Salesforce offers to relocate employees and their families after Texas abortion law goes into effect

In a message to employees, Salesforce said on Friday that it will help employees and their families relocate if they’re concerned about reproductive care.

Source: Salesforce offers to relocate employees and their families after Texas abortion law goes into effect

As I have been saying for awhile, which company you work for will soon matter more than which county you are a citizen of. We are truly heading for a cyberpunk version of dystopia.

Producer inflation accelerated in August, as wholesale prices rose record 8.3% from a year ago

The producer price index for final demand products was expected to increase 0.6% in August, according to economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

Source: Producer inflation accelerated in August, as wholesale prices rose record 8.3% from a year ago

Between the supply chain constraints, up and down every industry, and the wage demands being forced on companies who can’t find workers, I’ve been expecting this. I think it’s lagging, and we will find it getting much worse soon.

Another: Here’s how inflation is hitting the online prices of everything from apparel to furniture

Who Moved My Cheese

I started working at a company named Arvin in 1994. It no longer exists. In 2000, they had a “merger of equals” with a company named Meritor. They promised the Arvin shareholders that, in 2 years, the CEO of Arvin, Bill Hunt, would become the CEO of the combined ArvinMeritor. The execs split $50M in bonuses, $15M of which went to Hunt. As soon as the ink was dry, Meritor started liquidating Arvin’s divisions, and Arvin VP’s started pulling the rip cords on their golden parachutes. One year into the deal, the board pulled the $19M ripcord on Hunt’s golden parachute for him. In just another 2 years, all that was left of Arvin was the OEM exhaust division (Arvin’s largest), which they renamed EmCon, and then sold to a private equity firm. Then they changed their name back to Meritor, and probably had a drink and played golf.

Textbook corporate raidership. And the senior leadership of Arvin all “got theirs.”

From 2000 to 2003, there was a game of musical chairs played internally for who would be doing what in the “merged” company. I had been working in the engineering group, as a programmer and system admin. The project I was working on was determined to be redundant, and was canceled. (A very long story, which picks back up at the end, but one for another day.)

I quickly found a spot in the IT group, and moved over to doing systems administration proper. As things started to shake out, one of Meritor’s “brilliant” corporate leadership moves was to get everyone to read the book, Who Moved My Cheese. The Wikipedia page summarizes it well:

Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, published on September 8, 1998, is a motivational business fable. The text describes change in one’s work and life, and four typical reactions to those changes by two mice and two “Littlepeople”, during their hunt for cheese. A New York Times business bestseller upon release, Who Moved My Cheese? remained on the list for almost five years and spent over 200 weeks on Publishers Weekly’s hardcover nonfiction list. It has sold more than 26 million copies worldwide in 37 languages and remains one of the best-selling business books.

In a move that surprised not even myself, I was the first one in my group to be handed the communal copy by my boss. I knew that I could be difficult, so even I thought it was appropriate to start with me. What I should have seen coming, though, was that I was about to get the shaft, and thus, according to management’s plans, I needed it first.

In a few short months, I had setup and configured a Sun E10000 from scratch, by the book, with all the bells and whistles, configured 10 TB of EMC disk cabinets, setup a backup area network and a 384-tape silo and all the backups, and gotten several other mission-critical machines up and running. Just about the time it was all done and running like a sewing machine, with lots of housekeeping scripts setup to automate and groom the operation, I was told I would have to hand it all over to the Windows admin, and switch over to doing Windows administration.

Uh, wut?

Just prior to this, I was also told that I would be taken off the bonus plan, with nothing given in return. Still stinging from this, I was aghast and offended. I pulled a string, called in a favor, and got moved back to engineering. This was a mistake, from both ends.

I hung my decision on one thing: we had bought a $50,000 PC server to be the backbone of managing our 150-or-so Windows servers, then chickened out of spending the $250,000 it would have taken to buy the management software the machine was intended to run. Because of this, this massive machine was just sitting around collecting dust. In fact, we used it on several occasions to host the game servers on LAN party nights. Anyway, since it seemed like we needed this really huge, expensive piece of software to manage the Windows “farm,” the job seemed intimidating without it, so I didn’t want to do it.

This was precisely what the book was supposed to get me to see past. I should have recognized the opportunity for what it was, and made the best of it. I should have made those Windows servers my puppets. If they wouldn’t buy the management software, I should have written my own automation, like I did for the Sun machines. But, no, I didn’t want to be seen as working with Windows — yuck! — I was a Linux Man! I also didn’t get along well, personally, with my boss, and it seemed like I wasn’t getting any credit for the work I had already done with the Sun equipment. As per the graphic above, I felt exploited.

So I abandoned the group, and was soon put on a project which became a living nightmare. For 3 years, I worked for absolute narcissist who I watched lie to senior management to try to build an internal empire, and achieve his career goals, and who relentlessly ridiculed me for a perceived professional slight by someone form whom I had worked for previously.

I look back and wonder. If I had swallowed my pride, and made the Windows servers dance to my tune, where would I be today? If I hadn’t stayed a Linux Man, would I have learnt the world of Gentoo? Would I have wound up at AEI and DataCave? Would I have eventually worked my way into programming bliss with Rails? Would I have returned to writing engineering apps for engineers again? Maybe; maybe not. I love what I do these days, and hope to do it till I retire. So I guess it doesn’t matter how I got here.

#GossipGirlHere #girlboss #mensuck

A TikToker’s recording of her male classmates joking about rape and saying that ‘silence is consent’ has viewers horrified.

Source: TikToker who’s the ‘only girl in tech class’ films male classmates joking that ‘silence is consent’ right in front of her

I’ll make a confession.

About 30 years ago now, I was walking through the ME labs at Purdue with a professor. If I’m frank, I didn’t care much for this professor. I didn’t think he was a good instructor. I only found out later why, when I was told by another professor that his field of expertise was different than what he was teaching, and he was bitter about the path his career had taken. I don’t say this to besmirch him; we all have career regrets, but it’s important in a moment.

As we walked by one experiment, running on a bench, I asked about it. In the process of giving me the context, he mentioned that it was a woman who was doing it. I made a comment about wondering if she were studying engineering to design better hair dryers. And, yes, it makes me cringe to this day. The professor — despite whatever job disappointments and career pressures he was under — just calmly said that she was one of the brightest people he’d ever worked with, and he looked forward to amazing things from her career.

In that moment, as they say, I was enlightened. Both about my attitude, and how to be an “ally.” Honestly, I was “going for the joke” more than I was being intentionally misogynistic, and I claim some small amount of pride, in today’s politically-charged society, that all it took was one measured response from an actual adult to recalibrate my boundaries.

The males in this classroom aren’t just ignorant, and they aren’t just joking. They’ve been making these sorts of comments on Reddit and 4chan for a long time, and their behavior has been reinforced through those moderation systems. Women don’t speak up about this sort of systemic, generalized misogyny because — if it doesn’t achieve social media virality as a shield — the blowback will be too much to handle. And even now, as the video has been marked private, I guess it was too much for her. That’s OK; that’s for her to decide. I understand it. I’m just glad she got this out there to begin with. We need more of this. A LOT more. As a society, we need to name and shame this behavior. It needs more sunlight and fresh air as disinfectants.

We also need adults in the room to say that this is not acceptable, but to do it in a non-confrontational way. This is vital, no matter how good it would feel to lose your mind about. Not because these comments aren’t worth yelling at someone over, but, rather, doing it in a measured way will avoid the very human, gut-level response of getting defensive when attacked, and shut down the person’s ability to hear that this is not acceptable.

Cory Doctorow: Tech Monopolies and the Insufficient Necessity of Interoperability – Locus Online

The story of how this came to pass is tawdry and oft-told: it’s the tale of how switching competition law’s enforcement to focus on “consumer welfare” (low prices) destroyed labor markets, national resiliency, and the credibility of democratic institutions. It’s the story of how control over industries dwindled to a handful of powerful people who captured their regulators and got themselves deputized as arms of the government.

Source: Cory Doctorow: Tech Monopolies and the Insufficient Necessity of Interoperability – Locus Online

Bingo.

Public sentiment is more alive to the problems of monopoly than at any time in decades, but still most voters don’t see monopolism as a great evil. They may worry that all their beer comes from two companies or that the internet has turned into five giant websites filled with screenshots of text from the other four.

I love this take, and I’m glad to see it being repeated.

Biden’s Lawless Bombing of Iraq and Syria Only Serves the Weapons Industry Funding Both Parties – by Glenn Greenwald – Glenn Greenwald

Indeed, anyone invested in endless war in the Middle East — including the entire U.S. intelligence community and the weapons industry which feeds off of it — must be thrilled by all of this. Each time the U.S. “retaliates” against Iran or Iraqi militias or Syrian fighters, it causes them to “retaliate” back, which in turn is cited as the reason the U.S. can never leave but must instead keep retaliating, ensuring this cycle never ends. It also creates a never-ending supply of angry people in that region who hate the U.S. for bringing death and destruction to their countries with bombs that never stop falling and therefore want to strike back: what we are all supposed to call “terrorism.” That is what endless war means: a war that is designed never to terminate, one that is as far removed as possible from actual matters of self-defense and manufactures its own internal rationale to continue it.

Source: Biden’s Lawless Bombing of Iraq and Syria Only Serves the Weapons Industry Funding Both Parties – by Glenn Greenwald – Glenn Greenwald

If you draw a logical line between President Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex speech and the revelation of the Pentagon Papers, it intersects perfectly with JFK’s assassination. And the extrapolation of this line extends straight through the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tangentially, the infamous Zapruder film was confiscated on the day of the assassination, before it was developed. Once it emerged from the hands of the Secret Service, it had been doctored to make it seem as though the fatal shot came from behind JFK, despite his head jerking backwards, and Jackie picking up pieces of skull from the trunk lid. Someone at the agency did fantastic work on this for 1963, and I’m still waiting for him/them to make a deathbed confession. It occurs to me that someone, somewhere has to have a pre-doctored, original copy. I’d give my eye teeth to see it, if I still had them.

Anyway, it would be less sad that we are in a state of endless war in the Middle East if George Orwell hadn’t predicted it so perfectly as a tool of the State to maintain its power in 1949.

Stephen Fry brilliantly sums up importance of monarchy – ‘Happiest countries in the world’ | Royal | News | Express.co.uk

Mr Fry told the podcast: “I look at America and I think if only Donald Trump and now Biden, if every week they had to walk up the hill and go into a mansion in Washington and there was uncle Sam in a top hat and striped trousers.”

Mr Fry added: “More important than they were that’s the key.

“And that personification, uncle Sam can’t tell him what to do, uncle Sam can’t say ‘pass this Act and don’t pass that Act and free these people, give them a pardon’.

“All he can do is say ‘tell me young fella what you done this week’ and he’ll bow and say ‘well uncle Sam’.”

He added how uncle Sam might reply “oh you think that’s the right thing for my country”.

Mr Fry concluded: “Well that’s what a constitutional monarchy is and of course it’s absurd but the fact that Churchill and Thatcher and everyone had to bow every week in front of this something.”

Source: Stephen Fry brilliantly sums up importance of monarchy – ‘Happiest countries in the world’ | Royal | News | Express.co.uk

Since watching The Crown on Netflix, I’ve thought a bit about the role of a constitutional monarch in the modern world. I concluded that the system is doomed. However, Fry makes a good point here, which I overlooked, which will probably extend the life of the system far longer than I predicted, and that is: A proper constitutional monarch can hold the government accountable for actual results.

By comparison, in the US, there is no accountability for results. Our elected representatives faff about, floating on the winds of the popular press. Whatever laws they might manage to pass are purposely bent, in the small print, towards benefitting their benefactors, and ensuring their reelection. And, if the winds change, a new crop of faffing faffers gets put in office to faff about some more. No one can hold anyone accountable for failing to deliver on promises of change.

I’ve ridiculed the nearly obscene amount of wealth wielded by the English monarchy, but Fry’s comments leads me to see that this is actually required in such a system of government. The monarch’s wealth, and influence it affords, places them above the system they head, and makes them much less susceptible to the corrupting power of graft.

A US senator makes $174,000/yr, with a per diem for expenses. That’s a solid upper-middle-class income for the interior of the country, though it’s a lot less impressive in the high-rent district of the Beltway. In any case, it’s certainly not above influence of a relatively small amount of money. If you, the reader, were making that kind of money, and someone offered you 10, 20, or 50 thousand dollars (or especially part ownership in a financial instrument with those kinds of annual returns) in order to push an agenda, that would be pretty tempting. If someone offered to donate enough money through a PAC to your campaign fund in order to outspend your rival in advertising by 2 to 1 in the next election cycle, that would also be tempting.

The UK monarchy is above such influence. The family has so much wealth, it places them well above the level of petty graft in the American system. I’ve often said that the truly pathetic reality of the US political system isn’t that it can be bought; it’s that it can be bought so cheaply. The kind of money it takes to swing elections and votes in the US wouldn’t even count for lunch money to the Queen of England. She wouldn’t even stoop to pick it up off the sidewalk. So, rather than an extravagance, the wealth of a monarch can be seen as an advantage of the system. It’s a buffer against undue influence. The kind of money it would take to sway a constitutional monarch would be noticeable to everyone, everywhere. You wouldn’t be able to hide it.

Unfortunately, after setting out this surprising (to me) insight, there are two caveats that must accompany it. First, the UK monarchy has worked because Elizabeth has been an exceptional regent. If we give credence to the Crown’s depiction of her interactions with Churchill in his old age, she has performed her role precisely, even when it was difficult to do. Even if we ignore that whole episode as fan service to the Crown, I think her 70 years as regent, taken as a whole, prove that she has been a model monarch. I don’t know how other monarchs stack up against her in this regard, but I think her overall record speaks for itself. It’s not that she hasn’t generated controversy, but I feel she’s been on the right side of history far more often than not.

The second caveat is that a monarchy is established by fiat, and passed down through heredity. I have a hard time with that. Going back to England and France’s histories, we can see there were some real problems with the gene pools at times. This is the untenable part of a royal line. Again, other countries might have a different way of “crowning” a regent, but this aspect of the UK’s system is why I think people will demand reform. When Elizabeth dies, Charles will be crowned king, and, well, why? Just because he was born first to Elizabeth. I think modern society is going to have a bigger and bigger problem with this.

In the US system, I can imagine a scenario where we appoint a watcher over the government, to make sure that the “three ring circus” works as it was intended. A “ring master,” above each. Appointed for life, like a Supreme Court judge, recallable, yes, but with no power over the people; only the government. The power of such a position could and would only be used to make sure that the various branches did their job, and stayed true to the ideals of The Constitution, with powers to censure government representatives if they didn’t.

You can say that this role is in the hands of the people, but I’m just not clear that this is working as intended. Maybe it could be made to work again if we “get money out of politics,” but even if we repeal Citizen’s United, I don’t think it will completely solve the problem. It will get rid of a lot of undue influence, sure, but it will also drive some of it back under the table.

New York State to Revolutionize Antitrust

The Amazon H2Q fight in 2019 woke up the anti-monopolists in New York. Now they are moving forward with a new stronger trust-busting law.

“Too Much Power in Too Few Hands” – An Interview with Senator Michael Gianaris:

Senator, first of all, thanks for talking to me. I’ll start with a simple question. Do we have a monopoly problem? And if so, can you frame the issue in terms that anybody could understand?

Sen. Gianaris: The best way I can put it is that there is too much power in too few hands. This concentration of power creates the opportunity for corruption, and not just corruption in the traditional sense, although it creates that opportunity as well. But it just corrupts the way the marketplace is supposed to work. It diminishes competition, and it squashes small and medium sized players, who can’t compete with not just the size of the biggest players, but the tactics that they’re using and their reach into multiple aspects of economic life.

For goodness sake, they are reaching into multiple aspects of governmental life, and they’re trying to dictate to governments how we should be making our decisions. And we saw it, of course, with Amazon’s second headquarters situation. They created a bidding war amongst local governments! And you saw it again, with Amazon trying to change the makeup of Seattle City Council because they weren’t happy with a proposal to help homeless people.

This power is changing the very nature of our democracy and our economic democracy, to have so few people making all the decisions.

Source: New York State to Revolutionize Antitrust (emphasis mine)

This is the key to the issue. As a theme, in my writing, I’ve complained that government regulatory power has been “captured” by corporations through campaign contributions. But here’s a guy who’s campaign doesn’t need the kind of money that Amazon can give him through a PAC. He’s a state senator, with a very comfortable seat. He can speak up. And he’s asking the right question: who’s in control?

People who seek office presumably have a mind to, you know, govern. And the money that Amazon throws around is routinely taking that power out of their hands. We need more people like Senator Gianaris who stop this bribery for control, and tell the people running Amazon, “No.” No, you can’t have this, if it means that we have to set aside ethical concerns. No, you can’t have this, if you intend to abandon your implied social responsibility to the people you employ or the city in which you run your business.

If we are going to avoid the currently-predictable, grim meathook cyberpunk future of a world of corporate states, this and this alone is the motivation that can put a stop to the trend: elected representatives with a long-term view who act like adults, and tell whining, spoiled toddlers no.

The State of Social Media

Caught this today on an image sharing site, with the title “Failed the History Class.” Really? Let’s look at it.

We get one sentence which casts the situation hard to one side. Then another statement that casts the situation hard to the other side. Except that the truth lies somewhere in between. Libya was part of Italy at the time. Morocco was part of France (and part of Spain). The Philippines were part of the US. Vietnam was France. Burma was the UK. Ethiopia was Italy. Most of the other “2nd-world” countries still had such close ties with one of the legacy empires of England, France, and Spain that it’s probably unfair to call them independent.

Every country was involved in World War II to some degree, so it’s appropriate to say that the thing was independent of “whiteness.” But Germany started it, and they’re about as white as it gets. Italy joined in right away, and I guess Italians fit the description of “white” as the Left intends it. But then Japan jumped in, and they’re anything but Anglo or Christian or anything that even hints at “whiteness,” so it’s a strong counterpoint.

Almost immediately after the war was settled, the Cold War began, and America and the Soviet Union — both “white” for the purposes of this discussion — battled over global supremacy. And you could certainly admit that the OP saying that it was a fight to see who could “fuck up the world the most” wasn’t far off the mark. Both countries spent the next 60 years fighting for dominance in strange places, setting up and knocking down regimes in the so-called 3rd world, and engaging in espionage all around the planet. The result has been a lot of money spent, and a lot of lives lost, without much change in the global order. All of this effort could be considered “white,” if we’re fair about it.

Really, World War II was about getting Germany, Italy, and Japan to settle down, but the real war over control of this planets resources has continued to this day. Now that Russia and the United States have backed off the Middle East a little, China is ramping up efforts to take over everything in the South Pacific and the Chinese peninsula. Definitely not “white.” There will be another World War. If left to run its natural course, you can easily predict that whoever is left on the planet will fight for decades over control of what’s left standing.

Anyway, my point is that #SocialMediaIsDestroyingSociety. All day long, on every social media site, these kinds of exchanges are happening. Both sides feel they are right. Everyone involved pats themselves on the back for making such a good point. No one in the middle cares. No one is swayed. No one learns anything. No one is educated. Which side here “failed history class?” Both, if you ask me.

Any actual, global or societal problem or situation is far too complicated to wrap up in 140, or even 280, characters, and I’m really tired that Twitter and Facebook have managed to hypnotize society into thinking that this sort of discussion matters to anything other than their advertising revenue. It just forces everyone to grow up thinking that you gain identity by simplifying your thinking to 280 characters, and identifying with the hardest of takes, and these are both ingredients in the recipe for the doom of society.

How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism, a New Book by Cory Doctorow | OneZero

But Zuboff also claims that surveillance literally robs us of our free will — that when our personal data is mixed with machine learning, it creates a system of persuasion so devastating that we are helpless before it. That is, Facebook uses an algorithm to analyze the data it nonconsensually extracts from your daily life and uses it to customize your feed in ways that get you to buy stuff. It is a mind-control ray out of a 1950s comic book, wielded by mad scientists whose supercomputers guarantee them perp

Source: How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism, a New Book by Cory Doctorow | OneZero

Like Andrew, Cory Doctorow attempts to demystify a complex situation, and succeeds with a precision that only other liberal intellectuals can sympathize with. He mocks the idea that Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Twitter, et. al., can cause us to change our behavior. And, sure, no one from those companies are holding a gun to our heads to get us to press buttons. But these companies are enormously successful in provoking people to commit to decisions they were already considering. So successful, in fact, that — en masse — there is no practical difference between this persuasion and literal mind control. Like Eric Raymond arguing against calling Jeffrey Epstein a “monster,” Cory has lost sight of the forest for the trees. At scale, it is mind control.

This has been critical to the rapid crystallization of recent political movements including Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street as well as less savory players like the far-right white nationalist movements that marched in Charlottesville.

But not “less savory players” like all the Antifa Marxists which destroyed and looted local businesses, and burned down car lots. Noted.

Cory references LBGT stories to support his argument that Big Tech can’t convince you against your personal interest, but you can easily cherry-pick this anecdata. I’ve read several accounts that tell an inverse version of the story: that people came out because peer pressure enticed them, and they later became confused with their lifestyle because it didn’t actually fit who they were. I’m not saying that these cases are the majority. Rather, I bring it up to point out that Cory’s example is incomplete and one-sided, and it actually makes an unintended case against his stated position.

Zuboff calls surveillance capitalism a “rogue capitalism” whose data-hoarding and machine-learning techniques rob us of our free will. … Controlling the results to the world’s search queries means controlling access both to arguments and their rebuttals and, thus, control over much of the world’s beliefs. If our concern is how corporations are foreclosing on our ability to make up our own minds and determine our own futures, the impact of dominance far exceeds the impact of manipulation and should be central to our analysis and any remedies we seek.

Again, Cory references Zuboff’s position, and tries to show that it’s wrong, but, at the end, the net result of the situation is the same. Zuboff says surveillance capitalism robs me of my free will, but if Google black-holes the information I need to chose a non-endorsed answer, how is that any different? Google has robbed me of my ability to choose an alternative as surely as the mocked idea of a “mind control ray.”

It can make it easier to find people who share your sexual identity. And again, it can help you to understand that what you thought was a shameful secret that affected only you was really a widely shared trait, giving you both comfort and the courage to come out to the people in your life.

This is another example of eliding the point which makes me wonder about the entire intent of the article. It would seem to me to be hard to argue that non-binary, non-heterosexual lifestyles are a “widely shared” trait, given that, even by most optimistic estimates, the combined percentage of the population is something like 5%. More likely, I suspect the fact that the number is 10% in San Francisco, pulling the number up from the rest of the country sitting at 1-2%, which gives people steeped in the counter culture a false sense of the numbers.

But monopolies are incompatible with that notion. When you only have one app store, the owner of the store — not the consumer — decides on the range of choices. As Boss Tweed once said, “I don’t care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating.” A monopolized market is an election whose candidates are chosen by the monopolist.

Fantastic point! Now, let’s talk about the duopoly of the RNC and the DNC on American politics…

But it’s not mind control.

But it’s not brainwashing.

But it’s not an existential threat.

Cory argues these things, and then expends 100 pages of writing showing that Facebook and Google are, in fact, all three.