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How Do You Stay Upbeat Amidst the Idiocy? 442

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the keep-fighting-the-good-fight dept.
Techdirt has a wonderful summary of how hard it is sometimes to stay upbeat when faced with some of the complete idiocy that intelligent, tech-savvy readers often have to deal with in their day-to-day lives. While the frustration will probably never go away, nor will the news calling attention to it, it does seem that opening people's eyes to problems helps things move in the right direction, so keep it up. "Yes, we're in the midst of a brutal financial mess — but that won't stop innovation. Yes, incumbent forces, with short-sighted plans and a desire to hold back the tides are annoying and disruptive (not in a good way) in the short run. But even they are finding they can't hold back progress. Robert Friedel has a wonderful book called A Culture of Improvement that details how we, as a society, are constantly looking to improve on what we already have. We add ideas and ingenuity to old concepts and build something better — not because of the desire to grab some "intellectual property," but because of the desire to improve our own lot, to build a better tool that we want to use. Incumbent short-sighted players have been able to hinder and harm progress, but they can't keep it down completely. That culture of improvement can't be stopped entirely."
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How Do You Stay Upbeat Amidst the Idiocy?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:32PM (#26306041)

    Liquor.

  • Stay humble (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jvalenzu (96614) on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:34PM (#26306063) Homepage

    Instead of focusing on all the tech details that other folks get wrong, think of all the economic dogma and confused legal interpretations that otherwise intelligent people allow themselves to parrot.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I don't see how thinking about one kind of stupid rather than another would make me feel any better. That's just twice as depressing.
    • Nonsense (Score:5, Funny)

      by coryking (104614) * on Friday January 02, 2009 @08:16PM (#26307355) Homepage Journal

      I took freshman economics in college. I've studied differential equations (which those business weenies never had to). I've written in assembler. Economics *has* to be easy, those guys never had to study calculus based physics! Same with marketing--those guys never studied assembler like I did, so how hard could their profession be!? I mean, just show the clients a plain text file that highlights which features in our product are better, and which are not and let the client decide!

      Word to the wise, if your girlfriend or wife is a nurse and you claim that your engineering degree was harder then their nursing degree because they never took calculus, be prepared to spend the night on the couch. Just a tip.

      Still, my $TYPE engineering degree makes me more then qualified to do any profession. Why, with a few books from the library and maybe a couple Google searches I could probably give your friend that kidney transplant they need. How hard could it be anyway, those overpaid doctors never had to work with Laplace transforms!

      • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dun Malg (230075) on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:27PM (#26308865) Homepage

        Word to the wise, if your girlfriend or wife is a nurse and you claim that your engineering degree was harder then their nursing degree because they never took calculus, be prepared to spend the night on the couch. Just a tip.

        Still, my $TYPE engineering degree makes me more then qualified to do any profession. Why, with a few books from the library and maybe a couple Google searches I could probably give your friend that kidney transplant they need. How hard could it be anyway, those overpaid doctors never had to work with Laplace transforms!

        Well, there is something to what you say. Having worked both in an engineering capacity and as a skilled tradesman, I've noticed that there is a distinct difference between between the two. Doctors and nurses are skilled tradespeople, like highly trained auto mechanics. No one is ever going to ask a doctor to design a better human being, any more than anyone is going to ask an auto mechanic to design a better car. This is not to say that it's easy to be able to instantly recognize the symptoms of disease (x), or the bad interaction of drugs (y) and (z); just that it's not a particularly creative field of endeavor. Engineering and the hard sciences (including programming) are less about being able to instantly reference huge volumes of memorized information, and more about taking a small amount of basic knowledge and putting it together in new ways.

        • Not quite... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mario_grgic (515333) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @06:25AM (#26310669)

          medical profession does require memorization of a large amount of raw data, but it's the synthesis of that base knowledge that makes you a doctor.

          Unlike mathematics and it's branches like CS or physics, you can not derive how a human being works from some raw initial data (like you can derive a theory from axioms). Hence in math you just memorize the initial axioms and nerves of proofs of important theorems and go from there. If you are good at it you can get by with just that. If you are not so good you memorize more of the key points of the proofs.

          In medicine you actually don't have axioms just raw data and very few theories on how things should work. So you must memorize that data.

          But as a practicing doctor your daily life depends on the synthesis of that data. You must derive conclusions from much larger base of knowledge and be good at recognizing patterns.

          Usually several hundred ailments have similar symptoms. So the first step is always to make a differential diagnosis listing all possible things that might have those symptoms and then sorting the list by likelihood, and then you start eliminating the problems one by one by doing diagnostic tests and routing patients further to people who specialize in particular areas.

          Needless to say mistakes can be costly both in terms of patients well being if you do not consider something in your differential diagnosis or economically if you suspect something whose elimination requires an expensive diagnostic test or invasive for the patient.

          So I guess all I'm saying is that oversimplification of professions like that is never going to lead to reliable conclusions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jd142 (129673)

          It all depends on what level of the profession you are at. There are plenty of doctors out there testing, theorizing, and working towards better treatments and prevention of all kinds of illnesses and injuries. That takes creativity. Some of them are designing better human beings through gene therapy, prosthetics, new surgical techniques and so on.

          Sure a lot of them are doing routine work with nothing more exotic than poison oak, but there are lots of engineers in the same situation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HungSoLow (809760)
        I'd argue that the mathematics is the easiest part of engineering. It's the problem solving that is most difficult - especially when confronting with an entirely new problem OR you're on the bleeding edge developement or research. I'd say mostly anyone can learn the mathematics given enough dedication - problem solving is something quite difficult to learn!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by syousef (465911)

        Still, my $TYPE engineering degree makes me more then qualified to do any profession. Why, with a few books from the library and maybe a couple Google searches I could probably give your friend that kidney transplant they need. How hard could it be anyway, those overpaid doctors never had to work with Laplace transforms!

        I sincerely hope you're joking, otherwise your engineering degree makes you nothing more than an educated idiot.

        Most professions aren't just about acquiring knowledge. They're also about app

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:40PM (#26306149)

    I was going to blog about this very subject today, but I couldn't get onto my Journalspace for some reason.

  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Highrollr (625006) on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:41PM (#26306161)
    I remember in online games, if everyone else looks like they're lagged, it's really you that has the problem. Perhaps, when everyone else looks like an idiot... well, you know.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:54PM (#26306321)

      I remember in online games, if everyone else looks like they're lagged, it's really you that has the problem. Perhaps, when everyone else looks like an idiot... well, you know.

      There's more wisdom in what you say than the original poster will understand.

      One of the best and most lasting ways of becoming happy is to surround oneself with people that makes you feel happy. If the people around you do not make you happy, it's not their fault. You're responsible for your own happiness. You choose them. Choose people that makes you feel happy.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

        by Fortran IV (737299) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:08PM (#26306499) Journal

        One of the best and most lasting ways of becoming happy is to surround oneself with people that makes you feel happy.

        And so you come to Slashdot?

        • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:13PM (#26306575)
          And so you come to Slashdot?

          That's what I love about Slashdot--everyone here is smarter than me!
          • by coryking (104614) * on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:34PM (#26306819) Homepage Journal

            Everybody on Slashdot has far less brain power then me. I'm sure if you ask anybody else, they would agree that they too are smarter then the rest of Slashdot. Why do you think we all post here? We are all smarter then everybody else here. We merely exist to point out how much of an idiot people not like us are.

            If you point out that *I'm* and idiot, you are wrong because remember I'm the smartest Slashdot poster here. The point of contention then becomes the fact that you cannot have two "Smartest Slashdot Posters" and so we debate.

            However, since everybody but me is an idiot, they lack the mental ability to understand how smart I truly am. This thought, that I alone am the only Smart Person On Earth, makes me depressed. However, I'm no idiot like the author of this "Ask Slashdot". Smart people dont "Ask" questions--they already know the answers. Questions are for clueless sheep.

            Obviously I do have the answer to the "question", but only an idiot would give it--it would reward asking questions and thus reward not knowing things. Never answer questions, people should learn on their own. Any Smart Slashdot Poster knows this.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:37PM (#26306855)

      People have a tendency to classify people into group vs. realizing each person is human and has their personality and strengths and weaknesses. If you decide to group a person as an idiot you tend to make the mistake of classifying a person and categorize all his ideas even once within his strengths as useless.
      Different situations strike people on different level. Usually the "Idiot"s happens when you strike them at an emotional level. As with most people there are some things that people feel strongly about when you start to contradict the things the feel strongly about their reaction is to defend it, no rational will get them to change their mind. Also as the parent stated sometimes a bunch of people seem like an idiot just because you are the one who is wrong. The human mind naturally fills gaps (predicts the near future, Fills in patterns, etc...) for the most part it works well but sometimes we fill it in with the wrong information which may lead to the same conclusion, but going a wrong path.
      As we get more complex in our lives and as a culture the more gaps we need to fill thus the more mistakes we make. The business man may be an idiot when trying to manage a programmer, as he may be missing vital knowledge about the work, he over simplifies what needs to be done. But the same happens with a skilled programmer tries to make business decisions, he over simplifies the complexity of business and the fact that things are more expensive then it seems. So the businessman is seen as an idiot to the programmer, and the programmer is seemed as an idiot to the businessman. Because both sides use different measurements and wights to measure their abilities.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hoi Polloi (522990)

        I remember reading about a survey where they asked people how good a driver they thought they were. The majority of people considered themselves above average drivers. Now by definition the majority of people can't be above average so it seems the average person has an inflated opinion of their capabilities.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bdh (96224) on Friday January 02, 2009 @08:17PM (#26307359)

      You've paraphrased something I've being saying for decades. Back in my university days, I was a TA. I quickly learned that if 1 or 2 of my students (in a class of 15) didn't get it, it was them. If 12 or 13 didn't get it, then it was me. It meant I hadn't explained it properly, or I'd made a false assumption about what they knew.

      The other important thing is that even when it was one student who didn't get it, it didn't mean that the student was an idiot. It often meant he or she simply marched to a different drummer. I had one student pass by the skin of her teeth, and even that was only after considerable tutoring. But that same student went on to get a PhD in a totally different discipline. There's a difference between being a fool and being a fish out of water.

      Unfortunately, far too many people take an attitude of "if you don't know what I know, you're an idiot". I know quite a number of people who are constantly stressed out, because they expect anyone and everyone to be fully up to speed on everything that they are interested in. Engineers seem to be particularly susceptible to this, because unlike writers, musicians, or artists, we deal with deterministic systems. We design, build, and fix things so that they are reliably predictable. But people aren't reliably predictable, and expecting them to be is going to stress you out.

      I've seen people get bitterly angry because someone didn't know the difference between an AMD processor and an Intel one. I know one person who, when a co-worker on a project casually asked why Linux would be a better choice than Windows, got so angry his hands were physically trembling with rage, and he had to walk out of the room, because "otherwise I'd have to punch that stupid bastard in the face for such a retarded question". I know one person who has exploded in a rage in a restaurant, because the waitress brought his sandwich on the wrong type of bread.

      Not surprisingly, two of the people I know like this have already had heart attacks.

      The problem with stress like this isn't that there are foolish or annoying questions about. Of course there are. Always have been, always will be. The problem is how seriously you take it. If you treat foolish questions as personal insults, if you expect everyone to have your level of expertise in your field, then you're going to be stressed out. Let's face it; if you get angry about bread, the problem isn't with the bread.

      If a discussion of bracing styles forces you to leave the room because you're going to hit someone, you're either wound too tight, or you're in the wrong profession. Possibly both.

      Sit back, take a break, and wonder why it is that you're always so angry about everything, when everyone else seems to take it in stride. And if you come to the conclusion that "that's because everyone is stupid and I'm not", resign yourself to be miserable and angry for the rest of your life, cause life isn't going to change any time soon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AmberBlackCat (829689)
      What should we think if everyone else is using Mac or Windows?
  • by sincewhen (640526) on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:42PM (#26306167)
    Here's a clue... You encounter idiots everywhere in life. Sometimes they are just caught off guard, sometimes they are having a bad day, sometimes they are outside their domain of expertise, and sometimes they are simply a waste of space.

    You have to find the patience within yourself to get on with your life, accepting that there are some things you can't change.

    But getting angry or depressed about it certainly won't help.
    • by Samschnooks (1415697) on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:49PM (#26306233)

      But getting angry or depressed about it certainly won't help.

      I prefer pathological apathy - I'm working towards just not giving a shit anymore. There's nothing I can do about much of anything: I'm just an average and sometimes below average peon with no power. I might even be one of those idiots, so I guess it's a good thing that I can't do much.

    • by GiovanniZero (1006365) on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:59PM (#26306383) Homepage Journal
      I think the hardest thing about being "The Computer Guy" is that people stop taking the time to think through problems themselves and just ask you. That ends up making their questions stupid because they no longer need to think about problems.
      • by popmaker (570147) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:35PM (#26306833)
        Or maybe they're out of their expertise. Really, should everyone be thinking computer-related problems through when they can ask the experts? There are a lot of problems related, for example, to finance, that I'd rather have my bank doing. I don't see them frowning on me for not knowing something I asked them.

        We each have a finite amount of time for solving problems, and a finite number of abilities, each of which is at least somewhat specialised.

        No one can be good at everything. And calling somebody an idiot for not being good at what YOU do is simply not fair.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TerribleNews (1195393)

        This is what the Socratic Method [wikipedia.org] is for. Instead of just giving them the answer, you ask them a lot of questions that they can answer until they've reached the desired solution. If people aren't willing to try to learn what it is you're helping them with, then they won't bother coming to you.

        The added bonus to this method is that people can't tell when you're spinning a line of bull because you don't know the answer yourself... ;*)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by VorlonFog (948943)
        I develop software for a living, but I was a bio-chemistry major with a love of hardware and software. Now instead of fighting bacteria and viruses with genetic engineering research, I'm fighting idiots and morons who seem to think an Oracle database on HP-UX with almost five million accounts is simply an Excel spreadsheet. Please just shoot me now.
  • Frustration? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geek (5680) on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:52PM (#26306287) Homepage

    I used to get frustrated a lot. That was before I grew up and realized not everyone follows the same life path I do.

    Dumb questions do exist. I laugh when people say "there are no dumb questions" and I laugh even harder when people say "the only dumb question is the one not asked." In all honesty, both are wrong but I have learned that the only dumb question is the one asked repeatedly. If I have to explain something to someone twice, i figure "ok they just forgot, happens to me too." But if I have to tell someone, or explain something to someone over and over and over, then it's a dumb question asked by a dumb person. However, with that said, feeling frustrated doesn't help. Just walk away, don't help them, don't explain. Tell them to figure it out and stop wasting your time. If this is on the job, tell their manager and get them replaced for incompetence.

    It isn't worth getting frustrated and angry. Your emotions are your responsibility. A wise man once told me, "10% of life is what happens to you, the other 90% is how you deal with it."

    • I disagree with you on walking away and not helping someone who keeps asking over and over and over the same questions. I put the answers to those questions in writing with a copy to the person's manager to ensure the message gets across.

      I work in medical transcription now, managing a large group of people handling 11 hospital accounts. I get the same questions over and over and over. For them, I use http://www.letmegooglethatforyou.com./ [www.letmeg...foryou.com] It helps get the message across really, really well, too.

      • by geek (5680)

        I tried that approach and had it backfire. Getting snarky on the job ruins your credibility, especially when dealing with inter-department stuff. They can just as easily come to your boss and then the entire mess is on you. It's truly best to walk away and take it up with their immediate supervisor, that is what the supervisor is for. Let them deal with it, it's why they make more money than you do.

    • Re:Frustration? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:16PM (#26306613)

      But if I have to tell someone, or explain something to someone over and over and over, then it's a dumb question asked by a dumb person.

      How do you know you aren't just giving out stupid answers?

    • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:27PM (#26306753)

      I have learned that the only dumb question is the one asked repeatedly.

      So this question isn't dumb?

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        But this one is?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by russ1337 (938915)
        As a New Zealander living in Texas I've been asked a few dumb questions:

        Q:Do you have Thanksgiving in New Zealand?
        A: No. The lack of pilgrims and Indians prevented us from doing so, plus our summer harvest would have been in March.

        Q: Do you celebrate 4th of July in New Zealand?
        A: No. We are a Commonwealth Country who has an allegiance to the Queen.

        Q: So, because your seasons are different, you must have Christmas in July?
        A: You are an idiot.
    • Re:Frustration? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slash.duncan (1103465) on Friday January 02, 2009 @08:56PM (#26307787) Homepage

      You sound like me, but formed from different life experiences. =:^)

      I don't worry so much about questions, perhaps because I've become /used/ to dealing with people asking them, but do get bothered when I see someone say "I had no choice", because in reality, that's choosing to be a passive victim, not an active overcomer. Unfortunately, I've been there.

      I was a (repeat) victim of abuse earlier in life. That's how I learned about victim syndrome, failing to appreciate the choices one has, continually reevaluate personal priorities in the light of changing reality, and assertively choose and act on your choices based on that, the hard way. The victim /lets/ life happen to him, and often believes /himself/ that he "has no choice", because he's /chosen/ to be passive, to /be/ a victim. The overcomer may in fact have many of the same terrible calamities happen, but actively evaluates his options and dynamically responds accordingly, reevaluating and adjusting as he goes, choosing NOT to allow himself to remain forever a victim, but to overcome it and use it to his advantage.

      The victim chooses to let life happen to him. The overcomer forces life to let him "happen" to it.

      That was a hard lesson to learn, and those events will forever remain a part of me, but having learned it, I've now taken advantage of them, and don't believe I'd remove them even if I could, because then I'd not be "me", but someone else.

      10% fate, 90% what you choose to do with it or how you react to it, indeed!

  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:56PM (#26306341)

    I find that it's easier to avoid taking other peoples' idiocy to heart when I can pay various non-profit organizations to deal with it on my behalf. Some recent favorites include:

    The ever-present EFF [eff.org]
    The Freedom from Religion Foundation [ffrf.org]
    The American Library Association [ala.org]
    The Wikimedia Foundation [wikimedia.org]
    The Nevada chapter of the ACLU [aclunv.org] (which is explicitly pro-Second Amendment, unlike the national body)

    There are plenty of other worthy causes; those are just the ones on my list this year. Think about it this way: the God-botherers contribute a full 10% of their income, pre-tax, to try to drag civilization back into the Middle Ages. What's the best you can do?

    • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:09PM (#26306521) Homepage

      There are plenty of other worthy causes; those are just the ones on my list this year. Think about it this way: the God-botherers contribute a full 10% of their income, pre-tax, to try to drag civilization back into the Middle Ages. What's the best you can do?

      Those same God botherers have been shown in study after study to be far quicker to give a large percentage of their income to charities that directly reach out to the poor and down-trodden than their secular counterparts. Even some atheists have admitted [timesonline.co.uk] that Christianity is doing wonders in Africa at changing the hearts of millions and bringing them to a point where they can build peaceful, stable societies.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's because many atheists believe that helping the downtrodden is everybody's responsibility and so should be done by society, paid for by taxes, as opposed to private charitable contributions. If there's no god, why do so personally when you don't score brownie points and won't solve the problem when you can rally everyone to solve the problem compulsorily instead? Good works through social programs solves the free rider problem with regard to charitable contribution.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:43PM (#26306915)

        "Christianity is doing wonders in Africa at changing the hearts of millions and bringing them to a point where they can build peaceful, stable societies."

        Christianity is doing wonders in Africa at changing the hearts of millions and bringing them to a point where they can contribute 10% of their income.

        Fixed it for you

      • by sincewhen (640526) on Friday January 02, 2009 @08:23PM (#26307427)

        Christianity is doing wonders in Africa at changing the hearts of millions and bringing them to a point where they can build peaceful, stable societies.

        You say "Christianity" I would say "Good people working together under the banner of Christanity."

        The problem I have with such missionary work is the expectation (if not explicit requirement) that the recipients convert to Christianity.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rtechie (244489) *

        Those same God botherers have been shown in study after study to be far quicker to give a large percentage of their income to charities that directly reach out to the poor and down-trodden than their secular counterparts.

        I call bullshit. Let's see some citations on these nonexistent "studies". I seriously doubt any such study exists for Americans and even if it did this strikes me as something extraordinarily difficult to study in the US because it has been proven that Americans lie about religion and charity a lot. You would have to find a way to identify people's religion without asking them, an extraordinarily difficult task.

      • Even some atheists have admitted that Christianity is doing wonders in Africa at changing the hearts of millions and bringing them to a point where they can build peaceful, stable societies.

        Yes... this is like saying, "Those gosh darned natives, after a hundred years of starvation, murder, torture, and succumbing to European diseases, have finally decided to give Jesus a chance."

        Christianity was the excuse used to destroy the perfectly civilized tribes of Africa in order to give the Church and the King the right to plunder their natural wealth, as they did in the Americas, and everywhere else their foul hands touched. It would have happened anyway, but the Church and colonialism are like bread

  • by crayz (1056) on Friday January 02, 2009 @06:58PM (#26306371) Homepage

    Pretty good combat the horror of life advice [marginalia.org]. OTOH, DFW killed himself this year, so maybe that's not a ringing endorsement

  • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:00PM (#26306385) Homepage Journal
    The easiest way to stay upbeat is to remember that you, too, are an idiot. Everyone is an idiot from time to time. When you see idiocy in others that is the time to take an even closer look at yourself to see what lacunae reside in your own thinking.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SerpentMage (13390)

      BINGO...

      I always say that a democracy and freedom of speech is the right to be an idiot! And I do mean it quite literally, I have the right to say something that can make me the biggest ARSE on the planet, and it would depress the heck out anyone around me.

      So BE HAPPY that we have those rights. Because many countries you don't have the right to be an idiot! And that is when life gets really depressing...

    • by coryking (104614) * on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:16PM (#26306617) Homepage Journal

      You are an idiot, I'm an idiot, we are all an idiot. A month ago, I called the cable company to complain about how the History Channel never seemed to come in clearly. The lady on the phone walked me through basic trouble shooting. She had me re-seat the coax connector on the back of the tuner. Well gee I thought, I had the wire tightened down to the back of the tuner with a cresent wrench, what will this solve? Guess what, after re-seating the damn thing, the History Channel worked like a charm.

      Did I feel like an idiot for having to call for tech support only to have my problem resolved after walking through the "is the computer plugged in" level of troubleshooting? Yeah. But if I didn't call, the History Channel would still come in pretty shitty.

      We are all idiots. All you can do is laugh at yourself and enjoy your life. When I did tech support, I enjoyed it simply because I enjoyed chatting with the people whose computer I was fixing, and I enjoyed how thankful most of them were that I was able to fix their black box.

      I dont do tech support anymore, but it was a lot of fun when I did.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by st0rmshad0w (412661)

      From my perspective, everyone's right to be an idiot ENDS when I've told them not to do XYZ 7 times and they decide to do XYZ at 4:30pm on a Friday, knowing full well that every time they do that I have to work until 3am to freakin fix it while they get to take the rest of the day off.

      This is the point where being an idiot becomes justifiable homocide.

  • Simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:03PM (#26306435) Homepage

    You accept the fact that the world has always been dominated by idiots and malcontents and yet, somehow, it has managed to survive.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:05PM (#26306455)

    As of today, we shall call this sort of stuff MBR - Mediocre Blog Rubbish.

    Newsflash: Businesses care squat about technology. They're in it for the money. I'm currently employed in a gig with a 300 percent growth rate (and rising!) and we build our stuff by standards that are close to outdated in some parts. So what? Who cares if the application model is a mess and half the team barely know how to use versioning? ... Well, I do, actually, and I tell my teammates to *use* versioning and f*cking comment their commits, but I try not to be to pesky about it, it leads no where. A few weeks ago I showed one programmer on my team that you could mark a line by pressing shift and the down key. He didn't know that. No joke. He didn't know Keyboard Computer Interface 101, first lesson and has been programming in this company for 1.5 years and has quite some IT experience prior to this. Is he stupid? No. Ignorant? Maybe. But I trust he just didn't know and nobody had shown him yet. And from his reaction - he was glad I showed him and wanted to hear some more 'tricks' :-) - I judge he is an open minded fellow in this respect.

    And as long as we are able to push out the code faster than our competitors do and are able to deliver products our customers like, we'll all keep our jobs. And if the company shrinks some time in the future, wether I know how to correctly normalise an app-model, what the LAMP stack actually looks like from the inside and why the MS Windows line of OSes actually really *does* suck in ways beyond most regular IT peoples imagination and my teammates don't, doesn't matter squat when we all are scheduled for layoff. The only difference is that I take more interest in certain details of my field and have more experience than some of them and that I am thus more suitable for research or foundation work. Such as building better tools, training or optimising the pipeline. Which I intend to (continue) to do in the future, for my projects, my department and my team.

    Bottom line: If you're oh-so-much smarter than the rest around you, get in to management, team-lead, FOSS project maintenance or an academic gig in computer science. Otherwise shut the fuck up.

    My 2 Euros.

  • I don't stay upbeat. I have a few brief orgasmic moments of optimism every so often, but it never lasts: inevitably I'll encounter some idiot(s) who remind me just how bad reality really is, in the absence of blissful ignorance.

    Frankly, though, I'd rather remain this way than take some pill that bestows bliss. I have a sneaking suspicion the shit will seriously hit the fan while I yet live, and all that pessimism may come in handy when it does.

  • Could the article or summary be a little more vague? I think the "Short-sighted incumbent forces association" might be a little offended by this.

    Who exactly is reffered to by "incumbent forces." Is it a specific term in some field I'm not aware of, or is the author intentionally being cryptic because he can't think up any specific examples to support his argument? I think it's far from general to, uh, "innovation." I don't think there's any "incumbent forces" trying to stop innovation in the field of, sa

  • by coryking (104614) * on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:11PM (#26306545) Homepage Journal

    I'm beginning to realize too many engineers and computer nerds fall into a trap where they can only see how things will fail. This makes sense, because that is what a good engineer should do. However, the brightest engineers I know often have a hard time thinking outside the box. When given an idea that doesn't mesh with their existing view of the world, they are often quick to shoot it down.

    I think many engineers would do very well to learn things and associate with people who are very far from their occuptaions. Hang out with somebody who does Feng Shui for a living--it really is just a different language for expressing good design and architecture. Read up on Taoism. Hang out with people who deal with the public--a nurse or something. Hang out with a couple artists. Learn Jazz, where the idea is to *not* have a rigid musical structure. Force yourself to enjoy sports... hockey has a lot of skill! Force yourself into doing things that don't require stringent rules like programming. And for god sake, stop trying to fucking correct your girlfriend/wife/whatever on minor technical details (even though it is hard sometimes, trust me)!!

    The more you force yourself to *stop* thinking like an engineer, the better you'll be at engineering and the happier your life will be overall.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dubl-u (51156) *

      I'm beginning to realize too many engineers and computer nerds fall into a trap where they can only see how things will fail. [...] Force yourself into doing things that don't require stringent rules like programming. And for god sake, stop trying to fucking correct your girlfriend/wife/whatever on minor technical details (even though it is hard sometimes, trust me)!!

      Yeah, I had a similar epiphany a decade ago. After a hard week dealing with my dying grandparents, and a six-hour drive in bad weather, I came home to find my roommate's relentlessly negative girlfriend sitting in my favorite chair, drinking my scotch.

      For the next hour I sat numbly while she complained at me about whatever speck of the world's badness was bothering her at the time. Eventually she went away, and I had an incredible feeling of relief. It was like somebody had finally stopped feeding scrap tin

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The more you force yourself to *stop* thinking like an engineer, the better you'll be at engineering and the happier your life will be overall.

      I have to disagree with your suggestions. Engineers (like scientists) live in the real world where being *right* matters, because Nature doesn't get swayed by appearances.

      The people you are talking about - managers, artists, feng shui charlatans etc. - live in a world of appearances, where success depends, to various extents, on convincing others of the value

  • I simply try to laugh at most of what I see here on Slashdot. After all, it's even worse elsewhere.

  • We're pretty close ( ~20-30 years ) to making Human Suspended Animation a reality. Assuming Humanity doesn't destroy itself in the next 50 years, and assuming free thought, genius, and scientific progress continues in some part of the world during that time, there's a good chance that within my lifetime I could be put into suspended animation, for, say, 500 years. After waking up, and taking into account current trends in IQ decline and general stupidity, I'd be welcomed as a God on Earth because the entire
  • I just collect quips — running feet and funny sigs off Slashdot, weird comments from wherever, twisted quotations (O dear User! I am ill at these numbers! I have not art to reckon my groans! Hamlet) — into one massive file. I have a tiny program that does nothing but pick a random quip from the file and display it (or send it to someone else on the network). Someday I'll make a screensaver out of it...
  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:23PM (#26306697) Journal

    Recognize that intelligent, tech-savvy people are just as much a font of ignorance, error, and groupthink as anyone else. Study the psychology of learning and decision making and discover that most of what you call "idiocy" is actually the same set of heuristics and biases that make us intelligent in the first place applied in situations where they don't work. Now, for the real mind-binder -- start looking at what you think you know and how you came to know it. How much of it is based on your own direct research and controlled experimentation? How much of it is based on incomplete information or a biased investigation? How much of it is just stuff your friends happen to believe?

    The answer is "almost all of it". Turns out it's really hard to actually *know* anything at all, even from a practical standpoint. We get away with being wrong most of the time because there are few direct consequences for most of our beliefs (when was the last time your political opinions really mattered?). And once you understand how easy you are to fool, it becomes a lot easier to see how other people can make the same mistakes, and how often they're the ones who are right, not you.

    But before you do any of that, drop the Slashdot Superiority Complex. There are few things in this story more ridiculous than the implicit idea that the world should be run by the same people who write comments on tech news sites.

  • by desinc (788828)

    Part of my job is working as help desk. The only way to survive is to make fun of the noobies. When someone sends you an email reading "Please help, my internet doesn't work." you can't help but laugh...

  • Honey, I work as a professional programmer. Idiocy is SOP whether coming from top (management) or down (young ones). Learn, tolerate and milk idiocy just like everything else.

    Stupid blog though.

  • Well personally.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by st0rmshad0w (412661) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:33PM (#26306811)

    I've found a combination of liquor followed by swift and blinding violence generally works for me.

  • by not already in use (972294) on Friday January 02, 2009 @07:35PM (#26306825)
    FTS:

    the complete idiocy that intelligent, tech-savvy readers often have to deal with in their day-to-day lives

    It's these self-proclaimed intelligent, tech-savvy readers I find to be the biggest idiots of all. Clearly a smarmy, self-righteous bunch too.

  • Was to stack the questions [mediamatters.org] to prefer those who make you look good.

    Of course, if you get caught [wikipedia.org] then it might not look so great for you [wikipedia.org].
  • Mr. Masnick's techdirt post [techdirt.com] is a welcome call for calm and even optimism. It is a reminder of the importance of perspective, the sort of wisdom encapsulated in the expression "This, too, shall pass" -- that is, just as most joy and glory is transient, so will the troubles and woes of today eventually vanish.

    That said, his post is revealingly presumptuous. He writes about people trying to "hold back progress" and describes his frustration at not being able to convince them "of just what opportunities movin

  • I simply vow constantly and loudly to one day rule this planet and wipe out a not-insignificant chunk of the population. (Namely, the stupid people.) Hey, a chaotic-neutral genius has to have goals.

  • by daigu (111684) on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:33PM (#26308055) Journal

    Try reading The Long Emergency [amazon.com] or Kunstler's blog [typepad.com]. While he's a little doom and gloom, the basic fact that we aren't living sustainably, and when the oil gets more scarce or environment starts getting all up in it, there's going to be a lag before any major energy change or sustainability movement is going to kick in - and it is likely going to require a significant reduction of the human population.

    So, make sure you have some basic tools on hand and have done what you can to prepare. The next few decades are going to be interesting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)

      People have been saying that since the beginning of time. Nearly every major religion is based around that general theme. It's total bunk, complete and utter shit.

  • by eh2o (471262) on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:34PM (#26308057)

    Calling people "Idiots" is 1) not helpful for others and 2) only encourages aggravation in yourself. Its counterproductive in every way. Selfishness and altruism are both fine qualities, they can co-exist, and will get you far in life. Being a zealot won't get you anything.

    People are naive, stubborn, uneducated and manipulated. But all of those are qualities that can be changed--they are not idiots.

  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Friday January 02, 2009 @11:48PM (#26308973) Homepage

    One habit I've taken up is to always remember all the times I've screwed up and done something idiotic. I also try to remember how graceful people have been about those occasions. That's not to say that I'm always all forgiving -- I've been known to go unhinged on programmers who don't bother testing their code at least once. Still, when someone screws up and if their intention is benign, I recall similar situations I've been in and it makes it easier to say "No worries". Some of you might have never been in a situation where you were the idiot but I'm thankful that I'm been the idiot a few times at least.

  • Desiderata (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrKaos (858439) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @08:41AM (#26311171) Journal
    After 25 years of IT, I still feel like I know nothing, I try to read and learn everything, one day I might know something. I find this helps.

    Desiderata

    Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
    even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
    Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
    Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love,
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
    Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
    Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
    And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
    keep peace in your soul.
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
  • by hahiss (696716) on Saturday January 03, 2009 @11:27AM (#26312033) Homepage

    When the engine is making bad sounds, just buy a bigger amplifier for the stereo and turn it up.

    (Apologies for the car analogy.)

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.

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