- MOUT training (room clearing): SGT Fletcher 18, recruits 1 (and that was a gimme). I wish there was a MOS for OPFOR. #
- I'm an ok conversationalist, but I've never mastered the art of leaving voicemail, even after working as a headhunter. Are there classes? #
- Had a dream about Google AdWords last night. The worst part of working from home is that you actually have to commute to get AWAY from work! #
To be honest, I don’t really have a fleshed-out idea for this blog post; I just wanted to get this phrase down on “paper” since it sounded good in my head.
It wouldn’t be too hard to come up with a genuine sounding diatribe centered around how humanity seems to be adding more technological buffers between genuine human interaction, but it wouldn’t be sincere. I actually appreciate the fact that I can have asynchronous conversations with dozens of people around the world; that I can close my netbook and go do “real world stuff” and a message or two is waiting on me, and the conversation continues.
Not to mention the fact that the planet is getting progressively more crowded. As a futurist, I realize that unless we either manage to destroy ourselves or venture to the stars, as Carl Sagan put it, we’re going to be living shoulder-to-shoulder. The future envisioned in Snow Crash is an entirely plausible scenario, and when people are living in converted storage lockers (as apparently some in California have already tried), getting some social elbow room, even if virtual, will no doubt be essential to maintaining one’s mental health.
Just random ramblings on a Friday morning.
In keeping with my use of this blog mainly as a coatrack for stuff I care about, this is just nifty:
Hrm, I don’t have a category for Economics, but I don’t really post much on it anyway.
Originally posted in this thread on Sociocide.
- Well… that's weird. Last week I sent a tweet about Atlanta Bread Company's scalding coffee. This week the location is out of business… #
- @manmadef everything ok? in reply to manmadef #
- Einstein Bros. doesn't have wifi? Is that a local franchise thing or chain-wide? Should have gone to Scooters. #coffee #
- Ring announcer: "…winning by tapout due to referee stoppage…" uh, what? #mma #
Google, baby, I love you; you know I’ll always be faithful to you. I’m just noticing Bing’s… um “features”. That’s right, it’s just a business relationship, nothing more.
I know you’re not the jealous type, so you won’t mind if she and I spend more time together. We might have to work some lat nights at the office, but you know I’ll be coming home to you at the end of the day.
From Ars Technica.
Ni Hao, Google?
This post on Webmaster World dealing with the recent shenanigans around Google’s Chinese venture, caught my eye. So I’m reposting it here:
What have we got so far?
Google: PR smokescreens from MV telling the main stream media that they do this for two reasons 1) censorship debate, and 2) hacking attempts on Gmail accounts. Google making https connections the default for Gmail. A revenue of $200M generated in the PRC. They threaten to uncensor the results on google.cn. (I have not seen a credible source that Google already has uncensored their results.)
The PRC: Reacts as expected, pointing to Chinese laws and equal rules for all (Internet) companies operating in China. Also they have strict laws against hacking etc etc. And they pull the plug, or will pull the plug once Google uncensors their results on google.cn. Business as usual. They have no issue with that, and they prefer Baidu over Google anyway.
1) Google has suddenly realized they can indeed be not evil and decided to pull out of the PRC. No, no, and no – this does not make sense at all. Why now? Why link it to the hacking attempts? Why not just say, “we’re done with this censorship thing” and wave good-bye? No.
2) Google are fed up with the treatment from the Chinese regime and are in dire need of positive PR in the western world who have been really upset about recent Google statements, launches and announcements. But I do not think that Google would just withdraw from one of the main future markets to get a short-lived PR value in the western world. Typically, companies never actively reduce their growth opportunities to get some positive PR. Nah.
3) Google realized that they can not compete with Baidu and decided to pull out. This could be the case, but somehow it just does not sound like Google, who certainly have the spirit to keep fighting. Also they do have the cash to keep the operations running, maybe on maintenance mode. Why give the whole thing up, when they operate in other markets where they also are not number one? Nah.
So what could be it? I have only two plausible theories what really happenend.
A) Through analysis of their massive usage data they (think they) can predict what is going to happen in PRC, i.e. they know that the tide will be turning and that the PRC will change. Soon. So they decide to pull out for the moment, trying to speed up the freedom process and to leave a positive impression in the western world AND IN CHINA. Just see those Chinese folks putting down flowers in front of the Google offices in China! They certainly do have fans over there. And when the liberation comes, Google get in again, with big hoopla and enjoy a bigger market share. — This theory is interesting, because it could be true. Google placing a bet on “change, soon” and takes the positive PR value on its way out. Could be. Still does not solve the question of the “why link all this to hacking”, but hey.
B) The Google China office had one or more sophisticated “moles” who had access to source code and/or user data, or tried to gain access to source code and/or user data. Google corporate security caught one of the moles while stealing the stuff, or found the code that should have done this. They could not identify the mole(s) and realized they have a massive security issue. Massive! Google then decided that the risk of operating an office in China is simply too high. When you can not trust your employees in such vital questions, then you have to shut the whole thing down. — This theory is the best in my view. It would explain the strange link to the hacking attempts; it would explain why the employees are (according to CNN) already on paid leave. The whole censorship discussion covers up the embarrassing facts of Google being very vulnerable. It hurts to give up China, sure. It’s a massive failure, sure. It probably throws you back years, sure. But it has to be done if you don’t want to lose the whole thing. Just imagine, if the moles had access to user data! They would need to release just a tiny sample to the press, and Google would be toast. Noone would ever trust Google with anything again, especially with the whole privacy debate right now. (From the fact that they “just” closed the office and seem to continue the discussion Chinese officials we know that no data has been compromised, so they can not be blackmailed.)
Personally, I think option (B) is the best explanation for what has been going on.
Best analysis I’ve seen of the situation. Hopefully Google does pull out of China completely, and sincerely; bottom line be damned. Given recent comments by their CEO on the issue of privacy, I’d like to think Brin beat him about the head with a “Don’t Be Evil” stick, and that they’re back to taking the motto seriously.
Because like Fox Mulder, “I want to believe” in Google.
- You know what's totally awesome? Being mildly electrocuted by your headphones when you're trying to work out. #
Everyone’s familiar with the branding disaster involved when Chevy tried to introduce its Nova to the Latin American market (“no va” means “doesn’t go” in Spanish).
However, did you know that Pepsi inadvertently tried to sell its cola to the Taiwanese market under the promise that it’d reanimate their grandparents?
According to Brand Failures a book by Matt Haig, Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation” came out “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead”.
Another example of marketing departments not making localization a priority happened when Gerber made its first foray into the African baby food market. They didn’t bother to translate the English on the jars of baby food, leaving the locals to make an assumption as to their contents based on nothing but the picture of the baby on the labels.
Which is funny because said contents probably do resemble mashed baby anyway.
An old friend of mine is currently living in the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While keeping up with the goings-on in her life over there, I’ve gotten a clear sense that she’s growing progressively more frustrated with how things are done in a country run by a fundamentalist religion. I genuinely feel for her in that predicament.
Moral pantywaist apologists notwithstanding, I would hope most clear-headed people are aware of how culturally backwards things are in any country which allows itself to be governed by something as nebulous as faith, and ruled by something as archaic as a monarch.
But my contempt for that situation leads me down a path of thought that intersects with something else that I hold in great contempt; the fact that many (most?) people have a deep-seated need to subject themselves to some form of peonage, be it governmental, ideological, religious, or all three.
I get it, life is already hard enough as it is, and it’s extremely convenient to buy a pre-packaged set of morals, laws, or beliefs. It’s even more convenient when they’re either free, or in some cases, you’d have to literally fight not to accept them.
I’m also not putting myself above this either; I consider myself a patriot, a Skeptic, and a futurist, all labels that provide others a certain set of expectations as to my values and actions. However, when I do label myself, for the sake of convenience, I also make an effort to “hang a lamp” on the fact that it’s precisely the convenience factor that compels me to do so. Few people would actually care to know anyone’s entire set of values and convictions in casual conversation. So the act of labeling oneself is useful to allow others to get a sense of who you are at the ten-thousand-foot level.
But just because you stick a label on your forehead that reads “Libertarian”, that doesn’t require you to cast a straight-party ballot, any more than wearing Joe Snuffy’s name tag makes you Joe Snuffy. Too many people, however, do make this mistake and confuse their self-stuck labels with their core identity, instead of using them as tools for communication. And when this happens, you start down the road towards the dangerous kind of group-think that destroys individuality, an ultimately, individual sovereignty.
A label isn’t a brand; you should never be so attached to your convictions that you make them permanent, inescapable, and requiring vigilant devotion. By doing so you fail to allow yourself the opportunity to examine new evidence, consider new points of view, or ultimate, even think for yourself. You also put yourself in a position where you are obligated to defend views in the face of evidence that refutes them.
The reason this issue concerns me is because of a trend I think I see emerging. As religious faith in the western world is on the decline, it seems to be being replaced with a religious-like attachment to another ideology. This is most noticeable in the Skeptics movement, of which as I’ve referenced, I consider myself a part.
If you follow a lot of ”Skeptics” online discussions, you often get a sense of a “party line” to be followed, which is counter to the fundamental nature of “Skepticism” in the first place. And when you do run into this counter-intuitive phenomenon, it can be extremely frustration.
(For the record, I’m making this criticism as more of a “heads-up”, than an assault on the Skeptics movement, lest some of the conspiracy theorists, paranomalists, or garden-variety looneys try to reference this in an attempt at validating their nonsense.)
I think I owe anyone who reads this, examples of this happening. Unfortunately I’m pressed for time a bit on what should have been a short jotting of things bouncing around in my head at the moment. I’ll try to revisit that later, and include my observations about the subjects on which self-labeled Skeptics likely to suspend their critical thinking as well as the types of individuals who seem prone to doing so.
But the most important thing to take away from this is that, you are not your name tag, your labels, your government, or your religion. You are you, and when you chose to stop being you in exchange for falling in-line with a label, you renounce your individuality. A human being is not a hive insect; cultural, spiritual, and moral laziness should never be allowed to devolve him into one.