Predicting Success – The Major Mistake

There’s a famous math problem called the Monty Hall Effect, or Monty Hall Problem. Basically it deals with probability and how you should act in light of new information. Monty Hall, a famous game show host, would present three doors. Behind one was a car or some other grand prize, typically the other two doors are hiding a goat when the problem is discussed. Whether or not Monty did that in reality, I have no idea.

So, you’ve got three doors and the car is behind one. Monty asks you to choose one, he then reveals where one of the goats is and asks you if you want to switch your choice. Here’s where the problem comes in, because most people see two doors left, figure it’s a 50/50 chance of getting it right, and so stick with their choice. That’s the wrong move, you should always switch. Information is why you should switch.

The crux of the problem is that probabilities apply to events, not states of being. So the car is behind one door definitely. When you choose initially you have a 1 in 3 chance of being right and a 2 in 3 chance of being wrong. Now, the thing is when Monty reveals the goat behind one of the other two doors it doesn’t change the odds of the car being behind either remaining door, it just gives you more information to make a choice. There was still, at the time of choosing, a 2 out of three chance you’d be wrong. Those odds still apply.

One way to look at that illustrates it better is to assume 100 doors, and you have to choose one. So you do, then Monty throws open 98 of those doors to show there’s no prize, just a goat, so the car is behind one of the remaining two doors. Do you really think your odds at the initial choice were 50/50? They weren’t, and since it’s not a new decision you’re making, because technically it’s the same choice and you just have more information, the chances are still 98 to 1 that you’re wrong, and that applies to both remaining doors. However, whether dealing with three doors or 100, one other way to see how this applies is to view it as two choices, your door and all the others bundled together. Point being, it’s still more likely than not that your initial choice was wrong, and switching is better.

Now it may look like a 50/50 chance, but recall even though you have the chance to switch your choice, you are not changing the state of being of the result; the car is still behind the door it was always behind. Now, if Monty said he’d reveal where the goats are and leave you two choices, but then switch which one the car was behind, then you’re dealing with a 50/50 chance. But, when the car doesn’t move, the odds stay the same.

This is a useful, if not directly applicable scenario, to illustrate one of the major mistakes people make in hiring, specifically when they look to establish predictive measures. The common approach is to measure some aspect of the people who are performing well right now and apply that to the hiring process. There are various tests that do this, but the underlying problem is that what you know after you’ve hired them isn’t necessarily going to predict success when it’s used to inform a choice on who to hire now, because it’s not necessarily what you based your initial decision on.

A simple example is if you find everyone who is successful in a particular position is good at math, you then look for people who are good at math. However, did you know that before hiring them all? Were they good when they started, or did they get good at the particular math required? Testing successful employees isn’t useless, but you have to keep in mind that it’s eagle-eye hindsight. Who did you reject that would have done just as well if not better?

The real approach would be a pre and post assessment of hiring. How did you rate your choice of hire, and what was it based on, and what did you know about there person, before you ascertained whether or not their performance was up to par? Measuring some aspect of them after you already know they’re successful and looking for that in candidates doesn’t quite get it right. You should always do pre hire and post hire assessments, and then look for what was truly predictive of a good hire, not for what a good hire does after you already know they’re good. The problem is you could be using the wrong information, and using irrelevant assessment criteria for rating potential hires.

While the parallel with Monty Hall’s problem isn’t spot on, it does deal with the use of information in making decisions, and making the wrong judgement about how new information actually affects your choices. What matters in the end is this: what information can you reliably gather about a candidate before you hire them, and what information in that set has the highest predictive value?

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Paddy’s Got Some Advice

There’s an interesting blog entry here. I can appreciate the writer’s issues with recruiters, he’s got some points. However, I wanted to offer a recruiter counter point…

“Actually Pitch Me”

Hard to do, and a waste of time, until I have a better idea of what you do. Building up a pitch and putting all my effort into getting each candidate I find on the first pass is a waste of time, specifically in Engineering and IT because most of you guys lie on your resumes. I recently spoke with a Network Engineer who had every piece of Cisco equipment ever manufactured on his resume. He’s actually worked with one series of switches. I also recently talked to a self proclaimed C# guru who didn’t know what .NET was, or ASP. I have spoken with countless Electrical Engineers who can’t tell me Ohm’s law, or Mechanical Engineers who can’t identify friction as one of the forces acting on a body situated on an inclined plane, or simply draw the force vectors. These are people from junior to advanced, with consistent gaps in knowledge.

The point being, resumes do not usually tell me what I need to know. They offer a broad based communication that person X might be someone I want to speak to. I’m not going to pitch a position unless I have a fairly good idea that you’ll have a chance in hell of doing it. What’s more, I don’t pitch. I’m not trying to sell shit, because shit that’s really worth it sells itself. I want to know what you’re looking for to make your next career move a worthwhile one. If the job I’ve got offers what you want, I’ll communicate that, but I’m not into cajoling or convincing beyond the basics. If you don’t want it, or if you need to be perpetually goaded into doing something to get it, chances are it’s not in your best interest or mine to proceed. Pitching is for used car salesmen and Hollywood movies.

As far as revealing the client name, it’s not going to happen so get over it. I do want to make a profit if I can, and once I release the client’s name, assuming they allow me to do so, which most of the time they don’t, I’ve just lost all hold on the job. Now you can simply go, and with minimal effort find the company and the hiring manager and a connection which wouldn’t have happened without my effort goes forward with nothing’s in it for me. It’s an industry rule, we keep their names and your names confidential until it’s time to proceed to interview. As the recruiter, my asset when dealing with candidates is the job, and my asset when dealing with an employer is the candidate. I know who is looking on both sides of the aisle because candidates don’t usually want it public that they’re looking, nor very often do employers. That’s my product, my niche, and I’m not going to just give it up for free.

“Don’t Ask Me To Call You”

I agree, unforunately my boss does not.

Now, that’s not specifically my boss, however recruiting is dominated by people for whom communication is key, and for whom the key to communication is the phone, period. They’ve marginally heard of this thing called email, but all that new fangled gadgetry just confuses them. I heartily agree that email should be acceptable. I’ve measured response and success rates and email and phone are roughly equal overall. However, if I’m having trouble finding someone for position X and my boss asks me if I’ve called anyone, and the answer is, “No,” it’s my ass. Why? No particular reason. There’s no guarantee the phone calls will work, or work better than email. In fact I’ve had plenty of experiences where making those calls after emailing also yielded nothing. But it’s a thing I could have done that I didn’t do, so it’s my fault if it didn’t get done.

I prefer email as an initial communication method. I’d rather being talking to people who want to talk to me rather than cold calling, but cold calling is how things are done in this industry. It’s seen as a measure of success independent of actual success at fillng positions. There are some recruiting places which aren’t happy unless you’re calling 70+ people a day, and many recruiting ‘thought leaders’ who say that’s a good standard, ’cause it worked in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Technology doesn’t, you know, develop, as far as these people are concerned. So long as recruiting managers are old school types who still don’t really know what email is, phone calls will be the norm.

Also, quite frankly, you’re going to have to talk to me. I’ve connected clients with candidates before without speaking to them, it was almost always a fucking nightmare. There are people out there who are not worth employing who would agree with everything in this guy’s blog post. People who show up to interviews wearing a Hawaian shirt, a pair of jams and smoking a cigarette. People who refuse to answer questions, or who are just downright snotty assholes. I am going to speak to you before you interview, and meet with you if possible. The main reason behind this is just to make sure you aren’t a fucking idiot because I can’t make that determination simply by looking at a resume.

“Recognise Bad Timing”

Unfortunately the number of people willing to switch afer realizing they just made a bad job decision is pretty high, so you’re going to be contacted regardless. However, the answer is simple. If you’re not interested, just say no. If you’ve got a persistent recruiter I can understand your frustration. If he weren’t so intent on pitching you things would be so much easier…

“Your job is not to get me invested in the opportunity. That is the company’s job, by creating an exciting opportunity.”

So, first I have to pitch you, but now it’s not my job to get you invested.

I like Paddy, but in my conclusion it’s really hard to figure out what this guy wants. He wants to be pitched, but not to the point he gets invested. He wants to be contacted, but only by people who will be aware of when the perfect time to do so is, I guess through some sort of psychic connection. He doesn’t want to talk to the recruiter, because we’re not decision makers, but we should connect him and our client, and have us risk our relationship with that client if he turns out to be a moron or a psychotic. Not saying Paddy specifically is either, I just won’t have any way of knowing that about him or anyone else until I speak to them for at least a few minutes. There is a candidate who is still calling the recruiters at a job I had years ago. His resume was perfect, I put out one call to him. He now calls them regulary, and he is convinced I work for the CIA and/or sell drugs, and leaves lengthy voicemails letting everyone know that. I need to know you’re not that guy before I connect you with a client, Paddy. He wants to be treated like more than an email address, but puts himself at such a distance, how are you supposed to do that?

I think Paddy is just frustrated with the hiring process of most companies, and I can’t blame him. However, this dysfunction is a problem for us recruiters too, and we often have limited ability to change it.

The bottom line is you are not entitled to a job, nor are you entitled to dictate the process and have others comply. You can set whatever terms you want, but if the employer doesn’t agree, you’re not getting in, whether those terms include talking to me or not. Right now there is a demand for Engineering and IT people, but it won’t always be so. Supply rises to meet demand. When there are more people doing what you’re doing, or the economy tanks again and demand drops for your skillset and you’re without a job and I have one available, you may want to talk to me. Keep in mind Paddy, you will not always be a young, uber marketable candidate. There will come a time when an employer looks at you and says: over qualified; too old; off target; too specific; too broad; etc. Employers go into interviews looking for reasons to reject people, and rarely looking for reasons to say yes. A no vote to hire someone is automatically assumed to be the right move, a yes vote gets scrutinized to hell and back. Eventually everyone, even the most successful people in the world, hit a run of ‘No’ answers and stimied requests and no progress. It happens.

Right now a sense of entitlement can be maintained in Engineering/IT candidates due to high demand for such people. People will learn though, as do people in all professions including mine, that they are expendable at the end of the day. If you’re not in the budget, you don’t have a job. Right now technical people are in a position of having an inelastic demand for their labor. It won’t always be so, it never stays that way for any profession, much less any individual. All that remains to say on this point is to enjoy your position of strength while you can. I did when I was in such a position. But, you’ll be surprised who you would be willing to talk to when the rent is due and for some reason no employer seems to be willing to acknowledge your obvious brilliance and emminently employable nature.

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True Detective

I’ve been digesting the end of True Detective for a bit now, and all I can say is, “Bravo!”  Finally some classic story telling with a begining, middle, and end.  This is how you do an ambiguous ending.  The crime was solved, though there was a lot more story there, it just wasn’t the story of those two characters.  Their relationship developed, as did each character, but there was no major epiphany or change, just a shift and an evolution, a gradual move in each of them to show that they are not stuck in a rut and could, potentially, be better people in the future.  Another example of a good ambiguous ending is Stephen King’s novella The Mist.  In the written version, the characters go on, you have no idea what happens to them, but that particular part of their story was over;  they got out of the market.

This as opposed to shitty ambiguous endings like the one for The Sopranos.  Or the non ending for Deadwood.  And while I love The Walking Dead, I think they get too much mileage from mass carnage and killing off beloved characters.  Catharsis by death has been done, and done, and way over done.  I suppose TWD gets away with it because it is the zombie apocalypse.

Cheers to Nic Pizzoletto for doing some seriously good story telling, fleshing out some very interesting characters, and not getting caught up in the easy out of killing them for emotional impact, or veering into the mystical with no reason or resolution.  Superb acting by Harrelson and McConaughey and all the supporting cast too.  I’m going to miss those characters, but I’d rather the story ended without playing them out too much, or God forbid, playing them for more laughs than they were really good for.

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Recruiter Translations

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Since the last time I was essentially fired, but hired again at a better job. My former employer apparently had no reason to fire me that would even pass muster in a Right to Work state like New York, where you can be fired because the day ends in “y,” so I got a nice severance to shut me up and guarantee I wouldn’t sue them or talk to the DOL.

I’ve been having fun following my former employer’s efforts to replace me. The guy working there now apparently hasn’t long to go, the recruiter they use keeps reposting the ad for the position. I’ve also heard he’s a bit ‘odd,’ so we’ll see. No one will last there in my opinion, mainly because the owners are a bunch of incompetent screaming lunatics.

Anyway, as a means of getting back on the horse, I’d like to share some common statements recruiters, both corporate and agency, hear from customers, and what their plain English translations are. Enjoy!

Statement: “We want someone who can grow into the position.”

Translation: “We don’t want to pay for someone who can already do what we want done, so we will look at resumes of people who don’t have the experience/skills we need, and we will constantly reject them because they don’t have the experience/skills we need. We will eventually put the position on hold and have someone internal do it. If the manager of this position starts feeling a lot of heat we will then make a hire, and we will either hire one of the junior people you presented and want them replaced in a month, or we will finally cave in and pay the market rate for the person we actually need. That will of course be a last, desperate move. When that happens we will want the people you sourced six months ago to start tomorrow.”

Statement: “We need a consultant.”

Translation: “We need a full time employee but think a consultant would be easier to fire if need be, even though we work in an ‘At will’/ Right to Work state.”

Statement: “A degree in the field is required.”

Translation: “I want some kind of qualification to cover my ass should the person not work out.”

Statement: “This experience/skill is required, this experience/skill is prefered.”

Translation: “All these experiences/skills are required. If we see someone with the requirements but not the preferences, we will reject them for not having the preferences. If we see someone with all the requirements and all the preferences, we will reject them for not being focused enough on the requirements.”

Statement: “We need someone to start as soon as possible.”

Translation: “We left off hiring for this role until the last second. We now want people to leave their current positions with a day’s notice even though we’d mark people as not rehirable and give them a bad reference or no reference for doing just that. We will also reject everyone who can start right away because they’re not currently working, and we will reject them because they are not currently working and can start right away.”

Statement: “You need a thick skin to work here.”

Translation: “Our managers/owners are incompetent and spend their day screaming at people and screwing things up and blaming everyone else. They really haven’t worked anywhere else because it’s a family owned company, so they have never actually had to behave professionally in any circumstance to get what they needed, and they accept the increased cost of turnover, because they’re unaware of it or because they simply don’t care and get off on belittling people.”

Statement: “This is a high pressure environment.”

Translation: “We deliberately under staff the company to save overhead, even though the cost of the increased turnover due to burnout is likely higher than just having adequate staff.”

Statement: “A sense of urgency is required.”

Translation: “Our managers are deliberately over tasked and so this person will need to make a great show of needing attention to get even basic needs met from their manager. Thankfully, a ‘sense of urgency’ is a completely subjective standard, so even if this person asks their manager for something twenty times, in writing and verbally, and including sending a few strippergrams to get the point across, it still won’t be the manager’s fault for not coming through because there was a lack of urgency to the required degree.”

Statement: “We need someone who is highly polished.”

Translation: “The person shouldn’t have an accent and they should know enough corporatese to sound good in meetings, whether or not they actually accomplish anything else. Our boss doesn’t like foreigners and prefers a certain brand of suit tailored in a certain way, and we will decide on those criteria.”

Statement: “What’s your mark up?”

Translation: “We’d like you to handle all the payroll and insurance issues, but we’d rather not pay you for it.”

Statement: “We will only accept top notch candidates.”

Translation: “We will only accept top notch candidates regardless of whether or not what we offer in terms of compensation, management, benefits, work life balance, and opportunity is top notch. In fact, the worse we are in each of those areas, the more we will demand top notch people. This desire is fueled by the fact that our combined total comp as expressed in those areas is so low that we perpetually have trouble attracting, and can never retain top talent. And we’re sick of that, but we’re not going to do anything crazy like pay people above market rates to compensate for our other short comings, or have our managers improve and treat people better, or offer benefits that aren’t pure vanilla, or offer options like remote work or help with the commute or even reasonable hours and time off, nor will we ever entertain actually promoting anyone.”

This is for hiring managers mostly, it’s important for you to realize that when you make any of the above statements, the translation is what the recruiter hears if they’re worth their salt. They know bullshit, it’s easy to smell with little training. The only solution is honesty. Be honest with your recruiters and they will be honest with you.

Posted in Annoyances, Human Resources, I'm Right, Recruiting | 1 Comment

Recruiter Article – Lou Adler – LinkedIn

I saw this article today on LinkedIn, and I have to say it’s a good short piece that explains a critical problem in hiring. A short quote:

I’m amazed that 80-90% of the job descriptions listed on LinkedIn or found on Indeed.com still emphasize experience, skills and academics. Yet 80-90% of the people who get promoted internally into these same spots don’t have the experience, skills and academics listed as required for someone hired from the outside.

However, I don’t think the article correctly identifies the root problem. That most job postings are specifications for a person and not a performance profile for a job is a symptom of a deeper problem, that being managers don’t have a fucking clue what they actually want a person to do once hired. Or, sometimes they do but don’t want to communicate it because it would actually sound lame, unimpressive, and be hard to justify the hire. The experience of recruiters tends to be biased towards higher level positions, ones which are more interesting than your standard office job. It might be easier to get a performance profile for an executive position, it would be less glamorous to get one for a warehouse worker. What’s his job? “Take these boxes from here, and move them over there to the truck; repeat.”

Now on its face that seems a little stupid, however when you get into the nitty gritty of such things the questions come up: how many boxes over what time frame, and why can’t your existing staff accomplish this work? For that you need measurement and metrics, however informal they may be, and an argument based on them to justify the position. That’s a hard sell and requires managers actually do the job of managing which many of them can’t. Some because of incompetence, but many because they are working managers. Companies, in their ever more desperate attempts to squeeze more and more work out of fewer and fewer people, will tend to have managers who never quite get out of doing the actual job that they’re supposed to be managing people in. In the end, they end up managing less 25% of the time, often less. Ideally, that should be closer to 50% of their time.

So, for managers who are strapped for time and perhaps not up to truly defining a job or justifying it, what’s an easier sale to their manager? Would it be a performance profile that accurately describes a less than glamorous job which could potentially be accomplished by existing staff? Or would it be a person, a super star! A rock star! Talent, god damn it!

The person is the easier sale. It’s easier for managers to say, “we need someone like this…,” than it is to say, “We need to accomplish this task in this time frame for this reason, and here’s why we can’t do it without an additional person (overhead).”

Most managers are home grown with little actual management training. They are successful in a company and either get promoted and are now running the department they once worked in, or move to another company and work in similar circumstances. They were never actually trained to manage other people to accomplish the tasks they were once assigned. It is, in reality, a different job. One for which their experience would certainly be helpful, but it doesn’t necessarily qualify them for the job.

Defining the work forces accountability, forces justification, forces the job of management on the managers themselves. This of course must be avoided at all costs, so therefore the managers avoid it at all costs. Which is why job descriptions will likely continue to be person descriptions instead. I truly wish Lou Adler’s ideas on performance profiles were embraced and used en masse. I have tried to get them going in my current position, and have hit resistance galore. I use them internally as much as I can, because as a recruiter knowing what actually needs to be done is the most valuable piece of information you can have. Getting it out of people is hard, getting it out of people and formalized and published is even harder, unfortunately.

Posted in Annoyances, He/She is Right, Human Resources, I'm Right, Recruiting, Serious Stuff | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Yellow Stone Super Volcano – Holy Fuckshit We’re All Going To Die!

I love these articles. This one is found over at Lewrockwell.com. I love the site and appreciate it, but they really should stick to politics and economics. any time they run an article on health or something like this, they tend to go off the rails. According to this gem the US could soon be a dead wasteland over much of its surface area. It’s likely ridiculous. However addressing the article’s 11 points makes for good thought exercise. And yes, I realize the super volcano is real and the worst case scenario could happen, but…

#1 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone could be up to 1,000 time more powerful than the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Yup, could be. What’s likely though? That is the question. Worst case scenarios are just that, what’s the likely result is what you should really be conerned with, and which you should put your planning behind.

#2 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone would spew volcanic ash 25 miles up into the air.

Same as above.

#3 The next eruption of Yellowstone seems to be getting closer with each passing year. Since 2004, some areas of Yellowstone National Park have risen by as much as 10 inches.

This is a meaningless statement. It’s always getting closer in time no matter when it will occur. As for how much the land has risen, the real question is: is that unusual or not? If not, then who gives a shit?

#4 There are approximately 3,000 earthquakes in the Yellowstone area every single year.

This is, again, meaningless. What’s typical? Most areas experience constant earthquakes of very small magnitude. The Earth is never static, it is a dynamic system and constant, small earthquakes are the norm.

#5 In the event of a full-scale eruption of Yellowstone, virtually the entire northwest United States will be completely destroyed.

How likely is a full scale eruption? Again, the worst case is the worst case, what is the likely outcome?

#6 A massive eruption of Yellowstone would mean that just about everything within a 100 mile radius of Yellowstone would be immediately killed.

Same point.

#7 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone could also potentially dump a layer of volcanic ash that is at least 10 feet deep up to 1,000 miles away.

Same point. There’s a potential for a comet hitting the Earth and wiping us all out, permanently. How likely is it?

#8 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone would cover virtually the entire midwest United States with volcanic ash. Food production in America would be almost totally wiped out.

#9 The “volcanic winter” that a massive Yellowstone eruption would cause would radically cool the planet. Some scientists believe that global temperatures would decline by up to 20 degrees.

#10 America would never be the same again after a massive Yellowstone eruption. Some scientists believe that a full eruption by Yellowstone would render two-thirds of the United States completely uninhabitable.

#11 Scientists tell us that it is not a matter of “if” Yellowstone will erupt but rather “when” the next inevitable eruption will take place.

The rest of the points aren’t worth addressing to be honest. The problem with this kind of thought is that it is unbalanced. Considering the worst case scenario and planning for it ignores the opportunity cost of it not happening, and you wasting all your time and money and resources on planning for that worst case scenario. This is the kind of thought that goes into a lot of ‘prepper’ type articles and a lot of the articles on economics written at this site as well. It gives libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism this hysterical tinge to it which is unhelpful and self defeating. If the world is constantly ending or on the verge of cataclysm, what’s the fucking point of anything? You can’t live your life as if the worst is always right around the corner. And when people come along with articles like this you really have to ask questions rather than take the hysteria as a given. That Yellow Stone is experiencing earthquakes isn’t unusual; it’s a geologically active area. Of course they’re going to have earthquakes. And in this very article there is a geologist saying that it’s normal for them to come in swarms.

Further, the point that other volcanos seem active is another thing that sounds sensational but in reality, what the fuck does it mean? The Earth is active, there’s always an active volcano somewhere, or one that’s winding down or livening up. Is there a proposed mechanism that would say there is actually some link between the two volcanos he mentioned that would make increased activity at one indicative of upcoming activity in the other? If not, who gives a shit? Wet sidewalks do not cause rain.

And I wouldn’t move out of the northwest US just yet.

Posted in Annoyances, Economics and Public Policy, History, I'm Right, Pop Culture, Serious Stuff, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Climate Change and the IPCC

The latest IPCC Summary for Policy Makers was released, and as usual politics fucks up what should be a calmly debated issue. I used to be in to this debate, I can’t stand it anymore. It’s totally predictable. Right wingers claim nothing is happening, or at least nothing of note, and we can continue on business as usual. Left wingers think the world is ending and the only way to stop it is to give people like Al Gore shitloads of money and power, more than they already have. People are so fucked it’s annoying. My position, which is reasonable I think, follows:

We know the basic physics of CO2; it will trap and re radiate heat causing the energy in the climate system to increase. There is no argument to be had on that point, and most skeptics I’ve read acknowledge that point. How that extra energy will affect the climate system, what the dangers and benefits might be, and to what degree humans are influencing the system seems to be debatable. I am certainly no expert, but neither are the many people who feel the need to raise their voices in this debate. My points are as follows:

Climategate. Whether it was terribly significant or not in the grand scheme of things I honestly don’t know. What I do know is how to smell a pit of shit when I stumble up one. Whatever real affect the shenanigans of those people had on the work in the field, seeing a bunch of assholes take typical academic infighting and backstabbing to such levels and then having it aired publically is ridiculous, and people can’t be surprised that it had an effect on people’s perception of the credibility of those scientists. Within that issue, constantly referring to something as “the cause” in your emails is fucking idiotic. The cause should be truth, the scientific method is the means to find it. These guys shot themselves in the foot, if the skeptics were truly wrong they should have stayed out of their way, they would have taken themselves down.

The skeptics. They seem to have had some valid points. Anthony Watts is one, and no neither he nor I am a climate scientist. However, you don’t need to be a climate scientist to realize that ramming a thermometer up the ass end of a Chevy will affect the readings. You don’t need to be a climate scientist to see that the IPCC’s own data shows a plateau of warming that they themselves admit can’t be explained adequately right now. Pursuant to that…

The models. While not a climate scientist, I am familiar with economics to a great degree. That means I’m more than familiar with morons who assume their models are reality, and then get pissed at reality when it disagrees with their models. I do know how hard it is to encompass a complex chaotic system in a model, and the dangers of trying to make predictions based on those models, when they are often built on correlations which may not reflect underlying causal relationships.

You don’t need to be a master carpenter to spot a shitty dovetail joint when you see one. Nor do you need to be a climate scientist to see that the IPCC is a political organization, nor do you need to be an economist or political science expert to see that there’s a lot of money, power, and credibility on the line for proponents of both extremes in this debate. And when someone is shoveling shit, it’s not hard to smell it. I see it on both sides of the US political spectrum. I see Republicans doing everything they can to enable businesses at the expense of, not really the environment, but other people’s property in reality. It’s a lot easier to run a business if you don’t have to worry about all those externalities which have adverse effects in other people’s lives. And I see Democrats looking for any and every excuse to give more and more power to the government, and in climate change boy have they found a doozie of a reason. It’s all encompassing, impossible to falsify (which kinda makes it not a valid theory to be frank…), and effects everyone.

Me personally, I’d like to know just what the fuck is going on. Even an anarchist myself, if I were convinced the world were going to end, and knowing the impracticality of transitioning to a pure free market in this world, wouldn’t give a shit if governments ‘Did Something!’ Fine, go do something. It’s a legitimate problem, fuck around and see if you can solve it. But I’m not convinced the world is going to end, now or in the near or even far future.

I’m convinced the climate is changing. I’m convinced people and the greenhouse gasses we release have something to do with it. However, I am not convinced the jackasses who claim to know how bad it is or will be actually do know that, and I am certainly not convinced they have a fucking clue as to what to do about it. Their only answer is More Government! The government, the organization that completely and utterly fucks up everything it touches, which is why for some reason it should absolutely do the most important shit in our lives. I never got that logic, because it isn’t logic, it’s ideology. I’d be more convinced if perhaps one out of ten solutions offered to this issue actually involved rolling the government back.

For example, if oil and its use is indeed a problem, why don’t we stop subsidizing its discovery, transportation, and distribution? No more tax breaks for oil companies, no more military in the middle east, no more alliances with tyrannical OPEC nations. There, simple as pie. The price of oil and gas would go up naturally absent those subsidies, the US government could stop spending billions on military adventures to secure resources, and the price rise would naturally curtail usage and promote conservation.

But I never hear anyone suggest that. No, we’re supposed to use less fossil fuel while the government gives all kinds of aid and comfort to shit head regimes and bloated oil companies to make their jobs easier and more reliable. If I heard one lefty offer the above solution, or something similar, I’d be more inclined to listen. I’d be equally surprised and heartened to hear it from a right winger, too.

But I never do.

All I see is a bunch of ideologues clouding an issue that is certainly real, and could in fact be a serious problem.

Posted in Annoyances, Economics and Public Policy, I'm Right, Politics, Serious Stuff | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Alan Aragon Interview

There’s a good interview with Alan Aragon here. I find his articles and research summaries helpful in understanding nutrition.

Posted in Diabetes, Food, He/She is Right, Serious Stuff | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How Economic Education Fucks Up Your Life

Learning to think rationally is one of the biggest mistakes any human being can make. It complicates your life, makes you think things through in ways that are not conducive to living a happy life. One of the reasons behind this, specifically with learning economics, is you learn everyone does everything for a reason. It doesn’t have to be a rational reason in the strict sense of the word. It just means they had a goal, and desire, and they did something to achieve that goal. And, economics rightfully understood does not concentrate on money, on micro or macro, it is about the study of human action in an objective sense.

One of the consequences of this study is you realize that there are no ‘mistakes’ in life as that word is commonly used. The dictionary definition is fine, it fits the world as it really is, or at least seems to be to me. However, as it’s commonly used it’s more along the lines of, “I didn’t mean to do that, can I please not have to deal with the consequences?”

When someone makes a mistake they’ve done something to attain a goal which, when the consequences for attaining it arrive, they don’t want at that expense. Life is full of people who perpetually make such mistakes and perpetually apologize for them. The problem is, when you think these things through rationally you realize people rarely change, which means most people will continue to make such mistakes, and this is because their true values are shining through the rhetoric, and what I guess you could call the rhetorical behavior, they think society expects of them. There is a massive disconnect between what they say, the image they present as ‘them’, and what they actually do.

People who think rationally have trouble reconciling the behavior of these people with their actions. But, we, like all other people, also need people in our lives. Humans are social animals, after all. We can’t usually survive well on our own. We need the division of labor, other people to talk to and commiserate with, and to love. The unfortunate truth though is that everyone has secrets and everyone behaves badly. And often you don’t find out for a good long while, and then it’s thrown in your face and essentially your world is shattered. Those people who you loved are not the people you thought they were, those people who were your friends turn out not to really give a damn about your well being or feelings. They keep you around for other reasons, usually described as selfish. Perhaps rightly so.

I have to confess I don’t know how to get by in this world on this front. The life of an introvert or misanthrope can suck to high holy heaven because most of us need people as well, but we also can’t relate to them. And more to the point we have expectations of them, and they always fall short. Now that’s not an evil or even objectionable thing in moderation. No one is perfect and no one should be expected to be perfect. And, for me at least, I have no issue tolerating the occasional bad decision from people. Late for the movie? Big deal. Said the wrong thing to the wrong person which caused me some annoyance or even heart ache? It happens. Hell, I’ve done such things. They’re little, and not worth stressing over. However, when you don’t stress over those things, I feel it might send a message of anything goes.

People always tend to have this reaction to me for some reason I can’t understand. I can and do forgive almost anything, so long as it’s acknowledged as a bad decision on their part, but there’s some things that I can’t. And when a person crosses one of those lines I damn well let them know it, to the point of cutting them off and keeping them out of my life completely when I think it’s appropriate. And people never seem to get this, I’m always the bad guy. Even when it comes to women who have cheated on me in the past. That’s one of those things I just will not have in my life. I have no problem with ex girlfriends fucking away. I’m friends with most of them. But we broke things off before we both went on our separate ways, sexually. That’s the right thing to do. It’s also, to my mind, right to completely shut people out when they perpetually hurt you. Why should you have to tolerate that in your life? And while I can understand why the person doing the hurting thinks you’re an asshole, because they want to keep taking from you but not reciprocate, I can’t understand why so many people are so forgiving about such things.

When someone makes a decision to do something that they know will hurt you, and badly, well over 99% of the time they’re well aware of that potential harm, and if they do it anyway how does that not mean they don’t care? That is what it means, and when the consequences role around they just don’t want to deal. So many people in this world think it’s their right to just blunder through life doing as they please without regard to other people and their feelings, and that they should never have to shoulder the consequences of their actions. Some people are exceptionally good at bullshitting their way out of consequences.

The sad truth is, the world is filled with such people. They are in fact the majority as far as I can see. They lack a level of self awareness that so few have. I like to think I’m in that few, because I think about what I’m going to do before I do it. I consider the potential consequences and don’t act if I’m not ready to bear them. It makes living with your own decisions a lot easier, but it makes understanding the decisions of others incredibly hard, and exceptionally painful at times. Add to that the fact that even the rational among us are subjective, and inherently irrational beings, and things really start to dissolve.

I’m in one of these situations now, and it fucking sucks and hurts. I may lose friends over it, and since I never have that many it means I’ll be truly alone once more and I don’t want that. But, the other option is to be a doormat, which I know I can’t be. So in the end I guess this entry is a long winded way of saying life really fucking sucks sometimes.

Posted in Annoyances, I'm Right, Rare Honesty | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mylie Cyrus

Everyone seems to be all a’ twitter about this chick and her performance at the VMA. I didn’t hear about it until yesterday. Seems it’s one of those pop culture things that easily escapes me because I just don’t watch that shit. So I went to YouTube and watched it, the only videos available are the ones shot from hand cams, probably cell phones, because it seems most of the official ones have been caught by the bots or the copyright Nazis. I guess I could comment on it a bit.

Doesn’t bother me much. She’s a young girl and she wants to be sexy, and she’s had a goody two shoes image for so long that she wants to ditch. So what? Kids grow up and they fuck. Part of the reaction is our country is so hung up with sexual issues that they can’t fathom the idea of a ‘good girl’ being interested in dick and her own pussy. So on that level it doesn’t bother me one bit. She’s just growing up and trying to be sexy and raunchy.

However, she ain’t that good at it. That’s the only bit that bothers me, and it’s more disappointment. But then again it is her first shot at the apple. When she was sticking tongue out and doing her other ridiculous gyrations, she just looked like she was trying too hard and, at base, doesn’t know how to be sexy or raunchy. It wasn’t shocking, it wasn’t a turn on either. It was blatant and in your face, and I guess that works for some people, but for me sexy is more subtle. It’ll be interesting to see if she develops this line into something that’s truly a turn on for people like me, or if she just sticks with the lead pipe method.

The only other thing that bothered me is she looked way too skinny. I like holding women to the same standard as men, because supposedly that’s what they want and since many actually don’t, it pisses them off a bit when it’s done. But when it comes to body image women do have it tougher than men. Men do get lured into the Adonis complex but women are subjected to much more shit on this issue, and this girl is just adding to that problem in her own way. When she was younger she looked much healthier, she lost way too much weight and looks like a damn skeleton now.

I’d love it if there were more variation in body types for women in the media, is really all it comes down to. Two of the most beautiful women I know are two totally different body types. One is a short, curvy, sexy as hell brunette. The other is a tall, slender blonde. But looks and sexy are all about health, not about a particular weight. One great example is Christina Ricci. when she got into her late teens and did a few under ground movies she was insanely hot. Curve to the maximum, with a pretty heart shaped face. Then she got all anorexic and skinny and her curves, which were damn near perfect, just diminished. She doesn’t look healthy now. An opposite example is Emma Watson. She looks like a naturally thin chick and she looks damn good. The shots I’ve seen of her from The Bling Ring, which I haven’t seen myself in its entirety, show what looks like a healthy skinny chick with proportions right for her. Body type is all about what’s healthy and right for you, and Mylie is going too far to the anorexic side of things now, maybe too far even for her own safety. How the hell does anyone maintain that kind of physique for extended periods of time without health consequences? Beats me.

So I think people are up in arms about nothing, and also for the wrong reasons for the most part. A few people have mentioned she looked too skinny. I haven’t heard anyone comment on how unsexy the show was. She should have come out more subtle rather than trying to get her whore on. I hope it isn’t too damaging to her career. I guess we’ll see. If anything I hope the backlash helps some young girls and women understand that frighteningly skinny is not sexy, and to concentrate more on health as opposed to hitting a specific body weight.

Posted in Annoyances, Movie Review, Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment