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  • Follows0
    US: IBM fires 111800
    • IBM is expected to go through a massive reorg next month that will reportedly see 26% of its 430,000-strong work force let go, or 111,800 people.

      I’ve been hearing since before Christmas about Project Chrome, the code name for what has been touted to me as the biggest reorganization in IBM history. Well, Project Chrome is finally upon us, triggered I suppose by this week’s announcement of an 11th consecutive quarter of declining revenue for IBM. Project Chrome is bad news, not good. Customers and employees alike should expect the worst.

      To fix its business problems and speed up its “transformation,” next week about 26 percent of IBM’s employees will be getting phone calls from their managers. A few hours later a package will appear on their doorsteps with all the paperwork. Project Chrome will hit many of the worldwide services operations. The USA will be hit hard, but so will other locations. IBM’s contractors can expect regular furloughs in 2015. One in four IBMers reading this column will probably start looking for a new job next week. Those employees will all be gone by the end of February.

    3 comments 4 comments Vitaliy_KiselevJanuary 26Last reply - January 26 by Vitaliy_Kiselev Subscribe to this blog
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    Overqualified and Unemployable
    • Sally had applied for a job at a college teaching the computer language she’d been writing about for years. In fact, the college was using her book as the textbook for the course. But they wouldn’t hire her. Why? She didn’t have a Master’s degree.

      Now those folks who are working to get a Masters or already have one probably think that’s a good thing. Makes that extra two years in college really worthwhile, huh? Gives you job security, right?

      But does anyone honestly think they can teach the course better than the person who wrote the textbook?

      Sally wanted to work for a local organization that has a tendency to hire young people at low starting salaries. When she applied, she even offered to work at that low salary. And she was turned down.

      I know why. Young people are inexperienced and far more likely to do what they’re told instead of tapping into experience to suggest improvements as they work. Employers don’t want smart, helpful people. They want drones — bodies to fill seats, push pencils, and get a job done without questioning what they’re told to do.

    16 comments 17 comments Vitaliy_KiselevJanuary 23Last reply - January 24 by bwhitz Subscribe to this blog
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    A new theory of energy and the economy
    • How does the economy really work? In my view, there are many erroneous theories in published literature. I have been investigating this topic and have come to the conclusion that both energy and debt play an extremely important role in an economic system. Once energy supply and other aspects of the economy start hitting diminishing returns, there is a serious chance that a debt implosion will bring the whole system down. In this post, I will look at the first piece of this story, relating to how the economy is tied to energy, and how the leveraging impact of cheap energy creates economic growth.

      Trying to tackle this topic is a daunting task. The subject crosses many fields of study, including anthropology, ecology, systems analysis, economics, and physics of a thermodynamically open system. It also involves reaching limits in a finite world. Most researchers have tackled the subject without understanding the many issues involved. I hope my analysis can shed some light on the subject.

      Systems analysts would call a system such as the economy a complex adaptive system, because of its tendency to grow and evolve in a self-organizing manner. The fact that this system grows and self-organizes comes from the fact the economy operates in a thermodynamically open system–that is, the economy receives energy from outside sources, and because of this energy, can grow and become more complex. The name of such a system from a physics perspective is a dissipative structure. Human beings, and in fact all plants and animals, are dissipative structures. So are hurricanes, galaxies, and star formation regions. All of these dissipative systems start from small beginnings, grow, and eventually collapse and die. Often they are replaced by new similar structures that are better adapted to the changing environment.

      If the economy is a dissipative system, it is clear that energy must be central to its operation.

      Very good post by Gail Tverberg. Only Part I for now.

    9 comments 10 comments Vitaliy_KiselevJanuary 23Last reply - January 24 by Vitaliy_Kiselev Subscribe to this blog
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    Microsoft HoloLens
    14 comments 15 comments Vitaliy_KiselevJanuary 21Last reply - January 23 by Tron Subscribe to this blog
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    Survivorship Bias
    • You must remind yourself that when you start to pick apart winners and losers, successes and failures, the living and dead, that by paying attention to one side of that equation you are always neglecting the other. If you are thinking about opening a restaurant because there are so many successful restaurants in your hometown, you are ignoring the fact that only successful restaurants survive to become examples. Maybe on average 90 percent of restaurants in your city fail in the first year. You can’t see all those failures because when they fail they also disappear from view. As Nassim Taleb writes in his book The Black Swan, “The cemetery of failed restaurants is very silent.” Of course the few that don’t fail in that deadly of an environment are wildly successful because only the very best and the very lucky can survive. All you are left with are super successes, and looking at them day after day you might think it’s a great business to get into when you are actually seeing evidence that you should avoid it.

    10 comments 11 comments Vitaliy_KiselevJanuary 16Last reply - January 18 by onion Subscribe to this blog
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    Unmanageable complexity: Solutions and idiots
    • Last year many people who even have very vague understanding of economics started to feel that something is wrong.

      Next normal step is to look for problems (and find that it is plenty of them) and suitable solutions (and you can find only few sane ones).

      Most frequent idea (present in US and other large countries) - we need to build autonomous system, rebuild all local manufacturing, start doing most thing inside country, reduce dependencies. Sounds quite sane and has good logic behind.

      Yet, such system has huge issues. You just can't do it after you passed peak of fossil fuels (per capita and, now, also absolute). As such process will require sharp and significant drop of life level (you will get energy from people and use it for manufacturing building and later functioning), transition to much worse, hard jobs (in people eyes). Another problem is that most of modern factories require few people to work on them, so while you will have some jobs coming locally, they will be limited.

      Idea could be good, if implemented in the best years, well ahead of issues and coupled with really good population control and education systems.

      Next idea - we need to return to free market abstraction (Austrian economical school guys like it) and small free agents. Problem with free market is that it has big corresponding costs. In other words, frequently it can be very ineffective. It sounds very good to start eating organic food, make very small farms and close big food factories. But. Such approach in most cases also leads to less effective energy and resources use.

      If you have low population density, big amount of cheap available resources and vast amount of land - free market can be very effective thing, as it behave like liquid filling every hole, looking at every basic need. As time passes free market starts to just burn resources and energy, making artificial needs. With start of energy and resources issues free market becomes enemy of itself, it starts to collapse (and you can do many things to save it, but it won't work). With limited resources you need only limited amount of manufacturers with most efficient logistics, you need only one shop located properly and running efficiently. Further you can see increase of very small agents, but not because of any progress or solution, but at it can be only available survival strategy for many people.

      All and every economic book widely known now had been written on the left part of the energy and resources chart, on the rise part. Situation on the right part will be different, and this is where we are heading now. At full speed.

    20 comments 21 comments Vitaliy_KiselevJanuary 15Last reply - January 22 by brianl Subscribe to this blog
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