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Reply to Trager

Posted by Bob on October 17th, 2005 under Comment Responses


Traeger is about the only person on earth I could still consider a friend.

Maybe.

We have known each other forever, so he gots no mercy here and expects none.

I now quote what he says and my replies are marked by ***********

TRAGER SAYS:

Something much more basic is going on:

Computers make for more refined accounting.

More refined accounting means a better ability to find out which parts of a business are making or losing money.

Computers also mean that engineers can incorporate costs into their design and not have to send designs to top management, which will then get cost from accounting, buyer preferences from marketing, and so on. Top management alone has the information. (Engineers design cars that make them happy, but they cost too much and the public won’t buy them.) All this means that middle-management ranks, those who pass informatation from bottom to top and back down again, are getting delayered.

****** While I am the senile one, you seem to have forgotten that all this was the explanation of why, in the Carter years, everybody thought that business cycles were a thing of the past.

***** Nobody noticed that Europe had computers and one long cycle: Down

*********I do love the irony that Yuppie middle management, back in the 90s where you seem to be stuck, said automation was OK and the low-life working class would have to face losing jobs.

****** Those are the guys who are now asking, “Would you like fries with that?”

Computers also mean that it has become easier to buy outside the firm than make it yourself.

Transactions costs are lowered. Did you ever hear of Ronald Coase and a paper he wrote in 1937, “The Economics of the Firm”? Of course *you* have.

****** You know Ronald Coase was a professor of mine.

All this means more and more creative destruction, shorter product cycles, more jobs in design and marketing, fewer semi-skilled and unskilled jobs (code for IQ, mostly), smaller sized plants and firms both.

*********** What is this “unskilled” nonsense? Anybody who can paint a house can get a job. A super specialist in computers can’t.

*************** Where have you been the last couple of decades?

This means a general increase in the tempo of change. Who now plans ten years ahead?

********** I can’t believe you are parroting this “Inevitable incread in the tempo of change” bit.

********** In political strategy, and I mean REAL politics, you plant ideas. I deal in decades routinely.

It means a greater premium on raw IQ. You’re OLD Bob and not as smart as you used to be and are living on you accumulated wisdom. There’s not much of a demand for “experience.” Peak earning years will go down.

******** Lord, man you are really stuck in the nineties!

******** I can’t get it straight whether you are somehow competing with me or making a point.

******** I am very unhappy that I have to keep saying things that are obvious and neitehr young nor old people can see. You yourself said my big contribution was, and I quote:

******** “Things jump out at you that other people don’t even notice.” It is a very uncomfortable talent, because I keep wondering why the obvious never occurs to anybody lese.

********* In fact, it is very much like the old movie about the pod people, where nobody seemed to notice that people with human brains and emotions were being replaced by pods.

************ I want to be frozen and wake in a world where I will be given lotes of extra frontal lobe and taught by people who have already thought of what I agonizingly try to teach people now.

********** I do NOT like being the only sane one around.

Not as much as it should, since our Stone Age brains tell us that with age comes wisdom. It did, when the oldsters were all of thirty.
It all adds up to no more careers, just jobs in the old sense that you get a very specific task.
Tell me, Bob, what are the last three bits of wisdom you’ve acquired.

********** You seem obsessed with me.

******** If you read the blog, you would know that I am Odinistic. The word “Wisdom” is for charlatans.

********* You know I never let anybody get away with the sort of crap you just asked me. What is this “Wisdom” fertilizer?

********** There are things that work and things that don’t work. There are thoughts one comes up with and insights one finds or learns.

********** But “Wisdom?” In all seriousness, what in the HELL is that?

Share it now. Like it while you're at it.
  1. #1 by Peter on 10/17/2005 - 11:43 pm

    Knowledge is experience.
    Wisdom is perception.

    Woden hung on the wind-woven tree for all of nights nine, then took up the runes with a shout.
    Woden gave up his right eye and put it into the well where all things that go in come out as white as the film called the skin under an eggshell.

    Woden’s name means either “Master of the life-force” or “Master of the inspiration of wisdom.”

  2. #2 by Trager Smith on 10/27/2005 - 12:52 pm

    Traeger is about the only person on earth I could still consider a friend.

    Maybe.

    We have known each other forever, so he gots no mercy here and expects none.

    #####What I want is relevance and sense.

    I now quote what he says and my replies are marked by ***********

    TRAGER SAYS:

    Something much more basic is going on:

    Computers make for more refined accounting.

    More refined accounting means a better ability to find out which parts of a business are making or losing money.

    Computers also mean that engineers can incorporate costs into their design and not have to send designs to top management, which will then get cost from accounting, buyer preferences from marketing, and so on. Top management alone has the information. (Engineers design cars that make them happy, but they cost too much and the public won’t buy them.) All this means that middle-management ranks, those who pass informatation from bottom to top and back down again, are getting delayered.

    ****** While I am the senile one, you seem to have forgotten that all this was the explanation of why, in the Carter years, everybody thought that business cycles were a thing of the past.

    ###### I wasn’t making such a claim about the end of business cycles, Bob. I was just saying why life-long careers are becoming much fewer.

    ***** Nobody noticed that Europe had computers and one long cycle: Down

    #####Look, if the Europeans want job protection and are willing to settle for lower economic growth to get it, that’s fine with me. There’s a whole new field of economics now called happiness research, and it shows that, at the margin, relative income is more important than absolute income. Certainly this is not true of very poor nations, but happiness among the European and other rich nations doesn’t correlate much with per capita income.

    *********I do love the irony that Yuppie middle management, back in the 90s where you seem to be stuck, said automation was OK and the low-life working class would have to face losing jobs.

    ****** Those are the guys who are now asking, “Would you like fries with that?”

    ######Bob, if you’re talking about the middle managers in the 80-90th percentiles, I can say this generally: the winners in the last couple of decades have been the top quintile and, to a lesser extent, in the second quintile. Those in the middle quintile seem worse off, but quality improvements are far from adequately taken into account in calculating the Consumer Price Index (anything electronic, which is obvious, but even little things like razor blades). Those in the bottom quintile are hopeless. The real losers are those in the fourth quintile, 20-40 percentiles. I call them the MID-TRODDEN.

    Computers also mean that it has become easier to buy outside the firm than make it yourself.

    Transactions costs are lowered. Did you ever hear of Ronald Coase and a paper he wrote in 1937, “The Economics of the Firm”? Of course *you* have.

    ****** You know Ronald Coase was a professor of mine.

    ####Of course I did. I think he taught something like the economics of military defense. He was gone by by the time I entered graduate school.

    All this means more and more creative destruction, shorter product cycles, more jobs in design and marketing, fewer semi-skilled and unskilled jobs (code for IQ, mostly), smaller sized plants and firms both.

    *********** What is this “unskilled” nonsense? Anybody who can paint a house can get a job. A super specialist in computers can’t.

    *************** Where have you been the last couple of decades?

    This means a general increase in the tempo of change. Who now plans ten years ahead?

    ********** I can’t believe you are parroting this “Inevitable incread in the tempo of change” bit.

    ####It is a fact, even though dubious people claim it. I asked my grandfather, not long before he died (he dates were 1890-1980, thereabouts) what was the biggest change during his lifetime. He said it was transporation and recalled seeing the first car in Emporia, Kansas in 1912 iirc. Well, there hasn’t been much in the way of increased speed in the last 25 years, but in the last decade the World-Wide Web has had enormous impact. I can send you a document in a few seconds, and nowadays bytes make up a huge portion of GDP. (Did I ever tell you about the study that showed 1/4 of GDP in the U.S. consists of persuasion. The authors took all the activities of preachers and lawyers, for example, half of other things. I forget the details, but it was extremely plausible.) The racheting up of creative destruction in the economy, the erosion of life-long jobs, these are increasing the tempo of change. Whites do things exponentially, you know.

    ********** In political strategy, and I mean REAL politics, you plant ideas. I deal in decades routinely.

    #####You’re rare.

    It means a greater premium on raw IQ. You’re OLD Bob and not as smart as you used to be and are living on you accumulated wisdom. There’s not much of a demand for “experience.” Peak earning years will go down.

    ******** Lord, man you are really stuck in the nineties!

    This insult serves no useful purpose. I know several computer people who are simply over the hill and are taking jobs at twice the minimum wage. That they witnessed the early days counts for almost nothing.

    ********** I do NOT like being the only sane one around.

    #####I know the feeling. I have this morbid attachment to reality myself.

    Not as much as it should, since our Stone Age brains tell us that with age comes wisdom. It did, when the oldsters were all of thirty.
    It all adds up to no more careers, just jobs in the old sense that you get a very specific task.
    Tell me, Bob, what are the last three bits of wisdom you’ve acquired.

    ********** You seem obsessed with me.

    I mean some recent insights that go beyond what you said 20-30 years ago.

    ******** If you read the blog, you would know that I am Odinistic. The word “Wisdom” is for charlatans.

    ********* You know I never let anybody get away with the sort of crap you just asked me. What is this “Wisdom” fertilizer?

    ********** There are things that work and things that don’t work. There are thoughts one comes up with and insights one finds or learns.

    ********** But “Wisdom?” In all seriousness, what in the HELL is that?

    Bob, you know perfectly well that I’m pulling your leg about wisdom. My Dad gave me $5 once to read _The Wisdom of Confucious_. I must have been in junior high school. I read it and pronounced it to be nothing but table manners. I plan on rereading it to see if my initial impresssion holds up.

    Thanks to empirical investigations of social psychologists, we’re getting a good picture of how Chinese and Westerners process the world. Westerners build up from particulars; Easterners are holistic. You can see it even in experiments where pictures are shown: Easterners pick up the background better. Richard Nisbet (not to be confused with the late Bob, the conservative sociologist and a great man) has written a book _The Geography of Thought_, which goes into depth on this. Nisbet is a big AntiRacist and one of Jensen and Rushton most effective attackers. But I think it is Easterners’ hightened collectivism that makes them pay closer attention to context (whether so and so is “losing face” and the like).

    To continue, evolutionary pressures to get at reality directly are not all that powerful. You notice the results of this repeatedly. You’re a freak, Bob, with this morbid obsession with reality. Your career won’t advance. You’ll leave few descendants. Remember Coon’s evolution by social adaptation as taking over evolution by environmental adaptation with primates. Getting along with other primates became the chief occupation of the brain. This is esp. true in man. Well, the Chinese have too much of it. Their “wisdom” does keep the group together. It does not lead to science.

    The irony is that analytic thinking has uncovered a world that works top-down as well as bottum-up. The environment selects the organisms that survive. Society shapes individual thought processes. (Recall Brown’s observing that the Greeks and Romans never drew a graph, while nearly any child can in nearly any country.) It remains open whether Chinese can exploit what may turn out to be a real brain advantage.

    Meanwhile, there is a sort of wisdom that come from breadth and depth of experience and *from paying attention to that experience*.

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