Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Preparing for the Future

Sailing into the future...

How stunningly weird is it, that we’ve been in space for almost 60 years… and our first real-genuine experiment deploying a solar sail is about to be launched (by the Planetary Society), later this month? A human lifespan… to get around to trying something to simple, obvious and inexpensive?   The delay is so strange and unlikely, it almost makes one conjure up sci-fi/thriller/paranoid explanations. 

Support the solar sail on Kickstarter.  Something worthwhile.

Other interesting things, in the offing...

Innovating for the future: an interesting article about the history of and the death… and rebirth(?) of corporate research labs, reports that "innovation may no longer be in corporate-affiliated research parks, but is cropping up in unexpected places... which goes hand in hand with rapid shifts and expansions in the information landscape." 

Ah, but as you'll hear me repeat, those who have sabotaged investment in U.S. research are traitors and enemies of our children.  No less.

Financing the future...will we see...an attack of the algorithms? In a disturbing trend, monetary funds run by robots now account for $400 billion of the worldwide economy.

Mining for the future...Last summer the UN's International Seabed Authority issued the first deep sea exploration permits, allowing companies to start actively looking for places to mine Manganese nodules and other sources of rare earth elements from the ocean floor. As I forecast in EARTH (1989). Might this be a way around the current Chinese near-monopoly on rare earths production?

In the short term. Maybe.  But till we're mining asteroids (including "davidbrin") we won't yet be rich enough.

== Powering the Future ==

Speaking of solar... Bike lanes covered with solar panels follow the median of highways in South Korea: “...for 20 miles between the cities of Daejeon and Sejong, they can be running down the median of a six-lane highway. And what's really special about this one is that it is covered with solar panels, generating electricity and shading the cyclists as they ride,” reports this article in TreeHugger. Sounds nice -- till you factor in noise, danger and exhaust fumes.  Reboot idea source.  Try again.

My own passion is to see solar panels running along the west’s great aqueducts, shading the water and reducing evaporative losses. The energy that’s generated would benefit from a clear right-of-way for cheap power lines.  Add a bike-path? Sure!

Better yet, the aqueducts are (not-quite but sort-of) perfect for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop transport system! The main California Aqueduct runs roughly along the I-5 interstate freeway – with, admittedly, a few more twists. The point is that Elon might be able to flexibly hop from one to the other, with the aqueduct portions being much, much cheaper to acquire and build upon than portions running down an interstate median. Now, to power with that water-and-electricity-saving roof of solar cells.

Been musing this idea more and more…

One of you did some of the math: “Just the California aqueduct is 1129 km long and 10 meters wide.  That figures to a surface area = 1.129E7 m^2.  Now, assuming solar energy 1.2 KW per M^2, with 20% conversion efficiency: then this surface area would generate 0.27E7 KW… or 2.7 GigaWatts. Out of California’s current electrical demand ~50GW, that’d be a whopping 6%. Compare this to existing California solar = 6GW, so a complete solar roof over the CA Aqueduct (and that is only the largest of California’s many water channels) would provide half again the existing solar power base in California alone.”

It's been done in India: a canal in Gujarat topped with solar panels. See the picture to the right.

Hm, well, the numbers can be quibbled in either direction.  But not by enough to refute the notion. Now factor in all benefits:

1) No appreciable environmental tradeoffs. Very little additional land need be set aside for this power plant, unlike the vast solar arrays now being erected in sensitive desert areas.

2) Access is simple and secure. The roads and infrastructure needed for construction are already in place.  Indeed, the accompanying power lines can simply follow existing aqueduct rights-of-way, saving time and expense.

3) Excess power has an immediate use, pumping water over the Tehachapis to holding reservoirs that can then be swiftly tapped for hydro power, when clouds come in.

4) Prevention of evaporative loss from the aqueducts themselves.  This is, of course, the biggest win-win benefit, in times of drought. And this is where a call to the smart mob comes in.  Can anyone find estimates of what this saving would amount to?  

Indeed, one must wonder about unintended consequences, as some evaporation would then condense on the solar roof’s support structures. Anti-corrosion will have to be part of basic planning.  Still, here's the capstone that makes all of this sound plausible --

Elon Musk tweeted, "Have asked SolarCity if we can do something philanthropic with the CA aqueducts to help the water crisis. Investigating…"

And...what about the All American Canal as well?

== Preparing for worst cast scenarios ==

Battling infectious diseases: There have been missteps. As this article notes, empty Ebola clinics have been reported: “After spending hundreds of millions of dollars and deploying nearly 3,000 troops to create Ebola remedy centers, the United States ended up creating facilities that have largely sat empty: Only 28 Ebola sufferers have been treated at the 11 remedy units built by the United States military…”

Before getting all outraged at this “waste,” perhaps some perspective? All right, the help arrived a bit late and our civil servants learned a lot, so that they’ll do better next time. Which is… um… kinda the point, yes? For all of its tragedy, this Ebola outbreak was on the medium-small scale, compared with the nightmare scenarios we all might face, next year or next decade.

On that broader perspective, this exercise was, in fact, worth every penny! We’ll be quicker off the mark, next time, better skilled and equipped.

 == Educating for the Future ==

Along the same lines as my posting -- How the American Education System Doesn't Fail -- this article - We don't need more STEM majors, We need STEM majors with liberal arts training --  shows both true wisdom and obdurately silliness.  

Yes, we need to double down on America's investment in "breadth" during college.   All around the world, the normative baccalaureate degree is three years, with 17-year olds diving into narrow fields with utter specialization. 

In sharp contrast, the American (and Canadian) Bachelor's Degree takes four years because all STEM majors are required to take a year's worth of humanities/history/Lit etc... and vice versa for humanities majors needing science survey classes. This article's author is only expressing the value system under which she was raised.  One with which I wholly agree! (As a "scientist/novelist" who earns his living across the entire spectrum.) You want MORE breadth?  Fine. I am down with that.

But to not even acknowledge that's already what we do?  Vastly more than any other nation on Earth?  Did you see her mention that? Even remotely?  Nope, just finger-wagging chiding -- the coin of our era -- instead of constructively pondering how to improve the miracle we already have. Pure silliness.

 == Predicting the Future ==

A reminder to you nit-pickers out there that I am willing to live by the principles that I preach! I have talked a lot about how we need “accountability for those who claim to predict. Actually, my fans have noticed the unusual number of "hits" or predictive successes that seem to have been scored in EARTH. These  accurate foretellings... and some that were embarrassingly off-target(!) are now being tracked at this site.

Feel free to suggest ways in which I have been wrong or right!  Not just in that one novel.

Here’s my essay -- Predictions Registries -- on why we should be doing this for everyone!  Especially politicians and cable news pundits and merchants of fear. 

 = And Finally =

What if...Ayn Rand reviewed children's movies? Hilarious!  

I really like the deep and original song by Big Data - “Dangerous.”  Their video is complex, layered and entertaining, demanding full attention: "How could they know, how could they know.. what I been thinking? Like they're right inside my head because they know, Because they know, what I been hiding..."

Then there’s this more shallow and yet deeply disturbing alternate version. Yeouch! 

54 comments:

matthew said...

Here is an interesting post from Boing Boing on a non-dystopian SciFi game coming out soon.

http://boingboing.net/2015/05/12/could-this-beautiful-game-sign.html

I urge everyone to take a look simply for the gorgeous palette being used for the game, let alone the reported positive-sum mentality of the game design. Man, those graphics are pretty.

matthew said...

Just a few days ago I posted about the solar-covered aqueducts on my personal FB page. I got a few responses that are germane.

Bob - a hydrologist for the state of Texas says "I just did the calculation for the All-American Canal (80 miles long, 150 ft wide, 120 inches evaporation rate, max flow 26,155 cubic feet per second), and it comes out that 0.08 percent is lost to evaporation. Big fast flow with relatively small surface area..."

But my mom - also a hydrologist, chimed in "Consider actual losses of 4.4% to evaporation, and 0.06 to seepage" She got these numbers from the Central Arizona Project website, I believe, as that's where I found them.

0.08% versus 4.4% for evaporative loss? Clearly my two hydrologists need to get together and duke it out. 0.08% doesn't justify the capital expense as an evaporation preventative. 4.4% does justify, most likely.


Alfred Differ said...

One doesn't need paranoid stories to explain the delay with solar sails. I tried a project of my own. It all boils down to the risk aversion of the funding source (in the US) and the fact that considerable funding was needed due to launch costs. I abandoned my project once I realized that if I was serious about wanting to help sails, I had to help lower launch costs.

As for rare earths, the Chinese have a near-monopoly because they are willing to sell it at prices below what it costs them to produce the stuff. Except for the strategic materials argument, we'd be fools to not take advantage of them while they are in this mood.

David Brin said...

I'd really like to see the evaporative-loss figures from some sort of official source.

Matthew write to me separately about those predictions sites (via davidbrin.com). I'd like to learn more.

One for my predictions wiki?

Anonymous said...

From http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=698840:
"The sources below suggest about 400 miles of open aqueduct, 110 feet wide. That's 22 million square meters of surface area, or about 2000kg/sec of water evaporated according to this [http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/evaporation-water-surface-d_690.html] evaporation calculator using pre-filled assumptions. The aqueduct's capacity is 370 cubic meters of water per second, or about 370,000 kg/sec."

Smurphs said...

I am sure you meant the first US Solar Sail project.

Japan launched one successfully five years ago.

I can't seem to get an embedded link to work. Search on "Ikaros"

Steve Bloom said...

Using anon 1:52 PM's figures, translating that into annual acre-feet, the CA H2O coin of the realm, gives roughly 40k AF/year. These days IIRC top water bids are in the range of $800/AF, so maximum value (in tough drought times) is around $30 million, much less if we get some rain, but still basically chicken feed as these things go.

For even this figure to be fully realized, the canal would have to be sealed over, which that Indian example doesn't appear to be. OTOH if that were otherwise practical it would eliminate the corrosion issue.

So while the potential evaporation savings appear to be not much more than symbolic, it may make sense to do such a solar project simply because of the other advanatages mentioned in the post. Hopefully we'll be hearing from Musk/SW soon.

What looks to be a flat installation over that Indian canal may not be desirable in CA due to our lower sun angle, so presumably there would be some added cost due to needing to tilt the panels southward.

Purely in terms of electricity production, the All-American canal might be a better choice (more insolation, fewer clouds, possibly a reduced cleaning problem from ag haze) than the CA aqueduct, but the latter is very centrally located and possibly perfectly situated to pick up the slack in the event of a near-term closure of Diablo Canyon (speed the day).

Aqueduct maintenance might be an issue, but that sounds resolvable with a modular design.

Finally, in at least some locations it might be possible to add in wind. As the rotors get higher and bigger, new locations become possible, although I have no idea if this would pencil out for these locations.

With both, the view from I-5 and environs would be spectacular, a brilliant shining ribbon punctuated with huge windmills every km or so, reminiscent of the visual impact the Giza pyramids would have had when new. (Maybe an artist...?)

This all does sound expensive as hell, but so are those existing wind and solar farms. Also consider the money being dumped into the twin tunnel and high speed rail boondoggles, which if reprogrammed might be more than enough to foot the bill.

Cafe said...

This is the Planetary Society's second attempt at a solar sail project.

The first, Cosmos 1, back in 2005, failed on the second stage booster. It was launched from a Russian ballistic missile sub....now that's how I like to see that sort of hardware being used.

It was heartbreaking to hear nothing back from Cosmos-1 and knowing it had failed. The budget was around $4mil and it set the scene for Lightsail-1.

IKAROS, the Japanese project went thumbs up in 2010.

Romantic visions of schooners plying the Jovian moons before tacking back Earthside...all aboard me heartys!

David Brin said...

Chinese billionaire Li Jinyuan decided to take 6,400 of his top distributors on an all-expenses-paid trip to France, hoping to generate a wave of publicity to help offset the $14.5 million he shelled out for chartered jets, 30,000 hotel stays and a private tour of the Louvre. With the number of Chinese taking trips overseas exploding -- they made more than 107 million trips outside the mainland last year, up almost 20% over 2013-- and with more Chinese going abroad, their nation has become deeply self-conscious about the image its travelers leave behind.
http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-chinese-tour-group-france-20150511-story.html#page=1

And this is where *I* cash in!

Tony Fisk, does this count as a classA 100% spot on prediction from EARTH? To the registry-wiki!

Alex Tolley said...

The Ebola clinic link is broken. But it seems that a quick Google indicates that these are in Liberia. This is only one place where there is/was an outbreak. The Ebola outbreak is still not fully controlled. And yes we need to do things better next time.

Alex Tolley said...

Re: STEM majors. Actually what we need is for the grads to be paid properly. With depressed wages for graduates, over-qualified for most jobs they do get and saddled with debt, we really need to rethink this idea that education accrues to the individual rather than is at least partly a public good. We really should follow other EU countries and provide free education for those that cab benefit from it.

Alex Tolley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Tolley said...

Elon Musk tweeted, "Have asked SolarCity if we can do something philanthropic with the CA aqueducts to help the water crisis. Investigating…"

Awesome.

This would give CA irrigation districts a serious kick in the pants. They won't even put in solar to run the pumps. The aqueduct could supply a lot of power. Here's a thought. Instead of using the power for general purposes, how about using it to recycle ag water in the state? MIT has just developed a lower cost system for India's brackish irrigation water desalination. How about just cleaning the water of solids and chemicals and reusing it. Solve some of our drought problem. We already use recycled municipal water. Why not ag water water too?

Alex Tolley said...

The interesting thing about the Planetary's current solar sail is that it is a great deal smaller than Cosmos-1, yet its capabilities are even better due to miniaturization. The use of a standard cubesat platform means that overall the project is much cheaper as well.

We are still a far cry from Drexler's large space manufactured sails to haul cargo or probes to the outer system, but we might get there as this technology matures. Even better is that sails can be driven by microwave or laser beams to add acceleration. You can even add paints that will ablate off like rocket propellant. The Benfords have done some interesting experiments with microwave beams on carbon sails. This offers one of the better hopes for an interstellar probe.

Here is an status update on JAXA's IKAROS solar sail.

Alex Tolley said...

It needs reiterating. Rare earth elements are not rare. As Alfred says, let th Chinese sell us theirs cheap. We should take advantage and stockpile ae strategic reserve to prevent shortfalls, due to supply shocks or political manipulation.

What happened to all those US companies salivating over the finds in Afghanistan? Not anticipating that the US military wouldn't control the country?

Alex Tolley said...

Don't forget NASA launched Nanosail-D2 in 2011. Nanosail-D2 which was also based on a cubesat platform.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re- All American Canal
Those evaporation figures look pretty sensible
About three times the evaporation rate here (South Island NZ)
It's a lot colder her!

That evaporation rate is for still water - moving water and any type of turbulence increases that quite a lot

BUT the flow figure is for max flow rate
Our local river (Mataura) has a "Max flow rate" of over 2000 Cumecs(cubic feet/second)
But its average flow rate is about 65 Cumecs

I would not expect as big a difference in flows in an irrigation canal but I would expect at least 5:1

Adding that to the extra losses due to moving water brings the evaporation loss percentage up to about 5%

Well worth fixing

Duncan Cairncross said...

I learned about evaporation rates when trying to get local farmers to use irrigation water more effectively by operating the instigators at night
Not only do you lose less water to evaporation at night but the winds speeds are lower (that surprised me) so you lose less that way

Unfortunately the judge ruled against me

My estimate of about 5% is quite similar to Matthews mom's estimate

Because the wind effect is quite important for evaporation using the solar panels as a windbreak and partial shade will give a decent improvement even without a full cover

Duncan Cairncross said...

Instigators!!!
Damn auto-correct!
Irrigators

Daniel Duffy said...

Which would be more efficient, solar sails, mag sails, or mini-magnetospheric plasma propulsion (M2P2)?

Alex Tolley said...

@Daniel - or electric sails. I don't think there is enough data even to ask that question. Efficiency will depend on what you measure, where the craft is in be solar system, and the state of the sun. For example, light sails get a constant thrust, whilst sails using the solar wind are dependent on the variable local winds rather like a sailboat.

Tony Fisk said...

Was going to mention 'No Man's Sky', but Matthew beat me to it. If it delivers 10% of what it promises, it will be pretty awesome.

I gather you can submit a selfie to be placed onboard the LightSail 2(launching in 2016) Indeed, I note our good hist has already done so. I am tempted to do one with fish eye distortion and me holding a sign saying 'Join Us'.

Tony Fisk said...

... 'hist' = 'host', of course. No autocorrect required; just good old fumble fingers.

Tony Fisk said...

...Speaking of putting solar on aqueducts and roads, here's a report on solar cells embedded in the road. After six months, results are better than expected.

Alex Tolley said...

@Tony Fisk. The numerate commenters on that solar road project have a good point. I think over the road panels make much more sense. In CA all simple mall parking lots should have overhead panels to produce power and shade cars. The opportunity to use overhead panels to power roadside chargers for electric cars could eliminate "range anxiety" and increase electric car purchases. I also love the idea of these panels for bike lanes as these could recharge electric bicycles too, as well as providing lighting and other roadside services.

Andy said...

The predictions registry wiki seems rather... undermaintained. A lot of the links are broken, etc :(

sociotard said...

Woman fired after disabling work app that tracked her movements 24/7

That is, the app tracked her even when she was not at work.

Brinism: "You can't stop the elites from pursuing more information. If you try stopping this, they'll find a way to conceal the app and ask the employer to stop bragging he knows how fast employees drive"

Okay, so what is to be done?

"Make the transparency reciprocal."

How?

"Let the employee see their own data. Let the Employee see which supervisors were monitoring her during what timestamp."

Really? that's it? How does that help employees who want to do something an employer might not approve of (an Exxon employee going to a greenpeace protest, or a McDonalds employee going to a minimum wage protest)?

Now to find out if that was an accurate mental model.

raito said...

I've found consistently that the engineers, scientists, and mathematicians I know are far more interested in the arts than that the liberal arts majors I know are interested in technology.

Alex Tolley said...

@Sociotard - add to that the whistleblower just jailed for 42 months primarily based on of the metadata from his phone.

In the case you mention, I hope she wins as the employer really has no business tracking her outside of work hours. This seems a clear invasion of privacy. David has said that some privacy must be maintained, e.g. in your own house.

In better news a case was dismissed where the cops had nailed up a webcam to spy on a target w/o getting a warrant.
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/05/feds-drop-case-in-which-cops-nailed-webcam-to-utility-pole-to-spy-on-house/

Jumper said...

I wonder why call-forwarding wasn't an option. Employer controlled the phone, no doubt.

Alfred Differ said...

When sails become a commercial interest, it won't really matter which approach is most efficient. The commodity transport sails will probably use all of the above and even arrange to accept laser assists. What really matters is the time cost of money, so any tech that can shorten flight times will get used even if it is in standby mode waiting for the right space weather conditions.

A.F. Rey said...

There's a disturbing new law in Wyoming.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/05/13/3657795/wyoming-pollution-photography-jail-time/

According to the article, the Data Trespass Bill:

"...makes it illegal to “collect resource data” from any land outside of city boundaries, whether that land be private, public, or federal. Under to the law, “collect” means to “take a sample of material, acquire, gather, photograph or otherwise preserve information in any form from open land which is submitted or intended to be submitted to any agency of the state or federal government.”

Imagine, for a second, a hiker who is taking a walk through a national forest in Wyoming. During that hike, she notices a visibly polluted stream within the area. The next day, she returns with a camera to take a picture of the stream, with the intention of showing those photographs to the local authorities as proof of pollution. Under the Data Trespass Bill, unless the hiker obtained specific permission from the land’s owner or manager — in this case, the Forest Service — to collect that data, she would be subject to prosecution that could result in up to $5,000 in fines and a year in prison. And while the law probably won’t be used to slap fines on every Yellowstone tourist with a camera, it does have broad-reaching implications for environmental data collection in the state, according to Justin Pidot, an assistant professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, who wrote a piece on the law for Slate.

“People on the ground, who have been engaged in this kind of data collection in the past, now have to face the worry about being potentially prosecuted,” Pidot told ThinkProgress. “The chilling effect on citizen participation is huge.”"

Alfred Differ said...

meh. Just ignore the law and then challenge it when they try to enforce it. Citizen restrictions like this won't get far.

This is probably a nice little case of a corporation writing the law to protect themselves while they cheat.

Jumper said...

Funny, I skimmed the actual statute and didn't see anything except private property mentioned, so I assumed the left wing press was going hyperbolic. Anyone got a link to the exact words of the law?

Alex Tolley said...

Similar to so-called ag-gag laws.

e.g. this report.

These laws look very much like anti-souveillance, much like the photographing of any "installation" can result in an arrest under "terrorism" charges.

A.F. Rey said...

Funny, I skimmed the actual statute and didn't see anything except private property mentioned, so I assumed the left wing press was going hyperbolic. Anyone got a link to the exact words of the law?

According to the link in the article, Section 1.(a) reads:

"(a) A person is guilty of trespassing to unlawfully collect resource data if he:
"(i) Enters onto open land for the purpose of collecting resource data; and..."


Section 1.(d) of the statute reads:

"(d) As used in this section:
"(i) "Collect" means to take a sample of
material, acquire, gather, photograph or otherwise preserve
information in any form from open land which is submitted
or intended to be submitted to any agency of the state or
federal government;
"(ii) "Open land" means land outside the exterior
boundaries of any incorporated city, town, subdivision approved pursuant to W.S. 18-5-308 or development approved pursuant to W.S. 18-5-403"


So while the statute does not specially say it includes public land, any such land outside of an incorporated area would be considered "open land" and subject to the statute.

TheMadLibrarian said...

What would this do for Audobon Society bird count people? I suspect my FiL might revert to his activist days if someone tried to curtail his birdwatching with a gag law.

If I had one of those always-recording work phones, my first act would be to randomly pop it into a Mylar bag, especially when I wasn't working or on-call, unless access was part of my work agreement. You want me accessible, you can negotiate with me for what that access is worth to you.

TheMadLibrarian

Jumper said...

Apparently they can't even properly distinguish between public land and private. "Open" doesn't say much about ownership; it implies, to this non-lawyer, unfenced. While the statute is obviously written by mental defectives and ass-hats, I am pretty sure legions of civil disobedience types are ready to go. As well, waterways are public property. The bit about deletion from public records is the truly evil bit.

Tony Fisk said...

@Andy: the predictions registry was a little project started a few years ago to list the predictions given in 'Earth'. You're right that several links need maintaining, and that information needs collating. It should be expanded to cover other novels like 'Existence', and 'The Transparent Society'. The supporting site (pbwiki) has changed substantially in that time. I'm not sure I still like it (although you can't quibble at the cost)

Tony Fisk said...

Speaking of pandemics, we have the possibility of a permanent flu vaccine.
(Not for the first time: there was hope when a stable region of the influenza genome was identified and targetted. Turned out the region was just as malleable as the rest when poked)

Paul451 said...

TheMadLibrarian,
"If I had one of those always-recording work phones, [....] unless access was part of my work agreement."

It was. The woman was a sales exec. Her $500k/yr salary included being on-call 24/7 for clients via the work-supplied iPhone. Disabling the phone itself (whether turning it off or putting it in a RF-shielded bag), or leaving it at the office, would be a much clearer breach of contract than disabling the tracker-app.

I hope the company gets their asses handed to them. This women is in a much better position to fight back, compared to a bunch of entry-level wage-slaves. The danger, legally, is that she agreed to an always-on-call contract, and was suitably compensated for it. A judge/jury may feel that tracking is within the terms of that agreement, and then you end up with a more general precedent for employee-tracking that will be applied to people who are not being paid for being on-call outside of normal hours.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re Woman disabling tracking app

Am I missing something here
An executive type woman signed on in a job where she agreed to keep an always on tracking/contact device on her person

Then when she disables the device (breaking the contract) they sack her and she sues

I think we need to protect "juniors" (not just young but also low status low power) from predatory practices but as an "adult" -executive! on $500K! I should be able to protect myself and if I sign onto such a thing I should pay the consequences

I am reminded of a case a while back where a female solicitor sued her firm because one of her colleagues made sexist jokes
A professional - especially a solicitor should be able to stand on their own feet

I used to get annoyed at some of our plant managers ranting at junior engineers

But if they ranted at me that was just part of the job and I was close enough to their level that there wasn't a huge power gap
(and I could rant back)

Paul451 said...

Duncan Cairncross,
"Am I missing something here
An executive type woman signed on in a job where she agreed to keep an always on tracking/contact device on her person"


No, she agreed to be on-call. The employer sprung the rest on her after a few months on the job. And even then didn't tell the staff that the tracker was still on when they hit the big "off-duty" button on the app, until one of the trainers started bragging about being able to track the female staff.

Alex Tolley said...

@Duncan I am reminded of a case a while back where a female solicitor sued her firm because one of her colleagues made sexist jokes

In the US that would be a basis for a sexual harassment lawsuit.

I might have once taken what I assume will be a locum view that this shows we have become too thin-skinned and "feminized". Maybe I've attended too many sexual harassment training sessions, but I fully endorse the reasoning behind stopping these practices at work, whether sexist, racist, or any other form of this type of behavior.

Alfred Differ said...

With a trainer bragging about being able to track the female staff, I'd argue she was well within her rights. There was a better approach, though. With her income, she probably could have bought off someone on the staff to be her henchman and then found out who was accessing the data and trying to track her. With that information in hand, she could skip hacking her device and simply threaten the corp with the lawsuit relating to misuse of PII. She would not be in breach of her employment agreement and would have a stronger case if it ever came to light.

At a minimum she should have been able to get a few people fired and an internal policy changed.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Alex and Alfred

The difference is
"Executive Level"
She was a "big girl" as was the Solicitor

Junior level people need more protection
Senior people - less - they should be expected to be able to sort their own problems

Alex Tolley said...

@Alfred - I expect Liz Warren is a "big girl". Does she have to deal with Obama's put down's too? What about Angela Merkel having to deal with G W Bush's "massage"? Or any number of women politicians with descriptions about their clothes, rather than what they said? This is endemic and very contra feminism.

Nobody should even have to "deal with with it" in a professional setting, and preferably not in a personal one either.

Alex Tolley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

I'm a little more willing to offer protections to junior level people than I am executive level folks, but I'm not willing to protect any of them from other people knowing information. I'm only willing to protect them from the actions these people take with what they know.

I'm sure Senator Warren will deal with this as she wishes. As for the 'massage', take a good look at the body language all our Presidents have used with respect to other leaders and you'll see GWB's act in context. Our Presidents definitely use body language to put other leaders in their place. Merkel is no exception.

Alex Tolley said...

@Alfred Our Presidents definitely use body language to put other leaders in their place. Merkel is no exception.

I find that reversing roles mentally is a good check on whether a behavior is acceptable or not.

In that particular example, I'm surprised that you seem to discount the need to respect other culture's customs or behaviors. Back to nth order effects. Shrub's action came over as extremely gauche when I saw the episode. But that is just my perception.

As far as GW's ability to use body language effectively, perhaps he's a little dyslexic in this regard. Wasn't he the one who thought he could see through Putin's eyes into his soul? How did that work out given subsequent events? :)

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. I'm not defending GWB's ineptness in this matter. He probably thought he was being polite. Had he checked with his own State Dept, they probably would have warned him off.

I'm not excusing any behaviors. What I'm pointing out is that when it comes to sovereign leaders, it is a mistake to apply the social rules of person-to-person interactions. These people also represent nation/states. A guiding hand placed against someone's back implies far more than words can deliver. A firm handshake supported by a grip on the other person's shoulder means a lot too. If a US President doesn't use these tricks, they don't belong in the job. They are part of statecraft.

Jumper said...

My impression of the Warren - Obama business is that it's very likely ginned up by headline writers and actual exact quotes of what Obama and Warren have actually said might reveal that some overblown rhetoric is in play. But having said that, I haven't scanned the coverage with a microscope trying to separate the wheat from the chaff of interpretive hyperbole.

So those of you who have been keenly watching this, what is the most damning actual quotes either has used?

Paul451 said...

Duncan Cairncross,
"The difference is
"Executive Level"
She was a "big girl"
Senior people [...] should be expected to be able to sort their own problems"


She was fired. What the hell was she supposed to "sort out"?

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