On the road, blogging limited

Blogging will be limited for the next week.

I’ve received several requests for posts on a bunch of meaty topic, including (a) Adobe’s Creative Cloud move, (b) The Defence Distributed takedown notice, (b) the utility of power-projection navies, (d) current state of the terror war, and others. I won’t get to all of these anytime soon, because I’m swamped with work and will be travelling today to an undisclosed city for a meeting I can’t talk about yet.

Sorry to go all international-man-of-nystery on everybody but all will be revealed later this year. It will have been worth the wait.

24 thoughts on “On the road, blogging limited

  1. Also, I’d love to see an update on the cellphone wars. Haven’t had one of those in months.

  2. Alsadius,

    He also used item b) twice and misspelled “mystery” as “nystery”.

    It’s a steganographic secret message to the Grand High Mustachio of the Eric Conspiracy, all with “I was typing on my cellphone keyboard” as a cover for plausible deniability. :)

    (Android draws a squiggly line under “steganographic”. Come on Google! You’re nerdier than that!)

  3. I imagine you’ll get a kick out of this when you return to base – http://blog.zorinaq.com/?e=74

    Windows is indeed slower than other operating systems in many scenarios, and the gap is worsening. The cause of the problem is social. There’s almost none of the improvement for its own sake, for the sake of glory, that you see in the Linux world.

    Granted, occasionally one sees naive people try to make things better. These people almost always fail. We can and do improve performance for specific scenarios that people with the ability to allocate resources believe impact business goals, but this work is Sisyphean. There’s no formal or informal program of systemic performance improvement. We started caring about security because pre-SP3 Windows XP was an existential threat to the business. Our low performance is not an existential threat to the business.

  4. Alsadius on Saturday, May 11 2013 at 2:19 pm said:
    “Also, I’d love to see an update on the cellphone wars. Haven’t had one of those in months.”

    hahaha. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  5. @FrancisT:

    Our low performance is not an existential threat to the business.

    Given the 3 year depreciation cycle, one could argue that it’s pretty good for a significant portion of the economy–that portion being the “rack-and-stack” IT folks, and the computer industry as a whole.

  6. @Foo:

    (f) the incessant bitcoin questions

    I seem to have come to the conclusion that cryptocurrencies do not appear to create anarcho-capitalism. The problem is there appears to be no way to design one that can not be controlled by statism, not even by those who wish to disobey the laws and rely on sophisticated anonymity. The inability to inject non-centralized entropy (in any alternative that can’t be controlled by a majority of capital) is a fundamental realization, assuming my conclusion is not refuted.

    I like to abandon unworkable ideas as soon as possible.

  7. @esr:

    will be travelling today to an undisclosed city for a meeting I can’t talk about yet.

    My guess is “Don’t be evil”.

  8. @JustSaying
    “My guess is “Don’t be evil”.”

    How about some Android competitor who wants their own version of “Glass”?

  9. Finally some sanity on the female developer subject:

    It’s good to see that these women feel confident enough to handle inappropriate behavior on their own. But there are many women who do not feel this confident — and indeed, do not feel confident enough to even speak up when mistreated. But that doesn’t obviate the need for men to check their privilege before they open their mouths. (Unconfident men don’t have nearly the problems that unconfident women do — that’s another aspect to male privilege.) And it doesn’t eliminate the need for codes of conduct that delineate the bounds of acceptable, respectful behavior.

    Think of the codes of conduct as being like technical standards. Where standards are absent or ill-defined, vendors are free to interpret what guidelines do exist however they want, usually to their own advantage. Similarly, where codes of conduct are absent or ill-defined, men are free to interpret manifestly sexist behavior as being acceptable when it’s not. That is why the codes of conduct, as condescending as they may seem, need to be there and need to be enforced.

  10. @Jeff

    Privilege-talk rubs me the wrong way, but I cannot always fully explain why. Let me make an attempt.

    Privilege-talk has all the airs of something about morals, something about ethics, something of a moral question, something a good person should feel bad about. It’s something about feeling guilty.

    But morals are supposed to be active: do this, don’t do that. Privilege is something passive, it is not about doing something, it is “being done to” something. It is not about how we treat others, but how others “get treated by society”.

    So at the end of the day it is making you feel guilty even when you personally do nothing wrong, just “enjoying undeserved advantages” (which is actually a bad way to approach it, that an unjust obstacle some other person suffers is an advantage to others, as if all life would be cutthroat competition where everybodys loss is a gain to others… in real life lose-lose and lose-zero are pretty frequent outcomes).

    It’s about taking responsibility and feeling guilt for things that are not in your power. And this is why I have the gut feeling that this must be dishonest and manipulative, but above all, strange. It is very hard for me to understand it.

    This is, despite being very “leftie”, is at some level still a “very American” thing. I can assure you that not even a flaming communist Frenchman thinks like this. If he was born in 1970 he will not feel guilty for colonialism, he may hate his grandparents for it, but to feel guilty for the undeserved advantages he enjoys over postcolonial Algerians that just not. But many white American liberals who were born in 1970 feel a guilt over racism despite not being themselves racism, just a guilt over enjoying the undeserved advantages of slavery and Jim Crow.

    I can’t understand it. Just can’t.

    Winter, does it happen in NL? Dutch people feeling guilty because they have undeserved advantages over Indonesians due to colonial racism that happened before they were even born? The whole check-your-privilege stuff, does this make any kind of sense there?

  11. Shenpen,

    Your concerns about “privilege-talk” are shared by Eric (who views it as a form of kafkatrap) and many others. The various anti-oppression movements have actually stepped up their game in terms of clarifying the issue and emphasizing that talking about privilege is not intended to make you feel guilty. It’s intended to raise awareness about structural and institutional oppression. It’s about getting people to stop and listen to the voices of the othered and the disadvantaged. It’s about increasing the amount of compassion in the world — an objectively good thing.

    You should only feel guilty if you persist in your ignorance and deny or dismiss your privilege — or, worse yet, whine and complain about how you are the one being othered and discriminated against.

    Here’s a shaggy dog story that serves as a pretty good entry-level illustration of the privilege issue.

    This is, despite being very “leftie”, is at some level still a “very American” thing. I can assure you that not even a flaming communist Frenchman thinks like this. If he was born in 1970 he will not feel guilty for colonialism, he may hate his grandparents for it, but to feel guilty for the undeserved advantages he enjoys over postcolonial Algerians that just not. But many white American liberals who were born in 1970 feel a guilt over racism despite not being themselves racism, just a guilt over enjoying the undeserved advantages of slavery and Jim Crow.

    Europeans, I think, are a lot better about listening to the concerns of those their ancestors may have oppressed than Americans, so there’s less need for “guilt” or for pointing out that “your privilege is showing”. I think there’s something about the American spirit that doesn’t get it, doesn’t want to get it, and fuck you for telling me how to live my life if you try and explain it to me.

  12. I should add: the concept of privilege was introduced in order to absolve people who just don’t know better of individual guilt. Say, for example, you have an elderly grandparent over. President Obama comes on the screen and they make a quip about how “niggers shouldn’t be allowed to run for office” or somesuch.

    Without the concept of privilege, we could only accuse such a person of being a racist.

    With the concept of privilege, the person becomes, by default, merely ignorant — having been raised and educated in a society which favors white people and enculturates, wittingly or not, the now-discredited idea that white people are inherently superior in realms such as politics. We have an opportunity to correct the flaw in their thinking without accusing them of malice. If they persist in their flawed thinking, then they are individually guilty of racism.

    When she was very young, my grandmother used the word “nigger” without batting an eyelash and without a hint of malice — in her age and locality, that was just what you called black people. She hasn’t used it since, not for many, many decades. The point is that privilege as a concept gives us the ability to point out behavior which others may consider offensive, without accusing the offender of actual individual malice in their hearts.

  13. “It’s intended to raise awareness about structural and institutional oppression. It’s about getting people to stop and listen to the voices of the othered and the disadvantaged. It’s about increasing the amount of compassion in the world — an objectively good thing.”

    Compassion is all very nice and stuff, but this privilege thing gets bandied about by people that refuse to recognize that yes, the world is culturally biased. Some ideas and practices simply work better than others, and instead of denouncing the privileged, it would be better to see how you can get those privileges for oneself. Too many whiners would rather believe that all those oppressors out there are lying awake at night, losing sleep, dreaming up new ways to keep them down. It puffs them up; they don’t want to hear that we’re not doing that at all, and they are simply not that important.

    The US got built partly by the cruel use of slavery, stealing land from the Indians, ripping off half of Mexico’s territory, not to mention sniping at British troops from behind rocks and trees. You can’t go back. What’s done is done. You either do the things you need to do to take advantage of what is built, or STFU.

  14. Some ideas and practices simply work better than others…

    Point. But, Wilkinson and Pickett have found that egalitarianism works best of all.

    …and instead of denouncing the privileged, it would be better to see how you can get those privileges for oneself.

    I’m aghast at the level of rank ignorance on display here.

    Again, you aren’t bad for being privileged. It’s not about denouncing the privileged, it’s about denouncing the privilege. It’s about challenging and upending the power structures that give rise to unearned privilege and the ensuing inequality.

    How do you suppose women “get those privileges for themselves”? Undergo a sex change? Those who do will find themselves on the wrong end of cissexual privilege. In addition, asymmetry of privilege itself tends to warp the society around it, to reinforce and deepen the asymmetry, as has been demonstrated in the Stanford Prison, Third Wave, and Jane Elliott’s brown-eye/blue-eye experiments. It’s not as simple as getting privileges for yourself when the entire power structure of society has been realigned to making sure you do not get them.

  15. “How do you suppose women “get those privileges for themselves”? Undergo a sex change?”

    No…undergo a cultural change. Some routes lead to personal power, and others don’t. Make your choices, knowing that you’re going to have to take some bad with the good…and stop talking about ‘the power structure’. Society is not going away. You want in. That means making yourself useful to others. Tearing them down is not useful.

  16. “Privilege” bothers the heck out of me, too. It’s a way to praise the failures of the unprivileged and denigrate the successes of the privileged.

  17. >(f) the incessant bitcoin questions

    You can buy useful things with them now. e.g., beer. (Chain of pubs run by a Cambridge computer scientist who decided to sell really nice beer for a living; writes all his own operational machinery. Accepting Bitcoin without bothering to verify the transaction in real-time was worth it because basically, even if he was giving the beer away it’d be worth it for promotion value.)

  18. @David wow

    >(The Individual Pubs Ltd tills are implemented in Python and run on Ubuntu in text mode. Yes, the QR codes are being displayed using Unicode block characters!)

    This guy must be popular with his bartenders. “What, boss, the till still runs DOS in 2013?!”

    BTW I personally much more prefer curses type textmode menu interfaces to point and click, but I guess in a bar till touchscreen with huge icons rules.

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