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Corporations versus Countries

Corporations keep getting bigger. Some have their own fleets of aircraft, ships, and sometimes even submarines.

At the same time, the more problematic countries – in terms of spawning terrorism – are the ones that are shrinking, both in population and GDP. Syria is smaller now. Afghanistan and Iraq are smaller.

At some point I believe it is inevitable that a corporation will go to war with a small, terror-spawning country.

It isn’t legal, you say? Bah. A big corporation can do almost anything it wants by creating shell companies in other countries, using proxies, doing things in secret, bribing governments, and that sort of thing. The law won’t stop any of this. Nor will any government necessarily want to stop it, assuming the corporation is fighting a terrorist state or group.

You might think a corporation would not put the rest of its employees and their families in jeopardy across the globe by declaring war against some group of terrorists, pirates, or corrupt small government. But corporations are sneaky. You wouldn’t necessarily know who the parent company is or the name of even one employee.

That’s the secret sauce for fighting terror. If a big nation attacks terrorists, it can put the homeland at risk. And that means you have to do a measured response. Doing otherwise pisses off even your allies. Winning against terror by being the bigger evil can backfire in the long run.

Sooner or later the bad guys will get better weapons, thanks to technology and miniaturization. If all we do is keep wounding terrorists at the same time we give them our home address, we don’t have winning plan.

This is where a private company comes in. Imagine a secret corporation formed by one hundred founders, each from a different country, and each with a secret identity. Now imagine them with a hundred billion dollars, the best technology money can buy, no voters to placate, no international blow-back risk, and no home base to defend. It’s a virtual corporation, with unlabeled and disguised assets around the globe. The corporation takes its strategy from the terrorists themselves. You can’t kill who you can’t find.

Now let’s consider the future of war robots. My guess is that we could build a “robot attack swarm” with today’s technology. Imagine: A drone spots some bad guys in ISIS territory and an overwhelming mass of small but deadly robots swarm in that direction, by ground and air, and just shoot everything that registers a human heat signature. The entity controlling the robots takes no casualties, and no one is sure of the identity or nationality of the people managing the robots.

What I am describing is all criminal, of course, much the way piracy on the open seas is illegal. Keep in mind that the reason piracy is such a problem is that it isn’t anyone’s specific job to stop it. So imagine a private corporation going to war with the enemies of your country. Would you reelect a politician that used your tax money to stop the enemy of your enemy?

As long as the hypothetical secret corporation is somewhat transparent about its intent to kill bad guys, and it reported its progress in a credible way, I think the democratic governments of the world would have minimal voter support to stop it. And the dictator countries would just enjoy watching the show.

The big risk, obviously, is that no matter who starts the secret corporation it will be seen as an American invention, or it will involve American-made technology, or imagined American funding, so there will still be blow-back. But I think the hypothetical corporation could do enough corporate “marketing” to sell itself as a legitimate independent force over time. That’s what corporations do. I don’t own six Apple devices because I want to. I own them because Apple made me buy them. Corporations do marketing better than democratic governments.

If you think corporations will never go to war with terrorist countries, I would argue that perhaps it has already happened with Sony and North Korea. We don’t know the details, and probably never will, but at the very least you can see it might have happened. That’s what gave me the idea for this post.

In my opinion, there is a 100% chance you will see a private corporation go to war with a small country, and win, within twenty years.

Obviously there’s a risk to the world when a private company builds its own robot army and learns how to use it. But that sort of army wouldn’t threaten a traditional government that has air superiority and more. At least not right away. I will concede there is a big risk here. But our current plan of wounding our enemies and giving them our home address at the same time seems risky too.

On a related note, when terrorists killed French newspaper folks it changed the game. We media professionals just went from attempting to be objective to, well, fuck it. Most of us won’t admit it, but now it’s personal. The only thing keeping ISIS-held territory from turning into a giant fireball is that American citizens haven’t demanded it of their government. If you believe the media drives public opinion, and it probably does, ISIS has a new and bigger problem now. Goodbye measured response. I can’t speak for anyone else in the media, but I’m all in now.

But I won’t be getting humorous about the founder of Islam because I would see that as an insult to Muslims who were minding their own business. I’m not a believer, but I’ve evolved to be pro-religion because I observe religion to be a functional interface to a reality our brains aren’t designed to understand.

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Scott Adams
Here’s a link to the paperback of How to Fail Almost Everything And Still Win Big
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com    
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

Attention All Smart, Cheap Bastards!

Starting Note: The other day I mentioned there are some ideas that, by their nature, can’t be communicated. Today’s post will be a good example of an exception that proves the rule. In today’s post I will embrace a risk of embarrassment that folks with a normal sense of shame would avoid. By the end of this post, three-quarters of you will have a new reason to dislike me. But I didn’t know a better way to convey some potentially useful information. Luckily, I lost my sense of shame years ago. So here you go. The embarrassing parts are at the end.

Now to the actual post…

[You can skip most of this if you have read my latest book]

I know my readers. You’re smart and you see no reason to buy a hardcover book that will be less expensive in a year when the paperback is released. After all, it’s not as if you will run out of books to read between now and then. (That’s almost exactly what many of you told me.)

You were also cautious about a book from me on a topic that is way out of my normal strike zone. That caution was smart too.

And when you heard that the book included one chapter each on diet and fitness, you probably wondered what I could possibly add to that conversation. So you took a wait-and-see attitude. That was exactly the right play. I would have done the same.

Your waiting also allowed you to see all the reviews from early readers. If you haven’t seen the reviews, these are some quotes from Amazon reviewers, organized by type:

People Who Are Surprised I Don’t Suck:

    This book might surprise some people … It is probably the best use of time and money I can think of right now.

    This book inspired me to do new things. I was not expecting this from Scott Adams.

    This book was so much more than I expected … Readable, enjoyable, inspirational, informative, practical,
    educational and most importantly entertaining!

    I read The Dilbert Principle some years ago and found it very entertaining. I was expecting the same from this          book and was surprised at how good it actually is

    Full of lots of surprisingly great insight and advice, written by a witty writer who has failed his way to success!

    I bought the book because I like his writing, and I even ended up learning some things, too!

     I bought it because I enjoyed Dilbert, but have found it a lot more useful than I expected a cartoonist’s
    book on success would be.

    …fantastic book. much MUCH better than I expected, frankly… chock full of wisdom and wit. Will be
    having my clients read!

    Don’t judge a book by its type! …really feel like reading this book has already begun to change my life!

    I think when I bought it I was really expecting some kind of goofy, comedic type of work. But it turned
    out to have some prescient information about achieving success in life.

    The book packed in more info than I was expecting and so I am off to read it again as it was so valuable.

People Who Found It Useful

    Keep your highlighter handy for this one!

    I’m not given to outlining books with a bullet list to consult later, but I did with this book. Excellent!

    I enjoyed this book so much that I might read it again and take some notes.

    This is going in the library and the “give to a client in need” box.

    The most useful book I’ve read for a long time.

    I learned so many common sense things that my life would have been a little easier if I had
    this book 20 years ago.

    This book has become a part of my permanent collection. I have read it twice, partly because
    of the information and partly because of its message of encouragement.

People Who Think It is Best of Breed

    This is my favorite book in the self-help/business philosophy section.

    The best book I read this year. Strongly recommended!

    Absolutely the best business/work self-help book I have ever read.

You will benefit greatly from reading this book. It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time.

    I’ve read a lot of success books and this is really the top.

    I’m an avid reader of business books and this is one of the easiest and most informative
    books of this kind
I’ve read in a while.

    I’ve read a lot of self-help books but this is just about the best one ever.

    Solid advice, and woven into a far better narrative than other self-help books can offer.

    I’d give it six stars if possible – the extra star for how well – and humorously – it’s written

    This has to be the best self-help book I have read. Frank, forthright and practical, it simply
    tells you what to do and what to realistically expect.

    This is one of the best books I have read in years. There is so much information to improve
    your life and career that if you glean just a smidgen it will be worth you reading.

    … the best book of this year so far

    This is now in my all-time list of useful books.

People Who Want to Give it as a Gift

    This is one of those books I’ll be buying all my business buddies.

    It will be my new gift to give to my friends.

    I have purchased 3 copies of this book, one for my 21 year old son and another for a good friend.

    I’m sending gift copies to a slew of friends.

    I would like to say I will give this as a gift to young people as a guide for living their lives, but
    presently the people who come to my mind who could use it the most are middle-aged.

    Wish I had read something like it fifty years ago. It could have given me a much better road map
    for my life. Plan to give a copy to my son and grandson.

…bought it for myself, read it, and then bought it for my brother.

    This is my new graduation or entering senior year gift for anyone I would normally buy that type of gift for.

    I have agreed to purchase this book for my three children and my six grandchildren. It should be a
    required reading in all schools-seriously!

People Who Were Changed by It

    You will surely be a different person after you read it … thanks Scott for a nice book …
    One of my favorites for this year

    This might be one of the strangest, yet at the same time most helpful, books that I have ever read.

    To me, the great achievement of “How to Fail at Almost Everything” is the sly and gradual undermining
    of traditional view of “success”.

    Some books have a great impact. This one came at the right time for me.

    This book changed my life, my diet, and inspired me to hack my routine even more!

    I’m definitely re-reading the book. I have already put some of his theories … to the test and
    am happy with the results so far.

    For me it was a paradigm shift. [I almost didn’t use this on because of “paradigm” — Scott]

    Really great book. Made me think about things differently.

    Thanks to your clever strategy of not buying the hardcover version of the book, you now see
    that two-thirds of readers gave the book five-stars reviews and found it useful. It earned the
    best reviews of anything I have produced in any field.

 And the paperback version just landed.

If you feel tempted to read it, this is a good time to see what all the fuss is about and save some money. Your wait-and-see strategy worked. Well played.

I have one more piece of unfinished business, and this comes with personal risk. In my view – and I hope you agree – any authors talking about diet and fitness should show their work. And so I will show mine. Here is a selfie of me at age 57, taken the other day. I cropped off my head because that’s the ugly part.

 
I got this way gradually, over about ten years, by replacing willpower (which always failed) with knowledge. Now I eat everything I want whenever I want. I lost 28 pounds over time by eliminating my cravings in a simple, systematic way. The reason I can eat anything I want is that I no longer crave bad food. And healthy food is self-regulating in the sense that you rarely eat too much broccoli even if you like it.

None of this gain was possible even five years ago because science had so many things wrong about diet. I did what science told me to do twenty years ago and I slowly gained from about 135 pounds to 168 lbs. Once science started to get things right (I assume), I once again followed their lead and my body transformed back to about 140 pounds but with higher muscle content. I never looked remotely like this at a younger age. And it was effortless in the sense that I didn’t suffer and I didn’t need any real willpower.

I work out, obviously. But I never overdo it, which is an important part of my system as explained in the book. I do thirty minutes of light weights and thirty minutes of light cardio at most. I attempt to exercise daily and succeed about six days a week. Sometimes the exercise is just a long walk. I mix it up. I’ve never had a personal trainer.

In the old days I had to muster a lot of willpower to exercise. But thanks to my knowledge about the science of habits, I trained myself like Pavlov’s dogs to look forward to it. I only exercise enough to feel good. Then I reward myself with a tasty protein shake and some downtime. If you don’t look forward to exercise, you might be interested in how to rewire yourself in a similar fashion over time. It isn’t much harder than hearing some new things for the first time. The change happens almost on its own.

Just to be crystal clear, I have no reason to believe my system will work for you. We’re all different, and that’s why I don’t believe in generic broadcasting of “advice.” But I guarantee my approach is different from what you have been exposed to. If what you are doing isn’t working, you might want to include my system on your short list of what to try next.

Back to my original point about information that can’t be communicated – I didn’t think I could make a credible point about diet and exercise systems without showing my work. And doing so in this context is uber-douche-baggy and lives forever on the Internet. I’ll take that hit because the people who have read my book think it’s worth sharing and I agree. I’m comfortable with how the photo looks but I realize many will judge me for showing it. The Internet is unkind to old guys without shirts. Whatever.

Thanks for putting up with me. I mean well.

Here’s a link to the paperback of How to Fail Almost Everything And Still Win Big

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Scott AdamsCo-founder of CalendarTree.com
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

Words versus Reason

The problem with reason is that we humans use words to construct thoughts. And words come pre-loaded with all sorts of bias. No matter how hard you try to be reasonable, if you use words, sometimes you simply can’t get there from here.

This is part of a larger topic of great interest to me: Ideas that can’t be communicated because of their nature. I have several of them trapped inside me.  (I’ll blog on that another day.)

Anyway, take for example a headline I saw this morning at BusinessInsider.com: “1/1000 of the US Now Controls More than 1/5 of The Wealth

“Controls”?

I can’t think of a word that is more accurate. And yet the most accurate word is still probably 80% misleading because the word carries too much bias in it.

Stop controlling things, you rich jerks!

As I have previously written, a billionaire can’t spend all of his money on himself. In effect, the billionaire possesses maybe $50 million that he can personally spend over his lifetime. The rest will necessarily be spent by others, or become part of the productive economy. Does the billionaire really “own” that money in the sense you own your favorite shirt? Yes, technically. But the billionaire’s ownership of the excess money (the money he can’t realistically spend) is actually more of a responsibility than a benefit.

I meet a lot of super-rich folks in the course of my job. The one thing they all have in common is that they are putting a huge effort into being “responsible” with their excess wealth. Bill Gates is fixing Africa and whatnot. Craig Newmark is deeply involved in veteran issues and other charities. Marc Benioff is building a children’s hospital and promoting corporate giving. Warren Buffett is writing gigantic checks to the Gates Foundation, etc.

So while it is perfectly accurate to say the super-rich “control” great wealth, it is equally true to say they will spend a tiny percentage of their wealth on their own pleasure. The rest of it forms a deep responsibility to the world that they are working ceaselessly to satisfy.

I’m sure there are selfish rich people trying to spend it all before they die. But honestly, I haven’t met that person. I only meet the ones that are thinking some form of “What can I do for the world with all of this wealth I “control”?

My point is that “control” is an accurate word but a loaded one. It would also be entirely fair and accurate to say a small group of extraordinarily talented folks are working hard to put their excess wealth to good use for the benefit of humanity. But it doesn’t make a good headline.

So let me put it to you this way. If a hundred billion dollars suddenly appeared from nowhere, and someone had to be in “control” of it, who would the world prefer for that job? I would pick any of the billionaires I just listed because they would be “responsible” with it while “controlling” it and channeling it to the right places. They wouldn’t spend a nickel on themselves because they already have more than they need.

I understand the presumed risk to society when too much wealth is concentrated in too few hands. But keep in mind that this is primarily a psychological issue, albeit one that can turn quickly into a real world problem as ideas so often do. But let’s be careful with our choice of words. Bill and Melinda Gates are certainly “controlling” their wealth. But it is also fair to say that their excess wealth confers on them a responsibility to the world that they take seriously.

There’s an old saying in banking that if you get a small loan, the bank owns you. But if you get a huge loan, you own the bank. By analogy, if you make $50 million, you own that money. But if you make a billion, it owns you.

Don’t feel sorry for the billionaires with their burden of giving away their money responsibly. They aren’t suffering. I’m just saying we should be conscious of the bias in our words.

——————————

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     
Author of this book 
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

Flag Hill

You know I don’t like goals and resolutions. Systems are better. I wrote a book on this topic and I blog about it often. I even give speeches about it.

But I have one exception this year: Flag Hill.

My goal is to hike it to the top. I live half an hour away.

It looks like this:

You need some background to understand why Flag Hill is my personal nemesis. It all started a few decades ago.

I was in my late twenties, taking evening classes to get my MBA. There was an attractive, athletic woman in my class and I had not yet learned the intricacies of flirting, romance, and that sort of thing. She mentioned she was going to run a 10K race and asked if I wanted to join. I quickly agreed because it involved spending time with a woman that interested me. What could go wrong?

I’m a lifelong exercise addict, and I was in good shape, but I wasn’t a runner. I knew I could do about half that distance, based on experience, and I figured I could elevate to the full challenge on race day. And after that, I assumed, my female friend would have respect for my athletic prowess. Perhaps we could even work out together.

You might see where this is heading.

I will fast-forward to the part where I stagger (literally) to the finish line looking like this guy from the waist up.

 
From the waist down it was more like a boneless chicken with severe gout. I’m saying it wasn’t a pretty sight. And that was the last time the attractive woman gave me eye contact. True story.

Now we fast-forward to 2014. An attractive, fit woman asked if I wanted to hike Flag Hill with her. I had never heard of this Flag Hill place but the name didn’t sound scary. So I agreed. Hiking wasn’t my thing, but how hard could it be?

Answer: There are bits of my lungs sprinkled one-third of the way up Flag Hill, which is as far as I got.

I stumbled down Flag Hill, defeated.

And it bugged me.
And it festered.
I couldn’t let it go.

So I set a “goal” for 2015 of hiking Flag Hill all the way. It’s a stupid goal, and exactly the sort of thing I say is a bad idea. But I’m human. And I’m mad. And I’m going to climb that fucking pile of dirt if it kills me … which it might.

So I woke up on New Year’s Day and decided to cross this off my list before the year even gets going. I had been doing a lot of lower-body strength training lately and felt ready. But there were a few problems to solve first. For starters, I didn’t know where it was. My first trip to Flag Hill involved getting lost a few times so I didn’t have a memory of the proper route.

Trails don’t have addresses. And the roads in those parts tend to have signs that do not agree with maps or navigation devices. It took much of the morning to figure out how to get there.

I arrived to find there was no parking. (Duh, a holiday.) But I wasn’t going to drive all the way home. So I found an illegal spot that wasn’t so offensive that I would get towed. I was willing to pay a parking ticket to hike this hill. It was a calculated risk. I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

Then I discovered that the bridge at the start of the trail was closed for repairs.

 

But no problem, I thought. A sign saying “ford” pointed to the right, and this was obviously a way to cross the stream over rocks. Or it would have been, but the water was too high, and the temperature was about to drop to about 40 degrees, so wet hiking shoes seemed like a bad play.

It felt as if the universe was trying to warn me away from this goal. But I was undeterred. I still had a full year to get this hill done, and in the meantime I could just do some practice hiking on another trail across the street. So I headed for those trails and came upon this sign:

 

If you are keeping score, we have at least two signs from the universe that I should turn back (broken bridge, high water). And now I am looking at three specific death threats from nature herself.

I can take a hint. I drove home. I didn’t feel good about it. I figured I would just go to the gym as usual. But when I got home I felt defeated and couldn’t make it happen.

That’s how goals work.

But I’m not done. Next time I’ll bring rain boots to ford the stream while I carry my hiking shoes. Then I’ll hide the boots behind a tree until my return. And I’ll be heavily armed in case nature tries to make good on its threats.

Someday this year I will make it to the top of Flag Hill and in so doing I will partially erase my painful memories of past athletic failures. But if I die trying, I have to admit it would be a good way to go.

——————————

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     
Author of this book 
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

Could Robots Learn Emotions from Emoticons?

Could robots learn to imitate human emotions – and in so doing appear intelligent – just by reading millions of text messages that include emoticons and searching for patterns?

Humans use emoticons in text messages because words by themselves are often ambiguous. So we tack emoticons to our words to convey the proper emotional state. Those emoticons are like programming code for artificial intelligence. If a computer sees enough text conversations with enough emoticons I think it could start to develop some rules about human emotions based on patterns.

For example, when newish romantic partners send a simple “Good morning” text it often includes a happy face smiley. In this context, a simple good morning is transformed by the emoticon to all of this:

  1. I am thinking about you and I want you to know it.
  2. I am fond of you.
  3. I am in a good mood at the moment.
  4. I want you to like me.
  5. I want to see you again soon.
  6. I have romantic or physical interest in you.

One still needs to know the context of the conversation because instead of a romantic partner you might be teasing a buddy that went drinking last night and you’re checking on his hangover situation with a cheeky “Good morning :-)”. But a computer could handle that situation by knowing your general relationship with the other person, your sexual orientation, and so on.

Human intelligence is mostly just pattern recognition plus some emotional irrationality. Computers do pattern recognition well. The hard part of intelligence is navigating your own and other people’s emotional states. As soon as your robot can accurately detect your mood and react accordingly you will consider it “intelligent” even if it doesn’t know how to fold your shirts. Imagine your robot texting you these messages…

I’m sorry but I don’t know how to fold your shirts 🙁
Maybe you should buy the laundry upgrade software for me 😉

See how the inclusion of emoticons makes the conversation look intelligent? I think a robot could learn to use emoticons the way I did in my example. The winky emoticon is used when a suggestion might be received as pushy, or perhaps it is a call-back to prior contentious conversations on the same topic. But all of that is rules-based and programmable.

So what do you think? Could a robot someday learn to navigate and imitate human emotions just by reading millions of human text messages with emoticons and finding patterns?

I think the answer is yes.

——————————

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com    
Author of this book 
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

Systems Versus Goals again

Those of you who were nice enough to read my latest book (How to Fail…) will recognize my writing as the uncredited source material for this video. The credit information probably got separated from the product at some point. 
In any event, the systems-versus-goals idea seems to be taking on a life of its own. I like that.

——————————

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     
Author of this book 
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

Do Successful People have Goals?

James Altucher has a great summary of his many interviews with successful people (including me). Do successful people talk about their personal goals? Not so much. That has been my observation as well. Great read.

——————————

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     
Author of this book 
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

The Christmas Chair

When I was 12-years old, my mother and I worked together to build a chair out of parts from other chairs. It was our little mom-and-son project. We took the top of an old painted chair with legs and attached it to the swivel bottom from a different chair. My mother reupholstered the back and I refinished the wood and added new wheels.

We did not possess any of the skills necessary to make a new chair from old chairs, and the result showed. The caster wheels would often fall out. The chair was wobbly and unstable. To an unfamiliar sitter it was a death trap.

And it was my most valued possession.

When I went to college, I took only a trunk of clothes, some toiletries, and my chair.

I sat in that chair every day of college, trying to be the first in my family to graduate with a 4-year degree. My mother was raised on a farm. She became homeless as a teen when her mentally ill father chased her and her mother away at the threat of death. They left with the clothes on their backs, running for their lives. They made it to town on foot. A family took them in and they rebuilt.

My mother was engaged to my father at sixteen and married at eighteen. She was twenty when I was born. And she had something to prove.

From my earliest memories she drilled into me some basic facts about my future:

1.      You’re going to college.
2.      Someday you will be rich.
3.      Be useful.

She didn’t have to teach me that I shouldn’t give up when things get tough. I simply never saw anyone give up about anything when I grew up. Giving up wasn’t even a thing. I didn’t know people gave up on things until I got into college.

After college I moved to California to start my life. I took two suitcases with me. But as soon as I was settled I had my chair shipped out. I sat in that chair every day, planning my future, sometimes doodling.

I was sitting in my chair when I created the first Dilbert comic. I was sitting in my chair when United Media called and offered me a contract to be a syndicated cartoonist. I was sitting in my chair when my publisher called to tell me that my first book, The Dilbert Principle, was the #1 bestselling book in the country.

Eventually my chair succumbed to age and it became too dangerous to sit in. I moved it to a storage room and replaced it with a fancy office chair.

Last week my parents’ estate finally got settled. My mother passed first, a few years ago, and as these things so often go, my father slid downhill fast and joined her. When the final distribution checks arrived to the three siblings, I emailed my sister in New York and my brother near Los Angeles to call out something extraordinary: The three of us had navigated the distribution of the estate, and a million decisions, (with my sister in the lead) without a single disagreement. Not one. If you have witnessed sibling behavior during this sort of situation, you know it is unusual to have no disputes. Sometimes you don’t know what your parents taught you until you DON’T have a problem. I was deeply impressed with whatever they did to make the three of us so reasonable.

And so I pulled my old chair out of storage. I couldn’t quit on it. I don’t know how. I also don’t know how to restore iron, refinish wood the right way, or attach new wheels to over-sized and worn-out caster holes. But I will learn. And when I’m done, the chair will be better than it ever was.

I had held off from updating the chair because I wanted to keep it exactly as it was, to keep the memory alive. But I remembered how my mother thought, and I know she wouldn’t have approved of an old chair that wasn’t useful.

This one’s for you, Mom.

—————————————————-

Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     
Author of this book  
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays

Sony and the Hackers

[Update: Wow, did I get suckered by the media. Please ignore everything I wrote below because it was based on faulty media reporting. Apparently Sony doesn’t have the ability to release a movie that theaters reject. So it was never the case that Sony decided to cancel release of the movie. The reality is that the theaters rejected it and Sony is simply regrouping to figure out how to release without theaters. Everyone from me to President Obama got suckered on that one. Even Obama thinks Sony can release a movie over the objections of the theaters. It was never the case.
I haven’t read all of the comments but I hope one of you called me on this before I figured it out on my own. And if you were not aware of these facts until reading them here, what does that tell you about the news? I only learned it trom Sony’s press release. Apparently it is a fact that theaters wouldn’t run it. — Scott]

A lot of film industry folks are upset that Sony caved to hacker threats, presumably from North Korea, and cancelled release of the new Seth Rogan movie The Interview. The problem, say the critics, is that caving to terrorists might embolden future hackers to do more of this sort of thing. Maybe someday it will be hard to get a movie made if it has any controversial elements.

Keep in mind that Sony execs have been deeply embarrassed by the release of emails and there are probably more gems that could be released. And of course you have the threat of a 9-11 type terror attack if someone runs the movie.

I have a few thoughts on this issue.

For starters, if you believe that the individuals working at Sony should take personal risks with their lives and the lives of their families so you can see more shitty movies, you might be a bit of a terrorist yourself.

Is it Sony’s job to protect the American constitution? No. Their job is making money and trying to keep their employees and customers safe. How are they doing? Well, I would say that greenlighting the project was a mistake, in hindsight, but they certainly made up for it by eating a gazillion dollars of nearly guaranteed movie profit this year. I call that gutsy and smart. And they also don’t seem to be putting the blame on anyone else for getting into this situation. I give them A for their handling of the situation recently.

Are you truly worse off if there are fewer movies featuring dictators with exploding heads? I have a hard time seeing this as a slippery slope that prevents another Transformers movie from getting made. It might prevent more movies about North Korean dictators. Will you miss those? Team America was hilarious, but how many of those do we need?

We already have no Hollywood movies being made about the early days of Islam, presumably because no studio wants to be targeted. Have you missed those movies?

There is a 100% chance that I will someday see the banned Seth Rogan movie. I’ll watch anything with Seth Rogan. He earned that. And the Internet is too leaky to stop it from happening in the long run. Someday Sony will release it and make their money. No one loses anything in the long run.

Keep in mind that you and I don’t know what other bombshells are in the hacked files. But Sony probably knows, or suspects. So they are not operating on the same limited information that you are. That alone is reason to not second-guess their decision.

Do any of you believe that Sony employees should risk their lives, and the lives of movie-goers, so you can see more movies about dictators?

Disclaimer: I have worked with Sony on Dilbert projects in the past and might again someday.

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Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com     
Author of this book 
Twitter Dilbert: @Dilbert_Daily
Twitter for Scott: @ScottAdamsSays