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June 04, 2015

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The average business reader, worried Tom McNichol in an online article for The Atlantic soon after the book's publication, might come away thinking: "See! Steve Jobs was an asshole and he was one of the most successful businessmen on the planet. Maybe if I become an even bigger asshole I'll be successful like Steve."

Which is actually nonsense. What is true is that those individuals who want to be assholes will see someone like Jobs as a justification. But those individuals who are not already inclined that way won't start just because someone (Jobs) who was a great success was one.

If we are seeing more assholes in management, all that says is that there used to be more constraints on those who were already inclined that way.

"The null hypothesis should be not that some narcissists are useful (those who show big wins), but that some narcissists are lucky: that, by chance, their "extreme and irregular" performance has a (probably temporary) good result."

I think you would have to look at given businesses' performance over time, to distinguish between some narcissists being lucky, and some being useful. "Luck" doesn't hold up over the long run. "Useful" does.

Here's what I suspect: There's variation on TWO axis here: Competence, and being an asshole. If you're incompetent, being an asshole just makes it worse. If you're very competent, being an asshole might, just might, in the right circumstances, allow you to impose your competence on a corporation.

The ones you've got to watch out for, I think, are not the assholes. Because being one makes you enemies, you won't be cut slack if you screw up. The ones you need to watch for are the opposite of assholes, the really ingratiating people, with excellent interpersonal skills. Because those people WILL be cut slack, as they drag down everything around them.

Charisma and incompetence, that's the real threat. The people who are good at getting into positions of power, because they can work people, but aren't good at what they're supposed to DO with the power.

Obama, in other words.

DNFTT

Can we laugh?

I'm already laughing

Brett's thread jack, it's a gas, gas, gas....

Isn't one of the more recent lessons in the study of evolution that cooperation among members is a generally more successful strategy for a species than outright competition?

Certainly cooperation is a far more successful strategy for any species which isn't at the absolute top of the local food chain. And CEOs, dispite what seems to often be their personal views, simply are not in that position -- if only because they cannot survive as a group without the rest of the population.

Somewhat like parasites can't survive without the host.

There's a close analogy there: The parasite/symbiot transition is driven by the link between the welfare of the parasite and the host; This is frequently seen in infectious diseases, where easy transmission leads to virulence, and difficult to transmit diseases evolve towards not harming their hosts.

IOW, you'd improve CEOs if they couldn't move to another company after dragging down the first.

The first part of the troll's post might be worth discussing. I have no idea how accurate the movie was, but "Patton" is about a narcissistic asshole who is competent and allegedly gets things done because of it. One wold guess that Genghis Khan was a very competent asshole. Maybe this idea works if your business involves killing people. Though even then, I suspect generals who are competent and loved by their troops probably do better, other things being equal,

Okay, Brett's post just above regarding the evolution of virulence and the relevance to CEO behavior was very good--I wish I' d thought of that myself

Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and whether it is Better to be Loved than Feared

Maybe this idea works if your business involves killing people. Though even then, I suspect generals who are competent and loved by their troops probably do better, other things being equal

The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instructions and to give commands in such a manner and in such a tone of voice as to inspire in the soldier no feeling but and intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself; while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward other, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.
-LTG John Shofield

That's doctrine in the US Army, but I can assure you that to many people it's just words. And of course, the problematic fact that you tend to have as many or more incompetent hated leaders than hypercompetent ones only makes it worse...

Reading this:

Here's what I suspect: There's variation on TWO axis here: Competence, and being an asshole.

and this:

And of course, the problematic fact that you tend to have as many or more incompetent hated leaders than hypercompetent ones only makes it worse...

gets me thinking that competence and asshole-ishness may not be independent variables on orthogonal axes. Maybe that's the point of the post - that being an asshole tends to make you incompetent.

Comptetence is about being able to do something well, because you have the qualities required to do so. One of those qualites, among many others, may well be the degree to which you are an asshole. Some assholes may simply have other qualities that more than compensate for their high degrees of asshole-ishness, allowing them to succeed in spite of their being assholes.

Aside from laughing at BB's trolling (FFS, Brett, what did you really expect?), I want to actually talk about this:

IOW, you'd improve CEOs if they couldn't move to another company after dragging down the first.

This is kind of what I'm talking about in the post.

The fact that a CEO who sinks one company can move to another is an example of "privatize profit, socialize risk". Such CEOs do not, personally, experience risk from their risky behavior -- the actual *risk* is borne by other people, especially the employees.

And yet you'll notice that high CEO remuneration is often explained as "they work hard and take risks". They have the *illusion* of being daring risk-takers, without the actual danger.

This is IMHO an important part of how our economic inequality is sustained: the rich get more money and less risk, while everyone acts as though they are being rewarded for risk-taking.

"The fact that a CEO who sinks one company can move to another is an example of "privatize profit, socialize risk"."

It's also an example of Hairshirt's earlier point:

"Isn't one of the more recent lessons in the study of evolution that cooperation among members is a generally more successful strategy for a species than outright competition?"

Consider management as a species, that is cooperating among it's members. We're the gazelles...

you'd improve CEOs if they couldn't move to another company after dragging down the first.

Also, if dragging down the first meant that they actually lost the riches that they made from being CEO there. Might focus their minds wonderfully.

That's the reason for paying CEOs partly in stock options.

I'm recalling, though vaguely, a case a few years back, when a business was going under, and they hired some people to wind up it's affairs. They were to be paid a bonus if they stuck it out to the end.

There was a big fuss when this was interpreted publicly as a bonus for taking the company under. Such a big fuss, I think they got cheated out of the bonuses.

Wish I could recall the particulars.

The basic problem here, is that management are cooperating between enterprises, indentifying with "management", generically, rather than their own enterprise. Perhaps an unforseen consequence of the professionalization of management?

Well that and of the tendency to make up company boards of the executives of other companies. Inbreeding is as deleterious to companies as it is to a family or a species.

Of course, we incentivize the blood suckers and parasites by furnishing them with financial catheters to bleed the host dry:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-leadership/wp/2014/02/11/how-stock-options-lead-ceos-to-put-their-own-interests-first/

America, not to mention the human race at large, is all about feeding the predators.

Gazelles? No.

We're goats, purposefully tethered and hobbled, and expected to worship their behavior even as we disappear down their gullets:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlk0PRrDWWk

Problem is, the predators are better at cooperating than we are. They set upon any proposed regulatory measure to reign them in and/or find new ways to incentivize their own predatory behavior.

With the full-throated help of the usual, paid-off thug suspects:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwAOHVBKTwg

And if that doesn't work, they've salted enough libertarians, Ayn Randers, armed peckerwoods and media reptiles through the ranks to nibble anyone to death in swarming packs who dares sh*t down the side of a car during a demonstration:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPQwNE4OsIE

I can't think who these latter types might be.

The trouble with paying CEO's with stock options is that it encourages excessively risky decision-making, and does not actually align the CEO with shareholders. This is because options have one-sided payoffs.

For example, suppose a stock is trading at $20/share. The CEO is granted options to buy ("call" options) 1000 shares at $20 each. Now he faces a decision between two projects, both with 50% chance of success.

Project A will cause the stock to drop to $10 if it fails and rise to $30 if it succeeds. Project B will increase the value only to $25 if it succeeds, but cause a drop to $18 if it fails.

Plainly, since both have a 50% chance of success, B is the better choice from the shareholders' POV, since the expected (average) outcome is a $21.50 share price, while A's expected outcome is breakeven.

But form the CEO's POV, A is obviously better. If the share price drops below $20 the CEO doesn't care how much below. The options will be worthless regardless. But A gives him a 50% shot at a $10/share profit, while B offers only a $5/share profit.

This is highly stylized, of course, but it illustrates the point.

Note too, that option strike prices - the $20 above - are seldom or never adjusted for overall market performance. A mediocre CEO who just doesn't screw things up totally, is going to make a nice profit on a general market rise, in which his company is simply along for the ride.

And if the CEO does screw things up royally he can always pull a Fiorina and get paid to go away.

The downside to being an @sshole that the article fails to mention is that you're an @sshole.

The quality and depth of your social connections is gonna be somewhat thin and fragile, compared to people who aren't @ssholes.

No doubt there are competent jerks, and no doubt many of them succeed in spite of being jerks. I'm unclear about how being a jerk contributes to that, I can think of lots of ways in which it would not.

Steve Jobs succeeded because he was a really brilliant guy, and brought a remarkable level of focus to what he did. It's not hard to imagine him doing all of that, and being a nicer person. That's not who he happened to be, which was unfortunate for him and anyone who had to spend any time with him. But I absolutely reject the idea that, to the degree that he was a jerk, being a jerk was essential to his success.

There are too many wildly successful people who aren't jerks for that claim to be credible.

Sometimes people succeed in spite of their faults.

Personally, I avoid working for or with people who are jerks. I've turned down jobs at least partially because I thought someone I would have to work for or with was a jerk. I avoid involving myself in situations where jerkiness is likely to be on offer, and I try not to be a jerk myself, which is, unfortunately, more than occasionally a challenge, but I try to do my best.

Because it sucks to be a jerk, and it sucks to be in the vicinity of jerks.

If somebody really wanted to make the world a better place, they could isolate the "entitlement" gene in the human genome and figure out a way to neutralize it.

Also, not for nothing, but "risk-taking" is not the same as "gambling". It's an especially important distinction when the asset involved is other people's money.

speaking of entitled jerks, Kevin Drum has a theory about why most libertarians are men.

Because it sucks to be a jerk, and it sucks to be in the vicinity of jerks.

Does it suck to be a jerk? Sometimes I wonder. If you're a jerk, maybe you just don't care about the things you're missing out on as a result of being a jerk. I'm not remotely certain about this, but I think it's entirely possible that jerks like being jerks, and that's at least part of the reason that they're jerks.

But I don't doubt the second clause.

Does it suck to be a jerk?

I think it depends on whether you are, really and truly, a clinical sociopath or not.

If so, it may not suck, "being a jerk" may just seem like the natural order of things. I pity those people, even if they are perfectly content to be who they are.

If not, then my general impression is that it does kind of suck to be a jerk, because you have, however dimly, some awareness that there are people out there in the big world who are happy in ways that you are incapable of being happy. And, since you're a jerk and not a true sociopath, most likely that bugs you.

I pity those people, too.

FWIW, that's my analysis, which I have basically pulled out of my butt, so please feel free to add grains of salt as desired.

So I have an anecdote that counters my considering the possibility that jerks are happy in their jerkdom.

I have a neighbor who could readily be characterized as a jerk. Just about everyone in my small neighborhood would characterize him that way, if not in some worse way.

My personal theory is that he suffers from some kind of social anxiety, and rather than allowing himself to appear "weak," he projects disdain for most of the people around him. He almost always appears somewhere within a continuum between annoyance and slight anger.

I get the sense that he's frustrated by his inability to interact normally with other people and to be generally happy, and that he sees a good number of the rest of the people in the neighborhood hanging out together socially and enjoying themselves without him as something he's missing out on, but would rather project outwardly and attempt to believe, himself, that he thinks the rest of us are a bunch of contemptible assholes.

I don't think he likes being a jerk. He just doesn't know what else to do.

Now I will echo this:

FWIW, that's my analysis, which I have basically pulled out of my butt, so please feel free to add grains of salt as desired.

My butt is a veritable font of amateur psychoanalysis, but here goes:

Unselfaware, narcissistic jerks verging on sociopaths seem to flock (flock? maybe they jerk off their way there) to the Republican candidacy for President:

Let's see, we have Marco Rubio who can balance two diametrically opposed views about just about anything balanced like 500-pound weights at either end of a barbell sentence.

We have Lindsay Graham, who says if you don't like perpetual war all the time, everywhere, don't vote for him, and then ends a campaign speech splattered with invocations of the spurting blood of ISIS beheadings and perpetual war with James Brown's "I Feel Good".

I feel sh*tty. Don't you know that I wouldn't of?

Mike Huckabee's idea of a campaign platform is making fun of gays, transgender folks, and women while doing photo ops with child molesters, and cold-blooded murderous guitar players.

Jeb Bush hasn't said one sentence yet that he hasn't to rescind or retract upon further reflection, of which he not capable, being dumber than that other bag of hammers who f*cked the world for us.

Carly Fiorina? What's her theme song? "I'm so Vain". Talk about self-entitled deadbeat jerks.

Rand Paul? His voice sounds like those goats on YouTube who sound like humans who sound like goats. This know-nothing clown's little grift is to tell us EVERYONE is wrong about everything, and if elected, he'll prove it by carrying out his father's racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, misogynistic discriminatory, polluting program for the country and thus being wrong in ways no one else had thought of yet.

Scott Walker? His wife and daughters only think about rape early in their pregnancies until they think about it again after they give birth when their rapists show up to demand to hold the babies during the christening ceremonies and by the way, can the rapists also be given the wallet-sized ultrasound photos to carry with them on their next attacks.

Ben Carson? I got a second opinion. He's ugly too. If I awoke mid-operation with him holding a scalpel over me, I'd request that he take a step back and where the hell are my pants?

Chris Christie is how you spell JERK, when it isn't doing double duty spelling a*shole. All I can say is that Humpty Dumpty is not playing on my team any time soon. I haven't seen a better-looking man in uniform since Ralph Kramden got his fingers stuck in the bowling ball holes and made a strike with his entire body.

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2015/06/04/all-the-kings-horses-2/

All that picture needed was Morganna, the Kissing Bandit, flouncing out of the stands on to the field and then abruptly turning back for fear of terminal cooties.

Rick Perry? Are there lenses in those glasses or are the eyeglass frames just there to give him a target when he pokes himself in the eye during the debates.

Is this all you've got, America, you embarrassment?

Young Americans are fleeing to join ISIS hoping they'll be beheaded before these clowns all file out on stage.

i can't imagine things pulled out of butts need to be salted. because only dogs will be tasting them, and dogs don't need any encouragement; they're on it no matter what.

I don't think he likes being a jerk. He just doesn't know what else to do.

i know a bunch of those people. talking to them is usually impossible because they've got a list of complaints a mile long and they're always reading from it.

"Unselfaware, narcissistic jerks verging on sociopaths seem to flock (flock? maybe they jerk off their way there) to the Republican candidacy for President:"

Let's see, Hillary Clinton? Forces cancelation of long planned children's charity fundraiser.

Not saying the Republican candidates aren't jerks, generally they are. But you're delusional if you think your guys are all sweetness and light.

Just to be clear, it's not the stone throwing I object to, it's the smug assumption that you're not doing it from the front porch of your glass house.

then ends a campaign speech splattered with invocations of the spurting blood of ISIS beheadings and perpetual war with James Brown's "I Feel Good".

did that really happen?

and please, if you answer, just a simple "yes" or "no". don't make me go look at it.

seriously, people need to show some respect and leave a brother alone. the man worked hard all his life to be that funky, you think you're gonna cop that in a minute?

lindsey, go try to be funky on your own dime, and quit stealing from james. you will not succeed, but at least it will be honest. sort of.

i can't believe the things that people get up to.

Let's see, Hillary Clinton? Forces cancelation of long planned children's charity fundraiser.

oh FFS, so what? it was cancelled one Sunday afternoon. it's still happening on Saturday, and then again twice in July.

Forgot Ted Cruz, which is what should happen to him in general.

Hey, you, Mr Smugly T.Peepers, find where I have ever mentioned sweetness and light in relation to "my guys".

"My Guys", bad to below average as they are, on the other hand, at least aren't cheering and calling for the suffering, penury, and murder of twelve million Americans, give or take a few million, and perpetual war for the survivors -- from the front porch of their glass abattoir.

By the way, you are always very clear.

There's no mistaking what's on your mind.

Nothing more delusional than self-appointed policing of absolute political balance on a blog.

Why don't you pop over to Redstate and ask Moe Lane to tone it down a bit and maybe put in a good word for Bernie Sanders/Rand Paul while he's at it.

did that really happen?

yep. the Daily Show did a bit about it.

“The Second Amendment was designed for people just like the President and his administration,” Pratt told radio host Roger Fredinburg. “And yes, if the New York Times and the Rolling Stone, and whoever else wants to have a hissy fit, yes, our guns are in our hands for people like those in our government right now that think they wanna go tyrannical on us, we’ve got something for ‘em. That’s what it’s all about.”

“The Second Amendment’s not about hunting, it’s not about target shooting, it’s about Democrats who want to take our rights”

so says the president of the Gun Owners Of America

what about all of the people who are basically OK with Obama being President? and who don't really want their government overthrown?

do we get a voice in all of this "tree of liberty" bullshit?

don't make us use our outside voices.

nope, the violent narcissistic jerks will decide for us.

No, Russell, you don't get a voice. Because you are unwilling to use (or at least threaten to use) guns against those who disagree with you. How did you fail to understand that...?

Brett, please go the Gunowners of America website and tell Larry Pratt to quit threatening to murder Deaf Ted, Danooda, Obama, and me from the front porch of his glass douchebag.

Where's the balance? What, not one Republican who deserves a cream pie projectile right in the kisser.

At least tell him to use the words "cream pies" instead of "Second Amendment", like the rest of us are decent enough to do.

See, this is where the NSA could be useful.

Against domestic terrorists who at least give everyone a head's up who and where they plan to murder.

I think the term Pratt would use for them is "Good Germans".

Here it is, in context.

Not that out of the ordinary, from what I can tell; He's expressing a very common attitude.

Here it is, in context.

yeah, that changes nothing.

it makes his threats even clearer: idiotic, paranoid, violence-craving, narcissistic gun nut jerks insist that they're going to impose their will on the rest of us.

Yeah, and to put Timothy McVeigh's words and actions into context, he stopped for an ice cream cone on his way to the Murrah Building.

Larry Pratt, whose jackboots are showing, sits next to me in a bar or anywhere else and threatens me with the Second Amendment, his last context will be in an ambulance.

Probably from cream pie poisoning and suffocation.

Also a common attitude.

"from what I can tell"?

You managed both smug and that air of detached condescension you feign as your people, your associates, threaten murder.

"idiotic, paranoid, violence-craving, narcissistic gun nut jerks insist that they're going to impose their will on the rest of us."

Yeah, a pretty good description of gun controllers. Idiotic? They prove it every time they start talking about guns, and spew nonsense. Paranoid? They're afraid of gun owners with CCW permits, who demonstrably have a better record than the police. Violence craving? Sure, you'd just delegate it. Insisting they'll impose their will on the rest of us? Check.

The President wanted Congress to pass gun control laws. Procedurally right, even if it would have violated the 2nd amendment. Congress refused. I believe his proposals didn't even make it out of committee.

According to the Schoolhouse Rock version of government, that's the end of the matter. According to the the gun control movement, and the Narcisist in Chief, that doesn't mean a thing. He's got a pen and a phone, after all, who needs a legislature?

"The null hypothesis should be not that some narcissists are useful (those who show big wins), but that some narcissists are lucky: that, by chance, their "extreme and irregular" performance has a (probably temporary) good result."

This "lucky" thing you speak of: what is "luck", and how can I obtain some?

Less snarky: there is no such thing as "luck"; there are only outcomes that are "good". Luck is a superstition that gets its believers into trouble.

Also: I agree, once again, with much of what Russell has said, here, about Jobs and about how it's not worthwhile working for assholes. Even if they're geniuses as well.

"Narcisist"

What's that, a guy with the body of a narc and the head of a phlebotomist with anarchist tendencies?

Figures, though:

http://www.gulflive.com/news/index.ssf/2015/05/google_reveals_which_gulf_stat.html

Count, Brett: you're *both* acting like jerks. stoppit, please.

Specifically, stop bringing in people/topics that are likely to increase the heat of the conversation much more than the light. Use some friggin' self-control.

a pretty good description of gun controllers. Idiotic? They prove it every time they start talking about guns, and spew nonsense. Paranoid? They're afraid of gun owners with CCW permits, who demonstrably have a better record than the police. Violence craving? Sure, you'd just delegate it.

Well why don't we, like the good engineers we are, look at some data? Where is there a place where everybody has guns, and where there are no governmental constraints on people and what they do with them? Quick answer: Somalia. (Feel free to offer up other examples.)

How does their approach to guns differ from the ideal that our gun-enthusiastic libertarians want? And why hasn't it resulted in nirvana?

Apologies for feeding the trolling. I just occasionally find that I can't help myself.

He's expressing a very common attitude.

No doubt. And that is unfortunate.

For the record, the "gun control" bill discussed in the link was a bill to ban a specific AR-15 round, because the same round could be used to pierce body armor when fired from a handgun.

Pratt leaps from that to Obama having a secret agenda to confiscate all rifles.

That's the context. It's nutty. Period. The man is a nut.

Unfortunately, he's a nut with firearms.

Welcome to the United States of America. Part of our legacy as a nation is that we allow nutty people to own firearms.

I will take this moment to note the irony of a guy who is free to publicly state that the reason he owns firearms is to go to war with his national government, simultaneously complaining about infringements on his liberties.

I call attention to that for the amusement of folks here, I think the subtlety of it would be lost on Mr Pratt himself.

If you want a gun, feel free to have a gun. There are lots of good reasons to have guns, including "I think they're kind of neat and I want one". Please do us all a favor and take a class in firearms safety, so you don't hurt yourself or anyone else.

If you run around talking about your inclination to shoot people because one of the many hundreds if not thousands of types of bullets is going to be banned, *because it can be used to pierce body armor when fired from a handgun*, the rest of us are going to think you're a dangerous lunatic.

And believe me, that will be a *very* common attitude.

If you don't want other people to have an interest in limiting your use of firearms, don't be a dick.

And yes, I now it's a civil liberty, but so is, for example, assembly, and it would piss you off if me and all my buddies decided to assemble in the middle of whatever road you drive to work on, at rush hour.

And that won't even kill you.

Dig?

If you want people to be more comfortable around guns, quit talking about all the people you're going to shoot.

Just a word of advice.

I have no animus toward guns, I have a great big animus toward knuckleheads. Pratt's a knucklehead. Don't be like him.

AWWWWW, Mom.

wj started it.

DON'T MAKE THE KITTY COME DOWN THERE!!!

"wj started it."

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

And wait 'til you see what the Weekend Open Thread is!

Paranoid?

yeah. Paranoid. and not the classic Sabbath album, either.

i listed to that whole fncking radio segment and the both of them, like you, are ridiculous with the "they're gonna take our gurrnnnnsssss" and the "tyranny!" and the "anti-Americans seeking to destroy us from within". same shit, different media.

Back to the topic, Brett said above:

The basic problem here, is that management are cooperating between enterprises, indentifying with "management", generically, rather than their own enterprise. Perhaps an unforseen consequence of the professionalization of management?

I've been wondering about this for years, ever since I noticed that the "rise of the MBA" occurred at the same time as the start of the Great Income Divergence.

It's a correlation/causation problem, though, so how do we tell? I guess we'd have to compare to other ("first-world") countries, see when or whether they had widening inequality and professionalized management cultures.

I'm pretty sure that Adam Smith noted that whenever the owners of competing enterprises get together socially, a conspiracy against the public good is hatched.

Or words to that effect. Must have been a proto-crypto-commie or something.

"For the record, the "gun control" bill discussed in the link was a bill to ban a specific AR-15 round, because the same round could be used to pierce body armor when fired from a handgun."

See my idiotic point. Which, yes, could have been more diplomatically stated, but why should I have been more diplomatic than Cleek? Ok, maybe I should aspire to be better, to say that out loud was self refuting.

For the record, you have not accurately described Rep. Israel's bill. (I assume you're talking about that.) "Rep. Israel announced the Modernize Law Enforcement Protection Act that would extend the definition of armor-piercing ammunition to include all bullets that can pierce body armor and be used in handguns."

The way it works, is that if the ammunition can pierce body armor if fired from ANY gun, and can be used in a handgun, it gets banned, regardless of whether it can pierce said armor when fired from said handgun.

This is an example of basic ignorance, or in the Rep.'s case, basic duplicity. Essentially all rounds, except some wimpy rimfire rounds intended for hunting squirrels, will penetrate a bullet 'proof' vest if fired from a rifle. Most of the time the very same round will fail to penetrate the very same vest, if fired from a handgun.

That's because handguns have shorter barrels than rifles. The bullet has less time to accelerate, and the very same cartridge will drive the bullet faster in a rifle than in a handgun.

And because bullet 'proof' vests were never meant to protect against rifle rounds, unless you're talking about the highest end vests that leave you looking like a turtle.

While the Representative's bill requires that the test be performed against "the minimum standards of body armor worn by law enforcement personnel", which is the least protective vest, roughly equivalent to wearing a heavy parka. Most modern HANDGUN rounds will penetrate a level 1 vest, they're practically useless.

This is basically the second try for a bill that Kennedy attempted a couple decades back, which got shelved for exactly the same reason: It would have rendered virtually all rifle ammo illegal.

What really makes this a joke, is that the attempt was triggered by a ginned up scandal about green tip 5.56 rounds, a very popular round for AK-47s. Popular because it's affordable, because it's a low power training round that's manufactured in large quantities. The actual military round is the "black tip", which actually is designed to be armor piercing.

But when dealing with the ignorant, you could pretend it was some horrible military thing meant only for killing people in body armor, because the military do use it. For killing paper targets.

....

In short, this is a bill to ban effectively all modern ammo, based on reasons that only the ignorant about firearms would find reasonable.

If " Most modern HANDGUN rounds will penetrate a level 1 vest, they're practically useless.", then why are they manufactured, why are they worn?

Security theater? Warmth? Protection from stray BBs? Sweetheart equipment contracts?

If there's a more rational standard that could be applied "ban ammo that, when fired from a HANDGUN, penetrates a level X vest", would that be acceptable?

(yeah, yeah, assumes an iota of technical knowledge and rationality from legislators, not in evidence, etc)

Brett has a point here, but it's a point about a topic that's...well...how the fnck did we get on this topic, anyhow?

Please stop making everything about gun control, Brett.

I see that cleek actually was the first to use the word "gun" in this thread. Shame on you, cleek, for employing the trigger word.

But Brett should not let himself be distracted by shiny things in that way.

Other than that, it'd be good to see Brett use some restraint in flogging his pet hobbyhorses. Obama is a narcissist is an assertion that you're not going to see widespread agreement with, here, ever. It's just not going to happen. It's as unlikely to catch on as the laughably amateurish psychoanalysis of George W. Bush was.

Ok, maybe that was a bad example. But I hope you catch my meaning: these are diversions practically designed to go nowhere. Quit wasting everyone's time, I offer as a suggestion. Try a different tack.

Shame on you, cleek, for employing the trigger word.

yes, shame on me.

i forgot how shiny it was.

For the record, if I'm not mistaken the bill discussed in the link was Feinstein's.

Also for the record, yes, more than a few of us understand that bullets fired from a rifle travel at a higher velocity than those from a handgun.

The ATF, and most governmental agencies whose personnel have any chance of being shot at, have an interest in preventing the combination of (a) concealable weapon and (b) armor piercing ammunition. Because it means their folks are less likely to be killed.

Making that happen might or might not interfere with folks' normal and lawful use of firearms. Which is to say, maybe your favorite bullet, or favorite class of bullets, will no longer be on the market. Which would be a PITA. Then again, maybe there's a way to slice it that would be OK with all parties. I can't tell you. I try to keep up with things, but to be honest the minutiae of firearm specifications is a somewhat byzantine world. I'm not that interested in guns, I have other things to pay attention to.

Here's a helpful suggestion: you, as a firearm enthusiast, might yourself spend your energy looking for a productive, mutually satisfactory solution to the problem. And/or, prevail upon civic organizations like the NRA or the Gun Owners Association to do the same.

Rather than get all f***ing pissy about tyrannical government bureaucrats who don't know what they're talking about.

Let alone weaving bizarre paranoid fantasies about secret government plots to outlaw and confiscate all of the rifles in the country.

It's not in your interest to make stuff like this a pissing match. That is my message to the gun advocates of the world. Use your heads, and there won't be a problem.

If you think you're going to instigate some kind of revolution and prevail, you are out of your freaking mind. Because in spite of what Some Guy with a podcast program says, there just aren't that many people - whether they like guns or not - who are going to go to the mattresses about stuff like this.

And there *are* a lot of people who you are going to alienate, and who are going to vigorously oppose you, if you push the point.

Let's not go there.

Thanks.

The bill being discussed (it's not clear WHICH bill is being discussed, actually) isn't the first time Congress has proposed doing something stupid and unproductive, and it won't be the last.

But no action at all has taken place, so it's not even close to the point where you'd have to be worried about it.

There are lots of bills in Congress awaiting action. I would think the "Stop Online Sales of Ammunition Act of 2015" would be a bigger concern, but apparently not.

Also, the "Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2015". Really, this just goes on and on.

At any given time, Congress is contemplating a wide array of useless, Quixotic, or staggeringly poorly thought-out legislation.

It's depressing to look at, really.

But most of it will die in committee.

But most of it will die in committee.

unless we're talking about the NC State Lege. sheer idiocy passes with veto-proof majorities, there. alas, democracy is no guarantee of good results.

At any given time, Congress is contemplating a wide array of useless, Quixotic, or staggeringly poorly thought-out legislation.

Agreed.

Laws are made at the federal level by less than 500 people, many or most of whom are lawyers. They get their information on the topic under consideration mostly from highly interested parties, filtered through their staff.

It's not the ideal process.

There are lots of bills in Congress awaiting action.

Indeed, in this Congress, even more than in previous ones, that seems to be the overwhelming fate of bills submitted. Now, even if they make it out of committee, they are apparently unlikely to get voted on.

Also for the record, yes, more than a few of us understand that bullets fired from a rifle travel at a higher velocity than those from a handgun.

Even that is not universally true at least historically. When the propellant was still black powder pistols*, muskets and rifles used different powder (as did different kinds of cannons before them). Long arms (and rifles in particular) would use 'slow' powder, short-barreled ones 'fast'. Even in the early 15th century this was among the most basic knowledge in the trade. Ignoring it could be fatal**. That pistols were less effective then than muskets/arqebuses/rifles had more to do with their smaller calibre*** and their awful inaccuracy than with muzzle velocity****.

*caveat: in Elisabethan England pistols with barrels shorter than 40cm (!) were banned, so pistols were not necessarily short in a sense we would see.
**If your powder is too fast then your barrel will not last ;-)
***today, on average, pistols have the larger calibre.
****the given relation of bullet to charge weight differs so widely that imo no general conclusion can be drawn from that.

Please excuse me from quoting sources directly. I assume you are even less fluent in 15th century German than me ;-)
Just a sample for general taste:

(103)Die drytte fraug ist ob lützel buluers belder ayn büchs brech oder wytter schieß als man die büchß fült vntz an den clotzen. Da sprich ich wann man die büchß fült vntz an den clotzen so mag das für vnd der dunst nit wyttin haben den schuß ze volbringen vntz das daz für ain taile hinder sich vß gebrinnet vnd der dunst den clotzen vß schleht. Ist aber die büchs den dryttentail vntz an den fierden geladen so mag das puluer gemainclich ains maulz brinnen vnd mag der daunst sein krafft vollbringen vnd schiest wytter vnd bricht die büchß ee daruon denn der sy fült mit yngestossem puluer vntz an den clotzen.

"If " Most modern HANDGUN rounds will penetrate a level 1 vest, they're practically useless.", then why are they manufactured, why are they worn?"

Say you're going into a situation where you've got some chance of being shot, but dare not let people see that you're wearing ballistic armor under your clothing. You're undercover, perhaps. Level 1 is better than nothing, it will at least slow down the incoming bullets, reduce the damage they do to you. Heck, they might even stop it, if you're shot by somebody fond of something really wimpy, like a .32 fired from a snubnose pistol.

IOW, sometimes you go with practically worthless, because it's better than nothing.

"Here's a helpful suggestion: you, as a firearm enthusiast, might yourself spend your energy looking for a productive, mutually satisfactory solution to the problem."

Yeah, and the NAACP should have spent their energy looking for a productive, mutually satisfactory solution the Klan would sign onto.

I will say this: Thinking about it, I shouldn't have mentioned Obama in that comment. Just gave you guys an excuse to ignore what I was saying, because nothing bad could every be true of The One. So, yeah, probably a mistake.

Hartmut, I'm impressed that you apparently manage to type a sharp s. Not to mention the umlauts. Do you have a different keyboard than we do? Or just different software, to figure out what you meant?

"Yeah, and the NAACP should have spent their energy looking for a productive, mutually satisfactory solution the Klan would sign onto."

fine, have it your way.

best of luck to you.

wj, I am German, remember? ;-)
Plus, that one was cut and paste. I could have posted a link to a facsimile of the original manuscripts or early prints in gothic letters ;-) (no idea how to html a picture into a post properly)

Take this recipe for Schießwasser (gun water = methyl nitrate) from the same manual (written about 1420). It concludes with remarks that the stuff is goddamn expensive and needs guns with much thicker barrels (and an unspoken: you have been warned).
http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglitData/image/cpg562/1/006r.jpg

The quote in the previous post is about a technical detail in loading short-barreled cannons giving a first hint that those guys had intimate practical knowledge about how black powder reacts under different conditions and how that has to be taken into consideration. I had to dive into that manual at the university twice and found it to be a treasure trove (provided there is interest and knowledge in both history and chemistry, otherwise it will be difficult to make sense of the text).

I knew you were German. ;-)

I just didn't know how you got those particular symbols to come out. Cut-and-paste will work, of course. I've used it myself for some symbols. I just didn't realize that was what you had done . . . that time.

I do not know what letters actually appear on Your screen. Occasionally it makes a difference when I walk from this computer to the other one in my father's room and call up the same document. So much for universal standards ;-)
To get me really frustrated, let me type my Icelandic homework. Either I have to use 'insert symbol' (no shortcut to that) every few seconds or switch to the Icelandic keyboard layout where I simply can't reliably remember where the heck the ð ´ æ and þ are located (and the ö is in a different position than on the German keyboard).
The y/z problem is of course independent of language, one has to find out for every software, whether it will use qwerty or qwertz.

Well, I'm seeing the sharp S (which looks sort of like a capital B, for those of you who have never stsudied German). And I'm seeing umlauts. Which is why it occurred to me to ask.

I know some languages have completely seperate keyboard from the ones used in most European languages. (At least, they did for typewriters, and I expect they retained them.) The one for Chinese is truly amazing.)

Have you ever seen the (quickly abandoned) attempts at mechanical Chinese typewriters?
I once saw one in a museum. The keys can't have been larger than the tips of the typebars (can't remember how those were arranged).

That's exactly the kind I was thinking of. I saw one once, too. Blew my mind!

Ah, there is a wiki entry and even some videos on youtube
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_typewriter

old model
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M77DxXRI014

a more modern one
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHJhah1c-K0

"To get me really frustrated, let me type my Icelandic homework. Either I have to use 'insert symbol' (no shortcut to that) every few seconds"

Yeah, I've got the same issue at work. Not Icelandic, GD&T in Word. I'm typing up a technical review on some proposed product, and every time I need a GD&T symbol, I have to resort to Insert Symbol.

Worse, for some reason the GD&T font is pale, don't ask me why, and to keep it from looking grayed out when the document is printed, I have to go through and bold them all.

Finally, for some obscure reason, when I enter some, but only some, of the GD&T symbols, and then type a letter or number in the regular font I use, the GD&T symbol reverts to that font, and displays as "n7", or something like that. So I have to type in the regular font text, and then go back through and insert the GD&T symbols. And then bold them.

What a pain.

And then there's trying to get a summation sign (sigma). You can find an alt code for sigma itself. But if you want to put in the little n=... stuff around it?

Obviously the folks who design computer codes for keyboards were not engineers.

the gods of computing gave us LaTeX for equation rendering. rejoice in their generosity.

Try to depict chemical structures by means of a mechanical typewriter. Quite common in older papers. In many others the structures were obviously handdrawn or mixed drawn/typed. I had to do so myself on a few occasions.

Now we are sounding like Yorkshiremen ;-)

Heh...read the beginning of the classic TeXbook, to see how printers did equations in the days of hot lead type. Were the greek symbols on the Linotype keyboard? No, they were not.

They had to find the correct drawer on the correct cabinet, search for the symbol, select the point size, then manually put it in the type frame.

Okay, okay...they did have a couple of good things going for them: there was none of the "word decides that the next char is italic, because the last one was" nonsense. And no talking paperclips.

Just use the equation editor in Word. Choose "Insert" then "Equation", and then pick "Large Operator", among which the summation (as well as the serial multiplication) operators are present and available with or without ranges.

Before we had that, I used Mathcad. And before there was Mathcad, we had to write the equations by hand and (shudder) then manually cut them and paste them into the documents.

Word equation editor is actually pretty decent, but it's lacking in a few specific things that annoy me. You can get around some of them by utilizing some tricks, but not all of them.

I too remember the original cut and paste.
Not very fond memories.

I know that some people used Tex or LaTex or whatever; I was never one of those. I just never wanted to have to in effect write a program just so I could obtain a machine-drawn mathematical expression.

Although I did write parts of programs to plot data, to avoid having to do so by hand.

Now, if I can just score a Tektronix 4014 graphical workstation, a thermal printer and some thermal paper, I'll be set.

One of the great things about this bunch: I'm forever learning about things I never knew. Thanks, guys!

Slarti: have you tried ebay?

I don't have the room, frankly. And I still haven't hooked up my old turntable so I can play all of my old vinyl.

I do know a guy who owns not one but TWO Altair computers. I have been considering making him an offer on one, just to, at long last, have been an Altair owner.

First-world problems.

Oh, here's a nifty little device I have used:

A blazing 240 baud for a mere $2780. Computer not included, of course.

In those days, of course, if you happened to not be remotely logging in, you could have much more deluxe appointments in the realm of user interface. To wit:

At school, these were wired into the network and communicating at an astonishing 19 kbaud. You haven't lived until you have played ADVENT on one of these babies.

i was a VT220 guy, m'self

Oh, me too. Eventually.

Then VT340. And then SiliconGrafix workstations, and then PCs.

Makes me wonder what's next. PCs have sort of ruled the world of engineering computing for a couple of decades, nearly, unless you're trying to run serious CFD codes. And if you're doing that, PCs are fairly amenable to being clustered.

I sometimes feel like a missed a whole lot, back in the 80s. Didn't do any of those little machines.

Possible because I was spending my days working on mainframes since the early 70s. But still, when you all are waxing nostalgic, I feel like I'm on the sidelines, looking in. Sigh.

I know what you mean.

I spent an awful lot of time working on whatever machines LockMart happened to have available, and missed out on the start of the PC era, as well as a lot of other stuff.

Several years ago I spotted a familiar-looking box sitting on a pallet, near the shipping/receiving part of my building, but still out in the open.

I looked a little closer, and it was one of these:

Sitting out in the rain. A piece of hardware that probably cost over $100k to acquire. But it was already obsolete.

Still, having worked quite a bit with IRIX machines, I couldn't help but want it.

I understand the feeling. I used to have a personal IRIS, with multiple drives, including a very expensive optical drive. I think it actually cost more than this house I'm living in, new. I grabbed it when my employer tossed it.

At the time I moved down here from Michigan, I dumped it. Only thing it was any good for anymore was playing this spider game it had for demonstrating the graphics.

And flight simulator. Which if you had them networked, you could get together and dogfight each other.

I worked on sgi's for a few years, mostly rendering weather stuff for aviation and broadcast media. at the time they were pound for pound the best game in town for straight up graphics kick-assery.

in the shop I was in, they basically ended up giving way to Linux ruñing on off the rack hardware with a pretty good graphics card.

what once was exotic now fits in the palm of your hand.

Possible because I was spending my days working on mainframes since the early 70s. But still, when you all are waxing nostalgic, I feel like I'm on the sidelines, looking in.

i'm just a bit too young to have been part of the big iron days. my first computer experience was on Commodores (PETs, then C64, then Amiga). but it was all mainframes and minis when i got to college (88), but they were on their way out. and there was just a touch of that hard-core 70s/80s computer culture lingering in the older students - where the guys either looked like Bill Gates or Richard Stallman and they all acted like the Comic Book Guy. and (sadly) you could count the women on your thumbs.

the movie "Computer Chess" did a really good job of recreating that vibe.

i kindof regret that i missed out on that. it always seemed like a really vibrant, if very weird, little subculture. by the time i got there, PCs had become just widespread enough in high schools that there was a lot more diversity in the programming classes - not all of us were science nerds, or even nerds of any kind. there were jocks and poets and musicians. and there were even a few women.

My first computer was a Honeywell mainframe, at Lawrence Tech. Jr. year in high school I got invited to a summer science seminar, simulating neutron diffraction analysis with ball bearings in styrofoam and microwaves, chemistry, biology, and... computer programming.

I gave up my youthful dream of getting into genetics, (Think Herbert's "White Plague", I had some serious bullying issues.) and ended up a dual major, computer engineering and biology.

Still amazes me, contrasting core memory from the first computer I worked on, and today's SD cards.

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