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Dilbert on 'FU Money' (dilbert.com)
131 points by steamboiler on July 15, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments



Actually, I think the phrase comes from the Neal Stephenson novel 'Cryptonomicon'. Two of the characters imply that it is the amount of money that allows you to (when necessary) say "fuck you" to The Man, and go do something else with your time.

"We look for places where the math is right. Meaning what? Meaning that pop. is about to explode---we can predict that just by looking at age histogram---and per capita income is about to take off the way it did in Nippon, Taiwan, Singapore. Multiply those two things together and you get the kind of exponential growth that should get us all into fuck-you money before we turn forty.

This is an allusion to a Randy/Avi conversation of two years ago wherein Avi actually calculated a specific numerical value for "fuck-you money." It was not a fixed constant, however, but rather a cell in a spreadsheet linked to any number of continually fluctuating economic indicators. Sometimes when Avi is working at his computer he will leave the spreadsheet running in a tiny window in the corner so that he can see the current value of "fuck-you money" at a glance." - http://www.cryptonomicon.com/text.html


from wglb in yesterday's discussion[1]: "In Soul of a New Machine, there is talk about the formation of Data General in 1969. The attorney advising the founders suggested that they set aside $1m each as part of any deal for the purpose of FU money. The usage may predate even that." (The book was published in 1981.)

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1513390 ; Replies to the parent comment include other 1980s references to the term.


That would definitely be before the first time I heard it.

My first recollection of it was one of Casey Kasem's tirades back in the 80's. I can't find the original on the web, but Bob and Tom spoofed it with "Mr Obvious - Too Hot for Radio" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vobd2qDpzU


I always thought it came from Robert Evans, the film producer. He mentions the phrase several times in his autobiography The Kid Stays in the Picture that came out in 1994.

I recommend this book, by the way. It's strangely inspiring. Get the audiobook for the full effect.


I came across it in James Clavell's 1981 novel, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_House


There are times when I could swear that Scott Adams reads Hacker News. But IIRC, these are written weeks or months in advance.


I'm pretty sure he has a shorter buffer than that. My friend who works in enterprise development says Dilbert has often come out and satirized some new thing to the day when it gets hyped up at work.


I recall soon after the oil spill he published a comic directly on his blog, stating that if he published it through the normal route, it would take upwards of 2 months to get through the process, and would no longer be relevant. I'll post the link if I can find it.

edit: My bad, it was the iPhone 4 prototype debacle! But he directly answers the question about how far he works ahead. http://www.dilbert.com/blog/entry/thatlost4gphone/


Is this the same comic that (appeared in newspapers yesterday|will appear in newspapers today)? If so, he said in a blog post a few months ago that the normal lag is ~a month and the best he could do was like 2 weeks. (Those numbers are a little off, I'm sure.)

But if this is just an online version (it is /fast, whatever that means), it might be a different story.


it is /fast, whatever that means

AFAIK /fast is an URL to read just the comics "fast" without spending bandwidth loading all the additional information presented in the landing page of the website.


It also doesn't use flash. A gift to *nixy and mobile readers.


FWIW, the previous comic to this one in that website, labeled July 14th, was in yesterday's July 14th newspaper here (Yes, I'm from Sydney Australia, we live _in the future!_ aka UTC+10)


You, sir, are personally responsible for 3.2 fluid ounces of coffee that's all over my montors at work. Well played!


So he has to keep 2-4 weeks upstream of trends? I guess that's possible, too.

Doonesbury has a 10 day lead time, which is still challenging for Trudeau to remain topical: http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/faqs/faq_cs.html


I thought newspapers publish the comic one week before it's on the web.


http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/thatlost4gphone/ would indicate that Scott Adams works with a buffer of almost 2 months.


If you read his blog, he states that he has a pretty long lead time. He says relation to current events just happens coincidentally. When you think about it, he publishes one comic a day and they're often total non sequiturs, so it will happen by circumstance somewhat frequently.

If he even has the ability to get one approved and published quickly, which I'd say is doubtful given that it's print, it's probably a nuclear option that he wouldn't use for having seen a few threads here.


> He says relation to current events just happens coincidentally.

In one of his books, he talked about this in greater detail. One of the examples he cited was a comic where someone made a joke about a "dead nun in a snow drift" - that just happened to run the same day as a bus crash that left a whole bunch of nuns dead.


It can be a long buffer, but maybe not a FIFO but a priority-queue. :)


Probably uses a pseudonym, amichail maybe ;) ?


Working in finance the definition of FU money isn't when you can retire, but when you get to say FU before you hang-up the phone and not afterwards.

Nicholas Taleb has a similar explanation in one of his books (probably Black Swan).


Given that the consequence of that might be accelerated involuntary retirement, isn't that the same?


Not if you end up living in a cardboard box during your 'retirement'.


if you end up in a cardboard box, I would think that means you didn't have "FU" money to start with, to my understanding of the term.


Obviously Scott Adams reads Hacker News!

Like many here, reading Dilbert is a special daily event for me. In my case, I wait until my first cup of coffee is brewed. It must be awesome for Scott Adams to be able to give so much pleasure to so many people, and make a good living from it.


BTW Dilbert is now on Netflix instant streaming, lots of fun!


Did Scott Adams just pull a Rage Guy meme on us?




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