Tag: Culture

A Question for My Older Brother

When I describe East Coast vs West Coast culture to my friends I often say “The East Coast is kind but not nice, the West Coast is nice but not kind,” and East Coasters immediately get it. West Coasters get mad. 😂😂😂

— Jordan Green (@jordonaut) January 21, 2021

Niceness is saying “I’m so sorry you’re cold,” while kindness may be “Ugh, you’ve said that five times, here’s a sweater!” Kindness is addressing the need, regardless of tone.

— Jordan Green (@jordonaut) January 21, 2021

Do you find this characterization, that “The East Coast is kind but not nice, the West Coast is nice but not kind,” to be accurate?

I do know that you have been less than enamored of the culture of the West Coast at times.

It’s a Variant of a Russian Joke

During the 1990s, when Boris Yeltsin was presiding over the rape of Russia by finance types, there was a joke going around:

Everything that they said about Communism was a LIE.

Unfortunately, everything that they said about Capitalism was the Truth.

Donald Trump hews fairly close to this.

Everything he said about himself was a lie, but much of what he said about the US elites was the truth, and this review of the book The Tyranny of Merit, provides an interesting primer on this idea.

The thesis of this book is that the “Meritocracy” sees itself as important, when it is really self-important, and that it is pervasively corrupt, where the efforts to benefit themselves are hypocritically sold as benefiting society as a whole:

In examining the 2016 populist revolt that gave rise to Donald Trump and Brexit, most observers have focused on two explanations. Some say the uprising was driven by economic dislocation: Voters were angry about rising inequality and felt they were losing out because of trade. Others argue that anger with the establishment stemmed from racist discomfort with immigration, demographic change, and growing religious diversity.

In his new book, the Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel focuses on a third factor: elite smugness and self-dealing. To Sandel, 2016 represented a rebellion of voters lacking a college degree against a governing class that believes that its credentials, wealth, and power are the products of its merit. These leaders, Sandel argues, have condescended to blue-collar workers, “eroded the dignity of work and left many feeling disrespected and disempowered.”

Sandel focuses primarily on the left. For three decades, he writes, leading Democrats—including Bill Clinton (Yale Law ’73), Hillary Clinton (Yale Law ’73), and Barack Obama (Harvard Law ’91)—embodied personally, and touted rhetorically, a brand of meritocracy hopelessly oblivious to what he calls the “tyranny of merit.” Sometimes, this is implicit, as when Pete Buttigieg flexes on his ability to speak eight languages and his experience as a Rhodes Scholar. Other times, it’s explicit. Speaking in Mumbai in 2018, Hillary Clinton bragged that she “won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product”—that is, the places that had been successful in the era of globalization. This, Sandel writes, “displayed the meritocratic hubris that contributed to her defeat.” The Democratic Party “once stood for farmers and working people against the privileged. Now, in a meritocratic age, its defeated standard bearer boasted that the prosperous, enlightened parts of the country had voted for her.”


But Sandel is right to probe the dark things that can come from embracing meritocracy. Liberals have been overemphasizing their credentials and the economic success of their cosmopolitan metropolises. In doing so, they’ve forgotten that these markers are not good indicators of worth. The ability to obtain post-secondary degrees, particularly from elite institutions, is at least as much a reflection of one’s class and race as it is of one’s deservedness. The wealth and success of more liberal places has as much to do with an unequal system that allows existing wealth to concentrate as it does with the merit of those cities.


The term meritocracy, almost universally praised today, was coined in the 1950s by the British sociologist Michael Young to describe a dystopia. In contrast to an aristocracy, where people on top know they are just lucky and people on the bottom know they are merely unfortunate, in a meritocracy a small minority of winners feel enormous pride in their accomplishments and the majority feel humiliated by their low position. Young’s book predicted a revolt against meritocratic elites in 2034. “In 2016, as Britain voted for Brexit and America for Trump, that revolt arrived eighteen years ahead of schedule,” Sandel writes.


As a result, embracing meritocracy too tightly can be politically disastrous. In 2016, some working-class people were left with “the galling sense that those who stood astride the hierarchy of merit looked down with disdain on those they considered less accomplished than themselves.” The disdain was made explicit in 2016 when Hillary Clinton, speaking at fund-raisers in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard, labeled millions of working-class Americans as “deplorables.”


Trump brilliantly exploited the idea that well-educated progressives looked down on those with less education (and, sometimes relatedly, those who are deeply religious). He rarely spoke of opportunity and upward mobility. A candidate “keenly alive to the politics of humiliation,” Sandel says, Trump feigned respect for working-class people. “l love the poorly educated,” Trump famously said after one primary victory. The gambit worked. Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly won college-educated voters, but Trump won voters without a college degree—a larger share of the electorate—by seven percentage points.

Liberals, of course, tend to have policies that are far more helpful to those without college educations than do conservatives. But Democratic governments stacked with well-educated elites have little real understanding of working-class struggles, and, just like Republicans, they can cause problems for the poor. For example, the mostly Ivy League status of Obama’s cabinet helped inform “a Wall Street–friendly response to the financial crisis,” Sandel writes, one that failed to comprehend “seething public anger.” Instead, the too-big-to-jail philosophy seemed to exonerate well-educated Wall Street bankers who engaged in selfish behavior that did grave damage to the country. Timothy Geithner and Rahm Emanuel were happier to bail out financial executives—who shared their pedigrees (and in some cases their former jobs)—than they were to rescue average Americans. In other words, a belief that wealth and education equal merit helped lead to stunning inequality.

From this review, and the policy prescriptions in the book, it seems to me that they have missed the point:  Many of the problems of “Meritocracy” do not come from a disdain for those less educated, though this is clearly a problem, much of it comes from the replacement of actual merit with credentialism.

There is no reasons that jobs which a decade ago required nothing beyond a high-school diploma a generation (or 2) ago now require a college degree, and possibly a post graduate degree.

Teachers entering schools in the 1950s needed an associated degree in education, or a bachelors in some other subject, while now all teachers need a masters degree in education.

Unfortunately there has been a whole infrastructure of credentialed people doing the bullsh%$ job of creating credentials, verifying credentials, and ranking credentials for other people.

Interestingly enough it is not the US that has the most extremely credentialed society on earth, it is likely India, where credentials, they call it caste there, completely permeate their society.

Review: Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn

Kaley Cuoco … Harley Quinn
Lake Bell … Poison Ivy
Ron Funches … King Shark
Tony Hale … Doctor Psycho, Felix Faust
Jason Alexander … Sy Borgman
J. B. Smoove … Frank the Plant
Alan Tudyk … the Joker, Clayface, Calendar Man, Doctor Trap, Condiment King
Charlie Adler … Nick Quinzel, Grandpa Quinzel
James Adomian … Bane, Chaz, Ian, Ratcatcher
Diedrich Bader … Batman
Tisha Campbell-Martin … Tawny Young, M.O.N.I.C.A.
Briana Cuoco … Barbara Gordon
Andy Daly … Two-Face
Chris Diamantopoulos … Aquaman
Rachel Dratch … Nora Fries
Giancarlo Esposito … Lex Luthor
Susie Essman … Sharon Quinzel, Grandma Quinzel
Sean Giambrone … Joshua Cobblepot
Meryl Hathaway … Marcus
Tom Hollander … Alfred Pennyworth
Michael Ironside … Darkseid
Tom Kenny … Clayface’s Hand
Wayne Knight … the Penguin
Rahul Kohli … the Scarecrow
Phil LaMarr … Jason Praxis, Black Manta, Lucius Fox, Brian
Sanaa Lathan … Catwoman
George Lopez … Himself
Howie Mandel … Himself
Vanessa Marshall … Wonder Woman, Giganta, Joey Day
Christopher Meloni … Commissioner James Gordon
Alfred Molina … Mr. Freeze
Natalie Morales … Lois Lane
Brad Morris … Victor Zsasz
Frankie Muniz … Himself
Matt Oberg … Kite Man, Killer Croc, KGBeast
Rhea Perlman … Golda
Jim Rash … the Riddler, Stan, Mr. Isley
Will Sasso … Maxie Zeus
Rory Scovel … Gus
Nicole Sullivan … Mrs. Cobblepot, Benjamin
Wanda Sykes … Queen of Fables
Talia Tabin … Debbie Day
Jacob Tremblay … Damian Wayne / Robin
Mark Whitten … Herman Cizko / The Cowled Critic
James Wolk … Superman

Directors: Juan Meza-Leon, Matt Garofalo, Ben Jones, Frank Marino, Cecilia Aranovich Hamilton, Colin Heck, Colin Heck, Vinton Heuck, Brandon McKinney, Ben Jones

I will attempt to keep this this review as spoiler free as possible, but there will be a few inevitable spoilers, you have been warned.

This series is a telling of Harley Quinn’s transition from sidekick to super-villain after her split with Joker.

You can (at least until June 1) stream it online at Syfy.com, at least if you have a cable account. (see the link)

I have enjoyed what I have seen this far, I am very impressed.

Kaley Cuoco, who plays Harley, gives what her is arguably her finest performance to date.

She puts the “fun” in dysfunction, and plays Quinn as a whip smart and thoroughly broken ingenue.

The best performance though, is Lake Bell as Poison Ivy, who completely steals the show as the self-described eco-terrorists.

She is deeply devoted to Harley (I ship them so much), and she has a remarkably clear view of reality, except for the whole insane toxic pheromone criminal plant lady thing.

Ron Funches as King Shark is an truly amusing combination of techno nerd and ravenous prehistoric deep sea predator.

Alan Tudyk as Clayface (and  the Joker, Calendar Man, Doctor Trap, Condiment King) is a revelation. (He is a leaf on the wind, watch as he soars)

His, and the writers’ vision of Clayface as the ultimate theater dweeb overeager actor is truly inspired.

All of this is wrapped in witty, completely irreverent, and thoroughly profane (S-Bomb, and F-Bomb, though the (spoiler) C-Bomb is bleeped) plotting and dialogue.

There are some problematic bits in the scripts though, particularly the fact that they occasionally traffic in Jewish stereotypes, particularly during the (spoiler) Cobblepot bar-mitzvah, and the character of Sy Borgman, and (spoiler) Harley’s parents.  (Who knew that Quinzel was a Jewish name?)

This is a joyous roasting of super-hero culture, while also being a profoundly feminist narrative.

I recommend this highly, and rate it 8⅔ out of 10.

I’ve Heard about Getting Back on the Horse, but This Is Ridiculous

It appears that the Boeing’s failure to properly implement automation on the 737 MAX, to the tune of 346 dead passengers, has led the Seattle (Chicago) aviation giant double down on automation in its airliners.

It’s clear that Boeing has neither the skill set nor the corporate culture to properly implement flight control automation, but they want to get rid of the pilots.

To quote Nietzsche, “It is like the bite of a dog into a stone, it is a stupidity.”

Boeing Co. is increasingly committed to transferring more control of aircraft from pilots to computers after two crashes exposed flaws in an automated system on its 737 MAX that overpowered aviators in the disasters.

Executives at Boeing and other makers of planes and cockpit-automation systems for some time have believed more-sophisticated systems are necessary to serve as backstops for pilots, help them assimilate information and, in some cases, provide immediate responses to imminent hazards.

Now, such changes also seek to address the fact that average pilots may not react to problems—including those tied to automation—as quickly or proficiently as designers traditionally assumed, according to former and current Boeing officials and industry executives. The view took hold after a flight-control system known as MCAS put two MAX jets into fatal nosedives within the past 14 months that together killed 346 people. “We are going to have to ultimately almost—almost—make these planes fly on their own,” then Boeing Chairman Dave Calhoun said in a CNBC interview in November. Mr. Calhoun will become the plane maker’s chief executive Jan. 13.

The first rule of being in a hole is to stop digging, something which completely escapes the  finance types now running the company.

Well, This Sucks

Mad Magazine is shutting down:

I just heard from a friend of mine who is in a Facebook group with a MAD writer that, after the next two issues, MAD will no longer be publishing original material. Instead, it’ll publish reprinted material until it’s subscription responsibilities are fulfilled and then the magazine will cease publication.

An alternate report has it just becoming reprints of old material, which is pretty much the same thing.

This is what happens when publications get bought up by large media conglomerates.

The Columbia Journalism Review States the Obvious

With every day that passes, the drumbeat of war echoes a little more loudly through our media. Yesterday, officials in Iran said that the country will soon have produced and stockpiled more low-enriched uranium—of the type used in power plants—than it is permitted to possess under the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US ditched last year. In Washington, the Trump administration moved to dispatch 1,000 American troops to the Middle East, adding to the 1,500-strong deployment it sent last month. Tensions between the US and Iran, we are told, are rising.


Yesterday, the Trump administration declassified images it says back up its case that Iran was behind the tanker attacks. Many outlets relayed administration claims about the images in headlines; in a tweet, Politico said that, per the Pentagon, “the images provide ironclad evidence Iran was responsible.” The third paragraph of Politico’s linked story, however, notes that “nothing in the photos or accompanying documents reveal evidence of the placement of the magnetic mines on the ship.” Hardly “ironclad,” then. Last night, in an article for Task & Purpose, a military news site, Jeff Schogol argued that “not a single US official has provided a shred of proof linking Iran to the explosive devices found on the merchant ships.” Without air-tight evidence, news outlets really should not air administration claims without a heavy dose of context. “Pompeo/Bolton/Shanahan said” is not enough.

Again, it’s hard to generalize, but US coverage of the latest Iran episode seems to be falling into some old, bad habits. In recent coverage, “the media has generally been better at treating unproven accusations by the Trump administration as just that—accusations, and not facts,” Trita Parsi, a researcher and founder of the National Iranian American Council, told me last night in an email. “Yet, on numerous occasions, there has either been a failure to push back against blatantly false assertions by Trump officials, or Trump accusations have been presented as proven facts.” The problem is especially acute in headlines and tweets, Parsi notes.

I have lived though journalistic fails of this sort my entire life.

I don’t think that I’ve ever seen the press gets this right in my lifetime.

A Public Apology 27½ Years Overdue

I just wanted to make a note:  I founded Arisia over 25 years ago, filed the original paperwork, and the 501(c)3 application, and chaired the first two conventions in 1990 and 1991.

While it has been a while since I have done anything involved with Arisia (2005, because I decided that it was bad for me on a purely personal (as in in obsessive/addictive behavior) issues.)

However, I am aware that I made numerous errors during my tenure running the con, particularly in the last 6 months as chairman:  I was a legendary asshole during that time, and I believe that some of the organizational issues that Arisia appears to have to this day likely flow from this.

To the degree that Arisia has cultural and organizational issues, and I have been away for 13 years, so I honestly do not know anything about the current organizational culture, I was in at the beginning, and contributed to that.

I am profoundly sorry, and I wish that I had the common sense to realize in mid-1990 that my behavior was destructive and harmful, and do better by the convention and my then staff.

I sincerely apologize to people that I directly or indirectly hurt in the process.

Reader(s) of my blog will know that I have made only one substantive post regarding Arisia, two if you count my obit for Mary Robison,  in the 10+ years that I have been blogging, though I have made a few references indicating my experience in non-profits to rail against the evils that are televangelists, political front groups, and pineapple on pizza.

Tweet Stream of the Day

Comparison of Silicon Valley and the the Soviet Union is genius:

Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the Soviet Union:

– waiting years to receive a car you ordered, to find that it’s of poor workmanship and quality

– promises of colonizing the solar system while you toil in drudgery day in, day out

— Anton Troynikov (@atroyn) July 5, 2018

– living five adults to a two room apartment

– being told you are constructing utopia while the system crumbles around you

— Anton Troynikov (@atroyn) July 5, 2018

– ‘totally not illegal taxi’ taxis by private citizens moonlighting to make ends meet

– everything slaved to the needs of the military-industrial complex

— Anton Troynikov (@atroyn) July 5, 2018

– mandatory workplace political education

– productivity largely falsified to satisfy appearance of sponsoring elites

— Anton Troynikov (@atroyn) July 5, 2018

It goes on, but it is well worth the read.

What Took So Long?

2 years after the Theranos was revealed to be a fraud, prosecutors have finally gotten around to charging Theranos executives with fraud.

Is Elizabeth Holmes had been a black woman kiting $500 in checks, she would have already been tried, convicted, and would be serving a decade long sentence:

Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of Theranos, the lab testing company that promised to revolutionize health care, and its former president, Ramesh Balwani, were indicted on Friday on charges of defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars as well as deceiving hundreds of patients and doctors.

The criminal charges were the culmination of a rarity in Silicon Valley — federal prosecution of a technology start-up. This one boasted a board stacked with prominent political figures and investors, and a startling valuation of $9 billion just a few years ago. In the fabled universe of overnight billionaires and unicorns, companies with billion-dollar valuations, Ms. Holmes had catapulted herself and her company into the buzz-filled world of “disrupters” by pledging to upend the health industry and give consumers control over their own care.

Both Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud. Lawyers for Ms. Holmes could not be reached for comment, but a lawyer for Mr. Balwani said in a statement that his client was “innocent and looks forward to clearing his name at trial.”

The indictment was filed by the United States attorney’s office in San Francisco and came about three months after the Securities and Exchange Commission settled civil fraud charges against Ms. Holmes.

On Friday, Theranos also announced that Ms. Holmes, who founded Theranos in 2003 as a 19-year-old Stanford University dropout, stepped down as chief executive. She will be replaced by David Taylor, the company’s general counsel, according to a statement from the company, which did not respond to requests for additional comment.

The small picture here is a multi-billion dollar grift

The larger picture is that this is generally how business is done in Silicon Valley, only with software, where you can always claim that the next patch will take care of the problem.

Much of the whole “Unicorn” culture of Silicon Valley is indistinguishable from fraud.

Headline of the Day

Iran’s Khamenei Likens U.S. to Cat in ‘Tom and Jerry’


So Iran’s supreme religious leader knows enough about US culture to make a Tom and Jerry reference, specifically that, “The U.S. has tried various political, economic, military and propaganda undertakings to hit the Islamic Republic, but all these plots failed. Like the famous cat in Tom and Jerry they will lose again.”

I cannot imagine a Saudi cleric even knowing who the hell Tom and Jerry are.

Headline of the Day

Conservatives Will Never Get the Respect They Crave. They Don’t Deserve It

David Atkins

He says something that needs to be said:

But dig deeper and it’s the sort of deplorable stuff that no one involved in the creation of culture would ever want to countenance: that women should serve as obedient reproductive vessels; that white men are biologically and culturally superior to others; that the ability of corporate executives to get rich from polluting air and exploiting workers is a greater freedom than that of communities not to be poisoned and abused; that it’s the inherent right of powerful countries to bomb less powerful ones and steal their resources; that being rich is a sign of divine favor, and the poor deserve their plight; and so on.

He’s right.  These ideas do not deserve respect, and they haven’t since William F. Buckley endorsed a segregated south 60 years ago.

Abolish the Independent USAF

In response to having Congress requiring the US Air Force to keep flying the A-10, they are slow-walking wing upgrades which will likely result in many of the aircraft being sent to the boneyard before they can be fixed.

The wild blue yonder guy hate it because it is cheap and because they hate the close air support mission:

In a victory for supporters of the battle-proven A-10 close air support aircraft, Congress provided the necessary seed money to extend the fleet’s lifespan for at least another decade in its last spending bill. The U.S. Air Force had announced in 2017 that 110 A-10s were in danger of being retired because their wings were rapidly approaching the end of their useful service life.

The seed money is not as clear-cut a victory as many have supposed, however. The $103 million Congress appropriated for the A-10 re-winging project will only produce four new pairs of wings and it will likely take six years before new wings are installed on any operational A-10s. These funds will mainly be used to start up an entirely new production line.

The Air Force claims it needs all this money and time to get competitive bids to start up the new wing production line. All the while, the men and women serving in combat for the next six years badly need to be able to count on an A-10 force that is not shrinking rapidly due to a failure to replace worn out wings.

The unnecessary time delay and expense of the Air Force’s chosen path should frustrate everyone committed to responsible and effective government spending and life-saving close air support for our troops.

Re-winging the A-10 is not a new problem. In 2007 the Air Force awarded the Boeing Corporation a $2 billion contract to build new wings for 242 A-10s. In 2014, F-35 program managers and Air Force leaders started another campaign to retire A-10s in order to free up funding for the F-35.

After strong Congressional pushback the Air Force submitted a budget in 2016 that claimed to give up their efforts to retire the A-10.

Air Force leaders, long hostile to the A-10 and the mission it performs, cut this initial re-winging effort short by allowing Boeing’s contract to lapse in 2016 after only 171 wing sets had been delivered.

Now, due to the intransigence of Air Force leadership in calling for the shutdown of the earlier production line, taxpayers are paying $103 million just to create a new production line and to produce only four wing sets. That is approximately $25 million per set with all of the capital costs included. For comparison purposes, a set of wings cost approximately $3.8 million in 2013.


The Air Force has established a schedule for the re-winging project that can generously be called leisurely. Contracting officials sent out the bid solicitation documents on December 22, 2017. If they stick to the draft schedule, the interested contractors will be submitting their bid proposals the first week of June 2018.


More evidence of the lack of urgency to get new wings to the A-10 fleet can be found buried in the draft contract solicitation. The winning contractor will be required to deliver the first set of wings within 1,095 days of when it was announced that the contract was awarded. That means that in addition to the year it will take Air Force contracting officials to sort through their paperwork, the contractor will have an undemanding three years before they have to make their first delivery.


To put this all in perspective, the Air Force leaders have repeatedly attempted to shrink or cancel outright the A-10 fleet for at least the past twenty-five years which is particularly striking since the A-10 has consistently proven its battlefield worth in every war since 1991.

The reason for this is simple. Air Force generals don’t like the airplane because it lacks the complexity and expense to justify ever-expanding budgets. Furthermore, they despise the mission: it places them in a supporting role to ground forces.

Fold the USAF back under the US Army. 

The original justification for splitting it off was the idea that the nuclear delivery by the Strategic Air Command, and conventional strategic bombing, would allow them to win the war on their own.

Thankfully, the former has never been tried, and the latter has never happened despite repeated efforts by air arms around the world to justify Giulio Douhet’s delusional theoriess for the past 100 years, and we have created a prohibitively expensive and profoundly military branch as a result

Bill Cosby Found Guilty of Sexual Assault in Retrial – The New York Times

Time's up! #BelieveWomen #Ihaventforgottenaboutyou pic.twitter.com/v5ks5rmi6G

— Larry Wilmore (@larrywilmore) April 27, 2018

Larry Wilmore on the Conviction

Bill Cosby has been convicted of sexual assault.

I really don’t know what to say, except that I think that the trial, and the conviction, were long overdue, his accusers have been treated abysmally, and their accusations only began to be taken seriously when a man, stand up comic Hannibal Buress, started talking about what he had been doing. (Major props to Buress though for talking about it.)

I’m hoping that Larry Wilmor addresses this in an upcoming podcast.

I’ll definitely listen.

Is Tesla Having Its Uber Moment?

The Bernstein report on $TSLA ‘s manufacturing strategy was the best sell side thing I have read in a long time.

— Donut Shorts (@DonutShorts) March 29, 2018

This Twitter stream is a good primer

People are beginning to notice that Tesla has problems, and that many of them are symptomatic of the dot-com ethos of its founder, Elon Musk.

The most classic example is that of their manufacturing problems, where they are seeing both quality and productions problems, and now an analysis of Tesla’s production plans show that both are a function of its single minded insistence on eliminating the human component:

The robots are killing Tesla.

In a rare win for humans over robots in the battle for labor efficiency, Wall Street analysts have laid down a compelling argument that over-automation is to blame for problems at the billionaire Elon Musk’s electric-car company.

That is to say, the very innovation and competitive advantage that Musk says he’s bringing to the car industry — his nearly fully automated plant in Fremont, California — is the reason Tesla is unable to scale quickly.

According to the Bernstein analysts Max Warburton and Toni Sacconaghi, it’s the robots that can’t pump out Tesla’s highly anticipated Model 3s fast enough. The whole process is too ambitious, risky, and complicated.

From Bernstein (emphasis ours):

“Tesla has tried to hyper-automate final assembly. We believe Tesla has been too ambitious with automation on the Model 3 line. Few have seen it (the plant is off-limits at present), but we know this: Tesla has spent c.2x what a traditional OEM spends per unit on capacity.

“It has ordered huge numbers of Kuka robots. It has not only automated stamping, paint and welding (as most other OEMs do) — it has also tried to automate final assembly (putting parts into the car). It talks of two-level final lines with robots automating parts sequencing. This is where Tesla seems to be facing problems (as well as in welding & battery pack assembly).


Bernstein adds that the world’s best carmakers, the Japanese, try to limit automation because it “is expensive and is statistically inversely correlated to quality.” Their approach is to get the process right first, then bring in the robots — the opposite of Musk’s.

It’s not a problem that Tesla, a highly indebted company, can afford forever.


So in Musk’s attempt to bring on the robot uprising that will revolutionize how we make cars, he’s burned cash and baked in his own mistakes. If you think about it that way, we are just beginning to understand how much this will cost him.

The dotcom ethos is ship it then fix it, and that if you have a problem, you can always throw a few more servers and few more programmers at this.

So, Tesla has been trying to do something that the auto industry has been trying, and failing, to do for years, and its solution is to throw more hardware at it without addressing the underlying problem.

Very dotcom, and it’s why they continue down their dysfunctional path, because this is how it is done in IT.  (Also why every few months you hear of a data breach)

Here is a money quote from the report, courtesy of Naked Capitalism:

[A]utomation is expensive — and usually proves far less effective, highly inflexible, and creates quality problems further down the line.

  • In welding, mistakes and inconsistences go unrecognized — but the machine powers on and builds cars with the wrong geometry or bad spot welds in key locations. These are only found later — when for instance the windscreen is inserted, or a door re-attached. Have you wondered why Tesla doors don’t align, or hoods don’t fit, or windscreens are prone to cracking? Now you have your answer.
  • In final assembly, robots can apply torque consistently — but they don’t detect and account for threads that aren’t straight, bolts that don’t quite fit, fasteners that don’t align, or seals that have a defect. Humans are really good at this. Have you wondered why Teslas have wind noise problems, squeaks and rattles, and bits of trim that fall off? Now you have your answer.

This is a state of affairs that has the New York Times wondering about its continued viability, and Bloomberg has noted that Tesla bonds are tanking.

Software can facilitate some aspects of operating in the real world, but when the primary activity is operating in the real world, it cannot change reality.

Overselling and under-delivering is a feature, not a bug.

About F%$#ing Time

When Danny Greg first moved to San Francisco to work at Github in 2012, he used to get high-fives in the street from strangers when he wore his company hoodie.

These days, unless he’s at an investor event, he’s cautious about wearing branded clothing that might indicate he’s a techie. He’s worried about the message it sends.

Greg is one of many people working in tech who are increasingly self-conscious about how the industry – represented by consumer-facing tech titans like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Twitter and Uber – is perceived: as underregulated, overly powerful companies filled with wealthy tech bros and “brilliant assholes” with little regard for the local communities they occupy. Silicon Valley has taken over from Wall Street as the political bogeyman of choice, turning tech workers – like it or not – into public ambassadors for the 1%.

“I would never say I worked at Facebook,” said one 30-year-old software engineer who left the company last year to pursue an alternative career. Instead, at dinner parties he would give purposefully vague responses and change the subject. “There’s this song and dance you learn to play because people are quick to judge.”

Like Wall Street before, the tech industry is a justifiable punchbag. “MBA jerks used to go and work for Wall Street, now wealthy white geeks go to Stanford and then waltz into a VC or tech firm.”

Gee, my heart bleeds for these guys.

You Ever Notice What Happens When the Silicon Valley Mindset Meets the Real World?

First Theranos, and now Juicero.

In all fairness, Theranos has a harder job, they were actually in the healthcare business, which involved deceiving regulators, which is hard, while Juicero was just a f%$#ing juice machine:

It sounds like America’s favorite $400 juice machine will be no longer.

“After selling over a million Produce Packs, we must let you know that we are suspending the sale of the Juicero Press and Produce Packs immediately,” reads the company blog post.

Juicero will also be giving people money back. “For the next 90 days, we are offering refunds for your purchase of the Juicero Press,” according to the note.

Founded by Doug Evans, San Francisco-based Juicero had raised more than $118 million in funding from prominent VCs like Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins. Carmelo Anthony also invested through his Melo7 Tech venture fund. Even The Campbell Soup Company threw money at it. Juicero started raising funding in 2013 and launched 16 months ago.

The company was subject to mockery, particularly after a Bloomberg piece showed that the juice packets could be squeezed by hand and did not require a fancy machine.

The emperor has no clothes.

If regulators and prosecutors did a deep dive on Silicon Valley, those that weren’t in prison would be asking, “Do you want fries with that?”