Muttrox on the GOP Candidates

Mitt Romney: Ruled as a centrist when he was governor of Massachusetts. Brings a great deal of good private sector experience. Not as slavish to the interests of the rich as the others. He has been socially right-wing for a long time, the question is always, is he truthful? There is a suspicion that if elected, he would be much more like Obama than his rhetoric suggests. All in all, a reasonably moderate candidate.

Ron Paul: Great strengths, great weaknesses. You have to admire his consistent world view. His approach to foreign policy and civil rights is so self-evidently correct that other candidates don’t know to respond to it. An enemy of the system, constantly being undercut by the mainstream media. He also has great weaknesses. He would seek to undo large swaths of the social nets built up since FDR, his knowledge of economics is laughable, and his sense of ideological purity is not always a good thing. A perfect kind of primary candidate to push the others towards his views, but you probably don’t want him as president.

Gingrich, Santorum, Perry, Cain, Bachmann: Nuts. Stark raving mad, barely distinguishable from each other. The idea that any of these lunatics might get near the Oval Office should be terrifying to any informed citizen. And even among this pack of disasters, you have to single out Gingrich. Gingrich began and is the embodiment of everything we hate about politics – the rise of partisanship over policy, the win at any costs mentality over get something done. He’s a terrible terrible man, personally and professionally.

How the GOP candiates favor the rich

A truly excellent post lays out the impact of the candidate’s tax plans to various income levels. It is not a surprise they all favor the rich. It may surprise some readers to see that Romney’s is the least unequal, keeping the distribution more or less like today. One more illustration that all the candidates except Romney and Paul are exactly the GOP stereotype: dishonest class warriors for the rich.

GOP Tax Plans

I’ve Hit the Meeting Tipping Point

The number of meetings at work have gotten way out of control. In a regular work day, I get invited to approximately 1.25 workdays worth of meetings. Somewhere we hit the tipping point.

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I am somewhat in the minority in believing that most meetings I am at are not like the above, they are actually fairly effective. It’s the amount of them that’s troubling. Imagine everyone’s time is 50% booked. If I want to discuss something with 3 other people, any given time slot is 94% likely to be booked. I could talk to people serially, but that is less efficient. So I set up a quick meeting. Fine. Then the four of us are all booked at 51%, and it’s now at 96% to book all four of us, making it a little harder for the next person who needs to talk to one of us. The only way for them to make sure they can talk with us is to set up time with us. And so it goes. Because informal time is rarer, the only way to collaborate (and we’re very collaborative) is through formal meetings. Which in turn reduces the informal meetings (which, by the way, are often more effective than the formal ones), which reinforces the vicious circle.

Right now, my average week is around 80% booked. I think I average six hours of meetings a day. The remaining hours I am frantically trying to either get all the things done that are outcomes of those meetings, tracking people down for followups, or staring emptily into space while my brain slowly recharges. The only time to get things done is the early morning, before others get in. It is very hard to find time to step back and think hard about the big strategic issues I am being paid to deal with.

It’s similar of traffic patterns. Highways can handle a certain amount of traffic gracefully. After that, there is a steep decline. Adding 5% more vehicles results in a 20% decrease in speed. Once this tipping point has been hit it is very difficult to reverse it. This is why many cities put in controlled timing lights at the entrance ramps. You might have to wait another minute or two to get on, but because the speed of the highway is kept high, you save more time than you lose. I don’t see an analogy to timing lights in my workplace. Meetings are clearly out of hand. Everyone knows it. But once it has hit that point, it is very difficult to reverse.

Watching the News

We decided that our kids are old enough to learn about the grownup world. We recorded the evening news and sat down with them to watch it. Here are some of the stories that day:

  • Iowa Caucus voting underway (lots of talk, no one knows anything of course)
  • Rookie cop catches the person setting fires (a long story of how the tip came in involving families and felons, and none of us could understand it, or why we should care.)
  • Record cold, Florida oranges are in trouble
  • Dead body found on one Queen Elizabeth’s many houses. (Clearly nothing to do with the royal family, but reported as if they are serial murders.)
  • Dow Jones started the year up 200 points. (This is explained by a reference to “The January Effect”, with no other explanation.)
  • New hybrid shark discovered (predictably dubbed “SuperShark”)
  • Veterans helping to rebuild bad Baltimore neightborhoods (nothing bad to say, it’s great)

We were surprised by how much the boys enjoyed it. The 8-year old had lots of questions about politics. Such as, “Dad, why did you say half of the Republicans are nutjobs?”

Then we asked the 6-year old what he thought. “The news is great!” Really? How come? “It’s all fires and big sharks!”

Post Holiday Awkwardness

It was the first day back at work after the break. I was walking down the hall behind a female friend. Let’s call her Alice. Another co-worker leaned out from her office, after we had passed.

Her: Jennifer, you look great!
[Jennifer is not around, so no one replies.]
Her: Hey, Jennifer! Happy New Years! Did you lose weight, you look great!
Me (looking back): That’s not Jennifer. That’s Alice.
Her: That’s Alice? Shit, she looks terrible!

Most Frustrating Product of 2011: The Oddly Not-Quite Right Water Dispenser

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You can’t see it in this picture, but the water switch is an on/off switch. This machine has the ability to give you:

  • Ice only
  • Ice and Water (which is 80% ice)

It cannot give you water only. This is because there is no switch to control the ice, only the water. Why not? How hard could it have been to add an on/off switch for the ice. For that matter, if you can only have one on/off switch, why would you put it on the water controls? There are a few oddballs who like their cup of ice only, but there are certainly far more people who like a cup of water only. The makers of this product clearly had the ability to make this work the way most people woudl want it, but for some strange reason, deliberately chose not to. Congratulations Scotsman, you made the most-frustratingly-so-close-to-being-a-good-product-and-yet-royally-sucking-of-the-year. Hoorah.