Friday, September 17, 2004


--"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator" -- President George W. Bush

In this article, David Greenberg discusses the tactics of the Republican Party since the 1992 defeat of George H.W. Bush. It resonates with what I am experiencing here in some private replies to these blogs, and in personal life where if I dare to wear the Kerry button to a local event, I am met with half-joking warnings and some that are not so joking. Even at work, people come up to me and say, "You sure are brave to wear that button here." In a neighboring county, a lady wearing a Kerry campaign button was greeted by her boss with, "You can work for him or me but not both" and that was the end of her job. Kerry heard about that, called her, and hired her.

At the very worst of the Wallace years in Alabama, I never heard of someone being fired for campaigning for a candidate unless they were actually not doing their job. This is outrageous.

I live in America, protected by a citizen government and a Constitution with a Bill of Rights. It seems these are a very thin veneer that can be undone by one administration using the tactics of the prep school bully. Fear and intimidation undo us too easily.

Having lived through the period of infamous Southern demogogues, I do recognize the steel behind G.W. Bush's sneer. It is the sneer of the little man become bully who can work his will with veiled threats to his opponents all the while acting as if he were a common man. He isn't. He isn't even Texan. The drawl, the denim jeans, and the boy howdy come lately personality are an act of a New England aristocrat, Ivy League educated, and wealthy. It's an act polished over many years but not many political successes. The act has kind even conciliatory words in it, but if you listen to the warm up acts, they are filled with vitriol, lies, and hate speech.

Note well: Bush rallies are closed events. Kerry rallies are open to the public. Kerry takes the heckling that Bush avoids facing, although his wife got a dose of it from a woman protesting the death of her son in Iraq. The woman was dragged from the meeting and charged with willful trespass. So, to tell the wife of the President of the United States the truth, one has to become a criminal?

This isn't like any election I've ever seen in America. The Republican behavior and tactics in every way betray a lack of faith in the people who give them their power and in the system they claim hegemony over. This is outrageous.

As Greenberg says, if we elect Bush this time, we have approved the politics of bullying. On the playground of American politics, no one is going to stop him in a second term from more eratic decision making and continuing his pursuit of policies that undo the gains of the middle class and the poor in the last century. The Republicans are well on their way to making this the century of American fascism at home and abroad. We get exactly one chance to stop them before this becomes a violent confrontation on the streets.

Last weekend, the "Dollar Man" as my Dad called him, drove through the neighborhood selling ice cream from his truck. As he handed me the goods (reward your kids for cleaning the house), he looked at the Kerry/Edwards sign in my front yard, and said excitedly and loudly in a Jamaican accent, "What about THIS?!? They are lieing about this man on TV. Is this the way you elect your president??? What can we do??? They ARE LIEING!!!" The Dollar Man typically says nothing but "Which one?" and "Here is your change." To hear him suddenly and without question launch into a tirade on the election was astounding. Immigrants "Get" American values long after the native born cave in to the politics of the bully.

I told him, "This isn't a normal election as I have experienced them and you are right. Turn off the television and get the facts, then whatever you believe, know, or support, come November, Vote. That's all we have to stop bullies."


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Hurricane Ivan

So that's Ivan.

Wow! That is a big wall of water.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

When Architecture Astronauts Earn Their Money

A few years ago, Joel Spolsky wrote an article on Architecture Astronauts. Essentially, it concerns the problem with abstraction: that at some point, the level of abstraction is so far removed from the actual work as to be meaningless. This article gets cited in blogs, posted on bulletin boards, hangs from walls, etc.

The article points out the foibles, but Joel's examples such as Java, XML, etc., have proven by 2004 to be good things. Architecture is a good thing. Needless abstraction isn't, but then, if XML and Java were too abstract and yet proved to be very good conceptually and in practice, even sharp guys can fail to recognize when an abstraction is needless versus when their own understanding is not yet matured to the point of appreciating the abstraction.

1. Without an architecture, development is ad hoc and duplicative.
2. Without an architecture, policies for procurement can't be created or enforced.

The reasons for abstraction should be more closely examined particularly if the implementation has to survive platforms. Abstraction if applicable often enables the designer to correctly predict where a system will need to be extensible. Abstraction enables concepts to be grouped dynamically and to share implementations. Abstraction reduces work and cost.

Knowing when an architecture is too abstract or too mundane, or in the sweet spot of reapplicable concepts is the trick. Where procurement and implementation meet, there must be specific knowledge of the task to be achieved. All true, but without the architecture, money is wasted and the project is seldom complete or mission-proficient. Without abstraction, one builds one-offs.

Code can come from anyone who learns coding. Architecture comes from those who learn to abstract. Invention comes of abstractions that scale and unify systems. Then it is time to code. Otherwise, it becomes 'cowboy coding' and in today's market, no one can afford it.

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