Unexpected Consequences

“Would you leave your child alone with your pit bull?”

In addition to being the verbal equivalent of an incendiary grenade, such a question is a great starting point for exploring a whole host of problems stemming from living in a society that is willfully and proudly ignorant.

It turns out that, in this day and age, they’re probably better off with a mild-mannered pitbull they’ve grown up with, than cute, but increasingly-sketchy retrievers.  Things were better when wealthy individuals made a hobby of perfecting dog breeds for various purposes.

Tame creatures are kind of messed up to begin with, for reasons too complex to go into here.

This, however, begs the question: “Why are we leaving small children alone with animals?”

I used to watch Animal Planet a lot, and you’d often see the only child, or the distantly youngest child in a family,  lounging about with the family dog.  Their companion since they were born.  Maybe their only companion.  Maybe the only thing that touches them, or interacts with them.

And I smiled, because I love strange things.  And if there’s anything stranger than animals who’ve imprinted on humans, it’s humans imprinted on animals:


Of all creatures wild and wonderful, it’s intelligent furries that I love the most.

Mobile Hand Platform

Look at your hands in front of a mirror.  That’s some amazing hardware.

Fundamentally, we are a mobile hand platform, with a sophisticated sensor package mounted above and between the hand positioners.

How would you even go about programming a robot hand to reach into a pocket and grab your keys, while not grabbing or dislodging your wallet, and not scratching or spilling your smartphone?  You can do that without even thinking about it.

I think our hands are as amazing and wondrous as anything in the world.






one thing well

Focus is the only way to do something well.

If you can’t rely on society, you must be passably good at everything, and you will excel at nothing.

Law is a very poor, extremely expensive, and extremely inefficient substitute for trust.




startups and power structures

In this context, a power structure is a constraint through which work must flow, that is visible to management, that provides an objective measure of work completeness and/or quality.  It frequently, but not always, occurs at the boundaries of group responsibility.

It’s only when the work becomes both tedious and stressful, the power structures come in to play.

You won’t notice if your power structures are proper until it’s too late.

If you do not actively manage power structures, they will be managed by primal social forces, which are generally inimical, in the west in particular, to business interests.  Those primary social forces become more intense the more people are placed within a social domain.

Some observations:

  1. IT still exists as a discipline, and it cannot be treated with any less scrutiny than engineering in terms of recruiting.  Given the power held by IT, it should be an early, and core, company hire, and it should be someone with unshakable morals, and commitment to service.IT is still an engineering discipline, and creativity is critical for IT, despite what some might believe.  But if you have to choose, choose morals and humility over intellect for your core IT hires.
  2. I don’t like the word devOps.  But whatever you call your systems layer, it needs to be dealt with early, and have a power structure equal in stature to software development and IT.
  3. Software developers need to think for long periods of time without interruption, most of the time.  They are a particular kind of engineer, like IT, and like devOps.
  4. It probably makes the most sense to group people by speciality, unless you need to control a particular power structure by gating work at a group boundary.
  5. If you don’t control your organization, it will control you.  It’s all fun and games until the pressure is on, and the work isn’t fun any more.

the delusions of reason

Thinkers tend to spend their lives tripped up and confused, unable to understand that what others really like about them probably has nothing to do with what they seek in others.

They trust only reason, and that’s fine, except that something very unreasonable is guiding the operation all along… in themselves, and in others.

Love is not so far away as you think it might be, particularly if you are one prone to consider the question of your lovability.

And, in fact, even if you trust only reason, the world is awash in the fantasy worlds of the people you seek; you’ve only to look deeply into those worlds to understand.

Yet it still takes a leap of faith, that the mind of another, equal in reasoning ability, can seem to operate so differently from our own.

Or that all those years of introspective thinking still leaves so much uncorrected and confused, even of ourselves.

That you can go away from home in the morning feeling completely robotic, with a heart of concrete and steel, and return with a heart full of painful little butterflies, because you looked into someone’s eyes a few too many times, and the carefully restrained human in you breaks loose and shoves your intellect aside.

But maybe in a way it’s reassuring, when you’re so full of self-doubt, and you’ve run around in your mind so many times that your original track is hopelessly obscured, to know something certain about yourself.

Reason is always uncertain, otherwise it would be faith, and faith is uncomfortable.

But you can know what you feel with absolute certainty.  You can watch all the humanity in yourself come alive, in a way that’s so natural, and so obvious, when it’s around something it feels very strongly about.

No matter how unreasonable it may be, or hopeless it may seem.

Maybe it’s not so hopeless.

And you are definitely not yours to control, because you are reason, and your heart is insane.