The May 10, 2006
What I Always Say
Dontcha just hate other people's cliches? What I always say is, if you can't
make up a truism, don't be spouting somebody else's. Of course, what's mine is
mine, and I'll defend to the death my right to say it. And don't let me catch
you quoting me, or you'll be looking at a suit for copyright infringement, AND
you'll be expelled from Pinfeed U for plagiarism.
With that principle tucked firmly in cheek, here are some of the words I would
like to get in edgewise:
Top-10 lists suck unless your name is Letterman, and sometimes even then.
The wording may be original, but the sentiment surely is not.
You can be too thin and you can be too rich, especially if you're a cake.
Too thin is a euphemism for seriously ill; enough said.
Too rich is Michael and Kenny Boy and Randy Cunningham and the diet that
makes a nation widen its public transport seats. Ick.
You can get paid for what's hard to do, or for what's hard to tolerate.
Advice to youngsters: there's nothing wrong with choosing any job for
the pay, but be aware of what you're selling. If it's easy and it pays,
it will probably be outsourced, so be prepared to move to something
else. The next paying job will likely require either skills or a
healthy tolerance for boredom, danger, filth, or all three.
Loving what you do is not the same thing as doing what you love.
My first career was in theatre, because I loved it. I still love
theatre, but I discovered that I don't love doing it: it's hard, it's
competitive, and it doesn't pay.
I don't love programming as an art, or a concept, or in the abstract,
and it surprised me to discover that it is something I thoroughly enjoy
doing. And the pay has been pretty good.
Doing a lot of things is the only way to find out, not if you love them,
but if love doing them.
Just being paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
I know what you're thinking: This has been said Many Times, Many Ways.
I thought it first.
Changing the subject is not a substitute for solving the problem.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, contrary to the practice of politicians
and business leaders, contrary to the prevailing Consultant Mentality,
'Too much efficiency' is not an oxymoron.
Humans and other non-trivial systems need a certain amount of idle time
between cycles, and a little wasted space between components. Just ask
Intel, who can run chips at astonishing speeds, if you can get rid of a
couple million BTUs. The great warplanes were not the fastest, but the
ones that could survive a few bullet holes. Companies need a little fat
in the payroll, and enough forgiveness in the competitive markets to do
some R&D, and make a few learning mistakes. Governments have to
tolerate some civil disobedience, lest they face insurgency.
The definition of a poison is 'too much'.
I don't remember where I heard it, which makes it original.
Optimize the wetware.
Never send a man to do a machine's job.
- The Matrix
This is self-plagiarism. Independently for two successive employers,
during five years I developed a code- and project-management framework
for VMS application development. Some of my best writing went into the
docs for that little system; Mrs Conklin from 11th grade English would
The point of the sentiment is that machines are good at data storage and
task repetition, and humans are not. When a human has an idea, or makes
a choice, the machine should record and execute it.
The implications of this idea are central to Ray Kurzweil's Singularity.
They dawned on Vannevar Bush well before I was born, and he left us
As We May Think
God = gravity.
It is essential.
It is timeless.
It is boundless.
Its laws are immutable.
Its nature is incomprehensible.
It knows every particle of every being.
It loves us all equally.
You probably can't build a church on Gravity, but you surely can't
build one without it.
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