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Competitive Ethos of Tech companies

Every so often we seem to get surprised by how one or another tech company behaves in a predatory and mean-spirited fashion and the refrain is - "how could nice guys wearing khakis and Patagonia vests behave that way". The founders and leaders of them are all these nerdy people who seem, if anything, shy and meek and then their companies are these bloodthirsty competition squashers who believe that "everything that is not prohibited is permitted".

I have grown to believe that there is really no inconsistency there if you look at the formative years of most of the Founders and leaders of the tech universe (and here I include companies like Uber and AirBnB who are not really "tech"). What I mean is that in their formative years these folks were playing a lot of computer games. They were largely not in the Boy Scouts (as Rex Tillerson) or on sports teams which teach honor and fairness and camaraderie even with one's opponents.

There is no "honor"…

I am for "enthusiastic consent", maybe even "repeated enthusiastic consent"

All the recent debates about sexual harassment and misconduct made me try to define what I really think would be the “best practice” of men towards women which I could subscribe to and wish everyone else did the same. And my preliminary conclusion is that the best thing I’ve heard so far is the notion of “enthusiastic consent” as the standard. I am guided here by 3 principles — what would I today consider in my past behaviours to be OK and something I don’t need to apologize for. And because I have both male and female grown children, what would I consider behaviour that I would wish men exhibited towards my daughter and that my son exhibited towards women. To make things as clear as possible, “enthusiastic consent” means verbal consent or the woman (apologies to my same sex dating friends — I just feel I am unqualified to opine on your dating mores) initiating physical contact. If an awkward kiss turns into a passionate one, that is fine. But if an awkward hug turns into a kiss whic…

More about Inequality and how is "equality" supposed to come about

I wrote a post about Inequality as "the big issue of our time" after Piketty's book inspired a lot of hang wringing over it.

This is a continuation and elaboration on the same.

I feel that because of the US Republican tax plan we are getting into another round of "Inequality" discussions.
And since I have written about it before and done some numbers, I wonder if people really have any idea what they are talking about when they are discussing inequality.
The first of those is is inequality a problem and if so for what reasons? Is it because it is unfair for some people to have more than others? Or is it because a prolonged and exacerbated inequality will create social conflict and things are going to end badly? Because depending on which of those you believe, the approach to lessening inequality could be very different.
So make up your mind - should a society mandate that no individual could make more than 15x what another person makes or have a 100x the Net Wor…

"Men Behaving Badly"

So all of this stuff about men behaving badly made me ponder my own behaviours to try and review have I ever done anything of the sort. If you are a guy and you say you did not think about it in the last few weeks you are lying.
And the conclusion I have come to, again, is that I simply am not able to relate to some of the states of mind that must be present when men do some of these things. If it did not happen so often, I would find the notion that it exists at all incredible.
For example, what is it with the getting undressed in front of a woman BF ("before foreplay")? How is that supposed to work in their own mind - your stuff is just so impressive that once your drop the towel, she will be unable to control her desire for IT and jump you? Where does this notion come from - have men been told this by their mothers, sisters or female friends? That this is a sure fire, never fails, way of getting a woman to have sex with you? If nobody told them that, why do they believe …

We are being had by Facebook and Google

The business model of Facebook is to get paid by serving advertising to you and me - the ads that show up in your NewsFeed in between posts and ads on the side panel. The more time we spend on Facebook, the more ads we "pass by", the more money FB makes.
So if I were Facebook, I would work on setting up my algorithms in such a way that people spend the maximum amount of time on FB. I would find things that make people stay online longer and post more. Posting a pic of a flower or your meal will get a few likes that take less than a second to click on and then we move on. But arguing and "debate" - well that is endless.
If I were FB, I would set the algorithm to show me posts which I am more likely to "engage" with and these days that means argue and disagree with. I would make it so that if on a thread of comments somebody has called me an idiot or a "moron" in the past, those should be the posts that I see first. Because it is more likely ther…

Understanding Bitcoin, Ether, cryptocurrencies, blockchain and "distributed ledger"

Here is a PSA for anyone confused by Bitcoin this, Bitcoin that, "cryptocurrencies", "blockchain" and all that.

First of all, you do not need to understand what "blockchain" is any more than you need to understand how your iPhone identifies you by your fingerprint. It is underlying technology serving a purpose.

Second, you do not need to understand anything about currencies. Later, you may but to understand the fundamental concepts involved which you can explain to a 12 year old, you don't.

So in order to avoid that let's start with something that is not money at all. Imagine that there was a ledger (a book with records) in which ownership of every piece of land was recorded. Each parcel of land is uniquely identified and it says next to it who owns it. There is such a ledger - it is called "land registry" or "cadastral system" and just about every country has them. Many of you have bought and sold property and are familiar wit…

About North Korea