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Comment Re:I'm not surprised. (Score 2) 622

I'll go farther: everyone has bad days where they do things they shouldn't do. Especially in matters of the heart and loosely affiliated organs. I'm not a big fan of knee-jerk firing in response to an accusation.

It's the inevitability of this that means an organization needs to be prepared to handle problems like this, and that's the problem here: the organization, not the supervisor. If the atmosphere described here is accurate, then management and HR aren't doing their jobs.

Comment Re:I'm not surprised. (Score 2) 622

First of all, moderators, while I disagree with this guy's opinion, it's not a troll. It's just an opinion we disagree with. Learn the difference.

That said, making a sexual advance to a subordinate right off the bat is just plain stupid. You don't know each other, and anyone in her position would feel uncomfortable. It's an office, not a bar. People are there to work, and what's more they can't avoid each other. That's why you need professionalism in your job conduct.

HR's response was also stupid. In business you often get into trouble by saying too much, and that's exactly what they did. They could have said, "We've issued a verbal and written reprimand and will be watching this situation closely; let us know if more this kind of thing happens." Instead they had to bring in the fact that this guy was a "high performer", implying at least that this gives him a license ordinary managers don't have. Now I think we can all assume that on some level high performers get leeway that low performers don't. But saying so is stupid. It's pretty much tantamount to a confession that you don't take this seriously.

Then they compound the stupidity by telling her to expect a bad review from this guy because she brought this up. This pretty much is an admission that HR and management countenance unprofessionalism, allowing managers to use employee reviews to pursue personal issues rather than evaluating the employee's contribution to the company.

That's just asinine. If it's false you're undermining employee confidence in the review and performance reward system for no reason. If it's true you should be fixing it, an in the interim keeping your mouth shut.

Now I'd say you should keep your work and personal (e.g. sex) life separate, but I know some companies don't give employees time to have a personal life. If a company does that you're absolutely right, your HR people are going to have a tough time navigating the line between advances and harassment. All the more reason not to be sloppy. If someone in such an environment can't broach the subject with tact, he'd better be prepared to be celibate.

Comment Boy, that is a STUPID idea. (Score 5, Informative) 197

Good thing that's not what they're actually doing.

If you read the actual GAO report, it doesn't say the rocket costs twenty-three billion. That's the cost of "the first planned SLS flight, the ground systems for that effort, and the first two Orion flights." In other words the costs to meet certain early program milestones, including costs which should properly be amortized across the lifetime of the rocket and crew vehicle.

The actual per launch cost of just the SLS system is supposed to be about $500 million, or 2% of the $23 billion figure.

That's still a lot of money. Even if you go with expendable costs of half a billion, and billions for the whole mission for sure, well, it's a lot of money just to prove you still have big balls. Not that that's completely unimportant, but I'd like to know what the manned component does for the mission besides make it more complex and expensive and therefore a more impressive demonstration of our manhood.

Comment Re:I'm not surprised. (Score 3, Interesting) 622

Let me ask you a simple question. Ignoring the sexism, which doesn't apply to you, read her description of the corporate culture and tell me: does this sound like a place you'd like to work?

It isn't just sexism, she describes a generally toxic work culture in which all kinds of problems can arise and persist. It's one where managers are focused on competing with each other, even to the point of undermining their supervisors; you might let a problem ride for a bit because you might need to use it against them later.

Now granted, this might not be a fair description of Uber's culture. Or her perceptions might be colored by what was a string of bad luck. But we all know places that shade this way exist. The problem of a organizations that are at the same time bureaucratic and cutthroat go way back. What she describes could be the politics of an old-time royal court.

Why? Why does this kind of culture crop up again and again in human history?

I think because ruthless internal competition offsets some of the natural lethargy of a bureaucracy. It can serve the interests of whoever is on top, at least in the short term. If you have no talent for inspiring people you can at least set them against each other. But you'd be a fool to join such an organization at the bottom, knowing what it is, if you had any alternatives.

Comment Re:Cake or death (Score 1) 622

Well, let's leave aside the fact that it wasn't the guy's first offense. What would you, as a professional HR person or senior manager, do about that situation?

I tell you what I wouldn't do: I wouldn't issue a warning and assume it just magically fixed the problem. I'd follow up and continue monitoring the situation.

Comment Re:Basic Physics (Score 1) 65

Or, perhaps, your own understanding of physics is bullshit because, well. Physics is bullshit. And this is why physics hasn't accomplished anything significant since the atom bomb. It's mental masturbation.

Well here's some things physicists have done after the bomb that I thought of off the top of my head: Lasers (and laser-related stuff like laser spectroscopy), Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Holograms, atomic clocks, high temperature superconductors, tunnel diode, scanning tunneling electron microscope, atomic force microscope, stochastic resonance, charged coupled devices... All kinds of stuff that maybe isn't as high profile as the atomic bomb, but are essential to things you take for granted, like flash memory and liquid crystal displays in your electronics or the Hall effect sensors in your anti-lock brakes.

In any case, leaving aside the obvious hooey , if physics were mental masturbation then anyone could do it. It's the fact that so few can do it that makes so many people see it as a pointless and trivial exercise.

Comment Re:Boo hoo, just stop rainwater from leaching lead (Score 4, Informative) 256

You might not think so, because elemental lead is not water-soluble. However compounds of lead like hydroxides or carbonates are soluble and can form from elemental lead by contact with water, e.g., 2Pb + O2 + 2H2O -> 2 Pb(OH)2.

This is why it's perfectly safe to drink wine from leaded crystal wine glasses, but a bad idea to store wine in a leaded crystal decanter.

Comment Re:Boo hoo, just stop rainwater from leaching lead (Score 2) 256

So as long as you keep the lead from escaping into groundwater (could bury them in a landfill with a clay or plastic lining in a big mountain), this is fine. If lead prices are so cheap that it's easier to mine new lead than it is to recycle it from CRT glass,

True, and true, with reservations. Somebody has got to pay for keeping the lead from escaping into groundwater. Should it be everyone, or the people who benefited from the use of the lead?

And if everyone pays, human nature being what it is people will pay to make the problem "go away" without looking too closely at the details, where "go away" includes "making it someone else's problem."

The thing is, if you could completely internalize all those expenses so the cost of dealing with never just "went away", the market would do a fine job of efficiently managing lead and disposal management as a resource. But that doesn't happen naturally, by itself.

Comment Re:Shiva Ayyadurai is a fraud. (Score 4, Interesting) 77

Well, it's possible that he's mildly delusional, as most of us are about beliefs about ourselves that we hold dear.

It strikes me that Ayyadurai is in a legal catch-22 situation. Let's suppose for a moment he did "invent" email. That would make him a public figure, and the legal standard used to establish defamation is "actual malice. That's a difficult standard to meet.

I assume Ayyadurai's complaint are claims that he is a "fake" or a "liar". Suppose some random shmoe is interviewing for a job, and you tell the interviewer that he's a "liar". That is defamation, unless you have actual reason to believe he is a liar. But if you say the same thing about a politician running for office, it's NOT defamation unless you have actual reason to believe he is NOT a liar. That's because the politician is a public figure.

It seems to me nearly impossible to defame someone by calling him a liar in the context of his claiming to invent anything. His very demand to be recognized for his achievement makes him a public figure, whether that claim is true or not.

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