Sunday, December 25, 2016

Episode 69: Improvements That Ain't

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Sometimes, you've just gotta rant.

As well anyone who regularly reads these show notes in the pursuit of the show or in search of links hinted at on the show, I've had problems of late getting my links to work. That problem is solved, thanks once again to L33t Minion. But the problem came from an unexpected corner of reality, one on which I rant, once again unscripted, in this Episode 69: Improvements That Ain't. I like to think that behind a very silly rant, there lies a societal blind spot, one comfortably occupied by, of all things, the reason many don't question advertising.

In this episode, I don't play much. I open with KMFDM and Mark Blyth, and close with the Vince Guiraldi Trio doing the seasonal "Skating." Playing music from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and releasing this episode on December 25, are indications of a gift for you! I hope you accept it as such.


  1. Heh, I will respect your request and not provoke you regarding the Guaranteed Minimum Income. But I will point out that this subject ties back in to the recent election. Another collapsenik-type writer, whom I don't believe we have discussed before - The Archdruid a.k.a. John Michael Greer - maintains that not just the top 1% but even the cubicle-dweller middle class, they make their living in the US today by exploiting the lower classes. Even though the middle class doesn't see it that way (they think they're ultimately creating value), the lower classes see it clearly. And that relates to the recent election, where the rural and working classes were willing to cut their nose to spite their face by electing an obvious boor and incompetent just in order to raise a middle finger to the overeducated, PC coastal managerial liberals. Unnecessary software improvements are a prime example. People working on factories & farms in the Midwest know very well that some tie-wearing cubicle-dwellers in Seattle got paid twice as much as they make in a year just to add unnecessary features and screw up the interface of a program that used to work just fine, all to "justify" a new release and charge more fees. So in a real sense those cubicle-dwellers' salary literally came out of the pockets of the lower-class consumers, in the form of licensing fees for the upgrades, and buying new equipment that can handle the increased processing power demanded by the unnecessary upgrades - not to mention the extra time & frustration spent re-learning how to use the new unnecessary upgrades and try to get them (often unsuccessfully) to do what they used to do adequately before. The lower class pays the price so that the middle class can keep cushy salaried jobs.
    It's a cliché that us younger computer-literate types must spend frustrating hours helping our elderly relatives to use their tech. That's because the tech embraces a model of valueless change for change's own sake. Old people, to put it politely, don't adapt well to rapid change. Older tech consumers want and expect the products, like software, to look and handle the same way from year to year while improvements are made to the back-end, deep structure of the product. Whereas in reality our model is the opposite: people in Redmond, Silicon Valley and elsewhere are paid large salaries to scramble up the interfaces for no good reason but to justify a "new release" from year to year while often the same basic crappy program engine remains the same for many years at a time. Ugh.

    1. Hey, Kevin,

      I do follow the Archdruid. I hope to make a reference to the one post of his that I discovered early enough to be one of the first 100 commenters, and it concerned advertising (squee!).

      Ya know, when I heard him run down the list of four earning classes, I never put the salaried software meddler in the list. When he spoke of the salaried class, after all, he focused on teachers and administrators. But you're right. Code monkeys deserve the attention as well.

      It's a cliché that us younger computer-literate types must spend frustrating hours helping our elderly relatives to use their tech.

      And without myself or my brother and sister, Mom would be SOL. (Hi, Mom!)

      More seriously, I have noticed the gap between those in the industry and those out, which exists as you describe—staid and solid verses constant flux—but outside the age paradigm. And here, Greer's category makes so much more sense.

      Were it not for the farm subsidies forcing farmers to sell as much crop as possible just to break even, I would start encouraging those in agriculture to follow radical Mary Elizabeth Lease's advise to raise less corn and more hell. That would certainly give them a frustration venting outlet more constructive than the last ballot box.