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Comment Re:I'm not surprised. (Score 1) 906

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.

I like how you mind works, BTW. It is an interesting question to ask.

In the short term, as you point out, it does serve the personal power of those on the top. The ruthless backstabbing leaves those with real power apparent freedom to make completely arbitrary decisions at any time, by providing ammunition against everyone so there are scapegoats aplenty.

In the long term, the culture of infighting becomes the de facto entrenched bureaucracy, where you re-create approximately all the usual negatives of bureaucracies. In TFA, we apparently have a manager that everyone is too scared to even give a good hard slap on the wrist, because he has played the politics well and has successfully carved out his fiefdom.

Furthermore you fail to achieve the positive advantages of bureaucracies. In physics, inertia is a component of momentum whereby an organization has some degree of certainty that they can continue heading in a direction -- continuing to go sort of in the right direction is usually better than standing still or spinning in circles. That allows a company to make and keep promises, both to themselves and to their customers.

The reported cowed HR, the fiefdoms, the nasty politics, the lying on reviews, the constant fear of re-orgs, the failed projects -- these do not sound like a cooked up list of accusations. They are very much self-consistent and self-reinforcing cultural behaviors that you would expect to find together in the same organization.

Comment Re: SWATing needs serious consequences (Score 1) 208

Because more often than not lately, peaceful protests very quickly become not-so-peaceful with a lot of illegal activity like vandalism, violence, looting etc.

No. It is just that you do not notice the vastly more numerous peaceful protests, for the reason they get comparatively scant coverage, even if the peaceful protest is much larger.

A thousand people can peacefully march in Berkeley, CA and you would never notice. 50 people hold signs in a financial district like SF, and one of them smashes a window, and it is about 1000X more likely you notice that.

There was something like 5000 people for the anti-Trump Impeach on the Beach rally in SF about a week ago. Did you notice? I would bet you didn't.

Comment Re:Good. (Score 1) 96

That which could be potentially observed or heard by a person standing in a public space such as a sidewalk is usually presumed to be completely unprotected. So, yes, you do not have privacy in your living room if the front of your house is near the sidewalk and you choose to keep the curtains open.

There is some ambiguity about technology like parabolic dish mikes, telephoto lenses, and infrared cameras, used from public locations to delve into private property in a manner that was implausible for a physically normal human to do from a public space -- courts have usually ruled to protect the privacy in those cases.

There are reasonable concerns that modern technology can game the system. Clearly two hundred cameras and a dozen servers with license plate readers and face recognition software can track the populace in a manner that a thousand Stasi secret police officers never could. The answer is to explicitly write the laws on how that information is used and controlled, not hope that the courts create a magic line out of thin air that will probably need to be rewritten every few years.

Comment Re: Theory of continental drift (Score 1) 78

And yet they are unable to master the English language. Acquiring one's native tongue is not rocket science.

The supreme irony of your comment is that all the best America speakers of the English language are African-American.

In Hollywood, the famously silky, powerfully emotional voices are all black men: Morgan Friedman, James Earl Jones, Samuel Jackson. In music, the fast talking, rhythmic, expressive poetry of rap has taken the globe by storm. (Heck, I personally dislike rap, but its influence is undeniable.) In politics, the best public speaker for making complex topics understandable to general audiences in half a century is Barack Obama.

Racists are so blind that they can be orbiting the planet in a space shuttle and still proclaim the earth flat. Whether it is geology or language, they are fervently stupid.

Comment Re:Lemuria? (Score 2) 78

9000 years ago, the shorelines were quite different. For example, the Indus valley extended hundreds of miles into the Indian ocean, only to disappear over the course of one or two thousand years. The Persian Gulf was 90% land. The Red Sea was cut off from the Indian ocean. There were many places where entire small civilizations could have clustered cities/villages on rich alluvial lands near ocean shorelines, places that are now submerged. If those civilizations failed to build large stone buildings, they are forgotten and all that we have are tidbits in stories. The physical evidence would be too difficult to find.

Comment Re:Refuge (Score 2) 212

I would take issue with your first assertion. The memory, record, and threat of our bellicose foreign interactions are a deterrent for all of our adversaries.

Historical examples of a gov't's leaders being willing to accept casualties has some positive deterrent value. But "bellicose foreign interactions" have both positive and negative deterrent value, in the case of the US.

For example, WBush made a big show of talking tough but no one ever backed down an inch in response -- he got walked all over by everyone he did not get around to actually invaded, which is really quite a long list. Furthermore, his legacy set a dangerous precedent that perhaps US military action will have nothing to do with the strategic reality and everything to do with American domestic politics. What is the point of a foreign leader backing down, when US policy is often driven by ideology and polls, which rational negotiations cannot be expected to address?

Comment Re:Refuge (Score 3, Interesting) 212

Yes and no. At this point in history, approximately zero of our fighting has anything to do with keeping American citizens physically safe. America has created a kind of empire. And while it is a much kinder and civilized empire than those that came before, it is still vulnerable to the classic blunders of the old style empire, e.g. the Vietnam War.

There is a Chinese saying: "To love war will ruin the nation; to forget warfare endangers everyone."

IMHO, America suffers for loving war far too much, at this point in history.

People who love war are often quick to accuse any other opinion as advocating a complete forgetting of warfare. Of course, that is just the Black-Or-White fallacy. Arguing for less war in the context of the America of today, does not mean arguing for zero wars or zero warfare.

Comment Re:Is this next to Bears Shit In the Woods study.. (Score 1) 212

Which exact structures and whether the most important brain structures could be inspected and measured, those questions did not have an obvious answer. Even this result is only a toe in the door on that topic. Furthermore, the human brain is astoundingly malleable, so how useful a brain scan of a 13 year old could ever be in predicting the personality of the 37 year old is unknown -- the answer might turn out to be "not very, but better than nothing".

Comment No, because costs are only half the story (Score 1) 537

The other half of the story are revenues.

STEM professors bring in substantially more grants and prestige to the university. Undergrads and grad students are part of the package of taking advantage of those professors who rake in the grant money.

If the university actually considered the full financial picture, they might well charge more tuition to the English major because the English department is a greater burden per student in the major. But even that idea is foolishness, because a university cannot be a university without a properly staffed English department that serves the entire undergrad student body.

A university can learn useful lessons from the business world, but running a university exactly like a business is idiotic.

Comment Re:Also need to offer tools, software, and codes. (Score 1) 225

There was a nearly ten year period I serviced my car at a dealership, and while I slightly overpaid I did not see any of the other problems you describe.

There may be particular dealerships in the state where you live that hires blind monkeys at minimum wage and charges the customer a premium. The big car companies are probably not too happy about that either, but the state legislature is in the pocket of the dealerships so the car companies have no choice if they want to sell any cars in your state.

Comment Re:WW3 is going to be a nightmare (Score 1) 113

Without layers of defenses and countermeasures, drones could make armored vehicles nothing more than overlarge doorstops. Imagine how well an incursion into Gaza would go for the IDF if drones could pop out from behind any wall and precisely place a shape charge in the optimal location over the engine compartment of an armored vehicle.

Comment Re:This is a surprise? (Score 1) 483

They can't win. At this point, no matter what they do, some people will say they are corrupt for not acting like a proper non-profit, and some people will say they are idiots for not acting like a grown up business. With feedback like that, the only rational choice is to do what their "boss" wants -- in this case the CA legislature cares more about shaving costs than a few local jobs.

Comment Re:Here's a downside. (Score 1) 168

it has no downsides I can imagine.

If generalized beyond patent trolling suits it could severely limit the ability of shallow-pocket plaintiffs to obtain legal council on a contingency fee basis to obtain redress for the torts that damaged, and perhaps impoverished, them.

The result would be that the legal system becomes accessible only to the rich.

It is possible, but there is no reason to expect it to go there.

The problem only arises because of an expansive view of corporations is allowing too many corporations that were designed to fail as part of their business model, thereby privatizing the gains and socializing the losses. These corporate entities are simply not businesses in the pedestrian manner of a restaurant or a tech start up. In a sense, the court is searching for a real person as a plaintiff, other than the fake person which is the corporate entity.

Could this idea be expanded to all contingency fees? I am sure there will be lawyers who will try. And there will be lawyers who will try to clamp that down.

Comment Re:You are doing it wrong (Score 1) 296

And I am saying, for all practical purposes, you are wrong.

Not seeing the fluctuations is a significant practical positive because it makes a theoretical problem a non-problem, but it is a price that Bitcoin users cannot avoid.

Furthermore, Bitcoin has fluctuation that are very large when compared to major currencies. Whether we want to say the USD has small fluctuations and Bitcoin has large fluctuations, or we want to say the USD has large fluctuations and Bitcoin has immense fluctuations, it boils down to the same thing.

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