Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

CMU Oddness

Dear CMU,

  • Why is the HR website http://hr.web.cmu.edu rather than the more obvious and sane http://www.hr.cmu.edu ?
  • Why did you replace the old, nice, simple and integrated pay/benefits statement with an outsourced statement at ADP that requires a separate login and is far more cumbersome than things used to be?
It is really irritating to see good systems replaced by worse ones.

I am currently working on tracking down the committee or persons involved in the second decision, so I can either politely ask then to get a clue, kavetch, or shout.

I occasionally have entered conversations with people on effective ways to transfer goods around the country - many of them claim that trucks are far more efficient than rail to do so, which I have a hard time believing. With a quick look at google, I see that other people have been wondering about this as well - why do we use trucks so much compared to trains? The first link suggests that trains take too long for whole trips, despite being much more efficient. I wonder if a combination of maglevs and more efficient routing (dividing routes into "long haul, fewer stops" and "shorter distance" types) could lead to it actually being faster than trucks. My intuition is that trucks should only be economical for last mile delivery, e.g. from the nearest cargo train station to local distribution centres (be they businesses or companies that would then deliver stuff to people).

I should stress that when I'm talking about applied (as opposed to theoretical) philosophy with people, many of the ideas and plans I bring up are not meant as part of a programme - they're just tossed out there for consideration. If I reject them later, or if they don't fit with some other proposals I have, consider that they may be things I'm mentioning that don't yet fit into what I hope to be a cohesive set of ideas. On the other hand, they may be things I've committed to, so if you're unsure based on the tone of how I say them, ask (and if you like making me possibly squirm, ask before you then pin me down on an inconsistency - that'll keep me honest :) ). In any case, feel free to criticise the ideas - I generally like being challenged in that way, and am not particularly prone to being offended by people disagreeing with me (in an intelligent way). Another thing to understand is that I divide plans for actions into three groups

  • Present society (that by and large are compatible with the capitalist/lightly-mixed-market democracratic republic that we have in the United States and possibly extending to the different situations in Western Europe).
    • On a personal scale this covers how we can live justly in an unjust society, a la John Rawls
    • On a social scale, how we can reform that society without changing its basic nature in a radical way
  • Transitional society, immediately after some form of committment is made to a communist state, either a revolution or a supermajority for democratic socialism (a la Eurocommunism) is attained
  • Communist society, concerning individuals and society in a relatively stable communist arrangement.
Some of my ideas, in particular the commitment of the highest stages of leadership to agree to give up all personal property during and for the remainder of their lifetime after taking power in exchange for a very modest, dorm-style living, in order to guard against use of political office for personal gain and possibilities of bribery, are both experimental and are only meant for one of those forms (in this case the transitional society, as a communist society would have no corporations that would be able to disturb the political process, would not permit large privilege/wealth disparity, and would not have stable political offices of the sort modern states have).
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