Another Mini-Review: Frankenstein

Have now read 42 out of 116 of the works in the Essential Sci Fi Library as suggested by John C. Wright. Latest conquest: Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.

frankenstein
Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. But it would be nice to at least have a plan…

Oddly, this seminal classic is way more chick book than sci fi – it must be 75% descriptions of landscapes and how people feel about things, 24% journeys and adventures, and maybe 1% science. The entire description, such as it is, of the making of the monster is about 2 pages long, with maybe another 5 devoted to the protagonist learning some science – and that’s it. Science doesn’t really figure into it otherwise. Like Star Trek’s Heisenberg Compensater, it Just Works.

There’s nothing wrong about that – Ray Bradbury wrote some classic stories similarly lean on science. And it is an amazing outpouring of creative genius for anyone, let alone someone 18 years old, to come up with the idea of a non-magical man-made monster and make a compelling story about it. So it is in many ways a commendable story, and I’m sure it was mind-blowing back in the early 1800s, when nothing like it had ever been seen before outside myth and fairy-tale. As true Sci Fi, It differs from fantasy in that, other than a world altered by science, the setting is true to life within the normal rules.

I complained earlier about the failure of Shelly to provide sufficient handwavium to account for the monster being a genius and an athletic superman, and for coming off the reanimation table totally healed so that he didn’t pop a bunch of sutures the moment he stood up, scream in agony and collapse into a pile of component parts. But these are minor complaints. Mrs Darwin points out a much more disturbing feature of the story: Frankenstein’s  near total amorality. Throughout the story, between scenes where he’s expressing florid love of his family and friends, he pretty much treats them like dirt unless he needs something from them. He’s a self-absorbed jerk, who goes away to college and can’t be bothered to write his family a letter to let them know he’s alive despite their pleading letters to him. He creates a monster, then promptly abandons it when it proves too ugly (?!). He never seems to realize he’s responsible for it and what it does – until it starts killing people. Or rather – worse – he sort of recognizes his duty, but it’s just so ugly! boo hoo hoo!

Spoilers: 

Continue reading “Another Mini-Review: Frankenstein”

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Important Paleoanthropological Find: An Old Astro-Fab Brochure

(We are here straining the limits of the randomness that defines (note: that’s a joke, there) this here blog. You’ve been warned.)

The joy associated with emptying my late sister’s house was increased dramatically by the discovery of an ancient brochure put together for my dad’s business. Step aside, H. naledi – I got your earth-shaking find right here.

Love the stylized fabrication/engineering icons on the right. In case it’s not clear, from top to bottom: roll-forming a sheet of metal; (guessing) grinding wheel; welding; punch; die-forming in a brake press, engineering.

In 1962, my dad, Sid Moore, started a sheet metal fabrication company he named, in the spirit of Sputnik and Mercury, Astro-Fab:

Astro-Fab 1
The brochure scanned so poorly I’ve been reduced to iPhone pictures – thus the skew. There seem to be *2* Nash Ramblers parked up against the building – for the life of me, I can’t remember anyone driving a Nash.

I love the groovy name coupled with the Old West typeface – don’t know what, if any, thought went into that, but it’s weirdly cool.

My first real job, at age 11 or 12, was sweeping that building every Saturday. Armed with a push broom, a trash barrel, and a bucket of that dust-suppressing oily sawdust stuff, you worked your way through the paint area, shipping and receiving, material storage, welding, shearing, forming/brake press area, to layout and fabrication – 8 hours later, the floor was pretty clean, for a building housing a bunch of oily, spattery machines run by a bunch of sweaty guys.

Astro-Fab 3
That’s a lot of floors to sweep, there.

At a buck an hour, I was probably wildly overpaid – but I worked hard, and, to this day, have some serious sweeping chops, even though my hands have gone soft – no more callouses on my palms. Over Saturdays and summers through age 19, ended up learning how to do most of the manual stuff – never did layout or welding (except for spot-welding, which is different), but most everything else – punch press, fabricator, shears, brake-press, grinding, painting. And lots of sweeping up and getting rid of the scrap metal (which might be the most dangerous job in the shop – that stuff is sharp and pointy!).

Astro-Fab 6
Representative stuff we made.

The real hardship, such as it was, was the lack of insulation. Inside that building it was often well over 100F in the summer, and it took a long time to warm up in the winter. As hard as it is to believe and contrary to the received mythology, it can get down near freezing in SoCal. When it did, that building stayed cold for most of the day. Working with your hands when they’re numb is not a lot of fun. Yea, yea, uphill both ways.

The brochure is from around when I started working there, maybe 1970. Astro-Fab had moved to this location a few years earlier, after it had outgrown the original shop. At home, it was just known as ‘the Shop’, as in: dad’s going to the Shop. It was located a couple blocks into Pico Rivera from Whittier, right off Whittier Blvd, in LA county.

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I look remarkably like the Old Man. I think it’s the haircut…

Astro-Fab meant that we went from a family of 9 kids getting by on the wages of a sheet metal worker (certainly doable, but as much fun as it sounds) to living pretty well, in the working-class idea of what that means. by 1970, there was a nice house where the kids (mostly) had a bedroom to themselves, new cars every few years, a one-week vacation usually to the mountains or beach, and my dad could write a check to send me to college (it was a lot cheaper back then, but still). I am grateful. Certainly, my older siblings got very little of that.

Anyway, here’s to Astro-Fab, the American Way, and hard work. These are not myths, but reality. They are certainly not the only things or most important things, but they are real.

The Wealth of Nations as Understood by Heinlein

I’ve come across this quotation a couple places recently, most notably Gerry Pournelle’s excellent blog:

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

“This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

– Robert A. Heinlein

I’d admire this quotation more if it weren’t dead wrong. But first, what it is right about:

Poverty is the normal condition of man. Yes. Up until a couple centuries ago, human population and human activity was greatly restricted by the minimum sustainable harvest farmers in the area could produce. Think about this: you had good years, and bad years. In the bad years, people starved, or, more often, people who were already weak died, while the relatively stronger were weakened, and thus more susceptible to disease and accident. That’s why, prior to modern times, 80% or more of the people in any civilization were involved in producing food. In living memory, 80% of the Chinese were peasant farmers.

It is indeed poverty when you can’t be sure you won’t starve to death from one year to the next. Add to this the ubiquity of war, where armies ‘lived off the land’, meaning pillaged and plundered (and raped) their way through the country side, leaving the villagers more likely to starve if they weren’t murdered outright or enslaved, and that’s poverty.

Further, social gravity does tend toward despotism and tyranny. It’s a lot of work keeping any decent government up and running. A constitutional monarchy is a chore; a Republic under a representative democracy is constant hard work. People are lazy, especially if the slip into tyranny is slow and imperceptible. Representative democracies with free markets are the best way so far found to create abundance and stave off starvation.

So far, so good.

Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. This is too narrow a view. You need many people committed to sustaining the culture and government before the ‘extremely small minority’ can do their thing. Think of it as social infrastructure – under a despot, no one has rights to life, liberty or the pursuit of property. No entrepreneur or inventor stands much of a chance. At best, he’ll get benign neglect, at least until he does something beneficial enough to come to the attention of the tyrant. At worst – and this is far more common – the powers that be see any innovation as a threat. They rely, for the most part, on people sleep-walking their way through life, not spending much time imagining things could be otherwise than they are. People committed to changing things are dangerous.

However, Heinlein is correct that ‘all right-thinking people’ fear independent creativity and the independent wealth and power it tends to create, because right-thinking people, by definition, think what their masters want them to think. Thus, all who seek to expand tyranny oppose activities that tend to promote independence – and nothing promotes independence like having enough wealth to flip the Man the bird.

Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. True, but looked at inside-out: The tiny minority (and, frankly, it’s not all that tiny – there are millions of go-getters in America, even today) can only be kept from creating or driven out if the people at large have failed in their duty to preserve the Republic, to constantly enforce and reinforce the rule of law. Some creativity may take place with the patronage of a noble, but that same patronage tends to keep a lid on any change that might threaten it. In general, throughout history, the concept of a Commonwealth – of a people holding the nation itself as property (think: intellectual property rather than just Nation Parks) – is essential to any real material progress.

Think of Pericles’s funeral oration in Thucydides – the whole point is to show that Athens – not just the dirt underfoot, not just the monuments, but the whole intellectual content including history and art and everything that makes up a culture – was worth dying for, was worth loving. Every citizen had a share in this, and deserved honor for defending it. All that was lacking was for Christianity to infuse the Greek-loving Imperial Romans with the notion that each man was loved by God, that each was a special, worthy creation. Thus, the commonwealth becomes that upon which citizens rely for their freedom to become what their Creator made them to be.

Also, the ‘here and there, now and then’ line is denying the obvious: that sustained material progress is entirely the product of the West, of Christendom. It’s not some furtive, random thing at all – it took place when Jerusalem and Athens met in Rome. And nowhere else.

“This is known as ‘bad luck’.” OK, right again.

More Unintended Consequences: CEO Pay

From American Enterprise Institute via Isegoria via a William Briggs tweet (phew!). Not sure I buy that this is the complete story, but it seems to me that, given human nature – especially of the board of directors who would be accusing themselves of incompetence if they were to admit their CEO, the guy they picked to lead the company, was not at least average – that this accounts for much of the boom in CEO salaries.

Sometimes, true explanations are just this petty and stupid.

On multiple occasions the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] amended its rules to increase the disclosure of compensation data and to force boards to explain their rationale for the amounts. That, combined with the influence of the arbiters of corporate governance, created an inviolable requirement for compensation committees to be advised by consultants. A perfect recipe for increasing compensation.

Let me explain in my own case. I asked only that I be paid at market for my position and performance, and that my compensation be very heavily weighted to performance. Henceforth, I could rely on our consultants to provide essentially perfect market data on comparative compensation, accompanied by recommendations appropriate in light thereof, and there was really no need for much discussion or worry as long as our company was successful.

You can guess how it works. No board that isn’t about to fire its CEO really wants to admit that their CEO is a less-than-average performer by paying him or her less than average. But if the lowest-paid CEO’s are always being brought up to the average, then the average increases every year. Then for the high performers to be paid well, their compensation needs to be increased, but that raises the average… and so on every year. And the compensation committee and the board always have this market data before them, the recommendations of their consultants and “best practices” to adhere to. These influences are not easily resisted. You see the result.

Like many regulatory unintended consequences, it’s hard for me to see an easy way back. But it’s more than an academic question if you are a director serving on a compensation committee.

Read it all at the various sites linked above.

One of the most common shortcomings of modern discussions is the inability of many people to imagine themselves in the positions of those they want to judge. The most egregious example is National Socialism – those guys were just evil, not at all like us. Unlike the evil and twisted German professional classes in which Nazism flourished – you know, lawyers, doctors, teachers, bureaucrats –  our professional classes are nothing but sweetness and light, and would never fall to the peer pressure and demagoguery that those evil Germans fell for.

Right. We don’t have to worry about falling for demagoguery and peer pressure because we’re fundamentally better people than your typical 1930s German dentist. I wish I were kidding, and that people don’t actually think this way…

Here, a much less inflammatory example: if we somehow found ourselves in a nice cushy Board of Director’s job, we would never fall for all this gotta pay our CEO at least average CEO pay pressure, because enlightened! Instead, we’d resign! Or fight for a lower salary, then watch our CEO quit for a better-paying job, and then have to hire somebody else – at above average pay, or else we’re admitting we can’t find an above-average candidate….

Political Long Knives; ‘Word Gap’; Orwell Comes Home

Even more scatterbrained and distracted than usual, so here’s a drive by of topics off-leash in my brain:

I. To understand politics, you must understand sales and marketing. Machiavelli and Sun Tsu help, but in a democracy, especially one winding down before our eyes, sales and marketing almost IS politics. Thus, when outside money hires a notorious PR hit firm to go after Archbishop Cordelione of San Francisco, this is merely the kimono slipping open a bit – this is simply how it is done. We don’t often notice it – who’s going to tell us? The press? – but this is what politics is about these days.

To a political animal, it’s all about market share and stickiness. Get the idea that the Archbishop is some sort of hate-filled ogre to stick in enough minds, and it ceases to matter – politically – what he actually does or says. The end game, as envisioned by his enemies, is to render him so hamstrung that the Pope is forced to appoint an Episcopalian to replace him. As insane and delusional as this sounds to a Catholic, it makes utter and perfect sense to a Bay Area political animal. My only fear is that His Excellency is so obviously competent and holy that he may get promoted out, which will cause a declaration of victory and dancing (probably naked) in the streets. This is San Francisco we’re talking about, and I used to live there. Then, if there’s any justice in the world (I slay me) we’d get a John Vianney clone as a successor – he got upset with folk dancing, he’s have called fire down on the Pride parade.

Never planned on doing sales & marketing type stuff, only wandered into it 18 years ago when I started my current job at a tiny company (I was employee #8) and it turned out to be what was needed. I could do it because, first, I had that MBA, but, far more important, I’d spent about 8 years of my career prior working with or for sales people. I’d worked for a couple high-end sales people, and got to observe how they worked. That’s why, when it came time to negotiate price with gigantic companies, I hired one of them – that’s sticking your head in the lion’s mouth, not a trick for somebody who doesn’t know lions real well.

Here we’re talking about high-end sales people, who make million dollar sales to big corporations, as well as mass-marketing sales managers, who sell millions of people on an idea. Politics is an odd blend of both, as the Pitch must be made to both big donors and millions of potential voters.

Anyway, a couple points:

A. Good sales people are always thinking of the big picture. A used car salesman is generally trying to sell you one car once – a big ticket salesman is thinking how he can get a relationship going that will continue to generate sales for years to come;

B. Good sales people are obsessed with the competition: Your car insurance guy hates it if your house is with another company, because he know that other company will be pitching you car insurance. He knows this because that’s exactly what he would do.

C. Brand loyalty is the Holy Grail. When brand loyalty has been achieved, the victim has been sold an idea – that Apple products are way cool, or that Republicans are the epitome of eeeevil – so that he has been rendered impervious to pitches from the other side and can be counted on to buy whatever your selling (1)

D. Good sales people are always selling. They become the Pitch. Everything they do or say is evaluated against the Pitch.

E. A cold, cruel natural selection will weed out all those who fail at A – D above. After a very short while, only the big, ruthless sharks are left.

BTW – this is why having senators appointed by their state legislature was a brilliant design feature of the Constitution, as well as having the President elected by an electoral college selected by the states – it would have put two and a half out of three branches at at least some remove from the constant campaigning which is the defining characteristic of modern politicians. But see B above – a salesman sees a somewhat independent Senate and President as a threat and an opportunity, and will therefore not rest until they are brought to heel. One becoming a Senator is dependent upon pleasing the marketing machine that is the Party, then getting appointed to the Supreme Court by that Senate is likewise brought under Party control.

1. Thus, LBJ, an absolute stone master politician, will say to a couple of southern governors in regards to the Civil Rights Act: “I’ll have them n****rs voting Democratic for two hundred years.” He understands his audience and their shared goal. The n****rs are just marks. Brand loyalty is the goal.

II. Leah Libresco is talking about the “word gap” – the difference in vocabulary between well-off and poor kids. After a cursory reading (the comments are good, too) I respectfully disagree – Leah starts in right away with suggesting systemic cures to what is, really, a minor symptom of bigger problems.

For example:

The parents in the study don’t have any period where they work fewer hours, and so the researchers don’t see what their child would sound like if their parents had more moments to concentrate entirely on their child, or were less tired when they came home, or simply were home earlier in the day.

For the most part, more well off parents are more well off because they’re working. During the time when we had 4 small children in our house, I was working 50+ hours a week, and was frequently out of town on business; my wife worked at least that much, at the schools our children attended. Sure, there are some less well off parents who work more than we did, but, really, saying that work is causing the word gap? Unlikely.

Parents are meant to take on the role of Adam, but most homes aren’t Edenically diverse. Alone in a house, there are only so many things to name and elicit the color, shape, and number that describe them. If parents hit a breaking point when asked to read Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooiead nauseum, how much more exhausting can it be to endlessly iterate the objects in the house, without so much as a plot or a rhyme scheme to hold them together?

Huh? Does Leah really think that parents of articulate kids with large vocabularies got them by taking them to the park, pointing and naming things, and then drilling the kids on it?(2)  And that the problem is that a typical home lacks for items to name? If only they could get out more, their vocabularies would grow? As a parent of 5 kids, that sounds a bit psychotic. Sure, when the kids were babes in arms learning their first words, you may point stuff out and name it. But once they start talking at all, you talk with them, read them stories, involve them in your lives.

I do remember, once or twice, doing vocabulary stuff for fun. A couple of the kids were taking an English class, in which the teacher liked to playfully use $10 words in her examples, and the kids asked me for some ammo with which to fire back. We came up with a flashy sentence that they all still remember, but I forget, something like: Desist, jackanapes, or I shall defenestrate you with utmost alacrity. Sounds pretty good coming from an 8 year old.

The point of all this: Christ demands – and it’s a tough demand for me – that we get involved in other people’s lives. Love one another, and all that. And, frankly, that’s what’s missing, not vocabulary or education. The

2. Counter-example: I have a massively larger vocabulary than either of my parents – because I read books for pleasure. Dad grew up on a farm; mom’s family was the only non-farming family among her Czech immigrant relatives. Neither did college. Over the key 0 – 11 age range, I almost never saw my dad – he was starting a business, and either working, eating or sleeping 23.5+ hours a day. And was grouchy the other half hour. Mom was raising 9 kids, and so didn’t really spend time asking us what color our socks were.

So, shouldn’t we have poor vocabularies? 6 out of 9 kids went on to get college degrees, including 5 master’s and one JD.

Something else is at work.

III. Do people just not get what Orwell was saying? That totalitarian dictatorship is the end game, once language is bled of all meaning and we are all turned into liars? Winston Smith KNOWS that we have not always been at war with Eastasia – that’s the point. You reduce a man to a coward and a pliable fool by making him say things that he knows are not true. He begins to hate the truth, as it shows him to be a coward. 2-minute hates become a ritual expression of self-loathing.

We cannot even look to see what individual people are like. We merely need to know: do they speak our language? No amount of evil done to the enemies that tell the truth is too much – not that we’d call it evil, it’s just prudent actions against dangerous foes who will not get in line. Traitors. Terrorists, even.

Today, we are all required to use words in ways that are contrary to their meanings. One theory, which when stated contradicts itself, is that words don’t really have meaning, therefore we are free to make them mean whatever we want. Triumph of the will, and all that.

Once this process is complete – and it is nearly complete here in lovely California – a kinder, gentler totalitarianism is already here.

IV. This is the guy hired with outside money to run the smear campaign on Archbishop Cordelione. Notice his lack of, uh, commitment to the truth. After all, truth? What is that?

Friday Potpourri

1. This morning, over coffee with my wife and daughter, we were discussing a recent project to refloor the kitchen at Diablo Valley School using one of those prefab wood-looking vinyl ‘flooring systems’ (gah!). The young dad who headed up the project is what we call ‘handy’, a term of art among people who are accomplished at working with their hands. The subject of layout so as to get a nice look across the two rooms involved came up, and I used the term ‘snap a line’.

Is the phrase ‘snap a line’ a shibboleth? Would it distinguish the ‘handy’ from the civilians?

I suppose that many people my age straddle two worlds. I grew up with people who said things like ‘snap a line’, ‘throw a tape on it’, ‘eyeball it’, among other colorful phrases, and said things like ’12 gauge galvanized’ as a complete description of an article. Men who could fix their own car or a brake press, and build a shed or a house if need be.

Then I went to school, and for the first time, was among the sons and daughters of lawyers, doctors and other professionals. One summer, a team of my fellow students got together to help build a hall for a church. I vividly remember talking to another guy about how amazed I was at people for whom a hammer or a hand saw were mysterious foreign objects, how they’d choke up on the hammer or bend the saw blade trying to get them to work, with little success. No sooner had I spoken than over wanders the son of a prominent doctor, who picks up a saw and starts in doing exactly the awkward unspeakable things with it to an innocent 2×4 that we’d been just discussing.

My reaction to the idea that my college student buddies’ dads and families were more enlightened or intelligent, somehow, than the working stiffs I grew up with is visceral. The guy who did the layout work at my dad’s sheet metal shop was as smart as most of the professors I’d had; the dude who ran the brake presses was a skilled and competent as any accountant. Sure, there was this tiny minority of academics and professionals who really were the cream of the crop, intellectually – but the run of the mill? Utter mediocrities.

Just like there are stupid welders and farmers, there are stupid doctors, lawyers and college professors. That layout guy grew up on a farm in the hills of Arkansas, joined the Navy, passed through California and decided he’d like to live there. His meticulous, orderly mind, with which he could have learned surgery or constitutional law, was instead applied to translating blue prints and specs into finished product, so that less skilled men could follow the steps and get good results. That brake press guy came from a family that immigrated to California from Mexico. His attention to detail and care and accuracy could easily have been translated to any number of professions. But, for him, doing brake press work was a satisfying and meaningful use of his talents. He could, if he wanted to, take a drive through downtown L.A. and point to the fascia on a number of buildings, and say: I did that.

These are the sort of people who, if you were looking at that floor at school, would know exactly what you meant if you said: throw a tape on that, then we can snap a line and eyeball it from there.

And it would come out beautiful.

2. I’ve pointed out previously the distinction between human endeavors where reality can be used to validate theories, and ones that are impervious to real-world outcomes. An engineer, an accountant, a physicist, even a mathematician – they can make ‘mistakes’, they can fail. The building falls down, the columns don’t foot, the tracks in the bubble chamber don’t map, and the theorem can be disproven. Other areas are immune to trial, but rely on, I don’t know, intellectual consonance – they feel right, I guess. It takes discipline to say, for example, ‘As far as we can tell, the Book of Genesis was first compiled and written down during the Babylonian Captivity, but of course records are sketchy back then, to say the least’ versus ‘the Book of Genesis was first compiled and written down during the Babylonian Captivity.’ The first is a reasonable guess, and the reasonable expectation is that we could look at the evidence and tentatively agree or disagree; the second is simply telling us what’s true – except, barring the invention of a Pastwatch or other time machine, we’ll never know.

History is full of weird, unlikely things that happen to be true. It’s just possible, for example, that Genesis was written down or orally established in its current form centuries before the first evidence for it that is known to us. And we’ll never know, and need to be humble before that fact.

And this is a relatively harmless example. Once you loose that humility before the unknowable, the hounds of Hell are unleashed. Once the unleashed get to be department chairs (and thus, gatekeepers) they can keep out those annoying people who disagree. That’s how we end up with Studies departments, in which it can be safely asserted are NO voices that challenge any of the wild leaps upon which the intellectual structures, such as they are, get built.

I keep thinking that handy guys would be less inclined to fall for this kind of stuff. Maybe.

3. A very cool thing is happening in sports: using advanced statistical analysis to determine the value of players, plays, and behaviors. It’s actually been going on for decades, first in baseball (which has lots of discrete events, such as pitches and at-bats, that are easier to observe and quantify) and now is hitting its stride in basketball (which has few discrete events – every shot or foul or turnover is part of a very fluid context of moving players doing different things). The interesting part: the stat geeks can come up with observations: teams that shoot a lot of 3-point shots do better, comparatively, than teams that don’t . The initial reaction of a coach or player is to say: yea, teams that shoot a lot of 3 point shots are the ones that tend to have the better 3-point shooters. Having better 3-point shooters makes your team better, QED.

Then, the stat heads come back: even for teams that shoot a lower than average made 3-point shot percentage, it’s better to shoot more 3s.

And here’s where the fun begins: the claim is that your team would be better off shooting more 3s even if your percentage made is worse than average. Why? Now we need to get some theories going, and then test them. The latest advance in professional basketball is a thing called SportsVu – a set of cameras that watch entire games and track the location of every player, their proximity to all other players, whether they have the ball or not, and a gillion other things. NOW we can see what happens when teams start chucking up 3s at a higher clip – and miss. We can test theories.

So, we have a situation where there are millions – billions, really – of dollars riding on the outcome of these analyses. Players will be cut or hired based on their ability to implement theory; coaches and GMs will be judged by how well their teams conform to theoretical optimums. One player on our local team, the Warriors, is Draymond Green, who was a second round pick a few years ago after a less than dazzling college career. His traditional professional stats – points, rebounds, assists – are very pedestrian. But – according to advanced analysis, he is a superstar. All sorts of good things happen when he plays, the most important of which is that team tends to win when he plays.

Green is up for a new contract the end of this year. As little as a year ago, he would be looking at getting at most $3-4 million a year (a middling NBA salary); based on his SportsVu and other fancy stats, he is now looking at getting $17 million a year or more – from some hard-headed business people who are convinced by the advanced statistics.

Funny ol’ world, isn’t it?

Business Directive Captured in the Wild

Prudence dictates I not say where this pearl comes from, but I have to share a directive some poor marketing person was given to work on this year:

Core value messaging to position [product] as a strategic optimizer.

Who among us would not throw his heavily-laden wallet at a product whose core messaging positioned it as a strategic optimizer? Hard to argue with that! Hard, in fact, to do much of anything with such a plenipotent sentence fragment.

Happy New Year!