Jun 15

Ribs

In Lorde’s song “Ribs” she has a line that is “It feels so scary getting old.” I’d seen people making fun of her for that line as when it was written she was only 16.

But it is in fact such a great line, and those who asperse it are those same people who dismiss any thoughts and experiences of anyone young.

Introspective, thoughtful young people are often extremely aware of the life changes they are going through, usually more so than the normals around them were or ever will be. (It’s my opinion that wisdom doesn’t really have much to do with age. It certainly didn’t with me. In other words, a dumbass is still a dumbass when they are 15 or 50.)

The song reminds me of standing in the doorway of my room at my mom’s house and looking back as I was about to leave for the army. I remember thinking, This is the last time that I will ever look at this room this way again, with these eyes…this is it.

And then striding out, never to return.

That’s what the song is about. Those transitions, those barriers that are destroyed by the mere act of moving past them. And the fact that there is no going back.

Jun 13

La Boule de Cristal

Engineeritis sufferers always insist on spouting off about how social scientists don’t produce any predictive results.

Wrong.

By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples—straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not—will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later.

Of course in reality, social scientists have many, many valid findings and produce scads of predictive results. But I just wanted to highlight one in particular since I noticed it.

Jun 13

Broad

This contains some extremely broad generalizations, but is mostly true.

“I have to rush,” says the American, “my time is up.” The Spaniard or Arab, scornful of this submissive attitude to schedules, would only use this expression if death were imminent.

When I was working on getting some photos processed very quickly in the Arab world (before digital cameras were a thing) it was nearly impossible, because most people in that culture seemed to believe that, Well, the photo will look the same if it gets processed today or tomorrow, so what does it matter?

And I can understand that, but it’s difficult when you have a deadline in two hours.

In the Arab world, you learn to wait, and to chitchat. There really isn’t any other way.

Jun 12

When you look

When you look less of a badass and more ridiculous carrying a semi-automatic rifle, you have failed at life. And these goobers, my friends, have failed.

Members of the gun rights group Open Carry Texas pose in a Chipotle restaurant.

As I mentioned the other day to my partner, the only advantage to having a bunch of idiots running around in public with guns is that if I ever need one, I can just take it as I doubt those types have any real idea how to prevent that from happening. I don’t even have to carry my own in case of alien invasion, etc.

Of course, that benefit is greatly outweighed by having a bunch of festering nincompoops with military-grade weaponry walking around looking like the army that the rejects’ rejects rejected.

And that’ s lot of rejection.

Jun 12

The problem with ideal systems

The problem with IPv6 is that it was not designed to be backwards-compatible with IPv4. Like a lot of systems designed by engineering tech-heads, the perfect is now the enemy of the good.

If IPv6 had been designed to be compatible with and inter-operate with the older standard, IPv6 adoption would’ve largely occurred already.

Yes, yes, I understand the current incompatibilities very well, but I am talking about when IPv6 was designed way back in 1996.

That would have given plenty of time for all routers, switches, operating systems and any other device to use the better, compatible standard.

It’s funny when I see people complain about IPv6 adoption being so slow, and I say, “Well, if the engineers of the standard had cared anything about compatibility, it wouldn’t have happened this way.”

And they say, “But IPv6 is not compatible with IPv4.”

And I say, “It could have been if it had been designed that way back in the 1990s.”

And then for some reason they say, “But IPv6 is not compatible!”

And I say, “I know that. But my point is that it could’ve been more transitional and been designed to be compatible, and still have been 128 bit, and saved us all this hassle.”

And then they say, “But it’s not compatible! It’s great like it is!”

And then I don’t say anything else because what’s the fucking point.

Jun 12

The differences

I’m pretty good at IT work. I’m quick, perceptive, and can hold a lot of that sort of info in my head at once.

There aren’t many people who can troubleshoot complicated systems as quickly as I can. That’s not bragging; that’s just fact.

But I’d be just terrible at jobs that executive and operations assistants do. I don’t have the engineeritis-caused belief that because I am good at one thing I am good at all of them, nor do I think I am any better than people who rely on “soft” skills.

If I had to do any of these things, much less all of them at once, the building would burn to the ground and the company would go out of business: schedule meetings with and for multiple important people; arrange travel; coordinate corporate events; greeting visitors and answering phone calls, and solve problems related to all of them and more.

I’ve known people with those skillsets, who are impressively good at those things, and I have no illusions about it. I simply could not do what they do, even if I wanted to.

I’m glad there are IT jobs for people like me, because if there weren’t I wouldn’t even be living in a van down by the river. I’d be huddled in a drainage culvert, licking grease off a McDonald’s wrapper.

Jun 11

Eugenics

Most of the Left’s arguments against eugenics seems to amount to, “Eugenics is bad because Hitler did eugenics, therefor eugenics is bad.”

That’s not a very good argument, needless to say, since Hitler also did things like breathe and listen to the radio.

A more sophisticated – though still not very good – argument is that some slightly better people also did eugenics, and that was also evil.

Strangely, the left is firmly in support of eugenics (which is just altering the genome in some way), when it comes to treatments that might benefit them – such as Alzheimer’s prevention, cancer treatments, etc.

So that tells me there is no real logic or justification there, not truly. “Eugenics” is just another word like “radiation” and “vaccination” that scares a lot of people.

Jun 11

Collegiate

I could have told you this.

After years of looking at the data, Google has found that things like college GPAs and transcripts are almost worthless in hiring. Following these revelations, the company is hiring more and more people who never even went to college.

In some fields like my own and related, I’ve noticed that college graduates are usually at a distinct disadvantage. Not because they are dumber, but because their education is usually 10-20 years out of date and it takes them a long long time to get caught up.

For instance, if you emerge from your matriculation having learned about routers/switches and networking concepts from the mid-90s, you will be rather useless in a modern job and will be far exceeded by people doing this for a living rather than reading some musty old textbook.

Some concepts in networking and computing never change, naturally. But many do, or become more complex.

This isn’t true of every field, of course. I’d much rather go to a doctor who went to college. But in most workaday fields, college probably doesn’t matter much.

In some, like mine, it’s actively harmful to most.

Jun 10

The limits of reason

In some ways, I have sympathy for Verizon and its FIOS deployment. Rolling out fiber to hundreds of thousands of buildings in hundreds of cities is a monumental task.

However, I have personally experienced their bungling and know it to be beyond the pale.

For instance I was attempting to get a business connected to FIOS. Fiber from Verizon was already in the building; approximately a dozen offices were already using it.

So I called Verizon and gave the address to start the order process.

Verizon’s response: “That location is not eligible for fiber. There is no fiber there.”

I said, after the second call and another rejection, that “I am standing in the telecom room. I am looking at the Verizon ONT* and the fiber lines coming into the building. I know there is Verizon fiber here because people in this building are already using it. I am looking at the fiber equipment right now.”

But no matter how I tried, I couldn’t convince them that this building which already had FIOS fiber from Verizon with active users was “eligible” for FIOS.

Finally, after four or five more calls, I convinced Verizon to send a technician to come out and take a look. Then Verizon finally agreed that the building where they already had many FIOS customers currently using FIOS was eligible for FIOS.

So, something that should’ve taken minutes became a two week affair thanks to Verizon incompetence.

On the bright side, after installation the line never went down even for a second in over three years of hard use. I’ve had T-1s and T-3s and above that fared worse, so that’s pretty impressive.

*Optical Network Terminal, a piece of fiber equipment (really mostly a transceiver) that converts fiber to Ethernet or other formats.

Jun 10

When a whole discipline is wrong

For some reason, classically-trained economists insist that there is no structural unemployment in the US economy despite the fact that it is occurring all around them.

It’s already been well-established that macroeconomics is the discipline least grounded in the real world, mostly due to its complete distortion by neoliberal thought over the last fifty years but lately this has been reaching new levels of absurdity.

Manually, it takes a team of painters 4.5 hours to do the first coat. The robots do it in 24 minutes with perfect quality. Boeing began using the machine in February. By midsummer, all 777 wings will be painted this way.

4.5 hours of labor, done in 24 minutes by robots. This isn’t even the future. This is happening right now. The future will just see far more of this, and it will begin happening faster.