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Evaluating the 'Doofus Factor' In Corporate Governance

BrianMarshall Large Hierarchies Insane; Story from Texas (204 comments)

Many years ago, I realized that the larger and more layered a hierarchy is, the more insane it is. As TFA and most posts have pointed out, the board does not do what a board should do. The President/CEO is generally (generalizing, here) outward-facing, mostly concerned with how the organization is perceived. Vice-Presidents are... well, vice-presidents - some are good but many are either competing to be the next President or are too scared to do anything that they are not already doing. Middle management are often simply paper shufflers, maybe trying to do a good job but not important enough to really change anything. Lower managers can actually see what is happening in the company, but their view is so at odds with the view of upper management that they are powerless.

In short, those on top don't know what is happening, those close to the action are ignored by those at the top, at best, or act only out of fear or ambition, at worst.

Interesting story: I was a "super-consultant" (read: contractor) at a large, old tech company in Texas back in the '90s, working as part of a team to install a major system. I was working on some bit of code, realized that the approach I was taking was not going to work, and said something like "This is never going to work!". Seconds later, just as I was starting a different approach, the girl in the next cubicle - an employee and my main contact - called me into her cubicle and... said basically that she could not believe this, that my behavior was totally unacceptable... Her reaction would have been appropriate if I had stood on my desk and yelled "This stupid project is never going to work and this stupid company should never have started it".

Short version: expressing any doubt about anything in the company, even the bit of code I had been working on for ten minutes, was totally forbidden.

The message seemed to be "You are happy about everything that happens in this company or you are fired."

about 3 years ago

Krugman On Bitcoin and the Gold Standard

BrianMarshall Means to Store Wealth (601 comments)

People have wanted gold for thousands of years and that is not likely to change.. A lot of the intrinsic value of gold is a means to store wealth. There are problems with this, but there are problems with any way of storing wealth.

about 3 years ago

Krugman On Bitcoin and the Gold Standard

BrianMarshall Jobs and Sales (601 comments)

This works and is how the US got out of the great depression with help from the New Deal and WW2.

It also helped to have a huge industrial base that wasn't being bombed to bits - jobs for everyone (in the military and in industry) and a lot of customers.

about 3 years ago

Coordinated, Global ATM Heist Nets $13 Million

BrianMarshall Eliminate such criminals? (122 comments)

"Need a global effort to eliminate such criminals."

There is no way to eliminate "such criminals". There will always be criminals and some will try this sort of thing if it is possible.

The attack was against one financial institution in the US. The financial institutions could change to make this sort of crime harder or maybe even impossible to pull off. But, as other posters have pointed out, this would cost orders of magnitude more than $13 million. Eventually, it will be worth it.

But to even try to "eliminate such criminals", what can be done? Off hand, I would imagine that the only way would be to try to detect the conspiracy before the crime happened. The only way to do this would be to massively increase the degree of government surveillance. IMHO, this "cure" (to the extent it helped at all) would be worse than the disease.

about 3 years ago

Cybercrime Treaty Pushes Surveillance Worldwide

BrianMarshall Scary Places (89 comments)

Yeah, well..... As a Canadian citizen I am better protected in Canada than I would be anywhere else, although our constitution and rights have been granted by the government, and what the government can grant, it can take away.

Theoretically, the US is better, in that the constitution defines roles and limitations of the government (rather than the government granting rights to people). But the US is a very scary place in some ways. The Bill of Rights in the US has, in some cases, been interpreted to apply only to citizens which (I believe) is not what the Constitution says and not what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

This business with Guantanamo is very scary - holding and basically torturing political prisoners in the one(?) country that US citizens are (generally) not allowed to visit. The US used to at least have the image of holding the moral high ground; that this has been lost is tragic and scary.

One nice thing about Canada is that it is small enough that it can't be as scary internationally as the US. The US, next door to Canada, is the most dangerous country to Canada. I realize that this situation would be different if we were next door to Iran.

Everything considered, the US is a somewhat scary place for US citizens and quite a scary place for non-US citizens. It is such a shame - it used to be so different. Canada has gotten scarier too, but, all told, Canada is one of the least scary countries in the world.

about 3 years ago

Cybercrime Treaty Pushes Surveillance Worldwide

BrianMarshall Re:Socialists and/or Fascists (89 comments)

Canada had a Bill of Rights (from 1960) but (I had to Google this) it was considered to be ineffectual. In 1982, we got a"Charter of Rights and Freedoms". However, the latter has a "limitations" clause and a "notwhithstanding" clause which the government can involke if it thinks it is important enough.

What it boils down to is that we have a pretty good set of "rights" but, unlike the US bill of rights and constitution in general which (is supposed to) fundamentally limit the rights of government, our rights and constitution were provided by the government, with loop holes.

An example of loopholes: The "limitations clause" was used to uphold laws against objectionable conduce such as hate speech. I like having a few loud-mouth holocaust deniers around - they are like the canaries in the mine - if they were allowed to be objectionable and offensive, it was a good sign for general freedom - if the government can criminalize objectiionable speech.... it can criminalize anything.

So, the Canadian situation is better than places, but what the government can give, it can take away.

about 3 years ago

Cybercrime Treaty Pushes Surveillance Worldwide

BrianMarshall Re:Why? (89 comments)

You got it: "add more surveillance to your citizens"

about 3 years ago

Cybercrime Treaty Pushes Surveillance Worldwide

BrianMarshall Re:Socialists and/or Fascists (89 comments)

Actually, I feel that Canada is a pretty scary place as well.

The US is scary, but at least it has a real Constituion. This constituion is being ignored in many cases, but at least some people care about this.

Canada is currently less scary than the US, particularly if you are a Canadian citizen. But I live in a city with a zillion cameras, which I hate. What I hate even more (and what scares me even more) is that the cameras went up and no one seems to care. I don't know how much debate there was about them, but Canada has very little except tradition to prevent it from turning into a police state.

about 3 years ago

Cybercrime Treaty Pushes Surveillance Worldwide

BrianMarshall Socialists and/or Fascists (89 comments)

For decades, it was socialists that were the enemy of individual rights. Fascists are now much more of a threat. They (try to) make the trains run on time. They focus hatred on some minorities, get some real emotion going. They want a STONG government.

As a Canadian, I have no intention of going into countries where I might disappear and be tortured to see what I might know (or just because they enjoy torture) - you know, countries like Chad, Angola, and the US.

about 3 years ago

Does Religion Influence Epidemics?

BrianMarshall Chistians Beating Children (547 comments)

To Chistians who believe in Hell, God has made it clear: if you break the rules you will be tortured for all eternity. Such Christian parents need to ensure their children learn this - obey or suffer horrible pain. Beating their children when they disobey is God's way - God's approach to ethics.

I think this is one of the most evil aspects of Christianity.

about 3 years ago

Fedora 16 Alpha Released

BrianMarshall Not trying to upgrade again for a long while (111 comments)

A few weeks ago, I installed FC15 (from FC 14). It didn't like my graphics card, so I didn't have as much chance to be horrified as some folks.

I couldn't find a gui app to see what services were being started. In a forum on, it said that one was "in the works".

Right. No problem. I went back to FC 14 the day I started this waste of time.

about 3 years ago

Major ISPs Help Fund BitTorrent User Tracking Research

BrianMarshall And the Cloud is almost free, right? (190 comments)

As more people and organizations do vast amounts of computing on cheap clouds, eventually clouds are going to stop being almost free. Sure, the servers are being used in a very efficient way, but more and more servers are going to have to be purchased.

more than 4 years ago

Phantom OS, the 21st Century OS?

BrianMarshall Sometimes you just want to boot (553 comments)

There is a good reason for the standard:
User: "Well, my computer seems to.."
Support: "Reboot your computer"

more than 5 years ago

Firefox Crop Circles Prove Intelligent Alien Life

BrianMarshall "Knowing" the Earth (239 comments)

Is it just me, or does the Firefox logo look like a fox knowing the Earth. In the Biblical sense, I mean.

more than 8 years ago


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