Re: How To Manage Geeks.

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TL;DR, but I didn't see "threaten to ship their jobs to India" and "with a lash" in the first few sentences, so fuck it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:13 PM
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Should I ask the people I manage if they are geeks? I'm still sort of new to the idea of managing people and need help. My current strategy is to remember to say something vaguely positive every five or so tasks I give them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:24 PM
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Holy shit, asking people to read Computerworld for a blog is a bit much.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:25 PM
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Mostly I tend to view the people I supervise just like I view the people who supervise me: reasons to quickly cover the browser with SAS. However, the people who supervise me aren't around nearly as much.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:27 PM
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I'm guessing this isn't about the Nightmare Alley sense of the word.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:29 PM
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What word?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:31 PM
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You would think the experts at a place called "Computerworld" would know better than to spread a blog entry over 5 pages. I don't even see ads on the page, so its not even like they are doing so in a misguided attempt to juice their page-view count.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:40 PM
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6: geek


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:41 PM
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I don't even own a comic book.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:43 PM
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The article was disappointing.

I the author may have interesting things to say about managing geeks, but I don't think he has managed to put them into writing -- the piece felt drawn out and mostly repeated over and over again, "geeks respect people who can make good decisions and want to be respected for their ability to make good decisions" which may be true but is hardly any less of a cliche than the stereotypes he lists at the beginning of the article.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:56 PM
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"geeks respect people who can make good decisions and want to be respected for their ability to make good decisions"

In contrast to others!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 2:59 PM
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That article seems to be saying that the stereotypes are often right but it's all your fault, non-IT pro, for making them that way.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 3:15 PM
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11: Right, the quote somehwhat reminded me of one of the fatuous Broder quotes from the famous Sally Quinn/Whitewater article, "The judgment is harsher in Washington," says The Post's Broder. "We don't like being lied to."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 3:29 PM
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Heebie, how did you come to be reading an article about managing geeks in Computerworld?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 3:46 PM
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Luckily, I've never personally been, like, graded on this stuff, but the first paragraphs on how B-school directed stuff on managing geeks treats them like either space aliens or psychopaths seems to me spot-on. The assumption is that the typical manager will find them uncongenial. I don't think the idea is supposed to be that the manager who actually likes them is supposed to begin seeing them as pathological in order to absorb the lesson of the reading, or that the manager who was once a geek is supposed to learn to repudiate those parts of his or her personality. I also don't think the idea is that the geek who happens by some improbable chance to read those papers is supposed to take it personally: they're not literally all neurotic, they just have these character traits . . .

But basically what Robert Halford said, with the addition of making sure you don't give them stock options or any other perks that make them feel they're as important as managers and finance people rather than employees.


Posted by: bianca steele | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 4:47 PM
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with the addition of making sure you don't give them stock options

Wait, what? 99% of the geeks I know would tell you to get bent if you sent them an offer letter that didn't include options.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 4:57 PM
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16:
That was a popular meme on the business pages, at least, a few years back, that options were by defition for "key players" and totally inappropriate for technical contributors. Maybe that one lost out.


Posted by: bianca steele | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 5:08 PM
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Huh. Silicon Valley basically runs on options and has since the days of Fairchild Semiconductor. IME technical contributors are actually far more likely to get options; it's sales/marketing/operations people who get screwed on the equity front. (Although they tend to make much more in cash, both from salary and bonuses/commissions.) Things change once you get to C-level executives, of course.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 5:38 PM
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Unlike Halford, I don't have a problem with geeks. But I'd like to read something from a non-luddite, respectful perspective about how sometimes IT can end up as an orgamization's bottleneck, and how it's not always just because someone failed to respect the IT pros.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 6:19 PM
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IT is not a directly revenue-producing segment of the company. Anything negative IT does can negatively impact the revenue producing part of the company. However, doing POSITIVE things for the revenue-producing parts of the company will never earn IT the respect that the revenue-producing parts of the company earn for producing more revenue. Therefore, IT -- however competent -- often ends up in an oppositional relationship, where there incentive to do good things for the rest of the company is outweighed by the incentive to avoid getting blamed for things going wrong. In industries where IT does, in fact, create revenue, this bottleneck does not occur. QED.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 6:27 PM
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Also it is a little poignant that Halford is trying to project his status anxiety and job uncertainty onto people in other much more stable and secure jobs. Don't go to law school, kids. It might make you resent those chess club nerds with their stable salaries and goldenish parachutes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 6:30 PM
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20: Quite right.

As I have felt compelled to point out a number of times in my career at Type 1 companies, they had a decades-long string of perfect "IT spend as % revenue" metrics going until some idiot started using those fucking computers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 6:33 PM
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I wonder what the chess club nerds at my high school are up to these days. They had so little overlap with my people, the Science Olympiad and quizbowl nerds.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 7:05 PM
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20 doesn't really fit some of the examples I'm thinking of, which aren't in profit sectors. And some of it is pretty basic stuff: you need to do X, but current set up has X go through IT. You want to work with IT. IT repeatedly blows off all attempts even to meet with them. There may be a case against X but no one ever makes one. X either doesn't get done or people start trying to make end runs around IT to do it. It's certainly not because they don't respect IT. It's because they need to get their work done.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 7:24 PM
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23: I just looked up a few of my chess nerd acquaintances. One is a math professor at Hometown U. Another is a CFO of an analytics company founded by her chess nerd husband. A third is a CEO of his family's business (not a small concern) and looking into politics. I'm sort of impressed.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 7:30 PM
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The guy I knew in high school who was best at chess joined the army.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 7:38 PM
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24: Well, sure of course. Mordoc Preventer of Information Services lives on. But has bretheren in every organizational "service" department.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 7:47 PM
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The chess nerds at my high school were all from Eastern Europe. The only one I can find on the internet is now an "OBIEEE Consultant".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 7:52 PM
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My high school didn't even have an chess nerd.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 7:54 PM
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"Pay it forward." "Awkward Turtle" "CAN I HAZ GPS?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:04 PM
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Nice, but wrong thread.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:05 PM
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So I see. The drug/sandman is beating me to death.i


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:06 PM
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21 -- says the guy who never, and I mean never, takes out his status anxiety at graduating college at like 35 and not quite being a scientist by getting into pointless fights on the Internet.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:08 PM
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27: My objection is really that the linked piece basically ignores this kind of situation but there's room for someone to write something about how to deal with it. I feel like most of what I read about IT boils down to "value your IT!" which is good advice if you don't but not so helpful if you already do and lots of stuff still isn't getting done.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:08 PM
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32: Goodnight. I should sleep also. I stayed up playing Civ the past two nights.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:10 PM
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OBIEEE

Obstetrician/electrical engineer?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:11 PM
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I wish I understood the source of my status anxiety. I guess maybe it's that I have relatively low status. Or maybe it's free-floating anxiety that's temporarily landed on status. Move on, anxiety!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:12 PM
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33: Maybe cool it, dude.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:17 PM
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I didn't start this one, bro.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:18 PM
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I mean, not that I really care. But I didn't! Anyhow, I hate all of you equally.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:21 PM
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I didn't start this one, bro.

I don't care!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:21 PM
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Nosflow giving an on topic demonstration.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:25 PM
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An OBIEEE Consultant charges lots of money to tell you to move your extra-extra-wide sash manufacturing operation to Indonesia.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:30 PM
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42: In that case he should know that WHAT MATTERS MOST to these poor shells of men is that they get credit for what they contributed. Who started it? Who truly started it? This is what matters.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:35 PM
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Hating everyone equally means that credit for hatred is irrelevant. I suggest it as a strategy. It's the closest we can hope to come to universal love.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 8:38 PM
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Science Olympiad
Represent! We grew beards for states and were going to shave our heads if we went to nationals. Did I mention it was male dominated?
I don't even know that our school had a chess club.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-28-13 9:32 PM
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23: I actually didn't really know the chess club kids (or the science Olympiad kids, assuming we had those). My friends played D&D and various card games. Rather lamer.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 4:11 AM
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I was trying to remember if my high school had a quiz bowl team and who was on it, when I remembered that it was me. I was on the quiz bowl team. I completely forgot about it because I approached with the same level of slovenly lack of attention to detail that I approach everything.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 4:28 AM
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We had quiz bowl but only local. We had a team but it really was just basically me. I slaughtered entire teams. It was brutal. I entered the "flow" state one time and emerged the lopsided victor, and heard an opposing coach suggest that his team kneecap me before our match.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 4:39 AM
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You want to work with IT. IT repeatedly blows off all attempts even to meet with them. There may be a case against X but no one ever makes one. X either doesn't get done or people start trying to make end runs around IT to do it. It's certainly not because they don't respect IT. It's because they need to get their work done.

...then management hires Accenture to do the job, and the whole cycle of recriminations begins anew.

Also, the tech world isn't completely different from the stodgy old corporate world.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 4:40 AM
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49.cont: I guess it must have been some kind off-brand version, hence the weak competition.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 4:49 AM
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Shadow IT! They should make a superhero movie about it.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 4:51 AM
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Chess club nerds in high school! That should be something I know about!

As you all know because of my incessant bragging, I was President of the Chess Club in high school. As you probably also know by my incessant whining, at the age of 50, that is still the most impressive title in my resume.

A few of my fellow chess-nerds in high school have had some success. Or/ en Etz / ioni appears to be somewhat known in the computer world. My predecessor President is a chemist for P&G and was on of the developers of the Swiffer Wet. One guy is a patent attorney, and another is a pension attorney. The rest are only marginally more successful than me. Our one female member (more a groupie than a chess player) became a rabbi.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 6:30 AM
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Now I wonder what you do, because it might help me guess how rabbi stacks up on the hierarchy of success. Swifter enabler over patent attorney over pension attorney is obviously correctly ordered, but not very exhaustive.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 6:35 AM
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I know nothing about IT, actually, and R&D strictly speaking isn't a profit center, even the "development" part, but there's a tendency to think it's all ones and zeroes so what's the big deal? Maybe IT could use a bigger budget. Anyway I've preferred working for companies that made physical things to software companies, I don't know whether it's the mindset of managers who'd started out really making things, or what.

My daughter's almost 5 and knows her chess pieces but can't be persuaded to play with less than the full complement of pieces on the board, and doesn't like when people say check, but she wins a lot when she can persuade someone with plenty of patience to "play" with her.


Posted by: bianca steele | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 6:38 AM
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The other teenager in the county chess club (who was the nemesis/it's-complicated of one of my closest friends) finally accepted in college that I was better at math than him, switched to CS, and is now quite high up at Facebook. I'm really curious just how insanely rich he is.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 6:50 AM
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54: Oh! I don't actually know exactly what you do either.

I'm a librarian for a law firm.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 6:54 AM
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I'm a data analyst for medical researchers. I don't know how that ranks compared to rabbi-ing. Probably depends on the denomination.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 6:58 AM
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Let's all post how superior or inferior we think we are to a rabbi!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:14 AM
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46 Represent! We grew beards for states and were going to shave our heads if we went to nationals. Did I mention it was male dominated?

It wasn't at all male-dominated at my high school. I met my first long-term girlfriend through Science Olympiad. And won first place in the climate-science event at nationals with her.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:14 AM
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58: Well, as a woman rabbi, I guess she's kind of a pioneer, which should probably move her higher up in the hierarchy. But my family doesn't generally hold rabbis in high esteem.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:15 AM
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Hmm. I know a guy who must be approximately peep's age whose wife is a rabbi. How many female rabbis are there? Is your friend's husband a physicist?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:17 AM
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An OBIEEE consultant just makes me think of http://youmightremembermefrom.tumblr.com/post/59592459789


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:18 AM
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climate-science event at nationals with her.
Was it... HOTT?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:23 AM
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I remember a question about the Younger Dryas event, so I think it was pretty chill.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:23 AM
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62: I don't think so. We're not actually in touch. All I know about her is what she's posted on her "alumni profile". She has twin teenage boys.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:25 AM
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Arg, I'll be getting off a transatlantic flight at almost the exact time Janelle MonĂ¡e's Boston show is starting in October. Oh well.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:25 AM
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Be optimistic. Maybe your flight will be delayed so you'll be getting off the flight well after the show has ended.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:25 AM
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Two postmen times by three three animal control officers divided by two gas meter readers equals how many integrated bendable community workers?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:30 AM
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Some poking around suggests he probably was in the tens of millions from the IPO.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:30 AM
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Through my experience as part of an administrative committee in my department, I have learned that the only way to get professors to adopt non-stupid policies is to make them believe that they are the ideas of a very respected professor. You just say something like "I agree with Professor Bigshot's idea about the widgets, and I think that idea could be extended to [reasonable thing only tangentially related to whatever nonsense Professor Bigshot was spouting]."

I have yet to figure out how to get credit for any ideas that I have, which is probably a more important skill. But at least I feel useful!


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:39 AM
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There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:49 AM
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When it comes to "managing geeks," if Rands in Repose didn't say it, I don't care about it.

That said, I just left a job at a large corporation that was basically throwing money at IT, who was essentially burning it. It wasn't a problem of not "respecting your IT pros," and I even got to inhale some of the fumes while I was there -- it was fun, but at some point the music will stop and then the shrapnel from the resulting explosion will write blog posts like this guy.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 8:01 AM
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50: ...then management hires Accenture to do the job, and the whole cycle of recriminations begins anew.

Reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with a very polite Indian fellow who worked in IT for a company that at the time had just become an early adopter of "full" IT outsourcing. His words: "Before we worked with XYZ, our users, they hate us very much. But now, [shakes head and laughs] now I cannot even bring myself to say the words they use to describe XYZ."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 8:08 AM
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73.1: wow. I am really out of touch. I read that and thought "wait, what? The blog of jerkcity rands?" Sort Of A Thing, turns out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 8:14 AM
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Yeah, same guy! He's a great writer.

Although a quick Wikipedia check says he works at Palantir since 2010, so now I feel suitably dirty for even mentioning his name at all.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 8:17 AM
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74 is a great anecdote.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 8:29 AM
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To be sterotypically geeky and nitpicky, that article does seem specific (as discussed above), to managing IT staff within a non-IT organization. Which is important - most organizations are non-IT but have some IT - but probably doesn't generalize to other job roles or to organizations that are more fundamentally technical.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 8:38 AM
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71: Not that I ever made this work terribly well, but a technique that works sometimes is pick your Professor Bigshot that you're laundering your ideas through as someone who will start referring to you as "That insightful young person" and generally explaining to other people how clever you are because you agree with him all the time. A variant of logrolling, the trick is just to get the senior person to play.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 8:58 AM
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My adviser is forgetful (old) and has a habit of repeating ideas that I have given to him back to me as novel ideas I should consider. I know he's not trying to steal credit, so it doesn't really bother me. I've taken to doing the same thing back to him, on the assumption that he probably needs help remembering his own ideas as well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 9:45 AM
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It's worse if your advisor presents your good ideas to other grad students as his ideas and they execute your cool science.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 10:46 AM
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Oh, it's possible that happens too. Certainly he has presented my ideas to collaborators as if they were his (I'm pretty sure totally unintentionally). But on balance, he seems to have my back (and to be very loyal to his students, current and former) so it's okay.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 10:49 AM
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It's really hard to remember accurately whose ideas were whose to begin with. The key is not to get offended if your memories disagree and to always share credit equally within collaborations.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 10:53 AM
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The linked article in the OP makes me annoyed. Geeks will work better for you if you're right about things and don't make their work harder? They're special like that. Everyone else likes the bullshit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 10:53 AM
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That sounds so nice. My first advisor would deride the idea as stupid and foolish to the originator, then pass it to another student as a promising avenue of research that they should pursue. Such a neat guy.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 10:55 AM
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The key is not to get offended if your memories disagree and to always share credit equally within collaborations.

Unless one of your collaborators takes the idea that was yours and assigns it to students to work on without you, in which case you have a right to be pissed off. Um, hypothetically. If that sort of thing ever happens.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:03 AM
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My advisor was/is a saint and didn't really prepare me for some of the things one encounters in academia.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:04 AM
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But, one other thing about

It's really hard to remember accurately whose ideas were whose to begin with.

is that often ideas are cheap. There are the occasional brilliant exceptions, but often twenty different people can think up the same idea at the same time, and the credit rightfully goes to whoever does the actual work to turn it from an idea into something publishable.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:05 AM
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I dunno, I mean sure you have the right to be pissed off, but I'm not sure it's wise or sane to actually be pissed off. I generally assume that for every idea I think was mine that someone used with less attribution than I would have liked, I've probably done the same myself. Of course, if someone was a chronic problem I'd stop collaborating with them.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:08 AM
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Yes, 88 gets it right. Aside from credit, it's also just good for everyone for more results to get worked out in a reasonable time frame, and if everyone is hoarding their ideas it just slows down everything in a way that doesn't actually help anyone.

(I'm not sure if it's the same in non-math fields, but in math it's key that if a subfield is doing well that helps everyone in the subfield. So it's definitely in your interest to have more good results near your research even if you're not the one publishing them. Assuming you're publishing some good results. Conversely, bitter idea hoarders do real damage to themself and everyone around them.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:12 AM
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84: Yes, basically what neb was getting at in 11, and me indirectly in 13.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:12 AM
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88 applies to a lot of business ideas too.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:26 AM
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Yes, basically what neb was getting at in 11, and me indirectly in 13.

Don't be bitter; as 88 says, ideas are cheap, execution is everything.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:35 AM
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I'm still kicking myself for one idea that I toyed with in grad school and abandoned after a respected senior person told me "oh, a lot of people have thought about that before, so don't waste your time; it's hopeless"; a year later, two groups wrote papers about it that now have a couple hundred citations each. Somehow the idea had been in the air for years and people thought it was too difficult, until someone actually went and did it and it wasn't difficult at all.

Then there was the idea that I dismissed because it was both obvious and wrong, which other people went ahead and published despite its wrongness and which has blossomed into a hundreds-of-papers-a-year industry that keeps being wrong but which a couple of people have gotten jobs and/or tenure out of.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:40 AM
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The reason I finally got (sort of) serious about learning Python is low hanging fruit type papers I missed out on simply because I couldn't write the necessary code. At least not without taking too much time away from other things.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:45 AM
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I'm trying to get more serious about plucking low-hanging fruit. A lot of the things I missed out on doing when I was in grad school or starting my first postdoc were because I foresaw some technical challenges and wasn't sure how to get around them. Now I have a lot more respect for publishing things that say "here's an idea, here's a first stab at working it out and doing some estimates, and here are the pesky little problems that crop up that are going to need a more concerted effort to solve".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:49 AM
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Unrelated to anything particularly geeky, but this morning I opened an email from a colleague asking me to help "form an ad hoc committee" to deal with something. In my coffee deprived state I interpreted this as a request that I form a committee and so send out a request for volunteers.

In fact I was being asked to serve on an ad hoc committee, but the series of confused "Whose on first?" email exchanges went on for an impressively long time.

I'm still waiting for my five dollars.

I'm sure that if I'd had proper respect for the IT department this would never have happened.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:50 AM
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I think early on I was working with too many people whose approach was "I'm going to take this field and wring every little drop out of it and write the definitive paper", when it's more lucrative to take the "here's an idea, let's start a conversation about it and leave lots of little threads hanging for other people to pick up" approach.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:52 AM
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98.last is why writing literature reviews is such a horrible job.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:54 AM
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Bill Thurston wrote some great stuff about exactly that point in the last section of this essay.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 11:58 AM
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84. There are definitely people who like to hear themselves talk. The timewasters in IT don't usually call empty meetings IME.

I bet that in both IT and law though there are people who spin up pointless details and so consume resources.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:01 PM
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I need to write something that gets cited more often.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:06 PM
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||

Slate must be kicking themselves that they didn't think of this first: "Let the pandas die out!"

|>


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:21 PM
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Are you kidding? Slate was on the "pandas suck" beat in 1999! That might have been the ORIGINAL slate pitch. Seeing the response to that, they thought "Ooh, we've got something here".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:28 PM
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Those are sort of convincing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:30 PM
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104: Of course, I should have known better than to doubt them.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:32 PM
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Swifter enabler over patent attorney over pension attorney is obviously correctly ordered

I would love to think that first one is a full time job but to be fair that cashier at the liquor store sells booze to a lot of other people besides me.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:33 PM
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There is actually a non-trivial claim in the "how to manage geeks" article (which is actually about how to manage IT pros, not all geeks):

The article basically claims that toxic personalities don't matter, the no-assholes rule shouldn't be applied to the IT department, just find people who can do the work and they'll all get along somehow.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:36 PM
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104: To be fair, the Bloomberg guy did crank the contrarianism up a notch. Plotz just wanted the National Zoo to give up on pandas. The Bloomberg guy says let the whole species perish. I suppose there's still a niche for someone who thinks we should actively slaughter them for their pelts. Your move, Slate.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:38 PM
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often twenty different people can think up the same idea at the same time, and the credit rightfully goes to whoever does the actual work to turn it from an idea into something publishable has the most powerful patrons.

I'm here to help!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:41 PM
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The obvious argument isn't to actively slaughter pandas for their pelts, but to sell the rights to the remaining ones to raise money to save less fucked up animals. The winning bidder could use the pelts and the meat. Let's not waste. Maybe people would even want to hunt them. I don't see any way to make it sporting, but that doesn't seem to bother lots of people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:42 PM
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It's possible 110 is more true of my field -- and allied fields -- than others. But somehow I doubt it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:43 PM
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And by "allied fields" I of course mean those fields against which we must struggle for the few remaining crumbs left lying around the university.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:44 PM
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108: That still doesn't sound special about geeks. 'Toxic personalities' are largely toxic because they make it hard to get work done -- someone who's abrasive but functional, most people don't mind much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:48 PM
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113: We have great bunches of grant money, but you still usually need a very powerful somebody on your side to get the data that could test your idea. You could get lucky and find what you need was already collected on a publicly available dataset, but otherwise, you need money or the cooperation of somebody with money.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:49 PM
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I don't advocate killing all Giant Pandas (their meat is likely not very good) but I do think they're somewhat overrated. Not as overrated as the "Red" Panda which is basically a fat squirrel that lucked into the best sequel naming rights deal in history, definitely still pretty cute, but overrated on the cuteness scale. Polar bears are far cuter, while also being awesomer.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:52 PM
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I bet polar bears taste worse than pandas.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:53 PM
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Likely so, which is another good reason to keep them alive.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 12:54 PM
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Indeed, for my taste, a common, ordinary trash-eating-in-Yellowstone-roll-up-the-windows-in-the-family-Jeep-Cherokee brown bear is cuter than a Panda Bear.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:00 PM
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Halford is self hating? I mean... if you kill ALL the good tasting meat animals, all that's left will be nasty. You would strip your own table?

Logically you should want to kill all the vile-tasting ones-which would also leave more tasty docile ones like cows.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:01 PM
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brown bear

You're thinking of a black bear. And with that, you're dead on the veldt, paleo boy.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:02 PM
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Your fancy logic is too confusing for me. Where's a fucking gazelle leg to chew on?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:03 PM
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Fuck, the Dutch Cookie is right. But do bears live on the veldt? No they do not, say the lions.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:06 PM
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You're thinking of a black bear.

Not all the states killed off their brown bears. This attack was in an area I was hiking around with my family like two weeks prior. I was totally the wounded member of the herd too, with my arm all splinted up from shoulder to wrist and high as shit on Percocets.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:08 PM
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A spectacled bear ought to be close enough to a panda bear for anyone.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:12 PM
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I was totally the wounded member of the herd too, with my arm all splinted up from shoulder to wrist and high as shit on Percocets.

Yes, the narcotized prey animals are always the first to go. That's why so few goats are on heroin.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:12 PM
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117: don't eat the liver unless you want to die of Vitamin A poisoning.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:16 PM
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124: we didn't make it to brown bear country this summer, because limp, but we've had good luck seeing sows and cubs in Grand Teton and Glacier the past few years. Cute enough to eat! Or to eat us!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:17 PM
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I don't eat the liver of anything, except maybe liverwurst. I sort of want a liverwurst sandwich now that I think of it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:18 PM
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I think it might be hard to explain the article to someone who's actually prohibited from billing multiple clients for the same hour, and who doesn't have the footnotes in their briefs scanned by someone who took a seminar once on how lawyers are always trying to get away with stuff, and there's a huge crisis in the profession that can only be resolved by ignoring everybody except the consultants.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:26 PM
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Preferring cute black bears, polar bears, and grizzlies to panda bears is also a question of national honor. USA cute bear #1.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:26 PM
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130 was by me.


Posted by: bianca steele | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:26 PM
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128: Limpers can use a boat! We got a good sighting in Glacier on July 4th. That's the west shore of Lake McDonald. By far the closest I've ever been to a wild grizzly and it worked out perfect because we were in a little boat with an outboard and could get close without worrying that we were going to get killed.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:27 PM
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You should have captured it so that Nosflow can fight the grizzly bear with a knife, as he has repeatedly promised.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:28 PM
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You're just wrong about red pandas.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:31 PM
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133: that's a great pic. Do you bring a gun with you when you hike (on narcotics)?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:32 PM
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133: It looks a little thin. Maybe you should have let it eat you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:33 PM
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I ask because our first line of defense is our children. We count on them being slow and succulent. Only after they're gone down the gullet of a grizzly would I consider busting out the bear spray. I mean, after peppergate here, I empathize with the bears.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:34 PM
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Yeah, Halford has never been wronger. The red panda is maximally cute.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:36 PM
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Besides, if you're going to equate red pandas to some boring, everyday animal, surely raccoon is closer to the mark than squirrel.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:40 PM
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I guess we shouldn't question the yearnings of other peoples' hearts. I should be glad that somehow an overpudgy Himalyan raccoon who lucked into a famous name found love in this crazy world.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:42 PM
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We just carry bear spray. Cheap and light and has a good track record. Guns with enough punch to take out a brown are heavy as hell and of course there's always the chance that you'll hit a person while you're shooting at a bear.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 1:43 PM
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For the first time, I am questioning the tenets of Halfordismo.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 2:21 PM
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You're thinking of a black bear.

What? No, there are both black bears and grizzlies in Yellowstone. (Although really, you gotta watch out for the elk. Those fuckers are everywhere and they're way scarier up close than a black bear.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 2:43 PM
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||

Breaking? Pawned?

Parliament votes down UK Syrian intervention

Obama chickens out? Nah, not Worst Pres Ever. He'll bomb.

Oh, and Russia send ships to Med. Whatever, don't want to think about that, don't want to know.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 2:46 PM
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144: And let's not forget the bison.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 3:22 PM
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Polar>Griz>Black>Panda>Koala

It's a law of nature.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 3:38 PM
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One could insert Kodiak after Polar, and Cinnamon after Griz to get a truer hierarchy.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 3:41 PM
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147-48 get it exactly right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 3:46 PM
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Agreed. I also agree that, having seen many red pandas in captivity, they are wildly overrated. They do, though, have outstanding publicists -- though not as good as the fucking velociraptors, about whom enough already -- and that's not nothing.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 3:49 PM
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123 -- Griz used to live on the plains.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 3:50 PM
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Did anyone read the New Yorker article about the opening of Arctic shipping lanes due to climate change? It was a very interesting premise -- because it's a fascinating issue -- but pretty boring in its execution. The upshot was: "I hope I get to see a polar bear." And after some huge number of words, "Wow! I finally saw a polar bear! But from very far away, so it might have been a hunk of ice or something."


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 3:50 PM
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When I want to see bears, I just visit the Bolt.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 3:52 PM
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A better summary of the COD's experience:

Lewis and Clark began to see signs of the grizzly shortly after they left Fort Mandan in April 1805. Lewis reported seeing "tracks of the white bear of enormous size" along the Missouri, along with mangled buffalo carcasses on which the bear were feeding. The first grizzlies they spotted ran away, giving the Corps a false sense of security. They killed their first grizzly on April 29, 1805, an immature male of about 300 pounds. Lewis bragged in his journal, "the Indians may well fear this anamal equiped as they generally are with their bows and arrows or indifferent fuzees, but in the hands of skillfull riflemen they are by no means as formidable or dangerous as they have been represented."

Subsequent encounters would prove otherwise. On May 5, William Clark and George Droulliard killed an enormous grizzly bear, with some effort. Clark described it as a "verry large and a turrible looking animal, which we found verry hard to kill we Shot ten Balls into him before we killed him, & 5 of those Balls through his lights." Lewis estimated the weight of the bear at 500-600 pounds, about twice the size of the average black bear. He noted that after the bear was shot, "he swam more than half the distance across the river to a sandbar & it was at least twenty minutes before he died; he did not attempt to attack, but fled and made the most tremendous roaring from the moment he was shot." Once the bear finally died, they butchered it for meat, bear oil, and its thick furry skin. Sobered by the size and ferocity of the bear, Lewis wrote, "I find that the curiossity of our party is pretty well satisfyed with rispect to this anamal."


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 3:56 PM
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though not as good as the fucking velociraptors, about whom enough already

Goddamned Michael Crichton. Whatever happened to good ol' deinonychus and the other dromaeosaurs?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 4:04 PM
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152: I haven't seen it, but it's unlikely to match the discussion we had on that subject at Unfoggedecacon. Or at least unlikely to match teo's contribution to that discussion.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 4:08 PM
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I basically agree with you. But, Velociraptor just sounds like a badass name, it must be said. A fucking RAPTOR with VELOCITY! So I think even if that guy looked like a manatee, people would still think it was a tougher character than good old hard-to-pronounce Deinonychus.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 4:09 PM
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||

Oh cocksucker, landlords. Do you fucking really have to be selling the building right now?

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 4:52 PM
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Fuck yeah, have you seen the real estate market lately? Get while the getting's good.


Posted by: Landlords | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 5:02 PM
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2BR $1800 just listed on this side of town.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 5:03 PM
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158: Oh no! That is shit, Sifu!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 5:09 PM
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Here's the dinosaur news from the weekly today: http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/dinosaur-wars/Content?oid=1892029

The Street Talk feature, which doesn't seem to be in the online version, had people answering the question who would win in a fight between a tyrannosaurus and a triceratops. Best answer was "they should sit down and have a community meeting with a restorative justice talk."


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 5:12 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 5:16 PM
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Relevant.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 5:21 PM
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Did somebody say something about.... Shit. Nevermind.


Posted by: Opinionated Cocks | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 5:27 PM
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One of the big news items in this thread is that the panda, which got called "Red Panda", is being threatened by a deranged ideology, which we called "Halfordismo."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 5:32 PM
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158: Oh, that's less vague. And sucks.

160 makes me question my decision-making capabilities.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 5:43 PM
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158: That sucks. I am sorry. Question 1: Is there any kind of relocation payment owed you? Consult your local housing laws. Question 2: we moved when Φ was two weeks old, it can be done, don't let them bubble wrap the baby.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 6:00 PM
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Styrofoam peanuts are much more effective for infants. Or maybe the cornstarch biodegradable ones, you can eat them when you're done moving.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 6:07 PM
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Just chiming in to say that 158 sucks.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 6:22 PM
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158: ack. I'm sorry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:11 PM
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don't let them bubble wrap the baby

I was just a while ago thinking to myself about how I was going to want to move all the frozen breastmilk myself and not let the movers do it.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:50 PM
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152: I haven't read it, and based on your summary probably won't. It's too bad the article isn't better, because it's an important issue that very few people in the US are paying any attention to.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:53 PM
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I liked that New Yorker article pretty well. It definitely didn't really go anywhere, or address any issues, particularly, but it did a good enough job with atmosphere.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:57 PM
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158: You're in a month-to-month lease now, I presume? Or just worried about the next renewal cycle?


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:58 PM
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174: Was it by McPhee?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 7:58 PM
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176: heh, naw. Not that good.

175: we aren't month-to-month, so I suppose we are actually fine for a while? 158 was written before successfully googling whether leases had to be honored by the new owner (cautiously... yes?). It still is something we need to deal with post-haste since our rent is so far under market now; it isn't at all clear what we can afford in this climate so we will need to be very on top of things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 8:24 PM
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I liked that New Yorker article pretty well.

I did too! I was just a bit bummed that it wasn't, in the end, about anything other than the author's sense of place and interest in seeing a polar bear. As I said above, it's a hugely interesting subject and thus could have made for an atmospheric and substantive article.

Anyway, I'm sorry that you might have to move, whether sooner or later. You're welcome to stay here for as long as you want. We'd like another baby, and it would be ideal if it weren't ours. Unfortunately, the kids are too young to provide us with grandchildren -- our god-given right as Jews -- just yet.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 8:37 PM
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114: There are people who are generically toxic - for example, people who scream at others, insult them openly, try to push their buttons, badmouth them to others. The article's claiming that this basically doesn't matter to IT people, as long as the person also pulls their own weight, and doedn't steal credit.

This seems wrong to me, but I think it is actually a claim the article's making.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 8:37 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 10:54 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-29-13 10:54 PM
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Yeah, your lease can't be unilaterally cancelled by the landlord, even for a sale - the new owner just takes over the lease. Actually, the MLS listing for your building claims (to sellers) that the leases of the occupied units run until September 2014 (There is some extra possible wackiness with condo conversions, but nothing that takes less than a year to happen).

Probably a good time to re-read the classic "How to be a Tenant in Massachusetts and Avoid getting Ripped Off" http://www.gis.net/~groucho/tenant.html (reading the landlord version can be enlightening, too, though it's really all the same material).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 5:08 AM
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The article basically claims that toxic personalities don't matter, the no-assholes rule shouldn't be applied to the IT department, just find people who can do the work and they'll all get along somehow.

Which, hahaha, no, just no.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 5:33 AM
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183: Do disagree that the article basically says that, or do you disagree with the claim?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 5:42 AM
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183, 184:
My reading of the article is that it's about persuading managers and clients' to change their attitudes to individual geeks, not about geeks' attitudes towards one another. A reasonable objection might well be that it pays too little attention to possible personality problems among geeks themselves. It does, in fact, defend several behaviors that some non-geeks might consider evidence of personality problems: like complaining about what's going on to coworkers or supervisors. I don't have time to read it again right now, but I don't remember that it defends the managers it's targeted at going out and hiring jerks, as that would be defined by people who already agree with the article.

It's certainly true that working for someone who is really, really nice, but has no idea what's going on or how to talk to their subordinates, and has very definite ideas about how geeks should be managed (and often is nervous), can be infuriating. It's much easier to work for someone who sees the world basically the same way you do, even if they're opinionated or lack a few social graces.


Posted by: bianca steele | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 6:23 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 6:43 AM
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It's much easier to work for someone who sees the world basically the same way you do...

I'm not so sure about that. At least, I'm happy I work for somebody who doesn't think that the primary purpose of communication with others is to get raw material for puns.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 6:46 AM
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Never has discussion of an article in ComputerWorld been made in such detail or with such care.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 6:59 AM
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I also agree that, having seen many red pandas in captivity, they are wildly overrated.

Shut your filthy lying mouth and go back to your house on Wrong Opinions Estuary in Mistakenland.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 7:18 AM
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Back to school-related geeky activities, did anyone else play Academic Games in middle school?


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 9:51 AM
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190: Not me.

Question of my own: is it pretty much incontrovertible to condemn as racist a food truck named "Me So Hungry" that also has a female Asian employee wearing a branded shirt reading "Love You Long Time"?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 10:23 AM
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191: I'm leaning towards "yes".


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 10:29 AM
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Further 191: the question is oddly related to comment 404 in the Syria thread. Coincidence, or conspiracy?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 10:31 AM
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191: It depends. Is it Taylor Swift asking, or Hitler?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 11:28 AM
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194: I put that in the other thread.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 11:30 AM
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195: I was referencing your link. I have no sources of information outside of Unfogged.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 11:38 AM
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191: Super racist.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-30-13 1:34 PM
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arthegall!

I tried to post this comment earlier, but I was barred. I'm curious about that corporation.

I only have an old e-mail for you. Would you mind e-mailing me?

Thanks


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-31-13 6:47 AM
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