Saturday, January 14, 2006

Q: Why didn't you do DotNetRocks?

A: Mismatched technology

Recently I was scheduled to do an on line radio show devoted to Redmondian technology, www.DotNetRocks.com. The show is prerecorded and aired at a later time.

I did the show. Later, as the content of the show was reviewed, we all sort of independently came to the conclusion that it would be best not to broadcast it. It didn't feel right, at least on my end. My thinking was garbled and my discourse was erratic.

So, I got to thinking about the reason that it did not feel right to me. The reason that I discovered after truthful introspection was that I was trying too hard to be intellectually entertaining and adorable and not spending enough time getting to the point of my message and staying focused on my message.

I was failing because at the time I had no conscious understanding of what my message was.

Well now I do, and here it is:

Doing technology is a great vocation. Writing code is a creative experience second to none. But, as long as we in the technical community support, passively or impassively, a type of political culture and national government in which we piss away 2 trillion dollars on a war that does nothing more than create misery and instability in an area of the world that requires the opposite and does NOT provide more security for our nation and our world, well.....we had a 2 trillion dollar opportunity and we blew it.

From where I sit...

  • that 2 trillion dollars could have been put toward programs that eliminate our need for foreign oil and promote our positive standing worldwide.
  • that 2 trillion dollars could have been used to start a viable national intra-city and inter-city railway system that uses non-fossil fuels and transports freight and people cost effectively, usefully and with regard to civilian transportation, enjoyably
  • that 2 trillion dollars could have been used to assist the Big Three automakers to repurpose part of its workforce and technical infrastructure to make products and services that support such a railway system.
  • that 2 trillion dollars could have been used to modify the nation's health care system so that every citizen has fair access to quality medical care.
  • that 2 trillion dollars could have by used to create a national on-line library system in which every citizen has immediate access to information within the public domain.

What did we, this nation, do instead? We invaded a country with marginal relevance to the compromise of our national well-being. And, in doing so we created more enemies than friends, killed a whole bunch of people and promoted a national value system in which force is more important than reason.

And here is the comedically tragic thing. China, a nation that has a government that is not a shining example of democratic rule, gets to sit by and watch us piss away our money, a good portion of it borrowed, while it builds up it's economy and infrastructure so that one day in the not too distant future there will be more cell phones, computers, programmers and automobiles there than any place else in the world.

So think about that the next time you trying to get your .NET objects to serialize properly.

That's the message.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Charlie said...

Those 2 trillion dollars went to helping people who have been asking for help for years. Those 2 trillion dollars went to stopping people being gassed for the fun of.
That 2 trillion dollars went to giving people the chance to change there life.

Will it happen? Who knows? But at least we tried

The whole part about it not helping our economy is all I ever here anymore. It really makes me sad that people never want to do anything unless they have something to gain from it.

I don't care what the real reason was that we went over there. If it gives them a chance at a new life then that’s all that matters.

Have you ever talked to anyone from Iraq? Even those that hate that we are over there agree that at least they will have a chance again.

Stop with the selfish attitude that everything must be about us. We are a country formed based on the fact that we had the advantage of an oceans distance between us and our rulers. Giving us a long enough time to rise above and fight for our independence.

Do you really think that if we didn't spend that money there that it would be used on anything that would help the people here? Hell no. Probably just more tax breaks for businesses and more laws that do nothing to protect the common man.

No matter how the money has been spent or would have been spent, I doubt it would have changed any of our lives. At least it may help change theirs.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Brad Wood said...

I couldn't disagree more with both of the above discourses.
We didn't go to Iraq to help the people of another country. It is in fact a wonderful by product, but we invaded Iraq principly for this reason: we were attacked by Islamic terrorists and we struck back at the strongest state supporter of Islamic terrorism. In the process, the vast majority of people we've killed have been terrorists.

The whole world is better off because of this, and we in particular are much safer. You misunderstand terrorists: force is the only language they speak; nothing else will deter them.

As for your ideas about what public funds would better be used for, all your ideas sound good, but the fact is that government is the worst administrator of services (for instance, I don't want to pay for everybody else's health care; I want the freedom to ensure my own how I please).

Government has few legitimate functions; the safety of it's people is at the top of the list.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Brad - The strongest state supporter of Islamofacism? Not by a long shot, you have to start with Saudi Arabia, then Iran. When you're done move to Syria, then Libya, and THEN possibly move on to Iraq. Why invade Iraq and not Zimbabwe? The Gambia? Sierra Leone? Sudan for example? All these are terrorizing their own people. We didn't feel the need to liberate them.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

gulp. i live in the uk, so i shouldn't have to worry about any of that when i'm serializing my C# objects, right...? it's a real shame the DNR show didn't happen though.

+1 for what franklin said.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Geoff Orr said...

It was a good thing that a program that didn't work didn't go to air or to net rather. It would not have reflected your views which for many will have resonance. DNR caters for many DN people of diverse opinion. Thanks for your honest stand. My opinion on Iraq wavers and I pray for its people and hope history will be not too viscious a judge.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Magpie said...

See http://www.loosechange911.com/ and/or http://www.physics911.net/ before thinking the US govt was doing a good thing for others.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Don Stuber said...

I, too, disagree with you very strongly. For the first time in our history since 1812, we were attacked in a major way on our own territory. Though there is a cost, we must stand up to such terrorism. I want to leave a better world for my kids, and I know that the war in Iraq will help do so.

7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrorism is the old way. They are about:
"Might is Right"
as opposed to the continuous historical move away from that:
"Right is Might"

You cannot let these insane people who live on the edge of rationalism to try to forse a life where they can push around anyone who disagrees. "Might is Right" allows them to push down the woman and the less strong folks. "Right is Might" as taught to me by my FSU History teacher is the way society has been moving for eons - literally. The majority of the Muslim/Islamic world is not like that, most are *good* people, not those factional terrorists.

To insist on better things for us in the US is nice, but idealistic. I suggest if you as I believe in the ideas centering around non-fossile renewable energy sources, such as wind/water/solar power, then you become a senator. We are old smart programmers with a good world view, right? So become involved... do something. Don't just talk about it, get involved, get others involved!

Maud-Dib

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Mark Miller said...

I agree with Charlie. It's presumptuous to say how the money would've been spent otherwise. With regards to federal policies and how they're affecting the computer industry, from what I've been hearing from leaders in it, Bob has a point. Apparently federal funding for computer science research has gone down dramatically over the last several years. Secondly, our public education system needs improvement. Other countries in the industrialized world clean our clocks in this area, particularly by middle and high school. According to Gates, our high schools are "obsolete". This isn't really a matter of funding, but IMO about a state monopoly that has little incentive to perform. I think if these matters were remedied, you'd see technology companies gladly hiring Americans as opposed to going overseas. From what I understand the big tech companies are doing it because they feel they have to. The others I think are doing it for the false sense of saving money due to the hourly rates. The third part of policy that really has people in tech screaming is the tightened immigration policies, which make it more difficult for foreign students and workers to come and stay here. But this has little to do with Iraq. It was due to 9/11.

As for the war, I agree its purpose is hard to understand, but I've endeavored to understand it, and having done so, I am in favor of it. To put it in simplistic terms, we did it because we didn't want to repeat the mistakes made prior to the beginning of WW II. But this is unsatisfying to many people. There is no imminent threat that is obvious on its face. There is no bogeyman that's glaring down on us threatening annihilation. That's kind of the point. Many would like that to be the case before we acted. It would feel more satisfying to go after an enemy that was a clear imminent threat to us. But one would have to be a fool to not see ahead to where Saddam's ambitions lay.

I agree we are in a precarious situation WRT Iran. I think if we had gone after Iran instead, we would be looking at Iraq constructing a nuclear program. So it would've been 6 of one, half-dozen of the other. Take your pick.

One of my favorite authors on global strategic matters is Robert Kaplan. I'd suggest that if anyone's mystified by our actions that they look him up.

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Mark on all points except that somehow it is a lack of money that causes our public school system to be so poor. US already spends quite a bit of money per pupil (see http://www.educationnext.org/20012/67.html).

Our public school system suffers not from a lack of money, but other problems, such as entrenched unions, disinterested parents and the culture in some sectors of US. How would you explain the Czech Republic and Slovakia being on top in math & science yet they spend virtually nothing compared to us.

I think it is time to look the truth in the eye and admit that on the whole, our kids are doing as good as they can. In many circles, parents either don't care or pushing religion or something else.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Having been to America 3 times, and having seen more of America than the average American, I think the USA Government should focus more on the attrocities going on in its own country, rather than what is going on in someone else's country.

USA has a very poor reputation for helping its own people. USA has little to no healthcare for anyone who is not wealthy enough to afford it. USA has more homeless than any other country I have ever visited (over 20 coutries). The USA system seems to be built on the basis that the wealthy few need a whole lot of low paid people living in misery to do all the dirty work for them.

The Government is not run by the people or for the people. It is run by the largest companies, for the larger companies. When was the last time legislation was changed by individuals lobbying the government? How many laws are passed just to protect the income and position of large corporations? Now how many laws have been passed to protect the income of the little guy? The citizens of America that are not running large companies?

USA attacked two countries that have little or no association to the 11 September attacks, based on lies and miss-assumptions, religion, and skin colour. This has allowed the USA a greater control over fuel supply, and therefore prices, and makes all USA owned oil reserves much more proffitable.

These attacks, even if provoked by 11 September, were based on around 2800 deaths. Compare that to 42,815 dead in the USA due to traffic accidents. Wow, I think you should be declaring war on road makers, car manufacturers, and drivers. As tragic as that 11 September attack was, it does not represent a great threat to the USA. And the suggestion that Iraq was any real threat to the USA is false. Given that the USA is keeping a great deal of the Nuclear weapons it created during the cold war, and has more Nuclear weapons than all other countries combined, and is the only country to have dropped Nuclear bombs on another country, killing mostly civilians, I think we know who is the real threat in any war.

I am Australian, and it saddens me that we as a country are acting as the 51st state of America. I guess with all that nuclear power, and the ultimatum "you are either with us or against us" there was not a lot of choice.

And what ever happened to the freedom of speech in our countries? Seems that every couple of months the government releases another law on what you can and cannot say about it. Very soon it will be illegal to vote against the government.

My head hurts. Why didn't I take the blue pill!! :-)

11:30 PM  
Blogger Pavel Dvorak said...

It is too bad the show did not happen, because the original Coding Slave DNR show is one of my all time favourites. And thanks for mentioning China. Having worked on both ends of software development outsourcing for 5 years now I found it really stunning what .NET is doing to people's lives and societies around the world including ours. I too think this is important to notice because now their objects serialize properly, too.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...

Keep your politics out of my compiler!!!

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm late to the party, but here's my two bytes worth...
First regarding the money, so what!
While some of the money may be leaving our economy for rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure, I'm guessing a fair portion of that cash will be recirculated back into the economy through service member salaries and defense contractor employees/shareholders. While I would have perferred that we finished in Afganistan first, its hard to say what would have happened in the mean time. All the major players thought that Iraq had some WMD capability. And Sadam was taking shots at our pilots in the No-Fly zone almost daily. As a former 2-tour service member, I'm glad that my country sent a strong message letting the world know that we won't tolerate terrorism (via violence, economics, or otherwise).
Finally for David, the outsider speaking about our homeless: The reason we have so many homeless is because they can. Why work? They get free meals and board at the local shelter, free medical care, and no responsibilities. Heck, they get to hang out in the library all day. IMO, with our current economy, you have to choose to stay jobless/homeless. As far as the universal health care, I'm glad that I don't live in a place like the UK where I'd have to wait for months to see a doctor for a serious illness.
Cheers.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what I learned: You're a moron that can't stay on topic. The world is better off not listening to rantings of those who do nothing but oppose.

11:31 AM  

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