Archive for September, 2013

The Mob Boss’s Daughter Wins the Beauty Contest

September 27, 2013 Leave a comment

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has today publicly stated that it is “extremely likely” that the observed warming is the result of mankind.   Or maybe it was peoplekind.  The media is, of course, treating this as a news story.

No contest, really.  I mean, it is not like they were going to come to any other conclusion.  These people either get paid for researching climate change – something that would stop if they admitted it did not exist – or they are politicians using it for money and power grabs.  The media, of course, goes along with it because, well, scary stories sell and scary stories that align with their ideology (man is evil) are always going to be published.  Hyped.

People, being people and not experts, buy into this sort of thing.  Still, I do believe it is changing and that, fifty years from now, history will look back on the global warming furor the same way we look back at phrenology.


Categories: Pet Peeves

Good Press

September 16, 2013 Leave a comment

BetteRose Ryan reviews Lifeboats.  She is very kind.

Of course, she has liked my writing since I used to write press releases about her, back when she chaired the LPCO.



Categories: Publishing

Hail and High Water

September 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Once more, Colorado is in God’s cross-hairs, despite all the evangelical groups that are headquartered there.  Or maybe because of them.  Quite the sense of humor, that God guy, really.  First, major fires that take out hundreds of homes – fires, of course, caused by years of drought.  which are now ended, maybe, with massive flooding, which is taking out thousands of homes.  To add to the fun, some portions of the front range got a hail storm yesterday that required people to get out their snow shovels.

A friend of mine wants to blame this all on global warming because, you know, everything bad is caused by global warming, while everything else is just weather.  This all is actually nothing new for Colorado.  Back in the sixties, Robert Heinlein – just before he moved to California – stated, “we just finished seven years of drought with seven inches of rain in two hours, and one was about as disastrous as the other.”  In his case, though, he only left Colorado because 1) his wife had developed long-term altitude sickness and 2) NORAD has parked the primary nuclear target right outside his front window.

Most of the damage seems to be caused by that old urge of humanity to build where they shouldn’t.  (“Dad, why does our mountain have a flat top?”  “Shut up and keep picking grapes!”)  As Colorado grew – actually, as California shrank – people started building wonderful houses further and further up the wooded slopes, while others started building cheaper houses closer and closer to the creeks.  Well, trees burn and creeks flood – thus endeth the lesson.

I suppose the logical thing would be to build out to the east, onto the plains, but admittedly farther from the water sources and less interesting from an esthetic standpoint.  A bit dusty, too.  But that is not going to happen anyways; FEMA and the insurance companies will help these people rebuild in place.  They will add requirements that no tree be within so many feet of the house and roof shakes be made of particular materials and that will hold everyone until the next disaster and they will invent still more rules.

Don’t see a good end to this, but it would be nice if they came up with some market-oriented solution, where people paid for their mistakes, where your inability to get insurance would tell you something, and taxpayers did not bail out stupidity.  Won’t happen.  Meanwhile, you can probably buy a good house for cheap, right now – if you are willing to take the risk.


Categories: Pet Peeves

Hank Med in Wichita

September 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Friend Ari Armstrong (I assume – haven’t actually seen him in ten years) interviews a doctor with a new business model.  Or maybe it isn’t so new.

There has to be a better way than what we are doing.


Categories: Trends


September 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Saw some more advertisements for programmers.  Well, software developers, web developers, GUI developers and other such job titles.  In more than one case, I saw the words “Agile Environment.”

Some of you might think this refers to some development tool or programming language.  It doesn’t (unless there has been some recent change).  It refers to a practice.

As a friend once described it to me, two developers sit in a room, sharing a PC and a project.  They agree, quickly, on an overall strategy, then one starts typing in code, going as fast as he can.  Once he draws a blank or runs out of steam, he rolls out of the way and his partner rolls in and takes over, typing as fast as he can.  Sure, I guess they stop occasionally to discuss how they are going to do the next bit, but the idea is to just keep typing.

It is easy to see how this would interest company executives.  After all, software engineers cost a lot of money – though not, seemingly, as much as they used to.  If you can make them write faster, then, obviously, the cost per line of code will go down.  If the cost per line goes down, then you can bring that million-lines-of-code project in for far less money.

I cannot believe, however, that the savings are real.  Why?  Because the rapid programming deprives the developors of the one thing they desperately need: time to think.  If I have time to think, then I can find better ways to do things.  By thinking before typing, I can figure out a way to accomplish a task that bypasses many sections of otherwise-needed code.  In other words, I can write more concise code – the cost per line goes up, but there would be, in many cases, far fewer lines.

But this is difficult to prove and management is only interested in that which can be shown in a profit and loss statement, apparently.  I believe strongly that the supposed savings actually evaporate, once you take into consideration the unnecessary lines of code, the extra testing, the time needed to rewrite larger-than-needed modules.  Unfortunately, many of the people in charge are the mutant-mind, Zuckerberg types who actually program faster in their heads than they can actually type anyhow and honestly believe that all developers can or should be able to do what they do.  Having worked with probably a hundred software professionals over my career, I can categorically state that most cannot.

It is okay, though.  Mega-corps will continue to adopt this eye-shade-pleasing method and they will be able to convince everyone that it is saving them a lot of money.  They will even use it in the one place they mustn’t: those applications where milliseconds really do count, where being a quarter second behind the competition is as bad as being a minute behind.  This will leave an opening for those a little less beholden to the accounting department to come in – rationally, methodically – and clean their clocks.

Agile development is probably here for a long time to come, but I believe it will eventually fade away, not from deliberate decisions, but simply as those most devoted to it find themselves losing again and again in the marketplace.


Categories: Technology