1. 5

    Is a lightweight wasm miner on a website really any worse than surveillance capitalism advertisements and supercookies? If websites had an opt-in, turn off all trackers for the same amount of CPU resources used on a wasm miner, I’d use it every time.

    1. 9

      Yes, but I feel this is missing the woods for a particular tree, as you can’t really block arbitrary wasm components.

      1. 3

        can you block arbitrary javascript components?

        1. 7

          You can block JS, and block loading certain scripts. You can block and remove elements that make tracking easier like pixels and canvases and iframes and more. Just look at browser extensions like uMatrix or NoScript.

      2. 2

        One of the reasons I turn JS off is to reduce wear and tear on my machines. I had my last laptop for 8 years. It ran quickly on about everything except some web applications. I’m not sure if lots of crypto mining will burn out my current CPU more quickly. I’d rather it not happen in the background just in case.

        Also, some principle about how, if they’re making money with my hardware, then I should get a cut of it or I block it. Something like that.

        1. 1

          surveillance capitalism advertisements

          surveillance what now?

          1. 5

            Cynical answer: Venture-capital funded Stasi.

            More descriptive: Selling and hoarding of people’s private lives for the purposes of making money off of it, for example, advertising.

        1. 3

          filter_map is a method I’ve wanted for quite a while. Ruby is a language that knows what it is, and keeps moving in that direction, rather than trying to be all things to all people, and I appreciate that about it.

          1. 11

            Can we ban this blog completely? All of the posts are just lazy blogspam summaries of Ruby and Rails features that do little more than restate what the feature is, and the author and invite tree have been banned from lobsters already.

            1. 5

              Hm, that’s an interesting idea. Right now the consequence of spamming is “you get banned”, there’s still incentive to spam, because you get hits for the time you’re not banned. But if the consequence is “you get banned and nobody can post links to your site ever again”, people might think twice. …Might.

              1. 1

                There tends to be a half-life to these things - the community remembers previous infractions, and would probably flag subsequent submissions as spam.

              2. 4

                So, are you saying that technical blog posts about framework features are not welcome on lobsters? Is there something in the submission guidelines being violated here? Or are you calling this spam simply because you are not interested in the content? I don’t think “spam” is a defensible categorization.

                1. 3

                  It is spam because it it’s authors organised a voting/submission ring in order to drive traffic to their company blog; that is, unsolicited content to drive a commercial outcome.

                  Whether the content is suitable for the site is actually orthogonal to spamminess, but it’s easy to lose sight of that as so little spam is suitable.

                  1. 1

                    Okay, I can understand why over-submission is considered spammy even if the content is fine. I was not aware that there was a coordinated submission scheme happening.

              1. 21

                The most discussed articles have been always “non-tech”, because “tech” as you defined is not conductive to discussion. You can have Q&A, more links, but those produce less comments than discussion.

                1. 6

                  That’s a good point, reminds me of survivorship bias. There very well may be lots of technical content we just don’t see because it’s not as conducive to discussion (and consequently not featured on the front page)

                  1. 9

                    You can be on the front page without discussion. For example, my post here got >20 upvotes without any comments.

                  2. 2

                    Maybe it would be better to give a small negative weight to number of comments, rather than positive weight. It could be weighted in a way that it wouldn’t affect high-vote posts with a moderate number of comments. Instead it would elevate good technical posts that get lots of upvotes but don’t have many points of discussion, and diminish the staying power of argumentative topics.

                    The negative weight to number of comments could be disabled for certain tags like ask and meta, since the value of those comes from the comment section.

                  1. 2

                    I’ll be studying the industry (logistics) and programming language (Go) for the job I started this month, both of which I have, until now, no experience in. If anyone has recommendations for books or other resources for either of these, please let me know! I have some material, but am looking for more.

                    Aside from that, my first Judo tournament as a black belt tomorrow, and practicing guitar, which I’m at the extreme-beginner end of.

                    1. 2

                      Compared to most languages I use, Go has excellent documentation. Almost everything under https://golang.org/doc/ is worth skimming if you’ll be using it fulltime for years.

                      1. 2

                        “Aside from that, my first Judo tournament as a black belt tomorrow”

                        Congratulations on getting your black belt. I know that took a lot of time and effort. :)

                        1. 2

                          Thanks Nick! It did, indeed, but it’s been very rewarding. It’s physically and mentally stimulating in a way I haven’t experienced otherwise, and it’s the best offline community I’ve ever been a part of as an adult.

                      1. 8

                        The most impactful part of this for me was:

                        I took a punt and searched Google for “privacy respecting commenting systems” as I wasn’t having much luck with DuckDuckGo.

                        That hits home, ouch. I’ve had so many searches that were just not coming up relevant on DDG where I’ve had to sigh and throw in that “!g”

                        1. 1

                          If you’re using Firefox, consider adding a “keyword search” for Google, so that you can just type “g something something” in the url bar, instead of routing your request through ddg.

                          1. 1

                            Unfortunately, you’re right. I’ve tried Startpage a few times (which proxies search results through other search engines, including Google, but I just don’t like the UI/UX all that much.

                            1. 1

                              I started using Bing, and I’ve had much better luck than DDG and have forgotten that I’m not using Google. In fact, the results are sometimes better as they don’t have as much direct manipulation.

                              1. 5

                                There’s also Startpage if you want Google search results without the tracking.

                                1. 3

                                  it’s: !s query from ddg.

                                  1. 2

                                    On Firefox, bypass DuckDuckGo to hit Startpage directly from address bar with search keywords. I’ve been using that ever since a Lobster (@freddyb maybe?) told us about it. My default search is DuckDuckGo. If results are crap, I put sp in address bar followed by the search terms for Startpage results. If they are crap, then I go with !G for Google results.

                                    Yeah, that actually happens sometimes despite Startpage supposedly going Google with supposedly the same tech in background. They give different results on some of my queries with Google instantly taking me to what I need that Startpage was nowhere near. (shrugs) DuckDuckGo works most of the time, though.

                                2. 4

                                  So decided to give your data to Microsoft as opposed to Google?

                                  1. 4

                                    I think you will find it was more a transaction than a give-away, they traded some data for some data ;)

                                    1. 2

                                      Microsoft has less of an overall tracking footprint, and again their results are better. Just throwing it out there as a suggestion for people like myself who aren’t satisfied with DDG and don’t want to move back to Google.

                                      1. 2

                                        Microsoft has less of an overall tracking footprint,

                                        Do you just mean JS file size? I’m curious about this claim and how it’s quantified.

                                        1. 2

                                          A lot more webpages are running Google Analytics than are running any Microsoft code. Microsoft just has less data to triangulate on me.

                                          1. 1

                                            Ok, that’s fair. Wasn’t sure if you were monitoring what the JS actually grabbed or what.

                                1. 29

                                  Unions would help remove this chicanery from the already-grossly-imbalanced empower/employee relationship.

                                  1. 9
                                    1. 8

                                      Probably, but unions aren’t a panacea. Unions can lead to some bad things too. From my experience I’m not sure which I prefer.

                                      1. 33

                                        Unions are not a panacea, as in they don’t solve all problems and even come with some of their own, but they exist to deal with exactly this situation. This feels a little like discussing an article about nails and pointing out that hammers aren’t a panacea.

                                        1. 10

                                          “Unions” as a concept is mainly just “allowing workers to form a structure to gain negotiation power”. There’s thousands of implementations of that concept, which makes it hard to have a discussion about “unions” on that level as much as for “political parties” or “enterprises” globally.

                                          Even as a business owner, I got a lot of support from my union, which makes me quite happy with my particular implementation, but I appreciate there’s tons of problems even in mine, specifically around my business.

                                          1. 1

                                            By that definition, you might consider callout-blog-posts like these as a form of union.

                                            1. 6

                                              Where’s the collaborating structure? This is an individuals post.

                                              1. 1

                                                collaborating

                                                Message boards (such as this one) and social media, I suppose.

                                                1. 1

                                                  That’s not collaboration. That’s marketing and communication.

                                          2. 3

                                            Wouldn’t the logical conclusion be to prefer power being more dispersed between employers/unions, rather than concentrated? We should fight concentration of power, as it is always weaponized against us.

                                            The only argument I can think of is that the union can interfere at times when they aren’t strictly necessary.

                                            1. 2

                                              No, the logical conclusion is to prefer power being more dispersed between employers and employees. Unions are one way of achieving that, but they present their own problems which ought to be considered. Unions can pervert incentives. Where I work (UAW) there is no reason to work harder because you will never get ahead from it (unless you’re trying to be a supervisor, but there aren’t many of those). Sometimes people will work really slow to make sure they don’t do better than standard. Our supervisors won’t even tell us “good job today” unless it’s in private because they’re worried about the union. It’s also basically impossible to fire someone no matter how bad they are at their job. I’m not sure we make more money either, the last place I worked started a bit lower but increased the longer you worked there.

                                              I pointed out that they aren’t a panacea because I get the impression that the people advocating for them in tech have no experience with them and aren’t fully considering the implications. But maybe UAW is the only one with these problems.

                                              1. 4

                                                Individual approaches can pervert incentives just as much. It does for example lead to situations where motivations are entirely self-driven. I’ve seen many projects put on hold because people personal goals for the next raise in the company didn’t align with the goals of their team. That included that their goal became meaningless over the year!

                                                I’m not saying unionisation cannot lead to weird situations such as yours, but that also usually a sign of a business where this still go too well. For example, when talking to union people in the insurances sector in Germany, they are keenly aware that the whole sector is being automated, so for example some of their strategy is currently bargaining with the employers to migrate people to either other parts of the company or going half-time positions instead of straight-out being fired. Those are very knowledgeable people with high interest in finding a good solution for all sides.

                                                I do agree with your reading of union advocacy in tech: most of the time, employees figure out they want to unionise when they already have an open conflict with their upper management. Even if they manage, they will be in a situation where management gives them not quarter (why should they, they didn’t before) and that will also lead to them never giving a win away anymore.

                                              2. 1

                                                bosses can interfere at times when they aren’t strictly necessary

                                            2. 6

                                              This threat, along with wage suppression and employee control in general, is why big tech is pushing for more H1Bs for India.

                                            1. 2

                                              On the fiction side, I was recently recommended Nick Cole’s speculative fiction work and I’ve been tearing through it. Soda Pop Soldier was the first one of his I read, and it’s like if Ready Player One was better written, more believable, and removed 97% of the nostalgia wankery. The second book in the series was equally as entertaining, and I’m already a book into the Galaxy’s Edge series that he is writing with Jason Anspach; a page-turner of an intense military science fiction book. Looking forward to getting into the rest of it.

                                              I have a couple of non-fiction books going at the moment, as well:

                                              The Ecotechnic Future by John Michael Greer - extremely interesting perspective on current human ecology and the likely direction of it in the future as we transition from an industrial society to a post-industrial society. Definitely a book to take in slowly to appreciate.

                                              Estrogeneration by Anthony G. Jay - A well-researched overview of estrogenic sources in our food and environment that throw off our hormonal imbalance, summaries of the studies that back it up, and practical recommendations for avoiding them.

                                              1. 1

                                                I have a cheap VPS from Contabo that hosts all of my hobby and personal sites. They’re all Elixir applications, deployed using edeliver

                                                1. 2

                                                  Wrapping up some code I’ve been working on for fantasy baseball valuations. For years I’ve been writing little scrapers and scripts that have made me thousands of dollars just in my own games, but over 2019 I want to take some of my more innovative tools and productize them for the 2020 season. There are some really great sites and tools out there already, but they all have a few blind spots, and that’s where I’ve gotten my edge over the years.

                                                  1. 1

                                                    you expect to make more selling it as a product than by doing more of the same at a larger scale?

                                                    1. 1

                                                      I currently live outside the US, so I can’t play daily fantasy any more (where I first made more than $1k in a season). I’m restricted to just playing season-long leagues that require a fair bit of hands-on management for each league individually. That makes it more scalable to sell a product rather than try to play 100 leagues myself.

                                                    2. 1

                                                      I’m not familiar with fantasy baseball, or indeed fantasy just about anything. Is the money also fantasy? Or are you making real money scripting a game?

                                                    1. 2

                                                      Heading back to the States for Christmas, so I have quite a bit of reading time, on the airplane and otherwise. On deck:

                                                      • Skin in the Game by Nassim Taleb

                                                      • The Culture of Critique by Kevin MacDonald

                                                      • The Phenomenon by Rick Ankiel

                                                      • The Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum

                                                      1. 1

                                                        Does IO count as a Little Language? It has some use outside of being a toy language, but it’s extremely simple and transparent.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          I’m not sure. I don’t have a solid idea myself of what is and isn’t a litte language in the sense of that post. What I was thinking is that the smallness of the language should be intended to optimize the language as a tool for learning. So not all small languages fall into this category just by virtue of their smallness.

                                                        1. 5

                                                          People who’re participating, what languages are you using? I’m starting to learn Typescript, so I’m thinking of using that for practical reasons, though I’d probably rather do OCaml or something a bit more esoteric.

                                                          1. 9

                                                            Last year I used 6 languages, and this year my goal is to use 12! Carp, Fennel, and Reason are some new-to-me languages I hope to touch on. I will likely do most of the problems in clojure because I enjoy manipulating data-structures in it so much, but rarely feel like it’s the practical choice for my projects.

                                                            1. 3

                                                              So, the 12 languages of Christmas?

                                                            2. 6

                                                              If it is fine with you to not be able to complete a task in 24h than AoC is a great way to learn new language.

                                                              1. 6

                                                                I’m learning Clojure and liking it so far, so my AoC has a perfect timing this year to be full of parenthesis

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  Let’s compare solutions!

                                                                2. 4

                                                                  I did 2015 and 2017 in Racket, and had a pretty good time. I tried 2016 in Erlang, and really struggled.

                                                                  This year, I’m going to try it with Pony.

                                                                  1. 3

                                                                    Planning on giving ReasonML and Elm a shot.

                                                                    1. 3

                                                                      I use Perl 5. Life + day job doesn’t give much time for actual programming so I’m really happy to just try to solve problems in a language I know well.

                                                                      Plus Perl makes parsing the problem input a breeze.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        As much as I am tempted to try ReasonML, I wrote a modest amount of Elixir back in 1.2 (three years ago, and stable is now 1.7), and have an upcoming need for it again. Will probably do that to brush up on any changes.

                                                                        In an attempt to make it challenging is I am going to try and pick up Emacs while doing so. I have heard that the lineage inherited from Erlang provides a decent ecosystem in Emacs for other BEAM languages. Does anyone know if that perception is correct?

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          Cannot edit my post anymore, but it looks like not only is that the case, there are multiple Elixir-specific packages as well (elixir-mode and alchemist).

                                                                        2. 2

                                                                          I’ll probably take a shot with Haskell again, or possibly F#.

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            I think this year I’ll forego going for leaderboard, and use the opportunity to brush up on my Elixir skills. I haven’t had a good chance to touch it for quite a while, so it should be a good refresher. I really enjoy thinking in and solving problems with the toolset available in Elixir.

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              Jose Valim is going to stream his own solutions to each challenge one day afterward (in Elixir of course):

                                                                              http://blog.plataformatec.com.br/2018/11/lets-learn-elixir-together-with-advent-of-code/

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                Fantastic! Thanks for the heads up!

                                                                            2. 2

                                                                              Crystal. Figured I should brush up on making actual programs instead of one-off scripts and thus style and “architecture” will be my focus.

                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                Pretty ballsy that a project will try to reclaim that name from the horror that is Crystal Reports. Kudos!

                                                                              2. 1

                                                                                I’ve been looking into D a bit recently so going to give that a try.

                                                                              1. 37

                                                                                Disclaimer: I’m one of the newest users here, so if my ideas about what’s on-topic don’t line up with the community’s, I understand that that indicates that I should move on, not that the community should change to suit me :-)

                                                                                How do you think the person who submitted this neat project feels when only a tiny fraction of the replies to their submission even talk about it?

                                                                                That person probably feels pretty bummed out about the lack of technical discussion. I understand and empathize with their disappointment. But I’m surprised that a discussion of the broader context around the submission would be considered off-topic. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

                                                                                We’ve seen throughout history that people who are willing to act unethically have an advantage over those who aren’t. Pragmatically, the main things preventing companies from behaving unethically or immorally are the threat of legal repercussions, the consciences of their employees, and the criticism of the general public. You could summarize the latter two as “shame,” and if our venue prohibits that mechanism then we’re effectively siding with the companies that are willing to get ahead at any cost.

                                                                                1. 18

                                                                                  Allowing moral policing in comments creates an environment where technical posts and discussion (the lifeblood and differentiator of lobste.rs) will suffer. Two ways this happens include:

                                                                                  1. It discourages people from submitting interesting technical projects due to potential backlash. I wouldn’t want to miss out on good technical discussion.

                                                                                  2. It discourages comments and discussion about the project. If the top comment has 95 upvotes and takes up 10 pages of scrolling, it will make it harder to justify commenting on the project technically. If I post, will anyone see it anyway?

                                                                                  A deterioration in the quality of technical discussion will lead to users who care only about the technical content leaving, and thus further deterioration of content.

                                                                                  Whatever your personal views are, I encourage everyone to take a moral nihilistic stance when it comes to making comments here. There are plenty of places to discuss morals, ethics, and politics on the internet, and turning Lobsters into yet another one of these rather than the best place to find and discuss technical articles on the internet would be a loss.

                                                                                  1. 13

                                                                                    Moreover, articles on HN/reddit are usually a super set of what’s here. If an article appears here that you would like to make a political comment on, finding the same article on one of the other sites and joining in the discussion should not be too onerous.

                                                                                    Of course, that robs those with a strong desire to proselytize of a potential audience so is unlikely to be welcomed.

                                                                                  2. 23

                                                                                    But I’m surprised that a discussion of the broader context around the submission would be considered off-topic. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

                                                                                    The “broader context” discussion starts with tangents and gets only worse from there. That’s why the SNR on HN is so low, and that’s why I barely read HN.

                                                                                    When I joined lobsters, the unwritten rule was that the focus is (almost) exclusively on technical content. Maybe I imagined that rule? The way it was enforced was with relevant technical tags (and a bit of activism, not unlike what sock is doing here), but once you get broad enough tags (culture, practices, …) it’s bound to get out of hand. Worse yet, comments aren’t tagged like submissions so there was never a mechanism for enforcing on-topic technical discourse. So that’s getting out of hand too, as more people engage tangents. And now I’m seeing more and more people who think that anything they upvote or anything they find interesting belongs on the site. IDK what to think.

                                                                                    1. 13

                                                                                      When I joined lobsters, the unwritten rule was that the focus is (almost) exclusively on technical content.

                                                                                      Even if that’s no longer the case now - I’d certainly like that to become a rule (written or not).

                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                        I’d prefer not. Pure technical content is sterile and boring. Read a textbook or subscribe to a journal if that’s your bag.

                                                                                        Technology is only interesting and valuable to humanity where it impacts and has interactions with the humanities.

                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                      Although I understand the fact, that its difficult to judge something without context, I also wish I knew where to draw the line of how broad or narrow the context can be discussed. I don’t think that it is even really possible when it comes to convictions and beliefs that are mostly subjective.

                                                                                    1. 63

                                                                                      C-level executives and board members antagonize employees and threaten unemployment, knowing full well that they’ll never miss a meal or a mortgage payment and that their children will still have health insurance and good schools: freedom.

                                                                                      Workers thinking they should organize to present common concerns to management: not freedom.

                                                                                      Remember, they only call it class warfare when we fight back.

                                                                                      1. 14

                                                                                        Workers organizing is freedom.

                                                                                        Workers being coerced to join or pay an organization is not freedom.

                                                                                        This is true even when the organization itself exists to protect freedom.

                                                                                        1. 23

                                                                                          Workers being coerced to join or pay an organization is not freedom.

                                                                                          Yes and no. My being forced to pay taxes isn’t freedom. My living in a society with roads and clean water and educated children (and my own education, which given my home life at the time wouldn’t have happened without compulsory and free education) dramatically increases my overall freedom, far more than was lost by paying taxes.

                                                                                          The power imbalance between most employers and most employees is such that the vast majority of people are almost-serfs in all but name. The tech sector can sometimes forget that because of the high salaries and relatively competitive employment market…but for most people, their health and home are literally tied to the whims of someone who views them as nothing more than expendable labor. Sure they’re “free” to change jobs, but saying “you’re free to risk your children’s health!” isn’t really freedom at all.

                                                                                          Correcting that power imbalance might take away some freedom, but it would add a lot more freedom on the other side of the balance sheet, IMHO.

                                                                                          Universal health care and a strong social safety net is the other way to fix this, if labor unions are determined to be too problematic. That allows you the freedom to change jobs without worrying that you couldn’t pay for your child’s healthcare.

                                                                                          To provide a real example: a friend of mine has a chronically ill daughter. Without health insurance he literally cannot afford to keep his daughter alive. Thanks to the repeated attempts at removal of the preexisting condition clause by the GOP recently, he runs the very real risk that he could end up with his daughter uninsured and potentially in dire straits if he were to lose his job. His employer knows this and, as the provider of his health insurance, could demand literally anything of him. If he were unemployed long enough that he could no longer pay for COBRA between employers, he’d literally be unable to keep his daughter alive. That is not freedom; that it’s not the government who holds the power is immaterial.

                                                                                          (Note that his employer is awesome and doesn’t do anything bad, but that’s not true of everyone and it shouldn’t have to be…)

                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                            I think you made a great case for universal healthcare – which can be argued to either side of the political fence. If you lean left, universal healthcare is a right and a true good. If you lean right, universal healthcare drives competition, flexibility and allows people to create new companies and more around more quickly.

                                                                                            That said, I am not sure you made a great case for unions. Unions don’t fix the fundamental problem around healthcare in any form. You still can’t leave to a non-union shop, can’t leave to start your own company, etc without giving it up. If anything it makes it more entrenched.

                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                              You seem to be fixating on a single example, not the thrust of his argument. You do realize other first world countries have universal healthcare and wayyy higher union participation than the US? There must be other things unions are useful for.

                                                                                          2. 20

                                                                                            The point of labour organizing is not ‘freedom’, especially not in the anglo sense of formal freedom on the marketplace, that everyone on the English-speaking internet seems to assume to be the only true and natural kind of freedom there is. It’s merely improving the conditions of labour, nothing more, nothing less.

                                                                                            That said, unions can be terrible because they’re often loci of concessions, nationalism, taming, and other reactionary politics, rather than struggle.

                                                                                            1. 11

                                                                                              They can have issues. Most of the problems I see are caused by apathy and/or incentives at the top with problems they cause being externalities. Unions also seem to stop more problems than they create. They also counter the trend paid with political bribes to make people easy to fire without cause in as many states as possible. That’s on top of executive compensation always going up in companies that “can’t afford” good wages or benefits for production works. These all lead me to be pro-union in general.

                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                Idk how it is in the US honestly, but that part of my comment wasn’t anti-union in general just noting that they definitely have limits in a political sense.

                                                                                                However for workers they’re obviously a huge net-positive.

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  Oh ok. That makes more sense.

                                                                                              2. 3

                                                                                                You make a good point. The immediate goal of a union is not freedom of its workers. I think workers unionize, though, because they desire more freedom. Limiting work hours means freedom to choose what to do with the rest of the day, for example.

                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                  Yes, that’s one of the broader conceptions of freedom I was referring to:)

                                                                                              3. 12

                                                                                                I agree with you here. I’m all for workers being able to collectively bargain for their own interests, but not at the expense of imposing on the liberty of others.

                                                                                                I don’t mind if my co-workers unionize, but I want to be able to choose my own terms of employment with my employer without having a third party interfere without my consent.

                                                                                                1. 17

                                                                                                  I don’t mind if my co-workers unionize, but I want to be able to choose my own terms of employment with my employer without having a third party interfere without my consent.

                                                                                                  You can’t have your cake and eat it too: if the strength of your coworkers’ union results in your employer entering into a favorable health insurance contract with an insurer, are you really going to reject that insurance and try to negotiate your own? Even if the insurance you purchase will invariably be more expensive and will cover you less?

                                                                                                  1. 9

                                                                                                    I don’t really care what a third party does with regards to my contractual agreement with my employer. The agreement I enter in is between myself and the company employing me.

                                                                                                    In your hypothetical, I may indeed choose to cover myself. It’s hard to guess without actually having the numbers and going through a negotiation. I likely value different things at different levels than a potential union does, and would be better served negotiating based on my preferences rather than letting a group decide the terms of my contract.

                                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                                      Except you would end up with a significantly less favourable contract, as you lack the negotiating leverage of the union.

                                                                                                      1. 11

                                                                                                        I don’t understand why you care so much about my contract. It’s up to me to decide what is favorable for me and what isn’t. I have the leverage of my own skills and experience, and that I can take a better offer from a different employer at any time.

                                                                                                        1. 17

                                                                                                          I don’t care about you, per se, but if everybody privileges abstract notions of freedom over concrete gains from their employment, you have a collective action problem and everybody ends up strictly worse off.

                                                                                                          1. 13

                                                                                                            Strictly worse off by whose definition? I’m under no moral obligation to sacrifice my own values to appease yours. If you’re worried about me not joining your union, then make your union attractive enough that I want to join it over negotiating my contract myself. Don’t force me into a contractual agreement that I never consented to.

                                                                                                            1. 9

                                                                                                              If you’re worried about me not joining your union, then make your union attractive enough that I want to join it over negotiating my contract myself.

                                                                                                              In all likelihood, it will be attractive - but the benefits it confers will end up available to all employees, not just those in the union.

                                                                                                              Now, if the choice was a strict “join the union and receive benefits which it negotiated” or “do not join the union and you are solely responsible for negotiating every part of your employment” I’d be happy, and it sounds like you would be as well.

                                                                                                              Would you decline to accept any benefit - work conditions, time off, retirement, etc. - which was negotiated by your workplaces union if you planned to not join the union? If your answer is yes, I’d applaud your consistency.

                                                                                                              The problem that @jfb identifies is that most people would say “no” - they’d chose to benefit from things negotiated by a union they’re not a member of.

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                                                                                                                Now, if the choice was a strict “join the union and receive benefits which have been established” or “do not join the union and you are solely responsible for negotiating every part of your employment” I’d be happy, and it sounds like you would be as well.

                                                                                                                Yep, perfectly fine with me.

                                                                                                                Would you decline to accept any benefit - work conditions, time off, retirement, etc. - which was negotiated by your workplaces union if you planned to not join the union? If your answer is yes, I’d applaud your consistency.

                                                                                                                In a contract negotiation between myself and my employer, it’s impossible for me to know what parts of their offering are influenced by the presence of the union, or to what extent they are. For example, imagine an employer that would negotiate for some sort of health insurance regardless of existence of a union. If the existence of a union changes that relationship via a change of insurer, I can’t just ignore it and keep whatever insurance plan I chose before the union came in.

                                                                                                                I don’t care to take advantage of a union. I won’t take drinks from your “union members” fridge or take breaks on your union schedule and hope nobody notices. I will, however, negotiate the best deal for myself with my employer, and not handicap myself by trying to figure out what I would or would not have access to if the union didn’t exist. The union is an outside agent that I don’t have control over, and the extent that its existence benefits extend beyond its members are for the union to figure out.

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                                                                                                                  Would you decline to accept any benefit - work conditions, time off, retirement, etc. - which was negotiated by your workplaces union if you planned to not join the union?

                                                                                                                  I certainly wouldn’t refuse all time off because the union gets some, but I wouldn’t automatically assume to have the same. If I get three weeks, and the new union contract gives four, then I guess I’m stuck with three.

                                                                                                                  But observing that the company gives four weeks off is a data point I might consider when asking for more time off. That’s not strictly a union thing, though. If I saw a non union worker getting more time off, I might want that too.

                                                                                                                  Is that how it works in the non union case? If you hear a coworker got a raise, do you refuse to ask for your own?

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                                                                                                                    My wife has a saying: Good and Evil don’t exist, it’s just selflessness and selfishness.

                                                                                                                    Eric is talking right around the crux of the matter, but he missed something.

                                                                                                                    I’m under no moral obligation to sacrifice my own values to appease yours.

                                                                                                                    Sure you are, buddy. You aren’t under any legal obligation, nor any ethical obligation. The obligation is in fact, a moral obligation.

                                                                                                                    When you throw your lot in with a group, you are sacrificing some of your autonomy in exchange for the group’s strength. Due to network effects, many groups are stronger than their strongest member, but yes, sometimes a member will become weaker by joining. (I’m ignoring here the second order effects like community respect gained due to being described as selfless, etc.)

                                                                                                                    EDIT: reworked the bottom, sorry.

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                                                                                                                      Sure you are, buddy. You aren’t under any legal obligation, nor any ethical obligation. The obligation is in fact, a moral obligation.

                                                                                                                      You and I have very different moral preferences if you think it’s ok to impose your values on someone else without their consent.

                                                                                                                      When you throw your lot in with a group, you are sacrificing some of your autonomy in exchange for the group’s strength.

                                                                                                                      When I join a company I am entering an agreement with an employer in which I exchange my labor for (primarily monetary) compensation.

                                                                                                                      Your assumption that joining a company means joining an subset of coworkers for an unspecified goal of “group strength” seems entirely arbitrary to me.

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                                                                                                                        Look, the simple fact is that unions allow for more favorable price fixing by Labor.

                                                                                                                        The benefit should be obvious.

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                                                                                                                          You join the work force as a worker and that makes you a worker. There are social expectations from that and you can be aware of them well before deciding to join the workforce. There’s an unwritten social contract and in the same way by living in a nation-state you’re implicitly a citizen, by joining the workforce you’re implicitly a worker and then subject to all the moral obligations that come with it. Most of them are not protected by law, because in non-socialist states one of the goals of the legal system is to repress the worker, but nonetheless you’re held responsible by other workers. This, most of the times just boils down to “he’s such an asshole” but in other times it meant more than that, because your action was directly and undeniably hurting your peers.

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                                                                                                                            You and I have very different moral preferences if you think it’s ok to impose your values on someone else without their consent.

                                                                                                                            Don’t worry, I’m not in a position to compel you! That would be wrong. I may only ask.

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                                                                                                                              But, that isn’t the case we are discussing is it? We are talking about compulsory unionization. Join the union or no job seems to be what they are referencing.

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                                                                                                                                Right, the closed shop. It’s a way to limit individual liberty to allow for stronger collective liberty. I’m perfectly ok with this, but there are those who have a different conception of liberty who might not be. I think it’s totally wrong, but it’s not a nonsensical way to conceptualize the relationships between people.

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                                                                                                                But the situation of a union being part of the negotiation is not much different than the situation where just you and the employer negotiate. Typically in a non-unionised company your boss is heavily restricted in what they can offer you by company policy and HR. Unionization is the same kind of rules just optimized for other goals.

                                                                                                                The notion that you are somehow more free negotiating in non-unionised jobs is - I don’t know - self-deception?

                                                                                                                I started at a unionized company which gave me a 20% pay increase that my previous employer was unwilling to match (their competitive offer was 10% after telling me before I applied that they could notpay me more). Now the union negotiates for me the annual pay increases. I can also negotiate directly with my employer in the sense that my employer can put me into a more senior position which means I would get more 💰.

                                                                                                                If the union contract was bad, i could still negotiate with my employer that they pay me above the union contract. But since the union contract is quite generous and above the typical competition I would have a hard time negotiating that in the same way as i have a hard time negotiating for that kind of a salary at non-unionised competitors.

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                                                                                                                  , i could still negotiate with my employer that they pay me above the union contract

                                                                                                                  It was my understanding this was explicitly not allowed by union agreements. This is because to have collective bargaining power and a “union contract” requires that contract to be adhered to by all union members. Can you link me to a union that says you can negotiate individually in their rules? How does that even work – so you get a floor but then can ignore the ceiling and push for whatever additional you want? Doesn’t that take a lot of the positive upside away from a contract from the employer side?

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                                                                                                                    My union has around 16 pay levels plus some kind of an individual components. If you want to earn more than the highest level you can definitely get such a non-union contract (it’s what management gets in any case).

                                                                                                                    You can also negotiate for being grouped into a different category.

                                                                                                                    You could also try to be hired as a contractor (this would mean that you have the biggest negotiation freedom).

                                                                                                                    Anyways the question is pretty theoretical in the sense that the union contract is fairly good and on average better than what individuals with the same competency get on the free market here.

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                                                                                                              “I don’t mind if my co-workers unionize, but I want to be able to choose my own terms of employment with my employer without having a third party interfere without my consent.”

                                                                                                              In our unionized company, everyone gets the benefits and small restrictions that come with the work of the union and its members. Some people think only the union members should get benefits union negotiates. We know how badly that might end up, though. Especially fights internal to the company. We don’t push that. We do encourage people to highlight benefits union brought: ending fire-without-cause of hard workers; reducing perjury on your references; great health/dental for $25 a month; right to sleep between shifts (a bit…); paid holidays, sick leave, and vacations; fair-ish, standard pay based on position, experience, and time in company. I’m not saying it’s best terms but better than most competitors.

                                                                                                              That said, I see your position. That people choose competitors to union companies for their different terms supports it a bit. :) I’ve considered letting union people get their negotiated terms while others get theirs. The first thing I ask those people is: “Do you want to work for least they can pay over minimum wage, overtime without overtime, unsafe working conditions (maybe even no bathroom), have little to no benefits, and potentially be fired without cause after years of hard work with bosses giving you no or falsified reference? And while we get the opposite?” Outside high-pay areas like highly-skilled techs, most companies are giving employees as little as they can. They get more commoditized without even being sure they’ll get a job reference for a better job. Might have to endure a lot to get it in some companies. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity.

                                                                                                              Now, if you do, there’s another thing to consider. These companies that are offering you a good deal at some five to six digit wage might be pocketing multiples of that with folks in suits doing less than you getting a bigger cut or higher cut vs beneficial work ratio. They will similarly be paying lobbyists on Washington and at state levels similarly large sums to reduce what you can gain at an individual level. The unions are one of few groups lobbying for people like you. If more technical workers unionized, then there’d be more lobbying effort toward getting such individuals better deals. That sector also has the kind of money where donations and campaigns might bring some serious results in terms of expected compensation, work environment, better share of I.P. ownership or equity, paid leave (maybe maternity leave), or even better housing in high-rent areas. Again, may not interest you. I just wanted to mention people dealing with you might have been paying politicians to reduce size of those deals, your perks, or rights as a worker.

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                                                                                                                Thanks for the thoughtful response. Your company’s union sounds like it’s doing good work, and you’ve done a good job making a case for it. I would not rule out joining a union without looking at the terms of membership, but I would also be extra wary of joining a company that had compulsory union membership.

                                                                                                                I don’t have a problem with people making more money than me at the same company, regardless of their beneficial work to pay ratio (which I can’t assess anyway), or what kind of clothes they wear ;)

                                                                                                                As the lobbying question, there is a high chance I would make the ethical judgement not to join a company (or union, for that matter) based on their lobbying efforts.

                                                                                                                As an aside, I appreciate your posts and comments on Lobsters in general; anything from nickpsecurity is must-read for me.

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                                                                                                                  I appreciate the kind words! I was hoping some of us could chill the thread a bit. It seems like you just prefer to have more insight into and control of job or other commitments letting other people do their thing. A union shop may or may not be right for you depending on how flexible the terms are for non-members. Glad you would consider turning down an offer if it supports corruption. Most wouldn’t.

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                                                                                                                  reducing perjury on your references

                                                                                                                  Are you referencing bad-references as a way of punishment? I didn’t realize that was a common enough thing to warrant protection from.

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                                                                                                                    Many poverty or working class people I know has either experienced it or had to mitigate it with careful exits knowing it could happen. The middle class and up folks with more to loose or carry with them usually play exits safe because they know it can happen. I don’t know how often it does happen to them, though. I know there’s laws in some countries where they have to give you references without any badmouthing. Apparently, it happened enough to make laws against it over there.

                                                                                                                    Not here, though. Still can get hit with the shit.

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                                                                                                                  this is slightly tangential to the direction this went in, but I’m curious. Why? Bargaining as a group is always more advantageous than doing so individually.

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                                                                                                                    I’ve worked in a unionized industry; it’s not the utopia you make it out to be. While the average income may be higher under collective bargaining, this is done by making some people worse off than they would be under individual bargaining.

                                                                                                                    There’s also a huge issue with people who really should be fired, but who aren’t because of the overhead imposed by the union. Honestly, I’d prefer to work for less remuneration than to work with under performers. Particularly when you know those under performers are getting paid the same amount as you. It’s completely demoralizing.

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                                                                                                                      “There’s also a huge issue with people who really should be fired, but who aren’t because of the overhead imposed by the union.”

                                                                                                                      I don’t have any hard data, only 8 years personal experience working in a (partially) unionised white collar job.

                                                                                                                      It might vary union by union or company by company but there’s patterns I noticed at management level. My union won’t protect people who do nothing: only people who work as instructed by management who are written up, suspended, or terminated by poor results of management’s plans. There are people at my company who we can’t seem to get rid of. Management uses union as excuse but I’ve seen no use of established procedures against those workers. It seems management in those areas either lets them talk their way out of it, ignores those that argue or intimidate the most, and gets hard on the more compliant workers (aka easy targets or outlets) that probably don’t deserve it.

                                                                                                                      The performance metrics also suck so bad at this company and a lot of others (including non-union) where many workers artificially look like they’re not good workers. Some of these companies fail workers if they don’t achieve a arbitrary expectations with no proof they matter (see Office Space) or from managers without real-world experience. If they do this to everyone or many, then the bad workers just fade into the background of what looks like a problem with everyone. A made up problem. If the requirements were sensible, then most people would meet them visibly working at a steady or fast pace (context dependent) with some barely working and some getting way ahead. The bad workers become much easier to identify, discipline, and/or eliminate with a fair baseline.

                                                                                                                      I’ve talked with people in a few other industries that are unionized. They usually have examples of the above two points happening that mostly come from top-down, ignore-workers management and office politics. I still can’t be sure how much “the union” was responsible for workers being hard to get rid of if management was that inept. It’s all the more believable by how much non-union workers and books on management talk about the same failures. My theory is most managers and corporate offices suck in a lot of ways with unions countering them usually in pretty generic ways focusing on what members value most. Outside the focus areas, the rest of the dynamic becomes back and forth battles with plenty of potential inefficiencies. Companies with competent, take-care-of-workers management usually has less of these problems and workers don’t ask for unions. Hmm… ;)

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                                                                                                                        I agree. Unions are not a panacea for every issue workers may have with a company, and in fact can cause many of their own.

                                                                                                                        However, the issues you mention here are also universal:

                                                                                                                        While the average income may be higher under collective bargaining, this is done by making some people worse off than they would be under individual bargaining.

                                                                                                                        True! But considering the current state of tech salaries, I think that’s acceptable from a macro level view. I say that as one of those that would likely see a pay decrease under a union contract – I tend to negotiate quite a bit with potential employers.

                                                                                                                        There’s also a huge issue with people who really should be fired, but who aren’t because of the overhead imposed by the union.

                                                                                                                        There are two parts of this argument:

                                                                                                                        • Unions tend to keep around poorly performing people longer

                                                                                                                        and

                                                                                                                        • Unions introduce extra overhead with process into the firing process

                                                                                                                        I think both are false personally, and I don’t think there’s any data to prove either, I’d love to be proven wrong! For the first, I’ve personally found the opposite – the bar to entry for IBEW-NECA was much higher than that for non-unionized electricians, and the bar for firing was extremely clear. For the second, process can add more time, but it can also reduce it by clarifying for all the bar for firing. I find in most tech companies, the standard months of bad perf -> PIP -> eventual firing process can take a long time due to trepidation on the part of all parties.

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                                                                                                                          I think both are false personally, and I don’t think there’s any data to prove either,

                                                                                                                          I don’t have any hard data, only 8 years personal experience working in a (partially) unionised white collar job. I’d have thought it was rather logical though that unions would, in their capacity of protecting their members, make firing more difficult. Which can be a good thing, but can also be horrible for org culture and performance.

                                                                                                                          The idea of a union as a quality filter is interesting, and not something I’ve come across. IME, unions will take anyone in their industry who’s willing to pay the fee.

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                                                                                                                            Yeah I agree largely. If only there was a set standard for unions across the board — unfortunately their independence produces wildly disparate results at the tail. For that reason I can never begrudge someone that is against a union in good faith too much, I can only make my persuasion towards unionization more effective. Thank you!

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                                                                                                                              Unions are typically very strict on safety, and few things are more dangerous in the workplace than an incompetent electrician.

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                                                                                                                                But in an office job, incompetence isn’t dangerous, it’s just useless. Perhaps that accounts for our differing points of view.

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                                                                                                                                I’d have thought it was rather logical though that unions would, in their capacity of protecting their members, make firing more difficult

                                                                                                                                There are also reasons not to make firing harder, notably the reputational damage that would occur (and which, evidenced by you, has already occurred :) ).

                                                                                                                                As others have said, unions tend to make the bar for firing very clear, which also tends to mean bureaucratic. This isn’t a bad thing; bureaucracy is what we use in place of trust when trust is hard to establish or otherwise damaged. It’s also not necessarily a slowdown, as others have pointed out.

                                                                                                                                It does mean that it’s harder for a manager to fire someone at a whim, or based on a longstanding issue that’s not been written down or communicated. But that’s a good thing. At the very least, documentation helps someone who is fired know why (and therefore what to work on in the next job). At the best, starting the documentation process is enough to turn a bad employee into a productive one.

                                                                                                                                It also means that it’s harder to fire someone for something that’s inconvenient to the employer, but not the fault of the employee. In some places, for example, it’s very common for union construction sites to have a position called “lift operator”. It’s been used as an example of union waste in the past – it’s just someone who sits in the elevator and presses the buttons for everyone. But that position was originally created for (and is usually still used for) union members who have had injuries or other physical problems which make it hazardous or impossible for them to do mainline construction work.

                                                                                                                                In a union-free situation, that person would be fired, through no fault of their own.

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                                                                                                                            Bargaining as a group is always more advantageous than doing so individually.

                                                                                                                            Not it isn’t. I can’t be more clear than that. There are lots of cases where negotiating as an individual is a far more advantageous position. If your values differ than the group. If your skills differ from the group. If you needs are in direct conflict with the group (for example, you want a 20% raise and don’t care if it is taken from $personX because they are bad at their job). This idea that the group think is magically always what is best for you is fundamentally untrue.

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                                                                                                                              since neither of us have given data yet, I guess I left myself open to be rebutted in this way. There is data showing that on average union workers make more and have better insurance and benefits in general than non-union workers, but since we haven’t applied that to the tech fields yet, I won’t bring that up as proof. Do keep in mind that for non-tech fields, all of the above is already established as true. in addition:

                                                                                                                              for example, you want a 20% raise and don’t care if it is taken from $personX because they are bad at their job

                                                                                                                              is not really how raises are ever allocated, and if they were, I think that company needs a union.

                                                                                                                              Instead I’ll provide three opinions:

                                                                                                                              • Letting yourself be lulled into believing that you have more leverage than you do is pretty common amongst workers in highly competitive fields in bull markets. In a bear market where tech isn’t as desirable, you might change your mind.
                                                                                                                              • The only metric you care about in this instance is salary, however collective bargaining would provide benefits far beyond that. It’s (relatively) easy for an individual to argue for more money, not so easy to argue for better healthcare packages or other benefits. In particular, I’d note that a lot of the benefits I have in mind probably wouldn’t apply to single dudes, but would to fathers, women/mothers, or non-binary folks (not even to mention race and religion).
                                                                                                                              • To attack the salary question specifically, IMO the huge disparity within and between bands because of negotiation is bad. Responsible companies should tie pretty tight salary ranges to level bands and stick to it. Anything else widens disparities in worker pay. I know that a lot of tech folks will rebut this by saying that their work deserves 300k more than their coworkers, but I think that’s probably not true in 99.99% of cases.
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                                                                                                                                There is data showing that on average union workers make more and have better insurance and benefits in general than non-union workers

                                                                                                                                “average” and “always” are very different – but since this wasn’t the thrust of your argument, we can move on past it.

                                                                                                                                is not really how raises are ever allocated

                                                                                                                                This is also simply not true – I have sat in exactly such hard decision making meetings. People fired, positions collapsed to give raises to other people, whole teams let go to give budgets to other higher performing teams. You put forth this idea “this isn’t how raises are ever allocated” when it simply isn’t true. It makes it very hard to have a fair and rational discussion with you. Budgets are well – budgets and in bad times hard decisions have to be made.

                                                                                                                                Letting yourself being lulled … your mind.

                                                                                                                                Absolutely agree. Tech workers commonly think they are worth more than they are. I suspect the Worth despair poster is commonly applicable: https://i.imgur.com/G7yMiXu.jpg (“Just because your necessary doesn’t mean your important.”)

                                                                                                                                The only metric you care about in this instance is salary

                                                                                                                                No, what I care about is individual interests. Some individuals value salary very highly, others a company car, others vacation, others healthcare, others still childcare and others more disparate and interesting things. I don’t find find fathers, women/mothers or non-binary folks to be any less individual than “single dudes”.

                                                                                                                                Anything else widens disparities in worker pay.

                                                                                                                                The silent implication here is the disparity in worker pay is a bad thing, which I don’t agree with.

                                                                                                                                I know that a lot of tech folks will rebut this by saying that their work deserves 300k more than their coworkers, but I think that’s probably not true in 99.99% of cases.

                                                                                                                                Sure, you say 300k to make your strawman seem obviously true – knock an order of magnitude off that number and ask if a reasonable person at the same tier believes they are worth 30k more… hell, even define how you makes these “bands” – arbitrary experience in terms of years?

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                                                                                                                                  1. You’re right that average and always are different. To be more explicit, I only care about the average. Individuals can get pay raises and better benefits for any reason at all, deserved or undeserved, union or no union.
                                                                                                                                  2. You’re right — what I should’ve said is this: a company that makes the decision to fire one individual purely to justify giving a raise to another is not a place I would want to work. There are a number of factors that go into hiring, firing, and salary decisions, and I believe your original example was a little too simplistic.
                                                                                                                                  3. In normal working conditions, these groups you described will be looking individually for the benefits they want and need. However, their bosses often don’t or won’t share in desire for or see the value in those benefits for a variety of factors. Some of those are economic — workers and their bosses have completely different world views, especially at tech companies. Unions are a way for workers who are by and large powerless individually to fight for those shared benefits collectively.
                                                                                                                                  4. Disparity in worker pay is a bad thing from a social standpoint, especially in the same level. If two engineers are both seen as being at staff level, why would they make more than a difference of 50-100k in total comp? It contributes to gender and racial wage gaps for the benefit of a small set of engineers.
                                                                                                                                  5. I said 300k because I’ve seen it in real life. Two engineers, one male, one female, both evaluated as being senior. One got a sizable equity grant, large sign on and a 15% bonus. The other got a pittance in equity, no sign on, and a 10% bonus. In reality, the gap was much larger because of the appreciation after the initial grant. And standardized levels and bands based on data are pretty standard at most modern startups and FAANG. For an example of what I’m referring to here, Camille Fournier open sourced hers while she was at Rent the Runway as CTO: http://dresscode.renttherunway.com/blog/ladder. Those should be tied to pay bands. Bands and levels should never be tied strictly to YOE.
                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                    To be more explicit, I only care about the average.

                                                                                                                                    Worth clarifying which average you mean while you’re at it (mean vs median yield quite different answers)

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                                                                                                                              Assuming your interests are the same as the group’s. Even when they are, priorities differ. Everybody wants more pay and more vacation, but which do you care more about? If I want to work 30 hours for 75% pay, will the union negotiated contract offer that flexibility?

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                                                                                                                                It’s more likely to if you are a voting member.

                                                                                                                                But your employer will be more than happy to reward you for defecting, until the union is gone and they again have leverage.

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                                                                                                                                  If you are a part of the union, you get to help decide that. :)

                                                                                                                                  A democratic union would take its workers wants and needs into mind when crafting the contract with the employer. Right now, you can probably only get those benefits by either being very lucky to find a company that supports it, by altering your lifestyle by working on contract, or by earning it after some time proving yourself. Hypothetically, a tech industry with a standardized contract for workers could extend those benefits to all companies, saving you the time of doing one of the above or opening your own business.

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                                                                                                                                I don’t mind if my co-workers unionize, but I want to be able to choose my own terms of employment with my employer without having a third party interfere without my consent.

                                                                                                                                I’m assuming a lot by your avatar, but my guess is that you serve a lot less to gain from unionization than, for example, a woman of color. In other words, you still want to benefit from a system that rewards white males even if that mean weakenings an institution that would bargain for people lesser off than you.

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                                                                                                                                  You’re assuming a lot more than you think you are.

                                                                                                                                  you serve a lot less to gain from unionization than, for example, a woman of color

                                                                                                                                  A woman of color? Which one? All of them? What color? In what way?

                                                                                                                                  you still want to benefit from a system that rewards white males

                                                                                                                                  What system? Where does it reward white males?

                                                                                                                                  I’m assuming a lot by your avatar

                                                                                                                                  I’m a minority. The company I work for is less than 5% white.

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                                                                                                                                    I have no desire to engage with semantic games with you, especially if it’s just going to be screenshotted to Twitter with ad hominem attacks.

                                                                                                                                    Have a good day.

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                                                                                                                                      Since I don’t expect you to respond to this message, I’m just posting this to clear my record.

                                                                                                                                      I have not played any semantic games. All I asked you to do was concretely define your statements and back them with something other than conjecture. I can’t argue with someone who doesn’t clarify their own argument.

                                                                                                                                      Ad hominem is an argumentative strategy, of which I have not engaged in. I think what you want to say is that I insulted you, which is also false, unless you count “white, male Bay Area resident” as an insult.

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                                                                                                                                  You are agreeing with something I did not say.

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                                                                                                                                    In most of human history, the only people who rented themselves for wages were slaves. Up until recently, wage labor was called wage slavery. It takes a certain mental gymnastics to equate ‘consensual contract with employers’ as liberty. Think about how absurd it is to rent your time, especially for creative work like programming for example.

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                                                                                                                                      But at the same time, people like getting wages. They don’t know how to make society value their time, so they get an employer to do that instead.

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                                                                                                                                        When a few people in society hold all the money (inequality is huge) and the only way they value the rest of society is through wages, then doesn’t it follow that wages are the only realistic way for most people to get money? It’s really the only choice they have. Since wages

                                                                                                                                        a) Don’t change any power relations b) Don’t change any ownership relations

                                                                                                                                        They are an attractive vehicle for the people who hold all the cards. The alternative is people have percent ownership in where they work! that would be lovely.

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                                                                                                                                          I suppose I’m less cynical. Money is justa recognition that someone else appreciated what you did, and most people have no idea how to help society, or have no will to risk their own lives to help society. Thus, we get salaried positions with benefits to make sure we are safe and able to live. Wages are just the employer saying they appreciate your contribution to whatever the employer wants to do.

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                                                                                                                                            It’s a nice sentiment, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. The system we live in was built piece by piece over a period of time. There are historical reasons why things the way they are. If you could magically wave a wand and create it anew, would you have wages? Wages are a modern concept anyway. Why not something better?

                                                                                                                                            Or are you saying the system we have is ideology-free and it’s people’s human nature that governs it?

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                                                                                                                                              What’s wrong with the way we have constructed work? It has created the modern world, without which we both may never have had this discussion

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                                                                                                                                                  So? People in general love to be miserable anyway, so I reject the notion that you can fix misery with something other than wages.

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                                                                                                                                                    You believe people love to be miserable? This is simply an absurd view and allows you to justify vast harm. Did you know, for example, that wage theft (wages are stolen from workers) is the largest theft? It dwarfs thugs and criminals by a mile.

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                                                                                                                                                      And wage theft is wrong. Two people entered an agreement and one party broke it.

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                                                                                                                                    “Freedom” is not a useful word, here.

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                                                                                                                                      And if the existence/non-existence of a union depends on whether the company can hire non-union workers, you have to decide between one kind of freedom and another.

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                                                                                                                                        Yes, exactly. But how can we choose? Both have merits and consequences.

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                                                                                                                                    I have too many, but most of them are not that time consuming so I can stay up with all of them. I’m in Tokyo, by the way, and love showing friends/acquaintances/strangers some things off the beaten path. Feel free to hit me up if you’re ever in town.

                                                                                                                                    Judo - Twice per week, fantastic exercise, fun and challenging, not a huge time commitment, and my dojo community is great.

                                                                                                                                    Weight training - Time-efficient exercise and time to catch up on audio books. It’s fun to get consistent, measurable strength gains as well. Performance in the gym is also a good proxy for how well I’ve been eating and sleeping recently.

                                                                                                                                    Reading - Audio books, ebooks, and sometimes even physical books. Mostly non-fiction lately, but I go on fiction binges as well sometimes. I’m also starting an online book club so I can share thoughts with people about books that my friend groups don’t read.

                                                                                                                                    Fantasy baseball - I’m very competitive, and fantasy baseball is a great mental challenge. I made a few grand on daily fantasy when it wasn’t so sharp, but now focus on season-long. I play in 4-5 small money leagues yearly and win a good bit more than I lose.

                                                                                                                                    Baseball - Not a time-efficient exercise, but a good excuse to get outside and under the open sky for a few hours at a time.

                                                                                                                                    Video games - I’m not currently playing any games competitively, but I’ve been in the top percentile of players in a few different games. I play more narrative experiences recently (Yakuza 0 being my favorite of the year so far).

                                                                                                                                    Attending live music shows - Experiencing a small (20-300 person) show is something I’ve enjoyed from when I was 15. Anything from pop-rock to hip-hop to ska to metal. The next show I’ll go to is a death metal festival at the end of this month (Asakusa Death Fest).

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                                                                                                                                      Wrapping up Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought, by Jonathan Rauch. It was written 25 years ago, but is vitally relevant today. It’s a fiercely argued treatise that defends the principles of free speech and liberal science. This is certainly one I’ll return to again.

                                                                                                                                      Send me a friend request if you use Goodreads. The friend activity feed is a good way to discover new books, so it’s a good platform for friend collecting.

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                                                                                                                                        Interesting article with some insights I wouldn’t have expected. For example, that of the “hardcore” gamer group, women tended to score higher than men on the “completion” aspect and just as high on “power.”

                                                                                                                                        This may just be that, as a whole, women tend to score higher across the board, whereas men are more likely to focus on a few areas and be less interested in others (my personal profile is quite extreme in this way).

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                                                                                                                                          Yep. I think it’s useful information for anybody who wants to work on game designs that encourage a healthy mix of players.

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                                                                                                                                            Why did you use a link shortener on that link?

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                                                                                                                                              So I could track who clicks on the link, of course! /s

                                                                                                                                              The website gives a shortened link to share by default, so that’s what I copied.

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                                                                                                                                            Given how good fluid reasoning is of a predictor of complex job performance, I wonder if a battery of novel logic problems in a programming veneer would be a good substitute for traditional initial employee screenings. Then the remaining candidates could get evaluated on a paid take-home task that replicates what the actual work would be as much as possible.

                                                                                                                                            It would be great to just go straight to work-like tasks to evaluate prospective employees, but it’s costly, time-consuming, and will filter out candidates that won’t make that much of a commitment on first contact.

                                                                                                                                            I, personally, won’t do any take-home work without the prospective employer also having invested something in the process. For all I know, my 2-hour project has been given to 100 other candidates, and there’s a good chance they’ll decide they don’t actually need to hire that position and not look at a single one.

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                                                                                                                                              I buy into your premise that fluid intelligence correlates with complex job performance, but how many of us work in truly “complex jobs”?

                                                                                                                                              For churning out stylish CRUDs and ticking off tasks from a backlog, there’s very little fluid intelligence required. Ability to focus and deal with the occasional boredom would be a much better predictor, I conjecture. Concretely, you can probe for this by asking candidates about projects they’ve been working on and making sure there’s at least a handful of them that they’ve taken to completion.

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                                                                                                                                                I think machines are coming for the sort of tedious jobs that only require work ethic, i.e. the ability to focus and get through boredom. If that’s so, we’ll only be left with the complex jobs that require real intelligence.

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                                                                                                                                              Can someone explain to me how Apple gets away with a dictatorship on iOS without any lawsuits?

                                                                                                                                              • Apple controls the only app store allowed on iOS

                                                                                                                                              • Apple apps get access to features not available in third party apps

                                                                                                                                              • Third party apps aren’t allowed to compete with Apple apps in many instances and are banned from the store

                                                                                                                                              • All defaults are Apple apps, and in many cases can’t be changed to something else

                                                                                                                                              As a consumer I felt less restricted when I’ve been on Google’s platform than when I’ve been on Apple’s. I don’t have any horse in this race, I’m just curious how Apple has managed to avoid scrutiny. I’ve switched back and forth am currently using an iPhone 6S that I’ve had for over 3 years.

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                                                                                                                                                This is not about Android, but about the Google Search monopoly. If you feel like it, read the announcement: it’s amazingly clear writing, a joy to read.

                                                                                                                                                Excerpt, emphasis added:

                                                                                                                                                The Commission decision concerns three specific types of contractual restrictions that Google has imposed on device manufacturers and mobile network operators. These have enabled Google to use Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. In other words, the Commission decision does not question the open source model or the Android operating system as such.

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                                                                                                                                                  There are a couple of obvious things:

                                                                                                                                                  • the abuse in question is to do with Google search, Android is just a tool in this case
                                                                                                                                                  • Apple has a relatively small market share, so presumably consumers have a choice of buying one of the many android phones.

                                                                                                                                                  Aside from that, I suppose platform restrictions don’t get classified as monopolistic behaviour.

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                                                                                                                                                    Is it really just a marketshare thing? The iOS lockdown seems a lot more insidious than Microsoft’s IE bundling, for example. If it was iOS that had a 80%+ marketshare would Apple be the ones targeted?

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                                                                                                                                                      Not necessarily - it seems there are specific criteria for what constitutes abuse of a dominant market position. The issue that caused the fine is that Google is abusing its position in search:

                                                                                                                                                      Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.

                                                                                                                                                      In particular, Google:

                                                                                                                                                      • has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google’s app store (the Play Store);
                                                                                                                                                      • made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices; and
                                                                                                                                                      • has prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google (so-called “Android forks”).
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                                                                                                                                                        If it was iOS that had a 80%+ marketshare would Apple be the ones targeted?

                                                                                                                                                        Exactly.