Jan 01

Without sociology

Without sociological examination, it’s impossible to understand why the Firefox (and other) developers are intent on removing customization options and thus harming their own users.

On the face of it, it doesn’t make sense — to remove the greatest (and perhaps only) strength of your primary product. It will not be a viable long-term strategy. It will result only in failure, and predictable failure at that.

So then why do it, when what will occur is so obvious?

That is because in the face of nearly-inexorable societal trends, hardly any person or organization can stand against these cultural headwinds. Right now, there is a trend towards authoritarianism and surveillance. The Firefox developers are not immune somehow to these now-overwhelmingly dominant cultural forces. In fact in many ways they are probably more susceptible because like most tech cognoscenti they either have no interest in the humanities or even actively hate them — giving them absolutely no immunity to culturally-pervasive propaganda.

The Firefox developers are able to spin a convincing yet completely falsified post-hoc rationalization about data analysis, about “protecting” users, about how removing customization is somehow making it more customizable, but this is just exemplary of the human talent for rationalization.

In reality, their actions are prompted through and compelled by social duress that they experience and respond to without realizing it.

Without sociology and resorting to some basic analysis, what the Firefox developers are doing to harm themselves and others just makes no sense. It seems completely anomalous.

But with a look at wider societal imperatives it can be made sense of, and some explanation can be found for why they are not able to extricate themselves from the trap everyone save them can see that they are in.

Jan 01


Damn I love this extension. Saves me so much time every day.

Of course it’ll be taken away in the future as Firefox becomes locked down.

My hatred for the Mozilla developers increases every day.

Dec 31

The gist and the rest

I understand the gist — or at least the initial spring of logic — that leads to the idea that no one is allowed to have sexual and relationship preferences, but this is no different than saying, “If you won’t have sex with me and/or be in a relationship with me when I demand it, you are evil.”

Which is of course very rapey.

And of course it only works one way for these people.

Today I learned that I’m being oppressed because Anna Kendrick doesn’t want to get down with me.

To get a little more scientific than the bullshit above (both theirs and mine), a lot of sexual and attraction preferences are not very — or at all — amenable to conscious thought and cannot be altered easily and in most cases at all.

Had a black babysitter who abused you when you were six? Guess what, you probably won’t be attracted to black people for no conscious reason. But nevertheless it’ll still be true. That’s just how the human mind works. Those things don’t have to make sense.

Funny how large parts of the social justice movement reproduces the various oppressions they are supposedly attempting to ameliorate.

Dec 30


Comcast is such a terrible company that we will in the future make sure we never move to anywhere that Comcast is the only ISP, no matter the other advantages.

You know you’ve failed as a company when someone feels that way about you.

Though I guess they haven’t failed, since they are still making a profit. Just not from me.

Dec 30

What will actually happen

If you listen to the VC that Tim Bray is discussing, you’re going to lose all your money.

One of the advantages of experience — though it is overrated in many ways* — is that you see the same things happen over and over again.

Back in the 90s, the “network is the computer” was the conventional wisdom. That was of course completely wrong and many people collectively lost billions of dollars following this fallacious line of thought.

It’s about to happen again with mobile.

No, I don’t think mobile is going away, though I mostly wish it would.

It’s just that a tiny-ass cell phone screen with no truly usable keyboard is not going to replace for people who actually need to get work done a fully-loaded workstation with two 24+ inch monitors. Not gonna happen. Ever.

What will happen as it has many times in the past is that the market will bifurcate, and it will largely bifurcate along lines of intelligence/socioeconomic opportunity (which often reinforce one another positively and negatively).

What I mean is that people who are intelligent enough to handle it will still use a keyboard and a real computer and thus be vastly more productive than those who never learn to do so. Hell, it’s already happening. I see interns come in already who can barely use a computer and they are pretty hobbled compared to those who can. And slow and unproductive. And no, they can’t and never will be able to get their work done on a cell phone. Most of the tools I use in my daily job cannot and never, ever will run on any phone.

So unfortunately what the future will bring is probably 70-80% of the population who can really only use a phone and have even fewer real-world job skills than they do now. They can’t type. Can’t really use a spreadsheet. Can’t code (as coding on a phone is impossible and again, always will be) and have hardly anything to bring to a workplace besides their manual labor.

The corporate office will again resemble the 1990s, where those with real computer skills had huge and measurable advantages over those who did not (and no, using “mobile” to do things won’t fill this role; any moron can learn to use mobile apps in 10 minutes or less).

There will again be the 20-30% who can use a real computer and a useful keyboard. Who understand spreadsheets and maybe even how to write a script or even how to develop software (even if it’s just macros in Excel). Who can adapt quickly to new tasks and not wait for some brain-dead “app” to baby them along.

In other words, the drooling masses will have their mobile phones and be basically skill-less in the corporate world. And the rest will be able to get useful work done in the real economy.

Which group do you want to be in?

*Experience is overrated because most people have experiences but don’t learn a damn thing from them.

Dec 28

Bags of tricks

I now know lots of tricks to be able to connect to an XFCE desktop from a Mac using VNC and have it be smooth like butter.

That was the easy part, though.

The harder part is that now with VNC, I can make it spawn a virtual desktop for each user completely separate from the console. Very useful. If I wanted to, I could easily now set up a multi-user environment with completely free software that works on any OS (VNC isn’t the best for this, but it has that great “completely free” advantage).

X2go also works, but is not as stable on the Mac at least.

Dec 28


The best corporate name in history is “General Atomics.”

That just screams “we are doing awesome, dangerous shit. Stand back. Way back.”

“Industrial Light and Magic” is also pretty good.

Dec 28

TPP not for me

As I’ve noted before, the TPP is shockingly bad and destructive.

First, it adds another layer of intellectual property protections, which means broader, longer and deeper limitations on access to, and use of, information. In doing so, the TPP will hurt the ability of consumers and entrepreneurs to make informed decisions, and then to act on them. This will lead to less efficient resource allocation by markets.

It is not enough for consumers to be well informed. They also need to have the ability to make choices, either by using information or by being offered real choices about whatever they might want to purchase. Any regulation that: 1) prevents consumers from using information and/or grants monopoly/oligopoly rents; 2) stifles new competition by creating artificial barriers to entry for new competitors; and 3) creates different classes of actors in front of the law (creating both moral hazards and incentives for “gaming”) should be treated with the utmost suspicion.

As if that’s not bad enough, there is this.

Article 18.78 adopts a potentially very broad concept of a trade secret, a very wide range of activities that might constitute a breach and a very broad potential class of persons who might be liable. Worse, it also calls for criminalization. The potential risk for would-be entrepreneurs to start a business in anything that even remotely relates to their past job are now enormous.

The resulting chill in entrepreneurship alone would cost the U.S. and Canadian economies significantly higher orders of magnitude in terms of lost growth, jobs and welfare than any positive benefits that the TPP might bring.

I’m impressed with how pervasive and effective the pro-TPP propaganda has been. People who should know better seem to support it, when its primary purpose is to prop up large corporations and to eliminate their potential and actual competition. And of course as always to reduce wages in both rich and poor countries.

The TPP is just a nightmare.

Dec 27


So far the only completely sensible take on the European refugee crisis is from Slavoj Žižek.

Have there ever been any countries that voluntarily (rather than involuntarily) destroyed themselves by allowing nearly-unrestricted immigration from those with incompatible values? I can’t think of any instance in history. But we’re about to watch it happen.

It’ll be interesting to watch it play out in Sweden, Denmmark, Norway and a few other Western European countries who do that to themselves.

When you invite a load of young men who hate and fear women and modernity into your country en masse, nothing good is going to come of that long-term. It just can’t.

Liberal fantasies of singing kumbaya by the fucking fire make that more certain, not less.

Dec 27

Senior project from a D student

About Windows 10, it’s appalling how unfinished it feels.

It’s sort of like a student project concept of an OS interface. It fails where it should be strong, and provides loads of things no one needs or uses.

It just feels so incomplete, lacking in any polish or utility — it’s the worst of both worlds: both ugly and non-functional.

Thank the gods for Classic Shell. I’ve donated $50 to that project since it’s been around. One of the most productivity-enabling software projects ever created.