Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Something to Talk About

Today's Trinity:
Well. I hope you all know my abhorence for the people who terrorize abortion providers and women who need their services. Making it impossible to get a legal abortion is their goal. Clearly they will incite people to kill to, um, show how killing is bad. Not only did we lose a tireless supporter of women in dire straits with the death of Dr. Tiller, we lost one of the few people who had the knowledge and training to provide that support. The knowledge of the current generation of doctors has been circumscribed by religion and legislature both. Banning certain procedures that can be used for abortions also means that they don't get learned for those cases that aren't abortions. Let me know if I should do more preaching to the choir here. But for the most part, I already commented to people who were *gasp* wrong on the internet and mostly worked the immediate ire out of my system that way. The good part was I read a lot of good blog posts on the topic, even from people from whom it was unexpected.

Our general manager was pleased by our engineering team's explanation for a customer return. Customer returns are bad, and a big deal requiring updates to the general manager, but if you can explain root cause and further prevention, they'll most likely forgive you and keep buying. Ironically, sometimes they like you even more for doing good technical and recovery work that they wouldn't have seen had you not had an incident in the first place. The reason I'm pleased about this is that our small group of engineers worked well together to brainstorm possible explanations based on the given, but sparse, data, refined that to the most plausible options, and one of the plausible trials gives a compellingly similar signature. It took inputs and ideas from all of us - each individually not very significant - and turned out a rational and reasonable explanation of the failure, the extent of failure, and a way to prevent such failures in future. The sum being much greater than the parts. Hopefully I don't go in tomorrow to find it all torn asunder. Often there's no good answer in cases like these. Being able to have a sensible explanation to offer feels like we're way ahead of the game.

Donuts! I didn't get breakfast at home and wound up eating from my emergency stash of provisions in my desk for lunch. This was mitigated by the free donuts I got for breakfast and afternoon snack by someone who brought them in to share. I think it means that yet another colleague had a baby (which would make 3 in 2 weeks) but it's not someone I work closely with. And yet they still gave me donuts. Yum!

Ok, not quite trinity. Quaternary Happiness?
I caught a bit of a somewhat antagonistic interview on NPR's On Point. The guest wrote a book "Life! Inc. How the World Became a Corporation" about the roots of our views on capitalism and I learned some shocking things. But good things. They're about how economies form in small groups in the absence of centralized monetary distribution. In essence, producers of value (food, goods, service) in a small group with no "currency" add value to their economy by doing these valuable things. The more they do, the more the economy is worth. More work doesn't mean someone else gets less. You're all growing the pie. Whereas when money is handed out from a central point, we all compete for parts of the pie. Before the plagues wiped out the masses, western civilization was (shocking to hear) actually pretty prosporous for this reason. There were lots of traders and farmers and whathave you. It didn't go south until the state started sponsoring monopolies and quelling the competition. And if they hadn't done that, would we still think of corporations/capitalism as we do today? Likely not. But they did and we do. But that doesn't mean we can't ask if our current situation is working for us and see if we can make some small course corrections. Anyhow, that's my understanding from the little the host let the author say. I guess I'll have to buy the book.

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