Martin

Was just thinking about Trayvon Martin.

People call him a thug, yet I committed many more crimes in high school that he ever did. Not even close. I also got in way (way, way!) more fights than he ever did.

I wasn’t a thug by any measure – to be a thug, you have to actually enjoy harming people, which I very much do not. But I was white, which got me a pass.

All I am saying is that if Trayvon Martin was a thug, by comparison I was Don Fucking Corleone.

Pop

For some reason when anyone mentions that the planet is overpopulated versus the amount of humans it can sustainably support, something like 80% of liberals automatically hear, “We must kill all the undesirable humans NOW!”

I don’t know why.

Overpopulation is inarguable. If there were 100 million people on the planet organized as technological society (the only way even 100 million could survive), unless we set off nuclear bombs every day none of the current resource or environmental problems would exist.

QED.

Population control over the long term will happen – the question is whether it will be Malthusian or controlled. I’d rather it be controlled. The alternative is a few billion people – mostly in less-developed nations – starving to death.

Sharp lyrical Talan

Deb Talan when she was at her prime is the best lyricist I know of, from any era.

“I wish I were a bird,” she said.

“So you could fly away?”

“No, so we could be together with no thoughts of yesterday.”

That’s from her song “Two Points.” It’s better in song form of course because her phrasing is absolutely impeccable.

Like many people (male and female), she’s become very boring since she’s happy and has had kids. She was a much better writer when she was desperately lonely, miserable and poor.

But that’s true of nearly all artists.

But when she shone, she lit up the sky. Not many people mildly glow even once in their lives.

I’m glad she seems happy, but I miss the old Deb Talan. I met her once at a concert and she was unfailingly nice and even laughed – seemingly sincerely — when I joked about her being my fallback after my meeting with Madonna got cancelled.

Not very productive

How do you make a major mistake like this when the data is so easy to find?

The return of high wealth-to-income ratios has one key cause – the slowdown of productivity and population growth.

I’m referring to the phrase “slowdown of productivity” as the mistake specifically, though the other bit is likely voodoo economics as well.

As the graph below from the BLS shows, productivity was clearly rising (right up until the recession), during which inequality was in also in a period of enormous increase.

Nonfarm business productivity bar chart

Also, this data is noisy, but productivity seems to be back up to its historic rate of late – not surprising given all the automation that is being invested in now. (This might be terrible for the average worker, but increases measured productivity in most cases.)

How do you make such a large mistake? I don’t understand it. As near as I can tell, productivity has nothing at all to do directly with wealth disparities one way or the other. At least no academic seems to be able to link those conclusively, but in general I’d guess that productivity increases actually increase the likelihood of high wealth inequality. That is at least what the data suggest.

Discourse

I understand why they exist, but my two most-disliked expressions found mostly on more academic blogs is “politically unhelpful” and “problematic.”

This is one example, from a blog that I both like and frequent.

“Politically unhelpful” translates to me to a fear of busting heads – metaphorically or sometimes in real life. Sometimes, busting heads is the only thing that works. Liberal academics tend to shy away from this out of a fear of confrontation and making sure no one’s feelings get hurt, which is not a concern of mine when it comes to rank misogynists and their ilk.

I’m guessing the author would probably find the Hollaback project “politically unhelpful,” too.

But then again, I am a militant liberal and have no fear of stirring up the hornet’s nest in real life or online as anyone who has ever met me can attest.

Sometimes, there is no way to win people over, to have them see a better way of thinking – sometimes all you can do is shame them into shutting up. And that’s good enough for me.

Blast

Good lord, I blasted someone at work via email after I provided them the exact information they requested from me, and then they CCed my boss and a few other people claiming they had not received the information requested.

Ha, in my response I pasted the information I’d already provided them in 24-point bold text and said, AS I told you once, “Info Info Info….”

Hope I still have a job tomorrow. Or wait, no, I don’t really care.

But anyway, ask me for the information again. Fine. Just don’t CC my boss accusing me of things to make yourself look better. I will bust your ass and CC everyone and all the gods, too.

Oh, you’ve mistaken me for some simpering pusillanimous pushover?

Yeah, that ain’t me, bud, even if I do talk quietly and blend into the background.

My best line probably was this when the person also complained of not receiving info they’d never even requested: “I don’t see myself developing psychic powers to predict what instance of your incompetence will come up next.”

Fermata

This is why the music industry (at least those who steal the artist’s money portion of the industry) is afraid of the internet.

I deal with independent bands all day every day. That is my business, dealing with independent bands. They have a better time now than they have ever had. Gig prices have escalated. Gig fees are an order of magnitude higher than they were at the beginning of the ’90s. Ten times. You can go see shows now for $20 there were literally $2. The great vast majority of that money is going to the bands.

That’s Steve Albini, the first music producer whose name I ever knew, way back in the early ‘90s.

“Piracy” was always a canard designed to generate legal support for essentially eliminating the internet. Anyone smart has known that since ever.

Prod

I wonder how much productivity is lost because of practices like this.

It’s not the PhD that is the problem, it’s that for whatever reason companies will not hire you these days unless you have recent, immediate experience with the products and/or programming languages in question – no matter if you are smart enough (as I and many others are) to learn these technologies in about four hours*.

Most employers wouldn’t care if you had 10 PhDs or a two PhDs from every Ivy League school in the country if you didn’t have the proper boxes checked for whatever they thought they needed right away, even though that means they will ignore the best candidate and pick someone mediocre who can tick the right box at that moment.

And a lot of times, companies demand the impossible. I saw a job ad on Craigslist recently that asked for five years of Exchange 2013 experience.

Five years. For a product that’s been out for a few months. Yeah, good luck filling that one.

*I’ve been training on Citrix lately. I’ve had all told around 5-6 hours of real training on it now. It’s a complex product, but now I could set up a complete Citrix farm and solve all of the simple problems, nearly all of the medium-level issues, and a good deal of the hard ones. That’s with 5-6 hours of training. A workday. I am not unusually smart – anyone nearly could do this. That most companies won’t train people at all these days is a very bad deal for both parties.

Gilded

Though I remember the protests at the time, I was only vaguely aware that the UK too had made it so very expensive to go to school.

We have truly decided that massive inequality and a stratified society is the way to go, then – that there are the Sanctified Rich, and the Serfs.

The funny thing is, this will make over time the rich less rich than they otherwise could have been, by destroying the economy and immiserating so many — though since all humans really seem to care about is relative position the rich will have increased their apparent height in the firmament by kneecapping everyone else.

So.

I agree with what some site I was reading said that this will not end democratically. It only did in the ‘30s because of the legitimate threat posed by communism.

How does it, how can it end, then? I think it would take a countrywide shut-down – at least 50 major cities – for months, combined with targeting of actual rich for less-than-savory ends.

Even without an outright revolution, there’s still a 50% chance we’d end up like Syria.

No good options, really.