Tuesday, January 31, 2017


I'm a "Consulting Technologist" by profession. Sometimes I'm a project manager; sometimes a technical consultant; sometimes a programmer; sometimes a QA tester; sometimes an electronics hardware repairman. I've pulled wire, installed alarms and telephones, and repaired radios.

Once I managed a large Y2K project.

For those younger readers who don't remember or have merely heard of it, "Y2K" was the Year 2000 date bug that appeared in most software written before the turn of the last century. To save space on early computers, only the last two digits of the year were saved, and this meant that the year 2000 was sorted earlier than 1999. This, the world was warned, would have dire consequences. Banking interest would be calculated incorrectly, equipment would malfunction, records would be improperly deleted, etc. Planes would fall from the sky. Prison doors would fly open. There was much discussion and gnashing of teeth.

And when the year finally came, banking interest was calculated correctly, few devices malfunctioned, and nearly all records remained intact. Planes did not fall from the sky. Prison doors remained secure.

Since then I have heard oh so many times that Y2K was a "non-event".

Except that it wasn't. None of those dire things happened because a great many people like me spent a great many hours, on the order of years, in a great effort to repair and upgrade the software and devices before they failed. While a few fools dug bomb shelters and stocked them with 20 years worth of dried beef, we simply analyzed the systems, found what was wrong, and fixed it.

Y2K was a non-event ONLY because we prevented it.


In 2012, on this blog, I wrote a post called "Gun Control Conspiracy Theory in a Nutshell". In it, I discussed the purported efforts of the Left to eventually criminalize individual gun ownership. I showed how a conspiracy theorist comes to his conclusions, and why they seem so strong an incontrovertible to him. Written in 2012, it indicates that conspiracy theorists fully expected that the Obama administration would "pull the trigger" on this theory in his second term.

When that came and went, I have heard oh so many times that this was a "non-event".

Well, I said at the time that it was. But that doesn't address the conspiracy theorists' beliefs, because -- like Y2K -- they fixed it. In this case, they removed from Congresssional control the Democrats who could have effected such a thing. Whether or not such a conspiracy was actual doesn't really matter for the purpose of this illustration. If it did exist, then it would have been prevented by the 2012 elections. Thus it's not possible at this point to deflate the conspiracy theorists' argument. If you ask them, the Second Amendment wasn't taken away ONLY because they prevented it. It's still a great conspiracy theory. It's still bullshit, but a great theory.

But it's also something else. Like Y2K, it's a reminder that undesired consequences can be prevented with diligence, foresight, and effort... even when you think they're inevitable.


The Three Graces:
Faith, Hope, and Charity
(Indianapolis Museum of Art)
Today many people think that the worst is inevitable. Worse, they feel that the worst has already occurred and we just haven't started feeling the effects. That's a bit of hysteria, I think. Even those who aren't hysterical are troubled. I relayed some of the following to one such troubled friend, in the hope that he would not lose hope. But it's edited, because this isn't for him; it's for you.

But before I get started, I should point out that I don't think a different ideology is in itself reason for alarm. As I said, I'm Libertarian. That doesn't mean that I'm an anarchist or that I don't believe in caring for other people. It's not about "I got mine, now you get yours". Rather, it's that charity is personal. I don't need a government to make me be tolerant, or reasonable, or kind, or giving. I feel extremely sorry for the people who do. I think they've received the wrong education. And I feel sorry for those think they don't, but everyone else does. I think they lack the empathy they would force on others.

I'm for small government, but I've grown used to never seeing it. And I think there are plenty of cases where the government should simply say, "it's not my business". And in those cases, there should be no law.

"No law" is the kind of thing that the founders intended for religion. And yet we have plenty of laws determining what organizations are or are not religions and whether they should be taxed, and under what circumstances, etc. Instead we could have no law as instructed, no exemptions, and simply treat everybody equally and fairly. I think of marriage as a religious institution. But beyond that, what conceivable interest does the government have in my marriage? In anyone's? And yet, some people want to make some marriages "legal". Others would would make some marriages "illegal". Both are horribly misguided. "It's not my business" means there should be no law.  It's of literally no interest to me who you partner with so long as all involved are of age and no one is forced.

I think the Left sucks. I think the Right sucks. I think they both want to force things that are none of their business. I think the very worst comes when they try to legalize or criminalize certain thoughts. I don't even like to categorize positions as "Left" or "Right" because they're so often interchangeable. I think both sides are generally blind to their hypocrisy.

I say this so you know where I'm coming from.


Trump was not my candidate. Neither was Clinton, but it was Trump who got the lion's share of criticism on this blog pre-election. Being Libertarian, I'm used to "not my candidate" winning.

There will be quite a bit of "suck" that comes from Trump, just as there was quite a bit of "suck" that came from every President prior to him. These comments address whatever you might think that "suck" will be.

There are a number of things that keep me hopeful. Many are rooted in our Constitution.

One thing is that the children of immigrants, legal or not, are citizens. They can't be deported, and it's not in the best interest of the US to deport the millions of parents who care for them. Had I a young student with immigrant parents I might console her with that.

Another is that while Trump is a callous jerk, he's a pragmatic one. So (for instance) while he campaigned on support of torture, now that he's in office he will "defer to the advice of his generals". My hope and expectation is that we will see a lot of that. He will re-interpret some promises or ignore them completely so as to claim delivery. I don't care, so long as the final result is acceptable. I hope and expect that when we look at what's actually delivered as opposed to media coverage or election promises, that discrepancy will be apparent. For instance, the media loudly reports a "ban on Muslims entering the country". There is no such thing.

Another is that his party doesn't like Trump. They know he's a loose cannon, and Congress faces election more often than the President. I hope and expect that they will not allow Trump to ramrod stupid legislation through because they have to face the voters at home. I intend to be vigilant and remind my Congressmen of that. I expect them to adjust legislation in committee and open debate, exactly as the legislative process requires, so that they don't pass stupid laws. Frankly, I also intend to ignore stupid laws. I can choose to be tolerant and kind and rational without instruction from the government. No signature can force me to do otherwise.

By no means the last reason for hope, but the last I'll list today, is people. I have to admit, they've been letting me down lately, but I hope and expect that this will not continue. When someone is intolerant, the response should not be more intolerance. When someone is hateful, the response should not be more hate. Fear of violence does not justify violence. All of those things drive reasonable people away and improperly validate the opposition. I think that people gravitate toward tolerance, love, and peace when they see the real thing. What we need is more of the real thing. To effect change, we have to be the change. More people used to believe that, and then many lost it. Neither Gandhi nor MLK threw a brick in anger. It's neither racist nor appropriation to remind people.

Our country has faced far worse than this guy. We survived a civil war, and surviving this Presidency doesn't require another one.

I may be a Pollyanna. I like Pollyannas. Honestly, I think if we had a few more, we'd be in much better shape. When faced with Bad Ideas, we should simply be able to calmly say, "Mmmmmm..... No." In politics, that's a lot better than responding in kind or turning away. And when Good Ideas come from unexpected quarters, we should be able to recognize them without allowing ourselves to be respond according to programming. "Block everything" isn't rational. It's not about which team "wins".

I hope to be able to recognize Good Ideas without chagrin, and say "no" to Bad Ideas with civility, and accept the reality that disagreement does not equal hatred.

I hope the same for you.

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