Category Archives: ideas

This may just be the stupidest defense of Amazon’s workplace practices

This piece may be the stupidest defence of Amazon’s workplace practices: Replace Just 2 Words in the New York Times Amazon Article and Something Amazing Happens |

Amazon employees are not entrepreneurs. There is nothing in the article that gives any inkling that they are. If anything, they have all the downside of being an entrepreneurs with little if any of the upside.  If someone can point out an article showing how Amazon consistently rewards employees as if they are true entrepreneurs, I’d love to read it.

There’s nothing wrong with being an entrepreneur. In fact, for some people, being an entrepreneur is the best type of work there is. Everything about it appeals to them, and working for a large corporation would kill them.

The Amazon employees are not entrepreneurs.  If you want to be an entrepreneur, be one. Don’t try to be one working at a large corporation. That is antithetical to what being an entrepreneur is.

Forget self driving cars – the first big thing will be self driving trucks

While there is lots of discussion about self driving cars, it’s much more likely that self driving trucks will become standard and accepted first. Here are two stories that support that. First this: How Canada’s oilsands are paving the way for driverless trucks — and the threat of big layoffs. Second, over at Vox, is:  This is the first licensed self-driving truck. There will be many more. Key quote from Vox:

Last night at the Hoover Dam, the Freightliner company unveiled its Inspiration Truck: the first semi-autonomous truck to get a license to operate on public roads.

The Inspiration is now licensed to drive autonomously on highways in Nevada. It works a bit like a plane’s autopilot system: a driver will get the rig on the highway, and can take control at any time once it’s there. But the truck will be able to drive itself at high speeds, using cameras to make sure it stays within its lane and doesn’t get too close to the vehicle in front of it.

Self driving trucks are already up and operational. Additionally, the business case and the hurdles to overcome with self driving trucks will be easier to achieve than that of self driving cars in urban areas. Sooner than you think, you will commonly see self driving trucks on highways, especially during the hours when most highways are 80-90% trucks.

Transportation is changing. Self driving trucks are going to be leading that change. Self driving cars will be a distant second.


ICYMI: What is code, by Paul Ford

Happy Monday! Are you affected by code at work? Of course you are! Do you code at work yourself? Very likely, even if it is to use formulae in a spreadsheet program like Excel (which, years ago, would have required been considered coding). However code affects you, I highly recommend you read this:
Code. It’s a very rich piece on code (i.e. software) and what it means to you (and everyone else).

Among other things, it is brilliantly designed. Lots of hard work went into this piece. If you can’t get started yet this week at work, read this as a research project.

Personal drones are getting smaller and cheaper. What that leads to.

As you can see, this new drone (Micro Drone 3.0: Flight in the Palm of Your Hand,  Indiegogo) is really small. Also relatively cheap. Like other IT, I expect personal drones will only get smaller and cheaper. The only limit will likely be how big they have to be in order not to get blown away.

I have heard people come up with innovative ways of using personal drones. For example, some home inspectors are using them to check out hard to reach parts of people’s house in order to see if they are in good shape or not. That’s great.

But there are going to be lots of other ways that people use them which may not be so desirable. The most obvious one is invading people’s privacy. It is one thing to inspect a house when no one is in it: it’s another to do so when someone lives there. Instead of prank phone calls, we’ll have prank drone visits.

How people protect their rights in such cases will be difficult. Drones will raise a number of legal questions. For example, what is your recourse if someone has a drone follow you around? Or if someone has a drone hovering in a public place outside your home? Can you fly a drone above an outdoor concert so you can record it? Can you attack drones that fly into your personal airspace? Will there be security drones that keep other drones off people’s property? If you post a video of a drone visit to a property on YouTube and someone uses that video to help them rob that property, are you an accomplice?

There has been some good work on drones being done by government agencies like Transport Canada, but I think the technology is going to challenge governments and courts to keep up. Expect to see more and more debate on drones in the coming months and years.

As far as this particular drone, Mashable has more on it here.

Veganish: for bacon loving vegan wannabes, a possible option

You may want to become a vegetarian or vegan but you may also be reluctant to give up eating things like bacon or fish. If you are experiencing this dilemma, then this question might appeal to you:

“The most effective question we can ask is not how can we increase the amount of vegetarians and vegans,” he says, “but rather, how can we reduce the amount of meat consumed?”

If this appeals to you, then I recommend this article: Love Bacon AND Animals? ‘Reducetarianism’ May Be For You. Still interested? Then I also recommend this book by Mark Bittman: VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good.

My list of 59 thoughts on privilege

I read alot about privilege. Reading about it, I end up considering the privileges I have that arise from being an educated, white, middle-class man in an affluent part of the world with a high standard of living. The flip side to that is that I also consider the priviliges I did not have when I grew up, as well as the privileges I had and no longer have.  I tried to use that to write up a specific view point on privileges, but ended up with this list of thoughts on the topic instead. I have not come to any specific conclusion on the topic. If anything, the list points to the conclusion that I need to think further on the subject. That said, I think sharing the list is worthwhile.

Some people are interesting in certain aspects of privilege: white privilege, or male privilege, or the privileges of the 1%. I am interested in privilege in general, how it comes about, what effects it has, when is it good, when is it bad, and how to manage it in a way that leads to positive social action. That interest lead to this list.

With that all said, rather than sit on it any further, here’s my  list:

1. Privilege assumes a number of things.
2. It assumes that there are at least two distinct groups: the haves and the have nots.
3. It assumes that there is a social good that one group has a surfeit in and one group has a deficit in.
4. It assumes that the social good is recognized as such by both groups.
5. Privilege is about access and the ability to acquire or maintain that social good.
6. There many small social privileges that aren’t noteworthy (e.g. the privilege of belonging to a certain club).
7. Likewise, not all privileges are universally or generally desirable.
8. Some privileges are held by a small number of haves. Other privileges are held by a large number of haves.
9. Some privilege we earn. Some we get randomly. And some we get from belonging to a certain group by default.
10. Rights differ from privileges, for in theory rights are not a social good that one group should have more than another. (In practice, this may be incorrect, but in theory it is)
11. Some privileges are fairer than others.
12. Fairer privileges usually involve things in abundance.
13. Fairer privileges are either random or universally acquirable for most in a society.
14. Unfair privileges are never random: there is a recognizable pattern whereby one group is perceived to have more access than the other.
15. Fair privileges are assumed to be accessible by method agreeable to most of society. For example, to go to university can be considered a privilege, but it can be earned in a way agreeable and accessible to most.
16. Privileges that are most unfair usually involve scarce social goods or rules that are slanted to favor a particular group.
17. Economic wealth is rare privilege. Having a home is a common privilege. Even common privileges are still privileges.
18. Higher education used to be a rare privilege. Now it is a much more common privilege.
19. The right to vote used to be a rare privilege. Now it is a right.
20. Health is not a privilege, until heath care is involved. Then it becomes partially a privilege.
21. Many would like to have the privilege of being wealthy.
22. Many would like the privilege of working for specific companies, belonging to certain occupations. being members of certain organizations.
23. Everyone has privileges.
24. It is worthwhile to consider your own privileges.
25. If you are reading this, you have quite a number of privileges, starting with the technology you are using to access this post.
26. Technology is a tool, and the ability to access tools is a social good.
27. Challenges occur when there are statistical variables associated with privileges. A white man may have a 10% chance of acquiring a particular social good, compared to a 1% chance for everyone who is neither white nor male. From the point of view of the white man, a 1 in 10 chance may not seem much of a privilege. For everyone else, his chance of acquiring the social good is ten times great than theirs and this increased likelihood is a significant privilege.
28. Being aware of your privileges can help you appreciate what you have.
29. Being aware of your privileges can help you understand the grievances of others
30. Thinking you do not have privileges means you have not thought about it enough.
31. Renouncing your privilege doesn’t necessarily result in greater fairness, especially when there are large number of people involved.
32. For some social goods, especially when there are large number of people involved, it is easier to redistribute privileges so as to be fairer.
33. For other social goods, especially when there is only a few people involved, it is less likely to redistribute privileges so as to be fairer.
34. Even social goods that seem meritocratic are to a degree unfair.
35. Social goods that are meritocratic trend towards being less unfair than others, but still have a degree of unfairness to them.
36. Not everyone can have access to every social good.
37. Meritocratic systems are based on rules, and those rules exclude people from certain social goods from the beginning.
38. Social structures reinforce privileges. Friendships and families can reduce the chances of some having access to social goods.
39. Geography reinforces privileges. Being born into neighborhoods and communities with poor or no facilities can reduce access to social goods.
40. Some privileges are more unfair than others. Privileges based on religion, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, body shape are just some of those.
41. Certain privileges we accept. Physical, emotional, and intellectual ability generally are accepted as fair, even though these are not common when the ability is very high or very low.
42. Certain privileges we used to accept we no longer do. It is less acceptable to build publicly accessible environments that cannot be accessed by people who need wheelchairs.
43. As peoples lower needs (as laid out by Maslow) are met, privileges arise in the higher needs.
44. Everyone has access to certain privileges and are barred from having other privileges.
45. Individuals and societies give some privileges higher values than others. This weighting of privileges shifts all the time.
46. Some privileges become undesirable over time. Other privileges become common. Having electric lighting was once a privilege. Now it is so common as to be no longer seen that way.
47. Some technologists believe it is possible to make all social goods abundant so as reduce priviliege.
48. Some privileges may remain privileges because the social benefits outweighs the social cost.
49. Other privileges need to be tackled and dismantled if a society is to consider itself fair and just.
50. One way to dismantle a privilege is to make access more common.
51. Making it more common is possible if a social good is not scarce.
52. If a social good is scarce, then one way to tackle the privilege is to make access to it random.
53. Another way to deal with a scarce social good is to make the criteria for accessing it fairer.
54. The challenge of fairness is judgment.
55. The other challenge of dismantling privilege is the desire of privileged groups to maintain their privilege.
56. The challenge of dealing with privilege is agreeing if fairness consists of access to opportunity or access to outcomes.
57. In achieving certain privileges, I may trade off other privileges.
58. When individuals within a group are encouraged or forced to trade off certain privileges, they may not be able to reacquire them, as others may not want to release their access.
59. Ideally a society can produce such a wealth of social goods that any tradeoffs individuals or groups make, they still feel overall good with their choices and that the society they live in is a good one.

Is life a toy or a game?

Intrigued by the question? Then you will like this article: Life is a Toy, Not a Game | Ian Welsh. Well worth a read.