Friday, May 10, 2013

The Trolls Lose Again!

Prenda bites a bitter pill in this ruling by Judge Otis Wright, littered with Star Trek references, and beginning with Spock's Kobiyashi Maru epigram from the Wrath of Khan.

Gotta love a judge that quotes Spock and kicks Troll butt.

Also gotta love a judge that calculates his sanctions with an eye toward irony. See footnote 5.

And lest you think it's just an Internet torrentfreak thing, here's an article in Forbes and one in American Lawyer about it.

How Recent is YOUR Latest Backup?

Agent Rachelle Gardner has recently blogged about a writer of hers who almost lost a novel due to a hard drive crash. And what every writer should do to avoid that.

Myself, I have just spent a dozen hours collecting up twenty years of writing from various backups and getting it all (or most of it) copied onto a single writing machine. Over the summer, I expect to winnow it down to a single set of organized backups, where everything is actually organized in some semblance of logical order.

The important parts can probably all fit on a single flash drive, big as those are nowadays. That being done, I expect to start moving forward again presently.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

And the Good Guys Win Another One

Amid all the antics of the Prenda Copyright Trolls, who are in the midst of an amusing and hopefully fatal meltdown, comes notice that Patterico has won his defamation defense case.

Long story short on the Patterico case - P commented about a woman who was involved in illegally recording congresswoman Maxine Waters. The woman sued P, claiming P said all kinds of things. The judge read what she claimed P said, read what P actually said, and read what harm she claimed to have suffered because of P and what laws she wanted to recover from P under. Bottom line - she presented no actual facts that would support recovery under her theories.

Also, to keep the case in Federal court, she would have to prove at least $75K of real damage attributable to his unpriveleged words, and didn't even prove that. Mere allegations without facts that demonstrate clear probability of liability are insufficient to proceed.

conduct that is merely consistent with liability is not enough to get you there either.

Case dismissed, half with prejudice, half without. She's appealing, but it's unlikely she'll prevail.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Girl Genius, Pure Genius

Okay, Phil and Kaja Foglio had me laughing so hard at this one that I couldn't even attempt to explain the joke to my wife, not without backing up all the way to January... of course, old Klaus didn't get it either.

Of course, really the payoff is most funny if you've been waiting for it and didn't know when it was coming...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resumes and Profile Buzz Words

An article widely circulated on LinkedIn had a list of common Buzz Words that the author believes should be deleted from resumes and other experience summaries.

Here's my thoughts on them.

Creative, Innovative, Analytical, Responsible, Effective - Ummm. You'd better be. Why are you mentioning it? If these adjectives are attached to a particular thing you did - "designed a creative solution to the issue of thingwhatchies", "implemented an effective program that increased thingwhatchie return by 15% ROI" - then it might be okay. Talk about what you have done, not your personality. And be prepared, if a recruiter asks, to say what made your solution "creative", and so on.

Motivated - Ummm. Boilerplate, and bad boilerplate. "I am a motivated individual"... blah.

Organizational - This is an adjective. If the relevant skills or experience you are listing is "of or having to do with the organization", then it may be a good word. On the other hand, if you are talking about your ability to organize, then that's not the right word anyway.

Extensive Experience, Track Record - These are boilerplate (a cliche) when you are introducing a particular type of experience. Extensive experience in what? Track record of what? I don't know why a recruiter would object to the terms themselves, as long as what followed described a skill or type of experience that helped the recruiter know what your capabilities were.

Problem Solving - similar in character to "Extensive Experience" and "Track Record", but too general. Everyone solves problems. What exact things have you done that mattered? "Implemented improvements that resulted in annual cost savings greater than my salary", "Reduced machine down-time by 1.1% on a monthly basis by adjusting the schedule of maintenance and upgrades".

Here's another list of "Power Words" to use, but many of them have the exact same problems listed above. Use at your own risk.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Emperor of the World, your Private Utopia, Real People

Over on LinkedIN, there is a really interesting discussion based on the question of what changes you would make to better everyone's livingness if you were in charge of the world.

Many of the posters wanted to eliminate money and so on.


Money is necessary at this stage of human evolution, as a feedback mechanism and an accounting mechanism. Money is simply a way of facilitating exchange, a way of rewarding productivity, a way of allocating resources, and even a way of keeping score. Any system without some measure for those things will be effectively random in its results, quickly overrun by freeloaders, and strongly subject to a mega-size "tragedy of the commons".

Worse, without the "keeping score" factor, there's no way for individuals to know how they are doing, relative to any external or intrinsic standard. While that complete absence of a measuring stick might work for the top-tier individuals who have already earned their way through a dozen levels of real competition onto Star Trek's imaginary flagship of the fleet, where there are literally no resource constraints and the ship will be rebuilt at the beginning of the next show, no matter what happens, it's unlikely to work on any world populated by a realistic cross section of anything we would recognize as human. (More about real human populations below.)


In systems where some other item acts as both reward and incentive - for instance academia, where degrees, publications and tenure provide the group and personal senses of status and value - you end up with gatekeepers and a nasty social dynamic where the mostly neutral place of the economically "token-gifted" is held by networks of the socially "control-gifted". In essence, you have high school cliques running the rest of your life.

The only counter-example I know of is the US military, which appears to have a status and hierarchy system that works in a fairly benign manner. Anyone care to have *everyone* live in that system the rest of their life? Anyone know any other positive examples that are open systems with a large cross-section of humans in them?


On the negative side, when tokens are the medium of assigning value and productivity, the people who get the most tokens are not necessarily the people who are the most valuable or productive, but are instead usually the people who are best at gathering and keeping tokens. This is a natural function of their aptitudes and motivations, and a necessary byproduct of a token-based system with choice and freedom of action. It's annoying to some, but it cannot be eliminated without losing the benefit of the tokens to the system.

Also, this side-effect of "bonus bucks to the token-gifted" is not in itself good or bad, regardless of what you might personally think of governments, bankers, developers, or other rich people. Over history, the token-gifted are the ones that funded everything you think of as culture and high art. Every world-class museum you've ever been to, every world-class city you've ever been to, and almost every human-made place you ever want to go, were all created via money from the token-gifted. As a rule, the Medicis were terrible people, but they funded great art. Same with the Popes, as near as I can tell.

There is this liberal tendency towards envy and false charity - the quite unliberal thought that no one can possibly deserve to possess and control billions (or sometimes only millions) of dollars, regardless of that fact that they themselves may have worked to create it, and scrimped to keep it. The liberal compulsively imagines all the people who have *not* earned it, but who need something that money might provide, so it's very natural for a liberal to want to *seize* from the rich to "give charity" to the poor, in order to make the liberal feel better about themselves. Bad idea.

First, when a person gives their own money, they can - and usually do - make sure that it goes to a place where it will be used effectively. On the other hand, when someone gives away money that they did *not* earn, they almost never take such care. After all, they say, "It's the thought that counts, and my intentions are good."

Second, if it isn't your own money, it's not your charity, and you deserve no good feeling from it.

I'd have to say that, given a few hundred million, I can think of quite a few problems that can actually be addressed, and the world can be changed for the better. But it wouldn't be by eliminating money, or taxes, or income, or anything else that gives people the freedom to choose their own paths.


In any system that permits diversity of thought, belief, behavior, motivation, and so on - and in most that don't - you will have diversity of thought, belief, behavior, motivation and so on. And each of those diverse people will use the system to accomplish their personal objectives, what *they* see as the best highest good. Or, if they are thoroughly thwarted by your system, then they will succumb to despair, or act to pervert the system toward their best good, or to destroy the system. If you want the greatest good for the greatest number, make sure that the heart of your system thwarts the most harmful and the least valuable and the least productive, rather than the least harmful and the most valuable and the most productive. And make sure that "harm" and "value" and "productivity" are objectively distinguishable.

In any realistic system, half the people will have below average intelligence. (By the definition of average, duh.) In any human system, a sixth of the people will be at least one standard deviation below the mean - in the US, that means an IQ of roughly 84, which falls under the current psychiatric designation of "Borderline Intellectual Functioning". Yep, one sixth of the populace, by definition, is mentally impaired.

**PLEASE** don't knee-jerk here. **PLEASE** put relative merit discussions aside for another day. Sure, we could engage in an entire series of cliche and highly charged comments about the high or low value of dull people, and about the value of certain productive dull people relative to the value of certain unproductive token collectors. **PLEASE** Just consider that we already had that whole thread, because the entire thread is totally predictable to people who aren't dull. You know what you'll say, you know what they'll say, and it has nothing to do with the point I'm making.

The take-home point I'm making here is that your utopia will need to address the needs and values of people at both ends of the intelligence scale. Try to make your Utopia work for the salt of the Earth as well as for the Heinlein characters.


So, after your initial planning of your Utopia, make sure that you drop in some regular real-ish people who disagree with you and see how happy they are. Drop in a Christian surgeon trying to keep her son moral by her own standards, a Hindu streetwalker whose personal worth is built on compliments and presents by her regulars, an alpha male gay Mathematician graduating high school, a Muslim woman mourning the death of her six-year-old, a man whose self-worth is based on the operation of a fifth generation tire store, another man who is trying to build enough self-worth (and enough bling) to attract a particular mate. What do they think of your perfectionized world?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Recent YA High Fantasy by Female Authors

Stacy Whitman has posted a link to a list of Recent YA High Fantasy Books over on pinterest.

Okay, I got chills because I have been excruciatingly busy for the last couple of years, and Tamora Pierce's third Beka Cooper novel, Mastiff, has made the list. Fantasy magic police procedurals. Yum.

So why did I get chills? Because I hadn't known the second Beka Cooper novel was out yet. So I have two to catch up on! (grin)

Of course, it wasn't until I got to the bottom of Stacy's list that I realized the list only includes female authors. I wonder if anyone else out there on the Internet has written the other half - or more likely third - of the list? Any takers?