1. Productivity

    February 21, 2007 by Craig

    Work is on the “down” part of the roller-coaster again.

    Craig: it’s amazing how quickly a culture of getting things done right can be undone
    Ted: yup, i was just envisioning the line chart in my head of [their] productivity slowly sloping upwards and [ours] dropping like a rock
    Craig: yeah
    Craig: are they actually getting their act together?
    Ted: relatively
    Craig: minor progress is still progress
    Ted: i have restored order to the chaos, but order is a six pack away from being beautiful

    In my experience, the default state of any organization is to be screwed-up. It doesn’t have to be that way. Most people don’t realize that.

  2. Why are Countries Happy?

    February 16, 2007 by Craig

    Marco replied to my previous blog post:

    There are a lot of questions as to *why* these numbers are the way they are.

    The article has a few statements on this:

    Further analysis showed that a nation’s level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels (correlation of .62), followed by wealth (.52), and then provision of education (.51).

    There is a belief that capitalism leads to unhappy people. However, when people are asked if they are happy with their lives, people in countries with good healthcare, a higher GDP per captia, and access to education were much more likely to report being happy.

    We were surprised to see countries in Asia scoring so low, with China 82nd, Japan 90th and India 125th. These are countries that are thought as having a strong sense of collective identity which other researchers have associated with well-being.

    The frustrations of modern life, and the anxieties of the age, seem to be much less significant compared to the health, financial and educational needs in other parts of the World.

    So the answers are perhaps not so mysterious: people who are materially comfortable, healthy, and well-educated are happier, but individualism also plays an important role (or else Japan would be way up on the scale).

  3. Put a Smile on Your Face

    by Craig

    A psychologist at the University of Leicester has published the results of a study showing the happiest countries in the world.

    Canada comes in at #10. Costa Rica (my wife’s home country) is #13 (which makes the two of us average at about Ireland). The US places a respectable #23 (out of 178). 6 of the top 9 are all Scandinavian/Germanic countries (which are the usual suspects in studies like this one). The other 3 in the top 9 are the Bahamas, and (perhaps surprisingly) Bhutan and Brunei. Also surprising is that the really big names in Europe and Asia all do quite poorly, from Germany at 35 to Russia at 167. Considering the amount of wealth and/or power these countries have, I think it’s telling that they’re not performing better.

    I should make one thing clear: in my opinion at least, these are really the only results that matter. Everything else we talk about (economics, politics, health, etc) is a means to the end of personal happiness.

    (Via Guy Kawasaki).

  4. Valentine

    February 14, 2007 by Craig

    I think that Valentine was the Patron Saint of guys standing in the express lane with flowers in hand and blank stares on their faces.

  5. Eclipse on OSX

    by Craig

    IM conversation between my boss (who recently got a new MacBook Pro) and myself:

    Ted: gah!
    Ted: eclipse is NOT a happy camper on OSX — crashes a LOT on stupid stuff like “refresh”
    Craig: hrm
    Craigo: good thing you don’t do any programming any more 😉
    Ted: ah ha ha
    Craigo: “I’m a PC”
    “And I’m a Mac”
    “Hey PC, get your damn work done, I’ve got to go to a meeting”

  6. Self Oppression

    February 12, 2007 by Craig

    Just this past Friday, I had a conversation with my aunt on oppression and how very much of it is self-imposed / tolerated. Especially among the religious, restriction of personal freedom is often seen as a good thing by the restricted.

    There’s a small town in Quebec called Herouxville that’s been making the news these days. They created a code of conduct for immigrants that prohibits a lot of stereotypically Muslim horrific behavior.

    What I’d like to note here is that the Muslim women (whom the code of conduct is supposed to “protect”) claim that they’re not oppressed in the first place. While we’re not talking about enburqa’d Afghani women here (these Canadian residents are far more liberated than that), I’d still argue that they are to some degree. They’re effectively required to wear headscarves, for religious and not fashion reasons. The key is that they have a Stockholm-syndromesque belief with regards to their oppression. I think that it’s a very common thing throughout the entire world, and it explains how a lot of oppression can continue to exist.

    One other thing to note: while most of the Herouxville rules are along the lines of personal-safety (ex: don’t stone women), there are some that cross the line into oppression themselves (ex: don’t wear headscarves). That’s a bit of irony that I’m sure the townspeople don’t realize.

  7. Browser Wars 2.0: The Battle of the Dollar

    February 9, 2007 by Craig

    It’s been a long, sad story that the Powers That Be generally didn’t give a rat’s ass about any other browser than Internet Explorer on Windows. If they were enlightened, they might say “make it work in ‘both browsers'”, which meant Netscape 4.0 (which was such a crappy and divergent browser that you are better off not worrying about it).

    Times have changed. The combined efforts of FireFox, Opera, Apple, Google, and mobile devices mean that you can’t just target IE/Win any more; you have to consider all user agents. This quote sums it up nicely:

    Things are easier now that we no longer have to appeal to companies to be better Web citizens, which was like asking Nestle to promote fruit as a healthy alternative. Now we simply point out that over 90 million people dont use Internet Explorer, and some of them just might have money to spend on your services.

    From Interview with Firefox Founder and Creator Blake Ros, via Cafe con Leche.

    It’s the “money” that’s the key here. PTB’s typically won’t listen to “this is better for all of us in the long run” but they will listen to “you’ll lose money directly if you do this”.

    The irony of this is that making your site IE-only is typically more difficult than it is to make it standards-compliant. It’s quite easy to make a site that is workable (although not necessarily visually perfect) in all major browsers. The reason many sites intentionally lock out non IE/Windows users is that they want their site to perfectly match what the Graphic Designers cooked up for them in Photoshop. A lot of times, you can’t do that without resorting to IE-only hacks. If you show them how bad it looks in any other browser, at best you’ll get “we don’t care”, and at worst you’ll get “then let’s block them from seeing it”. Either way, you’ll get “they’re only 0.1% of the market, they don’t matter.”

    Until now, that is.

  8. Predicting the Future

    February 8, 2007 by Craig

    The key to successfully predicting the future is knowing when to stop.

    I propose that things that are paid will become free and vice versa. So music and books and other media are turning from paid products to free marketing, while free-to-air video and radio become a subscription or on-demand product for a fee. If I explain any more the premise will fall apart, so I’ll stop here. It is now A Law. Obey.

    From The Anderson Switch on The Long Tail.

  9. Speaking of Canadians and Americans…

    February 1, 2007 by Craig

    Laura and I are watching To Serve and Protect, the Canadian version of COPS. When compared against its southern counterpart, it’s comically dull. There’s no wrestling, tasering, or footchases. It’s basically just cops (in mustaches) picking up drunks and pot smokers. And everyone (the busted and the busters) is polite with each other. 😛

  10. More Political Axes

    by Craig

    Marco responds to my earlier post on The Political Compass:

    …theres no one they picked in the Right-Libertarian square! In practice, in a 2-party system, if you want conservative, you (tend to) get authoritarianism…. the founding fathers, if on that graph, and modified for their time, probably *would* fall down there. Jefferson, almost unquestionably, for example.

    I’ll start by referring to another image on the Political Compass analysis page:

    This one does show someone down in that lower-right corner: Milton Friedman the Nobel-winning economist. Based on what I’ve heard him say, Alan Greenspan would probably land in that quadrant too. I’m not super-familiar with the US Founding Fathers, but from what I do know Marco’s example of Thomas Jefferson seems dead on the money.

    Note, though, that two of those three people are not political leaders (and the other one is dead). As I said in my previous post, if you look at individual leaders, you’ll probably find people who tend to believe that individual leadership (ie: authoritarianism) is a good way to run things. There will be exceptions, but the rule is quite clear. That’s goes for both sides of the economic (socialist/capitalist) axis; it’s not just for the conservatives.

    By the way, if you give Political Compass some money, they’ll do an analysis of your (least) favorite leaders.