Archive for December, 2002

2002.12.29

2002.12.29

found this interesting link about tolkien’s stories (and thus, to a degree, about tolkien himself), in which it is proposed that sauron represents progress and the alliance of men and elves represents a most conservative and backwards looking view of the world. things were only good in the past, and things are always in decline. despite one of the themes that there is always hope, the view that everything is regardless in decline is not the most optimistic. here is the article by david brin.

Comments Off on 2002.12.29 | Catergorized: books

2002.12.16

2002.12.16

here’s the official invitation (if there is such a thing as “official” in this case).

from me:

Hey All,

I thought I would invite you to Ireland’s 32 (a pub at 3920 geary x 4th-ish avenue) for some holiday cheer and to hear me and my friend, Scott, play the open mic. Yup, for those of you who have heard rumors that I play guitar, it’s true. Come on out, have a pint (or three), hear good music (make sure you have that pint first…) with good company before the holidays really start. We’ll try to be hitting the stage around 8-9PM; I know it’s a school night for most of us good boys and girls… Hope to see you there! -doug. PPS: We don’t have a “name”; previously our project was called EOD, but we’re thinking of going by “We’re Not Bill”.

We’ll see…

and from scott (for obvious reasons):

I hope everyone gets this. Mr. Nerad has proven once again that he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. The date would be: Wednesday (12/18), 8-9ish (it’s open mike, one never knows when they’ll get on). As always, just mopping up. You can thank me by showing up and not laughing too hard (or at least maintaining the laughs to stifled chuckles). Scott 20—

there we go. if you are in the area, show up!

Comments Off on 2002.12.16 | Catergorized: audio  friends  life

2002.12.12

2002.12.12

transfering over some old stuff from my palm pilot… each is a seperate entry with no connection.

objectification:

i think men too easily objectify the world. this objectification is why men are more commonly murderers and rapists and why afterwards they may not feel any guilt. i think with women… they don’t objectify others as easily; it’s a more personal world for them.

validation:

i get much of my validation -my feeling of worth- from the women i date. some get that from friends and/or family and i know that while they matter to who i am and what i am doing with my life, i won’t be too offended if they don’t like it (what i am doing with my life). but if my girlfriend doesn’t like what i am doing, i’m likely to drop it entirely. i’m like a fucking puppy dog. ruff.

people on the train:

1: the girl with the hair. it’s dark brown and she obsessively twirls it between her fingers, weaving it hypnotically… she gets off at MP and runs across the tracks to get to her car before the train can depart again.

2: the asian girl. she sits on the train replacing tiny bulbs on christmas light strings. she is friendly and smiles at everyone.

3: the blue collar worker. he also gets off at MP. when i get to the station at the end of the day he is already there. he sits and drinks his beer while waiting for his wife. he doesn’t get on the same train, prefering to relax with his beer and talk with friends about his life in general and often brings up his brother, who is seven years younger.

4: the foul tempered man. he is often in the same car i ride home in. he also rides the bus, and if the bus is late he yells at the driver. in fact if anyone even comes near him he seems to get belligerent.

5: the “tight” woman. she seems very stiff until you smile at her in passing. then she smiles back and her eyes say, “i didn’t expect you to smile.” her hair is always in a tight bun.

6: the smoking woman. she is in her late 40s or early 50s and i see her walking to the building next to mine and she always has a lit skinny cigarette. it seems to go well with her peppered ashen hair.

7: the dignified man. his legs are mangled yet he makes his way along the embarcation area with slow, deliberate and focused dignity with his cane in his left hand. his face is not appealling, but the look of proud detirmination makes it compelling and attractive.

those are a few of the things i wrote in my palm about a year ago while idle.

Comments Off on 2002.12.12 | Catergorized: life  thoughts  writing

2002.12.06

2002.12.06

(warning, this entry is incomplete. i tried to finish it but figure that, well, it is a journal. i’ll expound and clarify things in future entries.)

hello, children. today’s rant is about corporate america. yes, that (almost) final bastion of the aristocracy and feudalism remaining in the modern world.

what is a corporation? it is an economic entity that makes as much money as possible for as few people as possible for as little effort as possible and with as little regard for anyone or anything else as possible. the ideals of a corporation are this: make money at all costs and do not allow others to make money at any costs.

a corporation is a legal entity that enjoys rights similar to any real citizen and is protected by certain laws and (in theory) limited by other laws.

well, this all sounds evil! in truth, not all corporations are evil. non-profits can be corporations, many pursue humanitarian goals (medicine, science). however, the final goal is to make money at any cost, whether to guilt you into donating one dollar to their cause or to sell you a drug you need to survive.

corporations are headed by chief officers. chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief technology officer (CTO), ad nauseum. there is also a board of directors, whose function is to collect a salary, play golf and, oh yeah, to serve as advisors for the corporation. serving as a board of directors seems to be an occupation, but i’ve never recieved verification. i’ve never seen the position advertised on craigslist at least. most of them seem to have founded (successful or unsuccessful) companies.

these corporate officers and directors frequently make hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal income and as much or more in “perks”. these perks include the company paying for their homes, cars, country club (golf) memberships, travel (including airlines and hotels), and various other items for personal use.

these fellows are the economic equivilent of the aristocracy. they make so much money they live without want and you cannot easily join their ranks. yet once you do you need never leave it even if all your corporations go bust. often the children of these fellows follow their parent into the same positions. as the position is “appointed” it cannot be said to be inherited. but let’s call it what it is; shit is still shit no matter what language you use.

so we have our aristocracy. we also have our serfs (the wage and salary workers) and feudal wars (keiretsu in japanese, along with hostile take overs, intellectual property infringement, etc). the few in the aristocracy rule over the lives of their vassals though the vassals in truth do all the actual work and the corporate entity would crumble without them. the wars affect the serfs the most as well. thousands are let go without regard. why? because of money. making money.

corporations are, for better or worse, necessary for the economic well being of any successful country. they employ the people, they build incidental wealth for the country and society at large, and depending on their business can have huge impact on the world at large. i believe if you look at countries that are failing to thrive you will find a distinct lack of local economic corporations.

corporations today are under fire. Enron, WorldCom, AOL Time Warner (aoltw), various security and loans (anyone remember the bush family involvement in these?), Microsoft… all of these have come under or are under government scrutiny for a variety of “unethical” or disastrous and illegal practices. yet in all cases the goal was simply to make money. in this context what they are being investigated for is clear. Enron et al for blatant lies and cooking the books. Microsoft for being too good at making money (no comment right now about methods; different discussion). aoltw for possibly being too good at making money by possible cooking books.

yet, as i said, corporations are necessary for the economic health of a country. so, how do we fix these problems? what follows are a few practical solutions and some theory which will probably never be followed because it goes against the grain. that is to say, it goes against the simple goal of making as much money for as few people at any cost.

practical solutions:

1: severance packages.

as the goal is to make money, some one has to give. when it is not the consumer the money must come from somewhere else. frequently the money comes in the form of employee reductions. this saves companies money from salaries/benefits and overhead (lay off 1000 people, you can save about $300,000 in computers and office supplies). also, i believe the corporation recieves some sort of compensation from the government. this causes ill will towards the corporation, reprisals are not unknown, higher unemployment rates, and a host of other factors that probably have never been computed in terms of actual cost to the corporation (nevermind the social ramifications). however, a better solution presents itself. get rid of severance packages. for those of you who may not know, the corporate aristocracy -high and low- have clauses in their contracts which say that if they are asked to leave (fired, in colloquial english) they recieve money in the form of a continued salary, stock options, a huge lump sum of money, or any combination of those. i seem to recall that some idiot here in san francisco’s severance package was millions of dollars even though he drove the corporation to oblivion. solution: get rid of or at least seriously curtail severance packages. if the person cannot help the corporation make money, there is no reason he should be kept, and if not kept there is no reason he should continue to be a drain on the corporate income. the money saved could help keep some of the serfs employed, too.

1.5: end the perks.

while we’re going over executive contracts, let’s cut the perks. perks cost money. yeah i can hear them all crying now about not getting a car. ok, we’ll give you a car. you get a car like everyone else, maybe a honda civic, but that’s it. everything else you buys yourself. you know, the serfs making $45K a year somehow manage with a car payment, a house payment, and kids. i’m sure you can manage somehow with $500K a year. so quit crying.

2: incompetence costs.

related to the previous solution is: do not keep incompetent workers. they are a drain on capital at any level in the company. this is not to say that you should expect 100% work 100% of the time, but there are some people who do absolutely nothing, who cannot do the job they were hired for, and/or cause so much disruption that they still cost money. develop methods to find and eliminate these serfs, no matter what level they reside in the structure.

3: cash in hand is worth…

what works small often works big. look at the local economically responsible family. how do they manage their finances? very carefully. they do not purchase something unless they can afford it, cash in hand. so, stop borrowing money. stop spending money on projected income. sure, sell your stock, but always attempt to purchase that stock back. after all, no matter how you twist the wording stock is just another form of loan. if you want to expand, earn the money first. if you decide you must get a loan make sure you can afford to pay it over a short amount of time with the income you already are making. then bloody well pay the thing off immidiately.

4: kill all marketers.

it sounds harsh, but look at where many companies budget money. where does the most money go these days? look at your marketing department. what do they do? do they make money? they say you have to spend money to make money; do you really need to spend *that* much money? marketers are one of the primary reasons there is so little consumer trust in corporations. no consumer with an inch of intelligence believes the poop marketing departments put out. i am not saying eliminate the entire department, but most of it could go. at worst, cut their salaries in half, because anyone could do their job. really.

theoretical solutions: meritocracy.

a long time ago we had monarchies ruling most of the world. the hapsburgs, the english throne, the emperor of china, even the vatican, and etc. then (forgive the extreme simplicity of this jump) when people got tired of that things started to change, very slowly. democratic principles, where the power shifted from the elite few to the masses (who then chose who would lead them).

however, as i hope is seen by now, the aristocracy moved. they became chief officers and board members of various corporations. look at our own government. who holds the positions of power? most members of congress at some point sat or are sitting on boards or “running” corporations. our presidents are the same. who leads us? our economic aristocracy.

communism attempted to solve this problem but failed. why? because their system was resplendent with corruption and an economic system that couldn’t support itself.

so how do we solve the problems corporations are facing *and* bring a sort of democracy to the serfs working for the economic aristocracy? one start would be to implement some of the solutions i outlined above. curtailing some of the priveleges and increasing the accountability of chief officers and board members would greatly increase the income of a corporation because these people would genuinely have to work (which isn’t to say that some of them don’t, because some of them do).

however, to greatly change things requires a paradigm shift, at all levels. workers: how many managers have you had that were incompetent at their jobs, or weren’t necessary at all? managers: how many workers have you had that weren’t qualified for their jobs or that cost more than could be justified but you coudn’t get rid of them?

i propose for the corporation the framework of a meritocracy. what does this mean? it means you get what you earn. it means that if you can’t do the job, you don’t keep it. it means that unions will not be necessary. it requires a shift from the thinking “make as much money as possible for as few people as possible” to “make money.” it requires checks and balances to be implemented.

1 Comment | Catergorized: grrr  rights  thoughts

2002.12.05

2002.12.05

for those of you annoyed with telemarketers and getting 5 billion offers from credit cards (gee, what is in my bloody wallet?), here are two sites that help you get away from that. the first is privacy rights now, dedicated to getting you away from all that crud. the second is a very simple article with a phone number, which is 1-888-5-OPT-OUT. also, because i’m suprised at how many people do not know this, if you get a call from a telemarketer *before* you hang up on them tell them you want to be removed from their lists. they must comply with your request by law.

meanwhile, while not universally reviled, it seems these united states of america are not viewed with absolute love and adoration around the world. not that this is a suprise to many people. having lived abroad i’ve seen the ugly american too often. i can also see where to many people around the world our values (freedom, democracy, justice, equality, opportunity) seem to contradict our actions (various invasions, assasinations, embargos, and support for ruthless regimes). not that i’m a bleeding heart liberal with a rosy view of the world. i know what the world can be like. i’ve been chased by korean kids with knives. but i do think we could handle things either more in line with our real values or at least hide our negative aspects better. most importantly, get rid of the marketers trying to cover our actions with pretty words and speeches.

jesus threw out the moneylenders, i’d throw out the marketers.

Comments Off on 2002.12.05 | Catergorized: rights  thoughts

2002.12.03

2002.12.03

happy dognuke day. yep, every december 3rd we celebrate… dognuke.

“bravery and stupidity are siblings.” -neil keatting.

have a number of links to post today. some of them are amusing. one of them continues along my old copyright discussion.

here’s an article on wired talking about mac loyalists which i suppose includes me. funny how easily they point out that mac users have the attitude that they can take our macs “from our cold dead fingers.”

slashdot had an article recently about “what makes great scifi.” it’s gotten a huge amount of discussion so it might load slowly, but some of it is definately worth it.

recently scott and i had a discussion on the salaries of our representatives in the government, and how it was a sort of rip off that they can vote themselves raises. pisses me off, actually. *we* should be detirmining what they make, not them. do a good job, we pay you. anyways, on top of that i read this news item discussing how on top of the recent wage increace congress gave itself, gw bush is now not going to give the rest of the government any salary increase, not even cost of living. what a crock of scheiss. the people not getting anything this time are the people who actually need the increase in this economy. why don’t our leaders figure out that they should lead by example?

the pleiades star cluster. after orion, my favorite chunk of stars in the sky.

and on the subject (however losely) of science, here’s an article about einstein. we know him as a genius, somewhat offbeat and humorous, represented in popular culture in so many ways that people really don’t know anymore who the real person was. find out.

finally an article on a harvard law site about copyright and some of it’s history and pertainance to the current public debate concerning computers and the internet, and the digital age in general. though long and dealing alot with open software, GNU GPL, and the DMCA, don’t let that stop you.

Comments Off on 2002.12.03 | Catergorized: apple  geek  political  rights  writing

2002.12.01

2002.12.01

i suppose secret service agents are something like knights of old except without the quests. they must serve the ruler of the land whether they like the ruler or not, and are prepared to die for that person.

it’s a shame many aspects of chivalry and romance are more or less dead in these modern ages. not that the chauvenism is missed, but the common courtesy and the idealism are. not that we don’t have our own forms of idealism, but they are so much more political now. or if not political they lack the innocence of days past. many people today speak of true love and are sorely disappointed when the person they choose is far from perfect.

modern life goes very fast. so fast that many don’t know which end of the sword to grab. think of it. it used to be people spoke of the ages of man, and how different times were. more recently they spoke of different generations. now i speak to young people just 10 or 15 years younger and it is hard to relate to them in many ways. is this my inability to cope with change? i don’t think so. i think it’s more a matter of what the culture and technology they interact with in their youth as opposed to what existed when i grew up. i can’t even imagine what my grandmother makes of the world we live in today. they didn’t even have radio when she was a girl.

anyways, it’s december, which used to be the tenth month until we got two months named after julius and augustus caesar. now it’s the twelth month and already it’s time to say goodbye to another year. a long time ago i heard someone say that as you get older the years pass quicker. at the time i could comprehend this, but now i’m actually experiencing it. facinating.

Comments Off on 2002.12.01 | Catergorized: political  technology  thoughts
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