a media organization dedicated to the public interest. While CNN is just following their business model into the toilet, the terrorists do love the free publicity of such disaster porn. To my way of thinking that kind of ratings-driven free publicity is clearly related to the rise of the Donald, too.

However, the REAL damage is from people who use the Internet to gorge themselves on poisonous lies. Whatever insane thing you prefer to believe, you can get as much "evidence" as you want on today's Web. Again, the eyeball-driven model actually encourages pandering to such narrow-minded people, and in the google's case, they could risk losing their favored-search-engine status if they showed people too much stuff that offended them, no matter how true it was. (Remember, "All your attention are belong to us, the [google|facebook|TLC].")

Solution? As regards the mass media, stop doing what the terrorists want. Agree NOT to compete for eyeballs by supporting terrorists. Actually, that should apply broadly to ANY news involving events that were motivated by the quest for free publicity. Not censorship, but a kind of negotiated settlement. Report the news, but don't exaggerate or emphasize publicity-seeking stories to get more eyeballs. STOP feeding the monsters.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Comment on the "My Activity" of the EVIL google article

Looked it over, but I can't figure out what it means. Both the google's version of "My Activity" and the slashdot side consisting of an article and visible comments. Now I expect such obfuscation from the google since their motto became "All your attention are belong to us", but I confabulate that slashdot used to be more revealing.

Short summary: The level of information that the "My Activity" page reveals is without form or meaning. Too much data and no way to understand how it is used, though I'm still sure it is mostly used to manipulate and twist us to the google's will. What we really need to know is HOW the google analyzes the data and WHEN it is being used and in WHICH ways. Probably an impossible problem since all of us are too stupid to understand the google. The google will tell me so, even though the search "how to outsmart google" came up with a couple of interesting books (that are not available locally, at least not in English).

Long answer: Naw, I can't be bothered to write more, and would be "penalized" for the long comment if I did. Today's slashdot doesn't motivate the effort to write so thoughtfully. It doesn't even have a fraction of the funny comments it used to. However, I might be confabulating myself again.

(Now if slashdot supported such a financial model, I might be motivated to help support a project to detect abusive long comments, such as long cut-and-paste blurbs from the Web. Whoa, dead horse, whoa.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Post-Brexit Blues 5

Not that having a spinal column was ever a regular feature of your average politician, but the absolute cluelessness of major UK political figures in the last couple of days is stunning. As far as I can tell, only Nicola Sturgeon has managed to avoid dumping large amounts of shit on herself.

Personally, I lay a lot of the blame at Tony Blair's feet. If he'd hadn't been such a mendacious prick, most of the current crop of British pols wouldn't even exist today.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot is to blame for Brexit! Hear me out! 2

The following comment was added to the transient discussion after the announcement of the Brexit vote. Another problem with slashdot not mentioned in my comment is that the discussions quickly go away. There should be a mechanism to revive and link back to earlier comments that become relevant again, but they just vanish into a black hole of a search engine... So here's the comment (and good luck even in finding it to see if there were any replies or reactions to it):

There are a number of obvious contributing factors to Brexit. Nationalism and selfishness are two of the most obvious.

So let's consider the enlightened discussion here on slashdot, this bastion of intellectual turmoil and whatever.

There have been several hundred comments so far. No mention of "nationalism" yet appears. One marginally related but tangential mention of "selfish" and no mentions of "selfishness". Maybe there are some hidden references, but then their invisibility reflects the failure of the moderation system. However, I think Brexit reflects a larger failure of journalism in general and a more specific failure of slashdot in particular.

People who were capable of thinking about the future would not vote in favor of fracturing Europe. They would have been able to put the broader long-term interests of their own grandchildren ahead of their various minor terrors of foreigners stealing their jobs, especially considering that if 52% hated the EU I'd bet that a much higher percentage hate their own jobs and ought to be glad if some immigrants would steal them.

Same rise of ignorant short-sighted stupidity has made it possible for the Donald of Trump to become a serious contender for the presidency, squatting on his bizarre high chair that he imagines as a throne. Don't look too closely at the legs: One leg for the government haters, one for the Hillary haters, a leg of bigots, and a last leg of overt racists. Yeah, a few Trumpists are smart enough to try to talk nice, but scratch a Trump supporter and you find a hater.

My problem with all of this is that I'm a believer in enlightened self-interest (per Heinlein, even). If people see sufficiently large pictures, then they will see how their private and national selfishness has to be limited for the long-term survival of the human species.

Why don't they see the large pictures? I think it's mostly because the existing economic models, including slashdot's pitiful economic models, drive them to short-term BS journalism and reality TV. Brexit and Trumpism are just natural outcomes. Gawd save us all, but he won't. (Even if he existed, it would be a breach of his divinely insane plan.)

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