Boom

It is inevitable – again, I stress not just possible but inevitable – that we have another major economic crash in the next few years. I’d say 5-8, but it could be sooner or a little later. Not much later, though.

It will be triggered by something, but the “something” won’t matter, just as contrary to popular belief the collapse of Lehman didn’t really matter as the cause of the financial crisis that began in 2007.

Lehman has been used as a scapegoat, and most people have bought it, just as most people buy most propaganda. (Another bit of bought and sold propaganda is the hoocoodande defense that I’ve seen several very smart people hornswoggled by.)

Anyway, having a lot of liquid money (if you have means) and not being in debt are steps to take now, not years from now.

Bothers

It bothers me every time I go into a bank and get better treatment because my bank account is large.

It irks me because I remember very well when my family was poor and lived in a trailer and we got no good treatment at all. In fact by bank types and similar we were treated like complete scum, as if we were painful to look at.

I know all too well that the same person kissing my ass now treated me and people like me like radioactive spume when my family had nothing.

It’s not that I want to be treated poorly, it’s just that I want everyone to be treated well.

Haim

My favorite guitarist is now Danielle Haim.

Damn she is good. What tone and precision she gets from her instrument.

Danielle Haim Life Beautiful Festival Day PgylhFaIkIBl

And what a beautiful guitar she has, too. It’s a Gibson SG, which was also played by one of the Gospel progenitors of rock ‘n roll, Rosetta Tharpe.

Brain pain

The textbook I’m reading now.

This is my leisure reading at the moment. It’s a good break from routing protocols. Some major parts I only understand about 50% of. That’s ok. I don’t plan on actually being a biomedical engineer. And I’ve never taken any course or read any lower-level textbook on this.

I just like to know things.

The parts on kinematical gait analysis are the most interesting so far, though I only understand about 20% of the math in that particular section. If I had any ability at all at math I would’ve been truly intellectually formidable. But, alas, and such.

For some lighter reading, I also read the Southern Reach trilogy recently. It’s worth reading, but it didn’t go far enough or deep enough with what it was attempting to do.

“The biologist” is a great character, though. Both of them.

You’ll see what I mean if you read it.

Icons

Computer geeks like to claim that they use icons in the interfaces these days instead of words because “icons are universal.”

The problem is that icons are not universal. Very much not. When I’ve done intensive tech support in the past most users had no idea what 99% of icons meant, while they could almost always pick out key words like “Print” and “Save.”

The real problem is laziness and management attempting to save money by avoiding translation of an interface into many languages.

Icons are only universal among the 1-2% of very tech-savvy users out there.

For others, they are almost all indecipherable and probably always will be.

This “icons are universal” claptrap is one of the biggest myths in UX, and a persistent one at that, because it allows executives to skimp on good design.

I Slam Islam

I don’t have anything against Islam in particular.

Just against religious fundies. Many of them made my life hell when I was growing up, and fundie parents made many of my friends’ lives worse every day for years.

I’ve lived in an Islamic country (unlike 99.99% of people who have an opinion one way or another) and saw in person how women were treated there in the name of religion.

It is worse, far worse, than most Americans can imagine. And that’s only what I saw in public.

But it’s not that I have anything against Islam in particular, to clarify once again. Just that Islam does actually in reality have more fundies, does oppress women more, and is more regressive, than other current religions.

I care about practice not doctrine, and in practice Islam oppresses hundreds of millions of people (mostly women) around the world every single day.

I see no reason to defend that, just as I don’t defend patriarchy anywhere else. Why make some stupid exception for Islam?

What’s so special about it?

Falsehoods

I’ve seen numerous articles like this neoliberal scatological leaving at Slate proclaiming the impossibility of paying McDonald’s workers living wages – never mind that other countries doimages so quite well, thank you.

Part of that is just to shift the focus to an individual corporation, and thus to deflect attention from the systemic in an effort to forestall reforms, but even more of it is about that most people – including this clown at Slate – can’t actually even see the problem.

The system in other words is so natural to them that it is completely invisible. Of course it is impossible to pay more. Of course that would hurt McDonald’s competitiveness. Of course everything has to be exactly like it is.

In psychology this is called the status quo bias. It’s incredibly common in human reasoning.

But most of the writers I read are allegedly well-educated. Weismann is a graduate of Northwestern University, for instance.

And yet it seems that most of these so-called educated people cannot think their way out of a flipped-over refrigerator box.

Why is this? What are people learning at university that they are so ignorant of history, of other nations, or other possibilities, even of how to better educate themselves?

If that’s the best universities can do, I’m glad I am an autodidact.

Scrabble

It’s interesting that this seems to also be true of programmers as it is in my field (IT infrastructure design and implementation/network design and implementation).

In fact, in my experience, people with computer science degrees are not the best programmers. That’s because computer science isn’t really about programming.

As I said, having hired quite a few people I’ve noticed the same in my own specialties in IT.

Having a degree in some IT-related field often means that the candidate is behind the times 10-15 years, and is also often very theory-focused without any real experience or knowledge, and most often they don’t know how to do anything.

It’s not that I won’t hire a person with a college degree in my field; I will and I have.

It’s that I have to be extra-careful to make sure they actually know anything at all, or at least can learn it. Often they do not and can not.

But when I see someone who has been working in the trenches of IT for many years, who started on Novell 3 or Windows NT 3.5, who remembers when Cisco was barely a name anyone knew, who can still rattle off DOS or even TRS-80 commands – I know I’ve gotten someone who’s real IT.

Perhaps I’m just hiring people who are like me, but I think it’s more than that.

To work at the level that I do, you have to have seen a lot. A whole lot. You have to be passionate about it. You have to have fought with recalcitrant routers in the middle of the night and put things into debug mode and then stared despairingly at the output for eight hours until epiphany struck.

You have to have read the 800 page official product manual and then know and have researched enough to conclude that the manual is wrong and then re-write part of it.*

People with college degrees urged on them by their guidance counselors, who have no real affinity for the field – even if they’ve been in the field for 10+ years – well, they are not going to have that.

I’m sure that’s just as true of programmers at is in my arena.

Again, I am not saying that all IT people with college degrees are bad in their field. My partner is a CS major and she’s a crackerjack programmer. I’d trust her to do anything and to do it right.

But given the choice in my field of someone who can look at a router and say, “Oh yeah, I remember this model had this bug I researched and figured out it wasn’t present in version 12.1 of the OS” as compared to the, “Well, I’ve seen a router before, I think, but I have a college degree and a certification in Cisco gear,” needless to say I’m going to choose the salty old vet every time, even if he or she didn’t graduate 8th grade.

I know I’m making it seem like it’s about experience, but it’s not. For instance at one job I worked, there was a 23-year-old guy, eight years younger than me. He had no degree. But he was incredibly good. He was absolutely passionate about the field, and knew everything there was to know about Microsoft products.

And he had a GED. And a list of certifications a mile long.

*I have done all of these things. All real-life examples.