Category Archives: Business

Against Editors

A writer’s rant:

Here is the traditional career track for someone employed in journalism: first, you are a writer. If you hang on, and don’t wash out, and manage not to get laid off, and don’t alienate too many people, at some point you will be promoted to an editor position. It is really a two-step career journey, in the writing world. Writing, then editing. You don’t have to accept a promotion to an editing position of course. You don’t have to send your kids to college and pay a mortgage, necessarily. If you want to get regular promotions and raises, you will, for the most part, accept the fact that your path takes you away from writing and into editing, in some form. The number of pure writing positions that offer salaries as high as top editing positions is vanishingly small. Most well-paid writers are celebrities in the writing world. That is how few of them there are.

Here is the problem with this career path: writing and editing are two completely different skills. There are good writers who are terrible editors. (Indeed, some of the worst editors are good writers!) There are good editors who lack the creativity and antisocial personality disorders that would make them great writers. This is okay. This is natural. It is thoroughly unremarkable for an industry to have different positions that require different skill sets. The problem in the writing world is that, in order to move up, the writer must stop doing what he did well in the first place and transition into an editing job that he may or may not have any aptitude for.

Engineering has a similar problem, in that if you want to advance, you often have to go into management, even though a lot of good engineers are terrible managers.

Commercial Crew

Greg Autry has a good overview of the current state of play:

All three commercial efforts should be funded. However, if the program must be reduced, it should be noted that both SpaceX and SNC are committed to pursuing a private market in space regardless of NASA support. Boeing’s panel representative expressed a lack of interest in continuing without government funding and in a cynical attempt to prod Congress the firm publicly announced looming layoffs. Professional investors only bet on teams that truly believe in their future returns and never on firms for which outside investment is the only goal. NASA must begin to think like an investor in America’s future.

Good luck with that.

The Lure Of A Real Space Program

A long (I haven’t read the whole thing yet) article on SpaceX and other private companies versus NASA in terms of its appeal to employees:

SpaceX inspired Hoffman to reimagine a career with opportunities to work on her engineering projects even if the technicians were busy and not have it considered diverting work from contract labor. If she chose to work long hours at a commercial company, she wouldn’t be “punished for being an overachiever.” If she spent months on a project, she could be assured it would get launched into space.

For Hoffman, having her projects go unfinished at NASA may have been the personal foul that tipped her toward private industry, but she also suspected her own engineering frustrations were only the surface byproduct of more institutionalized problems. NASA’s financial insecurity, its lack of administrative direction and its bureaucracy had worn on her confidence in its future.

As the author notes, today’s NASA isn’t capable of doing what the 1960s NASA could.

[Update a few minutes later]

Ah, here it is:

“You can take safety overboard,” Leonce said. “I’ve sat in many meetings where we’re just arguing over the simplest things. It just becomes borderline ridiculous. I don’t think we could have ever gotten to the moon if the culture that now exists at NASA existed in the ’60s.”

Leonce said he understands the older generation’s anxieties considering they’ve worked through the deadly Challenger and Columbia disasters. Yet private launch companies will be more attractive for engineers fresh out of school, he said, because that culture of risk aversion is “a death in itself.”

Yes.

I would note that one of the reasons I left Rockwell over two decades ago was that in my decade and a half in the industry, virtually nothing that I worked on ever came to fruition (and many of the things I had to work on never should have). I also think that Bonnie Dunbar is deluding herself.

Reagan Versus Obama

Comparing the economic legacies.

It’s not really fair, though. One president knew how to allow the economy to create wealth. The other only knows about, and cares about, redistributing it.

[Friday-morning update]

Post recession, one third of Americans think they’re worse off.

Pretty sure the polling wouldn’t have indicated that in 1986. Of course, the Obama defenders will say that those deluded people have false consciousness.

[Bumped]

Millennials And Workforce Participation

Remember when Bill Clinton lied his way into office in 1992, claiming that it was the “worst economy in fifty years” when in fact it hadn’t been that bad and the recession had actually ended? Well, it really really is the worst economy in seventy years now, and it’s due to the kind of government interference in the economy and war on business that caused it the last time, in the Roosevelt administration:

It seems rather perplexing that the Los Angeles Times could try to creatively rename unemployed millennials trying to survive by working a bunch of “off-the-books jobs for cash to survive as ‘freelancing’”. But the simple facts are that businesses have adapted to the Obama Administration’s taxes, regulations, and the “Affordable Care Act.” Add the burden of Governor Brown’s tax increase to the highest level in the nation, and California millennials are rewarded, according to the Times, with “16.2% of Californians — or about 6.2 million — were either jobless, too discouraged to seek work, working less than they’d like, or in off-the-books jobs.”

It’s not actually perplexing at all, of course.

[Update a few minutes later]

Three quarters of Americans
think that their childrens’ lives will be worse than theirs.

They will, if we don’t get a huge change in direction, back to the Republic and liberty.

[Update a few more minutes later]

From apathy to dependence:

Tyler went on to suggest that democracies tended to go through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.

It’s ironic that it was Joe Biden who said that it was the Republicans who “wanted to put y’all back in chains.”

[Update a while later]

First link was wrong. Fixed now.

[Update a couple minutes later]

A glimmer of hope from the generation that has been the most abused by these little tyrants:

“An overwhelming majority of these Millennial-aged voters actually think government aid does more harm than good, that the government is at its max when it comes to helping the poor, and – get this – that people on the government dole have it way too easy.”

Being underemployed and underpaid while having to support people who don’t work at all will have that effect.

Leftist Wonks

How Halbig demonstrates that they’re not very good at their jobs:

For a movement that so prides itself on being the vanguard of wonky wonkery on wonkiness, Cohn’s admissions are rather stunning. It’s one thing to believe event X is more likely than event Y, but to write off event Y as unimaginable? To ignore entirely a specific provision of law that says event Y is eminently possible? That’s a special kind of wonkery right there.

“But his 2010 comments didn’t really address the subsidy issue that was central to Halbig,” you might say, “so what’s your point?” That’s a fair question, and I don’t mean to pick on Cohn, who has regularly contributed very helpful information for many years now.

His remarks are important, though, because they reveal the massive gap between what self-styled progressives wonks think they know and what they actually know. That gap becomes increasingly relevant when these same wonks claim that their unparalleled coverage of the bill in 2009 and 2010 magically grants them intimate knowledge of not just the bill’s text, but also the innermost thoughts of the bill’s authors and supporters.

It’s not the only example, but it’s more glaring than most.

Robert Redford And Cate Blanchett

Do you really want to make a movie in which you unwittingly depict people who are fools?

…let me put my own cards on the table: I voted for Bush in 2004. If I were a character in Mapes’s book, this would mean you should ignore me, because she repeatedly disqualifies statements that hurt her case by pointing out that the person speaking is a Republican or a Bush supporter. However, I should note that I also supported Al Gore in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008, and I do not view either liberals or conservatives as presumptive liars.

Nor do I view Mapes as a presumptive liar. That would require implausible levels of evil and stupidity: evil, because she’d be trying to alter an election result with a massive lie; stupid, because the odds of getting away with such a scheme are vanishingly small. We’re talking a supervillain-who-leaves-hero-in-a-remote-quarry-to-be-devoured-by-carnivorous-GMO-squirrels level of evil and stupid. Too evil and stupid to get as far as Mapes did in the cutthroat world of television production.

I do think she made a very bad mistake, which could have been averted had she been more skeptical about the documents she received from Bill Burkett, a disgruntled National Guard retiree who reportedly had it in for Bush. I think that she has become unable to recognize that mistake, for the same reasons that we all cling to our own self-serving narratives rather than admit that we have screwed up. After reading through all the contemporary reports, the report from CBS’s independent panel and Mapes’s book, I think Mapes fell prey to the journalist’s two worst enemies: confirmation bias and motivated cognition.

There is no way to make this flick without it being either truthful (in which case they won’t want to do it) or embarrassing:

Well, some of them (unlike you, apparently) were smart enough to call the fax number on the memo, and determine that it came from a Kinko’s in Texas. And though there was in fact analysis of what the documents actually said, which also helped torpedo them, it was in fact enough, Mary. It’s hard (perhaps impossible) to prove that a document is authentic, but it only takes one solid strike against its validity to show it to be inauthentic. And the fact that you still don’t understand that, or understand basic logic at all, is why you are now out of a job, and should never have had that job to begin with.

Ah, the best and the brightest.

The Latest Take-Down Of Piketty

It’s long, and too much there to pick out a quote, but worth the read.

As I’ve noted before, Marxism is not a discipline, or even an ideology, really. It’s an attitude founded in envy and a grasping for power. Simply put, if you believe your judgment of someone else’s need to be superior to their own, and are willing to enforce it at the point of a gun, you are a Marxist. And that attitude describes a large majority of Democrats, and far too many Republicans.

The List Of ObamaCare Disasters

Add fraud:

It sounds like the systems that are supposed to check identity, immigration status and income simply aren’t working at all; the system just assumes that you are who you say you are.

Gosh, it’s almost like they don’t care.

Of course, I’m not sure that “add” is the right word. The whole thing has always been pretty much fraud all the way down.

Infinity Aerospace

Announcing tools to utilize ISS. Ardulab, is an Arduino modified with features to work on the station. Developed with NASA and Nanoracks. Enabled an 8th-grade class to do a plant-growth experiment for different light conditions in space, ready to fly. Takes up only ten percent of allowed volume, leaving remainder for experiments. Completely open source, hardware and software. Will be opening web site right after talk today.

Jurvetson

Need competition in space industry, and known prices, to allow non-insiders to enter and put together business plans. #NewSpaceCon

Citing Arthur Clarke’s suggestion that vehicles need to be reusable fo make space affordable, from 45 years ago as Apollo 11 went to the moon.

Skeptics in the industry have scoffed at SpaceX goal of retroburning, entering, flying back to site and reflying. Both attempts would have been fine if they’d been on land, instead of in the ocean. Most amazing things was that it worked the first time, demonstrating the power of modern simulations.

When you start with a founding vision so far beyond the industry you have to invent a lot of new things (e.g., vertical landing on a planet, manufacturing propellant on another planet). Challenge is to see what is necessary to achieve vision, but come up with intermediate solutions that generate revenue. If you’re an incumbent not being disrupted, you’ll just incrementally improve, not go after revolutionary solution.

[Update a few minutes later]

For other info on the talk, follow @jeff_foust.