Monthly ArchiveJuly 2002

Uncategorized 24 Jul 2002 10:34 am

Interview Puzzles


Uncategorized 23 Jul 2002 03:28 am

Trying to make things happen

Reading through Hayakawa’s Semantics, I came across a section on directive language, and in particular there is a section on the use of directive language called “The Foundations of Society” p.68.

The thesis is that a “society is a vast network of mutual agreements.” These agreements are “essentially statements about future events, which we of our own efforts, are supposed to bring about.”

I agree, and have spent some time thinking about what that means. It makes you think about what our social contracts really mean, and what a promise means. The next paragraph in the text goes exactly to where my thought goes from this line of thinking:

Therefore, in order that we shall continue to exist as human beings, we must impose patterns of behavior on each other. We must make citizens conform to social and civic customs; we must make spouses faithful, soldiers courageous, judges just, priests pious, and teachers solicitous for the welfare of their pupils.

At what point does the “convention” approach fail? It obviously can fail. America was founded on the ashes of a failed set of conventions – the charters to populate the new world from King George III. It fails when it is too taxing on the participants. If this is not a failsafe means of ensuring the continuation of the species, what else can we do to continue to exist as human beings?

One other means of preservation, an opposite of imposed convention, is adaptation. The ability to recognize a system that is not advancing our causes and to modify it or trash it completely so that we can attempt to move forward again. Experimentation, tweaking, or outright revolt means that there will be failures though. How much failure can the species afford?

In trying to reconcile these contrasting approaches we realize that if we do not adapt we will perish and if we do not have conventions then we will perish. Therefore, mutual agreements about how our mutual agreements might change are in order. As a society, we do have conventions for adaptation. These conventions make change happen really slowly. This is a good thing usually, because it prevents the whims of popular opinion or the politicized issue of the day from sending us careening off course. If we are required to persevere through great tests to make changes then hopefully only worthwhile ideas will survive. This creates day-to-day stability in an entity, such as a government, whose lifetime is measured in centuries. The timescale can be frustrating, but it is important.

There is another form of organization, the corporation, that is subject to a lot of the same forces, except on a smaller scale and a quicker timeline. Most corporations, and I am thinking of one in particular, do not seem to have it so sorted out.
This is the paragraph where I want to write an eloquent rant about stupid people in stupid corporations doing stupid things that violate the common-sense line between convention and adaptation. I will have to get back to it as I am generally still too annoyed with said people in said corporation and said things done to speak politely about how they might change for the good. Arghhh!

Uncategorized 23 Jul 2002 01:00 am

the Recording industry from the inside

Janis Ian does a great job expressing the hypocrisy of the music industry when it says that it is protecting the artist by lobbying to outlaw music downloading on the Internet. It seems there is no end to the greed and lies that people already in a position of power will use to stay there.

Uncategorized 16 Jul 2002 02:02 am

The Supplicants

The Supplicants are a local band I found on Wire on Fire. Looks like they would be enjoyable to go see. And they are playing in SF in August and September at the SF Jazz

Uncategorized 15 Jul 2002 05:45 am

Why can’t I sleep?

Jenny Jones, on the Perils of Theory

Uncategorized 15 Jul 2002 05:22 am



The description of this on the bottom of the packaging is very funny.

The Japanese have got to have been around for a long time. There’s just no way around it.

No I have to make meary stickers since you can’t order them in the U.S.

Uncategorized 15 Jul 2002 03:42 am

Oh! they just don’t know what they’re doing! | Chief financial officers
posits a theory that the reason companies have been falling over like flies because of accounting problems is because the Chief Fanancial Officer (the top of the accountancy) no longer knows anything about accounting. Interesting.

It does seem that the jobs of a CEO and a CFO could be at odds. Well … if the CEO is a lying thief. There is a fine line in business decision making. It seems many companies are failing to distinguish the line or to decide correctly on which side to stay. One side of the line is optimism and stick-to-it-ive-ness. The CEO on this side says, “The venture is likely to succeed based on the available data, or there are ethical things we can do to make it likely that we are going to succeed. If it cannot succeed it is not a venture worth pursuing.” The other side of the line is either ineptitude or thievery. The CEO on that side says, “The venture is doing fine.” When it is actually failing. Or the CEO says, “There are several things we can do, not ethical, but they will give us room to move before it comes to light, and then perhaps we can just hide it.”

As someone who was a CEO of a small venture, it is very hard to decide when to call it quits. It is especially hard if it looks like there is more business just beyond the next hurdle. You have to rely on the financial position of your company more than anything else to guide you. As a privately held company, if you run out of cash, you are dead-in-the-water. That is how it should work. If it fails, it is because the venture did not have what it needed to succeed. Even if that was an extra little bit of cash to finish the process of stabilising, it wasn’t there, so the venture was done.

That seems ethical and reasonable to me. It sucks sometimes, but that’s the way it goes. You learn, you fight again another day.

It seems the ethically challenged end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then they fail. Public companies are around a lot of potentially available money (investors). If they’re in a bad spot and they lie, they could get that money. If they’re in a bad spot and they don’t get the money, they’re fired. The perception seems to be that in the business world, any number of other CEOs would lie and get the money. So, the ethical standard is set. If CEO’s would stand up and refuse to lie, then those who choose to cheat would be the outlyers.

I guess it’s my turn to be naive 🙂

Uncategorized 15 Jul 2002 03:15 am

What she said

Aposiopesis: Maybe I’m just too idealistic….
talks about Clinton bashing, logical fallacies and corporate thievery. I agree with the analysis.

Uncategorized 07 Jul 2002 03:19 pm


Milestones in the Annals of Junkmail

Uncategorized 03 Jul 2002 12:21 pm

Understanding advertising

Taxonomy of Logical Fallacies or how I learned to understand my boss 🙂

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