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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My New Blog!

I'm ready to announce my new blog! I've moved to

I'm leaving this blog up. If something bad happens on my new site, I'll go back here.

Honest Job Ad

It's discouraging reading job ads. I wish employers were more explicit about what they want.

We're looking for pathetic losers who are willing to work 60+ hour weeks, and act like we're doing a favor for letting them work so much. We only want applicants with no life and no interests outside of work.

We're looking for candidates who are dumb enough to accept a couple shares in our startup, instead of cash.

We want you to act like our stupid startup is the most brilliant thing you've ever heard. We want you to act like back-end number crunching is the most amazing and exciting thing you've ever done. There's nothing more intellectually stimulating than writing an ad hoc report that's meaningless and nobody reads.

We want you to think that free soda is awesome, and ignore the fact that we're underpaying you and overworking you.

We want people who are smart enough to be a computer expert, but also dumb enough that we can manipulate them. We want people who are smart, but who aren't smarter than us.

We want to hire a superstar genius. All programmers are interchangeable cogs.

Our startup doesn't have a technical co-founder. That's not a problem. We can hire anyone to develop our website for us. Even though we're computer illiterate, we're capable of hiring a good team and managing the product. Even though we're computer illiterate, we can tell the difference between hiring someone good, and hiring someone who's faking it.

We hired an outsourcing team to do version 1.0 of our product. They did a brilliant job and it's almost done. It just needs some tweaking and finishing. We hired losers to do version 1.0. It's a complete mess and you need to redo it. We're hoping to hire you to replace them.

We expect at least 5 years of experience in each of Java, Javascript, AJAX, UNIX, Linux, Solaris, Windows, .NET, C#, C++, ASP.NET, PHP, Rails, SQL, MS SQL, mySQL, PL/SQL, Drupal, WordPress, FileMaker, Access, Excel, and PowerPoint.

I did another interview with a startup, with no technical cofounder. I asked them "How did you build your website, without a technical co-founder." They said "We hired an outsourcing team. We managed it. It's great! We're ready for beta!" I asked "May I see the beta?" They said "NO! That's a secret! We can't show anyone! Our beta is awesome, but we're not ready to show it to you!" Given their fear of showing me the beta, what they have so far is almost definitely a turd. They're using "This is SECRET! IMPORTANT!" as cover for "We have nothing."

If you have no technical ability and hire an outsourcing team, you're practically guaranteed to get cheated.


Why do so many people think "I can hire anyone to implement my website for me." It doesn't work that way. There are a lot of people who can successfully implement a website. If you have no technical ability, the odds of you hiring one of them are practically zero.

I wonder how many people could configure a Linode and WordPress, like I did? Even with the guides, it wasn't easy.

This is a pretty severe symptom, of corruption in the economy. The important people are the marketing wizards with VC connections and a slick powerpoint presentation. The people who actually do the work aren't important.

If you don't have good computer literacy, it's almost impossible to make a decent website.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

WordPress Runs - Hooray!

I got wordpress running! I'm almost ready to move!

Best Mobile Web Browser - Opera

I noticed that Android's default web browser has a bug. It cuts off pages on the bottom. This is on my Motorola Droid 3.

I tried Android FireFox. That didn't work. It was a buggy POS.

I tried Opera. That worked well.

NFL HGH Testing And The State

This story was pretty offensive.

Two key congressman emerged from an hour-long meeting with the NFL and players union and announced a deal to begin blood-testing players for human growth hormone. Minutes later, union officials would commit only to testing when a fair and safe system is in place—what they’ve been saying all along.
Do you see the mistake?

The correct response to this story is "WTF? Why is it any of Congress' business, whether the NFL tests for HGH or not? The NFL is a private organization, and can make whatever rules it wants."

One problem is State labor law. Due to the way labor law works, the NFL owners can't unilaterally implement HGH testing. The union must approve. This leads to arguments over what test is appropriate. The union can veto the owner's choice, if they think the test is flawed.

A flawed test is obviously bad. You don't want players suspended for false positives. You don't want the test to be too weak. Unfortunately, if the NFL chooses a test that's too strict, the State legal system can't easily handle the dispute via a lawsuit.

No matter what doping test you use, people will find loopholes and ways to trick the test.

That story was offensive. It's none of Congress' business, whether then NFL tests for HGH or not.

Why do people assume, by default, that every sports conflict is Congress' business? It's cheap publicity for the Congressmen, because they know lots of people like sports and are interested in the results. The Congressmen pretend to be the hero, resolving the dispute. Congress created the problem in the first place, by various laws.

The NFL should test for HGH. My complaint is that Congress shouldn't get involved. Due to defects in State labor law and the State legal system, it's hard for the NFL and players' union to agree on a test. The State legal system makes it hard for players to dispute the results, if the NFL does adopt a flawed test.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Bought A Linode!

I bought my Linode! I'm still configuring it.

I'm glad I spread it out over a day or two. (domains first, Linode the next day) It takes awhile for DNS changes to propagate.

It isn't easy being root! Even though Linode has a lot of nice guides for setting it up, it still takes effort and thinking to set it up properly.

NBA Lockout Observations

The NBA owners cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season. The owners demand severe concessions from the players, and the players' union hasn't caved (yet).

Even if the owners approved the players' last proposal, it's still a huge win for the owners. They already got the players to concede 4% on the cap number, 57% to 53%, a huge win.

Dropping the cap number from 57% to 53% isn't a 4% pay cut for the players. It's a 7% pay cut. (4% divided by 57% is 0.07). That's pretty severely greedy, to get a 7% pay cut concession from your workers, and still demand more.

The owners claim "We're losing money!" That's hard to prove. There's all sorts of clever accounting and loopholes. For example, suppose the same person/corporation owns the team and the TV channel. Then, the TV rights can be sold for $50M when they're really worth $100M. That allows the team to claim a loss, while the owner makes a fortune.

There's another interesting aspect. Most NBA teams play in taxpayer-financed arenas. Taxpayers are financing the owners, in the fight against the players.

Scenario #1: Suppose owners paid for their own stadium. The owner would think "WTF? I paid $1B for this arena and it's sitting empty? That's a lousy return on my investment."

Scenario #2: Taxpayers pay for the stadium. In effect, the owner isn't suffering from idle capital, during the lockout. The taxpayer bears the loss, more than the owner. With taxpayer-financed stadiums, the owners have very little capital expenses.

The franchises are very valuable. However, the owners have no real capital expense. Their biggest expense is player salaries, eliminated during the lockout. The major networks show other stuff during the lockout, continuing to enjoy their monopoly/oligopoly. The game day arena workers are all temps. All the other workers are laid off during the lockout. By getting free arenas from taxpayers, the owners aren't suffering any capital losses.

That's a very interesting observation. With taxpayer-financed arenas, the owners actually have very little tangible capital invested in their business. They enjoy a State-backed monopoly, but invested practically zero actual capital.

There's another problem with CBA negotiations. The contract is approved by a majority vote of players. The NBA could offer a lower cap, but double the minimum salary, and a lot of players would vote for the deal. That's the problem with democracy. The majority can steal from the more-productive minority. Other clauses, like the mid-level cap exemption, provide an incentive for average and below-average players to vote for a deal that cheats superstar players.

The salary cap and maximum salary hurt superstar players. A superstar will get great TV ratings and sell out arenas, but the CBA caps his salary. The current system cheats superstar players, who are worth more than the maximum salary.

Teams like the Knicks and Lakers could afford to spend 2x or 3x times the cap, because they have a monopoly position in a large market. The salary cap gives the Knicks and Lakers windfall profits. NBA franchise rules prevent other teams from moving to NYC or LA and competing with the Knicks and Lakers.

NYC probably has the population to support 4 or more teams, but NBA rules forbid it. This guarantees huge profits for the Knicks. A small-market owner can't move his team to NYC and compete with the Knicks. A small-market owner can't move to Chicago and compete with the Bulls.

That's one advantage of the European promotion/relegation system, compared to the US system of giving each team a monopoly in each city. The US system guarantees that big market teams have a big economic advantage over small-market teams. In Europe, if I wanted to and had the money, I could buy a minor league team, invest in it, and eventually get promoted to the top division, even in a city that already has a team. In the USA, the monopoly franchise system guarantees inequality between big-market and small-market teams.

The NBA owners are being obviously greedy. They already got huge concessions from the players, but want more. There are plenty of ways to cook the books, and present the illusion that you're losing money. With taxpayer-financed arenas, taxpayers are subsidizing the owners in their battle against the players, because tax-funded arenas lower the owners' capital expenses. The city-monopoly franchise system guarantees inequality between big market and small market teams, because it's illegal to move a small market team to a bigger market and compete with an existing team. The CBA process gives the players' union an incentive to ratify a contract that cheats superstar players while boosting benchwarmers' salaries. A salary cap and maximum salary provides windfall profits for owners of big-market teams.

The whole CBA negotiating process is a State-created mess. The State gives NBA owners a monopoly, making it hard to start competing leagues. In a really free market, if the players were unfairly underpaid, someone would start a successful competing league. The State subsidizes owners with taxpayer-financed arenas. The State subsidizes cable and broadcast TV, giving them a monopoly/oligopoly. Labor law forces the players to negotiate via a union, rather than each player making his own contract.

Some fans may blame the owners or players. The real blame belongs to the State. State labor law encourages brinksmanship negotiating, where neither side budges until the last minute. Under State labor law, if you make concessions early, that's a boost to the other side, because that becomes the baseline for future negotiating.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Registered Two Domains!

Yesterday, I registered two domains!

I'm going to buy a Linode today. I'm going to set up WordPress and finally get off this POS Blogger.

I don't want to reveal my new blog location yet, because I don't want anyone to go there until it's ready.

I also decided to register "", and give a try at writing a delicious clone. I'm *SO MAD* at AVOS and delicious. They totally ruined it! They took out all the features I liked, and they're bragging about how awesome the changes are! That'll take a few weeks to get set up. Don't bother going there until I'm asking for alpha testers.

I figure that fsklicious would be worth my time, even if I'm the only user.

Even for the old delicious, I was vaguely unsatisfied. The new delicious is such a POS, that I'm motivated to write my own.

For the first few weeks of unemployment, I felt very little motivation. Now, I'm ready to do something. It's very interesting. A wage slave job really drains your energy. I didn't notice much, until I was unemployed for a month! My motivation is slowly returning.

How Did Insiders Profit From The Greek Bailout?

Greece is bankrupt. They can't make payments on their debt. Of course, if you continually issue someone new bonds at artificially low rates, it can be extended indefinitely. However, Greece's insolvency is so severe that people can't ignore it.

Technically, if you keep lending Greece more and more money, they'll never go bankrupt or default. However, if you go to far, the monetary system farce becomes too obvious. Insiders had to do something.

Why is government debt sacred? Why not default? The banksters make a lot of money buying and selling government bonds. It's practically riskless profit, borrowing at cheap rates from the central bank, and buying higher-yielding government bonds. When a government defaults, the scam starts to unravel. If you borrow at 1% and lend at 2% and use 100x leverage, then you make a fortune. If there's a default, then all of a sudden the easy riskless profit disappears and you're bankrupt.

If banks are "too big to fail", then bailing out an insolvent government is an indirect bank bailout. Either the government defaults and then you bail out the bank, which would be too obviously corrupt. Instead, you bail out the government, indirectly bailing out the bank.

Why is government debt sacred? If you lend money to someone who can't pay, then you deserve to lose. Why was that principle abandoned? A higher principle takes precedence, which is "The banksters make a lot of profit no matter what." Bank lobbyists take precedence over sound economic principles.

There's been a lot of wrangling and dealing, regarding the fine print of Greece's restructuring/default/bankruptcy. How are insiders going to make a fortune? Do you see it?


Suppose that I had inside information, regarding the exact details of the Greek bailout. Then, I could profitably buy or short sell Greek bonds. If the bailout is more generous to bondholders than expected, then I can buy Greek bonds and make a fortune. If the bailout is harsher to bondholders than expected, then I can short sell and make a fortune.

You can be sure that some insiders know exactly what's going to happen, and are making a fortune speculating in Greek bonds.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

9 9 9 Plan

I heard Herman Cain promoting his "9 9 9" plan. I thought of an amusing joke.

The US economy already is on a "9 9 9" plan. There's 9% unemployment, 9% inflation, and a 9% incarceration rate.

Amusing Job Interview - Working For Free

I went on an interesting job interview. It was another "We want you to work for free." thing.

I was 99% sure before the interview, that they wanted me to work for free. I went anyway. First, I needed to go buy something. Second, there's always a chance that someone isn't clueless. Third, it's better than staying home all day.

Here's a tipoff. If someone is in a "shared workspace", it's 99%+ likely that they want you to work for free. If they can't afford a real office, then they can't afford to pay someone to write their product for them.

Am I pulling an Alyssa Bereznak, going on a job interview, just so I could ridicule them? I'm not shaming them specifically by name. (Surprisingly, they didn't demand that I sign a non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement, as condition for talking to them.) There are probably many similar idiots. A lot of Craigslist startup ads want someone who'll work for free.

My mother's reaction was amusing. She said "Working for free must be a good idea. Otherwise, a lot of people wouldn't be asking you to do it."

Astonishingly, they had already raised $300k of venture capital, even though they had no product and no working website. Are venture capitalists really that clueless? Can venture capitalists tell the difference between two low-skill parasites and the next Mark Zuckerberg?

I met with two guys. They were so clueless that they didn't even notice that I wasn't clueless. They were grinning like child molesters. The expression on their face said "Wow! FSK is going to write our product for us! He'll do all the work, we'll own it, and we'll be multi-millionaires! I can't believe that we're about to trick someone into saving our startup!" They had raised some VC, but they weren't willing to part with their hard-stolen money until after they had a working website. I'd be writing the code for them, in the hope that they'd maybe pay me later.

"I'll work for free in the hope that I'll be paid later." is one of the stupidest ideas ever. It's a good deal for the employer, but you'd be an idiot to take it if you really believe that you'll someday get paid. First, you've already established yourself as an idiot who'll work for free. Why should they pay you? Second, when/if money does come in, it's going to be wasted on other things before paying you. Third, as a minority shareholder, there are two many ways to be cheated, even if the startup is successful. For example, if you have a typical "4 year vesting with 1 year cliff", you can work for 11 months and then get fired and get nothing.

Why would I work for someone else for free, when I can work on my blog for $0.10/hr? Why would I work for free, when I can work on personal projects and keep 100% ownership.

Their idea was stupid. Even if I wrote their lousy product and it worked, it wouldn't be worth $300k, much less the $10M+ you'd need to make the $300k investment pay off. It was a neat idea, but there's no way it'd ever be worth $300k, even if I implemented it exactly to match their fantasies.

Neither of them had written the code so far. They had partnered with a third guy, who gave up and got a real cash-paying job. They said "Our code is 95% finished. We just need someone to do the last bits." If you repeat a lie often enough, you'll believe it and your investors will believe it. What do you expect them to tell their investors? "The guy who wrote the code quit because we weren't paying him and he had to get a real job. It's nowhere near finished." No, you lie and say that it's almost done. If it really was 95% done, then their other partner would have finished it. It almost definitely wasn't done at all. It would probably have been less work for me to redo it from scratch, than for me to understand what the other guy did.

They did say one interesting thing. They said "If we can get 10,000 users, then we can raise more VC at a $2M valuation." Does that mean that, if I start a website and get 10,000 regular users, then it's worth $2M? My blog has 200 regular readers. If you extrapolate linearly, does that mean my blog is worth $40,000? That seems silly. I only make $5/month from AdBrite. A stock that pays a dividend of $60/year is worth approximately $1000. Plus, I have to keep writing new posts. I couldn't sell my blog to a fool, and have them expect to not lose my regular readers.

Most VCs really want to start a business that will have a State-backed monopoly in its market niche. VCs want to invest in a business that will be profitable even after the psychopaths and parasites take over. VCs don't want to invest in a business that requires intelligent leadership to stay competitive.

Seeing those clueless twits made me think "I should work on fsklicious and my other personal projects. They are better ideas than these fools had. Plus, I can implement it myself and bootstrap it, paying only for a domain, a Linode, and my time. I'm currently unemployed, so I might as well use the time beneficially."

If I had no emotional intelligence, I'd need to partner with a parasite in order to get anything done. Now, I can handle both things. I'd rather handle the other logistics of having a business, rather than being a parasite's employe and giving them ownership and control.

For my first few weeks of unemployment, I was feeling tired and semi-burnt-out. Now, my motivation is returning. I should get my act together and register a domain and buy a Linode. It's amazing how much it drains your energy, to work as a wage slave.

This is lesson #1 of software startups and web startups. Unless a co-founder is writing version 1.0, your startup is worth $0. I can't believe that VCs are dumb enough to fall for that. You need more than a powerpoint presentation and a slick pitch, to have a viable startup.

That's also a symptom of corruption in the economy. How did those idiots manage to score $300k in capital, while more deserving projects go nowhere? In a corruption-based economy, capital goes to the best liars, and not the best workers.

Even if they did have a $1M budget to build their website, they'd blow it hiring someone clueless. If they really were willing to shell out some cash, they would have hired a skilled liar, and not a competent programmer. The only reason they considered me at all, was that they were hoping I'd be dumb enough to work for free.

I should have told them "Learn how to write software and do it yourself.", but they probably thought "Only losers write code." Plus, they didn't have the intellectual capacity to handle it. I also should have said "You have nothing. If you're honest, you should admit you've got nothing and give your investors their money back." There's no chance of that happening.

One of the guys was very buzzword compliant. His speech was a word salad of buzzwords, without making any sense. Can't VCs notice that? Are all VCs and State leaders like that, buzzword stream-of-consciousness without any real thinking?

It was very interesting, seeing those two clueless fools. On the one hand, it was offensive that they wanted me to work for free and make them millionaires. On the other hand, it was reassuring. If those two clueless twits can start a business and raise $300k of VC, then I can surely do better!

However, VCs would probably not return my phone calls, at least until I have a working product and users. By then, I probably wouldn't need VC! However, if I go the non-VC route, I'd need about 100k regular users, to make enough from Adbrite ads to be "ramen profitable".

This meeting made me think about VC some more. I had some interesting observations.

Raising VC is a full-time job by itself. Every day I spend meeting with VC is a day I don't spend improving my website. Every VC will string you along. They won't make a formal legally-binding commitment. They do want to string you along, in case you are successful, and they want to invest.

Those idiots were thinking "A bunch of VCs are stringing us along." as equivalent to "A bunch of VCs are really interested in our business." A VC isn't going to give a direct no, because he always wants the option of investing later. It's kind of sad that nobody explained to them. "Your business idea is stupid. You'll never get anywhere if you expect someone else to implement your vision for free."

Suppose I start a website and it's successful. I decide to raise VC. I raise $1M at a pre-money valuation of $1M.

Does that mean my shares are worth $1M? No.

First, I can't take that $1M and pay it out to myself as a dividend. The VC will expect me to hire employees and spend that money. Also, the VC may expect me to take no salary or a reduced salary, because I'm part owner. The difference between my fair salary and actual salary is a partial gift to the VC.

Second, once I get VC, I can't try to build a stable business with $200k in revenue. If I'm 100% owner and the only employee, $200k in revenue would be awesome. Once I raise VC, I have to swing for the fences, because the VC wants to cash out for $500M+. In that sense, my interests aren't aligned with the VC. I'm happy with a stable medium-income business. The VC wants to be ridiculously profitable.

Suppose I do have a business that generates income to support my rent and food. After that, any further gains go 100% to me, rather than having to give a cut to middlemen. Once I raise VC, my extra productivity gets given to the shareholders. In effect, I become the VC's employee. (However, it is worth it to get VC, if the extra growth potential is worth more than the equity sold. Most of my good ideas are bootstrappable, rather than one where VC would be a good idea. For an agorist business idea, VC is pointless.)

Third, the VC will demand I cede control of the business to him. There are many clauses that the VC can use to cheat me. No matter how good a lawyer I hire to represent me, there are "standard clauses" and various loopholes that can be used against me. The VC might demand re-vesting of founder shares, which means I give up my ownership until I vest. If there's founder re-vesting with a 1 year cliff, then the VC can fire me after 11 months and I get nothing. The VC might demand liquidation preferences, giving him greater effective ownership. The VC will demand that I hire a CEO of his choosing. Also, the VC could fire me and then mismanage the business and squander any remaining assets. (see the story of Ars Digita for a good example of how VC can end in disaster)

So, even if you do raise VC at a valuation of $X, your shares aren't worth $X. You can't cash out your shares for that value.

I shouldn't bother wasting time with VC. Right now, a VC wouldn't answer my calls. Once I have a working website and a reasonable number of users, I don't need VC anymore. If I raise VC once I'm moderately successful, I'm effectively gifting my bootstrapped business to the VC.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Free Keene Foolishness - Are Prison Guards Evil?

This post on "Free Keene" had a serious error.

Since my issues is with the police and “justice” system for aggressing against peaceful people, I do not give the jailers any trouble by non cooperating or being disobedient. My beef is not with them.
Are you kidding me? Police and judges and prosecutors are evil, but not prison guards? You've got to be joking.

The prison guard is cooperating in the evil of the State, in exchange for a paycheck. Of course, it's pointless to tell the prison guard "I'm innocent. WTF am I here for?" The prison guard has been brainwashed to ignore pleas of innocence. The prison guard has been brainwashed to handle his role as cattle guard, and ignore other issues. Besides, every prisoner claims innocence, so the guard gets desensitized. (I noticed that when involuntarily hospitalized. Every patient/prisoner claims "WTF? I don't belong here! Let me go!" The nurses/guards are desensitized to such pleas, and ignore them.)

The prison guards are just as evil as the policemen, judges, and prosecutors. The guards obey orders and actively supports evil, in exchange for a paycheck. The system gives the prison guard no discretion, but that doesn't excuse the prison guard's behavior.

If you want to go all Goodwin's law, you could use the same argument to say "Concentration camp guards weren't evil. They were just obeying orders. Blame the politicians and judges, but not the executioner who's just obeying orders." The prison guard is obeying orders in exchange for a paycheck. That doesn't justify his behavior. There's no "I'm just following orders!" morality fairy, that magically turns evil into good.

A prison guard earns a paycheck for caging nonviolent offenders. That places him firmly in the "evil" category. In fact, prison workers' unions lobby for stricter mandatory minimum sentencing laws! That's pretty evil. Prison workers' unions lobby for the "War on Drugs", because it's a welfare/jobs program for prison workers! Unlike the policeman, prosecutor, and judge, the prison guard doesn't have State-authorized discretion to let his victim go. That doesn't magically make him "not evil". Even a judge, policeman, and prosecutor will frequently say "I have no discretion. I have to enforce the law as written."

If the judges didn't have prison guards willing to obey orders and cage nonviolent offenders, then the judge would have no power. Without prison guards mindlessly obeying orders, the judge would just be a crazy guy in a robe. The prison guard is an important cog in State evil. I don't see how any reasonable person could characterize prison guards as "not evil". Besides, only someone with evil personality tendencies, would take a job as prison guard.

Everyone who profits from State corruption, directly or indirectly, is supporting evil. In fact, I was indirectly supporting evil, writing financial software. My work was very far removed from the evil parts, but I was indirectly supporting evil and profiting from evil. I feel guilty about it, but I have to take whatever job I can get in order to survive.

If Ian said "I'm cooperating with the prison guards, because I want better conditions and a shorter sentence.", I'd respect that. When he says "Prison guards aren't evil.", that's complete nonsense. He's a fool for believing that. Anybody who profits from State violence is evil, whether they profit directly or indirectly. A prison guard pretty directly profits from State evil, especially when he's jailing nonviolent offenders.

Of course, a prison guard will be friendly with prisoners who cooperate. That makes the prison guard's job easier. Just because the prison guards were friendly with Ian, doesn't make them "not evil".

"I have to take whatever job I can to survive, even writing financial software." is comparable to "Given that I'm in prison, I'll cooperate with the guards in exchange for better treatment and a shorter sentence." Given that the State criminal conspiracy exists, I'll try to get the best job I can inside that corrupt system. Given that Ian was jailed for something stupid, he might as well cooperate while in prison, if it make the stay less unpleasant and shorter.

It's nonsense like this that makes me not take "Free Keene" seriously. The actual reason for imprisonment was silly, a confrontation with police over a minor issue. Yes, police are evil when they enforce bad laws. It's pretty stupid to get into a confrontation with police over minor offenses. It's better to save your energy for big important issues, and let the bad guys win less important ones.

Also, if you look at the "laugh lines" pattern on Ian Freeman's face, he has the parasitic personality type. He is making an emotional argument against the State, and not a very good logical argument. "The police will use violence over minor issues!" is an example of State evil. However, you're a fool if you actually dare the police to use violence over a specific minor issue. The police will happily oblige.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What Is The Real Unemployment Rate?

I already wrote a post with this title, but I have another point to make.

Suppose that the "official" unemployment rate is 10%, but 50% of people work for the government.

Then, the real unemployment rate isn't 10%; it's 20%. The people who work for the government should be excluded. Most government workers perform negative work, useless work, or heavily overpriced work. When State thugs raid a raw milk farm, that's negative work. Most bureaucracy is useless work, and not directly harmful, except for the threat of violence if your papers aren't in order. When the State repairs a road or prevents real crime, that's necessary, but the State overcharges for that service.

There's another important point. Which people are unemployed.

Official State propaganda is "It's the 10% most useless workers, that are unemployed."

What if that's false? This is a corruption-based economy, and not a merit-based economy. What if the 10% unemployed are the 10% most skilled workers? That would be a tremendous disaster. The unionized telephone or cable worker has a cushy guaranteed job, while people who are good at repairing things are unemployed, because they can't get into the cartel.

Those are two important points regarding unemployment. First, people who work for the government shouldn't be counted in the "official unemployment number". Second, which workers are unemployed, the least skilled workers or the most skilled workers?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sleazy Recruiter Tactic - The Fake Interview

I just realized another sleazy tactic, that some employers and headhunters use. It's the "fake interview".

Suppose you own a consulting business. You send out employment ads. When people respond, you use that to fish for information on what potential clients are doing.

Another trick that headhunters use is "Tell me everywhere you've interviewed, so we don't double-submit you." This enables the headhunter to make a list of who's hiring, and who to solicit as potential clients.

I'd never realized that before. Some job ads aren't posted by employers that are serious about hiring. Some of them are trolling, fishing for information.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

60 Minutes Fnord - Jeff Immelt

I don't normally watch 60 Minutes, because it's pretty severe propaganda. I watched a bit on Sunday, waiting for The Amazing Race, delayed due to football.

I saw Jeff Immelt on 60 Minutes. There was one bit that was really interesting.

They do a cut-away to a "reaction shot" from the interviewee to the interviewer. They interviewer had an expression of "Jeff Immelt is a genius! I'm so lucky that I'm privileged to interview him!" Contrast that with a Ron Paul or Peter Schiff interview, when they're criticizing the Federal Reserve. The "reaction shot cut-away" shows the interviewer scowling and frowning, saying "This guy is such a fruitcake!" That's a subtle, but important, piece of pro-State brainwashing. (In some of the Presidential debates, they had a cut-away shot to a scowling interviewer, as Ron Paul gave his answers.)

They also had another misleading bit. "GE pays zero Federal taxes." That is wrong. GE pays negative Federal taxes.

GE's nominal Federal tax rate was zero. However, GE receives Federal contracts and loans. Including those contracts as negative taxes, that pushes GE into negative taxes.

GE also has a massive amount of debt on its books. According to Yahoo Finance, GE has $471B of debt on its books. The interest rate on that debt is probably approximately 5%. (I don't know exactly, but that's typical corporate bond rates.) True inflation is 20%-30% or more. That means that GE is paying an interest rate of negative 20% or less on its debt, receiving a State subsidy of approximately $100B a year. This State subsidy comes from the fact that GE gets to borrow at artificially low rates, borrowing via the banksters and the Federal Reserve interest rate cartel.

This interest rate subsidy gives GE a tremendous advantage over smaller competitors. GE can use this cheap debt to invest or buyout smaller competitors, wait for inflation, and then profit. If you include this interest rate subsidy as a charge to GE's earnings, GE is destroying capital at a tremendous rate. GE receives a continuous massive State bailout, via negative interest rates.

It's the underpants gnomes, but making sense according to evil State accounting:

  1. Borrow as much money as you can and buy as much as you can.
  2. Wait for inflation.
  3. Profit!
If I wanted to invest in a web startup, I wouldn't be able to borrow at a couple percent like GE. That gives GE a huge economic advantage over me and other potential small businesses. (Also, patent law benefits GE, enabling them to use the legal system to quash competitors.)

There was another amusing bit about "international corporate tax holidays." International corporations keep offshore earnings in offshore subsidiaries in tax havens, paying zero US Federal income taxes. Every 5-10 years, the Federal government declares a "tax holiday", allowing corporations to take their offshore earnings back into the USA, paying a low tax rate of only a couple of percent.

Do you see the fallacy? If you *KNOW* that there's going to be a "tax holiday" every 5-10 years, then you keep your earnings offshore until the next holiday. That's a clever loophole.

There also was an interesting bit about an NFL agent. That guy was obviously an ***hole. The athletes probably have the "abused productive" personality type, and need a parasitic/psychopathic agent to bargain for them. The agent was being promoted as an awesome guy helping out athletes. In fact, being on 60 Minutes was a huge boon to his career, making it easier for him to sign other clients.

He was a clearcut example of corruption capitalism. The middleman agent earns a huge income, without doing any real work, and he thinks he's a super-genius. The athletes are probably thinking "I'm lucky I have such a huge scumbag, negotiating on my behalf."

Here's another fallacy with agents. "The agent gets paid a commission, based on a percentage of the athlete's earnings. Therefore, the agent's interests are aligned with the player." That is false. Suppose it's a 3% commission rate, on a $10M contract. That's $300k to the agent for closing the deal. Is the agent going to risk his $300k fee, to try to get the player a little more? No. The incentive for the agent is to close the deal, rather than negotiate for an extra couple percent. Is the agent really willing to risk $300k for an extra couple thousand dollars? The agent doesn't have to go out and risk bodily injury playing. He collects his paycheck for closing the deal, and not for negotiating hard for every last dollar for his client.

It was interesting to see 60 Minutes. It was nearly complete propaganda. The "interviewer reaction shot" is a great trick for editing the interview, to make the interviewee look brilliant or stupid. The hype is "Jeff Immelt is a genius who deserves his fortune." rather than "Like almost all CEOs, he's someone who uses the State to line his pockets." An abomination like GE could not exist in a really free market. GE receives tremendous direct and indirect State subsidies, in the form of government contracts and artificially cheap debt. If you include these subsidies as a charge to earnings, GE is a huge sinkhole destroying capital and wealth.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wall Street Protests - Astroturf or Genuine?

dionysusal has left a new comment on your post ""Best of FSK" - September 2011":

Are you gonna do a post about "Occupy Wall Street"? Don't you work on Wall Street (when you work)?
I'd be meaning to do a post about that. Actually, I'd been doing most of my post writing on the subway, so I'm sort of falling behind.

Yes, I'm unemployed now. My most recent job was in that area, although I've worked in most parts of Manhattan. The protest didn't start until after my last day of work!

There really isn't much to say about the protests. It's the usual problem. A protest doesn't really accomplish anything. A protest doesn't really threaten the bad guys. A protest is a group of slaves begging their masters to be less cruel.

Yes, a lot of people are disgruntled. Now that I'm unemployed again, my personal disgruntledness factor has increased. My personal unemployment rate has increased from 0% to 100%.

Some of the "protesters" are probably planted disinformation agents or undercover State spies.

The mainstream media spin of the protests are "Higher taxes on the wealthy." The taxation rate for insiders is irrelevant. Most State insiders are negative taxpayers. If you steal $100M via the State and then pay $50M in taxes, is it more accurate to say "You paid $50M in taxes." or "You stole $50M."? CEOs present themselves are super-patriotic people paying high taxes and donating to charity, but they are mostly spending stolen property.

"Higher taxes for the wealthy" winds up hurting successful small business owners, rather than true insiders. The tax proposal will probably hurt the people in the 99-95th percentile incomes, while it won't hurt the top 0.1%-0.01% at all.

The protesters seem to have a low level of economic literacy. Let me know when you see some protesters saying:
  1. Eliminate the Federal Reserve!
  2. Eliminate the income tax! (State propaganda is "The income tax steals from the rich and gives back to the poor." The reality is that the income tax steals from the average worker, with the profits going to insiders.)
  3. The Federal Reserve is a price-fixing cartel!
  4. Fiat debt-based money is evil! (It'd be too much to expect any of them to understand the Compound Interest Paradox.)
  5. Gold and silver are better than paper money!
The actual protesters seem to be pro-State trolling, at least the bits I've seen. They are disgruntled, but severely misinformed. They seem to believe things like "Deficit spending for the Federal government stimulates the economy!", or "Government should regulate banks more!" and similar nonsense. The protesters may be saying "Free markets are evil!", while the current financial industry is the result of government, and not a true free market.

Yes, the banksters looted the economy for trillions of dollars, and continue to do so. However, that theft happens in collusion with the Federal government. It's pointless to criticize the financial industry, without also criticizing the government that enables their theft.

It's almost impossible to organize an effective protest. Disinformation agents will be planted to disrupt things. The mainstream media might not cover it, or have biased coverage. A protest doesn't threaten the key State evils. You're at the protest, but the police still are collecting taxes and enforcing bad laws. A lot of people are unemployed, giving them nothing better to do than go to a protest. Eventually, a protest runs out of steam, because people have to work.

The protest is a good sign, that people are very disgruntled. It's a waste of time. The protests are probably controlled by disinformation agents and undercover cops. The protesters seem to be presenting a weak pro-State troll criticism of the financial industry.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Best of FSK" - September 2011

According to Google Analytics, September was a good month for my blog. I had 7324 Absolute Unique Visitors, just shy of my record 7717 in October 2010. (I wonder why September and October tend to be really good months for my blog. That makes no sense.)

My September AdBrite earnings were $7.73. My average eCPM from AdBrite is around $0.50. That seems low, but at least they send me a check and didn't ban me. I'm at only 1/3 of my goal of making $20/month, which is what I would need to cover a Linode. Now that I'm unemployed, I might move to my own domain, since I have free time. (I'm not interested in cheaper hosting options than a Linode, because I want to write some of my own code, in addition to just having a blog.)

According to Google Analytics, my most popular posts in September 2011 were:

  1. Groupon Is A Scam (514)
  2. BMI/ASCAP/SESAC Legal Extortion Scam (410)
  3. Did the USA Declare Bankruptcy? (334)
  4. Who's the Richest Man in the World? (261)
  5. Ruby on Rails Sucks! (247)
  6. The Pat Tillman Conspiracy Theory (245)
  7. The Federal Reserve Caused the Great Depression (183)
  8. The Gold Lease Rate is Negative! (170)
  9. Silk Road Was A Partial AgoristBay Implementation (157)
  10. The Compound Interest Paradox (150)
  11. The New Delicious Sucks! (149)
  12. Agorist Philosophy Overview (120)
  13. Solyndra Stole $500M "Stimulus" Money (107)
  14. The Hunt Brothers' Silver Corner (92)
  15. Calculating Vega and other Greeks in Black-Scholes (82)
  16. Is It Worth Hoarding Nickels? (82)
  17. Premium Text Messaging Fraud - 91097 and 654654 (79)
  18. The Gold and Silver Taxation Scam (69)
  19. Real GDP is Decreasing, 1990-2007 (69)
  20. Warrent Buffett - Tax My Competitors More (69)
  21. Real GDP is Decreasing, 1990-2008 (67)
  22. Satanic Death Hospitals (66)
  23. Are the GLD and SLV ETFs a Fraud? (60)
  24. Real GDP Is Crashing, 2000-2009 (60)
  25. Federal Reserve "Twist" (58)
  26. The Black-Scholes Formula is Wrong! - Part 1/12 - Overview and Background (57)
  27. StackOverflow Sucks! (57)
  28. The Carried Interest Tax Loophole (57)
  29. The Five Levels of the Economy (53)
  30. How Well Does GLD Track Gold? (53)
  31. The Tally Stick Monetary System (50)
  32. UBS Loses $2 Billion (50)
  33. The Compound Interest Paradox Revisited - Edward Flaherty is a Troll (49)
  34. The Federal Reserve and Income Tax Conspiracy Theory (46)
  35. The Fluoride Conspiracy Theory (46)
  36. Are College Athletes Exploited? (46)
  37. Goldman Sachs and Facebook (45)
  38. The Bitcoin Conspiracy Theory (45)
  39. Idiot Manager Tactics (44)
  40. The Velocity of Money (43)
  41. Corporate Death Penalty (41)
  42. Android Classic Retro Emulator List (39)
  43. The Nymphomaniac Pattern (38)
  44. Kitchen Nightmares And Psychopaths (37)
  45. Fnord Analysis - "Inside Job" Documentary (36)
I've noticed that "X sucks!" and "X is a scam!" posts tend to do well, especially when X really does suck or X really is a scam. "The New Delicious Sucks!" is underrated in this list, because I published it near the end of September. That post is doing very well so far in October.

Usually, when I say "X sucks!", some trolls come out saying "FSK, you're wrong. X really doesn't suck." Nobody has made a comment defending the new delicious. I really should write "fsklicious". Now that I'm unemployed, I should get my own domain, own Linode, and start coding some stuff. However, I shouldn't feel guilty about relaxing for the first few weeks of unemployment.

If you only count posts published in September 2011, the most popular posts were:
  1. The New Delicious Sucks! (149)
  2. Solyndra Stole $500M "Stimulus" Money (107)
  3. Federal Reserve "Twist" (58)
  4. UBS Loses $2 Billion (50)
  5. Android Classic Retro Emulator List (39)
  6. Fnord Analysis - "Inside Job" Documentary (36)
  7. New Phone Today! (35)
  8. New Phone - Motorola Droid 3 (31)
  9. GE Receives $100B In State Subsidies Per Year (29)
  10. 9/11/01 Ten Year Anniversary (26)
  11. Blogger On Android - All Apps Suck (22)
  12. No Phone, No Internet, No Verizon (22)
I also updated the "Best of FSK" list in the left sidebar.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

School Feedback vs. Work Feedback

I noticed a severe difference between the type of feedback you get in school, compared to the feedback you get when working.

In school, especially in Math, there's explicit direct feedback. "You said that the answer is 17. The correct answer is 23. Here's why you're wrong." Even for memorization contests like history, there's feedback. "Truman was President after FDR. Your answer of Eisenhower is wrong." or "That word isn't spelled correctly."

However, it's more vague in the humanities. If an essay is given a B instead of an A, you usually can't prove why it was marked down.

At work, feedback is nonexistent or misleading. For example, if I'm given a programming employment screening test, they usually won't say "The correct answer is X." Instead, they merely say "We're not hiring you.", without giving the reason.

The employer also is failing to get feedback. If they fail to hire someone awesome, they'll never know. If they hire someone who doesn't work out, then that looks bad. So, they try to avoid one type of error (hiring someone you later fire), missing out on another type of error (missing out on someone good). (In fact, "Don't hire really smart people." matches "Don't match people I'm forced to fire because they make me look bad.") Most corporations have a monopoly/oligopoly, so missing out on someone good doesn't matter. Even for startups, the VC connections are more important than having a good product, so corruption still reigns. The fundamental problem is a non-free market. Inefficient employers don't get punished by competition.

Some of the work feedback is outright misleading. Your boss might say "FSK is not a team player." when he really means "You shouldn't disagree with me, even when I'm wrong. I feel threatened by you, because you're smarter than me." Nobody could explicitly say to me "FSK, you're a lousy programmer.", because I'd never believe them. Instead, they make up other excuses.

I used to think it was random, whether I got along well with someone or not. That's false. Some people are decent and some are scum. I get along well with the decent people. No matter how polite I am, scum won't get along well with me, because they're offended by my competence.

Of course, a pro-State troll says "That's a very ego-centric definition. People who agree with FSK are good, and people who disagree with FSK are evil." I'm very well in-tune with the truth now, so it's reasonable for me to define people who disagree with me as evil, especially people who have the parasitic or psychopathic personality type. That also includes intelligent-but-deluded people who can't see past their pro-State brainwashing, and get hostile when I challenge their false beliefs. Of course, a psychopath would define me as evil, although they'd make up other excuses, so it's fairly well reciprocated.

That was a very interesting analogy. In school, especially when studying Math, there's explicit objective feedback. At work, there's either no feedback, or vague and misleading feedback. Someone who's really threatened by your competence will make up another excuse. A coworker who's backstabbing you will be friendly to your face. (I've had coworkers and bosses tell me that I was doing a good job, while they were trashing my reputation to their bosses.) If someone doesn't hire you, they will typically give zero feedback or misleading feedback.

It is very frustrating, that it's hard to get accurate feedback when working. I'm able to see between the lines now, and see what's actually happening, and not what people say. My problem when working is not "I can't write software that runs well." My problem is getting backstabbed by evil coworkers. No matter how good you are at writing software, that won't solve the problem of sabotage by evil coworkers. In fact, being a better programmer and more in-tune with emotions, only makes evil people more eager to eliminate you as competition. Due to the nature of the State, every business has some parasitic or psychopathic people pulling the strings.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Protect IP Act, Protect Media Corporation Profits Act

There's a bill in Congress called the "Protect IP Act". A more accurate name is the "Protect Media Corporation Profits Act".

For domains registered in the USA, the police can already seize your domain without trial, via "asset forfeiture".

The "Protect IP" act targets domains registered outside the USA. The US government can't seize the domain, because it's registered outside the USA. Instead, the bill forces DNS servers in the USA to not carry the domain. Google and other sites would be banned from mentioning it.

The evil part of the law is that there's no jury trial. All it takes is a warrant signed by the judge, and the domain is blacklisted.

For tangible property, the police can seize your property without trial, via "asset forfeiture". In an "asset forfeiture" case, your property is charged with a crime and not you, placing the burden of proof on you to try and recover it. This law extends "asset forfeiture" power to the Internet, forcing DNS servers in the USA to not carry certain domains.

Fortunately, the law contains a massive humongous loophole. The law only seizes the domain. You can still access the "banned" site via IP address.

Intellectual property is not property. I no longer feel guilty about downloading old out-of-print computer games. Even if I did buy a used copy, the programmers who wrote it won't get paid extra.

Via "Hollywood Accounting", most music artists don't get royalties, even for blockbuster hits. Almost all money spent on purchases goes to corporate middlemen, rather than to the artists and workers. Pro-State trolls say "Copyright benefits artists!", but the profits of one more marginal sale all go to corporate middlemen.

That's the beauty of evil copyright law. Copyright is owned by the individual, *BUT* you have to sell your copyright to get published by the cartel. Most copyrights end up owned by large corporations.

Imagine a website that had every single computer game that was over 10 years old! Due to copyright law, it's impossible to create such a website legally. People do it anyway, illegally.

It's really nice to download a torrent of *ALL* old Atari games. If it were possible to purchase it legally, it'd be worth a couple hundred dollars. Unfortunately, the only way to get a complete game collection is "illegally". There's no way to sell such a collection legally, due to legal wrangling with copyright owners. Each copyright owner would demand a huge fee, for permission to include that game in the collection.

Intellectual property is not property. The only way the copyright can be enforced, is by spying on everyone all the time. To enforce copyright, the State must restrict your ability to use your own computer. In a digital world, copying costs zero, making traditional copyright obsolete.

I'm really interested in retrogaming now. It'd be a shame if laws like "Protect IP" interfere with that. Fortunately, the Protect IP law contains a massive loophole. If you know the IP address, then you can bypass the seizure.

No matter what countermeasures Statists take, there are ways a computer literate person could evade it. If necessary, people would start mailing each other DVDs and USB drives.

I really like the retrogaming torrent websites. It's impressive that people have preserved old computer games, in spite of the fact that it's "illegal". I'm concerned that laws like "Protect IP" could interfere with that.

The annoying part of the "Protect IP Act" is that it's flagrantly protecting the profits of a handful of insiders. Even worse laws may be coming. However, I'm not that offended by the "Protect IP Act", because you can avoid the ban by directly entering the site's IP address.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Programming Employment Screening Tests

I'm looking for a new job again. Most employers want you to do a 4+ hour "employment programming screening test".

That is insulting and degrading. I'm a professional! I have 10 years of experience. I went to a good university. Can't you afford to have someone talk to me for a few minutes, to see if I have a clue or not? Why did I spend 4 years getting a degree, if employers are giving me a basic skills screening on an interview? Most of the "employment screening tests" are simpler and stupider than the homework and tests when I was a CS student. Is their stupid test going to measure more than "FSK has a CS degree with honors from a good university."?

However, it does act as a filter on another level. If someone isn't willing to jump through stupid hoops for a job, then they're not desperate enough to be a willing slave.

I'm also using it as a filter. I notice a severe negative correlation between "places that offer a stupid employment screening test" and "places I want to work". By refusing to take the test, I'm filtering out the most clueless employers. (However, my last job offered a screening test. Initially, I was extremely hostile to doing it, but the headhunter talked me into it. On the other hand, it wasn't such a great job.)

It's also a waste of time. Very frequently, I do their stupid test, and don't get an onsite interview anyway. I know I did well on the test. Why am I wasting my time?

On the other hand, I'm unemployed with nothing better to do. I might as well waste 4+ hours taking a stupid test for someone that probably isn't going to give me an onsite interview anyway.

However, it is possible that there are a lot of clueless unqualified liars out there. From my point of view, it's a stupid waste of time. The stupid test may screen out the truly unqualified. However, if you can't figure that out yourself after talking to someone for a few minutes, then you're hopeless.

I can evaluate someone's technical ability by talking to them for a few minutes. If you aren't willing to spend a few minutes interviewing each candidate, then you aren't serious about hiring someone good.

For what other jobs, do you ask basic skill tests before hiring someone?

  1. Do you ask a lawyer to define some basic legal terms, before hiring him?
  2. Do you ask a doctor to name some parts of your anatomy, before hiring him?
  3. Do you ask your dentist if he can name all your teeth, before hiring him?
  4. Do you ask your accountant if he knows the difference between a debit and a credit, before hiring him?
  5. Do you ask your plumber to name the parts of a toilet, before hiring him?
However, most of those jobs are backed by a State licensing cartel. A State licensing cartel isn't the answer for software jobs. First, the most skilled software engineers would never back a licensing cartel. Second, large tech corporations like exploiting cheap labor, and won't lobby for a State licensing cartel. Third, a programmer licensing cartel might make it illegal for me to bootstrap my own software business. Finally, some of the best programmers have degrees in other areas, like Math or Physics or other areas of Science; a licensing cartel would shut them out.

The correct solution is a free market. Ideally, in a really free market, the people making hiring decisions should be those with the most skills. In a corrupt collapsing State economy, it's the most clueless people making hiring decisions.

At this point, a pro-State troll may say "They are smarter than you, FSK. They have a job and you don't. They're in a position of authority and FSK isn't." No, that doesn't disprove my point, "The system is totally broken." In a dying corrupt system, the most clueless people, the parasites and the psychopaths, are the leaders. Being very skilled works against me rather than in my favor. Most middle managers would rather hire someone mediocre, rather than someone brilliant who could potentially replace them. Most people say "I want to hire the best!", but they really mean "I'm concerned about my own job security. I don't want to hire someone *TOO* smart."

In a really free market, it would be possible for skilled workers to get together and steal market share from inefficient competitors. In the present, that isn't possible, due to State restriction of the market.

It's a symptom of an unequal power relationship, between employers and workers/slaves. It's a symptom of a corrupt system. It isn't the underlying problem, but a severe symptom. In a freer market, if employers were rude to employees, they would work elsewhere or start their own business.

It is insulting and degrading, that employers demand a stupid screening test for a job. That's another sign that programmers aren't treated like serious professionals.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hank Williams Jr. And State Censorship

This story is interesting. Hank Williams Jr. wrote the "Are You Ready For Some Football?" song, played before Monday Night Football. He made some negative comments regarding President Obama, comparing him to Hitler. ABC/Disney/State punished him, pulling his song from Monday Night Football, denying him royalty payments.

The message is pretty clear. If you're a celebrity and you say the wrong thing, then we'll censor you and ruin your career.

The censorship is by ABC/Disney, and not the government. However, media corporations get their monopoly/oligopoly market power from the State. It's effectively illegal to start my own business and compete with them. Media corporations have a huge incentive to preserve a corrupt system. In fact, media corporate insiders have more influence than politicians. By promoting or censoring a candidate or idea, they can influence millions of people.

The "Obama is Hitler" comment is amusing. Obama isn't saying "Kill all the Jews!" That would be too obviously evil. Obama does say "If you don't buy health insurance, I'll kill you. If you buy or sell raw milk, I'll kill you. If you don't pay taxes/tribute, then I'll kill you."

Every politician is like Hitler, because his insane rantings are backed by violence and color of law. You must obey, or he'll kill you. Mentally add "or we'll kill you" to any law, and the evil is more obvious.

It is disappointing that celebrities are fired, when they say something "inappropriate". It's censorship. If you're a celebrity, you have a high-paying job, but you're a replaceable cog. Every celebrity/journalist/politician must be continually on edge. They know that if they say the wrong thing, they will be fired and their career is ruined. This is especially true when they hint at a forbidden truth. Obama isn't Hitler. However, all bad laws are backed by violence, making most politicians evil.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"No Reply" Customer Support

I'm still struggling to get Verizon to give me my trade-in phone rebate. My current problem is that I have two phones and two rebate mail envelopes. However, there is no indication which phone belongs in which envelope.

Presumably, if I put the wrong phone in the wrong envelope, then I forfeit my rebate.

I'm so annoyed that they're making me jump though so many hoops to get the rebate.

They sent me some "customer support" E-Mails. It comes with a "no-reply" E-Mail address. If you try to reply to the E-Mail, it bounces.

What kind of geniuses thought up this? "Let's make sure that our customers can't contact us!"?

Why can't I just answer the E-Mail and get a response? Why make it so hard? Do they intentionally not want feedback from their customers?

It isn't hard to combine E-Mails and customer support tickets. For example, FogBugz does this.

Why intentionally make it hard for customers to contact you? When did things go from "The customer is always right!" to "Treat the customer like garbage."?

The problem is that each industry is organized via a monopoly/oligopoly. If I drop Verizon cell phone, AT&T and the handful of others are just as bad.

Our Verizon landline phone hasn't been working for more than a month. With Time-Warner, it doesn't work all the time. If I drop Verizon, the only other landline option is Time-Warner. If I drop Time-Warner, the only other choice is Verizon.

Goddamn it. The Bittorrent "illegal downloading" filesharing websites are run by volunteers, and they give me better service than Verizon and Time-Warner? Why is that? Why can't a for-profit corporation give me decent customer support and a product that actually works?

The reason is they have a monopoly. They know that if I want a phone and cable TV, there's only a handful of choices. They all hire the same braindead consultants to set up things for them. For the filesharing websites, if it was a POS, nobody would use it and go elsewhere.

If you have a monopoly/oligopoly, it makes no difference if you mistreat your customers. You can afford to ignore their E-Mails with "no reply" addresses. You can afford to have a useless website. You can afford to make customers wait for an hour for support. In a free market, if you mistreat customers, you lose them. When you have a monopoly, there's no market penalty for disrespecting customers. Verizon and Time Warner know that I have almost no other options, so they can afford to mistreat me.

Why can't I get a simple rebate rather than get a runaround? Why can't I just E-Mail customer support, instead of this stupid "no-reply" E-Mail trick? Why doesn't my phone work? Why doesn't the cable work? Does nobody know how to do anything anymore? Are all the competent workers unemployed, while psychopaths and parasites are running things?

Monday, October 3, 2011

"News" = "Advertisements"

I was watching the "news". They had a story on the "X Factor".

Is this news, or is it an advertisement?

In fact, the "news" contains many hidden advertisements for the State, and subtle pro-State brainwashing.

For example, notice the staccato tone of the news speaker. It's a type of hypnosis.

Who, Pencil?

I have some 20+ year old pencils. I have some newer pencils.

For the new pencils, the point frequently breaks when I sharpen it.

For the old pencils, they sharpen without difficulty.

Nobody knows how to make a pencil anymore.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Raw Cantaloupe, Raw Milk

This story is interesting. A lot of people got sick form contaminated cantaloupe. 72 people got sick and 16 died.

The contamination was traced back to one large farm, Jensen Farms.

Shouldn't there be any liability for the farm? If 16 people died, and a wrongful death claim is $5M+, then there should be liability of $80M+. Even if there is a lawsuit, damages probably won't fall on the executives and workers.

When you have a large factory farm, and there's contamination, many people get sick.

When you have small local farms, any contamination affects fewer people.

To prevent contamination on large farms, regulations are passed. In practice, these regulations are a regressive tax on small farmers. This encourages abuse by large factory farms.

That is very interesting. More people have gotten sick from cantaloupe poisoning than from raw milk. However, State thugs are very eager to crack down on raw milk sellers and buyers.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Yankees Starting Pitching Error

The Yankees and Tigers both made a serious error in Game 1. They knew that a rain delay was a near-certainty, with a likely rainout. They both wasted their superstar pitchers, Verlander and Sabathia. They won't be able to pitch again until Game 3.

They should have used relievers in the first two innings. For example, the Yankees could have used Soriano or Robertson for the first two innings. Then, if there's a rainout, Sabathia is saved for the next day. If there's a rain delay but no rainout, then Sabathia pitches after the delay.

The Yankees have great relievers. They should have been willing to use relievers for the first two innings.

In the unlikely event that the relievers give up a bunch of runs, then Sabathia can be saved until Game 2.

I never understood why teams never try that. If you have great relievers, you can use them for the first few innings and put in your starters later.

With a near-certain rain delay, the Yankees and Tigers should have saved their star pitcher until after the delay.

Firefox Interesting UI Tweak

I noticed an interesting UI tweak in Firefox. It no longer displays "http://" at the start of a URL. If you do other protocols, like file://, it displays the prefix.

If you cut and paste the URL, it adds the "http://" for you.

I like the tweak, because "http://" is an obvious space-wasting default.

It's interesting to notice the difference between nice UI tweaks, and crap like delicious. Open source projects tend to have nice improvements (Firefox, WordPress). Closed-source projects tend to be lousy and aimed at controlling users (Facebook, Delicious).

State Priorities?

My parents have been fighting with Verizon, to get them to try to fix the landline service.

The customer support is one big runaround. When they call, they say "Use our website!" When we look on the website, it says "Call us!"

I also got one big runaround from Verizon, trying to claim the $100 credit for trading in my old cellphone after my upgrade.

Verizon has a monopoly. The have no incentive to give good customer support.

As I already mentioned, I recently lost my job. I decided to file an unemployment claim. I had to call them for something. (I filed one week late. After I called, they gave me credit for that week.)

Here's something that shocked me completely. The "customer support" for the NY Unemployment office wasn't a clueless twit! She actually knew what she was doing and fixed the fact that I filed one week late. (However, it must be a common error. Their script probably covers that case.)

(Some people say that it's immoral to accept an unemployment claim. I was forced to pay for it via a payroll tax. I might as well claim the partial tax refund now. If I don't do it, then the State will just waste that money on something else. Because my employers had to pay unemployment tax, I got a lower salary.)

Another interesting thing about unemployment claims, is that it enables the State to track workers much better. If you give unemployed people a cash incentive to register with the State, then it's much easier to track things.

That shows where State priorities are. When you need your phone fixed, the State monopoly gives lousy service. The unemployment office is important!

I found that hilarious. Verizon gave me lousy customer support, but the unemployment office was surprisingly competent.

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