Category Archives: Technology

Jeff Bezos Is Brilliant, But What Is Jay Carney Doing @ Amazon?

Business, Regulation, Technology

The real news is not that Amazon is a “‘bruising” and grueling workplace, but that former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was given a job in such a fabulous firm. The nature of an over-regulated, often treacherous business environment is such that, instead of hiring a worthy senior vice president for corporate global affairs—Amazon is forced to invest in a crony to politicians, Carney. A ponce that’ll be able to read the political tealeaves is worth more to the company than someone with real skills. Hence the revolving door between politics and business.

Actually, Jeff Bezos’ work philosophy sounds magnificent, the exact opposite of The Other Soft, Social-Worker Oriented Software Company We Know All Too Well.

… Of all of his management notions, perhaps the most distinctive is his belief that harmony is often overvalued in the workplace — that it can stifle honest critique and encourage polite praise for flawed ideas. Instead, Amazonians are instructed to “disagree and commit” (No. 13) — to rip into colleagues’ ideas, with feedback that can be blunt to the point of painful, before lining up behind a decision.

“We always want to arrive at the right answer,” said Tony Galbato, vice president for human resources, in an email statement. “It would certainly be much easier and socially cohesive to just compromise and not debate, but that may lead to the wrong decision.”

… According to early executives and employees, Mr. Bezos was determined almost from the moment he founded Amazon in 1994 to resist the forces he thought sapped businesses over time — bureaucracy, profligate spending, lack of rigor. As the company grew, he wanted to codify his ideas about the workplace, some of them proudly counterintuitive, into instructions simple enough for a new worker to understand, general enough to apply to the nearly limitless number of businesses he wanted to enter and stringent enough to stave off the mediocrity he feared.

The result was the leadership principles, the articles of faith that describe the way Amazonians should act. In contrast to companies where declarations about their philosophy amount to vague platitudes, Amazon has rules that are part of its daily language and rituals, used in hiring, cited at meetings and quoted in food-truck lines at lunchtime. Some Amazonians say they teach them to their children.

The guidelines conjure an empire of elite workers (principle No. 5: “Hire and develop the best”) who hold one another to towering expectations and are liberated from the forces — red tape, office politics — that keep them from delivering their utmost. Employees are to exhibit “ownership” (No. 2), or mastery of every element of their businesses, and “dive deep,” (No. 12) or find the underlying ideas that can fix problems or identify new services before shoppers even ask for them. …

READ “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace.”


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UPDATED: War Party Inc. Welcomes WikiLeaks Trade/Treason Revelations

Barack Obama, Conservatism, Neoconservatism, Regulation, Technology, The State, Trade

The War Party Inc. is forever raging against WikiLeaks and its heroic founder Julian Assange. Lo and behold, I heard Mark Levin approvingly mention the “secretive Obamatrade documents” uncovered by Wikileaks. Hmmm.

So, the liberty to scrutinize what tyranny is up to is not so bad after all?

Via Breitbart.com:

Discovered inside the huge tranche of secretive Obamatrade documents released by Wikileaks are key details on how technically any Republican voting for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that would fast-track trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal would technically also be voting to massively expand President Obama’s executive authority when it comes to immigration matters.

The mainstream media covered the Wikileaks document dump extensively, but did not mention the immigration chapter contained within it, so Breitbart News took the documents to immigration experts to get their take on it. Nobody has figured how big a deal the documents uncovered by Wikileaks are until now. (See below)

The president’s Trade in Services Act (TiSA) documents, which is one of the three different close-to-completely-negotiated deals that would be fast-tracked making up the president’s trade agreement, show Obamatrade in fact unilaterally alters current U.S. immigration law. TiSA, like TPP or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) deals, are international trade agreements that President Obama is trying to force through to final approval. The way he can do so is by getting Congress to give him fast-track authority through TPA.

TiSA is even more secretive than TPP. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill can review the text of TPP in a secret, secured room inside the Capitol—and in some cases can bring staffers who have high enough security clearances—but with TiSA, no such draft text is available.

Voting for TPA, of course, would essentially ensure the final passage of each TPP, T-TIP, and TiSA by Congress, since in the history of fast-track any deal that’s ever started on fast-track has been approved. …

MORE (if you can unstick this website.)

TiSA Annex on Movement of Natural Persons.

TiSA Annex on Movement of Natural Persons by breitbartnews

UPDATED (6/15): “The secretive wheeling and dealing on the massive 29-chapter draft [of the Trans-Pacific Partnership] (kept under classified lock-and-key and only a tiny portion of which have been publicly disclosed through WikiLeaks) make the backroom Obamacare negotiations look like a gigantic solar flare of openness and public deliberation. Fast-track Republicans, who rightfully made a stink when Nancy Pelosi declared that ‘we have to pass the [Obamacare] bill so that you can find out what is in it,’ now have no transparency legs to stand on. …”

Michell Malkin On “Why America Hates the GOP-Obamatrade Deal.”

And if “America” doesn’t yet hate the TPP, it certainly should.

My position: all legislation is bad unless it is legislation to repeal legislation.


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Feminist Onslaught On Silicon Valley

Affirmative Action, Business, Feminism, Gender, Law, Technology

Entire Human Resource departments are dedicated to dealing with women (and minorities) and their ongoing special needs and complaints in the private economy. In the high-tech industry, especially, nothing is as politically precious as a woman. There is no end to which a company will go to mentor a woman and help her succeed. But such things as “sucking it up” and soldiering on are often anathema to deluded distaff. (This generally means that “guys will do double duty.”) Heather Mac Donald, fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor at “City Journal,” chronicles the manner in which one female repaid her professional benefactors. The tale of the litigious and troublesome Ellen Pao is hardly untypical:

A San Francisco jury late last week rejected a $16 million gender-discrimination lawsuit against a Silicon Valley venture-capital firm. This triumph of common sense, though, represents merely a minor setback in the feminist crusade against America’s most vibrant economic sector. The chance that Silicon Valley can preserve its ruthlessly meritocratic culture under a continuing feminist onslaught is slim.

In 2005 plaintiff Ellen Pao got an MBA’s dream job: technical chief of staff to John Doerr, a renowned senior partner with the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Kleiner Perkins was a pioneer in high-tech entrepreneurship, making lucrative early investments in Google and Amazon, among other giants of the Internet age. Mr. Doerr mentored Ms. Pao, treating her, as Ms. Pao put it in an email to him, as a “surrogate daughter.”

He recommended her for a prestigious fellowship at the Aspen Institute and advised Ms. Pao about her performance at Kleiner Perkins. But after she was promoted into the direct-investing track, her reviews from other senior partners worsened. She was difficult to work with, they said, and wasn’t succeeding as a junior partner. By 2011, Mr. Doerr was the only senior partner who believed that she should stay on at the firm. …

MORE.

The author, Ms. Mac Donald, does paint with too broad a brush when she mouths the mantra all conservatives are wont to mouth: “the market is the best antidote to discrimination. It rewards talent and penalizes prejudice.”

That’s a half-truth. The whole truth is that the market will reflect a bias toward productivity, explained in “Apartheid South Africa: Reality Vs. Libertarian Fantasy,” which in turn excerpts this from Into The Cannibal’s Pot:

THOSE HALF-TRUTHS AGAIN

“Free market economists (the only kind worth consulting) have long since insisted that the rational, self-interest of individuals in private enterprise is always not to discriminate. Arguably, however, the good economists, while certainly not wholesale liars as are their Keynesian counterparts, are still offering up a half-truth. Rational self-interest does indeed propel people, however prejudiced, to set aside bias and put their scarce resources to the best use. But to state simply that ‘discrimination is bad for business’ is to present an incomplete picture of reality. This solecism stems from the taint the word ‘discriminate’ has acquired. The market, by which we mean the trillions of capitalist acts between consenting adults, is discriminating as in discerning—it is biased toward productivity. Hiring people on the basis of criteria other than productivity hurts the proprietor’s pocket.” (P. 127.)

“Thus, we can be fairly certain that, absent racist affirmative-action laws, the market would reflect a bias toward productivity.

In other words, what the good economists are loath to let on is that a free market is a market in which groups and individuals are differently represented. Parity in prosperity and performance between differently able individuals and groups can be achieved only by playing socialist leveler.” (P. 128.)


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Degrees Do Not An Educated Person Make (#RenaissanceMan, RIP)

Education, Human Accomplishment, Technology

Think you’re educated? Think Again. I have.

For a long time, the “Aristotelian ideal of the educated person” was the aim of a Liberal Education. The ideal and idea of the Renaissance Man, however, has been completely lost:

… The Aristotelian ideal of the educated person, “critical” in all or almost all branches of knowledge, survived for centuries as the aim of liberal education. Originally, the student would be taught seven arts or skills, consisting of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and logic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music). The names are antique, but the seven “subjects” were comparable to a modern liberal curriculum of languages, philosophy, mathematics, history, and science. The arts or skills were “liberal” because they were liberating. That is, they freed their possessor from the ignorance that bound the uneducated. … The original belief that an educated person should be “critical” in more fields than his own no longer exists …

(Excerpted from Charles Van Doren’s A history of Knowledge: Past, present, and future, 1991, New York: Ballantine Books, on Dr. Alexander A. Petrov’s blog).

In his discussion of a “humanistic education” (as Sean Gabb terms the liberal arts education of yesteryear), Dr. Gabb mentions our mutual, late, dear friend, Dennis O’Keeffe, who was “famous for his denunciations of what he calls socialist education—this being a denial that there is any value in the traditional curriculum. Such an education means”:

a training in habits of thought and the exercise of general intellectual ability. It may require the acquisition of specific skills—for example, learning at least one of the classical languages and few modern languages, and learning some of the technical aspects of music and the visual arts. It may also require an understanding of mathematics and of the natural sciences. It certainly requires a long study of literature and history and philosophy and law and political economy. But none of this may be useful in any direct financial sense. …

Dr. Gabb does, however, underestimate the mental prowess (albeit maybe not intellect) that goes into completion of advanced degrees of what he calls “technical or professional training.” Most of us are unable to manipulate the laws of nature (physics/mathematics) to create the workable technology that makes life so good.

I often watch “Food Factory.” I’m in awe of the mechanical engineers who design these magnificent robotic assembly lines, even though they may not be witty and entertaining dinner guests (which Sean Gabb most certainly is, as I learned when I attended a Liberty Fund colloquium in the UK).

Designing an assembly line that makes my chocolate slabs materialize is a pretty noble calling.


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Dumb, Duplicitous Techno Geeks On #Facebook

Etiquette, Intelligence, Internet, Technology

Techno geeks can be such dumb f-cks (a good honest word when used sparingly). This is especially so when they know nothing but technology. And it is all the more so when they routinely underestimate those of us who manipulate technology to our own ends quite adequately, but do not worship it.

Every idiot knows that one can remain a Facebook Friend with a former pal, just to keep up appearances (otherwise known as duplicity), while barring them from one’s Timeline and from other forums. Don’t you love cretins who think this fatuity is uncommon knowledge?

Most of this writer’s interactions on Facebook are for the purpose of furthering the work done and are with people interested in this work. But mistakes have been committed in cultivating shallow, two-faced friends (who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, to quote Oscar Wilde).

Enough said.


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‘Germanwings Pilot Was Locked Out of Cockpit Before Crash in France’

Europe, Homeland Security, Technology, Terrorism

A day after the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, in what is proving to be a speedy and professional investigation, the New York Times has it on good authority that the Germanwings “jet with 150 people on board crashed in relatively clear skies,” and that “evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in.”

A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”

He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”

While the audio seemed to give some insight into the circumstances leading up to the Germanwings crash on Tuesday morning, it also left many questions unanswered.

“We don’t know yet the reason why one of the guys went out,” said the official, who requested anonymity because the investigation is continuing. “But what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door.”


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