Monday, March 31, 2014

CEOs and Free Speech

And lo, suddenly politics hijacks everything.

A major story brewing in the US news is about the Mozilla foundation, who just hired a new CEO. They then had a massive shitstorm over that CEO's political activities, which included large donations to California's Proposition 8, a political measure to ban gay marriage that ultimately was found to be against the state constitution and thus discarded.

Most of the stink came from the Mozilla employees, who are quite diverse, and some of them are, yes, gay. The project exists in Silicon Valley, a very competitive environment where recruiting talent is bitterly contested, and companies need every advantage they get to keep employees, as well as not piss them off too badly. Once this became public, though, various business libertarians, gay rights activists, gay rights opponents, and a million other interest groups weighed in.

I'm of two minds. On one hand, I thought that Proposition 8 was an abomination, brought forth and paid for by hostile interests outside the state, (especially from Utah) that it was a step backwards for society, back to when people wanted to pretend that gay people didn't exist, and that any sexuality other than married sex for the explicit purpose of creating children was unacceptable. It also drew questions about the fairness of a person who supported that, though to his credit the CEO has stated that he does intend to treat his gay employees just like his straight employees.

On the other, it irks me the way that businesses are treated as personal fiefdoms with wanky personal interests enforcing orthodoxies. I know I would be personally outraged to be discriminated against, passed up for promotion, or fired, merely because of a private opinion. Is someone's politics truly relevant to the running of a company, and is even asking a step back to the bad old days of nepotism?

Another issue is that the position of CEO is largely seen as the public face of the company. Unlike most positions, the work doesn't stop when you go home for the day. Even after your time in the offices, you're writing press releases, you're doing charitable works, you're doing everything in your power to make everyone like you, and to be seen as someone who can be trusted. It's a deficiency of freedom that most of us would find completely unacceptable, but that's why you make the big bucks. I will never be a CEO, because aside from my general odd-ness, my lack of Christianity makes me unacceptable to the American public.

Your thoughts would be appreciated, though this is a sensitive topic, and a large amount of tact will be required.

EDIT: Somewhat after this occurred, the CEO resigned from his position.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Weather control

I recently read that trees planted in an alpine environment benefit twice.   Once from the tree's normal metabolic habits, and twice because the roots reach into previously sealed rock, exposing oliveine and similar minerals to weathering.   This gives me an idea.
We dig massive holes into the mountains.   After a year's time, we fill the hole back up, ending with a sapling.   This maximizes weathering, resulting in the best possible carbon sink for the area.

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