Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   trees in Asia
Wednesday, February 13 2002
I've been using my computer intensively for the past few days, and have a couple observations:

  • It would be nice if the Windows Add/Remove Programs control panel featured links to run (or provide useful information about) every application installed. That way I could periodically go through the list and nuke things I either don't use or don't love, including scumware like SaveNow and FlashTrack.
  • What the fuck was BearShare doing with 97% of my CPU power? It felt like I was running a 486 all yesterday and this morning. Mind you, I've never successfully downloaded anything using that program. Delete.

This morning, a guy rang the buzzer and announced (in a British accent, no less) that he was from a tree surgery company contracted to the Federal Government. He said he wanted to look at a maple tree in my backyard to see if it was under attack from the dreaded Asian Long-Horned Beetle. "Right," I thought, "He's from the FBI." But when I went to meet him at the door, I found two guys all decked out in hard hats and reflective vests. They weren't flashing any badges and they looked official enough, so I let them through to the back. It turned out that the maple tree was actually in the adjacent yard and they couldn't inspect it. But they did take the time to explain the Asian Long-Horned Beetle crisis. Evidently these insects came in with some wooden pallets from Asia (home of the Axis of Evil) and have since fanned out to Central Park and possibly Brooklyn. They mostly attack maples and ashes and "we stand to lose 20-40 percent of our trees if their spread continues." I used to think that all the possible Eurasian forest blights had already reached America: Gypsy Moth, Chestnut Blight, Dutch Elm Disease, etc. Evidently, though, even at this late stage of global trade, there are still exotic insects and diseases that pose a potential threat to genetically unprepared American trees. I wonder if there are any American blights that similarly affect Asian trees. Do they still have trees in Asia?

I like to write reviews of reviews; that way I don't have to read so much.

There was an interesting article in Salon about a new corporate strategy book called Survival is not Enough, which supposedly presents Darwinian arguments for its key business management theses. Amusingly, though, the book also demonstrates a shockingly shallow reading of Darwinian biology. It counsels companies, for example, to undertake massive risks, and it advocates setting up a system promoting competition among the employees. If Darwinian evolution were anything remotely similar to the way it's presented in Survival is not Enough, an animal would, in the course of its life, constantly be sprouting horns, wings and feathers in frantic pursuit of self-renewal even as the individual cells of its body struggled against each other to be judged "more productive."
Truth be known, of course, Darwinism is a particularly poor framework for providing advice or predicting the future. Darwinism explains why things are the way they are (the best-adapted survived), but it doesn't pretend to predict what the best survival strategy will be in the future. Worse yet, a fundamental tenet of Darwinism is that individual organisms (or, for that matter, corporations) do not adapt much to change in the course of a lifetime. Darwinian change comes not when individuals adapt (that would be Lamarckian evolution), but when losers die out.
In the Salon article, we're shown the fallacy of Survival is not Enough by the most infamous follower of its principles: Enron. At Enron, we learn, the relative productivity of all employees was regularly appraised and the "least productive" fired. Such a culture led, inevitably, to a cut-throat office environment where employees supposedly had to lock their desks at night for fear of having their work sabotaged.
Enron's system encouraging employee competition struck me as oddly familiar. It reminded me of RAM, the management system my erstwhile employer,, pioneered from the Summer of 1999 until it ran out of money in the Spring of 2000. I still remember the surreal culmination of RAM, the day when all of our relative performance scores were posted for all to see. The looks on the faces of the failed E-commerce team will haunt me to my grave.
Ah, suddenly now I'm having such a flood of memories about RAM! Back in the go-go days of the dotcom boom, when the sky was no limit and everyone was going to be the next Bill Gates, RAM was Eric Berman's little baby. For some sick reason, I always liked that guy, but I'm sure there are still former CollegeClub employees out there who would like nothing better than to come across Eric Berman in a dark alleyway.

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