I'm a "retired" enterprise application systems architect (software engineer) with interests in astronomy, cosmology, astrology, photography, religion, politics, science, systems and complex problem solving. I don't tend to believe in absolutes (everything is relative). I enjoy problems with multiple correct answers, and those with no correct answers. I enjoy metaphors, science fiction, dystopian novels, historical fiction, mystery, philosophical intrigue and walking in Tilden Park with my dog Leo. I spent 35 years at Bank of America (the California-based institution) as a priest and then high-priest of IT witchcraft. Now I have the good fortune to tackle the problems I always wanted to, and in the way I thought they should have been approached.
In college (in the late '60's), my original goal and training was to become an architect, of the buildings and cities variety; but I discovered that was not my talent. Instead I gravitated toward management science and Operations Research and discovered computers, which resulted in a career in IT. During my paid career in "systems" I found that I've bumped into and sought guidance from a series of systems thinkers (Ackoff, Forrester, Weinberg and others), but I didn't understand or appreciate the "field" of systems thinking which was unfolding/developing at the same time. I was more focused on the application of systems thinking toward business automation. I'm an engineer, not a scientist; but now I have the opportunity to do "catch up."
I also consider myself a futurist and I believe in the concept of an "architected" future - one which is, or should be, consciously planned for; one that is both intentional and, in some "Zen" sense, "accepted;" as opposed to simply being allowed to unfold as a result of chaotic forces. I don't believe we can specify an exact course and target, but I think we can influence trajectory and hopefully steer around or mitigate impending problems. I believe in "ideals" and using them as compass points.
My background and expertise is in what I am beginning to understand as "hard" rather than "soft" systems, but I have always sought an understanding and approach to technology as a hard component within a "soft" human social context. Context is extremely important. My current passion is directed toward the development of a tool-suite which assists with applying that mindset toward (hard?, extreme?, wicked?) systems problems. I don't know that you can truly solve problems, but I believe you can exchange them for other problems that are less troublesome. On the other hand, bugs in design can be fixed. The sooner they can be identified, and acknowledged, the less expensive and more satisfying the solution. Hurt radiates.
I enjoy living surrounded by Redwood trees with my loving, artist wife Hallie. I like soft red and smooth white wines, Kaluha, medium rare grilled hamburgers and Trader Joe's raisin bread with peanut butter. I want to die an engaged old man with plenty left to do on my bucket list, and I want to spend as much of that future journey in the enjoyment of family and friends, especially Mason. This web site is dedicated to, and for, Mason.
I have a place on this web site, some times I forget where stuff is, but it's the legal stuff, at the bottom of every page. that talks about disclosures. What is doesn't say that needs to be said somewhere is that this is one person's opinion about a lot of stuff. Most of it, and I need to be corrected when this isn't the case, is factual, and logical, and based on common sense and reasoning. It's engineered. And, according to what I know, it's reasonably good engineering. (Help me identify bugs so we can correct them, because I'm implying that everyone in the world can find useful information here, not crap that's going to send them in the wrong direction, mislead them for someone else's gain, any any other traps. That's a "disclosure" statement.) I rely on other peoples information, and other people's logic and analysis, and the education and training that I received from Jesuits and from the State of California. (More disclosures.) I try to verify before I publish, as best I can. The hard engineering presented on the site should be unbiased, as much as possible, and you should be able to independently verify stuff if you want to take the time to do that effort.
I DID NOT GET PAID FOR THIS, although I suspect it will make me some money. But you're getting it for free, so, caveat emptor. My hope is that in your judgment it will be free as in priceless, as in the MC commercials; not free as in worthless. But, it's your evaluation. (Evaluations solicited.)
My point here is that as much as I try to be unbiased, and neutral from an engineering "clean room" sense, there is no way that I can completely do that, because I'm one of you, and I'm human, and I have a particular context, called "me," that I live in, and that affects how I do things, and how I think. I can't be completely unbiased, just like the best quality of the evening news, but we can try as much as possible to label what we feel may be prejudices within our views as we express them. You will find "quips" throughout the content of this web site, and, until some other people blog or write documentation here, they are all mine. They, and the "facts," form my personal perspective and you should keep that in mind as you travel the site content.
Can anything along the lines of what's being talked about here actually be done? I think so, that's my honest opinion. But, it's a personal perspective.
Other material on the site is the beginning of project planning and documentation on how to get it done, also from my perspective. The values and principles below are more disclosure. If you want to debate them, cool. If you want to argue about whether they should be flipped in positive/negative polar alignment, you are wasting both of our time and you are on the wrong web site. It might be interesting and useful, purely as a philosophical debate, but that's not how I want to spend my time.
I would like to see an extended set of these value and principles concepts debated and adopted by the members of an interested group ( a COI as I've described them here). These generalized concepts: Principles, Values, and others like them, are what the framework described on this site uses to evaluate its own effectiveness, as a tool, for accomplishing its goal: that humans, as one known version of a stellar tribal population, should live long and prosper.
It's my alternative to writing an anti-Ayn Rand novel in a sci-fi genre. Or, maybe it would be a supportive novel1; in either case, subjectivity and relativism is what we will always be forced to live with, in my stories, while being as objective as possible.
Values and Polarities
These tend to be "scales" with more of one, less of the other; this direction / that direction; Yin/Yang type things.
- The whole is more important than any individual part
- Ends do not justify means, means are a method to accomplish ends
- Cooperation beats competition in system efficiency and effectiveness, but competition is useful in alternatives analysis, quality testing and fostering innovation among diverse competitive elements
- Extremism is not a good form of politics. In fact, (opinion) it's a very bad form of politics. They Hatfields and McCoys used to be a side show for entertainment. Almost a joke. Now, they run one or more of the top legislative bodies in the world.
These are guiding concepts
- People are the coolest thing this planet has got, they are also their own worst enemy. They can screw up a good thing in no time if they play with toys in a chaotic manner. The bigger the toy, the bigger the boy, the bigger the issue. People need regulation too.
- Problem management needs to start with a "right sized" understanding of "What is the problem?" Demanding immediate solutions before you've identified the problem, is a problem in itself (See: Pg 7, "Are Your Lights On?"). Right sizing is context sensitive.
- Understanding and awareness of urgency and criticality are crucial to survival. Don't ignore the obvious because it's counter to what you wanted to believe. Face facts!
- When solving triage problems, optimize toward solution patterns that minimize future constraints and maximize future opportunities. When solving strategic problems, optimize for alignment with the environment.
- Rouge elements can be managed via atrophy if core issues that feed them can be addressed in a "right sized" manner, thus starving them for lack of supply (a military tactic that might take awhile for some stuff) Expect this to come up forever as we move into the future. Stuff happens.
- Never, ever lie to yourself. Know (or find out) where "truth" lies, and its confidence limits. Figure it out, choose and act before things get critical, the longer false assumptions and bugs remain in the system, the harder they are to eradicate and correct for, and the more damaging and expensive the repairs. What could have been routine maintenance becomes a complete overhaul and replace operation.
- Harmony is grease for making progress. Respect everyone's contributions to common goals, no matter how esoteric. Ego-based diruption of harmony is NOT a contribution. Extremism as a pathway to anything is not a virtue, it's called being an outlier; get over it.
- a growing list, to be embedded on a better profile page at some point.
Claim to Fame
- My first computer program was written for a Litton Monrobot IX, and I was once the proud owner of not one but two Cromemco® S100 microcomputers.2
- I once took a course in the 1970s at Ethnotech from Jerry Weinberg. I remember a number of things from back then, and still have my "Are Your Lights On?" book, and others. That was a really cool week. I was there when ...
- 1. An Ayn Rand Interest Group could be interesting. I could do both sides of that. And writing a science-based future fiction novel was something I once wanted to do. An Arthur C. Clarke kind of thing.
- 2. My first personal computer was a Cromemco® Z2-D. (The "D" meant it was a "Z2" that also include a disk(ette) drive!) Later I added a Cromemco® System-3. The Z2-D was a 64K machine running CDOS (based on Digital Research DOS, a predecessor to MS/DOS) and sporting two single-side, single-density 5.25" floppy disks. The System-3 was a banked switched 128K machine running Cromix and sporting two 8" floppies! Go here for a little more on what these machines were all about.