Basic Economics (Score: 2, Insightful)

by in CEO pay getting more ire from shareholders on 2015-08-12 20:44 (#H74Z)

When the law changed to require executive compensation to be reported along with the other financials for publicly traded companies, we handed future CEO's an incredible amount of power. If you or I apply for a job we are often shooting in the dark when it comes to salary. We can (maybe) get information from friends, colleagues. professional associations, etc., but that information is hard to use in a negotiation (it canbe effective at bumping up yourpay if presented correctly, but that doesn't help anyone else applying for that job or similar jobs since they may not have equal access to that information). That's not the case with these guys. They go in and have hard numbers. They can point to another CEO at a comparably sized company and say, "That guy is making $1.2 mil. I need at least $1.3 + some stock options, since I am far more qualified (have more expertise, will do amazing things, etc.)!"

Soon enough, the salaries of those positions bloom beyond what is reasonable. Other benefits (golden parachutes) get tacked on that aren't available to the lower tiered worker. A company doesn't want to be known as a miserly bunch that pays its executives LESS than their competitors!

Unintended consequences.

Re: Intelligent design (Score: 1)

by in Tropical pitcher plant communicates with bats on 2015-08-10 02:51 (#GXZQ)

Not being a biologist, I can't respond authoritatively, but I am guessing that this evolved in the same was as many other "mutualisms" (an official term worth looking up if you are genuinely curious). Another famous example of co-evolution is the orchid (Angraecum sesquipedale) which has a 16 inch long nectary. When it was first discovered, Darwin postulated that there must be a species of insect with an insanely long tongue that feeds on (and pollinates) that flower. Without a moth with a 15 inch long tongue, the flower wouldn't survive, and vice versa. That moth was observed in 1992 (way, way after Darwin had died).

So back to mutualism, any creature that visits a particular plant for a number of reasons (food, resting place, etc.) and picks up pollen allows that particular plant a greater opportunity for genetic diversity. If those visits lead to better reproductive success (for both creature and plant), you begin to have a generation-long feedback loop of changes (however small) that led to a mutually dependent relationship.

In this particular instance (and this is hypothetical), let's say that a plant secretes something that the bats find tasty. That isn't unusual. These particular plant exists in a nutrient-scarce environment, so being able to attract the bats (and their feces) leads to greater reproductive success for that particular plant. Minor mutations that occur in every generation may lead to some plants being more tasty, and some plants being less tasty, to the bats. Those that are more tasty get the bats to come by more often. Bats coming by more often leads to healthier plants that reproduce better. None of this is purposeful on the side of the plants. It just works out that some minor genetic changes due to mutation are beneficial, and some are not. As time goes by, both species (plant and animal) that are benefited by the relationship are also shaped by it. Bats that visit these plants to eat or use them as shelter have more babies (meaning more bats that would visit vs. bats that would not visit), and the plants that attract the bats and the bat's feces are more likely to reproduce as well (so more plants that attract bats, and fewer plants that do not attract bats. Pretty soon, especially if this is one of the stronger environmental pressure on their genes over generations, you have two species that are very different than the first plant that attracted that first bat. The taste of the plant is just one of the many minor things that would change, of course. Shape changes over time, and some changes are beneficial (more bats visit, leaving feces, meaning proliferation of that particular shape) and some are not beneficial (fewer bats visit, plants don't reproduce as well, those variations die out or become scarce).

This is a very simple hypothetical of a relationship that developed over many, many generations. This kind of relationship isn't all that rare, or all that surprising (although we are surprised by the funny things nature does, this being one of those particulars).

Re: Intelligent design (Score: 1)

by in Tropical pitcher plant communicates with bats on 2015-07-20 04:20 (#ETZT)

Isn't this the very type of symbiotic relationship the ID crowd would crow about? They are wrong, but this is bound to make them very happy, indeed.

Something, something, irreducible complexity, something, something. Remove one part, the whole thing fails... yada, yada.

A quick Google later: It didn't take long at all to find an article pointing out how this could only have been intelligently designed.

!bang away (Score: 3, Interesting)

by in Privacy focused search engine DuckDuckGo surpasses 10 million daily queries on 2015-07-07 17:53 (#DKDX)

The !bang feature is one of the things I have grown to love. With a simple !, letter combo, and search phrase, I can be where I want to be, looking up what I want to look up. Sure, I may want to use Google occasionally, but I don't have to open up Google to do it. !g and I am searching Google directly. There are hundreds of the things (but I only use 8 or 9 of them). !am pops you into Amazon with the search terms selected. !alpha gives you Wolfram|Alpha. On and on, it's quick and easy and versatile.

The privacy aspects are a (not unimportant) bonus.