Reverence short-circuits objectivity by representing the world under the aspect of an ideal. I am not disparaging reverence—far from it—but I balk at those who recommend “expertise” and “objectivity” for the values they don’t mind dispensing with and “reverence” for their own household deities.
The problem with computers—here is where Mr. Gorman and I may agree—is not the worlds they give us instant access to but the world they encourage us to neglect.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
You can't be in the room when I'm working unless you work, too
You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit
My friend Joyce, director of our town's preschool, told us about this terrific rule, now repeated by everyone I know on playgrounds and at home. Not only does it have a boppy rhythm that makes it fun to say, but it does good old "Life isn't fair" one better by spelling out both the essential truth of life's arbitrary inequities and the only acceptable response to the world's unfairness: You don't throw a fit.
I can't understand you when you speak like that
The rules and implementation of them in this list are good ways to deal with children, but since each child presents us with a raw version of human nature to be molded, there are lessons that we as adults need to remember since our natures still want to come out and pout from time to time. "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit" is worthy of Ben Franklin.
Liberalism is largely the elevation of childishness (human nature) to a virtue. "Somebody got more than me so I'm going to call them stupid and try to take their stuff" is pretty much the summary of liberal philosophy. Understanding why they got more, deciding if "stuff" is really good, and taking productive action in pursuit of rationally derived value is a conservative analog.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Churchill on history: "The longer you look back, the farther you can look forward".
George Will on Reagan: "He does not want to return to the past; he wants to return to the past's way of facing the future".
Churchill on preemptive war: "There is no merit in putting off a war for a year if when it comes it is a far worse war or one much harder to win".
Churchill on liberal/conservatie: "He who is not a liberal at 20 has to heart; he who is not a conservative at 40 has no brains."
Reagan on liberals: "Sadly, I have come to realize that a great many so-called liberals aren't liberal--they will defend to the death your right to agree with them."
"Reagan was an American conservative. This kind of conservatism is not so much a fusion of the best of the various sects as it is a dialectic, embracing the contradiction of belief in optimism and progress along with the suspicion of human nature that requires limited government. Above all it resists schematic description." (How similar that quote sounds to the Stockdale Paradox)
Reagan in a 1977 speech: "...If there is any political viewpoint in this world that is free of slavish adherence to abstraction, it is American conservatism."
The very well documented book is a study in the similarities and differences between Reagan and Churchill, and the fact that one rhetorically began the cold war (Iron Curtain speech), and one ended it ("Ash heap of history"). The Reagan quote on "your right to agree with them" is very much the core of liberal ideology. From the "fairness doctrine" to "campaign finance reform" to "hate speech", the "liberals" are constantly trying top find ways to prevent speech that they dislike. They are experts at hiding what they really are.
Unfortunately, with the limited level of power gained by the Republican party, the "purity factor" has gone well up, which has weakened the party. Reagan was NOT doctrinaire, but modern conservatives have tried to re-write history to move him farther to the right.
Solid little book ... not a must read, but a nice read.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
CNN.com - Bill Clinton's talk isn't cheap - Jun 14, 2006
The CNN link is one of many that rather gushingly describes the millions that old Slick rakes in for speaking fees in front of all sorts of groups, business and foreign audiences. They don't mention if any women with kneepads are part of the perks. Free with the Willy Willie really can do no wrong, and there is zero problem with any amount of money that he he is paid from the MSM POV. Reagan getting some fee from some Japanese group for a speech was of course a horrid thing that had the press all up in arms with the "impropriety of it". Newt Gingrich was castigated for "cashing in" on anything that he did in the fee department. As we know, those guys have "Rs" after their name. Liberals will support your right to agree with them with their dying breath--but if your form or freedom doesn't line up with theirs, then you shouldn't make any money or even have a forum. A corporate CEO is of course "taking money away from the little people"--but the money for Hillbilly Bill is printed out from thin air. No problems with THAT cash! Clean as a whistle and very well deserved from the view of any old lefty that would scream bloody murder were it going to a businessman. "Being rank has it's privileges"?
I personally don't mind Billy making money--I don't even mind Brittany making money. I happen to be happily married and even if I wasn't, I hope I wouldn't stoop to his work habits. However, it is easy to understand why a lot of guys are willing to pay him for tips on how to get regular sex at the office and not even have to make regular divorce payments or even lose your job as a result. I like a coffee break at work on a regular basis--I guess I just don't now how to think of potential "work benefits" in a Clintonian way. I'm not sure that his performance can be duplicated by most guys though--they don't have the power to help insure that millions of babies keep giving up their little lives so that the millions of folks can keep the all the physical pleasures of sex without "inconvenient consequences". From the perspective of the unborn, the payment for the Presidential right to stain blue dresses is high.
Ah yes, the gay 90's-- competent Attorney Generals were burning religious nuts in their compounds, and the FBI was busy protecting citizen's rights by shooting tax resistors wives at Ruby Ridge. Life was so much simple, when federal agencies could just incinerate and shoot actual US citizens with next to nothing in the way of outcry. Today we have all the complexities of "enemy combatants" that have a lot more rights than some religious wing-nut US citizens or anti-tax zealots. One has to work hard to protect "diverse terrorists", but when it comes to "the wrong elements" that are US citizens, a little preemptive killing by a President can be a really OK thing--assuming he has time to pull up his pants and give some orders.
The consistency of the left is a shining example to us all.
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Sunday, June 17, 2007
Some pictures of the outing.
We stayed at the Bay Breeze in Ephraim and it isa very nice place, although not completely what the Internet indicated. We can just see the lake a bit from the deck, not an "on the lake view". We have had a couple wonderful meals at The Old Post Office restaurant at the Edgewater Resort which looks like where we will likely stay when we come back (and we will). We haven't done price comparisons though. We are in a suite here with a very nice king bad (important feature for Mooses) wireless internet access that I have used very little, nice pool that we haven't used at all, and really very comfortable. Over time, one gets spoiled by the "perfect places" like BlueFin Bay on the North Shore and Windcliff outside of Estes in Colorado. Nothing about Bay Breeze to cause a problem , sometimes it --sometimes it takes a couple of trys for "perfection".
Friday night we had a delicious meal at the C&C in Fish Creek, just down the peninsula from Ephraim. Saturday we drove up to the Washington Island Ferry and rode across and biked around that island. We were slightly surprised that there weren't more lake views off the roads over there, and there wasn't a huge amount special about the island, but little ferry rides of that sort are always a bit of their own adventure.
In the PM we headed down the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula with a nice coffee stop at "Custards Last Stand" (yes, we had to have a little cherry custard as well), and then hiked around Cave Point park for a bit. Lots of undermining of the shore, so as the waves come in they make a nice slapping sound. It has been pretty calm however, so not a lot of noise. We then headed over to the Simon Creek Winery for some tasting and picked up a couple bottles of their wares.
The evening meal was a traditional Wisconsin Fish Boil at the Old Post Office. Red potatoes, onions, carrots, and whitefish boiled over a wood fire, and then "boiled over" with a shot of kerosene at the end to push any impurities that may have risen to the top inot the fire and also make a great large fiery show. The results were very tasty with some pumpernickel bread, great cole slaw and some cherry pie with homemade ice cream for desert.
This weekend is the "Fyr Bal" festival in Ephraim (pronounced "Fear Ball"), a Scandinavian festival where the wicked witch of winter is chased away and summer is welcomed. This is accomplished with the lighting of some huge bonfires, about 10 of them around the bay in this case, and shooting off some nice fireworks. It seemed like a really nice festival, made a little quieter by the fact that Ephraim is a dry town, so no beer tents involved with the celebration.
Today we headed up to Gils Rock and went out on Captain Paul's Charter Fishing. He seemed to know what he was doing, but the weather was likely TOO nice ... we put on some miles and tried 4 different spots. A couple of smaller salmon were picked up by other people on the boat, but we weren't on the lucky list this time. We did however get some GREAT smoked Atlantic salmon at the fish store near the boat.
The PM was spent with some shopping, dinner at the Shipwreck Brewery, and then a relaxing evening of reading and catching up on the Blog before heading home tomorrow.
GREAT Medium Cherry Salsa from here
Excellent Smoked N Atlantic Salmon here
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Did Republicans think differently of Saddam when he was attacking Iran? Sure. I think Americans liked the USSR a bit more when they were fighting with Germany as well. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" isn't very new.
But Gore didn't think Bush Sr was tough enough on Saddam AFTER the Gulf War! Saddam supported terrorists, attacks on US citizens and warships. Saddam had a nuclear program, Saddam used and intended to use again WMDs--Gore sounds like quite a hawk. He still sounded like a Hawk when he was VP and he strongly supported bombing Saddam for all the same problems.
It isn't so much that minds can change. Information, political expediency, age, learning and a whole set of other things can change minds. The wild thing is that if there is a "D" after your name, the MSM never points out the sins of your past (even the videotaped ones), and you are NEVER asked to give an account of "what changed your mind".
Sunday, June 10, 2007
George Will does a good job of covering the facts, the Democrats response, and discusses the strange idea of "equal outcome" in a world where God has certainly chosen to not distribute ability or motivation equally. What he doesn't discuss is the right turn of the French. Apparently, even the French have realized that economic growth has some reality-based components. Will the Democrats ever come to that realization?
Pray tell, what is wrong with Congress and the President making that distinction when it comes to trials? Further, hasn't the military commission proved its fairness by the very fact that it dismissed the cases of the first two defendants brought before it, finding they were not "unlawful enemy combatants." Instead of assaulting the military tribunal as it did, shouldn't The Times have praised its fairness? Of course, but The Times is so blinded by its fury on the Iraq war and its hatred of President Bush that its editorial board can't think straight on these issues.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
So the rough week at work was ncompleted, and the year at school for our 15 year old completed as well. If the "last day of school" (LDoS) could be bottled, it would be a product very easy to market. It seems that is one of those feelings that is "age and condition of life specific" that would be impossible to fully reach again in adulthood, but the weekend has been a hint of that. The level of youth, health, optimism, lack of experience in the ills of life, still feeling generally free of responsibility for themselves and others; linked with the wonderful completion of "that year is completely behind me and next year I begin again with a fresh slate" makes LDoS one of those life experiences to be savored.
Like all human experience, that LDoS is of course significantly illusionary. You certainly CAN die when you are in your teens. You certainly can create all manner of problems that may dog you for the rest of your days--habits, addictions, attitudes, damaging relationships, teenage pregnancy and other guilt / fallout from the victory of hormones over morality, injuries, crimes--the list is endless of course. In the way of nature however, when you are in your teens those downsides are quite far from the mind. You tend to feel invincible, your future is long with potentials unbounded, and the very fact of not really grasping the potential for "life changing ill" makes the experience what it is.
Socrates said "An unexamined life is not worth living". Interestingly, the result of that examination is often significantly that one becomes "consciously incompetent". You begin to know what you don't know. The more one learns, the more one realizes that the process of learning is always begining with "unconscious incompetence" (not being aware of what you don't know); to "conscious incompetence"; followed by "unconscious competence" where for some task or piece of life you "do the right thing", but may no longer be aware of how it was learned or why you do it.
Rosseau, and I suspect many liberals would arge that the LDoS feeling becomes inaccessable with examination, and the person is no longer "authentic". What Socrates and a conservative would see as "not worth living", the Rosseau and the liberal see as "not really life". The categorization, the judgment, the realization of inadequacy, the realizations of impermanence--all conspire in their minds to destroy "the human experience".
Knowledge and experience certainly change us, but while it is impossible to capture the "same exact experience" of the LDoS we experienced in youth, it has seemed this weekend that there are aspects that are even better. Having completed over 50 years of "life schooling" with at some level of decent grades in matters of earthy importance, weekends like this and the prospects for some other experiences of "Miller Time" in the coming weeks of summer has made this weekend so very enjoyable.
The examined life is VERY much worth living!
Friday, June 08, 2007
As per usual, they have a bit of trouble figuring out their exact quarry ... $500K, $200K, even $75K the Democrats are far better with nearly anyone's money than the people themselves, so they feel it is a huge benefit to all if they can just get it away from those nasty folks that have managed to make it.
Subsidize what you want more of -- retirement of productive people, more ineffective union educators, scads of government union employees. Tax what you want less of -- business, productivity, income. Soon some Democrat will tell us that "the best years of the US are behind us" ... no doubt it will be Bush's fault!
Democrats Seek Formula To Blunt AMT
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
It could be a lot worse ... for example a guy that I know that is recovering from stage 4 throat cancer showed up at the customer meeting late this PM for the first time I've seen him at work in at least 3 months. That whole ordeal sounds just a "bit tougher" than anything I've got to complain about, and he looked VERY happy to be back in the saddle for at least a couple of hours. NOBODY ever promised us "it ought to be easy"!
So I need to get back into a whole bunch of stuff that I'm behind on, but I'm sitting out on the deck with the firepit really enjoying the beautiful evening while I mostly work, but waste a little time on the Blog as well.
I shot a few pictures. The first one is looking back at the deck where the steps go to the upstairs kitchen.
The next is just to the left of that view showing the stairs down away from the firepit and a view of the back yard.
The third shows an angle yet further to my left looking to the NW toward our property line
There are much worse places to sit with a laptop and get some charts ready for a meeting in the AM and handle the small drift of e-mail that piled up today. Just 8am-6 meetings tomorrow followed by 8-9PM combination meetings on Thursday and it will be "basically over" for the summer session!
Friday, June 01, 2007
- I had a fantastic fishing trip to Mille Lacs with a couple friends. We limited out the first night up, had a big fish dinner, and the action was just about as hot all day Friday. Personally I picked up three walleye 21", two 22", a 23" and a 24". Nobody broke 25", but the totals in the 20-25" range for the other two guys were similar. Cold front went though Friday night and they shut down for Saturday, but no complaints. Kind of fishing that just can't be beat!
- We have been very much enjoying the firepit that we added off the end of our deck. There have been a number of evenings out there with friends and we had a nice party Memorial Day weekend.
- Oldest son has completed Freshman year at UWL with excellent grades, and is working part time at the physics lab and taking a couple summer classes. He has been coming home most weekends, so that has been fun.
- Youngest son has completed Freshman year of HS with a 4.0 and is doing excellent in band and will be an officer for Key Club next year. Mom and Dad have been very proud to see him receive recognition at two awards banquets this spring and listen to him play in a great band concert. The band kids really seem to have a good time, and it is fun for a couple with "engineer wiring" to be able to tag along by virtue of his abilities.
- Have been enjoying getting out on the bicycles quite frequently.
The book opens with some remedial coverage of "The Innovators Dilemma". As companies become successful, the natural drive is to move "up market" where profits are better. They focus on the high end, really listen to and provide for those customers, and eventually lose the lower end of the market as their products are "too good" (expensive, complicated, large, etc) for the bulk of the market, and they are focused only on their most profitable customers.
The business becomes expert at "sustaining innovation"--better performance, added features, new hardware, more options, different models, etc. all of which hone the product, and are generally very predictable. The business forgets completely about messy "disruptive innovation", that DOESN'T bring better products to customers in known markets, but rather attempts to provide products that are not as good as existing products, but provide advantages in cost, ease of use, scale, targeting, or other areas that will enable the product to compete against non-consumption (completely new customers), or less demanding customers. PC, Linux, etc. A nice case history of integrated mills vs mini mills is presented.
There was a discussion about people and companies having "jobs" that need to get done and they are looking for a product or service that they can "hire" to do that job. The item for the market researcher to go after is the CIRCUMSTANCE, not the CUSTOMER. "Innovations that make it easier for customers to do what they weren't trying to do before must compete against customers' priorities. This is very hard to do."
"Managers often segment markets along the lines for which the data are available, rather than in ways that reflect the things that customers are trying to get done." (think of the drunk that lost his billfold in a field looking for it under a street-lamp because the light is better there!) Rather than doing that, look at four keys to new market disruption (competition against non-consumption):
- Target customers are trying to do a job but they lack money or skill.
- The customer will compare your product against having no solution.
- You can deploy a solution that is simple, convenient and foolproof (relative to what they have)
- The product creates a whole new value network. (new consumers purchase the product through new channels)
There is an interesting discussion of modular vs interdependent architectures. As technologists, this makes pretty easy sense--a "fully custom solution" that has a lot of dependencies can be faster, BUT, it is much less flexible, and requires more to be done in a single organization. A modular approach is more one size fits all, and not as heavily optimized. Companies that build specialized integrated things will "overshoot", and their products will become "too good" for the mass market. One will hear employees cursing customers with: "Why can't they see that our product is better than the competition? They are treating it like a commodity!" IBM's PC experience is used as an example of a big company getting burned on dealing with modular vs interdependent architecture.
"Whenever commoditization is at work somewhere in the value chain, a reciprocal process of de-commoditization is at work somewhere else in the value chain." When your product is commoditized, you lose the ability to differentiate, and thus revenue--the company has to follow Gretzky and "develop the intuition for skating not to where the money presently is in the value chain, but to where the money will be.". The six steps of commoditization are:
- Company creates a product with a proprietary architecture that is a hit.
- Company overshoots the lower tier customers in market.
- Basis of competition changes to "good enough"
- Modular architecture solutions arise that better meet needs
- The industry DIS-integrates (meaning products made up of modular commodities)
- No longer possible to differentiate products on other than price.
- Low-cost commodity producers drive out high-cost incumbents -- moving ever up-market.
- Because key performance defining subsystems become the constraint, they become important non-commodities
- EG PC OS for MS, Processor for Intel, Graphics cards for ATI, vs "Computer" for IBM
- Specialization / differentiation moves to the module level (graphics card)
- Leading sub-system providers now differentiated
- This sets up the next round of commoditization.
"Companies that are positioned at a spot in the value chain where performance is not yet good enough will capture the profit." ..."To the extent that an integrated company such as IBM can flexibly couple and de-couple it's operations, rather than irrevocably sell off operations, it has a greater potential to thrive profitably for an extended period than does a non-integrated firm such as Compaq."
"Core competence, as it is used by many managers, is a dangerously inward looking notion. Competitiveness is far more about doing what customers value than dong what you think you are good at. Staying competitive necessarily requires a willingness to learn new things rather than clinging hopefully to the sources of past glory. The challenge for incumbent companies is to rebuild their ships at while at sea, rather than dismantling themselves plank by plank while someone else builds a new, faster boat with what they cast overboard as detritus."
"We don't even question who makes the dresses in Talbot's, the sweaters for Abercrombie&Fitch, or the jeans at Gap and Old Navy. Much of the apparel sold in these channels carries the brand of the channel, the the manufacturer."
The RPV Framework:
- Resources - The people that can successfully lead sustaining innovation are almost certainly the wrong people to lead disruptive innovation. The issue isn't so much "success" as the history of willingness to wrestle with nasty problems and learn the right answers.
- Processes - "How an organization transforms inputs into things of greater value". "If that organization has not repeatedly formulated plans for competing in markets that do not yet exist, it is safe to assume that no processes for making such plans exist."
- Values - "An organizations values are the standards by which employees make prioritization decisions". "values often define constraints--they define what the organization cannot do.". The key value is overhead/financial model. Money is the fuel of business just like gas is the fuel of your car. So much of it is required for the business to operate as it currently does, and THIS business can't operate in a cost structure that won't support that (but one with a different cost structure CAN, and even be very profitable. Think Wal-Mart vs local hardware store)
"The requirements of an innovation need to fit with the host organizations processes and values or the innovation will not succeed." It is a bit like "transplant rejection" in medicine. "Organizations cannot disrupt themselves." A sobering thought for business organizations, since disruption is inevitable, they MUST break off units with different financial models if they seek to survive.
"Be patient for growth, not for profit.". Big companies with the wrong cost structure tend to do the reverse with disruptive business. It CAN work (Amazon is the counter example), but in general it is the model to be profitable that is what needs to be arrived at, not just "growth". It is too easy for the people to kid themselves by "losing a bit on each unit and assuming they will make it up in volume."
A principal refrain of this book is that blindly copying the best practices of successful companies without the guidance of circumstance-contingent theory is akin to fabricating feathered wings and flapping hard. Replicating their success is not about duplicating their attributes; it's about understanding how to generate lift (profit)."This is a top tier business book--not a lot of filler, pretty concrete and easy to understand. Good way to get some insight into some of the core issues that build and destroy huge corporations.