01-09-11 - On Ranting

In the last few weeks there have been an awful lot of rants on other tech blogs that I follow. (there have also been a lot of pointless "year end summaries" and "keep alive" posts; something about being on vacation for the holidays makes people write a lot of drivel). As a long time ranter, allow me to give you all some tips.

Don't rant about boring shit that everybody already knows. eg. Windows is so annoying, OpenGL is all fucked up, C++ is not what it should be, producers don't understand developers, blah blah blah, snooze. If you want to rant about some boring shit to blow off some steam, at least make it funny or angry or something. Don't take yourself too seriously. eg. don't make bullet-pointed outlines of your ranting. It's fucking ranting, ranting is juvenile, it's self-indulgent, it's ill-conceived, don't dress it up like it's a fucking academic paper.

Moving on.

We watched about 15 minutes of Scott Pilgrim (cringing the whole time) before turning it off in disgust. Can we fucking get past this comic book fad already? Just because you call them "indie" or "graphic novels" or whatever doesn't make them any less vapid. And no more superheroes please.

I'm fucking sick of seeing the NYT talk about how some banker or mortgage criminal "lost $100M in the financial crisis". That's ridiculous. First of all, when your pay is in stock or equity or whatever and the value goes down, you aren't really losing pay. You can't set your norm point at the highest value of the stock; if you're a sensible trader or gambler, you don't book the value of your win until you cash it out, and you know that your positive variance one year may well be balanced by negative variance in another. But the main issue is that these people really *made* massive amounts on the financial crisis. Just because they lost back a little at the end doesn't mean they lost overall. Some fucking Goldman or Lehman crook made $50 M over the last 10 years by speculating with free government funds, over-leveraging, and selling off bogus mortgage packages. Then they lost $10 M at the end. You didn't fucking lose $10M on the crisis, you liar, you *made* $40M on it. If you profitted in the bubble that ran up to the collapse, you did not lose money. It is absolutely not comparable to people (or pension funds or municipalities) who made money over many years, and then invested it in vehicles they were told were very safe and conservative, and then lost most of it.

I get a similar cognitive dissonance when I see small business owners who are "struggling". They drive a fancy new car, they have a big house, they eat out fancy food all the time, and yet their "business is hardly making it". Wait a fucking minute. The division between your personal finances and your company's is of your own making. How can it be that you are in the pink and your business is struggling because of the recession? Are you still paying yourself salary? Are you still illegally taking cash from the company till and paying your personal expenses as if they were business expenses? Then don't fucking tell me you're struggling. It's bizarre, and yet this behavior is completely standard for sole-proprietors. It seems like these people just don't even make the cognitive connection between the two; I met a guy at a track day last year who would alternate between talking about the new car he was buying, and the fact that his business was struggling, and there was no hint that he considered the two topics at all related.

A common retarded winter time rant that I see is how the city is fucking up the snow preparedness, they aren't doing enough plowing or salting or chaining buses or whatever you think they should be doing. This usually goes along with "government is incompetent" rants from small-government idealogues (occasionally you get some "they should privatize it" harmonies). Ummm... hello. You guys are the ones who have crippled our local governments by starving them of any income. They literally have no money, and now you're complaining that they aren't spending enough to take care of the streets?

Seattle's entire annual budget for pot hole repairs is $3M. It was cut last year due to general budget shortfalls, and the four teams were reduced to three. Well that $3M is already spent, and we have finally announced some emergency pot-hole fillers, which is now coming out of the general street maintenance fund (which is a paltry $42M) which will cripple other programs. Among other things, the pot-hole repairs are temporary, and spending more on pot-hole filling means having less cash to repave streets, which means the problem just gets worse year after year. (Seattle's general budget for transportation has been below maintenance level since 1995 ). (see also here or here ).

Seattle's budget for street repairs on non-arterial streets is $0. Zero. It has been $0 since the 90's. Seattle's budget to even *look* at non-arterial streets is $0. There is no survey of non-arterial street condition and no program to pave them. (see here )

BTW buses are in a similar situation to the streets. Maintenance has been deferred for years, it's the easy/sleazy/lazy way for politicians to cut budgets to comply with the retarded voters wish to starve the government - you simply slash those pesky repair budgets and let things gradually decay.

I only know the details in Seattle, but it seems like the same retarded contradictory outroar goes up all over America. One week it's "the government isn't taking care of the streets well enough!" and the next week it's "we need to cut government spending!". Uhh.. do you guys just not see the connection between these two issues? You can moan about taxes or you can moan about shitty government services, but you can't moan about both! (at least not in a place like WA where there *are* no taxes).

In other "you all are retarded about taxes" new; WA is desperately out of money at all levels of government, services are being cut everywhere, and of course the government is turning to horrible non-tax ways of raising money; all sorts of fees are going up, Seattle is increasing the parking meter rate dramatically, and our very limitted number of public prosecutors are now being assigned to traffic court to get revenue : Why It Just Got a Lot Harder to Fight a Traffic Ticket in King County - Seattle News - The Daily Weekly
Kitsap aims to turn traffic court into money maker
So watch out WA speeders, it may no longer be quite to trivial to make tickets disappear here.

In other news, last week the NYT ran this amazing chart of stock return for various entry and exit years . It's a beautiful piece of info-graphics.

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old rants