A growing startup company trap

If you want to do something right, do it yourself…  Yes. I know it well.

ren-stimpy-you-eediot-02-small But this is also a trap when running a project or company. If you don’t find and develop people who can and will, you will be stuck forever in that rut. It is also an Achilles heel for those with excellent technical competence for two reasons. Both reasons have to do with the psychology of high-performing technical people and is common with engineers, scientists, and such.

First, such people are competitive, even hyper-competitive and driven. This makes it hard for the hyper-competent to find people better than or equal to themselves – both because such people aren’t common, and because competitive people tend to unconsciously dislike people who might surpass them.

Second, for people that the most competent hire, the experitweety_and_sylvester_by_SisterNightmare-smallence can be difficult. This is because the hyper-competent boss tends to feel threatened by people who are too competent. And because of that position, the very competent boss can set himself (or herself) up to win. This is a particularly difficult problem with managers because the competitive psychology needs to win, and feels best of all when winning against a competitor the manager unconsciously feels is better than themselves.

As a result, top technical talent tends to have three management issues. A. The unconscious selection of people less competent than they are because it makes them feel better. B. Beating and finding fault with people equal to or better than they are because that makes them feel better, and they are the boss. C. Driving out the most competent because they feel threatened.

There are also mammalian endocrine issuesAlpha-wolf2. Mammals who are higher in the hierarchy are faster, stronger, and have better cognition. It’s automatic. Those rising in a hierarchy also display these characteristics. Those who have a negative experience will have endocrine effects to match that tends to slow cognition. At the extreme, this “beta-status” manifests as depression. These effects play out in corporations and projects as well.

This is why it is fairly common that people who have Con-managersome talent as con-men, or who know they are not in the same league, but have high emotional intelligence, can be so successful. Such people don’t compete with those they hire. And they tend to be quite good at spotting talent.

So, when you find yourself in this situation, while it may be true, it is something to spend some time pondering how to change it. It’s good to ask yourself:

“Am I competing with my staff?”
“If I’m not, why did this happen – ask that question 5 times.” e.g. If someone failed, why? And why did that why occur? And why did that why of the why happen? The “5 Why’s” method was coined at Toyota, because it generally got to the root cause. Sometimes it’s deeper, sometimes not 5 deep. But it’s a good rule.
“What do I need to do to change the root cause? To change the parts of the causal chain?” e.g. Perhaps it’s training. Perhaps it’s a money problem. Perhaps it’s more sleep. This is an exploration.
“Is there something I can change? If so, how?”

5-Why-Toyota

It is also good to remember Edward Deming’s first rule. Everything that happens is by definition the fault of management. His philosophy of management, which was very successful, is that with rare exceptions, staff want to succeed and do excellent work. So management needs to figure out how to let them do that. On that foundation, implement continuous improvement.  Deming- circle

 

What’s wrong with “Selma”?

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Nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. -MLK

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. -MLK

Selma’s false history are the root of the weakness of its drama. Selma’s historical lies are serious, and its omissions robs the film of humanity and even flatters bigots.

President Johnson, was not against MLK, nor was he against civil rights. Johnson understood and hated southern bigotry, hypocrisy, lynchings, and the rest of that good old boy garbage. Johnson was a key ally, a strong progressive, the man who called for, and got, “The Great Society.” It is as great a falsehood to depict Johnson as an opponent as it would be to depict Dr. King as a terrorist. It’s just not true. The director, Ava DuVernay, excused it as necessary to provide dramatic tension.

However, J. Edgar Hoover definitely was an opponent of Dr. King, and Hoover tried to shut down the civil rights movement by using the FBI as his personal instrument of felony blackmail. We have documentation that Hoover harassed Dr. King, smeared Dr. King, and in a blackmail letter threatening to reveal King’s affairs, appears to call on MLK to commit suicide. There is reason to suspect the possibility of Hoover’s complicity in James Earl Ray’s purported murder of MLK, and the real possibility that Ray was innocent. That letter linked to above was carefully hidden for decades, and redacted in ways that prevented the finger of investigation pointing back at Hoover. What is documented of Hoover’s actions toward Dr. King is criminal, and despicable.

If DuVernay was unaware of those basic facts, that ignorance is hard to excuse. But if she is aware of them, (and it doesn’t take much to find them) then we must conclude that Ava DuVernay is unable or unwilling to face the grim reality of black history, which is Ava’s own history. J. Edgar Hoover was not only a closeted gay man, Hoover was passing for white. Those facts are also documented today.

So why didn’t Ava stick to real history?  If she had used real history, she would have hammered a nerve that is current today, and her movie would be winning awards. She would have nailed one of the key horrors of racism and lynchings in the old south that is whitewashed even today. That some of the most vile  enforcers of racial bigotry in the USA were people like J. Edgar Hoover: black ancestry, with dark-skinned relatives, and passing for white.

Ava chose not to tell the real story, that an out-of-control FBI director, a black man passing as white, led the opposition to King and quite probably killed him.

The real story would have shown how racism even poisons families based on skin color. The real story would show how some people with black ancestry choose not just to run away from their heritage, but to viciously turn on their own. The real story could have questioned whether James Earl Ray’s guilty plea was coerced, and shown that Ray tried for the rest of his life to clear his name. The real story would have shown how Dr. King had affairs, and tried to understand it. Dr. King was as human as they come. Yes, biopics tend to lie about their subjects. JFK’s affairs and the skinny-dipping starlets at the White House pool parties are left out if his profiles. I don’t think that makes it right though.

Beyond that key piece of black history there are other egregious errors that let historical activists against civil rights off the hook, and somehow ignores others who were key helpers. Selma puts the Orthodox Christian church into the marches on the side of Dr. King. But that church’s leader hated King and worked against civil rights. The movie removes the role of American Jews strong (and key) support for King and for black civil rights completely. That wholesale removal of Jewish support is like leaving France out of the story of the American revolutionary war.

So, that is how a little “dramatic license” on Ava DuVernay’s part is really not little at all. Ava’s film is so false, that if it were a white director who made a movie depicting black people so wrongly, that director would be called a bigot.

It is rare that history presents a true story with such a nemesis as J. Edgar Hoover. Great writers and directors don’t shy away from treason and treachery. These are part of the human condition. To portray how racism also infects its targets with self-hatred opens up depths inside us that need the light. Hoover is Shakespearian in power and scope, and not only for his black ancestry. Hoover was apparently a homosexual man who persecuted homosexuals.

The puzzle of why Hoover wasn’t in the film as Dr. King’s nemesis is something I will never understand. “Selma” could have been great.  I hope Ava has more courage to confront treachery and the uncomfortable next time.

3D printing is ridiculously hyped

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3D printed sculpture

I worked in computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) delivering the first working plantwide system for the auto business. Manufacturing must do every step in the most efficient way possible such that the overall process is optimized. Each part must also meet stringent quality standards that are different for the use each part has in the assembly. As an example, a modern automobile has 25,000 to 70,000 parts, contained in hundreds of subassemblies that go together. Customers get upset, and government agencies get involved if any of those parts don’t meet their mean time to failure (MTTF) targets, which targets are many years.
3D printing is just one method of producing a part. 3D printing is a very slow method; As a rule, it produces parts with poor hardness and strength compared to other methods of forming the same material. It produces parts with limited choices of materials. And 3D printing produces parts with lousy fit and finish characteristics. 3D printing does not produce completed assemblies. It produces parts. Parts don’t make an end product.
As a simple example, think of a steering wheel. Steering wheels are plastic, generally over metal frames. Consumers like sewn-on leather covers for them. Can you produce a steering wheel by 3D printing? You can produce something, yes. But it will not meet the strength and wear requirements. in an accident, it would probably break and penetrate the skin/body of the driver. And you can’t 3D print a luxury cover. Sure, one can compensate for a slow manufacturing process by having more production units. But that takes space on the factory floor, it takes more manpower to oversee it usually. And both of those things cost money. In manufacturing it’s all about three things:
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Flexibility

One of the big lessons driven home to me in CIM was exemplified by Steve Jobs decision to junk Apple’s state-of-the-art robotic manufacturing plant. Why did he do that? The Apple plant was top-notch, and had no quality problems. It was not absolutely lowest cost, but it was quite good. In a word, flexibility. Jobs found out that to make changes to a robotic plant full of software required huge lead times. If he had accepted that, we would not have iPhones, iPods, or any of the new Apple products today. They would not exist because it would take extra years to get them to market while the robotic/CIM people engineered the methods to produce them. And changes would be slower to implement.

3D printing has some flexibility. But it’s probably not as good as you would think. 3D printing’s flexibility is based on software. So backlog will be regulated by how efficiently designs can be done, implemented, and changed. But the cost per part and quality also have to be high for the production runs that repeat.

The auto business adopted 3D printing for prototyping decades ago. For that purpose it’s great. Manufacturers will rapidly adopt any method that works for them better. They have to. 3D printing in the home might happen. But I don’t see it as likely beyond hobbyists. The reason is simple. Consumers can get better manufactured items for a lot less through our industrial system. Running a printer is: A little smelly (if it’s plastic or metal), mildly toxic (if it’s plastic), requires expensive feed stock (expensive by the time the consumer gets it), prone to breakdown, and the end product is generally disappointing because products are made from multiple parts made from multiple different materials.
High-end 3D printers can be useful in vary specific situations as part of a support system. Having multiple printers that can make different material parts is very useful. Spaceships is one of those because transport/supply is either very expensive or impossible. It makes sense there. Similarly, military installations like Naval ships, submarines, or forward military bases could use that capability. Aircraft carriers have machine shops, just like universities do to support operations. 3D printing makes sense to add to that capability. Backed up by teams of engineers who can design, test and then send a completed design, it’s a great thing. That’s a killer app. Space and war-supply. Aside from that, it’s hobbyist stuff and specialty flexible machine shops like OMW who make small numbers of complex parts.

The Irony of Calico

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Calico, Google’s “Let’s defeat age!” company, is hiring. Dancing Snoopy Cartoon Vector-500x500

Applicants must have an M.D. and/or a Ph.D., and must show evidence of an outstanding, independent research record with international recognition in their specialized area. We invite applications from preeminent scientists who have run renowned, independent labs in either academia or industry. Applicants should have a notable publication record in top-tier journals.

Sergei Brin didn’t finish grad school. Neither did Larry Page, although, unlike Facebook’s founder, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, they did finish their undergraduate degrees.

Sure, in biosciences, education matters. But at least as important in academia is intellectual theft, backstabbing, and driving some of the best people out. In fact, the closer you get to medicine, the nastier it is in academia. I know this first hand. I became very suspicious by the time I was done with grad school when someone advanced quickly, got accolades, etc. Some were deserved. More than a few were not deserved in the least.

Perhaps it is because Page and Brin came out of Stanford’s grad school that they have this idea that real innovation and really getting there in aging is going to come out of trying to hire a paper-qualified people.

I don’t think it will.

What is Europe to do? Fiddle, fiddle and faddle

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The EU could break up and desert the Euro. That’s one idea that’s been floated a lot. Spain exit (Spexit), Greece exit (Grexit), or a north-south split that would create a united Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, (and a few others) into a south Euro (Seuro) union, with Italy leading, and leave the rest of the EU as the core are floating on the winds of bloviators. (Including moi.)

North-South Euro split

North-South Euro split South shown in Yellow.

Italy might take that deal if it could do well for Italy’s elites. And it probably would.

The EU can also move to a federal system with direct elections, similar to the United States. That would allow the income redistribution that the United States does.

Wealth transfer from the rich nations of the EU would allow the sort-of-basket-case nations of Europe to be able to buy again. (Greece, Spain, Portugal). It would draw down the coffers of the rich nations like Germany, because redistribution through taxes requires net transfer from the rich to the poor. Very Christian, that!

So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret…

The history of the current EU mess is that Germany used its dominance of the ECB to ensure huge loans went out to the periphery nations of the EU so that the periphery nations could and would buy German products. That debt held by the periphery nations is the positive balances in German banks. So wealth transfer’s not very palatable to Germany. They see it as “their money” much like most successful US citizens see their bank account positive balance as “their money” and the national debt as “those people’s problem!”

But, of course, all money in the modern world is debt money. Yes, dear. You can run, but you can’t stop spending it. Nor can you stop piling it up in your bank account.

Germans also pay their damn taxes. Italians weasel out of their damn taxes. Germany runs well and has good industrial systems humming along. Italy runs god knows how, and its families have an average net worth double that of German families. Why? Because Italians weasel out of their taxes. Their debt problem is roughly equal to the collective difference between Italian family net worth and German family net worth.

In addition, the nations of Europe are facing the demographic cliff of the baby boom. But the rich nations are benefiting from the problems of the periphery because they are getting the best workers (mostly young) from Spain, Portugal, Greece, etc. as immigrants. Germany and France are reluctant to let go of that. Lose the cream of Spain’s, Portugal’s and Greece’s young people? Also Ireland’s and Italy’s? Come now. What politician is going to tell the strongest voting group (old people vote) that to help out those deadbeats of the south, Germany has to starve its elderly retirees?

And what bureaucrat would let go of the bridle of extortion/blackmail he has on the deadbeat nations in the form of intimate knowledge of exactly what crimes were committed by the politicians running Spain, Portugal and Greece? (And to a lesser extent, Ireland.) With that sort of stranglehold over those nations, until the people of the debtor nations kick the SOBs out and there is no more stranglehold, the option of breakup is not very enticing now, is it? Not to the average bureaucrat it isn’t.

Put these factors together with the German fear of runaway inflation that makes them bow to the gods of austerity, and you have a stalemate. Germany won’t allow the EU to break up, split, or go federal until there is no other choice. France won’t want to go that direction on principle — perhaps never. It’s still true that French don’t like Germans and vice versa.

I remember walking across a bridge in Germany into France. There was shopping. My German hosts seemed put off by my wanting to walk across the river. I asked them if they did. They said never. The also said that French people didn’t walk across into Germany. It was very rare. Something about German army taking over France or something a while ago. Fusses folks.

Whatever happens, it’s not going to be easy. The politics of doing anythng at all are nearly impossible.

The EU is a bureaucracy. That means that like any bureaucracy, it will do the easiest thing possible now. As long as it kicks the can down the road, buys them more time, bureaucrats will be happy.

What’s the easy thing here? QE.

I predict QE by November.

The Eurozone EU Game – Oh, no! Oh, my! Oh, fiddle.

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Europe is stuck and has to do something. Loosening money is obvious, and generating the usual chorus of “what’s wrong with deflation” from the unwashed masses.

Dear unwashed masses. The ECB and Germany’s bankers know exactly what’s going down. They are desperately trying to have their low-no inflation and weak currency too. Looky here at what’s been going on in Europe.

1 year 2013-2014 Treasuries-All

Buyers and sellers of US Treasuries

Belgium (e.g. ECB) started sucking up treasuries (buying dollar) back in December of last year. They  gave up in April. But look at the top line in green “Grand total, all nations”. That’s been rising. How has it been rising?

June buyers and sellers of US Treasuries in billions

June buyers and sellers of US Treasuries in billions

June, there were some prominent buyers of treasuries. Germany, Belgium, Netherlands are EU core banking nations. Ireland and Spain are German lapdogs. Ooh, looky there! France is taking advantage! Go France! I’m not entirely sure what Taiwan and Brazil and Canada are up to, but my guess is that they also want to goose their economies by pumping up the dollar.

Switzerland and Luxembourg? I’d peg that activity as the gnomes acting on intelligence about the ECB and EU nation’s plans and jumping on for the ride. I’d watch Lux and Swiss turnaround to gauge when the party is over.

Instead of QE, what Europe has been doing this year (first through the ECB, and then through individual nations) is to manipulate the exchange rate by buying the dollar. Purchases of US treasuries by the ECB started in December, continued through March, then declined. Germany, the banking core, and the rest of Germany’s lapdogs took over buying like mad. France broke ranks and is making money selling the dollar.

The obvious goal is that the EU is trying to pump up the US dollar so Germany’s exports can be sold to the United States without cutting prices. (Price cutting on major exports across the board would be deflation.)

The obvious next step, if the national banks run out of money to buy dollars with is QE through the ECB. I suspect they will do that, probably in October or December, but possibly as soon as September 4th.

Meanwhile, the USA is also trying to lower the value of its own currency so that our exports are competitive too. Abenomics in Japan is trying to lower the value of Japan’s currency to make its export driven economy improve.

So it goes. Fantasy isn’t just for the unwashed masses. Fantasy works for politicians too! Go pols! 4a07e-dudley-do-right-cartoon-photos

My country’s leadership is brain-damaged

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The USA decided to push for NATO taking Ukraine with predictable Russian reaction. Somehow, in the USA’s media, the revolutionary coup army in Kiev is legitimate because the democratically elected president fled Ukraine. And the democratically elected secession of Crimea is illegitimate. Dude. That’s fucking insane. That’s horseshit straight out of Goebbels playbook. I’m appalled and astonished that Western media is parroting “Putin bad dictator” en masse. Sorry – I call them like I see them. Deal with it.

The USA forced Snowden to stay in Russia where we can’t touch him – unless he decides on his own to come home so he can go to prison. Our media and State Department (Kerry) spewed the immortal line, “Do the right thing.” Really. To Putin. Kerry, you fucking idiot, Putin did the right thing. For his team – no matter how you slice it.

Practical consequences for the USA.

  • Transportation to the International Space Station is compromised.
  • China and Russia have signed on to dump the dollar in oil transactions.
  • The world thinks we are idiots.
  • The world enjoys watching Uncle Sam with his pants pulled down to his ankles by Snowden.

Practical consequences for Russia

  • A few oligarchs can’t travel to the USA. Hey! Let’s push them into Putin’s arms! That will fix things! Not that doing so is a horrible idea for truth and justice. Those assholes did not come by their billions honestly.
  • Russia gets rid of any need to buy US dollars.
You what?

You what?

Martin Wolfe is batshit crazy – Strip private banks of their power to create money?

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I’m with Warren Mosler on this one. He and I don’t agree on everything, but this? Holy ham and cheese on a wig! 6f67b-ohmycartoon

I have seen how this works in nations where there is little or no tax collections and the monetary system is flooded with largesse from aid agencies. Politicians don’t need citizens anymore. If the august body on Capitol Hill is given the power to create any money that it wants on demand – that’s essentially the same thing. It’s like an invasion of UFO people handing out bags of money worth $100 billion to a few folks. What happens then? Shazam! The economy swivels like the head of an owl. 

Trust me on this – when that swivel happens – you … don’t … matter!

Beyond that, the western world, and the modern world is built on the ability of private parties to decide what is or is not worth loaning money to. This has been true for over 1,000 years.That is what took down royal dynasties. They became beholden to the bankers. Mr. Wolfe, if you think inequality is a problem now, you wait.

Last, Mr. Wolfe, do you really think that congress would do better? Really? After the Marxist experiment of the 20th Century? That was the same thing you see. Marxism was another experiment in making things perfect. 961b0-ertznay

Yep. Banking isn’t perfect. Democracy sucks. It’s better than the alternatives though.

 

 

Badgers high on acid – Mt. Gox bankruptcy

Mt. Gox declared bankruptcy.

Is this the face of a man devastated by thieves destroying his business?

Is this the face of a man devastated by thieves destroying his business?

Ho-hum. It must be wonderful right now to be Mark Karpeles. You can spout any flavor of horseshit you want, spin it around drivel a blithering idiot can see through, and … OMG! The journalists of the world will swallow it and shit it out as breakfast for your consumption.

Jeezus effing keerist! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!!!

Yeah, I know. You, the journalists of the world flunked out of math, flunked out of science, and couldn’t write software to safe your life. That’s why you went into journalism. It’s a Dilbert world.

Journalist

But tell me, journos of the world. How is it that you can dig like badgers high on acid to nitpick and trumpet discrepancies that might not even exist but when it comes to Mt. Gox you just let Karpeles take a crap in your mouth and chow down?

Yeah there’s a lawsuit. Oh.  Now back to our regularly scheduled program. Yammer-yammer-bankruptcy-hackers-hackers.

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